Melissa Beer was in labour, walking the halls of St. Boniface Hospital to pass the time and relax her body before childbirth. She and her husband Darren strolled by the Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and paused momentarily to acknowledge how difficult it must be for parents who have children in the Unit. And then they carried on with their walk.
Twelve hours later, Melissa and Darren’s newborn son Blaine was in the NICU, fighting for his life.
“When Blaine arrived, he couldn’t breathe,” Melissa Beer says of that frightful day in 2015. “When you give birth you wait to hear the baby cry, but he didn’t cry. We knew right away there was a problem.”
Specialized medical personnel arrived immediately to tend to Blaine. Darren accompanied Blaine to the NICU, while Melissa recovered in the delivery room. “I couldn’t see him for five hours,” she says. “It felt like a lifetime.”
In the NICU, doctors determined Blaine’s lungs were underdeveloped. They began using a continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) machine to help his breathing.
“Blaine grabbed his dad’s finger during those early hours and held on,” says Beer. “We took this as Blaine’s way of telling us that everything was going to be OK.”
Blaine was right.
Blaine spent 12 difficult days in the NICU, where he was sleepy, weak, and fed through a tube before going home with his family. He recently celebrated his first birthday with boundless energy and laughter.
“The staff were so amazing to us. They ensured we had lots of skin-to-skin contact with Blaine and that all of our needs were taken care of,” says Beer, looking back with awe and gratitude. “It was a very stressful time, but the NICU staff made it manageable.”
While the Beers remained fairly private about their experience in the early days, they decided to share their story to call attention to the important work of the NICU. For Blaine’s birthday, they launched the “Born Brave” campaign and encouraged people to make donations to the NICU through St. Boniface Hospital Foundation. Blaine came to the Foundation office with $600 in hand and a big smile on his face. The Beers plan to continue to raise awareness and raise funds for the NICU. It’s their way of expressing gratitude for the gift of life.
“They’re like angels in the NICU,” says Beer. “They wrap themselves around the babies and their parents. They know their stuff – and they love the babies.”
When you support St. Boniface Hospital Foundation, you are helping families get through difficult days.