The day my daughter Caroline was born, she weighed a little more than a can of soda. Three months premature, she was so small that I could’ve held her in the palm of my hand.
Physically, Caroline may not have been ready to take on the world. But what she lacked in body, she made up in spirit.
Even as a preemie, she was determined to survive. The team at the Texas Children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was right there in her corner fighting with her.
The first days were the roughest. It was hard to see my baby and not be able to pick her up and hold her, but the nurses gave me ways I could care for Caroline. They encouraged me to change her diaper and do other small things so I would feel less helpless — and more like a mom.
Texas Children’s provides expertise, compassion and support for premature babies and their families. Everyone at the hospital honors the central role families play in the lives of children and believe that collaboration is the key to the best possible outcomes. This philosophy is called family-centered care, and you can see it in every interaction between the dedicated staff and the patients and families they care for.
I recall it was 102 days before Caroline could come home. It was a difficult time for sure, but through it all, my husband Ryan and I never doubted that our daughter was receiving the best possible care at Texas Children’s.
Not all hospitals are equipped to care for critically ill and premature infants like Caroline. Because the NICU is part of Texas Children’s, families here have access to physicians and surgeons in virtually every pediatric specialty and subspecialty — all in one location. Every day, we met with a team that included the best in neonatal, respiratory and nutritional specialists. And we knew every person was focused on the very same goal — getting Caroline home.
I also had the support of lactation experts who guided me through the unique challenges of providing breast milk to a hospitalized baby. In fact, Caroline was able to benefit from research of Texas Children’s own physician-scientists, whose work has shown that breast milk helps preemies stay healthier and gain weight — so they can go home sooner.
When the day finally came to bring Caroline home, Ryan and I felt like we were in a dream. Without a doubt, it was the care of Texas Children’s that made our dreams come true.
Today, our little Texas miracle is a happy, healthy 23-month-old who loves to laugh, play and throw kisses to her mommy and daddy. Caroline continues to receive follow-up care from Texas Children’s physicians and staff who are specially trained in the treatment of children who were born premature.
I never doubted that we would get the best medical care. What I didn’t expect was that so many of these skilled people also would become our friends. I am grateful to everyone who makes the care at Texas Children’s possible.