Born At 27 Weeks
When Sarah Verde's water broke when she was just 22 weeks pregnant, she said, "It felt like my life was over." Having had a stillborn child before, she and her husband Vince were elated when she became pregnant for the second time. Sarah was rushed to the hospital where her son, Cache, survived in the womb without amniotic fluid for another five weeks before being born at 27 weeks gestation. Cache's most pressing problems at birth included a number of lung diseases, which kept him in the hospital for more than 10 months. The Verdes commuted to three hospitals (the last one being a three-hour round-trip drive) over the beginning of Cache's life to visit him and wait for the day he could come home. Now he's cared for around the clock by Sarah and a night nurse while Vince works and attends trade school. He's growing and making progress faster than doctors originally diagnosed, though he is hooked up to oxygen through a tracheal tube, which he might need until the age of 5.
I started photographing the Verdes a little more than a month before Cache was released from the hospital and intend to keep documenting their journey at least until he no longer needs his tracheal tube.
The day Sarah and Vince had been waiting for, Cache was released from the hospital and allowed to come home just before Christmas. In their post-hospital life, the began to transition into a lifestyle of nurse visits, oxygen deliveries and constant monitoring, which they received extensive training on from Cache's caretakers. But with the chaos came joy, as Sarah said she actually feels like a parent now.
Four months after Cache's homecoming, Sarah and Vince have settled into their routines, adapting to the increasingly mobile 14-month-old Cache. He is tethered to oxygen by 25-foot tubing, and Sarah has created a sort of pen in their living room to prevent him from getting too far. She has also connected with a few other mothers in the area who have gone through similar situations with their children, giving her a small support group and Cache "trach friends," other kids with tracheal tubes.