From the “Saskatoon Star-Phoenix”
Saturday, November 19, 1966
Baby responds to love, care
By FLORENCE PRATT
Love, prayer and the wonders of modern medical knowledge and equipment are credited here with saving the life of a premature baby born in March at St. Paul’s Hospital. The baby, Ernest John Love, only son of Mr. and Mrs. James Love of 1603 Alexandra Ave., does not look like a premature baby. Today he tips the scales at 16 pounds and is 23 inches tall. At birth, March 1, baby Love, affectionately nicknamed “Peanut” by hospital staffers, weighed in at only two pounds. Within hours, his weight had dropped to one pound, 11 ounces. There appears to have been no reason for the child to make his appearance early, but make it he did. With no trouble at all, he was ushered into the world a full 14 weeks ahead of time. “I was so worried,” Mrs. Love said in an interview. “I needn’t have been. The doctor had him breathing in double quick time and as he lay in the incubator, (an Isolette) the nurses kept a constant watch over him. They massaged his tummy, fed him and turned him over so gently. With such care, he just had to live.” Mrs. Love says premature babies tire quickly and tend to stop breathing. In such cases, the nurse reaches inside the incubator, moves the child, massages him gently or otherwise disturbs him, forcing the tiny lungs to keep active. In St. Paul’s Hospital nursery, where “Peanut” spent his first 12 weeks of life, the incubators are modern in design, completely enclosing the baby in a bath of warm, moist air, closely simulating conditions inside the mother’s womb. The nurse reaches inside through specially design openings and is able to handle and feed the baby. The outer air never reaches him.
This is very important says Sister St. Croix, supervisor of the hospital’s obstetrical department. St. Paul’s is equipped with modern, new-style incubators, but some smaller hospitals still have none at all and others have only older types. Premature babies sometimes must be rushed to larger hospitals.
If that had been necessary for “Peanut”, he could not have lived, hospital personnel claim. (City and University hospitals here have similar incubators.) Even in an incubator in which the top must be removed to care for the baby, it is doubtful that this baby could have survived, say those who cared for him.
Hospital administrators say survival of this baby is “a tribute to the foresight of both the Sisters of the hospital and the late Dr. Alvin Buckwold for their insistence with the department of public health that a fully-equipped, intensive-care premature nursery be included in the new hospital.”
I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on the first day of March in 1966.
Apparently, as a baby I wasn’t expected to survive. I was over 3 months premature and only two pounds at birth. My nickname among the nurses and nuns was “Peanut”. Incubators, or “Isolettes” as I’ve heard them called, were very new at this time, and brand new for St. Paul’s Hospital where I was born. Their pioneering use at St. Paul’s is largely why I’m alive today.
I wasn’t the only “preemie” there either. Dad told me that there was also a premature baby girl who had been nicknamed “Brittle” (the two of us must have arrived around the same time). Although she was larger than me and not as premature, she didn’t survive. Sometimes I wonder what kind of person she would have turned out to be.
It’s possible that my nickname was given by a “Sister Gionne”, a French-Canadian nun whom Dad said was very fond of me and used to call me “my little Peanut”. (Her name is pronounced ‘gee-yawn’, with a hard ‘G’.)
Through a lot of care and the new incubators, I managed to survive the first critical period that many preemies did not. Nowadays, babies younger than me survive, thanks to advances to medical technology and knowledge.
At any rate, back then my making it was a big enough deal that it made Page 3 of the local newspaper as you can see. Dad proudly said that I was a real little fighter. Sometimes when I was in the incubator, I would get too tired to keep breathing. Always watching over me, the Sisters would notice my struggle and give me a little flick on the feet. Dad told me that this would make me mad as hell, and in my baby anger, I’d start breathing again.
DID YOU KNOW…
According to the Guinness Book of Records (1998), the most premature baby on record is James Elgin, born in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 20, 1987. He was 128 days premature, and weighed only one pound, six ounces at birth!