The Phelps Family's NICU Journey

We are hoping to do something a little special each month to help put a face to what we are doing here at Early Bird Foundation! We’d like to give a voice to these families, to celebrate their journeys and their homecomings with them! Each month we will try to feature a new story from a NICU family we’ve worked with through EBF!

Introducing our very first NICU Family of the Month!

Charissa Phelps has given her permission to share their story:

On August 28 I woke up with generalized discomfort and after multiple times repositioning myself, I finally decided to wake my husband up. After hours of studying we decided to go to our local hospital to just ease our minds! I was really assuming it was fine, I’m 31 and 5, nowhere near delivery date! To make a long story short, in less than an hour I found myself with multiple interventions and in the back of an ambulance to Baptist Health Lexington in full blown labor! We were able to hold delivery off until Wednesday which made me a full 32 weeks and I received 48 hours of steroid therapy!

August 30 2017 11:09CE180838-7111-40F9-96DE-95D64ADAE6AC
3 lb 13 oz 16 inches

So many emotions!!!!! We watched our guy fight sooooooo hard and, before I knew it, I was in the middle of my new normal! 36 total days in the NICU! I experienced all the different stages of grief! ALL of them!!!! We live a good distance away so my husband returned to work and continued to make the drive back and forth to visit us and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald house which was such a blessing! God did answer every single prayer, including sending me this support group when I needed it most! None of this was part of my plan! Seeing people who had weathered my same storm was helpful to me. I had gotten so caught up I couldn’t even imagine the day we could take our baby home! That day did indeed come and it was a wonderful day! The NICU will teach you so much about life and your tiny blessing even more! Now that it’s behind me I can say I wouldn’t trade it for anything! We made friendships that are solid and we bonded to our baby in a way I cannot explain to you! We are not the same people that walked into the NICU but we are better for it! God bless Early Bird Foundation and God bless you if you find yourself standing where I was! Pray and believe everyday! So thankful for my nurses who not only cared for my child but for me too!

Day 1 vs day 36!400C486A-6FA3-443C-8179-25243E241C75

I could talk about our NICU experience all day, but I won’t 😃! This journey wasn’t part of my plan but it was Gods plan and I am forever thankful for it!

Charissa, Jason, & Baby Lincoln

Early Bird Foundation is so thankful to have been able to play a part in your all’s NICU journey and to be able to pray for you and your sweet baby boy! We are so excited for you all to finally be home together and continue to pray for you as you adjust to your new reality at home! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

The Loy Family's NICU Journey

For the month of January, we want to celebrate the Loy Family and their NICU journey after the early birth of their twins! Andrea shared with us this beautiful story of her trials, fears and emotions through preterm labor, bedrest, an early delivery and, ultimately, bringing home their two perfect miracles, Landon and Livia. EBF is so thankful to have met Andrea through her desire to volunteer with EBF and share her experiences to help other parents through the trials of NICU! Below is her experience through her own words and pictures:

Thankful.  The first word that comes to mind as I sit here with one baby crying trying to climb up my leg and the other throwing every single plastic container and lid out of my cabinets.  Thankful for this beautiful mess we call life.  Our journey started April 12, 2016. Twins.  TWINS!  We were excited, scared, thankful…almost every single emotion you could have.  Pregnancy was never something that was easy for us so we were just blessed to have 2 babies.  Addi Kate, at the time 3 years old was so excited.  She loved playing with her babies and couldn’t wait to have her very own!  I was determined to be healthy this pregnancy.  I ate a healthy diet, ran or exercised every single day and stayed as stress free as possible.  With Addi I gained 60 pounds and ended up with preeclampsia being induced at 38 weeks.  Not the end of the world, but I could definitely control my habits a little better this time.  So far so good.  My 16 week ultrasound showed a perfect little boy and girl.  What a dream!  We were over the moon.  
Then the nightmare. I was 20 weeks.  It was a Friday. I really thought I had a bladder infection.  I was having sharp pains in my lower abdomen.  I called my doctor to see if she could call me in some antibiotics since the weekend was approaching.  She insisted I come in for an ultrasound.  I thought nothing of it.  I had just ran 3 miles earlier that morning.  All was well, at least I thought. I was in labor.  I practically had no cervix.  They rushed me over to the hospital to immediately start medications to stop labor.  My babies were not even considered viable.  But they were to me.  They were my babies and they had to survive.  I would do anything to save them.  Luckily, my doctor is one of the most caring people I know and she was right there beside me, holding my hand, encouraging me that they would do everything to save my babies. 

They were able to slow the contractions. Answered prayers.  And then they told me I would be in the hospital on bedrest until the babies were born.  What?!  I have a 3 year old at home that stays with me…I am a stay at home mom…I can’t do this!  But I had to.  I had to try and save these babies.  My husband would bring my daughter to see me.  It was hard.  It scared her to see mommy in a hospital bed with wires, beeping noises and sick from all the medication.  At this point I couldn’t think about how terrible it was.  I just had to take each day as a new day and closer to 24 weeks so they would consider my babies viable.  I made a huge calendar that counted down the days..the milestones.  24 weeks seemed so far away but I got there!  I was so relieved. At 24 weeks they will resuscitate.  My babies now have a chance of survival.  I was transferred via ambulance to UK hospital where they had a NICU that would be able to care for such small babies.  
So now I start my journey at UK.  It was scary being at a new place.  New doctors, new nurses, residents, students…you name it.  It was also further for my husband and daughter so I didn’t get to see them as much.  Thankfully I have the most wonderful friends and family.  They would visit me every day.  Bring me food, magazines, books…anything to help keep my mind off the situation.  This is where the Early Bird Foundation comes into play.  When I was laying in bed for days that turned into months, I prayed.  I prayed a lot.  I felt like this journey of my life had a bigger meaning.  What was my purpose?  What was my calling?  I know my family is first but I felt like God was trying to tell me something else.  I needed to help others that were in the same situation.  I was lucky enough to have people there every day.  I know some people don’t have that.  They didn’t have visitors, food, flowers, their room decorated to help the pain.  I needed to do that for others.  I wanted to do that for others.

Long story short, I ended up delivering at 31 weeks.  Landon and Livia are our miracle babies.  Not many doctors thought I would make it that far. The odds were not in my favor.  But look at them.  They are perfect.  They were in the NICU for 22 and 24 days.  It was not easy.  I would spend most of the day there all while trying to be with my 3 year old.  NICU is something you can never be prepared for.  Holding your baby through holes in isolettes, feeding them through feeding tubes, oxygen covering their precious noses.  It was scary, it was hard, but I want all moms to know there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I often wondered if I would ever feel normal.  Would I ever recover from this traumatic experience?  The answer is yes.  It made us stronger.  It made me realize there is more to life and we should never take it for granted.  

The Early Bird Foundation has been an answered prayer.  A great group of women who want to help others, help provide support to families and babies.  I hope my story will help other moms that are going through the same thing.  I hope this will provide encouragement to know you CAN do this.  Thankful.  Thankful for this beautiful mess we call life.  Thankful for the Early Bird Foundation allowing me to help others!  
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NOTE: All professional photographs are personal photographs provided by Andrea Loy. Photography done by Amy Campbell Photography.
-Andrea Loy