Triplets Jordan, Avery and Baby Emma rest quietly in their beds at the Levine Children’s Hospital, surrounded by monitors, and medical devices.
“It’s kind of surreal but I'm very grateful they are all here,” said Ashley Head.
The 32-year-old and her husband Michael are still getting used to being a family of five.
“Happy but nervous,” said Michael. “I think that’s what parenthood is from what I’ve heard.”
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Their three girls were born nine weeks early at Levine Children's Hospital. As WCNC spoke to the new mom and dad, Ashley kept looking over to the side of the room.
“Sorry, I'm totally distracted,” she said.
Suddenly she jumped out of her chair and ran to a loud beeping. Little Avery's heart rate dropped setting off her monitor.
It turns out that’s not uncommon for babies in this situation. It’s an example of the uncertainty parents of preemies deal with every day.
Rebecca Horner is the neo-natal family navigator assigned to the heads.
“Our only task is to provide love and mercy to moms and dads who are here,” said Horner. “And it’s a privilege to do that so that other healthcare providers can attend to their patients and provide the necessary medical care.”
Horner meets with the family every week answering questions, and offering emotional and developmental support.
“In our experience, the more healthy and well the mom is the more healthy and well the baby is," Horner said.
The program, started in 2011, originally focused on the hospital experience after birth. But recently the program expanded, helping to ease anxiety about the delivery.
“There is just something special about the connection you make with people when you share a huge life moment,” said Horner acknowledging the bond that has developed between her and the couple.
Ashley agrees. She says having a familiar face in the delivery room helped tremendously.
“So all I could do was hold his hand and breathe and she went and took pictures we would never had if she wasn't there and that was their first moment and so I don't really have words for it.” She began to cry, overwhelmed at the thought of it.
Horner says she will always remember the experience.
“It is one of the deepest joys of my life. the birth of a baby and the beginning of a relationship between a mother and a baby is just a beautiful thing.”
After spending a month at the hospital, mom and dad can’t wait to get home and snuggle with their new bundles without them being hooked up to a machine… though they both admit they are a little worried about how much sleep they’ll get.
Dad Michael adds, “and the number of diapers we’ll go thru probably.”