Jayden and Delaney Wells, photo

In their words

Tricia and Casey Wells
Hometown: Fayette, Iowa

I had a high-risk twin pregnancy and was referred to University of Iowa Health Care. I delivered the girls via emergency C-section on Aug. 21, 2012, 7.5 weeks early. The girls were discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on October 2 and October 3 of 2012.

I knew going into my pregnancy I would be high-risk due to having lupus. Upon learning I was pregnant, I set an appointment at a different hospital and told them I would be high-risk. At my first appointment, we discovered we were having twins. They referred me to UI Health Care. This being my first pregnancy, we were terrified!

We got to UI Health Care and our doctors were amazing. They explained my high risk factors, but they also calmed me. They said, "Tricia, this is not for you to worry about. As of now, you are healthy, and you are pregnant. This is a journey you should enjoy. Don't stress. Any complications that come up are for us to worry about and manage, not you." I immediately knew I was right where I needed to be.

Jayden and Delaney were born 7.5 weeks premature, weighing 3 pounds, 13 ounces and 4 pounds 2 ounces. I was fortunate to have great maternity leave and was able to stay with the girls for their entire stay in the NICU. After just a couple of days in the NICU, you learn the differences in the beep tones of the various monitors; you learn when to jump, and when to simply adjust the oximeter; you learn to count the seconds that pass during their dips in shallow breathing, wanting to touch them or startle them to breathe, but knowing they need to at least try to come out of it on their own; you learn to "talk the talk" and start to understand medical terms that were like a foreign language before this experience. You measure in cc's instead of ounces; you learn about respiratory rates, heart rates, and pulse-ox levels; you learn to measure temperatures in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit.

At first it's overwhelming, and then it's "normal.” You also learn to celebrate the little things to make the stress more bearable. We celebrated first clothes, despite even preemie clothes being way too big; we celebrated first bottles; we celebrated coming off oxygen, only to cry when we were put back on it; we celebrated coming back off oxygen; we celebrated when one of the girls ripped her own feeding tube out; we celebrated official removal of feeding tubes and ad-lib bottles; we cried happy tears when we fit into preemie clothes; we celebrated the five-pound milestone; we celebrated passing the car seat test.

There was a lot of stress, but there was so much to celebrate as well, and the nurses were right there with us, every day, every minute, celebrating right along with us. They were our cheerleaders. They were also a shoulder to cry on. They weren't just there for the babies. They were such great supporters of the parents as well. They love the babies there just as if they were their own. That level of support does wonders to ease a parent's mind and make a significantly stressful situation manageable. When our discharge date finally arrived, it was bittersweet. We were finally taking our babies home, but we were leaving behind an amazing newfound family and wonderful support group. To this day, as stressful as it was "in the moment," I look back on those memories with such a smile and have wonderful, cherished memories of our experience at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

I tell others about our amazing experience there. I tell them how the most stressful time in your life becomes somehow less stressful just by knowing you are in the best hospital for your loved ones. I tell them about the amazing nursing staff who genuinely care about the entire family, not just the patient. I tell them about the doctors who patiently explain things in your terms when everything is new and you're feeling lost and confused.

I tell them that, despite the large size of the hospital, and the many patients that each nurse is responsible for, you are so much more than “patient in Bay 3 at the end of the hall.” You are the “Wells family,” and the nurse knows you and your children, she knows their story, she cares about your babies, and she celebrates the silliest, simplest, most insignificant-but significant-to-you moments right by your side – always.

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