Open Accessibility Menu

I don’t know if I would have survived as well as I did.

  • Author: Marina
  • Location: Tehachapi, CA
  • Date Submitted: Jan 22, 2024

“If they weren’t there (the NICU team), I don’t know if I would have survived as well as I did.”

In the midst of her second trimester, Marina was not yet ready to give birth to her daughter, Arya, but her body had other plans. She was experiencing spotting and pain prompting her concerned mother to drive her to the hospital. To her surprise, the labor and delivery staff notified her that she was in early labor.

Marina’s medical team immediately jumped into action trying to stop her labor and administer shots to develop Arya’s lungs, but fate had other plans. “I was in the hospital for about a night, and they tried to stop the process and it didn’t happen… she came out anyway,” she says. Despite their efforts, Marina was taken into an emergency c-section and Arya made her entrance at only 25 weeks, weighing 1lb 10oz and measuring 10 inches long. In light of Arya’s premature arrival, she was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to help her development. Marina reflects, “It was very difficult, but we knew. We were told it was going to be a roller coaster… We were prepared.”

Discharged at 3 days postpartum, Marina and her husband had to face the heart-wrenching reality of leaving the hospital without their newborn daughter. “That was probably one of the hardest things, being discharged and leaving without your baby,” she says. The NICU became a second home to the Stowers, where a new routine took shape, “I would go during the morning before work, he would go at night after work. He knew the night staff and I knew the day staff,” she recalls.

Despite the unwavering support of the NICU team and her parents, their journey proved challenging as they navigated caring for a young child at home and having another in the NICU. “It was extremely difficult… I had that horrible feeling of when I’m at home with one daughter, I’m not at the NICU with the other, or when I’m at the NICU, I’m not at home with the other daughter,” Marina shares.

Throughout Arya’s NICU stay, there were numerous close calls as she faced many complications, including oxygen issues and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), that required surgery. “I actually watched her get bagged one time, which was probably one of the worst things I’ve seen in my life,” Marina says. Yet, despite the challenges and alarming sounds of their daughter’s machines during visits, the Stower’s persevered.

After 129 days in the NICU, AVMC’s longest NICU resident, Arya was finally discharged. Now, 10 years later, Marina reflects on the past in admiration towards the NICU staff and doctors who played a pivotal role in Arya’s recovery. “That place, the staff, the nurses (Julie and Lily), the doctors (Dr. Thangavel and Dr. Lipsky), and just everyone that had their hands in it, were absolutely amazing,” she gushes, “If they weren’t there, I personally don’t know if I would have survived as well as I did.”