Friday, January 29, 2010


As part of Ella’s Halo’s mission, we want to make it a priority to help educate others about the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), or sometimes referred to as a newborn intensive care unit. Until we had Ella, we really didn’t understand what a NICU was or how it impacts a baby’s and a family’s life. But as we spent more and more time there, we realized that the staff can become part of your family and the unit becomes a second home. And I am sure this is the same for other families who have spent many weeks and months within a NICU.

A NICU is a unit within a hospital that specializes in the care of an ill or premature newborn infant. NICUs were developed in the 1950s to help provide more skilled support to babies who need specific help. Babies in a NICU may need help in temperature support, isolation from infections, help with feedings and swallowing, respiratory support and just time to grow, develop and get stronger. There tends to be various equipment that your baby may need while in the NICU. Feeding tubes, isolettes, monitors, ventilators, IVs, and machines administering drugs to your baby are usually all found within the NICU and can be very overwhelming to a family. I remember how hard it was to get close to Ella sometimes because of different ventilators, towers of machines giving her drugs and all of the IV lines in her little arms and legs. But the nurses always made sure there was a spot for us to be next to her, to hold her little hand or rub her blonde hair, because we were a part of her care plan too.

Walking into the NICU can feel like stepping into a whole other world. The unit is often busy, with lots of activity, people moving around, beeping monitors and crying babies. And you may feel especially confused and overwhelmed if your baby was unexpectedly born prematurely, like Ella was. But you are comforted by nurses who are so willing to explain what is going on with your baby, and what the monitors, tubes and machines are all doing for your little bundle of joy. NICU staff tries to make the infants’ stay in the unit as comfortable as possible, for the baby and the family. We were very lucky to have 5 primary nurses that took care of our little girl. They were all amazing and made us feel comfortable asking questions, crying, laughing and especially by simply letting us be her parents. The doctors too listened to our concerns and answered our questions but also wanted our feedback. They made us feel as if we had some type of control in an out of control situation.

The time in the NICU for us was very stressful and at times unbearable. However, it is and always will be Ella’s only home. A baby's NICU stay can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding as you watch your child grow and progress day after day. That is why we want Ella’s Halo to provide some additional comfort for babies and families in the NICU. It is their home away from home for anywhere from several days to many, many months. As in Ella’s case, it was simply her home.


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