Our story begins as a happy one; one of a normal and healthy pregnancy, where my husband Erik and I enjoyed travel and life immensely. We were expecting twins and our two boys, Andrew and Peyton, were growing and progressing steadily. At 24 weeks, I went to the doctor for a routine appointment, and was notified that I was in active labor – three months premature. I was told to drive myself to the nearest hospital, where the doctors and nurses were miraculously able to stop my contractions. I was then put on strict hospital bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.
Seven days later, we asked to meet the hospital's head neonatologist. While talking with him, he informed us that if the boys were born in the next few weeks, they had a 40% survival rate, and with that prognosis, we should expect long term deficits. Our hearts were broken… Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Erika was projected to hit and I was told that the drop in barometric pressure would most likely induce labor.
Through divine intervention and lots of determination, Erik initiated a hospital transfer to Winnie Palmer. Thinking about the following months at Winnie still brings tears to our eyes.
Dr. Gregor Alexander, who became the boys’ primary neonatologist, came to greet Erik and I the morning we arrived at Winnie. From the moment we met Dr. Alexander and the Winnie team, we knew we were in remarkable hands. The team told us our babies had a 90% or greater survival rate with few (if any) long term deficits.
At that moment, we pledged to support Winnie Palmer for the rest of our lives. Erik and I will never be able to thank every person we encountered during the 127 days Andrew and Peyton lived in the NICU. Every single person was filled with grace, compassion and patience. Winnie Palmer isn't defined by its doctors or nurses, but by the entire hospital staff. What can we give the place that has it all? The people who saved us and our children? A place that allowed us to leave the hospital and sleep soundly knowing our children were getting the best possible care?
The only hope we have of ever repaying our debt is to allow others to experience the life changing moment of walking into a world where everyone loves their job and fights like hell to do everything in their power to help you, while asking nothing in return. A place full of smiles and grace-filled people who always have your best interests at heart. A place where after four and a half months, the staff has become part of our forever family.
Andrew and Peyton continue to thrive and are about to celebrate their fourth birthday. Two years ago, we welcomed our third Winnie Palmer baby into our family! Matthew is almost two and we can’t imagine having a baby anywhere else. We are overjoyed to be able to share all our blessings with our hospital family and reunite with so many of the amazing caregivers and staff at this incredible hospital.
We are proud to call to call ourselves NICU parents and graduates while serving as a testament to the power of extraordinary health care.
This is why we Walk for Winnie.
For more than 40 years, the Alexander Center for Neonatology at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies (NICU)has been a leader in the fight to save the tiniest of patients. Every day, skilled physicians and nurses at our NICU provide the highest level of life-saving care for critically ill newborns, with one ultimate goal in mind: to help these babies thrive and beat the odds.
Through Walk For Winnie, we will be able to provide funding for the care and treatment of the sickest of babies. Please join me in the fight by raising funds to support the miracles born in the NICU every single day!