Grateful Patient Samantha Atella Shares Story of Hope at Women & Infants Hospital's NICU

Written By: Samantha Atella, grateful patient of Women & Infants Hospital on June 1, 2022

It was one of the happiest times of my life, I was pregnant in the summer of 2020, and my husband and I were really excited about our son being born. We were all set to name him Holden.

And I always knew I wanted to have my child at Women & Infants Hospital because it was close by, my husband and I were both born there, and it has a reputation for excellence in women’s care.

My pregnancy was going along fine, my baby was really healthy, and I had gone to all of my appointments, receiving good news. On my 20-week ultrasound, my baby, the doctor said, looked perfect, so we felt relieved.

Around 23 weeks, we had a real shock when my water broke, and I found out I had a rupture in the amniotic sac. I went to my doctor immediately, and he said that I had to go directly to the hospital, which was very upsetting because I wasn't even able to go home first. It was an emergency situation.

So, I had to be admitted to the hospital, in the ambulatory care unit, and soon learned that I had a premature rupture, which was starting the labor process.

At that point, I was basically trying to keep him inside, to prevent myself from giving birth. So, they put me on a lot of bed rest in the hospital, while my baby was being monitored round the clock to make sure his heart was doing o.k. I was there for eight days, and then they did have to do an emergency C-section at only 24 weeks along in my pregnancy.

It was very, very scary. But my doctors were so supportive and really made me feel better in that area of the hospital at that time. It was actually better that he was born by C-section there because there is less risk of birth, and birth injury. When Holden was born, he was very, very tiny. He was only one pound, eleven ounces. At that stage, babies are not able to breathe on their own, but he did let out a little cry, which was promising.

Because of his premature birth, Holden had to be intubated, pretty much right away, and that was terrifying for us, to see him in that condition.

When I was in the O.R. I cannot say enough about what an amazing job the doctors and nurses caring for him did at that delicate stage while also caring for me and making me feel, comfortable, pain-free, and anxiety-free. I had so many people, always reassuring me at that stage, which was important to me.

From there, Holden had to go straight into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The doctors there were nothing short of amazing. There were so many times that Holden was in such critical condition that I didn’t know what to do. He was totally in their care. During that time, there were so many bad days, and we weren’t sure what could happen. One thing I can say is that the doctors and the nurses in the NICU were so amazing. I mean, I felt like the nurses doubled as our therapists as well, because it was truly an emotional time, and they, thankfully, had experience counseling new mothers like me, whose child was born prematurely. They would spend so much time making me feel better, offering words of hope and comfort. They also explained everything to me in detail many times, which helped immensely.

One of the hardest parts for me was seeing all of the necessary medical treatments that Holden had to go through, such as having to get blood drawn, oftentimes many times per day. It was just very hard when he's still supposed to be inside me, really for a lot longer to see him in the incubator, just in pain.

Holden was in the NICU for six long months, and the reason for that is that most micro-preemies have to stay past their due date. Micro preemies can develop chronic lung disease from being intubated. He still has that and it will slowly resolve itself until he's four years old. At that time, it should be fully resolved. The ventilator does damage, and that's why it's a double-edged sword.

When Holden came home, he was on oxygen for a few months, and he did have some feeding issues, as micro-preemies sometimes do, because of being on a feeding tube for so long.

Something else that impressed me about the Women & Infants Hospital NICU was that the doctors were big on patient consent. Even when there were procedures and treatments that were probably going to be inevitable or very necessary for Holden’s care, they still asked me and my husband if it we were okay with it. They always counseled us about what we wanted. We never felt like they were just treating him without first consulting us. So, we really felt like we were a huge part of his care, which was important to us.

We could go to rounds every morning and listen in on the doctors and the respiratory therapists, the nurses, and the whole team, talking about what would be best for Holden. And at the end of rounds they always asked us if there was anything we wanted to add, or if there was anything that we wanted to see for him. That was very helpful because we really felt heard.


Holden is now 14 months old and he is doing amazing!

He is truly thriving, saying so many words, and is super close to walking. He's also meeting all of his 12 month milestones with little to no issues. I really believe that it’s all due to everything that the doctors and nurses in the NICU were able to do for him when he was in such a vulnerable stage.

If I could talk to other families who have a child in the NICU right now, I would tell them to never lose hope. You know, there are definitely going to be some very, very hard days, and difficult conversations and gut-wrenching decisions to make, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, for sure.

Women & Infants Hospital and the NICU helped my family when we needed it most. And, thanks to this wonderful hospital, we are all doing well. I would definitely recommend Women and Infants Hospital to anyone in need of their extraordinary services. I have them to thank for the health of my son, Holden. He's doing amazing and I would not have changed anything about our experience there at all.


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