Life After the NICU

Catching up With Cedar Rapids' Tiniest Baby

Landon EastburnLooking at Landen Eastburn you would never guess he once weighed a mere 13 ounces, which is a little bigger than a soda can. His father's wedding ring once fit easily around Landen's thigh.

Today Landen is a robust six-year-old who loves sleeping in his Thomas the Train bed, jumping on the trampoline and playing with big brother Nolan.

"Landen is all boy," said Paige Eastburn, Landen's mom. "He started kindergarten this year and is doing well. We have been on quite a journey with Landen and are proud of all he's accomplished in his short life."

Born March 9, 2005, Landen arrived 15 weeks early. His mom, Paige, was just 25 weeks along (40 weeks is full term) in her pregnancy when severe pain in her side and head sent her to St. Luke's Emergency Room.

"I remember initially doctors weren't able to detect Landen's heartbeat because it was so faint," recalls Paige. "I tried to prepare myself that Landen wouldn't be born alive. An ultrasound further revealed there was no amniotic fluid and doctors determined Landen was physically the size of a 21-week-old baby because he had stopped growing."

Doctors also discovered Paige had extremely high blood pressure. Her life and Landen's were in danger. Paige had an emergency C-section.

"I just remember feeling so helpless," said David Eastburn, Landen's dad. "That was my wife and son and there wasn't anything I could do to help them. When I first saw Landen I thought how could something this small live? He didn't look like a baby and when he cried he sounded like a little kitten."

Micro-preemie

Weighing only 13 ounces at birth Landen was considered a micro-preemie, which is a premature baby weighing less than 1 pound, 12 ounces or younger than 26 weeks gestation at birth. To date, Landen is the smallest baby born in Cedar Rapids and according to the Tiniest Babies Registry he is listed as the 83rd smallest baby to survive in the world.

"I will never forget how incredibly tiny Landen was," said Scott Nau, MD, St. Luke's Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and St. Luke's Pediatrics. "He was the smallest baby St. Luke's had ever seen by five or six ounces. I remember those early days with Landen as a scary time. Just getting him to eat 37 calories a day was huge because with a baby that tiny - nutrition was salvation and it helped him to grow."

"I remember we brought up our other son, Nolan, to see Landen in the NICU shortly after he was born because we didn't know if he was going to make it," said Paige. "He pressed his face up against Landen's bed and just stared at his brother. It was a perfect moment."

Living miracle

"Landen is a living miracle," said David. "All of the things that doctors watched for never developed. He's our fighter, a very strong-willed, little boy."

"When Landen started doubling and tripling his weight during his NICU stay - that's when we started feeling better about his chances for survival," said Dr. Nau.

Landen spent 133 days in St. Luke's NICU. He has been in and out of St. Luke's for various health reasons over the years but lately those hospital visits are much less common.

"Landen is much like any other little boy his age," said Paige. "However he has some troubles eating. It's a pretty common problem with micro-preemies because they spent so much time with a nasogastric tube (NG), which is used for feeding and administering medications."

"We are good buddies," said Dr. Nau. "I've seen Landen a lot over the years but as he gets older I'm seeing him less and less. He is making great progress developmentally."

"Dr. Nau always said when Landen turned five we would really be able to see how Landen would do developmentally and he was right. Landen is doing phenomenally well. He's really starting to come out of his shell. It's fun to watch."

"We are so grateful for the expert care we received at St. Luke's," said David. "Many of the doctors and nurses are like extended family to us. We have been through so much and traveled so far on this journey and are thankful Landen not only survived but has thrived thanks to excellent care."

"It's amazing to look at the scrapbooks and mementos from when he was born," said Paige. "To think this was Landen just six years ago and look how far he has come!"

For a personal tour of our birth suites or Newborn Intensive Care Unit call 319/369-8129 or take a video tour.