I remember feeling some cramps, but they weren’t very serious so I just continued on with my day. As the night progressed, they got increasingly worse. I told my mom that I wasn’t feeling well and was having cramps. She said, “We need to take you the doctor to see if everything’s ok.”
I was only 28 weeks and 6 days so this was a huge concern for the doctors when I went into Ashland Samaritan Hospital. I could see the concern on all the nurses’ faces. My heart sank. I knew something was wrong but no one was saying anything.
They began administering magnesium to stop the contractions and hopefully stop my labor completely. They called my OB/GYN. When he arrived 20 minutes after they started me on my IV, they told him I was 3 cm dilated and their attempts to stop labor weren’t working.
I will never forget what the paramedic said to me: “Due to your young age and the prematurity of the baby you need to prepare yourself for the loss of this baby.”
I sobbed the whole way up to Akron. All I wanted was my mother by my side. When I arrived at Akron Summa Hospital they put me in a room, asked me a bunch of questions, and made me lie with my head almost to the ground and my feet up so that I wasn’t putting any more pressure down there.
When I got to Akron I was 5 cm, and within less than 2 hours I was 8.5 cm. They wheeled me into the delivery room, and with just 3 pushes, my baby girl was here.
They quickly took her into the other room. Hours later, after my epidural wore off, they wheeled me in to see her.
Miss Julianna Noelle Reese was born at 5:24 a.m., weighing only 2 lbs., 9 oz. When I first saw her I didn’t want to touch her, I felt like I was going to break her. They said it would be awhile before I could touch or hold her.
I cried for hours, praying for our dear lord to please put guardian angels over her. She was on the CPAP for 36 hours and then began breathing on her own. The doctors couldn’t believe how great she was doing.
My cousin stayed with me but everyone else had to return to work. After a week, they said due to the flu only immediate family members were allowed in to see the babies. So I was there alone for 4 weeks.
I met some of the other great mothers and we all bonded and shared stories. They helped me get through those 4 weeks when Julianna was in Akron Children’s NICU.
She slowly started gaining weight, then we moved on to bottles. She struggled with 1 ounce because she wasn’t strong enough for it. But as time went on we moved from the incubator to a crib. Her cheeks were finally chubby and she was discharged to go home weighing 3 lbs.
I couldn’t believe I was taking such a small baby home. But thanks to all the amazing doctors and nurses at Akron Children’s NICU at Summa, my daughter is alive and well and just an absolute miracle.
She is now 2 years old and stubborn as ever. I truly believe that’s why she is alive today. She was a determined little girl, very headstrong, just like her mama. She is still very small for her age but perfectly healthy.
I want to say a special thanks to Kara Ball and Kim Ervin for the amazing care they took of her.
As part of our year-long anniversary celebration, we’ll be telling the story of Akron Children’s through the eyes of past and present employees, doctors, donors, volunteers and patient families. We encourage you to share your own memories and stories about us.