Tiny Fighters: Cameryn’s Story & Pump-it-for-Preemies

This month I’m featuring premature families on Real Women Drive Stick.
Thank you Melissa for sharing the story of Cameryn’s premature birth.
Dear Friends,
When I think back almost 14 years ago to when my daughter Cameryn was born – I was only 28 weeks pregnant when my water broke.  I was ill with a severe stomach flu, and with my 16 month old son at home, and my husband away on business, the timing really couldn’t have been any worse.
Real Women Drive Stick World prematurity 2014 Baby C
I was airlifted to a hospital in Kingston where I spent four agonizing days away from my son and unsure of the future for my yet-to-be-born daughter. I remember laying in the hospital wondering how a baby that was born so early could possibly survive.
My mother felt strongly that I needed to be at Mount Sinai Hospital. Having had all three of her own children there, and knowing the hospital’s expertise in high-risk pregnancies, she would not give up until I was transferred back to Toronto.
When I arrived at Mount Sinai Hospital, I knew I was in the right place. On February 27, two days after arriving, Cameryn was born. She was 10 weeks early and weighed only 2 pounds and 5 ounces. She was so small and fragile. Right after her birth, she was placed on a ventilator as she wasn’t able to breathe on her own. She also had a serious infection and was immediately given antibiotics. It was a very emotional and stressful time. As a mom, I wanted to make everything okay. But the reality was that my daughter’s life was in the hands of medical technology and the expertise of the doctors and nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Real Women Drive Stick World prematurity 2014 Baby C2
From the moment I arrived at the hospital, there was a team of specialists who helped to prepare me for what to expect when having a preemie in the NICU. There was so much to learn and understand, and they were always very patient, informative, kind, and supportive. It wasn’t just about taking care of Cameryn, it was about looking after our whole family. As scary as it was to see Cameryn hooked up to so many wires and machines, I was so grateful to be guided on how to take an active role in her daily care. It was so important to me that we could still bond together as mother and daughter. The team of specialists seemed to understand what my family was going through mentally and physically, and consistently was there for support and encouragement. As well, they kept us well informed on Cameryn’s medical condition and progress and never hesitated to answer any questions.
Real Women Drive Stick World prematurity 2014 Baby C3
There were so many acts of kindness that I still recall – they didn’t rush to discharge me from the hospital – still being a patient there myself – because they knew I wanted to be with Cameryn. Or when the nurses dressed her up in pretty clothes to surprise me. They prepared us for when it was time to take her home – May 1st – after more than two months in the hospital.
Recently my family had a tour of the NICU and were able to view firsthand the incredible work that is being done to save the lives of very sick preemies.  My daughter was touched and inspired to give back to Mount Sinai and the doctors and nurses who work tirelessly daily to stabilize babies in stress.
Real Women Drive Stick World Prematurity 2014 grown up baby C
So we held a family meeting to discuss ideas of what kind of a fundraising event would be a fun and rewarding experience for my daughter, her friends and children from the community.  We came up with a kids dance-a-thon called “Pump it for Preemies” because children of all ages love music, parties, prizes and dancing. A ventilator is what helped Cameryn breathe so she thought it would be the right thing to give back by raising money to buy them one.
As families are becoming more of an equal part of infant care teams in NICU units, Mount Sinai Hospital will open it’s doors early 2015 to a new NICU facility with private, comfortable family suites for parents to stay, take care of, and bond with their newborn babies. Mount Sinai’s neonatal intensive care unit is the largest in the GTA and one of only three in Toronto that provides level 3 care, the highest acuity level of care for premature babies. Therefore, at this time, there is an even greater need for additional infant ventilators.
On May 4, 2014, our first-ever dance-a-thon raised $64,000 and we were able to purchase a new infant ventilator for the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital. Save the date for our 2nd dance-a-thon, as we PUMP IT FOR PREEMIES once again on Sunday April 26, 2015. More info can be found on our website at pumpitforpreemies.com.
With Sincere Gratitude,
Melissa Strolight

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