The Ivey Family

January 7, 2016 started like any other day for Stormie and Cameron. The expecting parents were excited – Stormie was carrying the couple’s first children, two twin boys, and they were eagerly getting things ready for their growing family. However, after noticing Stormie was bleeding, they went from excited to anxious as they entered the Emergency Room at CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, Texas.

At the hospital, the couple was completely shocked to learn Stormie was going into labor. At just 23 weeks along, she had not expected her twins, Jensen and Oliver, to arrive for at least another three months. Upon further examination, the medical team advised her that Jensen’s cord was failing and he wasn’t getting the nutrients he needed. Due to the dire situation, Stormie was placed on immediate bedrest as her medical team worked to stop the ongoing labor and delay the twin’s arrival as long as they could.

However, just three weeks later, Stormie gave birth to her sons… micro-preemies, weighing just one pound each.

The next couple months were a blur. Since Jensen and Oliver were both in the NICU, Stormie and Cameron spent most of their time at the hospital. While Oliver was steadily improving, coming off of the breathing tube at just two-months-old, Jensen was showing a slower progression. On April 18th, the decision was made by his medical team to CareFlite him to Children’s Medical Center [Children’s] in Dallas, where he could receive a higher level of care.

With Jensen in Dallas and Oliver still back home in Longview, the couple routinely traveled the 2.5 hours back and forth to visit with each son. When Oliver had progressed enough to be discharged, the family temporarily relocated to Dallas for Jensen’s continued care. A social worker told them about the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas [RMHD], where the family stayed for the very first time in May of 2016.

“Cameron had to travel for work, so it was just me and my mom at first,” Stormie explains. “I needed someone to watch Oliver, since he wasn’t allowed in the NICU with me.”

The family stayed at the House until September that year, when Jensen was finally cleared to go home. Since then, the couple has traveled back for additional, specialty medical care for Jensen, who has had issues with his lungs, heart, and feeding. While most of those issues resolved themselves, Jensen still struggles with feeding and has been enrolled in the Intensive Feeding Program at Children’s.

“It’s really sensory stuff for Jensen,” Stormie begins. “He has a problem with textures, chewing, trying different varieties of food, and tube weaning. This is what they have been working on with him in the program.”

In addition to his GI issues, Jensen was diagnosed with Autism in 2021.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Autism is common in premature babies. On its website, it states, “Prematurity has been identified as a risk factor for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) … A statistically significant increase in rates of autism was found with each additional week of prematurity.”

During the school year, Jensen attends an ABA Clinic in their hometown, run by a psychologist who works one-on-one with him. This summer, the family stayed at RMHD, where Jensen successfully completed his feeding program at Children’s. Both his family and medical team are really encouraged by the progress he’s been making.

“We hope this is our last feeding program, if he doesn’t regress,” Stormie says. “We’re hoping the next time we come back to close up his [gastronomy] tube will be the last time, God willing.”

The family will miss staying at the House, but they are excited about what this progress means for Jensen.

“We will miss RMHD. When I first came here, I expected it to be like a hotel… not a home,” Stormie says. “We get fed every meal and there’s so much to do here and so much help. It was great to make friends, because it’s so much easier when you have someone to turn to and learn from.”