Enjoying some rare down-time at home in Belle River, Michelle is a busy mom of two looking forward to welcoming her third baby girl later this year. It isn’t easy to “take-it-easy” when you have two 11 month old daughters, but after having Adelynne and Rielle at 28 weeks – both weighing less than 3 lbs. - she is doing her best to not relive those scary moments the second time around…
When Michelle’s water broke in late February of 2017, at just 26 weeks pregnant, concern set in. “We knew we were having twins, and that they may likely come before their due date,” Wes recalls, “but I never expected them to come that early”. It appeared one of the fraternal twins was ready to come now, while baby number two was quite content to stay where she was – this meant Michelle was put on bed rest at Windsor Regional Hospital for two weeks leading up to the births. After entering the world on March 15th, 2017, the girls were rushed out of the room. It wasn’t until two hours later that Michelle and Wes were able to see their daughters for the first time. In those two hours, both girls were experiencing preemie difficulties, but Rielle caused the most fright as she had to be resuscitated by medical staff.
The hospital room had become the Ladouceur’s home and after discharge Michelle knew she could not go home without her babies. With their home being 30km away from the hospital, Michelle and Wes received a bedroom at RMH Windsor just one floor above their girls. Michelle remembers the first time she saw their bedroom,
I was so emotional I just welled up with tears. I had already been living in a hospital room for weeks and was starting to acknowledge that we weren’t going to be able to take our babies home any time soon. Having our own space at RMH Windsor brought feelings of relief, calmness and home – all things I needed at that time in my life.
While Rielle’s main job was to feed and grow, Adelynne was showing signs of additional medical issues. Over the 67 days staying close at RMH Windsor, the Ladouceurs had learned Adelynne had two heart conditions – one that would fix itself with time, but another that continues to remain unchanged today and will likely require heart surgery in the future. In addition to having a congenital heart defect, she also has pulmonary hypertension and chronic lung disease which have caused feeding a respiratory problems. Adelynne required an additional 10 day stay in the NICU. The family was provided a Care By Parent Room allowing them to care for Rielle and support Adelynne during her prolonged stay.
Moving back into the hospital room was a difficult transition for Michelle, however RMH continued to support the family with Day Passes allowing her to take showers, naps, do laundry and re-energize with a meal and endless coffee. Taking all this in was not easy for either Michelle or Wes, but from day one they would reaffirm each other, “We came in together, we are leaving together”. After 79 days in the NICU the family was finally able to walk out the doors all together.
Today, both girls are home and doing well with Rielle growing quickly and Adelynne trying to keep up. While Adelynne functioning at a 5 month level, and may not be rolling over just yet, she has officially started standing up as long as she has something to hold – like dad’s fingers! When it comes to eating Adelynne requires the support of a feeding tube. She has started exploring foods through play. “She loves ribs!” Michelle laughs, “She won’t eat them but she will touch and lick them – it is the first step to getting her familiar with food. When you have a medically fragile child the work doesn’t end when you leave the hospital – each day we are the parents, the nurses and the advocates for our daughter”
The Ladouceur family have been facing challenges around Adelynne’s health together- from day one RMH Windsor made that possible. They were able to meet other parents who they still connect with today, and experienced support from a new family of RMH staff and volunteers – an extended family they never knew they had! From thoughtful messages in the mailbox to sharing conversation over dinner, it was a “home-away-from-home”. Michelle found the relationships built made all the difference,
I realized the power of celebrating the little things. The other moms at the House just understood – when you got to turn down the levels on your baby’s oxygen support, or they grew 100 grams, the other parents just understood and celebrated with you because they were going through it too.
Recently, Adelynne’s heart defect has brought the family to London for care. Already staying close for a night at RMH London, the family feels comfort in knowing they will have a “home-away-from-home” when they need to stay close again. Watching their daughters today, and thinking back on the past year, they are so blessed for all the support they have received and progress the girls have made. Michelle and Wes just have their fingers crossed baby number three takes their time!
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