When Martha Goode remembers Sept. 14, 2006, her body goes cold. That was the day she went into labor with daughter Courtney - 15 weeks early.
At a mere 1 lb., 8 oz., Courtney spent more than four months in Holston Valley's NICU, receiving blood transfusions, fighting infections and being treated for bowel perforations, eating issues and apnea.
Courtney's a healthy, thriving elementary student now, but she hasn't forgotten her Holston Valley experience. Through Courtney's Food Wagon, the Good family still brings food and treats to families at Holston Valley, bringing something positive from their experience.
When I think of the early morning of Sept. 14, 2006, at times my body actually goes cold. No matter how much I wanted to push a pause button so I could understand everything, the reality hit me like a ton of bricks. My baby was going to be born tonight; 15 weeks too early.
From the moment the doctor rushed into my room at Holston Valley Medical Center, I could sense his fear. Listening to him tell the nurses to get me ready for delivery was like a dream - this is not at all how I pictured having my first baby. Not at all did I ever think she would be coming way too early. I was so scared I could feel and hear my heart beating in my ears, like it was someone knocking hard on a door. My body was cold, and I couldn't even talk when my husband was speaking to me. I looked at him and wished he could stop everything, but he was as scared as I was.
As the nurse started to push my bed down the hallway, I looked at my parents and family in fear. Thinking to myself; this could be the last time I see them. The doctor had my husband get washed up to go into the C-section room, but he was never allowed to actually come in.
Once the two big doors opened to the operating room, all I saw were nurses rushing around getting ready to help with the delivery of my tiny baby, and I feared the worst.
My doctor came over to me once I was placed on the operating table and told me, "Everything is going to be ok," and I believed him. Then an oxygen mask was placed over my mouth and nose, and my body went into a deep sleep so that my baby could be delivered.
As I woke in a new room, my husband was standing over me - looking as white as the sheet covering my weak body. I stared at him as he looked into my eyes; I could see his fear.
I asked him how the baby was. He said, "Tiny but alive".
I woke up 15 hours later and looked at my husband and family, wondering what their eyes have seen that mine hadn't yet. The time had finally come to get to see my baby girl for the first time.
While we waited on the elevator to arrive I kept thinking about all of the events that had taken place in the last 18 hours. It had to be a dream. I just felt that every hope and dream I had for my little girl had been taken away by her premature birth. I feared the unknown.
As I got closer to the two doors that separated me from my baby, I was overcome by a sense of calm. Then the doors opened to world I didn't know was out there - the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A place where there are rows of tiny beds that have babies fighting for their lives. Lots of monitors, wires and machines helping these babies stay alive , while mothers and fathers sat close by watching, praying and hanging on to hope that their baby would make it to the next day. The beeps and dings from the monitors took over - it was scary but calming
It seemed as everything was happening in slow motion as I was wheeled to her bed, and I heard my husband's voice say, "I named her while you were sleeping. She is Courtney Elizabeth." I loved it! The fact that we hadn't even named her had not even crossed my mind.
Once I saw her for the first time, it made sense why I had seen fear in my husband's eyes earlier in the day. She was so tiny, 1 pound, 8 ounces and 12.5 inches long. She was hooked up to so many wires and monitors that you could hardly see her little body, but she was mine, and I loved her. She was a fighter, and I was going to fight with her.
So, our journey began. Courtney fought hard while she was in the NICU. She had blood transfusions, infections, bowel perforation, eating issues, apnea spells - the list goes on, but she pulled through.
I was absolutely amazed at the doctors and nurses who took care of her. They loved, cared and believed in Courtney, and they fought with us too. To watch them work with her brought me such peace. I knew I could leave her if I needed to go home to rest. The nurses were not only there taking care of Courtney, but they were also teaching my husband and me how to care for our tiny baby. I desperately wanted to learn as much as possible, because before I knew it; it was time to take her home. After four months in the NICU, Courtney finally got to come home.
Although she has been readmitted to Holston Valley several times for lung-related colds, we always found ourselves at peace that she was being taken care of by such a wonderful staff of doctors and nurses.
Now, she is in elementary school and doing amazing with all that she does. I still look at her and think she is tiny, but alive. I couldn't imagine my life without her.
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