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The Longest 53 Days of Our Lives


Nicole Maglidt

May 9, 2019
Ethan with mom and dad in GBMC's NICU
On October 5, 2017, after years of struggling with infertility, I found out I was pregnant. My husband Charles and I were elated to find out that we would finally be parents. We had no reason to think I wouldn’t have a healthy pregnancy and normal delivery. That changed on April 3, 2018. I walked into GBMC at 29 weeks and 6 days with terrible swelling and a severe headache. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome, and was told that my son would have to be delivered within 24 hours to save both our lives. I was terrified, wondering how he could survive being so early and weighing only 2lbs at the time, very small for his gestational age. I was immediately informed by my nurses and technicians that our baby was in the best possible hands, and they were right. As soon as I met neonatologist Dr. Sabah Helou, I knew my son would be okay. He sat by my bedside as I was in tears. He explained how everything would work from the moment my son was delivered until the day he would get to come home. He explained that he wouldn’t be coming home for a while and that we had a long road ahead of us. That our baby would need machines to breathe and would need tubes to be fed. We were devastated. There my entire family sat, clueless as to what they could do. I felt helpless, lost, and scared, but Dr. Helou stayed, answered all our questions, and helped us to feel calm. All I could do now was try to stay calm.

I’ll never forget all those eyes on me, I could almost feel them.

The last thing any mother wants to hear is that they will be leaving the hospital without their newborn. That happy day you’ve been anticipating for so long is put on hold. This was going to be a journey our family never prepared for. But we weren’t alone. On April 4th, 2018, our son Ethan was delivered in a very crowded operating room. I’ll never forget all those eyes on me, I could almost feel them. They belonged to people who were waiting to burst into action to save my son’s life as soon as he took his very first breath. Each person in that room that day was a Godsend and I wish I could thank them all personally. I couldn’t see their faces, only masks and eyes, but to me, they are all angels.

Ethan was immediately taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in an incubator, where he stayed for the next 53 days. Wires, tubes, tests, monitors, alarms, day in and day out. These were the longest days of my entire life. We were told from the very beginning that this journey would be a rollercoaster ride, that there would be ups and downs. We were told there could be complications due to his early arrival, that he would have setbacks. Fortunately, he only got better; each day, he improved, growing healthy and strong. During Ethan’s time there, the nurses and doctors became family to us. Dr. Helou, Dr. Pane, Christie B., Kris, Beverly P., Alexis S., and Dan were my support, my comfort when I needed it most. When no one else I knew could possibly understand what I was going through, they were there for me. They were always patient with me, the terrified new mother of a preemie, and answered my questions day or night. They calmed my every fear and taught me everything I needed to know, the simplest things, from feeding and bathing to kangaroo care (skin-to-skin contact between infant and parent), and so much more.

We met so many people I will never forget.

Ethan grew his own bonds with the nurses, too. I could see how they calmed him and never made him feel scared, despite all he had to go through right at the start of his life. There was an attachment, a bond that could not be broken. I felt so lucky to have them taking care of my son whenever I had to leave the hospital without him. That was always the hardest part, but I knew he was in great hands.

Maglidt Christmas
We met so many people I will never forget. From the doctors and nurses that we were on a first-name basis with, to the amazing guitarist Chris who would visit our room weekly. These people became my friends, and these are memories I will cherish for a lifetime. The NICU is a scary place, with constant alarms, babies crying, people buzzing by every which way. But it was our home because that’s where our son was. For 53 days, it was my home, and it all became so normal to me. I was almost sad to leave. But the day our son came home was the happiest day of our lives and we will always know who to thank for that. Ethan has grown into such a strong healthy one-year old boy and I thank my lucky stars every day for everything the NICU team did for our family. We will be forever grateful. I’m proud to be a strong preemie mom and to always be a part of something so special, the GBMC NICU family.

Please support this extraordinary team that stands by at all hours, ready to save infants’ lives and support their families during the scariest times of their lives. Register now for the 31st Annual GBMC Father’s Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Walk to benefit the NICU. I never thought my family would need this type of care, but I am so thankful it was here for us.
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