Meet the Potters
Our story begins with the Potter family – Molli and Robert. The couple lived in Pensacola, Florida, and both were 32-years-old when they thought about adding to their family. They already had a 7-year-old son named Kayden, but they had made the decisions that they wanted to add to their family unit with another child. After a few difficulties with achieving this, they finally would get their wish, only to find that this pregnancy would be just as fragile as previous difficulties Molli had suffered.
Growing the family
It is natural for parents with one child to want to grow the family more and introduce new children into a loving and nurturing environment. So, this is something that they couple had likely been looking forward to and even planning for a few years. Kayden was already seven, but families often wait a while between children; normally for financial reasons. Whatever their reasoning, Molli and Robert Potter had clearly decided the time was right to make their family of three a family of four.
Molli and Robert were delighted when they finally fell pregnant and looked forward to the day when their family would become a foursome. However, it was at this time that the couple would receive news that would turn their lives upside down. All of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, Molli began to weaken, she experienced labor pains, and even bleeding. She was just three months pregnant, making it a worrying time for the Potter family. The doctors advised the Potters that Molli needed rest and that tests would be carried out.
This sort of thing can be a stressful time for parents due to the issue of worrying about what the future might hold. The parents would also surely have been worried due to the fact that Molli had suffered from miscarriages and difficulties in the past. Not to mention the fact that she hadn’t yet reached the 24-week milestone. It was then that they received some crushing news; Baby Cullen, as they had chosen to name him, had a very real chance of being born premature. It was like their lives had crashed down around them.
A phone call
This was not the news the Potters had been hoping for, but with all of the previous issues they may have been prepared for the worst. It must be terrifying as a parent worrying about the possibility of having a child born prematurely. Robert decided that he needed to take action, and he picked up the phone and started to call hospitals. Explaining that his wife was poorly and that his son might have a chance of premature birth, Robert reached out for help.
Hoping against hope
The Potters were in a dire situation and it’s likely they would have been feeling totally overwhelmed with it all. The doubt, fear and worry that things are going to go wrong; and that the thought that you might lose a child too soon. They must have been very worried and scared about what the future might hold and hoping against hope that things would work out. Molli was even quoted as saying, “… he can’t come yet, he’s too small.” The Potters now faced the prospect of just getting through life one day at a time.
Strong family unit
The Potters already had a strong family unit, and the three of them needed to be as strong as possible right now to get through this. The doctors had told them that if baby Cullen was to come early, there may well be complications, and they could result in him losing his life. This was, of course, devastating news for the family, and they would all need each other if they were to get through this and deal with whatever might happen in the future.
History of tragedy
After their hometown hospital told the parents that, if Cullen came before 24-weeks, they could do nothing to save him, the Potters frantically began their search for another hospital. The couple had endured a history of tragedy before they managed to conceive with Cullen. Having gone through so much, surely the couple were deserving of their little bundle of joy. Now the couple risked having this taken away from them in the cruelest of circumstances.
The local hospital had run several tests and determined that Cullen was a high-risk pregnancy. If babies are able to gestate for around 6 months they have a much better chance of survival, but it seemed like baby Cullen was not going to get that long, and this is why the Potters were so worried. The tests carried out all said the same thing, Cullen was going to need to be born prematurely. Unfortunately, this didn’t give the little one a good chance of survival.
In fact, medical tests show that babies who come before 24 weeks actually have only a 2% chance of surviving once they are born! This is a staggering and sobering statistic, and one that no doubt was devastating for the Potters. Can you imagine waiting so long for this wonderful thing to happen, and then to be told that there is a very real chance you are going to lose your baby? Heartbreaking. What’s more, the whole medical world seemed to be against the Potters!
Robert was still frantically trying to find a hospital that would treat his wife, and deliver his unborn son into the world. But, incredibly, the family was rejected by no less than 16 different hospitals across the United States! These institutions would not admit premature babies as their chances of survival usually proved too low. Indeed, when little Cullen entered the world, he was just 22 weeks and weighed an astonishing 13.9 ounces. He was deemed to be too small to survive, but the Potters refused to give up.
A light in the darkness
Just when it seemed that hope had faded and the Potters would never get the help they needed for their precious baby, a light cut through the darkness. After contacting hospitals across three states, Robert finally found one that would agree to help. A hospital that would not only agree to treat Molli and Cullen but one that offered a much better survival percentage than they could possibly have hoped for, around 68%! The family were overjoyed by the news.
USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital
The hospital in question was the USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, located in Mobile, Alabama. Fortunately for the Potter family, this was the sort of case the hospital had experience in dealing with, and this gave Cullen a much better chance of survival. USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital ICU manager Renee Rogers talked about her conversation with Robert and the talk of stats. She explained that their survival rate is around 68% and so Robert put Molli in an ambulance and had her transferred straight away.
The hospital was a 70-mile drive from the couple’s home in Florida, but it was more than worth the trip. Not only could they admit Molli that day, but they could also carry out the emergency C-section that was needed to bring baby Cullen out, and start working on getting him treatment. The hospital staff had plenty of experience dealing with premature babies in the past, and this must have given the family confidence and peace of mind.
Because she needed to have the emergency C-section, Molli was checked into the hospital for observation for around 5 days. As you can see from the picture, she seems to be much happier and more positive than we imagine she would have been just a few days earlier. This is the look of relief and positivity, of a mother-to-be who understands she is going to be getting the help she needs, in exactly the right kind of place.
The miracle baby
Once Molli was in the hospital it was almost as though baby Cullen sensed his time had come. Molli’s placenta had detached from the uterine wall, and was threatening to cut off Cullen’s oxygen supply – the medical team had to act fast. Despite the Potters not wanting their son to come early, there was no alternative, and little Cullen came into the world at 22-weeks old. The miracle child had finally arrived, and now it was all hands on deck to ensure his survival.
Against the odds
Now that Cullen was here the hard work was just beginning, and it was a race against time, and the odds, to try to keep him safe and healthy. Thought the hospital’s survival rates were high, the Potters were told that even if Cullen did make it, he would most likely wind up being disabled. It just seemed to be one thing after another for these guys, and they couldn’t seem to catch a break. But their determination and love would help them, and Cullen, through the process.
Having to rely on the medical team to keep their baby alive must have been very trying for the Potters. Not being able to hold him and talk to him right away, as most parents would, must have been the hardest thing. We can only imagine the joy and relief they must have felt when they were finally reunited with Cullen. After six months of fighting, their little miracle finally managed to pull through, and he was strong enough to return home. A family united at last!
So great was Cullen’s fight and performance that the medical team at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital decided to give him a graduation ceremony! A graduation from neonatal intensive care, to be precise. They even used a tiny little graduation cap for Cullen, as well as a little gown, which Molli had bought from the Build-a-Bear Workshop. Isn’t it just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?! We think Cullen more than deserved his ceremony for the amazing battle this little one put up.
The boy who lived
Much like his namesake Harry, Cullen Potter will go down in history as the boy who lived. The little guy who defied astronomical odds to beat the statistics, and complete his family. The Potters went through more trauma and anguish than any parent should have to experience. However, Cullen has proven to be a fighter. It’s fair to assume there is much more to this little guy than meets the eye, and he’s surely set for a bright future ahead of him.
Cullen’s story is one that will surely inspire and motivate other parents in similar situations in the future. Whenever something like this occurs, it is important not to lose hope. The parents need to be positive and understand that there are options out there. Cullen’s situation has proven that the technology and medical expertise is out there to help preemies have better chances of survival outside the womb. While it may have taken them 16 hospitals to get the answer they needed, the Potters never gave up and now have their beautiful baby to show for it.
Just how small was Cullen?
Let’s put something into perspective: the average weight for most babies is around 7.7 pounds. and the normal weight ranges between 5.5 and 11 pounds. Cullen was less than one pound. For a baby this small, it truly is a miracle that the little guy is still alive and well. If you want to try to compare him to an object similar to his size, you can use a can of soda as an option. Baby Cullen sure is a warrior for holding on with the odds so against him.
We’ve all seen dogs and puppies graduate from obedience school and are awarded little caps for their effort and obviously students moving onto the next chapters of their lives through graduation ceremonies. You probably haven’t, however, seen a newborn infant in a graduation cap and gown. Little Cullen was paraded around the hospital as people clapped and cheered at just how strong he was. The staff of the hospital really wanted to make the occasion special and it was obvious that Molli and Robert appreciated their efforts.
The doctors, nurses, and staff of the Children’s and Women’s Hospital worked tirelessly to make sure that Molli and Robert were able to take their baby home. They did what they needed to to ensure he survived, though the chances were slightly less than than what one could’ve hoped for. In the end, their hard and diligent work paid off and the Potter family could not be more grateful. Molli has expressed endless gratitude for the team and knows that the outcome would have been different under other circumstances.
Cullen spent the first 160 of his life in the hospital, fighting against the odds of his survival. 160 days is over 5 months, which means that the baby spent nearly the same amount of time in the hospital after birth as he did in the womb. It seems like Molli and Robert were simply meant to become parents to this baby because he was not taking no for an answer. Will he survive? YES!
How did they get through it?
Molli and Robert claim that there is one thing and one thing alone kept them going during this difficult time: positivity. They refused to give up and kept their optimism at an all-time high. The family remained positive through it all and knew that if they stayed strong and believed Cullen would make it, he would. Obviously, their way of thinking paid off and their bundle of joy is the best kind of proof of this.
Everyone kept reminding the happy couple that there could be complications with the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They didn’t want the Potters to get their hopes too high up, so they constantly mentioned the possibility of infant mortality, malfunctions in brain development or mental conditions, and multiple other things that could go wrong. Cullen, though, had other plans and he came out as perfect as he possibly could have – so small he could practically sit in his mothers hand and he grows stronger every day.
We mustn’t forget that Cullen is not an only child. The Potters have another son, who is seven years old. It’s never easy for an only child to accept another sibling into the family. This means that they get less attention, and usually have to share a lot more. Their life changes forever when they welcome a new brother or sister. Kayden, however, seems to be a rockstar big brother, and you can see him hanging out her with the baby.
Growing bigger and stronger every day
Cullen may have started out at less than a pound, but he is growing bigger and stronger every day and beating the odds that were against him from the day he was conceived. At the end of August 2018 (around a month after his birth), he was reportedly 5 pounds and 11 ounces. He had no major health problems, which the Potters claim to be a miracle in more than one way. His dad also mentioned that he loves visual stimulation, which is a good sign for baby Cullen.
While nurses and doctors are known to care deeply for their patients, it usually only goes to a certain limit. The staff at this hospital, however, went above and beyond. They told the family that they were going to do everything they could to make sure their baby survived, after so much disappointment before. Once they achieved this, they spent countless hours ensuring that he would continue to thrive. When it was time for him to leave the hospital, he became the first baby to have an official graduation ceremony.
Keep on keepin’ on
This baby had one of the most difficult starts to life one can possibly have. 16 hospitals told his parents that he wasn’t worth the risk, that he was not going to make it. The Potters, however, would not give up. After he was born, Cullen didn’t give up either. It shows that we can be stronger than we think we can and survive much more than we know. We’re sure that the Potter family is loving having this wonderful new addition to their family after such a long wait.