Having our newborn in the NICU was extremely stressful. When our 2 lb. 14 oz. daughter Christine was born, I saw her for a very brief period. She was then whisked away to the NICU where she spent the next eight weeks. At first, we worried that we would not bring our new baby home, but as the weeks passed, we were encouraged by her progress.
The doctors and nurses who cared for her were wonderful. Every day we were told how she was doing, what tests she had, how she was eating, etc. Back thirty years ago, Women & Infants was located on Maude Street, and one of the rooms in the NICU had windows. The nurses would see me coming at noon, and by the time I arrived on the floor, they had Christine ready so I could feed her.
Just before she was ready to come home, we were asked about participating in a follow-up program. It involved bringing Christine back to the hospital for periodic checkups and being part of a study on preemies. We were delighted and eager to participate. Christine was our first child, and we felt that if any problems were discovered, early intervention was best. We are deeply appreciative for the excellent care they gave our daughter, the manner in which we were treated, and their patience in addressing our concerns.
Submitted by Carole Matarese
Our daughter Christine was born at Women & Infants Hospital on September 17, 1975, and she weighed 2 lbs. and 14 oz. She was immediately sent to the NICU and placed in an incubator. Seeing her so tiny and all wired to monitors was stressful. During the first few days we were very concerned for her safety. As the weeks passed our concern for her safety subsided. Christine was given excellent care, and the personnel in the NICU made us feel comfortable with her progress. We visited her daily, and after two months she was released from the hospital, and we brought her home. Christine was our first and only child, and bringing home such a tiny bundle of joy was frightening. We felt she was so little and fragile that handling her would hurt her, so we were very careful and gentle. As she put on weight we were more at ease with her care.
Submitted by Nicholas Matarese
I was born at 31 weeks gestation on September 17, 1975 and weighed 2 lbs. and 14 oz. I was supposed to have been born on Thanksgiving Day. I spent the first two months of my life in Women & Infants’ NICU. I required a ventilator only overnight and had some complications including jaundice and infection, but did very well. The only baby picture I have from that time was taken on Halloween by the hospital photographer, and except for a bald spot on my scalp where my IV had been, you wouldn’t know that I was in the NICU. I went home on November 12th, which was before my actual due date. I was baptized in January and left the church in my Uncle Rick’s suit pocket because I fit, and it was so cold outside.
I was followed at the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic every year until I was 7 years old. I remember going there and never being afraid because those doctors didn’t have needles and played games with me. Those “games” demonstrated that I was quite developmentally appropriate, and I continued to do well. I swam competitively through high school, and left RI to attend college at Lehigh University. I graduated with a double major in biology and psychology.
After college, I spent some time volunteering at the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic while I was applying to medical school. It was quite a unique perspective to be measuring infants and questioning parents just as someone once did for me. The parents were usually surprised to hear that I also had come through this clinic.
Later as a 4th year medical student I spent one month rotating in Women & Infants NICU. There I fully appreciated just how fortunate I am to only have a heart murmur as a reminder of my NICU experience. Babies half the size I was are now surviving. I noticed any baby with a weight close to mine and couldn’t imagine that I was once that size. Seeing how worried the parents were helped me appreciate what my parents must have gone through coming to visit me every day. Things that seemed minor to me as a medical student are anything but minor to parents when it is their baby.
I graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2004. I then spent an internship year at St. Joseph Medical Center in Reading, PA. I am currently a second year pediatric resident at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, FL and am hoping to go into child neurology.
Submitted by Christine Matarese