NMMC to host fifth annual reunion for babies born prematurely
By Marty Russell
Hannah Stepp wasn’t supposed to be the first baby born at North Mississippi Medical Center in 1996. In fact, she wasn’t due to make her entrance until late March or early April.
But when Hannah’s mother developed complications and the baby was born 13 weeks premature on New Year’s Day, the staff in the intensive care unit at NMMC’s Women’s Hospital rose to the task and nursed the tiny infant through those first crucial months of life.
“They really were supportive,” said Hannah’s mother, Telethia Stepp of Pontotoc County. “The whole way they were all just good to us.”
Hannah, who spent the first couple of months of her life hooked up to respirators and other support equipment, just recently got to leave the hospital and go home for the first time. During all those weeks she was in intensive care, her parents shuttled back and forth each day from home to spend time with her and got to know the staff in the unit well.
“She didn’t have just one nurse, she had several,” Stepp said. “But they were all very sweet.”
When she was born, Hannah weighed just 1 pound, 14 ounces. By the time she was able to go home about three weeks ago, she had grown to a healthy 4 pounds, 10 ounces.
“She’s doing wonderful,” Stepp said of her daughter. “She’s just great.”
Hannah and other babies born prematurely and cared for at NMMC’s neonatal intensive care unit will have a chance to visit with the staff under better circumstances than their first visit when the unit hosts its annual reunion for former patients and their families from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Each year’s reunion gets bigger and better than the previous year’s,” said Wanda Armstrong, a perinatal social worker.
Perinatal refers to the time surrounding an actual birth, while neonatal refers to the period of time following the birth.
This is the fifth year the hospital has sponsored a reunion for babies treated in its neonatal intensive care unit, and this year the event, as in years past, will feature refreshments, entertainment and a chance to get to know other parents who have had premature babies and rekindle ties to the staff.
“Through the years our staff has learned that the parents of infants hospitalized in the intensive care nursery build strong bonds with the health-care professionals who take care of their newborns,” Armstrong said. “This event provides an afternoon of fun and laughter and the opportunity to become reacquainted with those who helped them through an emotional time.”
The reunion, which is free and open to all families who had infants treated in the intensive care unit, will take place at NMMC’s Wellness Center. For more information, call 1-800-843-3375.