A NICU Mom's Post-Battle Message

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Cari Schwartz and her daughter, Riley kid Josephine

Speaking on behalf of my family, and all families helped by Riley, I want to thank Riley donors for caring about Indiana’s babies.

My daughter Josephine would have had no chance at all if we hadn’t gotten her to the right place at the right time. It was February 9, 2017, when I called my husband at work to tell him I was in labor. I was exactly 23 weeks’ gestation, and I had been through lots of pregnancy complications. Bloomington Hospital was not equipped to care for a baby born before 28 weeks. If we wanted to give our daughter any fighting chance, I needed to get to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. That way when she was born, she would be in the hands of Riley neonatal specialists, and just minutes from Riley Hospital.

I prayed during the entire helicopter flight. I had to accept that if my baby was born while we were in the air, she would not survive. But it was a risk we had to take.

Thanks to the right interventions, our baby got five more days to grow before my water broke. As our labor and delivery team surrounded me, a nurse leaned in and asked me, “Have you decided if you would like to hold your daughter, or if you want us to try to resuscitate her?” Through my sobs, I begged them to try to save her.

Josephine weighed one-and-a-half pounds and was 12 inches long when she was born on Valentine’s Day. Through her translucent skin we could see her veins, her flickering heartbeat and so much life behind her fused eyelids.

If you’ve never seen the Riley NICU team work, let me tell you they are heroes and angels who fight for every tiny life. After four blood transfusions, 11 IVs, countless blood draws, a collapsed lung, rounds of steroids, eight pounds gained, and 120 long days, Josephine was discharged from Riley Hospital.

We were among the most fortunate. We got to bring our daughter home. Sadly, not all families have that miraculous outcome.

Our family, like so many others, has been through a battle that changed us forever. Now we’re taking on a new battle: to raise awareness and funds so more mothers and babies can get the exceptional care they need.

What Riley is doing with its Maternity and Newborn Health program is going to change our state’s  heartbreaking infant mortality problem. On behalf of Indiana’s mothers, thank you for your support for Riley this holiday season.

Cari Schwartz

Cari Schwartz lives in Bloomington, Ind., with her husband Jeff and their three children. Their youngest child, Josephine, spent 120 days in the Riley Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

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