The 2019 Pumping Room Makeover contest was awarded to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital after a landslide public vote by the Aeroflow Breastpumps community. While redesigning the NICU’s two pumping rooms, we had the opportunity to connect with six graduate NICU families whose photos now hang in the finished lactation rooms. Their photos and stories serve as an inspiration for the current and future NICU mothers who will pump daily for their little one in that space. In honor of Prematurity Awareness Month, we’re highlighting their journeys, from giving birth preterm to navigating the challenging early weeks of life with a preemie.
”I delivered my baby girl at 28 weeks and 1 day. She was 1 pound, 14 ounces. I was very high risk during most of my pregnancy as my placenta was aged to be about 32 weeks when I was 20 weeks pregnant. The blood flow to my placenta was off and I was having to be monitored every single week. I ended up having my daughter early because of preeclampsia…
My words of encouragement would have to be – do not get discouraged. Your baby is growing and getting healthier and bigger at his or her own pace and they are much stronger than you would ever think…
I think people need to realize that although these little babies are tiny, they are mighty! Most people don’t realize how often people have preemie babies. These babies are stronger than you may think and they deserve recognition for their fight!”
“I delivered my baby at 30 weeks. Our experience in the NICU was one that we never thought we would experience. Like other pregnant women, the normal thoughts of nine months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and caring for a newborn filled my mind. Everything was normal throughout the entire pregnancy, then, at the end of April, our daughter decided to make an entrance into our world. After birth, my husband walked with our daughter as they “rushed” her to the NICU. Everyday I learned something new, and not once did I feel that she was not improving. Eventually, the NICU became our second home, not only because they were taking care of our daughter, but because the NICU staff made us feel right at home, which was absolutely irreplaceable. It was like home for 30 whole days...
The emotions that you will face are normal and do not be ashamed to feel how you feel. If your baby is in the NICU, your baby is not with you. It is okay to feel sad, it is okay to feel angry, it is okay to feel that a part of you is not with you. But, your baby is exactly where he or she needs to be. You will have good days and bad days – that is okay. You will make it through and there WILL BE a day that you can cuddle your baby without the monitors attached and the beeping of the NICU!
People should know that premature babies do not always have life-long health or developmental issues. They are not always going to be smaller than their peers. They do not always do things differently than their peers. Sometimes you may not even know that a baby is premature in their development. These babies are just made to need extra love and time.”
“My son was born at 26 week and 1 day, weighing only 1 pound 10 ounces – which lead to an 81 day stay in the NICU. I was able to pump as many times as I needed to while I was there. It was nice to be able to provide my son with the "medicine" he needed while I was there with him each day...
Be strong. You are amazing. You and your child will grow on this journey no matter if it is 2 days or 150 days!
As a mom of a preemie, you just have to take one day at a time. Tomorrow you will be stronger than today. If you need time, take it. Lean on your friends and family. And know it’s okay to cry.”
“I had my baby at 26 weeks and 2 days. It was very unexpected, but with all the care and support provided by both the NICU and loved ones we made it through the difficult time. As a new mom, it was scary and stressful to watch my baby experience her first two months of life in a hospital.
Try to have a positive outlook on things and try not to get frustrated no matter how stressed you may be!
Don’t rush trying to do things with your baby, everything will happen when it needs to.”
“The Wylie twins were born at 25 weeks. They are mono-di twins and one was diagnosed with marginal cord insertion, unequal placenta sharing, and selective intrauterine growth restriction. He was monitored very closely for absent diastolic cord flow until flow was found to be reversed and his heart rate began dropping, at which point they were delivered via emergency c-section and sent to the NICU. Our babies spent a total of 111 days combined in the NICU. While the boys’ prognoses were ever-changing, the incredible staff was a comforting constant to us. Every cliché thing I could say is true—they became like family. They hold part of our boys’ story that no one else does and will forever be part of our lives...
NICU life is an all-encompassing season. Life stops for your little family and the world keeps going on around you. It can be hard to feel like anything else outside of that isolette matters. Seasons do change. When you leave the NICU, it will not leave you, but you will be stronger because of it. You will be a fierce advocate and a mighty protector…
Prematurity does not end when you walk out of those NICU doors and take your baby home. There are lasting effects that may span years. These effects are real and take time to overcome and heal from. Preemie parents are so excited to be home with their baby, but also healing from grief and trauma.”
“I delivered our baby at 28 weeks, after spending 2 weeks in the hospital from developing HELLP syndrome at 24 weeks. She was born in December of 2014 and weighed just 1 pound and 4 ounces. I wasn’t able to go visit her until the next day because I struggled to recover after delivery and that was very difficult. The first time I saw her I could do nothing but cry because she was so tiny. I was amazed that she was able to breathe on her own with no ventilator just oxygen and she was just beautiful. I went through all of the emotions that most moms with babies in the NICU go through. I was mad at myself and my body for not being able to protect my baby but so thankful that the doctors and nurses were so kind and caring.
I was no stranger to the NICU as my son had been born early and spent several weeks in the Vanderbilt NICU in 2004. Once I was discharged, I had to learn to balance having a baby in the NICU and two older babies at home that needed me just as much as my daughter in the NICU needed me. My husband and I spent everyday at the NICU. When it was time for me to pump, initially I used the pumping room but I hated spending the time away from our daughter so the nurses started bringing a pump to her area so I could pump right there next to her. Finally, about a week after I was released, I was able to begin skin to skin with her. It was the greatest feeling in the world to be able to hold my baby and let our hearts connect. I did this every single day for as many hours as possible. At first I could only hold her for 2 hours but slowly my time increased as she could handle it.
Unfortunately, my sweet baby did not get the opportunity to graduate from the NICU, however it still has a special place in my heart. Our daughter became an angel in February of 2015. I had been pumping and freezing milk that I wanted to donate after she passed, but many of the Milk Banks would not accept my milk because I needed a blood transfusion after delivery. Finally we were able to find a Milk Bank that I was able to donate over 500 ounces to...
Being a new mom can be scary and having a baby in the NICU makes things just a little more complicated. It’s so important to embrace support. If you see another mom having a hard day, reach out and talk to them. As NICU moms, we can feel so alone but trust that you are not alone and be there for one another. Your mental well being is very important to your own health and the health of your baby so take care of yourself and trust the doctors and nurses love your baby as much as you do.
Premature babies are fighters that need a little extra help from the dedicated people who have taken on the role of being their caretakers. It is so important to find ways to support this cause and provide the love and support to the families and babies which need it the most.”
Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.