Be Part of Her Story:
Problem: Difficulty maintaining breathing and heartbeat
Solution: Feeding tube and learn to “suck, swallow and breathe”
Results: Right on track!
My husband and I rode the emotional roller coaster of infertility for 6 years before becoming pregnant with Izzy. During those years we went to several different infertility specialists, Doctors and clinics only to be told there is nothing "wrong" with either one of you! The list of infertility drugs I took is as long as a phone book and month after month we were met with disappointment. Mentally, I figured I would quit trying when I reached 40 years old. In May of 2015, we learned that I was pregnant, and we were over the top excited!
At 29 weeks and 4 days (a Saturday morning) my water broke. Mike was out of town, so I drove myself to Mercy only to learn I would be transferred to Children's Minneapolis because they had a level 3 NICU. Once at Children's I was on bed rest in hopes of delaying contractions and an early delivery. The goal was 4 weeks of bed rest. I made it 3 days!
On Monday, November 23, 2015, Isabella Kathryn Strauss ("Izzy") was born after an emergency c-section. Her breathing was labored and her heart would stop when I would have a contraction, so the c-section was the only option. We spent the first 2 weeks in the NICU at Children's Hospital......Oh goodness we had NO IDEA what we were walking into!! To come out of the fog of anesthesia only to see your tiny baby hooked up to monitors, tubes, and machines is horrifying. Every machine makes noises, loud noises, that serve as a constant reminder of the long road ahead of us. Izzy was born at 2 pounds 14 ounces.
Our doctors and nurses at the NICU were EXTREMELY caring, patient, professional......Saints in scrubs! Everything was taught to us, explained to us and we were encouraged to participate in everything from care times to diaper changes to every process and procedure that was performed. No question went unanswered. My husband and I are both law enforcement officers. Our jobs present us with countless eye-opening situations; however, NOTHING in our careers remotely came close to preparing us for what we witnessed in the NICU. Much like in law enforcement, I am all-too aware that the doctors and nurses in the NICU seldom make it through a shift without something bad happening. Regardless, the medical staff remained calm, hopeful and helpful throughout.
During our stay in the NICU, Izzy worked hard on maintaining breathing and a heartbeat. We are beyond grateful for the doctors and nurses who were there to help to remind her to breathe! After 2 weeks in the NICU we were released to the Special Care Nursery and we were excited to learn that there was an isolette open in the Mercy Mother Baby Center.....much closer to home. Mike and I were in the parking lot to meet the ambulance as it pulled into Mercy. On board was an entire medical team to transport Izzy and her isolette. And in one of those funny coincidences, Matt & Phil (the Allina crew on the ambulance) were the same crew that originally brought (unborn) Izzy & I from Mercy ER down to Children's 3 weeks prior.
The nurses and Doctors in the Mercy Mother Baby Center were a mirror of the staff at the NICU......total SAINTS!!! We honestly felt like we were the only patients in the unit and Izzy was the only baby there. No matter what time we called or showed up to check on Izzy we were met with very knowledgeable nurses and doctors. I went back to work 1 week after Izzy was born to save my maternity leave so I would go to the hospital after work and stay until they "kicked me out!". Izzy had a camera in her room so I could log on at work and see her. Our nurses would leave little notes on paper towels in view of Izzy’s camera in her isolette which read...."I'm out for a bath, Mommy" or "I ate all of my food like a ninja princess!" or "I gained an ounce today," or just something simple like "Good morning, Mommy!".
We stayed in the special care nursery for 4 weeks so Izzy could grow and learn to "suck, swallow & breathe". Once she mastered those three things, the feeding tube could come out. Exactly 6 weeks after she was born we were sent home......and I cried and cried and cried......not for Izzy but for the beautiful "family" we were leaving behind at the hospital. I wanted to stay! We grew into a routine with Izzy that incorporated all of us! Izzy was 4 pounds when she came home.
Once my maternity leave was up and Mike's paternity leave was over, I resigned my position as a law enforcement officer. It hasn't always been easy but we have made it work. I am grateful for the opportunity....it is priceless. By God's grace we randomly picked an amazing pediatrician who tracked and graphed Izzy's growth as though it was her own baby! She also recommended the amazing Help Me Grow program. We all learned a lot and as a result Izzy has "caught up" to the other kids who weren't born too early. The pediatrician also recommended the ECFE classes (Early Childhood Family Education) which is also a blessing in helping parents to be successful parents but also encourages the babies/kids to be smart and confident!
Like so many other parents of preemies, my husband and I are grateful beyond measure. We could do something every day for the NICU/SCN and it wouldn’t repay what they have given to us. We donate and volunteer wherever we can; even Izzy is in on it! Thank you to the NICU medical staff for all that you do.