The NICU: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
By Hannah Ammon
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life. Have you ever thought about how someone could enter your life in one day and change you forever? 5 years ago, someone entered my life and changed me forever. This someone is my cousin Addie. She was born at 23 weeks, spending the first four months of her life in the NICU at Good Samaritan Hospital. With all odds against her, Addie pushed through every day slowly gaining her health back. She fought off infections in her blood and lungs and eventually was able to be taken off the ventilator to breathe on her own. Addie’s mother, Amy said, “To this day, we still feel blessed to have spent our time in the NICU. It became a second home to us and it was a place where we felt truly comfortable and loved.” Addie is now 5-years-old and has been officially diagnosed with cerebral palsy (hypotonia). As she grows older, every day poses a new challenge for her and she faces it with courage and determination. She has multiple appointments a week with therapists and doctors trying to help her along her journey. She is also unable to communicate or walk so she speaks through her IPad and continues to work towards walking one day. This little girl is an inspiration to everyone she meets. She is an image of grace and shows us all that there is always reason for hope no matter what life throws your way.
Apart from babies like Addie, there are other babies treated in the NICU. These are the babies that are diagnosed with what is called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). This is the withdrawal process that newborns undergo after being exposed to illicit drugs while in the womb. This exposure causes the unborn baby to become addicted to the drug just as the mother is. So, when they are born, they are left without the substance they had grown attached to. The babies then go through a withdrawal process similar to what any adult would go through. This includes: vomiting, crying, seizures and diarrhea. There are also long term repercussions associated with NAS including, learning disabilities and violent tendencies as the child grows older. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of babies born in the US with neonatal abstinence syndrome almost doubled. As the use of drugs increases in society, so do the cases of NAS and it must be stopped because it is setting children up for hard times in life from the start. We must work to create a better tomorrow for these children, today.
If you know someone currently struggling with drug abuse let them know that there is help available! Prevention is the key to bringing an end to NAS. At Good Sam, there are many resources for women struggling with addiction.
The HOPE Program offers classes and counseling for expecting parents facing addiction. This is the support system that someone needs when going through hard times. The more people know about it, the more likely they will be to use it so spread the word! if everyone can gain awareness of this issue in society, babies will be born happier and much healthier.
If you’re interested in helping out and reaching out to a family and their baby in need feel free to visit my GoFundMe page, http://www.gofundme.com/fpmvas. Your donation could be just what a family needs to get through the hard times. So far, I have been able to use what I have raised to help babies and their families in the NICU to feel welcome and secure. Any money donated will be sent on to the NICU, even after Senior Project is over, to be used for any needed materials in the unit or for any needs of a specific struggling family.