INDIANOLA, Iowa -- Jayse Nicholas is something of a miracle.
His biological mother, Nicole Guenther, died 12 days after giving birth to Jayse. "She gave us an amazing gift...she was a good person, and we miss her a lot, and I know she would be so happy with the progress that Jayse has made," said Jayse's permanent legal guardian Kari Ann Dent. Dent is Nicole Guenther's cousin, but says the two were really more like sisters.
"There are days when I just, I miss her so bad and sometimes it`s just hard to deal with," said Dent. Dent says it's hard to heal from that loss, because every time she looks at Jayse, she sees Nikki. "It`s just been really hard. I love Jayse and I love Nikki. I would do anything for Nikki, so taking care of Jayse was just one of those things that we knew we were going to do," said Dent.
From the beginning, the outlook for Jayse wasn't good. "When he was born, they told us that he would more likely be blind and deaf and that he wouldn`t be aware of his surroundings," said Dent. Eight months later, Jayse is not blind, nor deaf, and he's very aware of his surroundings, but the journey hasn't been easy.
"He was born without his gag, suck, swallow, so he would aspirate on his secretions and he needed a lot of oral, deep suctioning and he ended up with pneumonia, off and on for about four months, and we decided to do the trach," said Dent. That decision was a game-changer. "He turned completely around after he got the trach. He just isn`t even the same baby he was before. He`s grown and he`s so much healthier," said Dent.
Jayse still has many challenges. He eats through a feeding tube, has high blood pressure, and is in need of constant monitoring. Dent already has three children that are all grown up and three grandchildren.
She and her husband weren't planning on taking care of another child, but life threw them a curve. "We were empty nesting and next thing you know we have a baby, so it was, it was definitely hard, but it`s not anything I wouldn`t do over and over again," said Dent.
There's also a chili cook off benefit that will be held at Z's Bar & Grill at 1511 South Union St. on Nov. 15 from 1-5:30 p.m. to raise money for therapy supplies for Jayse.