Monday, March 5, 2012

March Feature Family

At the beginning of each month Ella's Halo will have a NICU family tell their story about life in the NICU with their baby. Our hope is that by featuring different families others will have a better understanding of the difficult, roller-coaster ride many face when their baby is in the NICU. Ella's Halo created the Feature Family series, if you are interested in sharing your story, please email us at to share your NICU story and to be a future Feature Family.
**Sorry, our post is a couple of days late this month.  We have been busy planning Bowling for Babies and March 1st got away from us.

This sweet mother contacted us at Ella's Halo and told us she loved the real stories that our families write for our feature family stories.  So I asked her to write her own story and share it with us.  Little did I know that her older daughter had enjoyed some of the books Ella's Halo donated while her little sister Emma was in the NICU.  So glad we are helping not only babies and families but siblings too. 

Emma Michael
Written by Rebecca Michael
Former NICU Mommy

In February 2011, my husband and I found out I was pregnant! After suffering a miscarriage in the fall, we were excited to be expecting again. We anticipated an easy pregnancy, as our older daughter Madilyn had been full term with an easy labor.

During the first trimester I’d had some spotting, but ultrasounds confirmed that baby was growing perfectly. Around 18 weeks the spotting was more frequent and heavy, but weekly visits to the doctor and numerous ultrasounds never revealed any issues. Baby was always healthy, great sized, and kicking and there wasn’t an obvious source of bleeding. We agreed with the doctor that it was probably just going to be a bit of a nuisance through the rest of the pregnancy. No big deal, right?

At 22 weeks and 3 days, I woke up at 2am in a wet bed – my water had broken. We headed for the hospital and then I was taken by ambulance to UMMC Riverside because I was still at such an early gestation and they had a Level III NICU that would be better equipped to handle whatever the future would bring. The first 24 hours in the Antepartum unit were a whirlwind. I wasn’t in active labor (no contractions, no dilation) and all test results came back negative for any infections. So, the plan was to STAY on hospital bedrest with close monitoring to keep Baby in until the 23-week mark: before 23 weeks, they can’t perform any life-saving measures as the baby would just be too small. So we waited and prayed that I could make it 4 more days to that 23-week mark!

At 23 weeks and 1 day, I started having contractions. After an ultrasound they determined that I no longer had any amniotic fluid; Baby was in distress and also breech. They started to prep me for a C-Section but as that was happening Emma had other plans. She was welcomed into the world after one quick push, 15 minutes after my husband sent an email to his work letting them know he wouldn’t be there that day. James followed our 1 pound, 6 ounce baby girl to the NICU and the journey began.

There were SO many ups and downs during our 133-day stay – we managed to avoid most of the major problems that micropreemies typically encounter, but Emma was intubated for 6 weeks, had meningitis, developed a blood clot right above her heart, and also received injections into her eyes for ROP. At one point, she had a “line” (IVs, Arterial line, PICC line) in every extremity, including her head! We made it through the first 24 hours, then the first 72 hours, then the first week and first month. We slept with the phone next to our bed every night, hoping it wouldn’t ring with bad news. Life was such a whirlwind of worry, trying to find out everything we could about anything affecting Emma, pumping milk every few hours, keeping our families in the loop, and attempting to maintain some normalcy for Madilyn. Our doctors and nurses were amazing and took so much time explaining to us everything that was happening to Emma and teaching us how to care for her. After waiting a month to finally hold her, daily Kangaroo Care time was such a blessing.

While Emma was in the NICU, Madilyn and both sets of grandparents spent a lot of time in the waiting room. Madilyn LOVED reading all the books donated by Ella’s Halo and especially liked showing the pictures to her baby sister when she could be crib-side!

Emma came home the week of Thanksgiving (exactly 19 weeks after she was born) and we certainly have a LOT to be thankful for. The NICU experience is not one you ever expect to take and being there for so long gives a great appreciation for life. We saw many families whose stay there didn’t end as positively as ours, and we’re so appreciative of Ella’s Halo and their work to make the NICU more comfortable and warm in a less-than-ideal situation for every family. You are amazing!


Megan said...

Much love, Becca, James, Madilyn, and Emma!! It was great getting to meet you at Amplatz!! Can't wait to see you again, along with that lil peanut!
Thank you, Ella's Halo, for picking such a great family!! Much deserved!!

Anonymous said...

It is great to read your whole story. It warms our hearts that you are at home with a healthy baby!! We agree with your comments about the Fairview NICU staff. We would not have made it through our stay without them. Thank you Ella's Halo for making our stay as comfortable as possible.

The Paradise family

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