Family thankful despite spending Thanksgiving in the hospital

CINCINNATI -- If you asked most people what they're thankful for on Thanksgiving, spending the holiday in the hospital wouldn’t be high on the list.

But the Hartzel family is different.

As Jennifer and Tyler Hartzel sat with their newborn at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Thursday, it was their first Thanksgiving together as a family.

Steven Lane Hartzel was born Nov. 12 in what Jennifer described as “the perfect pregnancy.”

But during his birth, everything went wrong. The newborn’s head was extremely swollen.

“When he was born, one-third of his blood was between his skull and his skin," Jennifer said.

Baby Lane, as he's called, was in very serious trouble.

He had a burst blood vessel in his skull and doctors were using terms like “brain damage” and “respirator.”

"They weren't sure if he would make it or not, if he would be able to breathe off the ventilator by himself or eat on his own," Jennifer said.  

Sixteen days before the holiday, the Falmouth, Ky., husband and wife weren’t even sure if they would be leaving the hospital with a baby -- let alone celebrate Thanksgiving with him.

But Thursday, they did celebrate.

"We will be here at Cincinnati Children's, pigging out on the cafeteria food," Jennifer said.

Despite a grim prognosis from doctors early on, and still many lingering questions about the long-term outlook for Lane, "he's breathing on his own and eating bottles like any other normal baby," Jennifer said.

With that news, the Hartzels – all three of them – will go home Friday.

And for that, they are truly thankful.

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