By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsay Staup was not supposed to be celebrating Mother’s Day quite yet, but her baby girl decided to make an early appearance, so she’s counting it as a bonus holiday.
Everly Staup, originally due June 7, arrived March 21 via emergency C-section after Lindsay went into early labor and Everly was in the breech position.
The Maternal Fetal Medicine Team at Riley Children’s Health had been following Lindsay for several weeks after tests showed Everly might have a heart defect, as well as duodenal atresia, a condition in which the small bowel has not developed properly. Her kidneys also were enlarged because Lindsay had a buildup of fluid.
Lindsay recalled that on Friday, March 18, she sensed that she was not going to be able to carry her baby much longer. Three days later, her water broke and she and husband Tyler rushed to Riley, where the medical team tried to stop the labor, but Everly wasn’t waiting.
“Two hours later, she was here,” Lindsay said. “We didn’t have time to hold her or even see her because they rushed her off for resuscitation and assessments.”
FOCUSED ON BLESSINGS
Those were hard days, as Lindsay recovered in the Maternity Tower and Tyler divided his time between his wife and his daughter in the Riley NICU.
But as she snuggles her daughter in her arms weeks later with Tyler by her side, Lindsay is focused only on her blessings.
“Emotionally, it was really hard, but we have a lot of support around us, and the doctors and nurses were so comforting.”
One of those nurses is Kendall Tankersley, who has cared for Everly since her second day of life. She describes the preemie as a “fighter and a feisty little lady.”
“She’s had a lot going on in her short little life, and every day she’s just conquering something new; I’m just so proud of her,” Tankersley said, adding, “Lindsey and Tyler are amazing with her. They’re such good parents. I felt an instant connection with them.”
The young parents felt that same connection.
“She takes such good care of Everly. It’s very comforting,” Lindsay said.
FIRST TIME IN HER ARMS
Lindsay got to peek at her 3-pound “little miracle” while in recovery, but she didn’t get to hold her until after Everly had surgery on her intestines, performed by Dr. Matt Landman.
She had to be content with stroking her daughter’s tiny fingers through the holes in the isolette in the NICU.
“That was keeping me going.”
On Day 16, she got to hold her little girl for the first time.
“I was so happy. Getting that bonding time with her has been so great, and she has been a little rock star,” the new mom said.
Both Lindsay and Tyler, who actually met when they were in kindergarten, are teachers in Brownsburg Schools, and they said their students, staff and families at the schools have been a great support.
“So many people have been encouraging us through this. It’s a journey we did not expect, but we’ve learned a lot about ourselves,” Lindsay said.
“We have learned to just be still and trust God,” Tyler added.
He and his wife have been inspired by the cards and notes they have received from their students. They keep them in a box at home to share with Everly someday.
POWER OF PRAYER
The fundraisers, meal train, gas cards and other offers of help have humbled them, he said.
“We’re not normally people who ask for help, but we’ve learned to accept it, and that’s been a good lesson.”
Lindsay, a first-grade teacher, said Everly has reminded them of the power of prayer.
“I don’t think we could have gotten through this without our faith. She is our miracle. There’s just so much love around us, and she’s taught us how to be strong when we didn’t feel like we could be strong.”
As of last week, Everly had joined the 5-pound club, her mom said, but she continues to require respiratory support.
“She’s the lady boss and she is definitely in charge. We come in every day not knowing what to expect, but she seems to be on the uppity up.”
And while it’s hard to leave every night to go home, she and Tyler know that taking time for themselves is important so they can give their best to their daughter.
“The first time we left her we were a mess. We got to the car and just started crying. We have a baby, but we’re not taking our baby home. It’s such a weird feeling.”
But they have complete trust in the staff at Riley, knowing they are taking great care of their little miracle.
“We love all the staff here. Even on the days when we don’t hear the best news, everyone is so comforting,” Lindsay said. “There’s so much peace. We are two very anxious people, but throughout this we’ve learned to let go and trust in this process and in these people.”
GIFT FOR NEW MOMS
Now, Lindsay’s first Mother’s Day is being spent at Riley, where a member of the NICU Nest family support team has already delivered a care basket with gifts for the new mom. She has no doubt that Tyler will spoil her too.
But the best gift is the little bundle in her arms.
“She is supposed to still be in my belly, but it is cool that she is here and I get to hold her and spend time with her on Mother’s Day.”
Despite the hard days and nights, the couple believes that this is the journey they are meant to be on.
“I wouldn’t change it, to be honest,” Lindsay said, noting how much she and Tyler have learned and grown. “She’s worth everything we went through.”
They plan to use their experience to help other parents going through similar challenges.
“We hope that when this is over, we’ll have the knowledge and ability to help others like we were helped,” Tyler said.
“I don’t want to just leave the NICU behind,” Lindsay added. “I want to help other people, whatever that support looks like because that’s what has helped us get through.”
Photos submitted and by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com