A Premature Blessing

By Hannah Robertson

The greatest blessings in life arrive when we least expect them. That was the case for the
Moore family, whose latest addition arrived almost 8 weeks before her December 19 due date. Carlene Moore was taking a shower after a day of Halloween-related activities on October 24 when she first started feeling contractions.

Hours before she was carving pumpkins with her husband, Josh; now she was being rushed to Boone Hospital Center.

Once there, the Moores learned that their baby girl was coming regardless of whether they were
ready for her arrival. It came as quite a surprise, given there had never been any complications or signs of potential problems throughout the pregnancy.

This being her first pregnancy, Carlene wasn’t sure what to expect. Naturally, she had fears of what would
happen next and if the baby would be healthy. Upon their arrival in the Labor and Delivery room, the couple was comforted when the doctors and nurse who would be assisting them, introduced themselves. They patiently, kindly answered every one of the understandably nervous soon- to-be parents’ questions, so the couple never felt “in the dark about anything.”

After a strenuous two days of labor, Peyton arrived on October 26, 2022. The first things Carlene heard about her baby girl from Elizabeth Wilson, MD was that she had red hair just like her dad. The day she was born, Peyton weighed 4 pounds and 1 ounce.

She would have to stay in Boone Health’s neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, where staff would help Peyton to eat on her own and gain weight. It was no easy feat – at her smallest in the NICU, Peyton weighed 3 pounds and 13 ounces. She also experienced a brain bleed and short heart rate drops that would last for about 10 seconds before spiking.

During Peyton’s time in the NICU, her parents spent at least 14 hours each day by her side, driving the hour back and forth from Mexico to Columbia to see their baby girl. It weighed on Carlene and Josh not to know what would come next or when they would be able to bring their daughter home. Noises in the hospital – fluorescent lights buzzing, monitors beeping, nurses whispering – made Carlene feel like something was always wrong. The new parents also felt helpless. Carlene says, “You can help her by being there, but really, you can’t.”

Despite their fears, the couple fondly remembers the emotional support they received from Boone nurses whenever they visited. Even nurses who didn’t work in the NICU would recognize Carlene and Josh walking down the hallway and stop to say “Hi” and ask how Peyton was doing.

“They were nurses doing their job, but they comforted you like they were family,” Carlene recalls.

On November 24, a month after Carlene had her first contractions and one day before Thanksgiving, Peyton was finally able to come home. A week later, the Moore family received a card signed by every Boone Health nurse they’d met with a message that they enjoyed taking care of the family and hoped everything was going okay. It’s a step the staff didn’t have to take, but it meant so much to Carlene and Josh.

At four months, Peyton fits into newborn clothes and has just started holding up her head and smiling. She is the same little fireball the NICU nurses remember. Most of the time, she quietly observes the world, but she lets everyone know how she feels when necessary. Her personality is beginning to shine through, and the couple agrees “she’s just like her mama.”

Carlene’s biggest piece of advice for other parents who have a child in the NICU is to trust the staff and take time for yourself as needed. She says, “You want to be there all the time, but it’s okay to step away and check on yourself mentally and emotionally. Just know they’re in really good hands at Boone.”