It was a déjà vu moment for Joyce Wilson of Portsmouth when her tiny granddaughter, Anesha Nixon, was born prematurely and transferred to CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit. It was December 27, 2009.
Thirty years earlier – almost to the day – her own twin sons, Lee and Roy, were patients in CHKD’s NICU.
“It’s changed a lot from 30 years ago,” Joyce said. “Back then, the NICU was one very big room with incubators all over. Now there are several smaller rooms with only a few babies to a room, but they are still in incubators, and they are still very small.”
Lee and Roy were born three months too soon, both needing the care of neonatologists and specialty nurses. They arrived in CHKD’s NICU on December 28, 1979.
The twin boys weighed little more than two pounds each and required more than three months in the NICU before Joyce and Leroy Wilson could take them home. Thirty years later, the newborn daughter of the Wilson’s daughter, Latoshia, and her husband, Andre Nixon, weighed just one pound, 14 ounces.
So when Joyce Wilson entered CHKD this past December to greet her new grandchild, she felt especially hopeful, familiar and grateful.
“I remember 30 years ago feeling so blessed that we didn’t have to travel for miles to come see our babies,” she said. “And now I could see little Anesha after a short drive through the tunnel from Portsmouth.”
Latoshia, who remembers how worried her parents were 30 years ago when her brothers were born, felt a sense of concern as she entered the NICU for the first time. “I knew we were in the best place for our daughter, but it is very frightening at first,” Latoshia said.
Anesha was smaller and sicker than her uncles had been. Her mother says that she even stopped breathing a couple of times. She also had swelling in her skull, which called for a surgically implanted shunt to carry off excessive fluid from around her brain.
“One of my brothers had to have a shunt when he was in the NICU, so I knew it would be OK,” she said. “Anesha’s nurses were fabulous. They really helped me cope,” she added.
Anesha went home with her parents in February and has done well ever since.
In May, at the 30th reunion of NICU patients, the Wilson and Nixon families joined hundreds of other families who have benefitted from the care and nurturing of CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit.
The NICU staff rolled out a festive red carpet for former NICU patients and their families, who were happy to return and reconnect with the nurses, transport team and doctors who saved their lives.
Children crawled through a CHKD transport vehicle, dined on chicken fingers, fruit and macaroni casserole, and posed for lots of pictures with their favorite caregivers.
“This is a family place,” Latoshia said. “Our whole family is grateful that CHKD is here. You really feel the love.”
This story was featured in the third quarter 2010 issue of KidStuff, a publication of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters. Click to read more patients' stories.