A Light at the End of the Tunnel

One family shares their experience in the newly opened Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Koser Family The arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for any parent. But when a complication arises, those excited jitters can quickly change to worry and even distress. James Koser found himself in this tense situation after a sonogram revealed irregularities in his wife’s pregnancy.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center discovered that James’ wife, Basia, had vanishing twin syndrome a condition where one baby does not fully develop and is absorbed by the other. However, in Basia’s case, the placenta of the vanished twin attached itself to her cervix causing a heterotopic pregnancy. This diagnosis poses a health risk to the mother and developing baby.

“You’re 16 weeks into it with one baby doing well, but you have this complication that is fairly dangerous,” James says. “But we chose to see it through to the end.”

Andrew Cameron in the NICU Anticipating a challenging and early birth, the Kosers sought out the expert physicians at the Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Opened last fall, the Level-IV NICU provides the most critically ill infants with a private and comfortable space for comprehensive treatment. It also offers parents support and comfort during one of the most challenging and difficult times of their lives.

Thirty-one weeks into her pregnancy via cesarean section, Basia gave birth to Andrew Cameron Koser, who weighed 4 pounds, 9 ounces. He spent the first few weeks of his life in the NICU, where James and his family found a surprising amount of comfort. “What could be an extremely stressful or scary situation has been anything but,” James says. “We were never concerned about the well-being of our baby. How do you create that kind of environment?”

Made up of 52 individual rooms, the NICU provides families with a private and relaxed space to stay with their infant. Day and night, James and his family could bond with Andrew while he received medical care from a team of highly skilled doctors and nurses. The team never rushed through explaining a medical concern or procedure, James says, and showed compassion while caring for his son.

Andrew CameronDuring his time in the NICU, Andrew’s health improved. He gained weight and further developed his voluntary muscles. Before being discharged, Andrew needed to reach a series of milestones, including passing a car seat test to confirm that he could breathe properly and be safely transported home. “They literally thought of everything to ensure that when the baby comes home, he has no setbacks,” James adds.

Andrew is now thriving at home with his parents and two older brothers, ages 3 and 5. His mother has also since recovered from the complication she experienced during her pregnancy. Even though the Kosers were already parents to two healthy boys, Andrew’s birth was an entirely different and unfamiliar experience.

“The NICU takes away the fear of the unknown,” James say. “If all you can do is hear what someone is telling you, then that’s all you know. But in this unit, you get to hear what they are saying, you get to ask questions and you get to experience it along with your child because you are in the room, you get to observe and you get to participate. You get to change your baby’s diaper while professionals are there holding your hand and walking you through it. They are making sure the baby is OK and they are making sure that you’re OK.”

The NICU offers families a light during a seemingly dark moment in time. While complications during pregnancy will undoubtedly bring worry, it is important for parents to feel involved and that starts with a call to the NICU. “Stay in control of what you can be in control of,” James advises. “If it’s early and you have a question or if something just doesn’t feel right, don’t feel alone. Pick up the phone or walk in the door and ask for help.”

For the Koser family, their efforts paid off. And now, their future as a family of five is just as bright as they imagined.

The Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is funded in part by philanthropy. Continued innovation in research and patient care are key factors in sustaining its level of excellence.

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