One of a mother's greatest joys is being able to hold her newborn child. For mothers of premature babies, that joy can be delayed for weeks, until the baby is healthy enough for full-on human contact.
"It's very hard being in here and not being able to pick him up," says Kayla Haynes, mother of Brayden Brunson, born prematurely at 26 weeks. During her pregnancy, Kayla's blood pressure shot up. Her doctor told her she had preeclampsia, and both she and her son were in danger. Brayden was delivered by Cesarean section, and weighed just one pound, seven ounces.
"You see other mothers picking up their children, and you don't have that feeling. So, it's a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of crying, a lot of frustrations."
Brayden was born with intraventricular hemorrhages (IVH) in two areas of his brain. IVH is common in preemies, as their blood vessels are not yet fully developed. Brayden needed surgery to drain the fluid in his brain, so his doctors in Tupelo, Miss. sent him to Le Bonheur for treatment. Kayla accompanied Brayden while his father stayed behind. Suddenly, Kayla was alone in Memphis and juggling the physical and emotional shockwaves that come with being not only a new parent, but also with being a parent to a premature baby.
At first, Kayla wasn't going to let Brayden out of her sight. She slept on a pullout couch next to his crib in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Le Bonheur. "Being that I had a Caesarean section, it was very painful," says Kayla. "I asked the social worker about hotels, and she told me about FedExFamilyHouse."
Her first days at FedExFamilyHouse marked the first true rest Kayla experienced after Brayden's birth.
"When you're at the hospital, the nurses are coming in and out, and taking blood pressure, and drawing blood," says Kayla. "You are hearing your baby scream, and you're not getting rest."
For new moms, stress and a lack of rest can affect milk production, something Kayla experienced. The home-like setting of a private room at FedExFamilyHouse allowed her to rest.
"Since I've come to FedExFamilyHouse, my supply is coming back slowly but surely," says Kayla. "It's just more privacy … You get more room to walk around and relax, to have personal phone calls.”
FedExFamilyHouse also offered Brayden's dad and other family members from Mississippi the chance to visit in a relaxing setting, and to cook healthy meals together.
"I'm so grateful that it's right across the street, because I wouldn't want to be any more distance than across the road from my baby," says Kayla, who says she feels lucky there was a room available when she first came to Memphis with Brayden. "It would be awesome if this place was bigger, so every family could have somewhere to go instead of staying at the hospital."