By the time a baby has been discharged from the CVMC Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), our staff has developed a very special relationship with the parents and the baby. That is why we hold an annual NICU Reunion to bring back these tiny patients and their families year after year. It offers a chance for the physicians, nurses and other staff who first cared for them to watch them grow and celebrate ongoing milestones with their families.
The theme for this year’s reunion, held Saturday, May 6, was “Super Heroes” – a theme that recalled the media fanfare the NICU unit received last Halloween when Facebook pictures of tiny patients dressed in costumes like Batman, Superman, Supergirl, and even ninja turtles were featured in media outlets nationwide. Those costumes and backdrops were handmade by NICU nurse Katie Windsor who again contributed her creativity towards the numerous activities offered at the reunion for the dozens of children that attended. She and her colleagues offered fun activity stations with crafts, face painting, a photo booth and super hero-themed snacks.
Kaysen Williams, dressed as Batman on Halloween appeared on the Charlotte news with Katie Windsor. His mother, Ivy Williams said, “When Kaysen was born he only weighed 2lbs and 10 ounces. Now he’s 20 pounds and a bicep workout.”
These babies, toddlers and young children — several of them twins and even one set of triplets — spent their first weeks of life in the medical center’s NICU. Jackie Miller, MSN, RN, CVMC’s Administrator for Women’s & Children’s Services welcomed the crowd. She said, “We are so excited to see how much the children have grown since we cared for them. Some of these children weighed less than two pounds when they were born, and now we get to see them a year or two later when they are walking and talking; it’s amazing. The reunion is also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with families who have spent weeks or even months with us.”
Jennifer Paysour, is the mother of triplets, Eli, Lizzy and Wade, born in November 2015, 12 weeks before their January 2016 due date. She enjoyed reconnecting with another preemie mother, Lori Rice and her son Easton who was born 10 weeks early and spent several weeks in the room adjacent the Paysour triplets. “My husband Ben and I will always sing the praises of CVMC’s staff and what they did for our miracle babies,” said Jennifer. “Today has been a great time for the staff to see the fruits of their labor. We really bonded with the NICU staff and stay in touch with many of them.”
Another family, Ashley and Rob Steele attended the reunion with their son Carter who was admitted to the NICU at birth with a lung infection where he stayed for a week. “Going home without Carter was rough,” says Ashley. “The staff was so great. They encouraged me to call anytime day or night and they were happy to keep me in the loop, update me on his vitals or even send me a picture of him. I wouldn’t have a baby anywhere else.”
With a level III NICU, CVMC treats some of the area’s smallest and most fragile infants. The unit provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for premature babies born as early as 23 weeks of gestation. Infants born this early face many health concerns, including respiratory and heart problems, vision troubles, intestinal inflammation, jaundice and delayed growth and development. The NICU also cares for full-term infants who have serious health problems after birth. To learn more, please visit us online.