Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 6

ROUNDS / FIRST PERSON

Today, April
Bell works in
the NICU that
treated her
high-risk twins.

David Reidy

Why I became
a NICU nurse
I was a registered nurse in
the medical/surgical unit at
CHOC Children's when my
twins were born prematurely.
BY APRIL BELL, RN

I

didn't realize it at the time, but my
nursing career would take a different path after my experience with highrisk twins. Before I was pregnant, I was
working at CHOC Children's as a nurse
in the medical/surgical unit. I enjoyed
the time I spent on the unit, but after
five years I was looking for another
challenge. A new pediatric intensive
care unit (PICU) had just opened on
the sixth floor, and I was considering a
nurse fellowship in the PICU.
At that time, I found out I was
pregnant with very high-risk twins
with a condition called monoamnioticmonochorionic, or "MoMo," and I put
my plans for a career change on hold.
The twins were sharing one amniotic
sac with the risk their umbilical cords
could become tangled or compressed.
These rare twins have a 50 percent
survival rate. I knew they would likely
be delivered early; we ended up making it to 28 weeks. Their cords were
knotted together twice and wrapped
around my daughter Mikayla's neck
twice. Mikayla weighed only 1 pound,
13 ounces when she was born. Emma
was 2 pounds, six ounces.
From the moment I delivered the
twins, the NICU team in the delivery
room made a huge impression on me,
including the neonatologist who was
present at the delivery, Daryoush
Bassiri, M.D. The nurses at the delivery were supportive and kept me informed about the plan for the babies.
Both daughters needed to be intubated
right after delivery, but the nurses

6

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL S TODAY Winter 2018

made sure I could see them briefly before they left for the NICU.
The next few months were filled
with ups and downs, but nothing quite
as scary as the first few days. After
the girls mastered breathing on their
own, working on feedings was another
struggle. The twins had an amazing
team of developmental therapists, lactation consultants and bedside nurses.
I learned so much from everyone who
took care of my twins. As a medical/
surgical nurse, I had floated to the NICU
before, but I had no idea what each preemie went through. That's when an idea
planted itself in my mind.
Emma was in the NICU for 75 days,
and Mikayla was there for 77 days.
Toward the end of their NICU stay, I
realized that was where I wanted to be
as a nurse. I talked to one of the NICU
managers and told her I was interested
in transferring there. I finished the
NICU fellowship when my daughters
were about 1 year old.
During the last seven years in the
NICU, I've cared for a variety of babies,

from small micro-preemies and those
who have undergone surgery, to babies
with heart defects. I helped open the
CHOC Children's NICU at St. Joseph
Hospital. I've also had the privilege to
work in our Small Baby Unit. After having two micro-preemies, I can relate to
the parents. I've been on the other side.
I know how frustrating and worrisome
it can feel, and I've seen how strong and
resilient these babies can be. I enjoy
sharing my story with patients' families.
Looking at my daughters today,
you'd never know what they've been
through. They are almost 8 years old
and excelling in school. The only longterm effect from being born premature
and facing a mountain of health challenges has been with Emma, who has a
raspy voice from left vocal cord paralysis, a common surgical complication. I
am grateful to have two healthy girls.
I'm also grateful for the way the CHOC
NICU cared for my children, and I'm
proud to be part of it as a caregiver.
April Bell, RN, is a NICU nurse at CHOC
Children's and mother of CHOC NICU
graduates Mikayla and Emma.

Tell your story. Email magazine
@childrenshospitals.org.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018

Contents
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - Intro
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - Cover1
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - Cover2
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - Contents
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 2
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 3
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 4
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 5
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 6
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 7
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 8
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 9
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 10
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 11
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 12
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 13
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 14
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 15
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 16
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 17
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 18
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 19
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 20
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 21
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 22
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 23
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 24
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 25
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 26
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 27
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 28
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 29
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 30
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 31
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - 32
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - Cover3
Children's Hospitals Today - Winter 2018 - Cover4
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