Many families rely on St. Francis Medical Center to make it through a tough time, including the Finney family.
Curtis and Sarah Finney’s son, Weston, spent 102 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Francis Medical Center.
What started as a normal day ended with a surprise birth months ahead of schedule.
“I really think it was a God thing that we didn’t go to Little Rock because had they sent us by ambulance to Little Rock, we wouldn’t have made it,” explains Sarah Finney. “I mean we would have had him in the back of an ambulance and probably neither one of us would have made it.”
Sarah Finney says she started losing fluids and called her doctor, but her doctor was out of town. She went to the hospital in their home of Crossett, Arkansas, and that’s when she says contractions began. Weston was 24 weeks old at that point and they knew they needed to get to a big hospital with the resources to keep him alive. St. Francis Medical Center was the only place within a few-hour radius of their home that had a bed for both Sarah and her son, so they loaded up into an ambulance and made the drive down to Monroe.
”I had started hemorrhaging on the way down and my blood pressure was dropping out, but he never lost a heartbeat,” says Sarah. “I have an incompetent cervix, so they stitched my cervix closed at the end of my first trimester and they don’t take that stitch out until 37 – 38 weeks so that he will make it. That was really the only thing that kept him inside until we got to the hospital.”
59 minutes after leaving the hospital Weston was born a micro-preemie at 24 weeks, barely able to survive. They say the smallest NICU diaper covered most of his body.
“He was so bruised he was almost black his whole body and she didn’t even recognize him when she went to see him,” says Curtis Finney.
“I thought they had put us at the wrong bed, in fact, I checked the name card to make sure,” agrees Sarah.
And that was just the beginning.
“He was septic twice, we dealt with infections, one lung over-inflating, the other one trying to collapse,’ says Curtis.
“He had stage three and stage four bleeds in the brain,” says Sarah. And eventually, he would need eye surgery.
“There’s no way to accurately describe what the NICU life is like,” says Sarah. “When they sit down and they tell you if he makes it he’ll never interact with your family, he’ll probably never run and play, you know, you’re looking at, will he feed on his own, will he not? it’s a lot to take in.”
“From the time that we went out to the hospital here and found out that we were actually going to have him we didn’t breathe for what felt like the next 100 days cause it was just something every day,” explains Curtis.
But thankfully, Weston would beat the odds and make it through. He’s been home for a few months now, he’s off of oxygen, and they say his prognosis is good.
It’s not only a miracle his outlook is this good, but it’s also a miracle because the Finneys were told they probably couldn’t have any other kids. A younger brother is something their 11-year-old son had always wanted.
“The 11-year-old, he wanted a baby brother. Since he was about four, he always wanted to be a big brother. And he had told me in February last year that he was praying for a little brother,” says Sarah. “And I said, buddy, the doctors told us we couldn’t have any more kids. We’re done. We had to be on fertility with [our three other kids].”
But a few months later in May, they found out they were expecting right before their 20th wedding anniversary.
The Finneys say the NICU team at St. Francis became part of their family.
“They were so attentive to not only the baby but to us and that’s the thing. Even through the next 102 days that we were there, you didn’t feel like you were in the way when you went down to see your baby. They move stuff around,” says Curtis.
Now, Sarah is using their struggles to help other moms of micro-preemies.
“Sometimes you just need somebody that knows to pour it all out to and go, ok, I just need to talk to someone who understands.”
We hope your family never needs a NICU, but it’s good to know what’s available—just in case. Across our health system we offer access to the highest quality family-centered care:
Greater Baton Rouge and Northshore: Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s Newton & Betsy Thomas Family Center for Newborn & Infant Intensive Care
Acadiana: Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital’s Level III Surgical NICU
Northeast Louisiana: the region’s only Level III NICU at St. Francis Medical Center
This post was written by Jessica Torricelli and was first published by KNOE in September 2022.