Nolan, born premature, is under the care of the doctor at Edward Hospital who cared for his mother 24 years ago
While fairly uncommon, Dr. Bob Covert said he occasionally runs into former patients he's treated in the 25 years he's been working at Edward Hospital's Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
But one of his current patients is a first for him.
"I'm scratching my memory, and while we've had a lot interesting stories here, I don't think treating a baby of an ex-patient is on that list," Covert said. "I've seen a lot of babies grow up to adulthood, but this is the first one where a baby who was once in the NICU here has delivered a NICU baby here, too."
Nolan John Reese was supposed to be born in mid-January. He arrived early last month instead. And for the last month, he's been under the care of Covert at Edward's NICU, where 24 years earlier his mother, Lizzie, was also treated by Covert.
"It was maybe a couple days after Nolan was born that I mentioned to a nurse that I was in the NICU here when I was a baby," said Nolan's mother, Lizzie Reese. "And the nurse said something about Dr. Covert being here that long, so I called my parents and it was my dad who remembered him."
Reese said her father remembered having a discussion with Covert about a procedure that his youngest of three daughters needed shortly after she was born with underdeveloped lungs 24 years ago.
"He said it was the kind of conversation about one of your children that sticks with you," Reese said.
"When I got to work that morning one of the nurses said, 'You gotta hear this back story,'" Covert added.
In 1997, Reese had been born a few weeks early and needed a chest tube and ventilator to help her breathe.
"This was a big deal then, especially when we were developing our initial (newborn intensive care) services here at the time," Covert recalled.
As a newborn, Reese spent eight days in the NICU before being released.
"While she was in there, we could only sit with her for an hour or two at a time," Reese's mother, Sherry Meyers, remembers. "It's a lot different today."
Nolan and his parents spend almost all day together at the hospital now. Reese and her husband, Garrett, leave at night to sleep at her parents' house, then return each morning to the hospital to be with Nolan.
The Reeses now live in Texas, where Garrett is in the Navy starting flight training.
Lizzie Reese had come by herself to stay with her parents in Bolingbrook to celebrate a number of family events in October and expected to return to Texas after a long weekend.
But Nolan had other plans.
Reese said her water broke in the middle of the night while she was sleeping, but she didn't realize what was happening because she was only six months along and had not experienced any pregnancy issues before this.
Her mother, a nurse, suggested she go get checked out at urgent care, and that's when she learned she had gone into early labor and was told she needed to go to an emergency room.
For nearly three weeks, Reese rested at Edward Hospital in the antepartum unit.
"I joke that he got restless and kicked something loose," Reese said.
Reese began experiencing bleeding. While Nolan's vital signs never showed any signs of distress, doctors were worried about his mother.
Just 29 weeks along, Nolan was born Nov. 4.
"Nolan is quite different than what Lizzie went through," Covert said. "He's definitely extremely premature, but other than that he's sort of had a milder course than his mom who was almost full term. Compared to the average 29-weeker, I've got to say he's done remarkably well."
The Reeses and Meyerses credit their faith for helping them navigate the uncertainty and fear that came with both births.
"His middle name is John, because John is the disciple who knows how much Jesus loved him," Reese explained.
Even Covert believes there was some level of divine intervention in Nolan's birth.
"They don't even live here, so what are the chances?" Covert pondered.
"She didn't come back to Naperville for no reason."
And while all three of Sherry and Walt Meyers' daughters were born at different hospitals, that's not the case for their grandkids.
"Nolan is the fourth grandchild all within three years," Sherry Meyers said. "And all four were born at Edward."