Born 17 weeks early, Holden Erhart weighed less than two pounds. For new mom Amber Erhart it was a moment full of pure joy and ultimate grief.
“It was my worst nightmare that he would be born that early,” Erhart said.
As a preemie Holden’s organs were severely underdeveloped. In order to eat and breathe, doctors hooked him up to a tube and IVs for three months.
Amber is a first time mom, but is no stranger to premature babies. As a neonatal intensive care unit nurse she works at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, the same place where she watched Holden fight for his life.
“I just will never forget one of my coworkers coming up and putting her hand on my cheek,” said Erhart. “I remember her saying everything was going to be ok and they would take great care of him.”
Erhart said taking great care of him is exactly what they did. Just last year doctors at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital delivered more than 650 babies prematurely.
“We trick them into thinking they’re still in their mother’s womb with all of the specialized equipment we have,” said the director of the NICU, Eileen Forgatch.
Erhart went back to that hospital Thursday to join with dozens of other moms and dads in celebrating their children on World Prematurity Day. Parents, children and hospital staff placed 2,000 purple pinwheels on the lawn. Purple is the color that represents premature birth and the March of Dimes.
Palm Beach Children’s Hospital is one of three Level III NICUs in Palm Beach County meaning babies get the most care possible with specialized staff on hand 24 hours a day.