Jenetta ThomasJenetta Thomas has been with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center since 2006. She volunteered to share her special memories working as a nurse in the NICU. We bring you her experiences as a way to celebrate all the milestones the babies in our community achieve and acknowledge the hard work of all healthcare professionals who help them get there.

When you think of all of the challenges that a baby goes through to get here, the day of their birth is truly amazing. Each woman has a story uniquely their own to tell about the long road it took to bring their precious baby into the world. For nine months a baby is carried in the mother’s womb, growing and developing into all that she would aspire. A reality for some is that those nine months are shortened into an early arrival.  This can be due to mother’s health, lifestyle, stress, womb development, and trauma to name a few. Regardless of the reason, entering the world at 26 weeks, for example, as compared to being full term at 37+ weeks, presents its own challenges.

For the past two years, I have worked at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the Outpatient Pulmonary Department.  My roots, however, were planted in 2006 with the Specialty Resource Unit.  As a member of the float pool I worked several different inpatient units. One of my favorite departments was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I have always loved working with families, celebrating milestones and even sharing in their frustrations. I found something special about helping premature babies grow from being so tiny they can fit into the palm of your hand, to the point where they have outgrown the isolette and “graduate” to an open crib.

An early arrival interrupts the development of many organs and systems, and the resulting health effects can make parents of babies in the NICU feel like they’re on a rollercoaster ride.  A few days in the NICU can turn into weeks and even months. You will celebrate the milestones of reaching their due date and look back to see how far they’ve come. To see how much they’ve grown. The first full bottle. The first poop. The first bath. Things that seem automatic for a full term baby take a little more time and work from preemies.

Happy is the feeling when I get to tell a mom who calls to check on her baby that oxygen has been off a full 8 hours, and her baby is breathing fine. Motivated is the feeling when you have just fed this little preemie their limit of 5 mls of milk after surgery, and none of it was spit back up. Surprised is the feeling when you notice a peculiar smell coming from a baby who has yet to poop on their own, and you realize their bed is soiled and ready to be changed.  Yes, a range of emotions, but they all add to the satisfaction of being a nurse on the team who helped these little ones grow.

With the presence of family, a mother’s touch, or a father’s voice, in combination with excellent care from doctors, nurses, therapists, and the whole interdisciplinary team, these babies will thrive and grow.  All of the hard work pays off. And truly these little miracles are worth celebrating.