Ella Schmaelzle entered the world at 27 weeks (gestational age), weighing two pounds and eight ounces. Her Mom, Jessica, shares the story of their 89-day stay at the Davis Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after Ella arrived.
After she was born she was rushed to the NICU. They found that she had pneumonia. She was intubated for about three weeks. She had a difficult time being extubated and was eventually diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which caused her much difficulty breathing. She remained on oxygen until December 2017. She spent time in the NICU growing, and learning how to breathe and eat.
It is hard to put into words all that our experience in the NICU was. The NICU is like a club that no one wants to be a part of, but once you are, the support is unbelievable. The entire staff in the NICU is amazing – it takes a special person to work there. From the front desk to the Respiratory Therapists, they all played a pivotal role in Ella's success and our family’s wellbeing.
Ella had four main nurses; Cindy St. John and Kim Madden were her day nurses; Wendy Ferrara and Amy Belanger were her main night nurses. There are many pivotal moments with these women during our NICU stay that really stick out to me. On the night Ella was born, Amy essentially introduced us to our daughter. Ella was rushed to the NICU right after her birth and I was not able to see her for a few hours. Amy had been there to take care of Ella the second she arrived. I will never forget the sense of calm after being wheeled into the NICU and meeting Amy and Ella. In a sense, she helped to facilitate my first interaction and opportunity to bond with my daughter, a moment that I was basically paralyzed with fear about. All four of them, along with other amazing NICU staff members, taught us how to hold, feed, change and bathe our child – things that I was supposed to know how to do, things that I was afraid to do. They not only saved Ella and helped to shape her into the child she is today, they saved me. They calmed my fears and kept me in the present. They shared our successes and our setbacks. They humored me and listened to me plan a summer away with Ella and her first birthday bash. A year later, we were beyond lucky that many of them attended Ella's first birthday party. They are forever a part of Ella's story and our extended family.
It’s been four years since she arrived into the world and today Ella is amazing! She is a happy, strong-willed, smart and social little girl who adores her big sister. She has no residual medical complications. She is our miracle.
Interested in supporting important care like Ella’s? Donate to the 94.7 WMAS Radiothon for Baystate Children’s Hospital today.