ALEXANDRIA, La., April 28, 2022 – Employees at Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital recently celebrated a milestone with one of their tiny patients in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
Caroline Craig marked her 100th day in the NICU earlier this week. When she was born, Caroline weighed 1 lb., 9 oz and now, weighs 6 lbs., 14.5 oz.
That meant Jeannie Woodruff, RN, ASN, and an LSUA graduate, pulled out her “100 Day Celebration” box.
The box, one for boys and one for girls, contains tutus, crowns, confetti, garland and signage. Typically, the NICU celebrates with one baby a year who spends 100 or more days in their care.
“When I started working in the NICU three years ago, I immediately fell in love,” Woodruff said. “Everyone has their dream job, and this is mine. I cannot believe I get paid to watch little miracles grow.”
This year, Woodruff took the celebration to the next level.
“I’d seen some of my friends post photos of their kids celebrating the 100th day of school by dressing up as little grandmas and grandpas, and I thought that was so cute,” Woodruff said. “So, I went out and found a little cane, some glasses, and a tiny sweater.”
She also hand-made a tiny cotton-ball wig. As you can see, the end result was photo-worthy.
“Having a baby spend 100 days with us is pretty significant,” Woodruff said. “We want to celebrate that milestone with them. It is a huge accomplishment for them and for their parents.”
Team members also take photos for parents as babies celebrate their 1 month, 2 month or 3-month milestones in the unit.
“Those babies and moms, all the milestones they should be having together, they are having with us,” Woodruff said. “Anything we can do to help make sure they don’t miss out is worth it.”
For some parents, the feeling is mutual, as Woodruff tells a story about a NICU graduate mom who recently Facetimed her so Woodruff could watch once her son started crawling.
“It’s hard when parents have to leave their babies with us,” Woodruff said. “I want parents to know that I love your baby as if it were my own baby, so when they leave here, they feel safe.
“This unit would not run the way it does if every person up here didn’t love these babies the same way. Not everyone is as rainbows and unicorns and as squishy as I am about it, but we all put our whole heart into it.”
Rapides Women’s and Children’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit celebrated its 20th Anniversary earlier this month. The unit was also recently named No. 2 among hundreds of NICUs in the company as a “Unit of Distinction,” based on outcomes, patient satisfaction and quality.