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From 12 ounces at birth to 12 pounds, Celebrating 1 Year of Thriving with Baby Jo

Baby Jo:

Born: 23 weeks, 4 days
Birth weight: 12 oz (340 g)
Days in the NICU: 142
Today: 1 year old (8 months adjusted), 12 lbs (5,443 g), 24.75 inches long

July Update:
Earlier this year, we shared the story of an incredible family who beat the odds time and time again. Not only did Caroline overcome stage three ovarian cancer, she and her husband Michael overcame fertility challenges to have baby Jo at just 23 weeks.

Not expected to survive, Baby Jo overcame Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema and many other complications of being born extremely premature. But, much like her mom, she’s a determined fighter.

Thanks to the help of our products and a committed care team that believes in the power of human milk– based nutrition, Baby Jo isn’t looking back. We’re excited to announce Baby Jo’s first birthday, and the family was kind enough to share an update with us and their local Tulsa, Oklahoma community.

Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis held a party for the family in late July.

“At her last check in she was 12 pounds and 24.75 inches long. She is one year actual and 8 months adjusted. Jo is crawling, sitting, and pulling herself up (we’re in trouble). She has her first two bottom teeth and puts everything in her mouth. If she continues improving, she will begin weaning off the oxygen this Fall,” said Caroline.

Original Story:
The holiday season is already a time of joy and celebration. However, a few months back, Michael MacDougal and Carolina Gonzales had even more reason to celebrate. After 142 days in the NICU, their baby was coming home just in time for Christmas. Born in July of 2022 at 23 weeks and 4 days, baby Jo weighed 12 ounces—the weight of a soda can.

Several years before this, when she was just 19, Carolina was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Doctors removed her left ovary but left her uterus intact. Carolina underwent chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and radiation which permanently damaged her ovary function.

When Carolina and Michael decided they wanted a baby, they knew it would be difficult to get pregnant. The couple started seeing a fertility doctor in 2018, and in February 2022, they learned Carolina was pregnant after their first round of IVF.

During Carolina’s 23-week ultrasound, doctors found that Jo was extremely growth restricted and was in the less than one percentile. The Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist said that Carolina likely wouldn’t make it to term.

“Our baby was extremely growth restricted,” said Carolina. “Dr Everette said there is a survival calendar for extremely premature infants. Jo couldn’t even be placed in the calendar.”

Later that afternoon, Carolina had a bleeding scare and spent two nights in the hospital. There she received steroid shots to help Jo’s lungs develop. On the same day Carolina was discharged, she was rushed back to the hospital due to intense upper gastric pain, vomiting, and high blood pressure.

The doctor told them Carolina had pre-eclampsia and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome, and the baby needed to be delivered immediately. Baby Jo entered the world four months before her November due date.

“Jo was born with her eyes fused shut. Her ears looked doughy. Her skin was thin and translucent. But she came out crying,” recounted Carolina.

Nine days after birth, Jo’s lungs were struggling, and she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema.

“Dr Everette said she didn’t think Jo would survive and wanted us to hold her for the first time,” said Carolina. “We had her baptized because we were pretty sure that was the last day, but she kept fighting.”

When it came to feeding, baby Jo was able to get colostrum with a cotton swab and then was able to tolerate breastmilk.

“A few weeks later, Dr Everette told us she was adding Prolacta’s products. She assured me I was doing great with pumping, but these human milk-based fortifiers would give Jo the extra calories she needed to grow without adding additional volume in her tiny stomach. We remember getting so excited when Dr Everette upped the feedings, and we loved weigh-in days. The whole family would guess how much weight Jo gained,” recalled Carolina.

Jo eventually received her much larger feedings over a pump. Then, when Jo was three and a half months, she breastfed for the first time.

Today, Jo is 6 months, 2 months adjusted, and weighs 7.5 pounds. She is smiling, learning to hold her head, and putting her fingers in her mouth. She loves the camera and loves being cuddled.

Born: 23 weeks, 4 days

Birth weight: 12 oz (340 g)

Days in the NICU: 142

Today: 6 months (2 months adjusted), 7.5 lbs (3,402 g)