A Story of
HOPE, COURAGE AND GRIT:
A Roswell mother endures back to back NICU births.
amilies can never predict how a pregnancy will unfold. When a baby is born premature due to unforeseen circumstances, they are admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, to receive life-saving treatment. The NICU is sometimes referred to as “a special care nursery,” “an intensive care nursery,” or “newborn intensive care.”
One in 10 babies are born prematurely each year in the United States. Babies who need NICU treatment and care are often admitted with the first 24 hours after birth. These babies are admitted for various reasons: premature birth, delivery complications, and other signs of health issues during the first few days of life.
Families pull together with love and support to make it through this difficult journey.
Meet Cassandra Box, Mother & Fighter
“My mother was my most valued asset during both of my NICU experiences,” said Cassandra Box, a Roswell mother who gave birth to two babies who needed NICU care. “There are so many ups and downs when your baby is in the NICU and when you are on the downs where your life just consists of the same repetitive routine of getting up, eating, going to the hospital, eating, leaving the hospital then sleeping, the NICU can be a lonely place, so having someone, anyone to share that experience with keeps you sane.”
Cassandra never thought she would be experiencing the hardships of the NICU. She not only gave birth to a daughter at 38 weeks but also gave birth to a second daughter a few years later at 33 weeks.
Big Sister Danika Born at 38 Weeks
Cassandra’s daughter Danika was born with spina bifida, a serious defect of the spine. At 38 weeks, Cassandra was scheduled for a cesarean section, but her water broke about 1 a.m., the same day of the C-section. This began her first experience in the NICU.
The NICU was a place of healing and knowledge for Cassandra and her family.
“Both times the NICU was a learning center for me,” Cassandra said. “With Danika, I had to learn not only how to be a mother, but also learn about an entire new world of procedures, medications, and surgeries.”
Although the NICU and even after the transition home were tough times for the family, Cassandra had the will and courage to get her through the experience along with the aid of loved ones and the care providers in the NICU.
“NICU nurses are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. They are teachers, advocates and comforters, both to parents and babies,” Cassandra said. “The NICU is the first step into the world of the unknown, and the nurses and staff help you learn everything involved in taking care of your new baby.”
During the birth of Danika, the family spent 34 days in the NICU at the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas before transitioning home. During the time in the NICU, Cassandra and her newborn baby were far from home in New Mexico.
“I would say the most challenging part was living in a different state while Danika was in the NICU,” Cassandra said. “The decision to go to Houston to have her was a difficult one, but we truly believed she would get the best care there. Unfortunately, being there left me and my mother completely alone for a month and a half with no vehicle and living in a hotel.”
Baby Nova Born at 33 Weeks
herself in the NICU once more with the birth of her youngest daughter Nova.
Baby Nova was born at 33 weeks and spent 22 days in the NICU to receive care Nova received care at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas.
“I was having ‘uterine irritability’ for two days which was finally stopped with medication, but then Nova’s heart rate started to drop and they didn’t know why so they decided to deliver her,” Cassandra said.
Cassandra explains that although both her daughters received care from different NICUs and that you never get used to your child being in the NICU, the routine was very similar.
“The experience with Nova was very different for me because it was so unexpected. I truly wanted to have the “normal” experience of having a child,” Cassandra said.
During this NICU, Cassandra faced increased emotional challenges that she worked through.
“Since, I had been through it before it was almost like I went on autopilot once we got there. Emotionally I was a wreck, I felt like I was robbed what I wanted most,” Cassandra said. “I just wanted to know what it was like to have a baby and bring that baby home, to have all the newborn moments without fear. It took a little while for me to accept being in a NICU again.”
Today, both children are healthy and making strides every day.
Danika is almost 4-years-old, and is attending an Early Literacy School, where she receives therapy. She walks with KAFOs (Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis) and a walker.
Nova has recently been transitioned home and is about a month old during the time of this story’s publication. She has hit the 5-lb. mark.
“She has my breast milk fortified with extra calories to help her gain weight and takes a multivitamin. Aside from being tiny she is healthy and growing,” Cassandra said.