• The Potter Twins

  • Angels in the NICU
  • After 16 years trying to get pregnant, the Potters were thrilled to find out they were expecting twins. But their journey wasn't without complications, which led them to Holston Valley Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit… and introduced them to their angels on Earth.

  • Patrick Potter shares their story

    As a parent of a newborn, NICU, which rhymes with "Pick U," is a word that you never want to hear. NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and it is a specialized critical care unit within a hospital that cares for or treats premature & sick infants. We have a great one at Holston Valley Medical Center, which opened over 20 years ago.

    The twins arrived two weeks early (which is sort of like being born four weeks early for a normal pregnancy) and spent the next seven days in the NICU. We heard the term "High Risk Pregnancy" so often during our pregnancy, it was just part of our journey. It was a blessing that Dr. Beckner accepted us as patients so we could have the twins at Holston Valley. If not, we may have been at one hospital and the twin could have been at another. Something else thing we found out is that some OB/GYN practices don't want high-risk patients.

    Alexander arrived first and was his laid back-self, just as he had been for almost eight months. Isaac arrived next, feet first and kicking and screaming – just like he had carried on during his stay in mom. They let me carry the twins out of the delivery room to the nursery, and they took Alexander straight to the NICU. Fifteen minutes later, his brother Isaac joined him. It was the highest of highs the day the twins arrived and the lowest of lows when they took the little guys away from us. They were both over five pounds, which is a good weight for twins, but their lungs were not fully developed, and they needed some help breathing.

    The twins spent the next seven days being cared for by whom I consider the most professional group of nurses I have ever met it my life. It was during these visits you meet nurses and parents and babies – many of whom were worse off than the twins and some who were better off. It was in the wee hours of the morning we watched these loving and dedicated nurses taking care of all these sick little babies just like they were their very own. It's incredible to see a baby weighing maybe a pound with so many wires and tubes in their body and on a breathing machine and a nurse watching over that baby 24/7 making sure nothing happens.

    To the best of my recollection, we visited the twins every three hours in the NICU, and we got to hold and feed the boys which lasted about an hour. You are there so often during a 24-hour period you develop friendships with these nurses because they are keeping your baby or babies alive and making sure nothing happens on their watch. I remember one conversation in the early hours of a morning when most of the world is asleep except for the NICU, which never shuts down.

    One of the nurses who told us she had been doing this many years commented, "You all are not the average parents we get in the NICU." She asked us if she could ask a questions – we replied no. She then asked, "How long have you all been trying to have these little guys?" My wife replied with tears in her eyes, "We have been married over 18 years, so at least 16 years." The nurse just smiled and said, "I thought so," and went back to doing what they all do best – which is taking care of babies.

    So, I believe there are Angels on Earth! I can say this because I have met some of them.... They work in the NICU at Holston Valley. Some of their names are Heather, Cheryl, Sheila, Amber, Jessica, Valerie, Nicky, Kendall, Terri and Kayla, just to mention a few of many.

    Thank you for allowing me to share some of our journey, which is more than six months!

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