Posted on July 12, 2022

Going the Distance for Baby Rowan

Last August, at nearly 27 weeks gestation, the Bouman twins were born in Marquette, Michigan. Baby Rowan weighed just 1 pound 13 ounces. Her brother Noah, although bigger and deemed healthier, died unexpectedly from sepsis when he was only 8 days old.

During her early time in the hospital, little Rowan experienced severe bleeding on both sides of her brain. She also battled retinopathy of prematurity, chronic lung disease, three episodes of sepsis and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).


A Careful Journey

At 6 weeks old, Rowan was transferred from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Marquette to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for specialist care in Grand Rapids. There, she spent three additional months stabilizing. Because of her brain hemorrhages, Rowan was considered at-risk for severe cerebral palsy.

“It was a time of her life that was critical for making progress,” said Dr. Andrea Bouman, Rowan’s mom and an emergency medical physician with UP Health System-Portage. “We knew we needed a team of early developmental specialists, but we didn’t have access to comprehensive care in our remote hometown.”


Going the Distance

In January, Rowan began treatment at Mary Free Bed Kids where she began an early childhood development program based on her medical history. The hybrid program combined virtual and in-person visits – designed to reduce the toll of traveling with Rowan and her 4-year-old sister.

“Mary Free Bed was the only place that had everything Rowan needed,” said Dr. Bouman. “And they were willing to see us virtually which has been not only less arduous on our family but also incredibly effective.”

Mary Free Bed Early Development Patient, Rowan BoumanSince Rowan’s assessment in January, the Boumans have been seeing Dr. Lisa Voss and their early development team regularly for physical, feeding and nutrition therapies. They make in-person visits to the Grand Rapids Main Campus every two months, with virtual therapy visits in between.

A General Movement Assessment (GMA) showed normal results, meaning Rowan is not currently at risk for moderate to severe cerebral palsy. The team will continue to monitor her for the condition in the years to come.


Meeting Milestones

As they continue the course of Rowan’s treatment, the Boumans are making great strides together. The family is learning the framework of how to play with Rowan, and she’s just achieved her 8-month feeding milestone.

“We will stay with Mary Free Bed for as long as they’ll see us,” said Dr. Bouman. “We are confident she is on the best trajectory imaginable.”

To hear more from the Bouman family and their Mary Free Bed early development care team, watch the video below.