This summer, doctors told expectant mother Andrea Mullenmeister and her husband Steve that their baby would be due Nov. 20, 2012.
The Prior Lake residents were completely unprepared when Andrea went into labor four months early and instead delivered their son Jaxson on July 27.
At birth, Jaxson weighed just 1 pound, 8 ounces and measured 11.5 inches from head to toe.
The Savage Pacer previously reported on Jaxson’s birth and his subsequent hospital stay.
When that story ran at the end of September, the Mullenmeisters were hopeful that their son – who still needed to be hooked up at all times to a respirator to breathe – would be released close to his original late-November due date.
Instead, Jaxson made such progress in the intervening month that his parents were able to bring him home on Oct. 27.
“He came home exactly on his three-month birthday,” says Andrea. “It’s pretty unheard of for a baby born at 23 weeks to come home a month before their due date.”
At his 1-month birthday, Jaxson weighed only 2 pounds. At three months, he weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces.
Jaxson’s mother is happy and relieved to have her son out of the hospital and at home.
“It just feels so right having him home,” says Andrea. “He is the most content baby; he looks up and he’s so curious. He likes to look at stuff. And he’s got a look on his face. We’re not sure if it’s a smile, but I think it is. I think he’s looking at us and saying, ‘What are you worried about? I got this.’”
So far, things have gone as well as can be expected for Jaxson.
He’s doing well adapting to life at home. His parents dressed him up in a little costume for Halloween and he’s got some Vikings gear to wear when the team plays.
However, Jaxson has numerous doctor appointments and his lungs are still not as developed as they should be. He’s on low-flow oxygen 24 hours a day.
Still, Andrea is impressed at her son’s quiet demeanor: “He’s so calm and collected at home. I think it’s because he went through all the poking and prodding when he was in the hospital, so now he’s just happy to be left alone.”
And Mullenmeister thinks she knows why Jaxson is doing as well as he is.
“He must have had a guardian angel,” she says.
Or rather, two: Andrea’s mother, Gwenn, and Steve’s dad, Mike.
The day Jaxson was released from the hospital was the one-year anniversary of Steve’s father’s death from cancer.
“They’re up there keeping an eye on him,” Andrea says.
The Mullenmeisters have also been getting help from people closer to home.
“We’ve gotten a lot of help from the community. More than a handful of people who we don’t even know have donated things to us,” says Andrea. “Their generosity has included a homemade sweater, baby blankets and cards offering thoughts and prayers.”
Local businesses, too, have been generous, though Mullenmeister didn’t want to name them for fear of leaving one out.
The friends and family of the Mullenmeisters also held a benefit for Jaxson at the Prior Lake VFW at the end of September.
“Because of the benefit, I was able to take a leave of absence from work and be at home full-time as Jaxson’s primary caregiver,” Andrea says.
Andrea’s cousin, Prior Lake resident Christy Nelson, was the organizer of the benefit.
More than 500 people attended the event, which included a spaghetti dinner, Twin Cities entertainer Bill Hermann and items for auction. Among the auction items were Minnesota Vikings and Lynx tickets, neon beer signs and tickets for a hot-air balloon ride.
Nelson was pleased with the results of the benefit and how well things are going for the Mullenmeisters.
“I think Jaxson really likes being at home. It’s been easier for his parents than they thought it was going to be. It’s just worked out so well,” Nelson says.