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Overcoming challenges

Overcoming challenges

January 9, 2018

When you first meet Maxson Brown, you can’t help but be captivated by his smile. 

It belies the many challenges the 19-month-old has had to face during his short life and the many more still to come.

Maxson was born premature at just 28 weeks.  He weighed only two pounds.

His mother, Meganne DeWitt, says troubles with the pregnancy started around 15 weeks when she experienced some bleeding.  At 21 weeks, an ultrasound discovered her son had an echoic bowel that doctors believed was caused by ingesting blood, although they couldn’t find the source of the bleeding.

That was followed by a more in-depth ultrasound at Akron Children’s Hospital, where the baby measured very small.

“They diagnosed him as an IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) baby,” says Meganne.  “Basically, from that point on, I had ultrasounds starting every week.  With IUGR, their survival rate is really low.”

Over the next several weeks, Meganne experienced more problems with bleeding that included a five-day stay at Akron General.  Then, on June 20, 2016, she went into labor.  Meganne, who lived in Ashland at the time, gave birth at Samaritan Hospital.

Maxson was breech and wasn’t breathing.

“They did CPR on him for a while down at my feet.  I don’t know how long he wasn’t breathing or anything.  They took him to a different room…until they could get the Akron Children’s NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) ambulance because they couldn’t Lifeflight him,” recalls Meganne.

Just before Maxson left for Akron, Meganne finally got to see her son.

“He looked amazing,” she says.  “He had good color.  His eyes were open.  (He was) so small.”

Maxson spent the next 94 days in Akron’s NICU.  It was challenging for Meganne to spend time by his bedside because she also needed to care for her other son, Jaxson, who was only 8 months and 10 days older than Maxson.

That wasn’t the only complication.  Two weeks after giving birth, Meganne and Jaxson were involved in an accident in Shelby.  Their car was hit broadside by another vehicle, rolling three times before ending up on its top. 

Fortunately, neither of them suffered any serious injuries, but her only car – the one she used to travel to Akron to be with Maxson – was totaled.

“At that point, I was just done,” says Meganne.  “I was so broken.”

With the help of Maxson’s father, Christopher Brown, and other family members, Meganne managed to spend several days at a time in Akron until they were finally able to bring Maxson home on Sept. 21, 2016.

But the challenges weren’t over.  The infant had been diagnosed with a multitude of conditions, including microcephaly, cortical visual impairment, nystagmus, panhypopituitarism, hypothyroid adrenal insufficiency, and central diabetes insipidus.

Maxson also has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, which mainly affects his legs.

“I kind of suspected that just because he’s always real stiff,” his mother says.  “He doesn’t walk.  He bears some weight on his legs.  He’s not real mobile.  He doesn’t roll over.”

They’re also not sure of the extent of his visual impairment.

“I know he can see but he can’t tell us,” says Meganne.  “His favorite colors are red and green.  He’ll stay focused on them longer than any other color.”

Since he came home, Maxson has received therapy in Ashland.  After his parents moved to Shelby in early 2017, the infant began receiving early intervention services, including physical and speech therapy, in the home through Richland Newhope. 

“They help me help him,” Meganne points out.  “They show me more of what I can do around the house with him.  I like it.  I think it’s very beneficial.”

And Maxson’s development in several areas is improving.

“He reaches a lot more than he used to do,” his mom points out.  “He’s more vocal – very, very vocal!  He follows more with his eyes.”

“He’s a very happy baby,” adds Meganne.  “From what he’s been through, he’s come a long way.”

He has also grown after initially having difficult eating while in the Akron NICU.  Meganne says Maxson always ate for her when she visited, so she refused to allow doctors to insert a g-tube.

Today he weighs about 24 pounds.

“Ever since he came home, he has never had a problem with eating,” says Maxson’s father, Christopher.  “He eats all the time!”

Meganne works three days a month as an STNA (state tested nursing assistant) at a Milan nursing home and that training has helped her care for Maxson.  She not only has cared for a resident who has cerebral palsy, she has a co-worker with CP.

“I ask her a lot of things, so that helps a lot, too,” adds Meganne.

Seeing the full life her co-worker leads – including walking and driving a car – gives Meganne hope for her son.

“I hope he has a great life,” she says.

It’s what every mother dreams for their child.

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