A Feeling of Family in the NICU

Before Stephanie Cobble walked into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at RVH, she felt helpless, drained and overcome with worry. Her son Christopher had been transferred overnight from Sunnybrook’s Level 3 NICU, where he had spent the first five weeks of his life, to the Level 2C NICU at RVH.

Stephanie had to wait until the morning to see her son.

Stephanie and her son Christopher

“I was in despair. I was helpless,” she remembered. “I just wanted to be with him to make sure everything was okay.”

Christopher was born at 27 weeks after a complicated pregnancy. He weighed just 2.56 pounds. Stephanie was dealing with uterine fibroids that caused her to go into early labour and required an emergency C-section.

“By the time I got to RVH, I was a ball of emotion,” she said. “The team of nurses who greeted me and my husband that morning were angels. Immediately, they just took us in and made us feel so warm. They assured us that they were going to take great care of Christopher and we knew they meant it.”

Christopher spent eight weeks developing in the NICU. But, early on, while all attention was focused on him, Stephanie experienced an emergency and needed to have her own life-saving surgery in Toronto.

As she was about to go into her procedure, she received a call that Christopher was in respiratory distress. His lung had collapsed.

“I was just crying and crying,” she remembered. “Christopher’s pediatrician at RVH assured me that my son was in the best hands and that he would care for him as though he was a member of his own family.”

That promise provided her the comfort and reassurance she needed to focus on her own health and healing.

Stephanie’s husband, Josh, had to split his time between the two hospitals.

“The nurses at RVH helped my husband be the best dad he could be. And when I would call the NICU to check on Christopher, they were also concerned about me and my wellbeing. I could feel that he was getting the best care possible.”

After a week, Stephanie was well enough to visit her son. The team at RVH welcomed her back with open arms and reinvigorated her resolve to appreciate every small success on this journey.

“Christopher’s pediatrician at RVH assured me that my son was in the best hands and that he would care for him as though he was a member of his own family.”

Stephanie Cobble

“While we were at Sunnybrook, we were so worried about the monitors and the alarms,” she recalled. “It was all so new and so scary. At RVH, they encouraged us to be parents. They taught us what the alarms meant and showed us that Christopher’s coos, cries, his little noises, they were all milestones to be appreciated. It changed my mindset. I’m so grateful for that.”

After the respiratory setback, Christopher began to thrive. His condition improved every day and on July 19, 2022, he graduated from the NICU and got to go home with his family for the first time.

“I remember someone promising us on day one that by the time he was ready to leave here, we would not want to go,” said Stephanie. “And they were right. Everyone became like family. The nurses, like my sisters.”

Today, Christopher is flourishing.

“He’s smiling, he recognizes faces,” shared Stephanie. “Every day we get so excited to see what new things he is doing.”

Stephanie and Josh are grateful they now get to enjoy just being parents to Christopher.

“The heart of the staff at RVH, the family-centred community, I wish I could translate what that feeling meant to us,” explained Stephanie. “I want them all to know how deeply they’ve impacted our lives. I hope they never lose that compassion. From the bottom of my heart, I just love them all.”

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