Kelley Benham on 'Never Let Go'
 
12:24
Kelley Benham: 
Hi, this is Kelley Benham. We're ready to start our live chat. Welcome, everyone.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:24 Kelley Benham
12:25
[Comment From Maggie BeaumontMaggie Beaumont: ] 
Thanks for sharing your story of the miraculous journey of your daughter, Juniper. God Bless you and Tom & his sons with many years of joy with your "June Bug".
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:25 Maggie Beaumont
12:26
Kelley Benham: 
Thank you so much!
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:26 Kelley Benham
12:27
Kelley Benham: 
Let me start by saying the reaction has been tremendous. I want to thank everyone who read along and shared the story.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:27 Kelley Benham
12:27
Kelley Benham: 
For all of you who called in distress after Parts 1 and 2, I'm sorry I couldn't give away the ending.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:27 Kelley Benham
12:28
[Comment From Maggie BeaumontMaggie Beaumont: ] 
I did see the pictures that you mentioned yesterday and I hope that in the future you will keep sharing them periodically, so we can continue to watch her grow.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:28 Maggie Beaumont
12:28
Kelley Benham: 
Thanks. I'll try to keep everyone updated in a way that also allows Juniper to grow up without getting a big head.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:28 Kelley Benham
12:28
[Comment From HeatherHeather: ] 
I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story. Although, I must admit I cheated and looked you up on facebook after reading the third part. I just couldn't wait to see how she was doing. My friend just called yesterday to let me know her baby boy was just born at 27 weeks, he is only 2pds 5oz. I have forwarded your story to her to read when she has time.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:28 Heather
12:29
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
How did you decide to tell your story? Wasn't it hard to relive that?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:29 Guest
12:29
Kelley Benham: 
Ha! I tried to make my photos private so people couldn't cheat. Oh well. I will be thinking of your friend. The odds at 27 weeks are pretty good. My cousin had twins at 26 weeks and they're doing great.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:29 Kelley Benham
12:30
Kelley Benham: 
In answer to whether it was hard telling the story: of course it was. There were times I literally cried over my keyboard. But I was reliving the story anyway. Every time I hold my daughter I relive it. So I wanted to capture the experience of what we went through so other people could learn from it. I also wanted to capture it for Juniper.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:30 Kelley Benham
12:30
[Comment From ChristinaChristina: ] 
You are such a talented writer. And to speak of your own story is a true gift. Thank you. Do you think this is the best story you've ever written?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:30 Christina
12:31
Kelley Benham: 
Well, up to now I've been best known for a story about a rooster who attacked a toddler. Google "Rockadoodle Two" and you'll find it. So I guess I'm happy to have a different story to talk about.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:31 Kelley Benham
12:32
Kelley Benham: 
I actually hope that this is the best story I've ever written, because it is the most important.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:32 Kelley Benham
12:32
[Comment From ChristinaChristina: ] 
LOL
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:32 Christina
12:32
[Comment From Maggie BeaumontMaggie Beaumont: ] 
This has nothing to do with Juniper, but tell Tom I still remember with my mouth watering the taste of his wonderful almond cresent cookies.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:32 Maggie Beaumont
12:32
Kelley Benham: 
He'll be so pleased.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:32 Kelley Benham
12:33
[Comment From Brad BBrad B: ] 
Hey Kelley! GREAT series... I know it's going to be a great Christmas and even better New Year for you, Tom and Junebug! :>))
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:33 Brad B
12:34
Kelley Benham: 
Thank you so much! It will be a great Christmas. Juniper will probably destroy the tree and eat one of the ornaments, but that's okay.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:34 Kelley Benham
12:34
[Comment From TinaTina: ] 
Kelley, I wanted to let you know that I posted your stories on Facebook and got so much response from my friends. It went viral.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:34 Tina
12:35
Kelley Benham: 
Wow Tina, thanks! I'm so thrilled with all the response I've been getting. I have had people crying into my voice mail, and I feel a little bad about that. But a lot of moms of preemies tell me the story has really helped, and that's really rewarding.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:35 Kelley Benham
12:35
[Comment From guestguest: ] 
Why did you decide to write this story now, instead of a couple years down the road when Juniper is older?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:35 guest
12:36
Kelley Benham: 
I've also gotten several emails from micropreemies who are now grown, telling me they turned out great.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:36 Kelley Benham
12:36
Kelley Benham: 
The technology and science change so fast, I thought the story might not have a very long shelf life. I wanted to write it while it was still relevant, because I really wanted readers to learn from it.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:36 Kelley Benham
12:36
[Comment From BetsyBetsy: ] 
HI Kelley, Thanks so much for your story. My daughter was only born a week early, but she tried to "accessorize" with her cord and had breathing problems. The people who work in the NICU truly are special, and this brought it back to me.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:36 Betsy
12:38
Kelley Benham: 
The NICU is an amazing place, and the people who work there are wonderful. I can't imagine dealing with everything they see in a day, and with making the kinds of decisions they have to make. They became like family to us.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:38 Kelley Benham
12:38
[Comment From ChristinaChristina: ] 
What has been the reaction to the story? By people, health care providers, and others?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:38 Christina
12:39
Kelley Benham: 
It has all been overwhelming and validating. The doctors tell me that I was able to capture what the NICU is really like, that I got it right, and as a journalist that means a lot to me, because I did work very hard in reporting the story to get it exactly right. They also say that it has allowed them to see what the experience is like from a parent's perspective.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:39 Kelley Benham
12:40
[Comment From TinaTina: ] 
Will you tell Juniper all the details when she's old enough to understand?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:40 Tina
12:40
Kelley Benham: 
Of course. This is her story more than anything else. She carries the scars. She needs to know where they came from, what she went through, how strong she was from her first day.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:40 Kelley Benham
12:41
[Comment From JeaneJeane: ] 
Juniper is a gift from God, Kelley. How precious she is.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:41 Jeane
12:41
Kelley Benham: 
Thanks Jeane. We think she's pretty great.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:41 Kelley Benham
12:41
[Comment From RobinRobin: ] 
I'm the mom of a 30 weeker (now 7) who was very very sick at birth. I think your story is great in that it gives depth to the preemie experience. I still find myself very angry when people act like preemies just need to grow and don't realize that being premature in and of itself is quite painful, not even accounting for all the pricks, pokes, and tubes.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:41 Robin
12:42
Kelley Benham: 
People think they are just like other babies, only smaller. But inside every system in their body is immature, fragile and weak. Even when they get bigger, they aren't just like a full-term kid. They're different.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:42 Kelley Benham
12:42
[Comment From TracyTracy: ] 
Just want to say "Thank You!" once again Kelley. Your story will help countless NICU parents, past, present and future. Also, it is such an inspiration to those of us working in the NICUs everywhere. PRICELESS, just like Junebug!
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:42 Tracy
12:42
Kelley Benham: 
Thanks Tracy!
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:42 Kelley Benham
12:42
[Comment From St Pete MomSt Pete Mom: ] 
I appreciated your blunt honesty. I will say that I have been so fortunate to birth 6 healthy babies. I'm always so practical and calculated about things - especially finances. Reading your article made me really wonder what I would have done were I in the same position. Weighing out the odds, looking at the mounting bills... I'm so thankful that I was never in that position. I'm so glad that the outcome was so positive for you, and I appreciated your honesty in telling ALL of your thoughts, emotions, fears, joys. Really, it's so personal, and to have laid it all out there for masses must have taken a lot of courage, and you must have such care for others to want to share. Thank you.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:42 St Pete Mom
12:44
Kelley Benham: 
I am the same way. Very practical. A situation like this forces you to a whole new place. You never know who you will be in that place until you get there. Fortunately, while Juniper's medical costs were daunting, we had great private insurance that covered it. And even if we hadn't, that wouldn't have been a factor in what kind of care she received from the hospital.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:44 Kelley Benham
12:44
[Comment From ElviaElvia: ] 
Kelley, I loved the series. Thank you for sharing your story. There were so many great and heartbreaking details in each story. How did you keep track of everything? Did you keep a daily journal while Juniper was in the hospital? Also, did you read any books or stories to help you write your own?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:44 Elvia
12:45
Kelley Benham: 
I don't really journal. But I did write down a couple things after I held her the first time and after she had the surgery. My husband took some notes as well. And I pulled a lot of details out of her medical chart, which ran 7,000 pages. I read a lot of memoirs from other people who had been through similar experiences, but I didn't read anything that captured exactly what I wanted to do.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:45 Kelley Benham
12:47
Kelley Benham: 
I approached the story as a journalist, interviewing all the people involved. I checked my memory against the recollections of others, and against all the documents available, from photos and video to medical records. There's a file on tampabay.com/neverletgo that explains all the reporting.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:47 Kelley Benham
12:47
[Comment From guestguest: ] 
Has Juniper shown any signs of knowing she is "different" from other children yet?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:47 guest
12:48
Kelley Benham: 
No, and her differences are not very obvious. She's a little more famous, this week. But that will fade. She's tiny for her age, but that will just make her a better acrobat.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:48 Kelley Benham
12:48
[Comment From MaddieMaddie: ] 
I followed your story and have shared your video and part 2 with nursing students. It is important for them to understand the pathophysiology and even more important the human agony. June Bug is truly a miracle. Thank you for telling us every single detail.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:48 Maddie
12:49
Kelley Benham: 
Thank you so much for sharing the story. I'm really flattered when people who work in hospitals tell me they learned something from it.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:49 Kelley Benham
12:49
[Comment From ChristinaChristina: ] 
Is Juniper sensitive to anything resembling medical equipment?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:49 Christina
12:51
Kelley Benham: 
Great question. She's really not. She sees a lot of doctors for follow ups: pulmonology, gastroenterology, opthamology, etc. She has to get a shot every month during flu season to protect her lungs from RSV. But she doesn't show any sign that she's freaked out. If anything, she's more social than other kids. And she seems to have a very high pain tolerance.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:51 Kelley Benham
12:51
[Comment From SuzanneSuzanne: ] 
Kelley, thank you SO much for sharing an inspiring story that was so personal. I must admit I cheated after reading the first part and googled your family and found when you were on the News Channel 8 telethon to raise money and I saw your precious baby girl and was so relieved it all worked out. You are an amazing writer and I am sure you are a beautiful Mom as well! Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!!
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:51 Suzanne
12:52
Kelley Benham: 
Thank you so much! I knew a few people would cheat and find the telethon video, and I just decided that was okay. But I also heard that a lot of people suffered through the agony of waiting to find out, and I think that was a truer way to experience the story. For us, as we lived it, that agony stretched over six months.
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:52 Kelley Benham
12:53
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
how has she been with meeting her developmental milestones, it looks from the photos that she has and is continuing to do wonderfully?
Wednesday December 19, 2012 12:53 Guest
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