Baby Ben finally home

After spending almost seven months in Winnipeg, Jennifer Marr is now back home in Emo and has brought with her son, Benjamin, who was born prematurely in November.
Not only did Benjamin arrive nearly 15 weeks early, but he weighed in at just one pound, four oz.
It’s been a struggle for the little guy ever since, who’s had to endure a number of surgeries and procedures to deal with complications of his early arrival.
“He is doing so well and we’re thrilled we were able to bring him home,” Marr enthused, noting Benjamin now weighs a healthy eight pounds, 12 oz.
“I’m so fortunate to have seen him grow from the very beginning. He is so big now in comparison to when he was born,” she added.
Two weeks ago, mother and son were able to leave the hospital and flew, with a nurse, in a medical plane to the Fort Frances airport.
“There were so many people there to meet us with signs and everything,” she recalled. “Even the pilot commented on the number of people standing at the window. . . .
“It was pretty emotional.”
Now Benjamin is settling right into his home and Marr is confident in her ability to care for her son.
“I’ve been doing everything for him in the hospital anyway,” she explained. “So I know what to do.”
Benjamin is being fed through a gastric feeding tube and Marr has to regulate the intake of the formula. She indicated he has to spend 20 minutes to half-an-hour feeding.
She noted the place where the tube is inserted simply will look like Benjamin has a second navel once he gets older.
Benjamin also is still being supplied with a minimal amount of oxygen. So in order for the family to go outside the home, they currently have to bring along the oxygen machine.
“It makes it a little difficult to go out,” she admitted. “But we’re not ready yet to go too far from home.”
Marr took Benjamin for a walk to the Emo clinic last week and noted many people stopped to offer well wishes and to see her baby.
“Everyone has been so kind and supportive,” she expressed. “We’re very lucky to live in a community with so many thoughtful people. It has really helped us.”
While Benjamin is almost six months old now, developmentally he’s behind, acting more like a newborn. But Marr explained by the time he is two years old, he should be caught up to other children of that age.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Benjamin is out of the woods just yet. There still are concerns about his sight and hearing.
The infant will be seeing a number of specialists next month as he returns to Winnipeg for two days of check-ups and tests.
He already has undergone three eye surgeries within just five days back in February.
Marr explained the vessels behind his eyes were quite enlarged so the doctors were trying to ensure the retina wouldn’t detach.
“I know he sees me,” she stressed. “He opens up those eyes and looks around. He doesn’t have the peripheral version you or I have, but he can see.
“We’ll just have to wait until he’s older for him to be able to tell us what he can see.”
His hearing also will have to be monitored. While many babies are startled by noise, Benjamin is used to constant sound after spending his first months in the hospital.
“So it’s hard to tell right now,” Marr said.
But regardless of the obstacles, Marr is thrilled to be his mom.
“I think I’m the luckiest mom alive,” she remarked. “I wanted to be someone’s mom for so long and now I am. He was so wanted for so many years.
“We’re very grateful to have had this experience.”
Marr and her husband, Dave, had tried for several years to conceive before choosing to undergo in vitro fertilization. The procedure resulted in Marr carrying twins, but sadly daughter, McKalia, was born 10 days before Benjamin and didn’t survive.
It’s been a long, bumpy road for the family, but with plenty of support from family and friends, they’ve made it to the final leg of the journey—bringing their son home.
This past January, residents from Fort Frances and the surrounding areas joined together at a meatball-and-perogy benefit dinner to raise funds to help out the family.
The young couple was shocked when about 500 people turned out and raised more than $15,000.
“Everyone has been so amazing,” Marr said, also mentioning the numerous cards, gifts, phone calls, and letters they have received.
“I never dreamed we’d have the support that we had,” she added. “I knew we’d have support, but never in such a big quantity. It’s been huge.
“They don’t just think about you and then forget—they really care. And they care so much,” she stressed.