story and photo by Vickie Jenkins
I recently attended the INTEGRIS Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Reunion and Halloween Party. This is just one of the events sponsored by the Oklahoma Family Network and the NICU nurses for families that experience the NICU. The party was for the babies that were taken care of in the NICU over the last 15 years. Some of those tiny miracles are teenagers now! What a meaningful time for the parents, children and the wonderful nurses that cared for them at that time. The love that was present in the room was overwhelming as the Halloween party came alive as the children, parents, families, nurses and doctors reminisced. It was obvious to see that many lives had been touched through the care of the NICU.
The children were wearing their Halloween costumes; ballerinas, tigers, policemen, princesses, clowns and power rangers filled the room. There were balloons, games, a cake-walk and plenty of cookies, punch and candy for everyone. Smiles were seen all around, from the children to the nurses to the mothers and fathers.
I was introduced to Tamara Crabtree. This was the second year that Tamara had attended the Halloween party. Her daughter was born pre-mature at Integris Baptist hospital and was taken care of by the nurses in the NICU. At the time, Tamara felt a need to do something for the parents with the babies born premature. She began by taking baskets of goodies to the parents; something for the moms and something for their baby. “It has grown quite a bit since then,” Tamara says. “We try to have special events throughout the year. Our next one will be a Christmas party for the babies that are being taken care of in NICU,” she adds.
According to the Oklahoma Family Network, a Christmas party will be sponsored here at Integris Baptist Medical Center. The special event, Baby’s 1st Christmas, will be for families who are experiencing NICU during the Christmas Season. We believe that a family’s 1st Christmas is a special event especially for families who are on the NICU path, and should be given a chance to honor their baby’s 1st Christmas regardless of circumstances.
When I asked if anyone would like to share their story about their baby and their care in NICU, Kristie Dodd was happy to share her experience.
“My name is Kristie Dodd and I was pregnant with my first child. I developed Hellp Syndrome. (Hellp Syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the late stages of pregnancy or sometimes after childbirth.) Pretty much the cure for me was to deliver my baby. My son, Ryan was delivered at 23 weeks. He weighed 1 lb.1 ounce, staying in NICU for 111 days,” she said. “That was the roughest thing that I have ever gone through. I was here at the hospital every day. It was such an emotional time and being here at the reunion and seeing the nurses that cared for Ryan is so special. The care that was given to him meant everything to me,” she added. “The staff, doctors and nurses always treated me with the utmost respect. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I am so thankful for everyone here. Today, Ryan will be 3 years-old in January. He is healthy and fine and he is my little miracle, thanks to the wonderful care of the nurses here at Integris Baptist Medical Center.”