More than twenty-one years ago, Cindy and Rodley were on their way to becoming proud parents of twin baby boys. But, Cindy went into premature labor during only her 24th week of pregnancy. She gave birth to identical twins, Matthew and Cameron. Each baby weighed only a pound and a half and both were diagnosed with Down syndrome. Back then, infants born so prematurely seldom survived and sadly, after 25 days, Matthew passed away.
However, Rodley and Cindy remember his final hours as a bittersweet time for their family. As they prepared for their loss, WakeMed's Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) staff arranged for them to have some private family time with Matthew, to "make a lifetime of memories." According to Cindy, "these memories gave Matthew's story an ending that was beautiful, not tragic" and have encouraged her to reach out to other families with similar stories to help them make their own beautiful endings.
Miraculously, Cameron beat the odds for survival, but only after spending 108 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This time in the NICU is often compared to a rollercoaster ride - there are many scary days and some easier days. However, when the day came for Rodley and Cindy to take Cameron home, Cindy admits, "as much as we wanted to leave, I knew I was going to miss the care and support I had received from the ICN staff."
Cindy was a parent for the first time, and was struggling to find her role as a mother in the NICU. As a child development specialist herself, she didn't know how to give Cameron what she knew he needed from his mother. However, his nurses were able to help Cindy learn how to read his cues, comfort him and advocate for his needs, which made her "feel like his mother, not his nurse."
Although Cindy's experience was difficult and painful, she remained positive and grateful for the care she and her sons received at WakeMed. She was so impressed with WakeMed's NICU that she decided if she ever had the opportunity to give back to the people who had given her and her family so much, she would take it. And later, she did.
Cindy is now an Infant-Family Specialist with WakeMed's Hospital-Home Intervention Program which supports families and their premature babies while in the NICU and as they transition home.
"The lessons we learned from Cameron's 108 days in the NICU and from Matthew's passing are, in a way, a blessing to us now. Every time I spend time with a family in the NICU, I honor both of my children - Matthew's memory and Cameron's miracle."
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