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Continuing to capture the moments

Last Modified: 11/04/2019

NICU

When you have long envisioned becoming a parent and then suddenly learn that your dream might not become a reality, it’s devastating. But life’s greatest gifts often come when you least expect them. For Brooke and Chad Ealing, that beautiful surprise was learning they were pregnant after they’d already come to terms with the idea of such a blessing being impossible.

They learned of the unexpected addition to their family nine years after adopting their son, Kamdyn.

As Kamdyn grew older, Chad and Brooke discussed the possibility of adopting another child to give Kamdyn a sibling and become a family of four.

“I know people say things happen out of the clear blue, but it really was out of the clear blue sky. I hadn’t been feeling well so I took a test, and sure enough, I was pregnant! I cried and was so scared thinking I would miscarry after what I had been told,” Brooke said, recalling the day she found out.

Brooke and Chad went to their first appointment and, while Brooke was expecting bad news, they heard a strong, fast heartbeat via the ultrasound, instead. Tears and a flood of emotion filled the sonography room. It was an amazing moment and a first-time experience for the proud parents.

While the fear that something might go wrong during the pregnancy stayed in the back of Brooke’s mind, she had a fairly easy pregnancy. But sadly, in her third trimester, her worst fear became a reality.

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A turn of events

Friday, August 2, 2019 seemed like a normal day. In fact, Brooke had gone running with her sister that evening and felt fine. Ironically enough, she had been researching signs of labor earlier that week, so she knew what to expect when the time came. She recalls reading that the baby will shift downward into the pelvis in preparation for birth a few days or weeks before delivery. This often leads to mothers being able to breathe easier, but can also cause pressure in the pelvic area and some potential cramping. Looking back, Brooke recalls that after her run, she was hardly winded and her sister was more out of breath than she was.

Later that night, at 32-weeks, Brooke woke up when her water broke. She said it “felt like a movie”, scrambling around to make arrangements for Kamdyn and gathering a bag – something she and Chad had planned on doing but had not at this point. The couple lived in Bluffton, Indiana, and were significantly closer to another hospital, but Parkview Health was their first choice.

When Brooke arrived at Parkview Women’s & Children’s Hospital Family Birthing Center, Dr. Kathryn Garner, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Women’s Health Advantage, and the nursing team tried to slow down her preterm labor – the term for labor before 37 weeks. Often, healthcare providers recommend treatments to help stop contractions and prevent health problems for both mom and baby.

“Preterm labor is identified as regular uterine activity that results in cervical change between 20 and 37 weeks gestation,” Kim Fislar, MSN, RNC-OB, Nursing Professional Development and Clinical Care, Parkview Women’s & Children’s Hospital Family Birthing, explained. “There are a number of reasons why this can or may occur in pregnant women. However, it cannot always be explained. In an effort to stop this labor progression or prolong the period of time prior to delivering a preterm infant tocolytics are often administered to slow contractions, for interventions such as steroids that may provide benefits to the baby. In some cases, tocolytics can stop preterm labor for weeks. Although, often times these medications provide approximately 24-48 hours of efficacy.”

Lilly Ealing was born on August 3, 2019, weighing 4.4 lbs. and 9 oz. Brooke was initially told it was uncertain as to whether or not she would be able to hold Lilly. Thankfully, even though it was only 95 seconds, Brooke was able to enjoy that first skin-to-skin embrace before Lilly was whisked away to Parkview’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

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Parents are seldom prepared for their newborn to be admitted to the NICU. Most are overwhelmed at the thought of their little one staying in intensive care for days, weeks or even months. While Chad had made his way to check on Lilly and watch the team of nurses and physicians care for her, Brooke had to recover for two long hours before she was able to see her again.

As Brooke approached the NICU, her mind was flooded with questions. How would the NICU team care for her baby? Would she be OK? What would need to be done? There were so many uncertainties.

Seeing their baby hooked up to a nest of wires amid the discord of beeping machines and monitors, was a terrifying and difficult time for the Ealings. But Lilly was already a fighter. The team of Parkview nurses and physicians met regularly to comfort them and discuss what they could expect as the parents of a newborn. Each day, Lilly made progress, and each day a few wires and tubes were removed. Although they were in the NICU, Brooke and Chad wanted to capture these moments with their daughter – the beginning of her journey in life.

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Capturing early memories

This year, with the help of generous community members, the Parkview Foundations hopes to bring gifts of healing to Parkview Health’s NICU families. This is Parkview Health’s only NICU, serving several communities and thousands of people. Through Parkview Foundations’ GivingTuesday campaign, you can help provide the best care possible.

GivingTuesday is a global day of giving which started in 2012. Organizations and individuals from across the world raise funds in support of different organizations and causes. It has significantly grown during the last seven years and has raised more than $400 million dollars single-handedly in 2018. Supporting Parkview Foundations’ GivingTuesday, in turn supports our most fragile patients and their families like the Ealings. According to IN.gov, more than 600 Indiana infant deaths occurred in 2017 alone. Through generosity, GivingTuesday can help fight Indiana’s high infant mortality rate.

A bright future

During the three weeks and one day Lilly was in the NICU, Brooke shared that she always had a feeling Lilly would be OK in the hands of the “angel” physicians and nurses that cared for her. This made it easier for them to leave when they needed to run errands or spend time with Kamdyn. The staff worked with Brooke and Chad to teach them how to specifically feed a preemie, how to swaddle her, and other important elements of Lilly’s care. Brooke’s initial due date was September 25, and Lilly came home from the NICU on August 25. Today, the Ealing family is home, healthy and doing well.

Learn more about this year’s GivingTuesday, and how you can ensure that all of Parkview’s smallest patients can have the same, vibrant future as Lilly.

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