Dayton’s Birth (5/24 – 8/31/2012)

Born 5/24/2012 at 2:05PM. 29 weeks. 1lbs 11oz. 14 inches long.

It’s been a busy couple of days and we know a lot of you are wondering what is happening. We wanted to first thank everyone for their love and support. Your visits and messages are comforting. Please know that we are all well. Laura and Dayton are recovering as well as can be expected considering the intensity of the last couple of days. Here’s a brief journal of what went down:

Wednesday 5/23/2012

2:15 PM We had a scheduled ultrasound to just check Dayton’s growth and development.

2:30 PM Learned that Dayton was not developing as he should and we were told to stay the night in the hospital for further monitoring. Laura was put on bed-rest. A steroid shot was given to Laura that would flow into Dayton. The steroid’s purpose was to speed up the growth of his lungs.

Later that night the doctors continued to monitor Dayton’s heart rate. They noticed a couple dips in the rhythm but decided to hold off any further action to allow he steroids time to do their job.

Thursday 5/24/2012

6:00 AM Dirk left for work thinking things were well.

12:00 PM Another ultrasound was performed. The doctor’s determined that Dayton was in distress. They decided to perform an emergency c-section. Dayton’s chances of survival seemed to be better on an IV in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) than inside the womb.

12:42 PM Laura called Dirk and told him to get to Waukesha Memorial asap. Dirk ran (literally) to his car and drove from Downtown Milwaukee to Waukesha.

1:30 PM Dirk arrives at the hospital to find Laura being prepped for surgery. Dirk was immediately thrown into full scrubs and was told to wait while Laura was anesthetized.

The c-section and delivery went very smoothly. We’re very impressed with the doctors at Waukesha Memorial. We couldn’t have picked a better hospital.

2:05 PM Dayton was born and made a little cry. In the room, he was immediately taken by the NICU nurses and put on a breathing tube. The breathing tube went between his vocal cords so he could no longer make noise but he could communicate through his facial expressions and body language. All of Dayton’s other procedures were done in the room with Dirk and Laura present.


After the surgery, while Laura was recovering in post-op, Dirk was allowed to visit Dayton in the NICU. Dayton opened his right eye and Dirk held his hand.

Thursday evening was a blur of calling people, visiting Dayton in the NICU, seeing friends and family, resting, recovering, and healing. Dirk drank many many cups of coffee.

Dayton is a very active boy. He kicks and moves his arms a lot. We’re taking all of this as signs that he’s going to pull through.

Friday 5/25/2012

Waukesha Memorial Hospital has been amazing. The room allows Dirk to sleep on a couch and be near Laura in her bed. It has a private bathroom for us to use and is very close to the NICU – everything is on the same floor.

Early in the morning, Dirk was present for the removal of Dayton’s breathing tube. After this he began to breath on his own, with a little help from a positive pressure tube going into his nostrils. The positive air pressure helps to keep is little lungs inflated so his muscles don’t have to work so hard to take breaths. I cannot tell you what a relief is was to see his chest moving without the aide of a machine. It will probably be one of the most wonderful moments of my life.

Later in the day, light treatment was started to reduce his billirubin and janduous. You can see by some of the pictures that his skin color is a bit off. The light helps with that.

Saturday 5/26/2012

12:00 PM First feeding of breast milk. 1cc was all he needed. He took a nice long nap after that while Dirk held his head and hand.



The rest of the day was another blur. Laura has been getting up and moving, albeit slowly, to minimize any stiffness. It’s also nice to just get out of the room and see her baby.

Dayton is also doing very well. We know that he will be in the NICU for a long time, most likely 2-3 months, but all of the nurses there are amazing and kind. They love their jobs and it’s readily apparent that they love the kids they take care of. The NICU is available to us anytime of the day, and we’re planning to visit Dayton as much as possible. They have boarding rooms here as well that we’ll take advantage of.

Monday 6/4/2012

Kangaroo care is skin on skin contact and is really beneficial for a preterm infant like Dayton. Although the nurses take great care of him, and we can touch him, the poor guy is left to sleep all alone in his isolette for much of the day. Kangaroo care allows us to hold him and let him know that he is loved. Laura and Dayton finally got to try it today and it was pretty amazing.

Wednesday 6/6/2012

Dayton’s first bath.

Sunday 6/10/2012

Dayton is up to 17 cc of fortified breast milk every 3 hours and it’s helping him to gain weight. He hit 2 pounds today!

Sunday 6/17/2012

Happy Father’s Day!

The nurse’s at Waukesha Memorial’s NICU gave me a Father’s Day present too:

Dayton is up to 2 lbs 2 oz and is digesting between 17 and 20 cc of breast milk every 3 hours.

Monday 6/18/2012

Dayton’s first thumb suck. Well, at least the first time I saw him do it.

Tuesday 6/19/2012

Poor guy. Dayton has an inguinal hernia and will need surgery at Children’s Hospital. I guess these types of hernias are fairly common in premature babies because of their under-developed muscles. The nurses in the NICU say it doesn’t hurt him. I hope they are right.

Friday 6/22/2012

Dayton weighs 2lbs 8oz.

Sunday 6/24/2012

Dayton weighs 2lbs 10oz and can drink 22cc (3/4 oz) of milk directly from a bottle. It’s a lot of work for him to swallow so he only gets fed this way once a day, the rest comes from a g-tube direct to his stomach.

Thursday 7/2/2012

Great Aunt Shirley nit Dayton a hat that fits perfectly. We showed it to him using the front camera on Dirk’s iPhone.

Saturday 7/4/2012

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday 7/7/2012

Bath day! Dayton weighs over 3 pounds too!

Thursday 7/12/2012

Dayton’s been off his nasal cannula for a couple days and is breathing on his own! This is so huge for us. We can see his face!

Also, today he moved to a big-baby crib. No more isolette! This is another huge step because it means he is ready to start regulating his own temperature. The isolette was doing that for him for the last 5 weeks. He has plenty of blankets to keep warm but he’s doing it on his own. No more plexiglass – We don’t have to open doors to get to him anymore.

In other news, he’s taking bottles like a champ! Gulp gulp.

If he can continue to breath on his own on his back, drink milk on his own, and regulate his own temperature, he can come home! We’re hoping it will be in the next 2-3 weeks. Yahoo!!

No more nasal cannula. Dayton’s breathing on his own!

Wednesday 7/18/2012

The NICU doctors have decided that Dayton can come home in a few days. We’ll test out his stability by staying in a boarding room right down the hall from the NICU. Laura and I will be alone with him for a couple of nights, WITHOUT WIRES. No probes. No beeping. No other screaming babies. Just Laura, Dayton and I alone for once. With some early 90s Disney movies on VHS. Of course, in case anything goes wrong, the NICU staff will be there for us. We’re really excited! Especially for Aladdin.

Dayton leaves the NICU!

Moving on to the boarding room. It’s really awesome that Waukesha Memorial Hospital offers this opportunity. We couldn’t imagine just taking him home cold turkey after 6 weeks of constant monitoring of his oxygen saturation and heart rate. It’s kind of like we’re in the desert on our own. Good thing we can call in the Marines if our water supply runs low or if we just can’t figure out how to open our canteens.

BTW, the Aladdin VHS was rewound. Must have been by an old fogey like us that remembered to “be kind and rewind.”

Laura holding Dayton in the boarding room next to the NICU

Thursday 7/19/2012

The first night in the boarding room went very well. In fact, we’re comfortable enough with Dayton to take him home today! I’m ready:

Everything in one trip!

We’ve went through everything with the NICU nurses, and with a few tearful goodbyes we were discharged from the hospital. Again, we can’t thank the NICU staff and the doctors at Waukesha Memorial enough. They saved Dayton’s life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Discharging from the NICU

Dayton’s Home!!!

Now we can be a “normal” family..

Sitting on the back porch with Daddy
Dayton takes his first bath at home
Dayton’s Moses crib.

“Normal” except for the fact that we have a 4 1/2 pound son that needs to be isolated from germs. By doctors orders, we can’t visit public spaces nor have anyone other than us hold him. We also need to keep visitors down to a minimum. And those visitors need to WASH THEIR HANDS. So, sorry in advance. We know a lot of you want to come over and play with the little guy. And believe me, he wants you to come over and play too. When Dayton is ready to see you, think hard about who you’ve been in contact with. If your buddy at work was sick yesterday, don’t come over. If you feel a slight tickle in your throat – stay away. Sorry.

BUT we’ll keep this space updated with videos and pics.  I can feel your excitement through the intertubes.

Thank you again for all your love and support. And food! We are so blessed to have so many awesome-freakin friends! Shelly brought a fruit basket to the hospital that we lived on for weeks. We have frozen food up the wazoo (Thanks Jill, Krystal, Holly, Heather, Kelli and Mom – probably others) – wonderful! Kelli brought us over some horchata – neato! Tim, Chris and Dave K helped me move stuff – wheew. Heather helped with yard work – thanks! All of our friends – very very many – who came to the baby shower and gave us so many sweet presents and helpful things. The handmade gifts are so rad. Both of our families who have stuck with us for the last couple months and helped out all over the place. And to anyone else who has listened to (or will listen to) my blabboring. THANK YOU!!!

Friday 7/20/2012

Happy Birthday Laura! This is the best present ever.

Tummy time with mommy
Dayton’s keepin it cool on the outside.


Thanks again for all of your support. We’re overwhelmed by the love you’ve shown us.


Dirk, Laura, and Dayton

P.S. Leave a comment. We read them.

Up Next -> Dayton’s First Months


Claire says:

Dear Dayton, I know your Mom and Dad are really busy taking special care of you, but please ask one of them to post some new photos of you when they have time – and an update on how you are doing. You might not know this, but you have your own fan club – and your fans need a Dayton fix :=)

* Dirk Watkins says:

Claire – we’re trying! Laura’s got some new photography. We just need some time to update the site. :)

eve meyer says:

hi dirk, laura, and dayton :)

can’t wait until he can have more visitors would love to see you guys and meet dayton in person. your pics and videos are so cute. so happy for you both! and that dayton is home!

take care,

Dena LeMere says:

Claire just shared your link with me and I’ve read your entries and watched the videos and looked at the pictures, and my heart is just bursting for you. What a time of trial and celebration this has been for your family. So many challenges, but so many victories! Some already faced, some that lie ahead – but what a beautiful, wonderful, precious, sweet baby you have. How blessed is Dayton to have you as parents, and what a blessing he is and will be to you both. I have been praying for your family and I will continue to do so. And I feel privileged to have seen where you’ve already been on this journey. Laura – we will miss you and your many talents here at Carroll, but you are where you should be. I am so happy for you that you can be home with Dayton. These are precious days.

Linda Spice says:

We received the wonderful news at Carroll. Dayton is home! Yay! So happy for your family! Thanks for sharing all of your precious moments. Your sweet little boy has come such a long way. What a great fighter. He’s beautiful. We miss you, Laura. Looking forward to Dayton’s first visit to the office when he’s a little stronger. Take care!

Kim Beagley says:

Glad everyone is doing so well! My nephew was pre-term as well, and I know the stress that is involved. I cannot wait to see pictures of Dayton as he grows up!

mandee magno says:

So so nice to see this. Brings tears to my eyes. We have been for 4 weeks and Mason is already 9lbs 4 oz. I can’t believe it. He is still on oxygen and we still have monitors, but doing well. I am so happy to see your baby come home. Miracle……
We will keep thinking about you and sending great prayers and thoughts your way. Congrats.
Mandee Magno (Zubella)

Wow! I reread the posts and looked at all the pictures and videos! I had tears in my eyes! Being a mom and reading about all the miracles Dayton has lived through! I am so thankful that your family was blessed with such awesome care at the hospital. And now to have him home… What a wonderful gift! Cherish and enjoy every moment!

Tanya Weber says:

So happy to hear he is doing so well!! I bet you can’t wait to get him home!
Is that a little Grandma Watkins quilt for the first Great-grandchild to carry on the Watkins name??

Michal says:

What great steps he has made recently! Praise the Lord. Just wait until the first morning you wake up at home and he is in his nursery. I remember that first morning for us, just feeling so overwhelmed and grateful to our heavenly father who had worked such miracles in our preemies’ lives the previous 3 1/2 months. Oh, and I was also happy to stay in my pajamas for the entire morning. :)

Amanda Bass says:

YEAYE!!!! Way to go Dayton!!!

Candice Tarantino says:

Wow, sorry to hear you guys had such a crazy rough start. I could’nt agree more with you and the others who have commented on the amazing staff at WM. It’s great to see your son getting bigger and stronger with each post. Hang in there! Tommy and I are sending good vibes your way.

Laura says:

I love the father’s day picture. Dayton loves your affection so much!

lindsay says:

Love and prayers for you all from the Zeilstras in CO. Glad to see such positive progress.

Tanya Weber says:

The video of him with the bottle is so precious. Thank you again for the updates. Praying for Dayton’s continued progress.

Wendy Butz says:

Congratulations Dirk! The photos and videos of your little Dayton are so precious and amazing. Sending prayers and best wishes! :)

Ellen Knipfer says:

Hi Mom, Dad and Dayton,
Many prayers are being said for all of you.
Ellen Knipfer

Claire Beglinger says:

Thanks so much for keeping us all posted. This is an amazing video! Know that so many, many people are thinking of you and praying for all of you. 1 set of loving parents + a whole bunch of skilled and dedicated nurses + a supportive extended family + modern medical marvels + tons of prayers (lots of them from people you don’t even know) = 1 tiny boy growing stronger every day!

Erica says:

Dirk, these videos are awesome!! What a perfect way to document Dayton’s story! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

Keri Engelking says:

Congratulations on 2 lbs Dayton! :)

Michal says:

I can’t believe Dayton is still strong enough to just be on oxygen, assuming it is high flow right now? What a miracle! We pray he stays healthy and free from infection so he can keep eating and breathing well. Way to go with the kangaroo care, I spent endless hours doing that with our twins.

April Bahr says:

What an amazing baby! Just checking in to see if there was an update. Thinking of you. Welcome to this world Dayton!

Mom (Cheri) says:

It’s so awesome to see you holding Dayton next to you. The way he looks up at his Mommy is so beautiful….
Love you guys!

Pam says:

Keeping you all in my prayers–God Bless

Linda Spice says:

Laura and Dirk,

We are all thinking about you and Dayton at Carroll and hoping every day for more growth and strength for your sweet little boy. The video of his first holding is absolutely priceless. I love how he looks up at his mama when he hears her voice. So sweet. Thank you so much for sharing these precious moments with us.

Tracy Temple says:

Thank you for sharing the story of Dayton’s arrival. Happy to hear everyone is doing as well as can be expected. I will keep you guys in my prayers.

Jessica Coburn says:

Thank you so much for sharing Dayton’s story! I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers!

Carolyn Schmidt Davis says:

Hang in there! You’re in our prayers!

jodi mckew says:

Best wishes to your beautiful family!! You will be in my thoughts & prayers.

Charlotte says:

Congratulations to you, Dirk and Laura on the birth of your son Dayton! Best wishes to you all for a speedy release from the NICU.

Angie Vissers says:

We are thinking and praying for the three of you. So glad he’s a fighter. Love the name, he looks beautiful.

Cindy Conley says:

Congrats on the birth of your Son. I work with your Mom Cheri at the hospital. Will keep praying for Dayton and his continued growth and well being. The pictures are beautiful. Such a blessing!

Peggy Farrell says:

I’ve been thinking and worrying about you everyday,
but glad to hear that Dayton is a fighter!

Kay says:

Sending lots of good vibes your way! An unexpected turn but YAY and prayers for you and your sweet family. We also love WMH – the staff there is so incredible. Heal, get strong, grow grow grow Dayton!! Love ya Laura – hang in there – you’re in good hands. xx

Claire Beglinger says:

Laura and Dirk: I have prayer chains going in Chicago and Joliet, Ill., West Virginia, Washington, D.C., southern California, Florida and Hawaii. Plus … my niece is on a 7-week college trip to Italy and she offered a prayer for Dayton at St. Peter’s in Vatican City. Yep … it’s a Catholic thing – but we DO know how to rally those who pray regularly :=) I know God is watching over your precious little angel – and you, too.

Shelly Reinhardt says:

Hello. I work with Dirk’s Mom at DCMH. Cheri has been keeping all of here updated and it’s great to see the pictures! The Force is obviously strong with young Dayton. Cool name. Thinking of all of you and sending prayers your way…

Angie says:

Dirk I work with your mom and you don’t know me, but you, your wife, and precious Dayton are in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll definately check back for updates often.

Kathy Boden says:

Congratulations Dirk!!!!!! You and your family are in my prayers. I’m sure little Dayton will gain strength quickly with such good care in Waukesha.

Mary Hutchinson says:

Love WM Hospital. They are the best and have done a wonderful job caring for both my parents. I know they will a great job taking care of Dayton and Laura. So glad to hear things are going well for you. He is adorable. Prayers and best wishes to you and your family.

Sarah Hein says:

Laura and Dirk! Congratulations and thank you for the update on sweet Dayton. He is just adorable and precious as ever. He was born into a wonderful family and in great hands at WMH. You are all in my thoughts as you travel the next few months filled with ups and downs. I echo your sentiments about the staff at WMH and in the NICU. Both our boys spent time in the NICU there. A scary time eased greatly by the caring staff there. Again, Dayton is beautiful. Speedy recovery to Laura and Dayton!!!!

Joe Dorn says:

Congratulations, Watkins family! I’m glad that Dayton is doing well and you are able to be near. Please let me know if you need anything!

* Dirk Watkins says:

Sorry we didn’t get to bottle the beer. We’ll have to do that one of these days, when things settle down.

* Dirk Watkins says:

Thanks everyone! Laura and Dayton are still doing well. Dayton is up to 2cc of milk every 3 hours (along with an IV). Laura is walking and her pain is under control. Everything is going as well as we could have hoped. They have a boarding room that we’ll be staying in for the time being. It’s right next to the NICU so we can check on Dayton any time.

Jared & Amanda Dahlby says:

Congratulations to both of you on your little miracle. He looks like a champ. We couldn’t be happier for you both, and we’ll look forward to getting together with all three of you soon.

All our best,

The Dahlby’s

Helen says:

Welcome little Dirk! Congratulations to be new parents. Hope Dayton getting better and better and someday can see him here.

Judy says:

What a precious little boy. So happy to hear everything is going well. Like that Dayton already has his domain name. :)

Josie and Charlie says:

Just saw the news, congratulations to all three of you and you are in our thoughts and prayers!bleep tour eyes out for a package from us for your new little man, I just finished it tonight! ~Jo and Charlie

Laura & Eric says:

Adore the name and you three! Positive thoughts headed your way. Thank you so much for posting this. We have been and will continue to be thinking of you all. Grow Dayton, grow! Let us know if there’s anything we can do!

Yvonne Moore says:

He is so precious and I love, love, love his name! Thank you for sharing. I will definitely keep you, Laura and Dayton in my prayers.

Linda & Lory says:

Hang in there Dayton! We’re pulling for you. We expect you to play tight end for the Green Bay Packers!!
All our love, L& L

Brian and Keri Engelking says:

Go Dayton go! We are routing for you little Dayton! Dirk and Laura, you both are in our prayers. He’s darling… I’m sure he takes after his parents.. so you know he will fight! If there is anything we can do,… just holler!
Congratulations on being new parents! We are so happy for you.

Beth and John says:

What amazing parents! Dayton James is so special. We are praying for him!

Mercedes who lives and Waukesha tells us that you probably couldn’t be in a better hospital. She has friends who work in the Neo natal department.
Dirk, your Mom is soooo excited to be a Grandmother.
Please keep us posted.
You all our in our prayers.

ade says:

Don’t forget to take care of yourselves too! Drink your beer.celebrate!Cheri and I have been praying and sending djw(my bros initials btw!) Lots of cosmic care.

Amy Dickson says:

First off….he is beautiful :) Thanks so much for the update! We have been thinking about you, Laura and Dayton all the time and wondering how it was going. Looks and sounds like he is a little fighter and will do just fine! Claire is super happy to have a brand new cousin and starts her prayers every night now with “God bless Dayton and help him grow”. Love, Randy Amy and Claire

Rhiannon Bruce says:

Sending happy thoughts and prayers your way. Dayton is beautiful and seems like quite the trooper!

Megan Delfosse says:

We are thinking and praying for you family. Thank you for the update. Please let us know if we can help in anyway. Dayton is a little cutie pie.

amanda bass says:

Dayton may be a wee one but I think he is stronger than you know ;) much love to you & laura, hope Big D keeps improving by leaps & bounds so you all can be home together soon <3

Tanya Weber says:

Thank you so much for posting this info Dirk. It is good to hear you and Laura are so positive and things are looking good for little Dayton. (LOVE the name!) I have said a special prayer for you guys everynight and will continue to do so. Love you guys!

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