Josephine’s Journey Home: A NICU Graduate Story

Josephine’s Journey Home: A NICU Graduate Story

Today, Baby Josephine is a chatty and social five-month-old. She ranks in the top 20th percentile for weight, a milestone that brings parents Emily and Aaron Davis great joy. However, just six months ago, Josephine was born weighing only four pounds, 12 ounces. In need of some extra care after her birth, she was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at The Birth Place in Olathe Medical Center, where she began her journey back home.

A Pretty Normal Pregnancy
First-time mom Emily wasn’t ever worried about her pregnancy. She had a normal family history and never experienced morning sickness, high blood pressure or any other negative side effects. More, her growth throughout the first two trimesters was on track. However, like many pregnancies, Emily experienced some challenges – the first beginning when she tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of her first trimester. It was a stressful, scary time, but Emily got better and continued on with a healthy pregnancy. Then, at 35 weeks, she began measuring smaller than what’s considered average for the final stage of pregnancy.

“Those last few weeks of pregnancy, you’re supposed to keep getting bigger. I stopped showing growth, though,” Emily recalled.

Emily’s treating physician, Rita Oplotnik, DO, at Olathe Health Family Medicine – Mur-Len, diagnosed her with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), a condition that prevents a baby from growing to a normal weight. Underlying issues like viruses and placenta issues can cause IUGR, but in Emily’s case, the reason for the condition remained unknown.

Josephine’s Birth Story
After keeping a close eye on Emily and Josephine’s progress, Dr. Oplotnik decided to induce Emily’s pregnancy at 38 weeks. Labor and delivery was long, but it went smoothly thanks to the supportive Labor and Delivery staff.

“Initially, I was nervous and scared,” Emily said. “But my stress melted away with Kim, an amazing nurse who served as a coach, supporter and partner, at my side. Kim put me at ease and inspired confidence in the most critical moments of my labor and delivery – I am forever grateful.”

Then, after 36 hours of labor, Josephine finally arrived.

“This (being induced) wasn’t the birth experience we envisioned, but we knew induction was the right decision when Josephine was born healthy, but much smaller than normal,” Emily said.
Full-term but significantly underweight, Josephine struggled to maintain healthy blood sugar levels after birth, a common condition amongst underweight babies. To help manage her condition, she was placed in the NICU until her blood sugar was stabilized.

“People hear ‘NICU’ and they panic, especially when it’s in regards to their baby,” Emily said. “In Josephine’s case, all it meant was she needed some extra care – nothing more than that.”

Over the next three days, NICU nurses Yvonne, Jena and Carrie helped Emily with triple feeding (a combination of formula, breastfeeding, etc.) every three hours, and night nurses Stephanie and Maddie kept them on track in the evenings. The care team also administered dextrose to control Josephine’s blood sugar until she could eat on her own. As she regained her strength, Emily, Aaron and Josephine stayed in a single-family room equipped with incubators, ventilators and specialized monitoring equipment, which allowed them to spend time together with peace of mind.

Life After the NICU
As parents of a NICU graduate, Emily and Aaron are grateful for the extra care the NICU provided.

“Thanks to the care team, we have a healthy, happy five-month-old baby,” Emily said. “In our case, the NICU was there with the resources we needed when we needed them most.”

Today, Josephine enjoys music and spending time outside. She also enjoys playing in front of the mirror

About the NICU
The Birth Place’s state-of-the-art Level II NICU, in affiliation with Children’s Mercy, stands ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to care for our tiniest patients in need. To learn more, click here.