Each year, a family is put forward by our Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) Team as one that embodies the work of our organization. This year is no exception and we were very grateful when the Judd family accepted our invitation to represent the CVCDA for 2023.
Charlotte, Jeff and their two year old son Milo Judd will play an essential role as the Ambassador Family not only representing the CVCDA but also as the faces of the 48th CVCDA Children’s Telethon taking place on November 5th, 2023!
Jen McInnes is the family’s Infant Development Consultant and the Program Lead. Her and the family’s team of service providers at the CVCDA had brought them forward as Ambassador Family. “I nominated them because they are an inspiration. They went through an extremely stressful time with the unexpected early arrival of Milo during the pandemic. The future was uncertain in the early days and they have persevered and come out stronger and more confident. They had Milo hitting the (ski) slopes at one year!”, said Jen.
Photography contributed by Crystal Clear Photography
Their son, Milo was born 10 weeks early at 30 weeks. He weighed just over 2lbs. due to pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). While in the NICU, parents Jeff and Charlotte were referred to CVCDA’s Infant Development Program (IDP) and began their services with the CVCDA just a few months after they arrived home, healthy.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place at that time, they met in the garden and chatted through their birth, NICU stay and concerns they had. Jen asked them about Milo’s development so far and how often they were seeing the pediatrician. At that time, there were concerns over feeding as weight gain was small along with Torticollis. Regarding feeding, Jen was able to refer the family for support through the CVCDA’s Early Intervention Therapy services of Physiotherapy and Speech-Language Pathology.
They continued work with the CVCDA Physiotherapist for a number of months until Milo was just under one and she was happy with his motor skill development. Milo’s feeding issues never came down to medical diagnosis and it was treated as an aversion, in which Jen worked with them to provide infant massage in the hopes to relax Milo before a feed. Milo would show hunger cues but then bat the bottles away and right away show cues that he was done feeding!
Since over coming early concerns, Jen has been their main support for infant development and assessments regarding meeting milestones and any new concerns.
Since Milo was walking at 14 months old, he has attended the Infant Development Program’s playgroups. Milo has loved these from the beginning. Before COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, Milo didn’t have too much interaction with babies, toddlers or adults that were not his family or through medical appointments.
“For our family, the IDP playgroups were the biggest highlight of the program, it also meant that we were able to meet other families that had similar experiences to us. The infant development playgroup that we started in at the beginning was for those who were walking. Many of the other toddlers were further along in their development than Milo at this point. He was only just walking and not yet able to stand up on his own. We believe that seeing all the other toddlers already doing this assisted Milo to go from zero-running!” said Charlotte.
“Talking with Jen and other professionals through the CVCDA provided us with, or what feels like, a holistic approach to Milo’s needs and development rather than looking to books and infant development apps that are not aimed at premature baby’s development”, said Charlotte. “Jen also provided reassurance and advice on ways to help Milo reach the next milestone and continue with his development.”
“Working with the Judd family has been absolutely delightful. They are warm, caring and kind people who adore their boy and they want to do everything they can to ensure he has every opportunity for health, growth and development”, said Jen McInnes. “They are a good representation of families served through IDP and the CVCDA as a whole because we celebrate diversity here.”
Milo is now two and a half years old weighing 24lbs. He is an extremely active boy with much love for wildlife and the outdoors at his young age including many experiences such as climbing, swimming, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, skiing, biking, gardening and camping with his family. He has multiple overseas adventures under his belt and is very caring of others. Milo is now also attending pre-school and will continue to attend IDP play groups until he reaches three years old.
The Judd family will be a part of helping us spread our message through the Telethon. The posters will be distributed throughout the Comox Valley, a special Telethon video featuring their family will be shown throughout the Telethon and on various media platforms. In addition, the Judd’s will become a part of a 47-year tradition of the CVCDA and the Telethon!
Why is this so important? We want our Comox Valley community to visually connect to the work we do here at the CVCDA. Our programs are diverse and broad-reaching in the community, helping more than a thousand children and families per year through the services provided by our talented and dedicated team members. Families who use our services realize the importance of what we provide for children in the community and through the Telethon we are able to share that message and the need for our services with the Comox Valley.
Each of our programs rely on various forms of funding and while we have generous support through contracts and grants, the need is still greater than what we are able to provide. The funds raised through the Telethon provide a crucial bridge to close the gap in what we need to offer great services. Whether it is creating greater accessibility, building new therapy spaces or adding additional services – the funds raised from the Telethon are important to the sustainability of the CVCDA.
Milo’s Birth Story
In the lead up to Milo’s arrival, Charlotte was admitted to the Comox hospital. However, her team there could see that the situation was changing fairly quickly and the Comox hospital was not equipped for her to remain. She transferred from Comox Hospital to Nanaimo, as there were no beds at the time in Victoria or Vancouver. Charlotte was 29 weeks pregnant with mild pre-eclampsia. Due to only being 29 weeks pregnant she needed to go to either Victoria or one of the Vancouver hospitals for a higher level of care. However, at that point it was not considered an emergency and there were no “beds rest” beds available in these hospitals. Nanaimo hospital agreed they would admit her there and plan the transfer as soon as a bed became available or the situation changed.
This was during November/December 2020, as COVID restrictions were in place. This meant she endured many COVID tests and Jeff was not able to accompany her. The next day, all things changed and Charlotte was helicoptered to the Royal Columbian Hospital. Many more tests were completed and she was finally given a bed around 1am on Sunday 6th December.
The next day started early with more tests and scans and later that day she was informed it was imminent and for Jeff to make his way over from the Island the next day. At that time, Charlotte was also given her first steroid injection to help prepare Milo’s lungs for an early arrival. An hour or so later things did not feel right and she had more tests and at that time called Jeff to tell him to leave work and get to Vancouver tonight!
Charlotte admits, she never really did tell Jeff the true seriousness at that time as she wanted to make sure he got to the hospital safely. She was in early labour and Milo’s heart rate was dropping with each small contraction. Thankfully, it would recover in between.
Jeff arrived from the last ferry off the island, having mic dropped at worked on opening weekend at Mt. Washington where they both work. There was not much sleeping during the night of the 6th and early into the 7th of December. Close monitoring continued and by morning Charlotte’s kidney function was the final straw sending her and Milo for a c-section. The anesthesiologist met with me and we planned for a spinal, once getting to the OR and sitting still for eight tries of getting the needle in, it seemed the spinal wasn’t going to work and we were going to try an epidural instead. On the ninth needle poke it was in and the epidural medication was given, except at the this point Milo’s heart rate was extremely low and we did not have long to wait for the epidural to kick in. It did not kick in quick enough and very quickly she was put under a general anesthetic.
During all this, Jeff was out waiting in the hallway with no idea what was going on until finally someone came to let him know, Charlotte was going under and to be ready to go to the NICU in about 10 mins. In the end, the epidural did not take except for a one inch section on her right leg, which was a surprise to her and the nurses in recovery!
Milo spent three weeks in the Royal Columbian Hospital NICU and then once strong enough he was transferred via the Infant Transport Team in the fixed wing plane from Vancouver to Nanaimo. Milo spent just over another four weeks in Nanaimo NICU before arriving home healthy.