Skip to main content

When I reflect back on Temple’s stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the feeling that most comes to mind is one of growth. He physically grew, and I was able to grow in different ways right alongside of him.

My pregnancy with Temple started like most until about 15 weeks gestation. I was high-risk due to type 1 diabetes. I had also experienced a previous full-term stillbirth so I was having frequent doctor appointments and ultrasounds. During an extra but routine ultrasound, my providers found that my cervix was short. When I was 24 weeks along, I was admitted to labor and delivery to receive steroids, magnesium, and extra monitoring. Due to my type 1 diabetes, hospitalization was necessary.

Three weeks later, I was discharged just to have my water break 12 hours after I went home. It landed me right back in the same room I had just left. The goal was to hope that Temple was comfortable and would stay in my belly until 34 weeks. That was not what happened. Two days after I was readmitted, I started having intense back pain and abnormal contractions.

After I spent most of the day in worsening pain, the doctor came to check on me. During that check, she saw his bum and immediately called for a code. Then my surroundings turned into something like a TV scene: lights blurring past me overhead as I lay back, the doctor riding alongside me through the hall.

The doctor said to me that if Temple was born in the hallway, it would be okay.

I’ve never forgotten my immediate thoughts after her words: “How would that be okay? How would Temple be okay?” He was too small. It was too soon. He was born at 27 weeks and 3 days gestation.

I was not awake for the delivery. I have very few memories from the first day of his life. I know I was reassured by multiple people that he was alive, that he cried when he came out, and that he was currently stable. But it wasn’t until after seven days and a room change that I finally got up the courage to ask the nurse if he would live. She gave me a look of surprise and said something like, “Nothing is guaranteed, but he is doing just fine. He should be good.” After hearing her words, I felt like I took a breath for the first time since I arrived at the hospital.

When it came time for me to lift him for the first time, I had a hard time believing that he was mine and that I wasn’t still pregnant. The first time my skin touched his, our hearts were beating to the same rhythm. I felt that connection. I knew he knew me, and he settled in like babies do. I needed that moment to know that he was okay—he was just premature.

Temple Yost laying on a blanket in the NICU
Temple Yost, NICU patient
Temple Yost in the NICU next to parent

It was hard to think about when he might be coming home. And I struggled to explain how excited we were that he ate three milliliters of food by mouth, went six hours without oxygen, or even that he gained five grams overnight. I never took those small gains for granted. I knew that some days he didn’t eat or lost weight, and sometimes he needed supplemental oxygen for sleep. It was sometimes easier to talk to people in the unit than my support at home. I didn’t know how to answer the questions of my family and friends: “Would he be ‘normal’? Would he always be smaller? Would he be able to talk?” I couldn’t look too far in the future because each day in the NICU mattered more.

Temple Yost ready for first grade
Temple Yost ready for first grade

After 70 days, some setbacks, and several tiny and big scares, we were given our discharge papers. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was so ready to have Temple home, but I loved my support and teachers in the NICU.

It’s easy to see how the NICU changed Temple. He started out at 2 pounds 3 ounces, and he left at just over 6 pounds. It’s less easy to see how it changed our whole family. But it did, for the better.

Temple is now almost seven years old. He is meeting and exceeding our and medical expectations. He is right on target with children his age. Some of his favorite things are soccer, swimming, playing with his younger brother and friends, being at the beach, shows, and reading books. He is looking forward to first grade and has just started wearing glasses.

Meet Our NICU Alumni

This is a special project that documents our NICU alumni. We are so grateful to watch these amazing young patients grow into their lives, despite a challenging start.