NICU Graduate

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

Stella's Story

At 28 weeks pregnant, Stella’s mom, Rachael, started having strong and frequent contractions. “They admitted me to the hospital to slow my contractions down, but my sassy girl apparently had other plans!” Rachael said. “Stella made her entrance into the world, and ready or not, we were on a trip that no parent is really ever prepared for.”

Stella was airlifted to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in the safe care of the neonatal transport team. She arrived to the Dana Brown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for what would be a 180 day adventure.

Adjustment to NICU life was overwhelming. Stella’s family couldn’t hold or touch her much in the beginning. Surprisingly after three short weeks, Stella transitioned to the infant unit. She was bottle feeding and the team felt she could safely grow and gain weight outside of the NICU environment. Unfortunately, just as quickly as she left, she returned to the NICU. For the next several months, there were many ups and downs. Stella needed to grow into her bowel and that would take time. The goals were to keep her nutritionally balanced, maintain her weight, and get her home. Stella was discharged just before Christmas in December, 2016.

Around her first birthday, Stella was grazing and experimenting with table foods. On July 4, 2018, Stella dislodged her feeding tube, and that was the day Stella’s mom decided there was no going back.

Stella had surgery to remove her gastrostomy button in December 2018. “Today, she eats like a horse,” Stella’s dad Bobby says. “Her favorite foods are strawberries, broccoli, peppers, Little Debbie Snack cakes and Lunchables,” he says. “She’s a sassy bucket of joy and  loves gymnastics, being outside, anything that involves creating and building, and anything that involves climbing. She climbs rock walls, cabinets, and scales walls with no fear. To watch her do cartwheels and all of her gymnastic moves, you would never know from her mindset or actions that she had such a fragile beginning,” Bobby says.

How CMN Funds help Stella and kids like her:

Funds raised through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis were utilized in part to renovate the Dana Brown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. No matter the situation, the goal is to provide patients the highest level of care, all in a comfortable environment. Cardinal Glennon offers a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the highest standard of care for newborns. Inside this NICU, Cardinal Glennon’s highly-specialized team provides care, 24/7. The 65 bed state of the art unit provides private rooms for babies and parents.