Date of birth: August 12, 2010 – 27 weeks, 3 days
Due Date: November 8, 2010
Weight/ size: 520 grams (1 lb 2 oz)
NICU stay: 90 days
The day before Jennie Fong was going to fly to New Brunswick to do a presentation, she temporarily lost her vision, her blood pressure spiked and she had an overwhelming sense that something wasn’t right. Before boarding the plane, she called her nurse to check-in and was sent directly to the General Campus. Doctors there told her she had severe preeclampsia, which put the health of both mom and baby at risk. She was told she would not be getting on a plane and that she would be having her baby three months early. Doctors told Jennie and her husband, Rob, that there was a chance the baby wouldn’t survive and if she did, she would likely face significant challenges in the early years and possibly the rest of her life. But the baby was in distress and had to be delivered. The baby likely wouldn’t have survived the trauma of a natural birth so, Jennie had a Caesarean section and tiny Emily was born.
“My husband heard a faint whimper from Emily right after she was delivered and immediately knew everything was going to be okay. Emily was quickly whisked away by the medical team and once she was stabilized, the doctor invited my husband to see her. This tiny little baby was coated in tubes and surprisingly tucked inside a Ziploc freezer bag used to help regulate body temperature – a vision my husband will never forget! Given she was so small and so premature we felt we needed to prepare for the worst and had a priest baptize her later that day. But while Emily was tiny she was truly mighty and proceeded to beat the odds. She was breathing without the support of oxygen very quickly and on day five, I got to hold her and learn about all the amazing benefits of kangaroo care.
With the exception of a few hiccups along the way, Emily’s stay in the NICU was long and stressful but relatively smooth. Emily’s biggest challenge was that she was slow to gain weight as she struggled with learning to eat. Emily finally came home 90 days after she was born, and two days after her predicted due date. As with most micro-premies, she was followed closely by the neonatal team until she was four years old, when she was cleared with a clean bill of health.
Our journey with Emily in the NICU was unbelievable and a truly incredible experience. There were many tough times and, while it’s not an experience we’d wish for anyone, there were so many positive moments along the way. In our darkest days, the NICU team (along with our incredible family and friends) treated us with an amazing amount of compassion and support. And Emily was given the absolute best possible care. Our family will be forever grateful to The Ottawa Hospital NICU team. And we are so fortunate to have developed some very special relationships with the outstanding nurses, like Charlene Shanks, who were caring for our baby.”
-- Jennie Fong, Emily’s mom
The NICU graduate today: Emily is now in now seven years old and doing very well in Grade 2. She is a thoughtful, funny, shy girl who has the ability to light up any room she’s in. When she’s not torturing her 3-year-old brother, she enjoys reading, puzzles, dancing and climbing on or over anything in her sight (especially her Daddy). She particularly loves to do crafts - a love she shares with her grandmother. Every week, she and Nana spend time together painting, knitting, creating! Emily is a very active, healthy and mighty little girl!
You can’t keep a good girl down, especially when she loves climbing.
The Ottawa Hospital is renovating its current NICU facilities at the General Campus to give each baby a separate room. This allows caregivers to individualize each small patient’s environment and provide a family-centric model of care that will also include technology and equipment updates.
A new NICU is critical for babies like Emily to receive the best, most up-to-date treatments developed at The Ottawa Hospital. This helps give prematurely born babies the best chance at surviving, thriving and growing up.