The Moments that Change Us: One Mother’s NICU Story

There are moments in our lives that change us in indescribable and powerful ways. Sometimes we do not know we have been changed until the moment has already left us. Each blissful moment that, for better or worse, encompasses a tiny piece of what makes our heart beat a little faster to remind us of how alive we are. Having a baby is one of those amazing links to the chain in which we build our path in life. Balloons, gifts, flowers and big hugs abound the hospital room- remind us of the celebration being had in the new life that was just born. But what happens when your baby comes before you are ready and needs more care than anticipated?

I never knew before the summer of 2014 that tucked in the corner of the 4th floor at Holy Redeemer Hospital, there would be a unit that was created for saving babies lives. But now I know.

The Holy Redeemer NICU became our home for a month that summer after our twin boys, Connor Joseph and Curran James, made their dramatic entrance into the world 8 weeks early. Weighing in at a hefty 2.11 and 5.1 pounds respectively, I often define my life from before and after of the day I delivered the boys. One moment I was heading in for my routine testing and the next being administered steroid shots and terrified. 48 hours later, in the OR with a team of strangers, I laid cold and afraid. Every ounce of my body, my brain and my heart rejoiced when they came out screaming. Before I could exhale, both were whisked away and hooked up to more tubes, machines and monitors than I could count. But even today, if I had to relive one day over and over again what would it be? Hands down- the day I brought two new lives into this world.

In the next few weeks, I made deals with God at their bedside that I am too ashamed to admit. I sobbed heavily, salt-filled tears that poured down my face as I questioned how my body could fail me. I held vigil at their bedsides awaiting morning rounds with the doctors to gain every inch of information I could to bring me one step closer to taking my boys home. Somewhere, through the fog, I celebrated with my husband. Our two beautiful twin boys who made us a family of 6.  After four days, it was my turn to go home. My other two children missed their mommy and I knew they needed to see my smile desperately. I kissed the twins goodbye, sat down in my wheelchair and headed for the elevator. No balloons, no flowers and no smile. Those five minutes alone with a strange nurse and my husband were life-altering. I have delivered two full term babies at Holy Redeemer before. This was different. How could they expect me to leave without my babies?

I left my heart at Holy Redeemer as I got into my waiting car. I clung to the door and asked God for the strength to trust in the power of healthcare. I knew from my time there that the staff was top notch that was never an issue. But the nagging weight of the guilt I could not shake. There had to be a better way for moms to balance their baby’s need for care and the maternal bond that I felt I was leaving on the 4th floor.

It was those first few days that gave me the drive to make a difference and give birth to something hopeful: The Superhero Project. Where there is a will there is always a way.

Kelly Gallagher

Kelly Gallagher

Kelly Gallagher is a second grade teacher in the Upper Moreland School District. A teacher for 13 years, Kelly graduated in 2003 from Desales with an Elementary/Special Education degree. In, 2006 Kelly earned a Masters in Special Education and also holds a writing certificate from West Chester University. She is close to finishing an additional Masters in Educational Leadership from Gwynedd Mercy University. Kelly's passion has always been in the education field. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Justin and their four children, Addyson, Ryan, Connor and Curran.

 
Kelly Gallagher

12 Responses to “The Moments that Change Us: One Mother’s NICU Story”

  1. Joanne

    Kelly,
    You are doing such amazing work. I feel so proud to know you!

    Reply
  2. Kate

    Kelly,

    Your strength is truly remarkable! You are giving so much hope to those who will face your situation in the future! Keep up the amazing work!

    Reply
  3. Teresa Poore

    On New Years Day, 1991, i gave birth to my preemie daughter at Holy Redeemer. If it were not for the amazing nurses who picked up inn the Gaby that my daughter had apnea, i would not have her here today. I will never ever forget Carol Ritchie – she inspired me to become a nurse myself! God bless the wonderful nurses at Holy Redeemer!

    Reply
  4. Leigh Anne

    So proud of you and everything you are doing for so many babies and families. It is truly amazing!

    Reply
  5. Trina

    Kelly,

    May God continue to bless you with your remarkable strength and courage to help other future mothers with this fabulous project!

    Reply

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