Amy and Tina are the Executive Directors of BloomNICU, both with children who required care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Together they lead a group of passionate volunteers looking to make a positive impact on the future care of patients and families in the NICU.
On November 1st, 2011 I was induced to deliver our miracle twins at 36 weeks gestation. I was nervous, apprehensive and excited all at the same time; we had waited a very long time for these two little people! Our beautiful daughter, Camden, was born healthy and crying weighing 6 lbs. 10 oz. Eight minutes later our handsome son, Dutch who weighed 5 lbs. 14 oz., arrived very quiet and very still. My heart caught in my chest as sheer joy turned to panic and fear. He was not placed in my arms but rather immediately whisked over to be assessed by the many NICU staff who were in attendance at the birth. He was having problems breathing and was lethargic, thus needed to go to the NICU immediately. I felt so absolutely helpless not being able to hold him, comfort him, kiss the perfect baby cheeks I had waited so long for.
Being a mom to twins was such a different experience in the hospital than it was with my other two daughters. After about 4 hours, I was finally able to meet my son. The minute I stepped into the NICU and saw him in the glass bed, I started crying. He had machines hooked up to him and there was constant noise; both from his monitors and all the others in the room. He looked so tiny and I wasn’t able to hold him; that touch that every mother longs for with their newborn. I could only hold his little hand through the windows in the bed. Leaving him there and returning to my room was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. It broke my heart that he was so far away from his sister and I in the maternity ward; away from the little sibling he had grown side by side with for 8 months and my comforting heartbeat he had heard in utero for that same time.
There were challenges in trying to care for Camden, while running back and forth to the NICU for feedings, bathing, doctor rounds, etc. And every moment that I was in the NICU with Dutch, the staff were so patient, so kind, so helpful and always took the time to answer questions that we had and let us know all the progress he was making. They even let me help give him his first little bath; an experience I was so glad to not miss out on.
Those same amazing staff were instrumental in getting him healthy enough to be by his twin sister’s side once again. This special day happened to be my birthday, when a beautiful nurse knocked on my door, said “Special birthday delivery” and placed Dutch in the bassinet next to Camden where they instantly turned their heads into each other and went to sleep. I am forever grateful to them – they saved my son’s life and gave me this handsome boy I get to watch grow into a strong man – My Sweet Fighter Boy Dutchie.
As first time parents and enduring a not great pregnancy when I went to RUH not feeling well, I was in complete shock and absolutely terrified when labor and delivery told me I was in labour and would be delivering a baby at 33 weeks gestation (7 weeks premature). I was completely terrified, the labour and delivery was horrible, I was unprepared and coupled with many complications. The delivery room was crowded with nurses and specialist, NICU personnel and residents. I hated every minute of it.
Our beautiful daughter finally arrived and was taken immediately to NICU, after receiving oxygen for only 30 minutes she was able to breathe on her own but was in an isolate for monitoring vitals, and body temperature for 10 days. We were told to expect to be in NICU for up to the expected due date and not shorter than 35 weeks gestation….babies are never released earlier than that.
She was able to suck so received a pacifier and bottle feedings. Although she was accepting a bottle she could not keep any food down and was dropping weight dangerously quick, going from 5.5 lbs to 4 lbs. This and difficulty maintaining other vitals was so stressful and scary. We were rarely able to hold her and sat for hours touching her through the isolate, watching her gasp for air and just sleep. Nurses kept telling us it’s okay “sleep and grow” (we still say that at home). The absolute saving grace was the NICU nurses and staff. AMAZING. They guided us through every step, explaining the challenges of her gestational age, her daily goals and accomplishments, noting interesting personality traits they were witnessing when we were not there. For the first number of days, I could not leave without feeling like I was abandoning her, that she needed nurturing and love in order to thrive. And guess what? The NICU staff was doing fulfilling that role, they allowed my baby to thrive when I couldn’t be there.
I was able to call any time of the day or evening for updates, which was very comforting as you can’t be there 24/7. I often sat in NICU witnessing some of the other families experiences and tragedies, wondering oh my, how do these nurses work here day in and day out. I was an emotional basket case. I finally asked one of the nurses and her response was “because it’s where the greatest miracles happen”. And it is so true, what some of these babies come through, the challenges they endure, and are only able to do it with the love of their family and with the assistance of the NICU staff … this truly is miraculous. Charley was released from NICU at 34 weeks and 5 days, two days shy of the 35 week requirement. This was a miracle, the staff told us that everyday. They told us that our daughter was remarkable but I think they are remarkable! I realize not all experiences are positive and that many preemies have development problems, but I can tell you that those nurses and support staff work their butts off and provide love, support, encouragement and the ability to thrive and survive to so many babies.
Charley remained at 30% for weight until she was between 6 and 9 months old. She then had a couple of catch up growth spurts and is now doing wonderful!
Our success is warranted to the tremendous support BloomNICU receives from local community through corporate sponsorship and from the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan. A variety of sponsorship packages are available.