Statistics show that more than 380,000 babies are born preterm in the United States each year. These babies face a greater likelihood of death before their first birthday, lifelong disabilities or even chronic health conditions. These scary statistics hit so close to home, being a mother of not one, but three babies born preterm and needing to spend time in the NICU.
My first pregnancy went great; I had followed all of the medical advice given to me. But at 27 weeks, as a result of my diagnosis of preeclampsia, I went into labor and delivered my first child. I can remember when my husband and I entered the NICU for the first time to see our baby. He was so tiny, laying in the isolettee, weighing less than two pounds and hooked to different monitors and machines. At that time, it felt like such a scary place, filled with so much uncertainty. As the months passed, we learned a new language, full of medical terms and ways to communicate care to our baby. Eight months later, we were finally able to take him home. We were equally as excited as we were nervous, but knew the care we received and the things we learned in the NICU would help us along the way.
Six years later, my second son was born and spent two weeks in the NICU due to preterm labor. While his stay was significantly shorter, it was still just as nerve-wracking as the first time. Two years later, our third son was born and had to spend a short time in the NICU as well. Each time, we were so fortunate to have the Woman’s NICU staff there for us. The doctors, nurses and support staff all worked tirelessly to ensure our babies received the best care, while also helping to put my husband and me at ease through their care and attentiveness. I am happy to say that my boys are now 11, 5 and 2 ½ and thriving!
Having three premature babies made me search for answers as to why and how this could happen. Surely there was something that wasn’t right or something I wasn’t doing. But, in all of my research, there hasn’t been a definite cause for preterm labor. It’s something that simply happens! Because of my experience, I found a passion for helping others in similar situations. I was blessed and fortunate to find a position as the Family Support Navigator for Woman’s NICU. Now, I am able to help parents going through similar situations to mine and provide them with the same compassion and care that was given to me and my family.
Today, I work alongside the most talented and caring NICU staff. Together, we have worked to expand educational services to help parents better care for their special needs babies. We have also done more to commemorate those special occasions that families may experience while being in the NICU. Through it all, our goal is still to provide those infants and their families the best care, while trying to normalize a scary and often overwhelming time in their lives.
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