Family reflects on child’s 98 day NICU stay 10 years later

CLEVELAND— For Tera and Treye Johnson, nothing about the birth of their son Quentin was easy.

“We had no idea what the road ahead was going to be like,” Tera Johnson said.

Tera went to the hospital after feeling intense pain below her breastbone at the start of her second trimester.

The Johnsons never expected that would lead to uncovering serious complications.

What You Need To Know

  • The “March for Babies: a Mother of a Movement” walk will be held in Cleveland on Sunday, May 22
  • According to the nonprofit hosting the event, March of Dimes, 1 in 10 babies are born pre-term every year and one woman dies every 12 hours from a pregnancy-related cause
  • One family taking part in the walk said March of Dimes helped them deal with the premature birth of their child

“My blood pressure was 200/120,” Tera Johnson said. “People were shocked that I walked into the emergency room on my own.”

Tera went into antepartum care and after a few days, she was told she could likely go home on bed rest.

But later that same day, her blood work showed abnormalities and doctors told her she needed an emergency C-section at just 26 weeks, 6 days.

“We’re not ready for this. I’m not ready for this,” Tera recalled feeling at the time.

“Wait, we haven’t had a baby shower yet. We don’t have a crib for the baby, where’s the baby going to sleep?” Treye said. “I remember the doctor very matter-of-factly was just like, the baby is not going home with you.”

He described that moment as earth-shattering.

Quentin, or “Q” as they call him, was born at 1 pound, 14 ounces. He was 13 inches long and admitted to the NICU.

“We couldn’t hold him. He was on a feeding tube so I wasn’t breastfeeding,” Tera said. “Things that a lot of parents do, or try to do, and we couldn’t do any of those normal things.”

Twelve days after Q was born, Tera could hold her son for the first time.

“Q was never intubated after that ever again. That one gets me emotional every time,” Tera said while wiping away tears.

Every milestone is major for these parents when reflecting on Q’s 98 day stay in the NICU.

“Holding your kid. Something that’s so normal for most parents, just stirs up so much emotion even ten years later,” Tera said.

Today, their son is just like any other 10-year-old kid who loves things like sports, video games, and music.

“To watch a kid who we thought was going home on oxygen because of his lungs and how underdeveloped they were, play the saxophone is just absolutely stunning,” Tera said.

Treye said the experience changed his perspective on what it means to be a husband and father.

“It was a transformational moment in my life. Probably the most powerful thing I’ve ever had to go through,” Treye said.

The Johnsons said the March of Dimes NICU family support program at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital was crucial in giving them peace of mind.

“Certainly, it didn’t help in the care of our kid, but it helped in the care of us and that’s something that I think a lot of times we put on the side or on the back burner because we’re so worried about our baby. We forget to take care of us. And I really found this group taking care of us,” Tera said.

That’s why it’s important to this family to take part alongside others with a similar story at the March for Babies walk in Cleveland.


Date: May 22, 2022 

Event Time: 09:30 AM 

Registration Time: 8:30 AM

Location: 10820 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44114

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