NICU Nurses Reunite With Babies Who Left the Hospital One Year Later

This is the second year Essentia has held the reunion


FARGO, N.D. — Most parents only have one child in Essentia’s NICU.

But for the Vanbruggen’s, giving birth at only 33 weeks into the pregnancy meant putting triplets into intensive care.

“They had to spend about a month in the NICU mainly just learning how to drink and how to keep themselves warm and kind of basic things that full–term babies know how to do already but they just weren’t quite there.”

It meant amidst all the stress of watching their kids through incubators with wires attached all over, it was up to the NICU nurses to help the Dave and Traci Vanbruggen feel just like any other parents.

“It was stressful because you want to spend equal amount of time with everybody. The nurses were awesome about letting me hold them all at together. And Dave. Whenever we wanted to hold all of them, they would kind of help us navigate all the cords and be able to do that which was great,” Traci said.

It’s all the little things NICU nurses did to take care of the three boys, Harrison, Hendrick and Heath that made the Vanbruggen’s feel more at home.

And it’s now why they, along with other families who stayed in the NICU, are reuniting with the nurses who did so much.

“Really over those months with us, the nurses build a long relationship and really just get to know the family, not only from a medical standpoint with their baby but kind of personally,” said Jamie Astrup, Essentia NICU manager.

Meaning that being a NICU nurse is really unlike any other job out there.

“When I have a new hire come in, I tell them the NICU is unlike anything you’ve learned in school. It takes a very special nurse to do what these nurses do every day in the NICU,” Astrup said.

A year ago, the NICU didn’t just become a part of Essentia hospital to the families who were told their kids needed to stay a little while longer.

“If we didn’t have the NICU, they wouldn’t be here today. So it’s just really cool to see them progress knowing that if we didn’t have this available, we wouldn’t have these three boys crawling all over the place and playing in our house,” Vanbruggen said.

It also found a special place in their hearts.

Essentia’s NICU has an open floor plan, which nurses say tends to make it harder for families to stay overnight.

In September, the hospital will open up a new NICU with private rooms.

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