Mila Stottmestier photoIn their words

Alisha Stottmeister 
Tiffin, Iowa

My husband and I have been patients of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics for years. We honestly didn't expect UI Hospitals & Clinics to be such a large part of our family-building story. We struggled with infertility which lead us to the reproductive endocrinology clinic/IVF clinic. Once we became pregnant, our pregnancy became high risk early on due to total anterior placenta previa – when the placenta completely covers the cervix. I was admitted to the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy at 25 weeks gestation. 

Mila was born at 28 weeks and 4 days gestation, August 15th, 2018 via emergency c-section. She weighed 2 pounds, 7.8 ounces and was 14 1/2 inches long. We saw a good share of the neonatologists and ARNPs – there are so many nurses that helped us along and took care of Mila when I wasn’t able to be there. Many went above and beyond. We still keep in touch with a few that were on our primary list.

We faced a 74-day neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay that was full of so many ups and downs. Mila had two blood transfusions. She had a small grade 1 brain bleed one week post birth (which luckily resolved on its own.) Two congenital heart defects, a PFO and PDA, were diagnosed early on and still persist. She had many issues with feeding residuals which lead to multiple abdominal X-rays. She had retinopathy of prematurity and an umbilical hernia. Mila faced countless lab draws, X-rays, ultrasounds, pump feedings, and more. She remained on oxygen until the week prior to going home and NG tube (nasogastric tube) feedings until days prior to discharge. Because of the excellent care she received it’s hard to tell by looking at her today what all she's been through in the first year of life. 

Today we continue to see the high-risk clinic, Umang Gupta, MD, in peds cardiology, Alina Dumitrescu, MD, in ophthalmology, and Erin Howe, MD, our general pediatrician. Child life and the social services helped us immensely in setting up support and with discharge. Physical therapy and occupational therapy provided a lot of help when it came to feeding, positioning, and aiding in digestion (massage techniques and exercises). 

Being first-time parents and starting off your journey with a NICU stay isn't easy. My husband and I were frightened to even touch our daughter. Getting the opportunity to hold her for the first time after a week was beyond terrifying at first. I didn't feel like a mom because everything felt so unnatural. Wires, cords, tubes, machines and an incubator were literally keeping Mila alive. At first, I felt useless (other than providing milk.) 

The nurses did so much more than just provide care to Mila. They were my rock most days. They helped me gain my confidence and bond with my baby. As much as I hated leaving, it was also a sigh of relief to know she was in the best care possible. The hospital was our second home and second family for many months. So many of the staff went above and beyond. We keep in touch with a few of our nurses. We were blessed to have the University of Iowa in our backyard. If Mila had been born elsewhere there's a chance neither her nor I may be where we are today. I am profoundly grateful for all that the hospital has done for us. 

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