By Sarah Paddack, grateful mother
I am grateful to be the mom of two healthy children. But that wasn’t always the case. Both of my kids were born premature.
My son Liam spent 40 nights in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where time stood still and I barely stepped foot outside. This experience forever changed me for the better, teaching me a deeper meaning of patience, hope and gratitude.
A couple of years later, we were pregnant with our second child. I was considered high-risk and decided to switch doctors and hospitals so I could receive more personalized care, and it was one of the best decisions we made.
Friends and family recommended Dr. Robert Rosenberg at Advocate Condell Medical Center. He doesn’t miss a beat and encourages his patients to call him directly with concerns or questions. He is also extra cautious, which may have saved my daughter’s life and quite possibly mine.
I was in and out of the hospital during my pregnancy. During one of my stays in the hospital my placenta began to abrupt. I was terrified of the risks of giving birth at 28 weeks. Thankfully, we were in good hands. And we were able to keep her in the womb for another four weeks.
At exactly 32 weeks Maggie entered the world weighing just 4 pounds and 2 ounces. She was brought to Condell’s Special Care Nursery. Having previous experience with preemies was both a blessing and a curse. I knew how to care for my tiny daughter, but I was also familiar with all the complications that could happen.
Thankfully, Maggie just needed time to grow and learn to feed. She spent three weeks in the nursery with a feeding tube to help her eat.
I can’t say enough good things about my doctor and the nurses who took care of us. The neontologists and nurses were so approachable, positive and explained things in a way that we could understand and wasn’t intimidating or over our heads.
Going home without my daughter left an indescribable feeling of sadness, so I found it to be exceptional that Condell had a sleep room where special care nursery moms could stay to be near to their baby. It was so difficult to split my time between Maggie in the hospital and my 3-year-old son at home. Being able to have a “sleepover” with her allowed me to spend time with her at night and more time the following day at home with Liam without feeling as much guilt.
But I remember wishing that we had our own space to be with our baby all the time. The small open-floor nursery was bright, loud and lacked privacy. We were only separated from other families by a curtain.
I wanted a quiet space to hold, rock, love and care for my baby, where I could control the lighting, noise level and temperature. I wasn’t comfortable reading or singing to my daughter in a room full of people, I wanted a private, warm setting to bond with her.
When talking about my daughter’s treatment and progress, I wanted a peaceful place to be reassured. Having your newborn baby need additional care is stressful enough. These improvements will allow Condell’s facilities to match the wonderful care they provide to babies and their families.
My experiences gave me a unique perspective of seeing different NICU/special care nurseries. Which is why I am so glad to hear that the special care nursery is being remodeled and will feature private room for families.
Now, Maggie is thriving. She is 2 ½ and is known by her nicknames: tornado, food thief and runaway. She is always on the go, looking for mischief and leaving a mess in her wake. She loves to eat, and typically requests cupcakes or cookies for breakfast. She enjoys reading, gymnastics and most of all, following her brother around, taking his toys so he chases her.
The thing people notice most about both Liam and Maggie is their communication skills. People are astounded with the fact that they are both so articulate and at age 2 Maggie can already count to 15 and knows all of her colors. I attribute their accelerated language development to our many hours of reading together which all began in the hospital.
We are so grateful for the care our family received at Condell, and are paying it forward. We are working with an organization Little Giraffe Foundation to have books and toys donated to children in the special care nursery on holidays.
Each year, the Birthing Center at Advocate Condell Medical Center welcomes more babies into the world than any other Lake County hospital. Our trusted team of nurses and top obstetricians and pediatricians are experienced, compassionate and ready to take care of both mom and baby even under the most emergent situations. Philanthropy will enable us to provide needed upgrades to the unit including private rooms for families and additional treatment space. With your support, we will ensure that we can continue to provide the best care for our community’s most precious members.