A Cook Children’s employee documents her time in the NICU
In April 2014, Kelly Wooley, a Cook Children's employee, began documenting the birth of her daughter and the journey that followed. This is the beginning of Avery's Journey. See the links below for all of the articles that followed.
I have worked in the marketing department at Cook Children’s since December 2012. I’ve toured the NICU and even shadowed one of the nurses there for a day. But never in a million years did I imagine that I would ever have such personal knowledge of the facility.
From the beginning, it was clear that my body didn’t like being pregnant. My husband, Shawn, and I worked on getting pregnant for a little over a year and were finally successful after seeing a fertility specialist. I can honestly say that I didn’t really have one day during my pregnancy where I could just enjoy being pregnant. Whether it was being really nauseous, increased problems with my asthma or dealing with high blood pressure.
This new chapter of our lives began on March 13 when I called the doctor with an exceptionally high blood pressure reading. I’d been battling high blood pressure since week six of my pregnancy but it had been controlled with medication. I remember thinking to myself before I called the doctor that morning that I was probably just overreacting. Two hours later, I was in a helicopter being taken from Harris Southwest to Harris downtown. The whole feeling was completely surreal. I didn’t really feel that bad so why were people acting like I was so sick?
I was told that I was being transported to Harris downtown so we could be closer to Cook Children’s in case I needed to deliver. Deliver?? I was only 26 weeks; there was no way I could deliver yet. I wasn’t ready. She wasn’t ready. But, less than 48 hours later, at 8:33 p.m. on Friday, March 14, Avery Leigh Wooley came into this world via a C-section, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces. The doctors had diagnosed me with preeclampsia and decided it was just too dangerous for me and her to stay pregnant any longer.
Being in the operating room for the C-section was another surreal experience. Shawn just kept telling me to “stay Avery strong!” That has now become our battle cry. We’ve even printed up bracelets that say “I am Avery strong” for friends and family to wear.
We are on day 14 of being in the NICU. Overall, she has done really well. She is experiencing all the normal things that a premature baby at 26 weeks would but nothing out of the ordinary. You never know what news could be lurking around the corner so we’ve really focused on taking it one day at a time. We celebrate the good news, try not to focus too much on her setbacks and try not to think too far in advance. This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. They say to plan on her being her until her due date, which was June 20.
The care that we’ve received here in the NICU has been incredible. There is nowhere else, except in my belly, that I would rather Avery be right now. All her nurses and doctors show incredible empathy and do a great job of comforting me on a daily basis. It’s not just a job for these people, it’s a calling. They do it because they love it. They’ve taught me so many new terms and do a great job at explaining things in plain English.
The amount of guilt I have for not being able to carry Avery to term is overwhelming. I feel like I failed at my first act of motherhood. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to her. For right now, I am trying to do that by being here with her as long and often as I can and giving her my breast milk to make her grow big and strong, so she can be Avery strong!
If you would like to help kids like Avery at Cook Children's, click here to donate. Our nationally recognized Level IV NICU provides the highest level of care available for our tiny patients. Cook Children's is one of only a handful of NICUs nationwide to provide single patient rooms. These individual rooms enable us to provide the highly specialized intensive care services and attention that medically fragile babies need. All of these advantages plus our advanced technology, top doctors and one-of-a-kind developmental program, means we give every baby we treat the biggest chance possible for a happy, healthy childhood.
Avery's Journey Continued:
- Avery's Journey - Part 2
- Avery's Journey - Part 3
- Avery's Journey - Part 4
- Avery's Journey - Part 5
- Avery's Journey - Part 6
- Avery's Journey - Part 7
- Avery Goes Home! - Part 8
- Thankful to be Home - Part 9
- Avery turns 1 - Part 10
- Independence Day- Part 11
- An Autism Spectrum Diagnosis - Part 12
- NICU Parents Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Part 13