Triple Play

CHKD nurse gains new insights as mom of triplets

Kidstuff_Triple PlayWhen Laura Warner gave birth to triplets 12 weeks ahead of schedule – each weighing less than 3 pounds – a team from CHKD was waiting to immediately take the babies from Sentara Norfolk General through the adjoining hallways to CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU can be an intimidating place for parents of a critically ill newborn, but to Laura, it was familiar territory. She’d spent hundreds of nights there at the bedside of dozens of tiny babies as a registered nurse with special certification in neonatal intensive care.

“Being a NICU nurse at CHKD definitely helped prepare me for what our babies would face, but it was still very scary,” says Laura. “And, although the medical jargon, tubes, wires and equipment all came second nature to me, the thing that reassured me most was knowing that our babies would have an amazing team looking after them.”

Within 20 minutes, a member of the CHKD NICU team returned to Sentara to give Laura and her husband, PJ, an update on the triplets. “I knew they were in good hands,” says Laura. “But, it was very reassuring to get news so quickly that the babies were doing well.”

As the largest and only subspecialty civilian NICU in the region, CHKD is able to provide the highest and most sophisticated level of neonatal care to the tiniest and most critically ill babies in Hampton Roads and beyond. In addition to more than a dozen CHKD neonatologists and neonatal nurse practitioners caring for babies in the 62-bed unit, the hospital is equipped to provide surgical repair of complex congenital conditions and has a full range of pediatric medical and surgical specialists as well as pediatric anesthesiologists on site.

“Each year, we care for nearly 500 babies – many transported here from as far as North Carolina and the Eastern Shore of Virginia,” says Dr. Glen Green, a neonatologist at CHKD. “Our capacity to provide advanced care to these babies allows us to initiate definitive treatment sooner, while giving families the added benefit of having their babies cared for close to home.”

The triplets – identical twin girls, Charlotte and Claire, and their brother, Levi – spent eight weeks in CHKD’s NICU before they were strong enough to come home. During that time, the couple experienced support and services from CHKD that go far beyond medicine. “Since I work nights, I never fully realized how much goes into the care of the babies and their families. It goes far beyond the doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners,” says Laura. “From family support coordinators, lactation consultants and social workers to case managers, child life specialists and chaplain services, we were surrounded by people who answered all our questions and fulfilled our every need.”

The triplets thrived during their time in the NICU, with no surgery or major setbacks, and were able to go home ahead of schedule. “We were blessed to have a smooth stay without any serious complications along the way,” says Laura. “I know they did so well thanks to CHKD, and I wouldn’t have wanted them cared for anywhere else.”

Although Laura’s nursing experience made her journey as a NICU mom a little different than many of the parents of her patients, she has gained a new understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the isolette.

“No matter how much someone knows about the NICU, it will never prepare you for the emotions you feel when your own children need that level of care,” Laura says. “Instead of sympathizing with my patient families, I can actually empathize with them now. I think that will make me an even better nurse.”