It’s a roller coaster ride: One mom’s NICU experience

Sarah Colton’s daughter, Rosy, weighed 1 lb 15 oz when she was born by emergency C-section. Rosy spent a total of 73 days in the Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center (DNCC), first in the “micro-preemie” unit and then, once she had gained more weight, in pod 6. Today, Rosy is a happy and healthy baby girl about to turn 4 months old (her corrected age is 1 month). Sarah shares her family’s NICU experience below.


I had severe chest pain the weekend of Thanksgiving and went into Labor and Delivery, where I found out I had HELLP syndrome. The doctors were able to stabilize me for two days and gave me steroids to help Rosy’s lungs develop. The following Tuesday evening, my liver began to fail and I began slowly bleeding out – Rosy was born by emergency C-section on December 3, 2014, at 27 weeks and 5 days old gestation. I had further complications and ended up in the cardiac ICU for two days before I was able to see my daughter for the first time. The NICU nurses were amazing and brought me photos of her while I was in the ICU.

For the 73 days that Rosy was in the NICU, it was really challenging to juggle work, our time at the NICU and time with our 2 1/2-year-old, Gunner. Our daily schedule consisted of my going to the NICU during the daytime and working next to Rosy’s bed. I’d leave to pick Gunner up from daycare at 4 p.m. and have family time at home until his 8 p.m. bedtime. After that, Garrett would visit Rosy in the NICU.

Having a baby in the NICU is emotionally difficult. I wasn’t able to form the same bond I had with Gunner because I wasn’t able to hold and breastfeed her at home. I was meticulous with my pumping – it felt like this was one of the only things I could do to help her development while she was in the NICU. It was a long 73 days, but Garrett and I made it a point to visit every day, and I did at least an hour of “Kangaroo Care” daily.

Jenn, Pam, Sandy, Nancy, Lynne and all of the NICU staff were so supportive and loving. It was challenging, to say the least, but we made it through. The NICU is a roller coaster ride – there are ups and downs every day. You just have to stay strong and take it day by day.


Every year, more than 5,000 babies in Oregon and Southwest Washington are born too soon. Read about the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program in the Doernbecher Neonatal Care Center (DNCC) here, and consider joining OHSU/Doernbecher Team Tiny Feet at the 2016 March for Babies team here.

One response to “It’s a roller coaster ride: One mom’s NICU experience

  1. My twins where 26 weeks 1lb babies. they lived here at the NICU for 4 months. The doctors and nurses our amazing group of people. I could never thank you enough for all you did for my little guys amazing. They are now 11 years old full of laughter and joy.

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