Ella Tenney – NICU Success Story

The fight of her life: When Ella Tenney was born prematurely, our NICU team rallied

Ella Tenney “Yes, my child was in the NICU for almost two
months, but I don’t look at it negatively at
all,” Jalin says. “That’s why we still stay close
with the nurses. I want Ella to know who had her
for two months and who helped her survive.
They’re going to be a part of her life.”

For Jalin and Nick Tenney, Monday, May 5, 2014, was going to be an exciting day. Nick had taken the day off work, and the couple was going to shoot maternity photos that afternoon.

But first on the schedule: A checkup with OB-GYN Carolyn Kollar, DO, on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

“The nurse took Jalin’s blood pressure and left, and when Dr. Kollar walked in, she was just serious and said, ‘We’re sending you straight to the hospital,’” Nick says.

The day was not going as planned.

“At the hospital, my blood pressure was sky-high, like 200 over craziness,” Jalin says. In addition, she had gained 20 pounds of water weight in recent weeks, and Dr. Kollar feared the onset of preeclampsia.

With Jalin only 31 weeks into her pregnancy, the decision was made to deliver Ella prematurely.

Ella’s first moments

Fortunately, the nurses in Methodist Mansfield’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) knew how to make the Tenneys as comfortable as possible. They gave Nick a tour of the NICU and educated the couple on what to expect.

“I’m the type of person who asks a million questions, and they gave me the answers before I even asked,” Nick says.

With trust established, the couple was amazed at the level of care that followed for both them and their daughter.

Ella was born May 7 at 7:15 p.m., weighing only 2 pounds, 15 ounces, and measuring a mere 14 inches. And she wasn’t responsive.

The neonatal team went into action to restore and aid Ella’s breathing. The Tenneys barely saw their baby before she was whisked away for treatment.

“Despite our fears, the nurses kept us in high spirits,” Jalin says. “That first night was the hardest, but our nurse brought me a little foam heart with Ella’s hand and footprints.” She also brought a little diaper and blanket to acquire the new mother’s scent, which would bring comfort to the struggling infant.

Ella’s second family

The weeks that followed were filled with milestones, and the nurses gave Jalin and Nick the confidence to not only be NICU parents but also first-time parents.

“They showed us how to do the things they were doing, like taking her temperature, changing her diaper, or putting monitors on her,” Nick says. “It gave us some control.”

The nurses even saved bath time till evening, when both parents could be there.

“We bonded with all the nurses, but really at night,” Jalin says. “We were off work and could spend as many hours with Ella as we wanted.”

“Plenty of times we stayed up till 2 a.m., just talking to the nurses,” Nick adds.

Ella comes home

undefinedElla took her time getting used to bottle-feeding, but once she mastered it, she was able to come home — two weeks before her original due date. Today, there is no sign of the little preemie in the darling 1-year-old.

“Ella is crazy and happy and healthy,” Jalin says.

Reflecting on the family’s experience with Methodist Mansfield’s NICU, the Tenneys have only positive thoughts.

“Yes, my child was in the NICU for almost two months, but I don’t look at it negatively at all,” Jalin says. “That’s why we still stay close with the nurses. I want Ella to know who had her for two months and who helped her survive. They’re going to be a part of her life.”