So far, my 50-week gratitude tour at CHOC is going great. Already, I’ve met many other people who also have CHOC to thank for making their future bright.
Today, I wanted to share one of these stories with you. Let’s learn more about Parker, who recently celebrated her first birthday – thanks to CHOC.
So, when the milestone approached after a long fight in CHOC’s Small Baby Unit (SBU), it was only appropriate that the Evans family would throw a blowout bash for their miracle baby.
“We said it was like a celebration of life,” says mom, Kristina.
Parker is one of scores of micro-preemies who have received special care inside the SBU since it opened in 2010. In the unit, infants born at less than 28 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1,000 grams receive coordinated care by specially trained staff.
“We ended up falling in love with the small baby unit – the nurses, the consistency, the environment,” Kristina says.
The SBU’s space differs from a traditional neonatal intensive care unit: Tiny babies lie inside shrouded incubators that keep light away from their underdeveloped eyes. Even a whisper is harsh for these babies’ ears, so families and staff members speak in a gentle “library voice.” The goal is to mimic the womb’s environment as closely as possible so that infants can focus on growing.
“You never think this would happen to you, or that this world exists – that is until you’re in it,” says Kristina. “I’m so lucky that CHOC has that unit.”
Parker was delivered by cesarean section after Kristina suffered blood loss attributed to placenta previa, a condition where a woman’s placenta is too close to her cervix.
Transferred to the SBU nine days later, Parker remained there for 132 days until she was well enough to go home to south Orange County.
About a year later, Parker is growing and thriving. Parker does receive physical therapy, but she is on track developmentally and physicians foresee no future disabilities.
Kristina credits the SBU and its staff with ensuring a bright future for her daughter.
“I’m not going to lie: Having an extremely premature baby is the hardest thing a parent can ever go through, but everyone in that unit made a huge difference,” she said. “We fell in love with the Small Baby Unit.”