A 20 Percent Chance…: Jaylin and Madelyn’s NICU Story

The following appeared in the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Family Advisory Council’s Summer 2020 Newsletter.

“From the moment we found out we were having twins we were so excited! My husband and I were surprised and thrilled and quickly shared the news with all of our family and friends. We did a cupcake gender reveal party and started planning how perfectly and smoothly my pregnancy was going to be because in my family history a pregnancy complication was never heard of and we were of course always assuming the best outcome!

At 19 weeks, my doctor noticed my cervix was more open than usual and put me on medication with the hope of keeping my cervix from opening quicker. At almost 22 weeks, I started having complications and went to the emergency room. There I found out I was already dilating so they put me on hospital bed rest to try to keep the girls in longer. A couple of days before the 23 week mark, I met Dr. Bautista, a NICU doctor. She came into my room and assured me that in order for the girls to have a 20 percent chance of survival, I had to make it to the 23 week mark. Sure enough, at only 23 weeks, I gave birth to Jaylin and Madelyn. It was March 1, 2016, and each of the girls weighed 435 grams - that’s less than 1 pound!

Jaylin and Madelyn were quickly wrapped in plastic and blankets, then into the incubators, and off to the NICU they went. On my first visit to the NICU to meet them, I saw them there intubated, eye masks and with such fragile skin that we refused to even touch them. It was hard to see them both depend on all those machines and was so overwhelming to see them so helpless. I was introduced to the girls’ doctors, Dr. Tien and Dr. Bautista. From the moment I met them I felt comfortable and felt a feeling of trust. Although statistically they both gave them only a 20 percent chance of survival, which didn’t sound promising, I felt their professionalism and concern to try their best and that they would take care of my children like they were their own.

After meeting the doctors that day, I chose to be 100 percent present every single day. I was there from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm every day and came back with my husband every night. My girls had unexpected breathing problems, and even had PDA surgery (for a heart condition that sometimes occurs with extreme prematurity) within the first three weeks of their birth. I slowly began to adjust to hospital life and started to know the staff from the front desk and security, to the different nurses that cared for the girls. Nurses Marietta and Ruby cared for the girls a lot and were so kind and caring with them. But honestly every nurse I encountered always had a smile on their face and were ready to give me any updates about the girls. Besides taking care of my miracles the nurses made me feel like they were looking out for me too. They would tell me to take care of myself, to sleep before the girls got home, and to take lots of pictures so I could show them once they were older.

My time in the SBMC NICU was cut short when they were both diagnosed with serious retina problems and were transferred to University Hospital in Newark for eye surgery. My husband and I were devastated about being transferred to another

hospital after spending so much time with all these amazing doctors and nurses. We were concerned with moving the girls from one hospital to another but they reassured us that we could call them whenever we needed them. They were there literally with us until the moment we stepped foot into the other hospital. My girls spent 3 amazing months at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and we did another 2 months at University Hospital. Our stay was cut short at SBMC, but my heart never could part with all these amazing staff members. The hardest moments we had spent were there and it was my second home. I felt safe, loved, and understood. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude toward everyone that helped me stay sane and helped my children get as healthy as they are now.

The twins are now 4 years old. They are happy curious little girls that keep me very busy. They love singing Disney songs and saying their ABC’s and 123’s. They are very in touch with their feelings and are so loving. I love hearing their “Please, Thank You, Love You, and Excuse Me” phrases. I also have to mention I gave birth to another baby girl, Gwendolyn, 14 months later and she was a full term blessing that we weren’t expecting.

I continue to be thankful for all the amazing NICU staff members. Without their incredible care I don’t think my girls would have surpassed the outcome of their unlikely survival rate. I’ve tried writing my NICU experience several times but struggled. Every time, I tried expressing my emotions, I didn’t know where to start or how to begin. Now I have done it! I hope to inspire another NICU graduate mom to write about their journey because it was helpful for me and I hope it is for you too. Thank you once again to the NICU staff for everything you do for all the babies every day!”

- Lots of Love Rocio and Edwin

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