February 16, 2011

The Long Journey Home

Not only did Cameron Harding, 2, get lots of hugs from his parents, above, he was also able to share some quality time with his sister, Madison, center, and brother, Matthew, upon his arrival home.
Union Leader Correspondent
SALEM -- For 2-year-old Cameron Harding, home is truly where the heart is.
The Salem toddler had been a patient at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Mass., since his birth.
But that changed on Valentine’s Day when parents Ellen and Ed Harding brought their son home for the first time.
On Jan. 26, 2009, Ellen Harding gave birth to a set of premature quadruplets.
“It was very tough pregnancy,” she said.
During a routine exam held after just 23 weeks of pregnancy, physicians discovered that Harding was already in labor. Born three months too soon, one of the babies, Adam, did not survive.
The remaining three infants were left with significant health problems. Baby Matthew came home after spending three months in the NICU, while his sister, Madison, came home another
 three months later. 

Cameron remained hospitalized. 
“We had a meeting with the doctors about a month ago,” Ellen Harding said. 
With Cameron recently taken off his ventilator, doctors felt confident the tot was ready to finally join his brother and sister at home. 
“When they suggested Feb. 14 as his going-home date, it kind of hit all of us at once,” she said. “Because I have the other two at home, I really wanted him to be off that ventilator.” 
Until this past Monday, the Hardings mostly saw their son on weekends. 
“It’s been tough. We just wanted him home,” said Harding, who stopped working to care for the children after Matthew returned home. 
On Tuesday afternoon, all three siblings mingled in a large crib set up in the family’s living room, chattering animatedly among themselves. 
Harding said that while her children haven’t always been together, the time they have spent with one another has certainly left a lasting impression. 
“I was a little nervous about this day,” she laughed. “But just because Cameron hasn’t seen them as often doesn’t mean he doesn’t recognize them.” 
Indeed, all three Harding children have become a part of the Franciscan Children’s Hospital’s extended family. 
“We’d go there and Madison and Matthew would be running in the hallways,” Harding recalled. “My mother was visiting from Maine, and she asked what room Cameron was in. I told her to just follow them.” 
In December, Cameron’s photo was featured in fliers and posters for the hospital’s annual fundraiser. Ellen Harding still carries a flier in her wallet. 
“The past two years have been filled with many undetermined moments,” Ed Harding added, noting the many needs of his three children. 
With the help of a visiting nurse, the family faces the daily challenges of caring for three children with extensive needs. Both Madison and Cameron require feeding tubes, while Cameron also has a tracheotomy. Matthew also receives regular therapy to help develop his motor skills. 
Fortunately, Ed Harding’s background as a physical therapist comes in handy. 
“Time moves pretty fast in this house,” Tarsha–Marie Schwarzenberg, one of the children’s nurses, said this week. 
Yet, in spite of all his challenges, Cameron appears to be a happy child with an easy smile, his dark eyes brightening at the sight of his parents and siblings. 
“He just loves to bounce,” Ellen Harding said. “You’d walk by at the hospital and there he’d be, with a huge smile on his face, just bouncing away.” 
As Cameron continues to improve, the Hardings are hoping he’ll get his feeding tube removed sometime this summer. 
For now, though, the Hardings will continue counting their blessings in threes. 
“What a beautiful memory to have on Valentine’s Day,” Ellen Harding said. “It will also be a special day in our hearts.” 

No comments:

Post a Comment