When Lori Cichy started having labor pains, a whopping 13 weeks before her due date, she was several hours away from the Women’s Pavilion at Aurora West Allis Medical Center. She didn’t realize she was actually going into labor, but she was determined to make it there because “We said all along, he was in the best place, we were so grateful we were at West Allis,” Lori says.
Lori and her husband Chris made it to the hospital and were told, “You could have the baby in ten minutes, ten hours, ten days or ten weeks”. However, the contractions didn’t stop and neither did Lori’s apprehension. “The hardest part was, with every contraction, I would imagine a ‘normal mom’ is excited because you know something good is at the end of it. But in our case, every contraction was inner turmoil because you just want it to stop.”
But unfortunately Lori was in labor, and just eight hours after she arrived at the Women’s Pavilion, her little Landon was born. He weighed just 2 lbs. 7 oz., and was immediately whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “In the beginning, I struggled with feeling cheated; cheated of my pregnancy, the birthing process, cheated of being able to hold my baby and take him home,” Lori says.
Landon was born on November 24th and stayed in the NICU for 74 days, through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those early days are an important time for any newborn, especially one who came 13 weeks early. So Lori and Chris were spending a lot of time there, 40-60 hours a week, including those holidays. It really became a second home.
When Landon was finally discharged, Lori thought she would run out of the hospital and never look back. However, she found herself crying, along with the nurses, and feeling bittersweet about moving on. She and Chris were certainly ready to take Landon home, but they were feeling sad about leaving behind a group of people that had given them, not only support, but had truly given them back their son. Lori says, “The staff treats those babies like their own, and they fight minute, after minute, after minute to keep them alive.”
Lori just took Landon to a check up and says for the first time, he showed up on a growth chart for an 8-month-old! She credits Landon’s growth and good health to the special care given by the staff at AWAMC, whom she now considers part of her family.
And you can help make sure babies like Landon, no matter how small, get a fighting chance to grow up and meet those milestones! Support the Aurora Women’s Pavilion Neonatal Intensive Care Unit by attending the Evening of Promise on October 2, go to give.aurora.org/promise