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

No new leads in 1992 Guyatt murder case

Newspaper clippings will not lead to the discovery of Shannon Guyatt’s body, says police

Two Waters project to bring 700 town homes, condos to Colwood

Relevant Properties forging ahead with project

National championship tees off Tuesday at Oak Bay’s Victoria Golf Club

Oldest 18-hole course in Canada in its original location hosts Men’s Mid-Amateur Championship

New Victoria bus routes bound for airport, Camosun College

Bus routes and schedules are about to change this fall, and two… Continue reading

Police seek vehicle after early morning carjacking in Oak Bay

Stolen car is a 1999 Oldsmobile Alero, license plate FL307T

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

Another person stabbed at a tent city on Vancouver Island

Incident happened Friday afternoon in Nanaimo; injuries were not severe

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Documentary filmed in B.C. nominated in ‘Wildlife Oscars’’

Toad People is the only Canadian film to be nominated in this year’s Panda Wilderness Awards

B.C. man builds 10-foot sign thanking fire responders

Ken Rawson built his “thank u” sign on Saturday as helicopters responded to fires around the province.

PHOTOS: Olympian Patrick Chan helps B.C.’s ‘SuperChefs’ celebrate 10th anniversary

Former figure skater among those at event Friday in Surrey

Smaller B.C. bus service prepares to replace Greyhound

Kootenay-to-Okanagan run would require online reservations

Most Read