It takes a village: an act of extraordinary kindness for a new mother
Liana is always eager to play.
When you’re a first-time mother-to-be, preparing for your child’s arrival usually includes preparing the nursery, shopping for baby clothes, or finding the perfect stroller. It doesn’t normally include a COVID-19 diagnosis, an emergency C-section, and a stint in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) while your newborn is cared for in the Paediatrics Unit. But that’s exactly what happened to me.
I was 36 weeks pregnant in January of 2021, thrilled that within a month, I’d become a mother for the first time. I could barely contain my excitement – counting the days until I could hold my new baby. As I was about to find out, fate had other plans.
An unexpected entry into motherhood
Without warning, I developed a high fever, a constant cough and struggled to breathe. I was taken to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency at NYGH where the terrifying diagnosis was confirmed – I had COVID pneumonia. I was sick with worry for my unborn child and myself.
Because I was so ill, the obstetrics team recommended an immediate C-Section as the safest course of action. This meant my baby would be three weeks premature. We had no family nearby to help care for the baby, and my husband was now in quarantine, so I was terrified. With tears streaming down my face, I felt overwhelmed, afraid and alone.
A curious child, Liana is always making new discoveries.
An unexpected act of kindness
Then something truly amazing happened. The paediatrics team came forward with an extraordinary act of kindness. They offered to care for my newborn until I recovered from COVID-19 and could go home. I took a moment to consider the offer, then accepted, knowing it was the best decision for me and my family.
The moment my daughter Liana came into the world, that joy I had longed for took hold of me. Thankfully Liana was healthy and safe, which gave me comfort and relief. Soon after, she was taken to the isolation room in the Steinberg Family Paediatrics Centre, while I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I spent three days in the ICU then was transferred to the COVID unit to recover from the virus.
A caring first ‘home’
At the same time, Dr. Ronik Kanani, Dr. Giuseppe Latino, Child Life Specialist Esther Huang, and the nursing team in the Paediatric Centre cared for Liana in her first ‘home’. Nurses Zoë, Lisa, Christine and Donna bathed her, trimmed her nails, cuddled her and sang to her. Kendra, the lactation counsellor, helped express my milk and delivered it to the nurses who fed her throughout the day and night.
I’ve often heard that NYGH was a welcoming and caring place, but I never imagined that so many people would go to this much effort for me and my child. It was as though the entire hospital had wrapped its arms around us with a promise of care and compassion.
Liana is now a happy, healthy 15-month-old who is always on the go. When I look back at those early days, I’m struck by the fact that so many people, from so many different areas of the hospital, joined forces to deliver the kind of care that went way beyond medicine.
The paediatric team worked together to care for baby Liana.
Supporting emergency care
It was in the NYGH Emergency Department (ED), where my entry into motherhood began and where I first experienced the incredible kindness of hospital staff. The hospital is expanding their ED to create more space to help more people, but they can’t do it alone.
I hope my story inspires you to donate to hospital, which will go a long way for the many people in the communities the hospital serves. I know from my family’s experience that it will make a world of difference.