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  • Writer's pictureJulie Miskoviak

Caring for our tiniest patients

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

You help care for our tiniest patients, our NICU babies, and their parents and families in many special ways.

Maria was one of those parents 11 years ago.

On August 18, 2011 Maria’s water broke in the middle of the night at only 31 weeks gestation. She already had a high-risk pregnancy after a series of miscarriages. She and her husband, Bill, rushed to Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital.

“Thanks to the prompt, amazing care from the nurses and doctors in the Birthplace, I was stabilized and did not go into labor, which meant bed rest until it wasn’t safe for me, or baby Elia anymore at 34 weeks,” Maria said.

Maria’s OBGYN, the neonatologist and pediatrician all took the time to meet with them, she said, patiently answering their questions and walking through what to expect for labor, delivery and her after care. Their coordinated efforts, compassionate time spent with them and confidence in their process helped alleviate their concerns.

“We all felt like a team,” Maria said.

Maria was induced on Labor Day and after a physically challenging labor, Elia came into the world kicking and screaming - a great sign! Baby was whisked away to the NICU where she was stabilized. After a few hours, Maria was wheeled to the NICU where Bill and she could properly see their baby girl for the first time. She had many tubes, wires, straps and other medical devices attached, too fragile to touch.

“We just gazed at her and spoke to her, telling her how much we loved her and to grow big and strong,” Maria said. At 4 pounds, she was a big baby for the NICU, but her parents couldn’t help but wonder at her tininess.

“Within 2 days, we were allowed to touch her. Our nurses were such careful teachers; since her skin was still so delicate, we could only place a hand on her, but not stroke her skin,” Maria said. “We were so incredibly grateful for the NICU team - all the nurses and doctors who helped educate us and prepare us to care for her ourselves.”

Elia was in the NICU for 16 days. Once she was able to eat and breathe at the same time (an important skill babies are supposed to learn in utero at the end of gestation), could maintain her own body temperature and pass her car seat test so she could safely travel without risk of breathing complications, Maria and Bill were allowed to take her home.

“Her follow up care with our NICU and pediatric team was incredible, and we were so grateful to have them. She was finally 12 pounds in February - when she was 6 months old,” Maria added.

Now at age 11, Elia is still a dream come true. Maria describes Elia as one of their biggest blessings in life, a compassionate, loving, thoughtful child who is the best person she knows.

“We are so incredibly grateful to the St. Elizabeth Hospital Birthplace team, our Doctors, the NICU team, and our pediatrician and her team. Without a doubt, they saved her life. And they brought such richness to ours,” Maria said.

Maria and Bill have been humbled to be able to give back by sharing their story, and donating toward equipment, training and other needs the Women and Families department has had.

When you make a gift to the Women's and Families fund, you are helping babies and families, babies just like Elia.

Please consider a gift in any amount that is meaningful to you. Your support makes a difference in the lives of friends, family and loved ones.


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