Prematurity awareness is of extreme importance to our family since the birth of our daughter Meliyah. Meliyah was born classified as a micro-preemie due to being born at 25 weeks gestation weighing 1lb 2oz.
Our initial birth story was a typical birth story until Jul 13, 2013, when a severe asthma attack caused me to be put me into a medically induced coma for 10 days. While in a coma I suffered from numerous complications including collapsed lungs. Our daughter Meliyah was born on the 7th day of that medically induced coma due to the development of pre-eclampsia. Her father, Louis, was by her side as she was rushed to the NICU. He would ultimately spend many nights traveling from my bedside to be by her side. His love, strength, and courage during this emotional journey were essential to our recovery.
Meliyah would go on to spend 110 long days in the Einstein NICU. She faced numerous blood transfusions and even had to have a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) surgery when she was less than 2lbs. PDA is a congenital heart defect common in premature babies in which the ductus arteriosus fails to close. If left untreated, PDA can lead to irregular heartbeat and congestive heart failure. Meliyah’s PDA was performed by the fantastic CHOP Duct team. The all-female team of surgeons traveled to the Einstein NICU to perform this life-saving surgery on our baby girl.
Watching our daughter fight for her life daily was a traumatic experience. Meliyah spent many days intubated on a high-frequency ventilator. She spent many days enclosed in an incubator. It was difficult not being able to touch or hold our baby girl easily. Meliyah required multiple blood transfusions throughout her NICU stay. She also suffered from jaundice, seizures, a collapsed lung, stage 1 and stage 2 ROP, and she required a feeding tube for most of her NICU stay. When Meliyah was finally discharged, she needed an oxygen compressor and oxygen tanks for several months after leaving the NICU.
While in the NICU we received an overwhelming amount of love and support from our families, our friends, and the Einstein NICU staff. Since leaving, we’ve thought of ways to give back, to pass on a fraction of the support Louis and I received to families currently fighting the NICU and prematurity battle.
We established Meliyah’s Miracle to donate care packages to other NICU families. Our care packages are meant to express solidarity. They let the families of preemies know that they are not alone in this journey. These parents deserve to be supported. Their paths are not easy, and there are a lot of challenges they may ultimately have to face.
Meliyah’s Miracle care packages let these families know that there are people who support them, who know what they are going through. We are saying to these families that no matter how big or small, how long their child stays in the NICU, and no matter what complications may arise from their child’s prematurity, their child is a miracle!
The PA Safe Sleep Campaign donated 30 care packages to Meliyah’s Miracle 2018 World Prematurity Awareness Day NICU Drive. This donation helped to ensure that we were able to give care packages to every family in the Einstein NICU. The care packages included educational materials to teach families about proper safe sleep environments for newborns once discharged from the hospital. Safe sleep education and techniques are essential for newborns and especially important for babies who have such a precarious start to life.
If you are interested in learning how you can also help contribute to Meliyah’s Miracle, please follow us on Instagram @MeliyahsMiracle, search #meliyahsmiracle or sign up for more information at www.meliyahsmiracle.org
Jasmyne Reaves is the founder of Meliyah’s Miracle