YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Leaving your baby in the hospital is not something most parents expect to go through after giving birth, but for many, it’s a reality.
“When it’s your baby who’s getting poked and who needs breathing support and doesn’t eat yet, has a feeding tube, you know, it’s really hard,” said Hope Collins.
Collins gave birth to her daughter, Remi, at just 30 weeks. This meant her new baby girl had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“I went in one night because I felt like something wasn’t right, and then I never left the hospital, and then she never left the hospital until 56 days later,” she said.
After being home for just 12 days, Remi ended up back in the hospital for RSV. Thankfully, she’s recovered and is now home with her family.
“Those doctors and nurses are like saints. I don’t know where they came from, but they are amazing,” Collins said.
September is NICU Awareness Month, designed to bring attention to the millions of babies who are treated in the NICU after birth.
Janiene Taylor says her own experience inspired her to become more involved.
“When she was born, she was extremely jaundice so they [flew her] to Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, and from there, she contracted an infection called omphalitis, which is an infection of the umbilical cord, and that is what prolonged our stay in the NICU. We were there for 23 days, just a series of blood work, IVs running every two hours,” Taylor said.
Now Taylor has an organization called Justice for Joi NICU Love and Support, which helps parents and babies who spend time in the NICU. Her organization helps with things like gas cards, food, care packages and more. Taylor says for our area, the help is needed.
“Especially in our own community where we deal with infant mortality rate, which we have the highest rate. So, definitely, I get calls all the time, I get messages all the time. So, it happens quite often, especially in our area,” Taylor said.
The city of Youngstown has also recognized her organization for its efforts and support it provides to families going through this experience in the area.
On Thursday, her organization wore green in honor of NICU support and will continue to give back to hospitals and parents going through this experience. Anyone who is looking for support can reach out to them on their website, Justice4joi.org.