Triplets Receive Lifesaving Care at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital
Susanne and Mariano were thrilled to finally be expectant parents. Still, they were caught off-guard by one little word: triplets.
"My mouth fell open, and my husband had to steady himself against the wall," Susanne says. "I thought: How can I possibly carry three babies to term in my 120-pound body?"
With all the research they had done on the journey to parenthood, they were well aware of all the possible complications and risks – for Susanne and for the babies.
Luckily, the first five months passed uneventfully. Susanne went to work each day and maintained her busy schedule. But then, 19 weeks along, a routine checkup revealed Susanne would require bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. At 22 weeks, she was admitted to the hospital so she would have the treatment and assistance necessary to prolong the pregnancy. The physicians and nurses at Memorial Regional Hospital's Family Birthplace and Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital collaborated closely to tend to the entire family's needs.
"Susanne received great care," Mariano says. "And the father is always a second-class individual in these scenarios, but I remember receiving great support."
Precious Gifts, Precarious Preemies
On Christmas Eve 2002, the babies would wait no longer. Fourteen weeks early and dangerously tiny, they made their appearance. Nicolas weighed 1 pound, 9 ounces; Sebastian was 1 pound, 14 ounces; and Benjamin was 1 pound, 11 ounces.
Initially, the new parents were overwhelmed to see their fragile babies nestled in incubators, connected to monitors and respirators.
"It showed me how fragile life can be," Susanne says. "I'm so thankful we chose Joe DiMaggio Children's hospital. From day one, we knew we could depend on them to take care of our children."
For Susanne and Mariano, the heathcare team's remarkable patient- and family-centered care made a world of difference. Every detail took on special significance.
"They were adamant about breast milk – it's better for the babies and healing for a mother to do that for her babies. And they had us bring in clothes for the babies, and every night they would prepare a bag of laundry for me to take home and wash," Susanne says. "To do that simple task is just a way to feel part of it, to feel that they need you, that they are your children. Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital includes the whole family as valuable members of the care team. That's so important and so appreciated."
Susanne and Mariano were touched when a nurse took Polaroid pictures of the boys late at night and left little notes on the incubators in the morning. And whenever the anxious parents called, nurses would get on the phone and update them on how the babies were doing – any hour of the day or night.
"They made sure we were involved every step of the way, hands on!" Mariano says. "From changing diapers inside the incubator to feeding them with the small and delicate tubes going inside their bodies. It made us realize that they were alive humans and that they were our kids."
Circle of Care and Compassion
Consistency of care and caregivers made a fundamental and very personal impact.
"You don't want to meet a new nurse every day who doesn't know your baby," Susanne says. "We developed real relationships with these nurses. It's not just a job for them – you become part of their circle."
After three months in the hospital, Nicolas, Sebastian and Benjamin were able to go home with their parents. In the years since, they have grown into bright, rambunctious boys. They go to a progressive school and have met all their milestones.
"I call them my miracles," Susanne says. "We owe our children's lives to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital."
"They not only saved the boys' lives, but they taught us how to care for them and instill routines, such as sleeping or feeding time," Mariano adds. "It's because of them that today, at 8 p.m., our boys all go to sleep at the same time, following the routine without questions. I always think that is because they were educated to do this from the very beginning."
Expectant parents often ask them for advice, and Susanne and Mariano are quick with a recommendation.
"We strongly refer them to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital," Susanne says. "It's one of the best hospitals in the country for premature babies. You want to have your baby in a hospital where your baby can be taken care of from day one if something comes up."
When Susanne and Mariano learned baby number four was on the way, one thing was certain.
"We knew we would go back to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital," Susanne says. "We're happy to have a cutting-edge hospital nearby – it's practically in our backyard."