Gracie was born on Christmas Eve of 2007, weighing only 1 lb 2 oz. She was almost 3 months premature, so she was immediately admitted into Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at WakeMed Children's. Gracie's family rode the "NICU roller coaster," battling many issues common among preemies, like chronic lung disease and digestive problems. She was only 9 days old when she had her first surgery.
Gracie was in the hospital for 177 days. She was there so long, in fact, that the doctors and nurses gave her the nickname "The Princess," because if she wanted things her way, she usually got them.
Because of the nature of the care that Gracie needed, WakeMed worked hard to provide consistency with the nurses. Kathy and Carol were her primary nurses.
Since she was released to come home, she's been back to WakeMed at least three times, in her parents' car and in an ambulance. The good news is that she's now 21 months old, and as of a few weeks ago, is off of oxygen support.
Gracie's family's experience with the WakeMed NICU staff was "wonderful," according to her mother Kristen. Since then, when they have to bring Gracie back in, they call the ICN and say, "We are on our way!" The staff calls down to the Children's Emergency Department and warns them.
Kristen says, "It's so difficult to transport a baby on oxygen and with a heart monitor, so they're ready and waiting to take us in the minute we arrive at the ED. We live 17 miles away, so we're very close. I was there at WakeMed every day of the 177 days that Gracie was hospitalized in the NICU. Having the hospital in our community and enabling us to spend that time with her was very important."
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