Lucas's NICU StoryJun 6, 2019
When most people hear that February is Heart Month, they automatically think of adults suffering from cardiac issues. At our hospital, we know that the hearts of children are just as important and at times, even more fragile. One patient who has a very special heart is Lucas. His mother told us about their journey in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and how much this month means to their family.
“He was born at 25 weeks,” Susana said. “Initially my water had broken at 17 weeks so I was on bed rest and then admitted to the hospital on the fourth of September because I started bleeding, I lasted there till October 1st when he was born.” After an emergency C-section, Lucas was immediately admitted to the NICU. “I was five months pregnant when I went to the high risk pregnancy doctor,” Susana continued, “I was told he might have a heart defect but that we couldn’t check until he was born.”
Susana was informed by our NICU team that Lucas had Transposition of the Great Arteries and heart with only 3 chambers. Although he would be dependent on oxygen until he grew bigger and stronger, Susana remained positive throughout the process. “He was taken care of really well there,” Susana stated. “Overall, the whole thing was a challenge. They tried to make things comfortable for me and explained everything they were doing for him all the time. As a parent, it’s hard to leave your child there at the hospital every day, leaving him in someone else’s hands, but he was in great hands. There was no doubt. I felt really comfortable and I trusted them.”
Not only did Susana have a job she had to go back to, she had two older children at home, so she relied on our team to bring her peace of mind. “I would call all the time and they would explain to me what he’s doing, how much he weighs. Someday if I was lucky and his bed was close to the phone, they would put the phone up to him so I could hear him cry and make noises,” said Susana. “It is hard for people to understand being a NICU mom, what you go through, being there and the separation and everything. But they were always there for me all the time. It was like not just nurses doing their job, it was more than that. They always went beyond and I loved that.”
Along with the nursing staff, Susana and her family became close to our Child Life Specialists. On Saturdays, the Child Life team hosts a session called ‘Sibling Sundae’ for brothers and sisters of NICU babies. “I have two daughters, they are 10 and 12. They would always ask questions and I would tell them, ‘your little brother is special, he was born with a heart that’s not fully functioning for him,’” Susana told us. “They would go to the Sibling Sundae class where they would explain to them what he’s doing in the incubator, how much he weighs, his special care and little diapers. They loved it, it was very educational for them and made them more comfortable and relaxed.”
After 113 days in the NICU, Lucas got to go home to his loving family. Despite all of the triumphs and challenges that came along in their journey, Susana remains positive. “Everything happens for a reason but there is always a solution for that reason.” When asked about Heart Month, Susana expressed her gratitude for the recognition, stating “our hearts are the main source, the main things that keep us going and keep us alive. Honoring that for the whole month makes you not want to take life for granted.” Her advice for those who want to celebrate this special month? “Spend time with your family, your kids and your babies.”