Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story about Mighty Julieta! It is such an honor to be able to hear your story and have it help relate to what other people are going through! Let’s get to know March Mighty Bee Julieta…

Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell us how you learned you were pregnant and your initial reaction? We wanted to add to our family so we were very excited to learn we were pregnant we were hoping and praying for a boy since we had two other girls but regardless we were very excited no matter the gender.

When did you find out that things with your pregnancy were not going perfectly? Did you know you would have to spend time in the NICU? So early in my pregnancy I was so very sick a lot of throwing up feeling really tired so I kind of felt like something wasn’t right and expressed my concerns with my Ob how I was very sick and I had some very painful lower back pain and they told me everything seems fine to us you know you’re not as young as you used to be. It came time for my Ultrasound we were happy and nervous all at the same time we had a room full my other two kids, my mom and my husband and we were rooting for a boy so as soon as we find out we were having girl #3 I knew something must be wrong as the ultrasound continued I notice the techs face change and she told us she was going to get the Doctor and be back so we got worried when the Doctor came back she said they would be referring me to the women’s institute because something looked off with the babies heart but they weren’t quite sure what. So it was about 3-4 weeks later I went to the women’s institute they did an ultrasound but didn’t see anything unusual but for precautions sake they would send me for a Fetal Echo at Levine Children’s Hospital and a cardiologist would be there. A few weeks later I went and had that done the Cardiologist reviewed it and said it is possible the baby has a vascular ring but right now we can’t see it and He said after your baby is born you will need to schedule a follow up with our office and we will be able to view it better and that it isn’t emergent so we were able to breathe a little easy. or so we thought we had no idea that about a month or so later she would have to be delivered and have to spend time in the NICU.

Share what you are comfortable with about the delivery of your baby. I was working on the Pediatric Oncology floor at the time of this pregnancy I worked my Sunday shift on April 24th and noticed the baby wasn’t moving very much I thought it was due to being busy and the stress of the day so when I got home I drank a bottle of really cold water she would always kick real hard but I felt nothing so I went to bed didn’t mention it to my husband I didn’t want him to worry but I knew on Monday first thing I would call the doctor. So on Monday I called them crying and they told me to calm down and drink some fluids and they scheduled me an afternoon appointment at a different location. I called my husband next and explained what was going on. I called my mom and stopped on the way to the doctor and picked her up and we got there and they did a NST and found her heartbeat I was so relieved but the paper printed and the doctor came in and said he didn’t have a good feeling about it and that they would do an ultrasound before deciding what to do they did an ultrasound and she didn’t move at all so he told me to go to the hospital and he would call ahead and tell them I was on my way I had to swing by home which was on the way and drop off my then 3yr old with her dad my husband had to wait on 3rd grader to get home from school and he was meeting with some tree people about some trees. I got to the hospital got checked in about 4-4:30pm and the took me up to a super tiny room hooked me up to the machine to hear the babies heartbeat and they did another ultrasound and decided more than likely they would let me have the baby the next day but I started having some contractions and when I did the baby would drop her heart rate really low and took a while recovering so then it was quickly decided that they would deliver me that day. They started preparing me for delivery they gave me a steroid shot in hopes I would be able to receive all 3 to help her lungs unfortunately I was only able to receive one about 30 minutes before delivery they also started me on an I.V. and gave me magnesium which made me feel really crappy. My husband came and brought the kids about 6pm and of course they were hungry so my husband ran to the cafeteria and was ordering some pizza when about that time they decided they were going to do a C-section in which I was told was not emergent but they were going to be moving quickly so with my experience working at the hospital I knew it was an emergency so my husband left my dad downstairs to get the pizza and ran back up to our tiny room to get on scrubs and we were off to the OR we went I was crying pretty bad it was my first C-section and first time to the OR which was scary. So they get started of course my nerves were all over the place they got her out and I remember seeing her limp, gray body being carried over to the isolette and I must of had a panic attack it felt like a ton of bricks was on  my chest I looked up at the monitors and my heart rate was dropping and my oxygen and they were calling my name and I couldn’t respond then I thought about my children and how much they need me to be strong and came to I remember everything so well but couldn’t respond I think I was in too much shock. She was here whether we wanted her here or not Julieta Anastacia Munguia had arrived April 25, 2016  at 8:23pm weighing 1lb and 11oz.

When did you get to hold your baby for the first time? The First week was the hardest especially the first 48 hours which was what the Neonatologist had told us that it was a waiting period for the first couple of days. I was so very sad I couldn’t hold her or barely even touch her we had to look at her through the plastic of the isolette. We finally got to hold her about a month after I delivered it was probably one of the happiest moments that I had in a while. It felt so good to be able to touch her and let her hear my heart beating

I know leaving the hospital without my baby was very hard especially since it seems everyone around me was leaving with their children what was it like for you when you got discharged? The day of discharge for me was the absolute hardest day I was ready to go but with my baby girl I cried and cried only to get home and realize that our AC was not working if was a pretty hot day for April which added to the stress of the 4 days prior

Since you work in the NICU I am sure the experience was even more intense for you since you know what every beep means, do you think your knowledge made it easier or harder? So my medical knowledge I have made things easy and hard I’m glad I could understand things about her but there were some days where I wish I didn’t know so much.

What was the biggest challenge that you had to face with your baby while in the NICU? The biggest challenge for us was since we had two other children was juggling who we were going to get to watch them and which days to bring them to see the baby and how we were going to do summer activities all while trying to cope with the NICU and a lot of days I couldn’t visit until my husband came home because at the time we could take 1 child in at a time and both parents had to be present. The days I had to be there earlier I would have to get a babysitter but was so grateful for a great family support system.

What were the first days like having everyone home under the same roof, any pets that had to get used to a new addition? Julieta was discharged from the hospital on September 9,2016 the first day we all were home Julieta included was pretty hectic my mom was at my house watching my 3yr old and my oldest was still at school we really didn’t want anyone other than us there so we could have some much needed time with her but it went well

Did you have a lot of fears or anxieties regarding germs once you brought Julieta home? I had so many fears of germs when Julieta came home especially because my oldest was back in school but we quickly put a plan in place and she was almost 1yr old before she had to be readmitted for a virus.

What does a typical day with Julieta look like now? A typical day for Julieta now is so great she got her G-tube out in May of 2017 and has been doing so great she has had some admits to the hospital the hardest was in December we were admitted for 12 days she had two viruses but has recovered well. She has Physical Therapy twice a week and Speech Therapy once a week and I am so very happy we have that on board. As we are approaching her 2nd Birthday she is in the beginning stages of trying to walk so these are all big milestones for her we are so very blessed God chose us to be her parents.

Do you share your personal experience with our NICU families when they are going through the process? Do you think it helps them get through it? I am now working in the NICU as a secretary in hopes that one day I will go to nursing school and become a NICU nurse. I do try and share our story with the families who seem to be having hard times we may not have been in NICU for the same reason as their babies but we truly understand the NICU journey. I pray and hope it helps them.

Any advice you would give another family going through the NICU? Anything that really helped you get through the experience? The best advice I can give to families going through the NICU is never lose your faith, ask lots of questions and know that your baby is in very good hands these Neonatologists, nurses, and every healthcare provider that provides help for your child is in your corner and truly want what’s best for you and your child I know at times it doesn’t seem like it but just keep the faith. I think what helped us get through this was me and my husband have a very strong faith and we leaned on each other for support and it brought us so much closer. I know not everyone has that but finding someone to support you in this journey is great it might not make it easier but if anything it gives you someone to talk to and share your problems with. Also there are groups around Charlotte to reach out to. Pierce’s Project and Bee Mighty to name a few.