Caring for Idina: A Mother’s Story

By on 09/15/2015

When Molly Steinberg Howard counts her blessings, the Arthur and Lea Powell Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery—and its dedicated team of nurses and physicians—are at the top of her list.

“Real miracles happen in the Einstein NICU,” says Molly. “Everyone there is nothing short of amazing. Not only did they provide exceptional care for my daughter, but they got to know us as a family and supported us in every possible way. Their genuine concern and compassion helped us through a very difficult time, and we are forever grateful.”

Molly’s special connection to Einstein began in 2014 as she and her husband Chris were excitedly awaiting the birth of their second child. Their first child—son Noah—had been “such an easy birth,” says Molly, and they didn’t anticipate anything other than that for his little sister. Then, in her 20th week of pregnancy, Molly’s blood work raised concerns, and she was directed to Einstein Montgomery for testing.

After numerous scans and an appointment with a genetic counselor, there were no signs of imminent danger. But the maternal fetal medicine specialists at Einstein decided to monitor Molly very carefully.

At her 28-week scan, the baby’s measurements were less than the 10th percentile. Molly’s pregnancy was deemed high risk, and she spent the next two days at Einstein on a fetal monitor. She was released, but would need to come back twice a week for ultrasounds and other testing. It was at week 30 that everything took a turn.

“The doctors didn’t like what they saw on the ultrasound,” explains Molly. “The baby’s heart rate went down, and I was admitted immediately. They monitored me very closely. The next morning, there was another big fetal heart rate drop, and they took me in for an emergency C-section.”

Idina Howard was born on June 24, 2014, at 30 weeks and two days. She would spend the next two months in the NICU.

Of the 2,000 babies born at Einstein Montgomery each year, 12 percent require care in the NICU—some for just a few days and others for several months. Both Einstein Montgomery and Einstein Philadelphia house Level III NICUs, with neonatologists onsite around the clock.

Our NICUs feature some of the most advanced technologies and the use of evidence-based medicine to treat premature babies and babies with congenital malformation, respiratory distress, congenital and neonatal infection, and neonatal neurological and metabolic disorders.

“In addition to providing clinical excellence, we go above and beyond in the approach we take to patient care,” says David J. Hoffman, MD, director of neonatology at Einstein Montgomery. “What drives us is the Einstein vision—Brilliance and Compassion in All We Touch; and our Code of Conduct, which emphasizes respect, empathy, responsibility, affinity and integrity. That is what our NICU is all about.”

Dr. Hoffman was present at Idina’s birth and was among the first to hold her. “Idina was a premature baby. She was growth restricted—meaning she was smaller than she would be because she didn’t grow at a normal weight inside the womb—and she had breathing difficulties,” he recalls. “She needed assistance to breathe, including the use of a device that gently forced air into her lungs and medication to help her lungs stay open.”

Molly and Chris took turns visiting as often as possible. Both parents work and son Noah was too young to be allowed in the NICU. “Idina was on oxygen and she had a feeding tube,” says Molly. “She was getting ultrasounds of her brain, her eyes were being checked, there were so many people who came in to look in on her and take care of her—physical therapists, occupational therapists, lactation consultants, ophthalmologists and, of course, neonatologists.”

None more so than the NICU nurses who were at Idina’s bedside 24/7. “The nurses were amazing every step of the way,” says Molly. “They made it feel like home and that everything would be OK. When I was upset, they hugged me. When I couldn’t be there, they sent pictures of Idina and sent them to me. They were my eyes and ears. They even discovered a urinary tract infection before it got into her bloodstream or her brain. They said they just noticed she wasn’t acting like herself.”

“NICU nurses have the most important role—making sure the baby is safe and cared for every moment of the day and night,” says Marie Mo, RN, MSN, clinical director, NICU, Mother/Baby Unit, and Labor and Delivery at Einstein Montgomery.”

“While everyone else comes and goes, they are there at the baby’s bedside,” says Mo. “They tend to feeding, to properly positioning the baby, to picking up on the slightest change and providing exactly what the baby needs in terms of treatment. What they do can have a long-term impact on the baby’s life.”

Idina responded very well to treatment and, in mid-August, she was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for highly specialized care. She was finally released to go home on October 24—her four-month birthday. Today, Idina is “right on track,” says Molly, and only needs to see doctors for regular visits.

Molly also brings Idina for regular visits to the NICU at Einstein Montgomery—just to say hi.

“The nurses and neonatologists are always so happy to see her,” says Molly. “I formed such close relationships with the nurses during our time there. We Facebook, we text, they want to be sure Idina’s doing well. When I was there as a NICU parent, they would get so excited whenever they would receive updates from other moms. They really care about their patients.

“I would recommend Einstein to anyone,” adds Molly, whose sister Mandy also delivered at Einstein Montgomery in November. “The NICU will always hold a very special place in our hearts. These people are like family. They saved my daughter’s life.”

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