• Kayla Ibarra

NICU: Ema’s Journey

Updated: Jun 17, 2019

Ema Rose, Baby B.

Ema was born on September 27th, 2018 at 9:29pm. She came out weighting 500g, 12inch long. We picked Ema’s name for a very specific reason. When I was pregnant with Noah, if he was a girl he was going to be named Ema. When my mom found out Noah was a boy she bawled! She really wanted me to have a little girl so when I found out I was pregnant with the twins my mom said to me “wow! I have a 50% chance of one of those babies being my Ema”

Two months later my mom passed away unexpectedly. She passed away before we knew the gender of the twins. Once we knew the twins were girls we knew one would be named Ema. I felt by naming her Ema that there was a connection there with my mom. She knew and prayed for Ema before we even knew we’d have a little girl. Rose is the name we chose for Ema’s middle name to honour my mother.

While I was in labour with Luna, Ema was nice and cozy in her own sac. She had no idea what was going on. The plan was to try and birth Luna and keep Ema inside as long as possible. Once Luna was born, the plan changed. Ema’s heartrate dropped immediately and they told me she’d have to come. The next contraction I began pushing. Ema wasnt coming out easy. Finally 17 minutes after Luna she was born. Ema came out moving and crying. Her little body was comp bruised from the trauma of the spontaneous birth. She was wisked away immediately and I only got a glimpse of her as her small body went through the operating doors.

Ema was put on a high ventilator (the oscillator) she was stable from the beginning. I was told Ema was easily intubated and it only took 1 try. The begining of her journey was uneventful. Ema had regular preemie issues (regulating her blood sugars, etc) In total she ended up with 12 blood and platelet transfusions. I never had fears of losing Ema like I had with Luna but on October 24th that all changed.

10:36am the phone rings & it’s the NICU. My heart drops as I pick it up & hear the nurse on the other end; “Kayla, we need you to come over!” I’m across the street within a minute and into the girls room. I see what looks like 40 people surrounding Ema’s bed. Her doctor comes over and tells me “Ema’s heart rate dropped and didn’t come back on its own. We had to give her compressions and adrenaline to get it back up” my heart is in my stomach. One of the nurses step to the side and I see my tiny daughter laying on her bed. Doctors and nurses are poking her, evaluating her, touching her and giving her medication. My eyes are focused directly on her and my heart is yearning to comfort her. There is a real feeling of helplessness when your child lays there in pain and you can’t just run in, pick her up and comfort her. My brain wants to yell “move, leave her, stop!” But my mouth isn’t opening because I KNOW they are saving her life. Eventually the room begins to clear out & I can make my way to Ema’s bed, I touch her hand & she grabs on tight. I wish so much to hold her, to save her from this but all I can do is hold her hand, pray for her and reassure her mama is here.

They got Ema stable and they ran tests. There was a few things wrong (blood pressure, heart rate, urinating, edema) but they all believe this was because she has a lot of potassium in her body that they had to flush out. Ema also was septic at birth (infection in her blood) had a large PDA that needed medication to close and a grade 1-2 brain bleed that self resolved.

Within days Ema had bounced right back! It was incredible to watch how resilient she was.

On day 36 I held Ema for the first time and this is when her journey really began to change.

By day 42, Ema was extubated and was truly a feed and grow preemie. She had nothing hooked up to her but her pulse ox, leads and her CPAP.

Ema remained completely stable from that moment on. She was reunited with her twin sister for the first time and we planned our trip back to Windsor’s NICU.

Once we got back to Windsor Ema was on a roll! She quickly went off of her CPAP and onto high flow and from there quickly onto low flow. She breastfed and took her bottles like a champ.

From the day Ema Rose was born she reminded me of my mom. She just has this underlining strength that doesn’t take much work. She’s naturally strong and brave. She tackles anything she does head on with minimal set backs if any.

Ema’s journey was without a doubt smoother than Luna’s but that doesn’t take away from the fact that she is incredibly strong. Ema is a warrior!

On day 115 I took home my littlest baby. Ema weighed 6lb 2oz and came home with an NGTube and low flow oxygen. By day 2 home her NGTube was taken out and at day 21 she was completely off of oxygen. Ema is a calm baby. She likes to be socialized and cuddled.

Lord, wow. Thank you for my sweet Rose. Thank you for allowing me to be her mama and entrusting me with her life and story.

Mom, thank you for coming to me in the form of Ema. Thank you for praying for her all of these years and for giving her your fighting spirit. You are truly missed so much & you’ll always be my hero.


22.2 weeks

500g dropped to 460g

16 blood transfusions

Sepsis x1

Grade 1-2 brain bleed

Pre-kidney failure

Resuscitated x1

25 days on antibiotics

45 days on pain management (fentanyl)

40 days on the ventilator

74 days of oxygen support

118 days NG feeding tube

50+ blood draws

PICC lines/IVs

Xrays / Ultrasounds

2 NICU’s

115 day hospital stay

Chronic lung diagnosis

*We want to thank London Health Science Centre who fought alongside of us for the girls lives. They weren’t sure the impossible was possible but it was. We are so thankful for the girls Drs and nurses who put so much into caring for the girls. For the nurses and Drs who cried with us, prayed with us and never gave up on the twins. We can never repay you all for saying “yes, we’ll try!” when everyone else was saying no!


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