When I was 3 years old, Akron Children’s Hospital saved my life. A regional hospital nearby sent me to Akron Children’s when they were unable to diagnose my symptoms. The team there discovered that I had appendicitis, and removed my appendix immediately – just before it ruptured.
A life-saving story courtesy of Akron Children’s is something unusual I have in common with my children.
My now 3-year-old triplets, Mathew Jr., Michael and Morgan, would have never survived without the incredible care they received from the Akron Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.
Our NICU journey began when I gave birth at just 29 weeks. Morgan’s cord flow slowed down, so we had no choice but to deliver 11 weeks premature. She’s the youngest and was the smallest at just 2 pounds.
The boys both weighed closer to 3 pounds and each experienced brain bleeds and PDAs (holes in the heart). Michael also suffered from hydrocephalus – a backup of fluid in the skull – and was taken by ambulance to Akron Children’s in Akron for surgery.
The team worked hard to make sure we were only separated from our children one night, because they wanted us to be together as a family. The Mahoning Valley staff was lined up cheering for us when we returned. I get choked up just thinking about it.
As if the NICU staff didn’t already have enough on their hands caring for the triplets, they spent extra time caring for me, too. I certainly wasn’t ever thinking about myself, but the nurses were thinking about all of us. They helped me heal from my Cesarean section and reminded me to eat before I nursed. In the early hours after delivery, they even helped my husband (who was running around between the four of us) take photos of the babies before I was able to visit them. Those are the little things that make a big difference. And this family-centered care is what makes Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley so remarkable.
With the relocation of Akron Children’s Hospital NICU from St. Elizabeth in Youngstown to St. Elizabeth in Boardman, the hospital will provide new levels of quality care to families like us.
Our stay in Youngstown was in a large room without much privacy. This new, state-of-the-art facility will house individual rooms, including special rooms for multiples, sleeping accommodations for parents, a kitchen and living area, private bathrooms with showers and so much more.
This is the only Level III NICU between Cleveland, Akron and Pittsburgh. Because it’s so close to home, I was able to spend 14 hours a day with the triplets for their 77-day stay. If we had these special rooms and sleeping arrangements, I would have stayed all the time! If I had to have another baby that was going to be in the NICU, I’d want my child here.
It’s so hard to put into words how incredible the respiratory and neonatology staff is. It takes a very special person to be a NICU nurse – they are amazing people, and they love these babies like their own.
Our family has been blessed by this organization, and our children are proof of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley’s exceptional capabilities.