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Home > Medical Services > Birthplace & NICU > Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) > Kelsey's Story: Blessings Times Two
The best April Fool’s Day joke came to life for the Rollers in 2019.
Kelsey Roller, a nurse in Mercy’s Birthplace, and her husband, Charlie, were surprised by what they heard from their ultrasound tech on April 1, 2019.
“We had our first ultrasound here [at Mercy], and we were just nervous because we didn’t know what to expect,” Kelsey recalled. “The ultrasound tech said, ‘This could be a joke except I’m not joking; you have two babies in there.’ That was unexpected, but I remember that because it was April Fool’s Day.”
The babies were mono-di identical twins, which made Kelsey’s pregnancy more complex.
“There’s two separate sacs and one placenta, so the babies can share vessels across that placenta,” explained Kelsey’s obstetrician, Jason Rexroth, MD, OBGYN, of Cedar Rapids Ob Gyn Specialists, P.C. “They could have abnormal growth or fluid, or one baby could get all of the blood and the other baby not, so it can be pretty complicated. It’s called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.”
To make sure both babies were growing strong, Dr. Rexroth saw Kelsey twice a week to conduct testing through the ultrasounds.
“If they’re moving, practicing breathing and the fluid around the babies looks normal, that’s super reassuring,” Dr. Rexroth said.
Natalie and Heidi were born premature at 33 weeks and four days on September 29, 2019, at Mercy’s Birthplace. Natalie was four pounds, two ounces, and Heidi was three pounds, 12 ounces.
Neonatologist Sri Ravisankar, MD, FAAP, led the Birthplace & Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) team that cared for Natalie and Heidi.
“A lot of these premature babies will have difficulty with their breathing after they’re born; they might need special medications and potentially be placed on the breathing machine or the ventilator after birth to help care for them,” Dr. Ravisankar said. “Our skilled team was able to successfully facilitate all those needs that Kelsey’s babies needed immediately after birth and in the subsequent days of their hospitalization using state-of-the-art technology and equipment available at Mercy Medical Center.”
As Kelsey’s fifth year of being a nurse in Mercy’s Birthplace, she and Charlie felt more comfortable when it was Kelsey’s turn to give birth, but the roles were now reversed for Kelsey.
“It was very different having to sit back and not step in and be the nurse,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey recalls the first couple days after Natalie and Heidi’s birth as a “whirlwind,” but the couple quickly got into a routine with the help of the Birthplace & NICU staff. Even though she is a nurse herself, Kelsey and Charlie appreciated the instructions from the doctors and nurses.
“They just made the process so easy and treated us like new parents because we were new parents,” Kelsey said. “They explained everything; I appreciate that. It’s just different when it’s your baby versus me teaching a patient about their baby. We still needed that TLC about being new parents. We were definitely treated like family here, 100%.”
Kelsey and Charlie were also comforted by the opportunity for all four of them to stay in the same room. From birth to discharge, the girls rarely left Charlie and Kelsey’s sight.
“Mercy’s model of neonatal care is very unique because we’re one of the few centers in the country that can provide this sophisticated neonatal ICU care without separating the baby from their parents right from birth,” Dr. Ravisankar said. “By staying in the same room, the parents become an integral part of the medical team and participate at every critical step.”
He continued, “This new standard of care available at Mercy Medical Center helps parents bond with their loved ones; promotes more breastfeeding success; decreases rates of infection and length of hospital stays for babies; and aids in quicker postpartum recovery for moms, while alleviating any stress and anxiety that comes when moms separate from their beloved little ones.”
“We could sleep together in this room, all four of us; it was awesome,” Kelsey said. “It was nice to know what was going on with them every time someone came in. We never missed a doctor visit or a nurse unless we were at home; we always knew what was going on.”
As Natalie and Heidi made progress, they were successfully discharged from the neonatal ICU and cleared to go home.
Then, by their four-month check-ups, Natalie and Heidi were almost caught up to five-month-old milestones. Natalie had grown to 13 pounds and Heidi weighed in at 12 pounds. According to Kelsey, the twins’ doctor — MercyCare Vernon Village’s Ann Soenen, DO — said “that preemies normally don’t catch up until they’re about two years old, so itt was impressive that the girls were already reaching those milestones at four months old.”
Today, the proud parents describe Natalie and Heidi as outgoing, animated and vocal babies and report that the twins are healthy and continuing to grow.To learn more about Mercy’s Birthplace & NICU or to schedule a tour, call (319) 363-BABY or visit mercycare.org/birthplace.