May 9, 2015

A Mother’s Day Story: Meet Brielle and Jacob

Brielle Lepp had a scary introduction to motherhood when her son Jacob was born at just 25 weeks into her pregnancy. He was born a full 3 ½ months premature and only weighed 1 1/2 pounds. Little Jacob spent the first 4 ½ months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“Never in my wildest imagination did I picture my pregnancy ending this way,” says Lepp, now a mom of three. “I was young and had never even heard of the NICU before Jacob was born. My husband and I were really overwhelmed and hopeful that things would resolve themselves.”

Brielle Lepp & son Jacob

Unfortunately things didn’t resolve themselves and Jacob faced admissions and procedures at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, and closer to home, additional visits to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and frequent trips to the emergency room.

Jacob, now nine years old, has already had 16 surgeries and there are still more in his future. He also has a very rare heart arrhythmia that triggers spontaneous episodes of life-threatening cardiac arrest. Jacob has an implanted device that will shock him and save his life if his heart stops.

Lepp has, however, turned Jacob’s experience and her crash-course in pediatrics into a positive. She now co-chairs the Saskatoon Health Region’s Children’s Services Parent and Family Advisory Council. Started in 2007, the council’s has been actively involved in designing the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan and in recruiting new staff for the hospital.

“From each time in hospital with Jacob I try to take away one snippet that might improve the healthcare experience for other families,” explains Lepp, who is also a member of the Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan Working Group. “Being a part of the council allows us to bring a fresh perspective to staff. We want families like ours have the best possible experience during a really difficult time.”

“With Jacob’s condition, you never know what each day will bring,” says Lepp. “Still, each day that we are together as a family is a gift.”

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