Pregnant with her third son, Lindsey Shepherd entered the Emergency Department at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System on August 31, 2020, with preeclampsia, 13 weeks before her expected due date. After four days in the Labor and Delivery unit, the doctors and caregivers determined it was time to deliver. After much discussion and prayer, the Shepherds decided to put the trust of their precious baby into the hands of the CHRISTUS St. Michael Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team. On September 3, Axton Clay Shepherd was born at 27 weeks gestation, weighing only 2 lbs. and was 13.5 inches long.
“Lifenet was on standby outside, prepared to take us to Little Rock,” shared Lindsey. “I had no idea the level of care my unborn baby needed was right upstairs and the thought of my husband not being able to be with me, the idea of being so far away from our two older sons and the rest of our friends and family -- it was almost unbearable. Fortunately, our nurse brought peace to our circumstance. She told us about the Level III NICU that was at CHRISTUS St. Michael and brought Dr. Susan Keeney into our room to discuss our options. It was a God moment for us for sure!”
Axton was born with several complications including his lungs not being fully developed. He was placed on respiratory support, including BIPAP, to help him take his own breaths. There were discussions on having to put him on a ventilator.
“I am very fortunate to have a friend group strong in faith,” said Lindsey. “Being able to see Axton every day and communicate with staff on a continual basis allowed me to be specific in what we needed prayer for in that exact moment. One day, my friend group got together and prayed specifically for Axton’s lungs, that he would get better… and that is what happened. Dr. Keeney came in grinning from ear-to-ear because his levels had improved. He continued to improve from there and never had to be placed on a ventilator!”
Due to COVID Restrictions, Axton’s brothers and extended family were unable to meet Axton in person initially. Lindsey established a tradition with her two older sons by singing “You are my Sunshine” to her boys every night. One night her oldest son, 6-year-old Greyson, asked to sing for Axton. Lindsey had them all sing together and recorded it for baby Axton to listen to while in the NICU so the newest addition to the family could hear the sweet sounds of his older brothers voices.
“When we came within five days of going home, we finally told our older two that Axton would be coming home soon,” said Lindsey. “Greyson would countdown each day until we were finally able to bring him home.”
After 59 days and at a whopping 4 lbs., 5 oz, Axton Clay was discharged and finally able to meet the rest of his family.
“It was an overwhelming moment bringing him home to finally meet his brothers,” Lindsey said. “They both want to hold him every chance they can and just stare at him. My family kept saying ‘he is so little,’ I laughed and said you have no idea! He has truly come so far, and it is all thanks to the exceptional care at CHRISTUS St. Michael.”
“I want everyone to know they have the option to stay in Texarkana like we did. The journey with a preemie baby is so scary, I can’t imagine having to go through it away from my support system. Our family has gained so many friends through this experience. So many of the care team are now our friends and still check in on us. It is amazing how God can use something so unfortunate for something far greater than we could ever imagine.”