GRAND FORKS — Nov. 23 was an exciting day for Cory and Brittany King — their new bundle of joy, Thomson John King, was born. Even though he arrived early, he was a healthy 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
In September, Brittany's water broke at 24 weeks. She spent three weeks in the hospital before being allowed to go back home, but then, there was another setback.
Brittany tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after giving birth. Then, her husband Cory, and their 3-year-old daughter Suttyn did, too.
Because of this, their new baby Thomson could not come home.
"It's heart-wrenching," said Jenna Smaby, a friend of Brittany's and chiropractor at Paragon Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Grand Forks. "You don't imagine not being able to hold your newborn baby."
Cory was emotional as he explained his family's situation in an interview with WDAY News.
"You never really think your family is going to be in this spot," he said. "Looking at an empty nursery is hard — we just want him home."
Brittany's parents are taking care of their newborn grandson for his first few weeks. At the same time, they were informed their daughter was struggling with COVID-19 and might not survive. Patty Hostar said it's hard to know that her daughter she talks with five times a day is struggling, but the newborn baby Thomson helped with the prayers.
"When holding the baby and feeding him I feel her closeness to me," she said. "I feel like you can't get any closer than that."
The family did get some good news this week: Brittany is improving to the point where she can respond to doctors and recently asked to get up and walk around.
"This is a huge step in the right direction," said Cory, who asks the community for one thing as Christmas approaches: "Keep her in your hearts and minds so she can get home to our family."
Cory and Suttyn remain separated from the new member of their family and won't be able to reunite with him until Dec. 7.
It was unclear this week when Brittany King would be able to hold her newborn son again since it's still unknown how much longer she will be in the intensive care unit at the hospital.
In the meantime, the Grand Forks community is rallying around the family.
Brittany has been a longtime patient at Paragon Chiropractic & Wellness Center, which has launched an effort to help the family through isolation and to make sure Christmas goes on.
Smaby said Brittany was all about the small things in life, like bringing a little something for everyone from time to time when she had an appointment.
That's why the business hopes to make Christmas special for the King family, just like Brittany would have done if she was home, Smaby said.
From now until Monday, Dec. 21, Paragon Chiropractic & Wellness Center is collecting Christmas gifts for the King family.
The business is hoping to donate the following items:
Baby items in newborn size
3-year-old girl items (size 4T - 5T for clothing)
Gift cards for Brittany and Cory King
Anyone interested in helping can send items to: 2860 10th Avenue N., Suite 200, Grand Forks, ND 58203
Smaby said they are also willing to pick up donated items. Anyone interested in helping in that way can text 218-791-1815.
Donors are automatically entered to win a gift card for Kittsona, a boutique with locations in Fargo and Grand Forks.
Cory and Brittany King also have a personal Venmo account under the name Cory-King-51.