It’s the news no expecting mother wants to hear: there’s something wrong with your baby and we need to deliver now. But that’s what happened after a routine check-up for Jennifer Do back in May. Doctors told her that her baby, Hunter, wasn’t getting enough oxygen and nutrients to develop properly and she would need to deliver in the next 24 to 48 hours.
“I was in shock. In my head I’m thinking, ‘I’m a healthy person, doing all the things I needed to do. How could this happen?’” Do remembers.
Hunter was delivered at just 29 weeks into development and ended up spending eight weeks in the Kate Lindig Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s Memorial Hermann at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center.
“At first, all I could think was ‘how will I see him?’ I have a 19-month-old daughter at home. I had no idea how I could take care of her and be with him,” says Do.
Luckily for Do, Children’s Memorial Hermann-Memorial City is the first in Houston to offer NicView, a live streaming video system to fill the gap, helping her be in two places at once. Using a secure website and special login, parents of babies in the NICU can see a live video stream of their child, anytime of the day or night.
“We’ve seen it be a huge stress reliever for parents, especially moms,” says Kevin Hart, director of the Kate Lindig Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Pediatrics at Children’s Memorial Hermann-Memorial City. “For families whose babies have extended stays in the NICU, there’s no way they can be here all the time. This allows them to check in, know their baby is safe and feel confident that they’re getting the highest level care.”
Do says it also helped her introduce Hunter to his big sister, who’s too young to visit the NICU.
“I would bring up the live stream on my iPad, and explain that it’s her little brother. She’s young, so I’m not quite sure how much she understood but we think it helped when we finally got to bring him home,” says Do.
Hart says the cameras have not only been a hit with parents, but with extended families as well.
“Houston is an international city. We’ve got families with loved ones overseas, parents who are working in other countries and now they’re getting a chance to see these newborns even if they can’t be here,” Hart explains.
Do says she believes it has helped her deal with the emotional experience of delivering early.
“Having the camera made me feel like Hunter was nearby; I didn’t lose touch with him. Sometimes, I felt bad for not being able to carry him to term, but this helped me stay positive,” says Do.
Children’s Memorial Hermann-Memorial City offers a 24-bed Level III NICU with 16 private family rooms for parents to stay with their babies. The pediatric unit provides an intermediate level of care with affiliated pediatric hospitalist physicians available 24-7, delivering specialized care to children with acute or chronic conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders and seizures. Should a higher level of care be necessary, the Children’s Transport Team is available for specialized emergency pediatric and neonatal transport services for patients by ground ambulance or by air via Memorial Hermann Life Flight®.