On a beautiful late October day in 1999, my world came crashing down. I was barely 7 months (30 weeks) into my pregnancy, and my blood pressure had spiraled so out of control that my doctor gave me two options: deliver my daughter prematurely, or risk death.
My daughter made her grand debut during the frenzy of an emergency C-section. Tipping the scales at 2 pounds, 2 ounces, she was whisked away to the St. Mary's NICU. My struggle with pre-eclampsia was over, but her struggle for life had just begun. It is scary to see your baby, so incredibly tiny, hooked up to IV's, bellybutton ports, a ventilator, and other beeping monitors. The St. Marys NICU nurses were kind and positive, and did not think it strange at all to find me sitting for hours upon hours, day after day, watching my daughter, willing her to grow.
Doctors Arnaz, Del Rio, and Grant were there every day, talking to me about her care, and updating me on her progress. Over the next 6 weeks, I practically lived in the NICU. I would see nurses changing shifts, I would call at all hours of the day and night to check on my baby's progress when I was at home, and unfailingly, the NICU staff was kind, uplifting, and positive.
On a cold, sunny day in early December, 6 weeks after her early entrance into the world, my daughter came home from the hospital, a tiny but healthy 4 pounds 8 ounces.
She is getting ready to turn 7 this year, and she started first grade a few weeks ago. She is the tallest girl in her class, and there is every indication that she will be a talented artist. She is a smart, funny, happy child, and I thank God every day for her. I wouldn't have her today if not for the care she received during those critical first six weeks of her life, so I thank God every day for the NICU staff, as well.