Our StoriesTouching Stories from members of TLC
Jack, Matthew, Emma & Luke Farrell
After 2 weeks in the labor and delivery ward trying to hold off delivering, the call went out at about 2:00 AM on July 31, 2000 to the NICU (NSUH-Manhasset) that the Farrell “triplets” were about to be delivered (at 26 weeks). Then, at about 2:15 AM or so, after Farrell “A” (Jack, 1 lb., 14 oz.) and Farrell “B” (Matthew, 2 lbs.) were delivered, an ultrasound revealed that there were still two more to come. By 2:30 AM, Farrell “C” (Emma, 1 lb., 7 oz.) and Farrell “D” (Luke, 1lb., 14 oz.) had arrived. With virtually no notice, the night shift of both Labor & Delivery and the NICU pulled out all the stops and went way above and beyond the call of duty to deliver our “26 week” quads and get them set up in the NICU for what would become a three and a half month gauntlet for all of us.
In the morning of Wednesday, August 2 we learned that Matthew would not likely make it through the day. The following 14 hours that Matthew stayed with us were handled by the NICU staff with the highest level of compassion and professionalism.
From that point on, Jack, Emma and Luke progressed through the ranks of the NICU, each with their own scares along the way. All of these events were handled by the NICU staff (be it keeping us informed of the crisis of the week, or executing its resolution) with the superior medical care and competency to which we had grown accustomed. During that time, the neonatologists and nurses caring for our “26 week” preemies, provided us with the peace of mind in knowing that our children were receiving the highest level of care.
We’ll never forget the efforts of the staff who cared for Jack, Matthew, Emma and Luke during their stay in the NICU. Their daily words of support, acts of kindness and compassion to our family far exceeded any vocational obligations.
However, during our experience there was a sense that the NICU patients, their families and the terrific medical staff could benefit from improved facilities and support programs. There was no apparent structure to foster these ends. For example, our 3 year old daughter Greta, who came to the NICU everyday to see “her” babies, had to remain outside the NICU in the hallway because there were no facilities to accommodate siblings who are too young to be admitted into the Unit. This put a great deal of added stress to our daily visits. One of us would have to stay with her in the hall, while the other went from baby to baby to get the latest information of their progress or issues for that day. If not for the family-friendly staff who spent time with Greta, there would have been no relief provided for Karen and myself during our daily visits over the course of the 3 month stay at the NICU.
Another example is the layout of the facilities itself, which was not designed to be a twenty-first century Family-Centered Care NICU facility, but rather a facility designed for the provision of care only for the critically ill newborn infant with little overall focus on the whole family – a twentieth century concept. This condition is only intensified during periods of high census in the NICU, when the staff and families are stretched to the limit in an already stressful environment.
It is for these reasons, among others, that we have joined with other NICU families to establish the Tender Loving Care Foundation as an independent not-for-profit foundation to ensure that the overall experience follows the Family-Centered Care model. In this way it is our hope that the experience of having a baby or babies in the NICU is improved and that this care model will continue to be improved over time.
– Karen and Ray Farrell