The Women’s Pavilion at Aurora West Allis Medical Center (AWAMC) delivered 370 babies last year who were born premature or had special needs. Those babies are cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and they deserve the best care possible. Jennifer Ward and her partner, Vickie Ortiz Vazquez, became very familiar with that specialized care when their world was turned upside down last year.
On November 1 of 2012, Jennifer learned she was finally pregnant- and was going to have twins! But she and Vickie didn’t have too long to adjust because on March 4 of 2013, Jennifer was admitted to Aurora West Allis and put on bed rest. Then just four days later, doctors performed an emergency c-section. Victor was born on March 8 at 4:22 am, and Liam just two minutes later. Both were three months and three weeks premature and had less than a five percent chance at survival.
“It was pretty traumatic,” Jennifer explains. “Those first two days were significant on whether or not the boys were going to come out of it alive.”
The babies were intubated and put on ventilators. Liam developed Pulmonary Hypertension which made him very sick, until he was able to get a tracheostomy. They spent four months in the NICU at Aurora West Allis. And Victor’s persistent personality became an asset, as he grew strong and was able to come home first. His little brother Liam was finally able to come home in November. Liam is still on a ventilator at night, but is breathing on his own for most of the day. Doctors are optimistic he will eventually breathe on his own all the time.
Jennifer explains the strangeness every new parent feels, but lovingly describes their situation as “double trouble”. She says they went into parenthood “mind, body and spirit” but when things didn’t go as planned, they relied heavily on the comfort and expertise of the NICU staff.
“They allowed us to fall apart when we needed to fall apart, but also armored us with the reality that we are capable and competent as parents. We had coaching and training in how to learn their cues, how to feed them and even breastfeed them. They were wonderful educators for us and a real support system,” she says.
Jennifer says the boys are now growing into rascally little boys. Their health struggles are not over, but they have come such a long way. Liam is incredibly laid back and Victor still wants to be the center of attention. But both are the center of Jennifer and Vickie’s universe, and they are incredibly grateful for the treatment and specialized care they received at AWAMC for making it possible.
You can also make a gift to the NICU registries at Aurora West Allis and Aurora Sinai Medical Center by CLICKING HERE.