‘She challenged us quite often’: Couple brings home baby after 98 days in the NICU

Caroline Buckley headed home Friday after 98 days in the NICU
Caroline Buckley went home Friday after 98 days in the NICU.
Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 1:59 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - A couple from Westfield is celebrating after their daughter was released from the neonatal intensive care unit after nearly 100 days.

The infant had quite the battle with COVID-19 during her stay at a Bangor hospital.

TV5 spoke with one of her doctors Saturday. He says the future looks bright for Caroline Buckley.

Caroline was born on November 12, 2021 at Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital in Presque Isle, weighing 3 lbs., 6 oz.

Two days later, Caroline tested positive for COVID-19.

She was then transported to the NICU at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

When Caroline Buckley was born 9 weeks early at Northern Light A.R. Gould hospital in Presque Isle, she weighed only 3...

Posted by LifeFlight of Maine on Thursday, February 24, 2022

“She challenged us quite often. There was a lot of worry, a lot of great medicine, great care, and we were able to get her through a very difficult time,” said Dr. Jay Hagerty, who works in the NICU at EMMC. “Her lungs didn’t respond as quickly to the standard medications of prematurity that we had hoped. Then, with the positive COVID test, we began to connect those dots and say, it looks like she has what we call vertical transmission of the virus, and now has COVID pneumonia. She needed more help as time went on rather than less help.”

Hagerty is the Medical Director of the NICU. He says Caroline was born nine weeks prematurely. Traditionally, he says, those babies stay somewhere in the order of seven weeks.

Caroline more than doubled that.

“She needed to have the breathing tube in for 39 days. That’s a long time. We had a lot of different strategies for what type of breathing machine and what medications we gave during those weeks into months. We really had to lean on an entire team,” he said. “The fact that Caroline benefited from what I would call ‘regionalized care’ where you have one center hospital and all these spoke hospitals, if you will, that refer into that hub hospital. I think that’s an important element to talk about when you talk about newborn intensive care in the state of Maine.”

Caroline Buckley was born on November 12, 2021, weighing just 3 lbs, 6 oz. Two days later, she tested positive for...

Posted by Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center on Saturday, February 19, 2022

Caroline’s mom, Laken, says it was heart wrenching watching her struggle in those three months.

But, she’s thankful for the NICU staff for their care and compassion.

On Friday, the couple was able to head home to Westfield with Caroline by their side. As they left the hospital, staff lined the lobby to celebrate her discharge quietly with golf claps, maintaining the appropriate noise level for a NICU baby.

“She went home about five weeks or so after her due date so, she had that sense about her that five-to-seven-week-olds will have that she smiles at you, that connection. To see that develop over those 99 days from a baby that was profoundly ill early on, to a baby that when you look at her, she smiled back at you, and really interacted nicely. I think that’s why we all do what we do.”

Dr. Hagerty tells us they will have follow-up appointments with Caroline for at least the next couple of years.

Copyright 2022 WABI. All rights reserved.