The greatest thing about spending as much time as I do at CHOC Children’s is meeting new people – especially others like me who have bright futures thanks to CHOC.
Let me introduce you to Amy. She loves preschool, just celebrated her fourth birthday, and has come a long way since her time in CHOC’s Small Baby Unit.
After all, her parents wondered when she was born if she’d ever see her first birthday, much less her fourth.
“She is our little miracle,” says mom Vanessa.
Weighing just 1 pound, 9 ounces, Amy was born after just 23 weeks gestation in 2010.
By the time Vanessa, a first-time mother, learned the pain she was experiencing was actually early labor, it was too late for doctors to attempt to stop Amy from coming.
Once the tiny infant was born, doctors questioned her survival, and a terrified Vanessa and her husband, Alex, prepared for the worst.
Luckily, CHOC’s Small Baby Unit was ready for Amy. She spent 144 days in the special unit, a part of the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit dedicated to babies born extremely premature.
There, CHOC physicians and nurses offered dedicated and coordinated care, while Vanessa stood by, ready to nurse and cuddle. Alex diligently visited his daughter, stopping by every morning at 3 a.m. after his work shift ended.
“The nurses let me help with her,” Vanessa recalls. “I learned to change her tiny diaper, bathe her and feed her.”
So, when it was time to go home, Vanessa felt capable of caring for her still tiny baby. Equipped with a feeding tube, oxygen supply and heart-rate monitor, Amy still had a long way to go.
Fast forward four years, after feeding therapy and some procedures, Amy is a typical little girl, with big brown eyes and a joyful smile. She attends preschool four days a week, and is outgoing and gregarious.
“We love CHOC because we have Amy, and we don’t know how pay back this miracle,” Vanessa says.