When Christin and Paul Gigstad brought their firstborn baby, Delaney, to Fairview Ridges Hospital, she was just three weeks old. She had been born prematurely and needed extra care and attention in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Six-and-a-half weeks later, the couple left Fairview Ridges with not only a happy, healthy baby, but also a newfound network of love and support from the hospital’s nurses.
“We got to know the nurses and their families, and we built relationships with them,” Christin says. “It wasn’t a typical patient-nurse relationship. It was a ‘you’re part of our family’ relationship.”
While the nurses provided constant, compassionate care for Delaney, they also served as a lifeline for Christin and Paul.
“When you’re a new parent, you don’t expect to have a baby in an incubator,” says Christin. “The Fairview Ridges nurses calmed me; they made everything OK. They made me feel like I was a normal parent.”
Three years later, the couple was back in the Fairview Ridges NICU after the birth of their son, Carson.
“It was like being back with family,” says Christin. “It’s horrible to have to leave your baby at the hospital, but I knew both kids were OK.”
During their six-and-a half weeks in the NICU with Carson, Christin and Paul once again felt the support of the Fairview Ridges nurses. They helped the couple not only cope with their current circumstances, but also prepare for life once they left the NICU.
“When I went home I was better equipped as a parent," says Christin. "I would still email the nurses asking ‘is this normal?’ and they would give me parenting tips.”
Today, Delaney, 16, and Carson, 13, are far beyond their days in the Fairview Ridges NICU, but the family still maintains the strong connections they built there. They stay in contact with some of the nurses who cared for them through email and occasional visits to the unit.
They also find unique and creative ways to express their gratitude. Five years ago, Delaney’s Girl Scout troop began making and delivering blankets to kids in Fairview Ridges’ pediatric unit. She later got her church confirmation group to do the same.
“For us it’s a connection,” Christin says. “It’s nice to give back to a community that gave us so much.”