Real Stories: Emily's NICU Story

Emily and Brian Hayes always wanted to be parents, but their dream of adding to their family had a rocky start. After seven years of struggling with infertility and loss, their miracle finally happened with the help of faith and IVF. Emily was pregnant. Her pregnancy was going smoothly until 26 weeks, when she started experiencing high blood pressure, was diagnosed with preeclampsia and consequently, was placed on bedrest.

Just six days later, Emily was admitted to Shelby Baptist Medical Center for monitoring and was told that her son, Holden, would be arriving that day.

“We were scared to death,” remembers Emily. “But everyone in Labor and Delivery was reassuring and accommodating. The nurses came to pray with me before I was taken to my C-section, which meant a lot to me. They didn’t even bat an eyelash at the 30+ family members who came to visit and support us. Their care made a stressful situation less so.”

Holden was born three months early and considered a micro preemie, weighing 1 lb 14 oz. He was immediately transferred to Shelby’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he stayed for 97 days due to chronic lung disease.

“A NICU stay is not for the faint of heart, but the doctors, nurses and other staff made a not-so-good situation pleasant. They did a great job of caring for [Holden] and making sure he was as healthy as he could be based on the circumstances. Not only was the care fantastic, but they were very welcoming to all of our visitors and didn’t mind my 3 AM calls. I’m so thankful for the excellent care he got in the NICU at Shelby,” said Emily.

Dr. Allison Black, neonatologist at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, makes it a personal mission to ensure sure all of her NICU patients and families receive excellent care. “No parent plans for or wants their baby in the NICU. But when it happens, we are determined to make it the best experience we possibly can,” Dr. Black said. “We strive to provide not only the best medical care to our babies, but also serve as a support system to parents, siblings, and the extended family. We are extremely lucky to have wonderful and experienced nurses and nurse practitioners who try to provide family-centered care every step of the way.”

Holden is now six months old and doing well. While still on oxygen, his doctors don’t anticipate him needing it past his first birthday. All of his other health issues have cleared up, and Emily and Brian are just happy to have their baby home.

“It’s amazing – we’re really blessed he’s even here with us because he was very sick,” said Emily. “The NICU staff at Shelby still keep up with us and I’m very thankful for all of their help. They visit, text and call us to make sure Holden is still doing great.”

“Our NICU journey was humbling, but it built up our faith and made us stronger. Now we’re thankful for every milestone he passes and every pound he gains. And if anyone has been down this path or is going down it, just be reassured that it will be okay. The NICU at Shelby will do everything in their power to get you through it.”

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