Heather Carlos and Kurt Wideski hold their children, Lilah and Harrison, at the 34th annual reunion party for ‘graduates’ of the neonatal intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

NICU reunion a precious reminder for families, hospital staff

More than 100 families came together for annual event

Monday, Feb. 12 was Family Day for British Columbians, but it has a whole new meaning in Charlotte Wain’s household.

Earlier this year, Wain gave birth to twins, Felix and Harriet Green. However it wasn’t the birth the new mother was expecting. The twins were born at 27 weeks and two days – roughly 13 weeks premature.

But after an extended stay at Victoria General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and highly specialized medical care from doctors and nurses, Felix and Harriet are thriving.

On Thursday, the family returned for the 34th annual reunion party for “graduates” of the unit, hosted in the back garden of Jeneece Place.

More than 100 families enjoyed food and refreshments, face-painting and socialized with other families, to celebrate those who have fought so hard to be alive and those who helped them along the way.

RELATED: Baby reunion party brings laughter, smiles to VGH

“It’s such a valued opportunity for us to see the babies and their families. There’s a lot of networking that goes on in the NICU with regards to being away from your home community and support system. Moms and dads make a lot of friends and today’s all about celebrating them and that they made it through the NICU,” said Gillian Kozinka, a long-time neonatal nurse and current manager of neonatal and perinatal services.

“It’s helping them through some really tough times … It’s a really valuable thing for the NICU nurses and the team to actually keep on going and doing this hard job because it’s hard on the heart sometimes.”

But it hasn’t always been a time of celebration for many families, including Wain.

After complications with her pregnancy, Harriet was born first at two pounds, two ounces, followed by brother Felix at one pound, 15 ounces. The young family spent the next 10 weeks in the NICU, where the twins slowly but surely began to grow.

Some things that new parents take for granted were major milestones for the babies, such as when they were taken off a c-pack machine that was helping them breathe, when they started to gain weight, and were taken off tubes to begin feeding orally.

In April, the twins were able to go home.

Now six months old, Felix has grown to 10.6 pounds, and Harriet is 10.4 pounds.

“From day one, the level of care that we got was exceptional,” Wain said during the reunion, adding anytime they drop by the hospital for check ups, she’ll wheel the babies in for a visit.

“The nurses were phenomenal and the doctors didn’t overwhelm us with too much information and gave us what we needed to know on that day.”

Felix and Harriet are not alone. Between 2,500 to 3,500 babies are born in Victoria every year and nearly 600 of those will require care from the NICU unit.

Saanich’s Heather Carlos and her husband Kurt Wideski know the benefits of the NICU all too well.

Their daughter Lilah, now almost two years old, was born at 24 weeks and one day – 16 weeks premature. Lilah stayed in the NICU for another four months before she was released.

“It’s one of the few ways we get to express our gratitude over and over. It’s the least we can do every year,” said Carlos, who attended the reunion last year as well.

“It means so much to see everybody. You don’t want to forget something like that. As traumatic as the experience was, it was still a big part of her life … Being able to come back and be reminded of how amazing the NICU is, is an amazing thing and to honour all the kids who fought so hard to make it.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

 

Charlotte Wain and twins Felix (left) and Harriet at the 34th annual reunion party for ‘graduates’ of the neonatal intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Fourteen-month-old Simon Christie on the move during the 34th annual reunion party for ‘graduates’ of the neonatal intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Five-year-old Allison Evans takes a look in the mirror after she had her face painted during the 34th annual reunion party for ‘graduates’ of the neonatal intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital Thursday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Just Posted

Parkland musical theatre lights up the stage with Grease

North Saanich school stages show Jan. 30 to Feb. 2

City of Victoria endorses potential class action lawsuit against fossil fuel giants

Data will be gathered to quantify how much environmental damage the city has faced

Toronto Arrows players take aim at youth rugby clinic

Juan de Fuca team offers get acquainted clinics

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Braves host 2019 Prospects Game, Saturday at Pearkes

Campbell River to host VIJHL All-Star Game, Sunday

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

Most Read