Becky McConnell waited 11 days before she could hold her daughter, Lauren.
Getting to hold her for the first time was a milestone for the new mom and her daughter, who was born prematurely. She remembers how it felt holding Lauren skin to skin, against her chest; it’s called kangaroo care, which helps babies bond, feel less stressed and heal. And it’s what Becky said she believes helped Lauren get through some rough patches.
“She knew she was alive, that she would be OK and that I was her mom,” she said. “I didn’t know I could love a little girl so much.”
Lauren was born at 24 weeks, 5 days on March 9 at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia before she was rushed to Children’s, where she since has spent her days in the neonatal intensive care unit. It had been a normal pregnancy until hours earlier when Becky experienced symptoms that pointed to a bladder infection. While her care team examined her, they discovered she was 6 centimeters dilated.
Because of Children’s supporters, the McConnell family has experienced outstanding care and been touched by generosity every day of their journey: the kangaroo chairs are specially designed recliners for supporting natural skin-to-skin bonding; the Ronald McDonald House that provided Becky and Lauren’s dad, Jethro, with a cozy bed and a hot meal just down the hall; the NICVIEW cameras that allow Becky to see her daughter now that she’s back at work.
Children’s nurses have touched the McConnell family, too. On Becky’s first day back at work, she said one of Lauren’s nurses asked how she was doing and how work was going.
Becky said she thinks Lauren will get to go home in June, but “I don’t want to rush things,” she said. “She’s in the best place.”
While the McConnell family is unable to attend today’s fifth annual Baby Steps 3K this year, they hope to participate in years to come to support Children’s neonatal program.
Brady Gervais is an annual giving officer for the foundation at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.