NICU event reunites premie families

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Kullen and Kiptyn Figueroa are happy, healthy 6-month-old babies.
On Saturday, their parents, Lacy and Gabby Figueroa of Mooreville, are looking forward to reconnecting with the neonatal intensive care staff that cared for them when the boys arrived nearly eight weeks too early.
“The nurses were amazing,” Gabby Figueroa said.
The Figueroas and other children who graduated from the NICU at North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital will be able to catch up with their NICU friends during the annual reunion from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
“Our staff becomes extremely attached to these babies because many of them spend a great deal of time in our intensive care nursery before they are able to go home with their parents,” said Dr. Bryan Darling, a Tupelo neonatologist.
The nursery staff and respiratory therapists plan the event, which they compare to a big family reunion. That family grows every year; about 300 babies are admitted to the NICU annually; about a quarter are transported from hospitals around the region.
After she went into preterm labor with Kullen and Kiptyn, Lacy Figueroa spent two weeks in bed at the NMMC Women’s Hospital to buy the boys two critical weeks to grow and develop their lungs.
The boys arrived weighing 4.2 and 4.5 pounds and ended up spending two weeks in the NICU, a relatively short stay for preemies.
With the new NICU design, the boys were able to be in their own room instead of a crowded ward and their parents were able to spend most of the day with the boys.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Lacy Figueroa said.
The Figueroas weren’t new parents – they had raised an adopted son, Jesus Solis, now at Mississippi College, and 5-year-old son Keegan.
But the staff helped prepare them for the challenge of having two premature babies at home with infant CPR classes and advice.
“It was all completely new,” Lacy Figueroa said. “We weren’t completely prepared, but we’ve had great help,” from friends and family.
Six months later, the boys are meeting their developmental milestones, and their parents are looking forward to seeing their old friends.
“I want to see the nurses who took care of them,” said Lacy Figueroa.
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.