Below are sample publications. Within these links you will find three national award winning articles, one Idaho Press Club award winning article and a link that lists all publication titles. Enjoy!

Born Too Soon

One mom’s story of the work inside the neonatal intensive care

Author: Mary Keating

For:  Family Living Magazine

Date:  May 2005

            1020 words           

During child birth education class, the educator shared the statistic that one in nine babies will be born to early.  She added, given the statistics, it is likely that at least one of the couples in the room would have a preemie.

I distinctly recall thinking, “Well, we won’t have to worry.  This pregnancy was carefully planned and I have followed all the guidelines. Further, I have taken excellent care of myself and I have focused intently on providing the best growth environment for my unborn child.”  And, at that instant, I scanned the room to see if I could determine who might be the one.

Perhaps because my mind was wandering, I missed hearing that it is very difficult to predict which women will deliver prematurely and in nearly half of premature births, the cause is unknown. The basic reality is: premature births can happen to any pregnant woman, and the statistic sitting in the room that night, was me.

At 28 weeks into my pregnancy (12 weeks prior to my due date), something did not feel right. I reviewed my What To Expect When You are Expecting book over and over again looking for an answer. I phoned the doctors office and reported a slight change and expressed a slight concern. My body was telling me something, but being pregnant was new and everything was changing. Thankfully, my doctor’s instincts were right on.  I was dilated to 3 cm and I was completely effaced.

The next couple of days are a bit of a blur. I was rushed to the hospital where labor was stopped.  After two and half days in the hospital I was sent home, restricted to complete bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy. 

Bedrest only lasted 28 days.

Our first child was born eight and a half weeks short of her due date. She weighed 4 pounds 2 ounces. She was the tiniest and most fragile person I had ever seen.

I entered a world that I had no idea existed. The next 49 days I experienced the world inside the four walls of  two different Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). The first five weeks were here in Pocatello and the next two weeks were at Children’s Primary in Salt Lake City.

NICU is a bit like entering a foreign country and not speaking the language or understanding the culture. From the moment you enter the NICU, everything you see, hear and smell is unfamiliar. There is an unusual absence of sound; no crying babies, just brief alarms and the hurried feet of nurses. 

I had never seen an NG (naso-gastric) tube before. This tiny tube inserted through her nose was used to literally pour breast milk into her tiny tummy. And we were given the standard-line, expect her to come home around her due date.  Until then, we were expected to wait and watch her grow in her tiny incubator.

But complications soon followed. I will never forget how the grey light filtered in through the blinds in the NICU the morning we learned Hannah’s needed to have her spinal fluid checked for spinal meningitis. My heart pounded and the tears stuck in my throat. I had questions but fear held them in. Her test came back normal.

The next hurdle came when she had to undergo phototherapy to help break down the bilirubin. Her tiny little eyes were covered with foam sunglasses to protect them from the light. We joked that she was on a vacation.

The vacation and the joking were short-lived. Hannah was showing the classic symptoms of one of the most dreaded preemie complications, necrotizing enter colitis (NEC). My husband and I had read about NEC.  It is a gastrointestinal complication affecting premature infants almost exclusively. If left untreated, it could be fatal.  She had bouts of apnea and bradycardia (A’s and B’s they are called in the NICU); moments where she would forget to breath and her heart rate would drop. Her tummy became distended and she was spitting up greenish fluids. 

One morning when we arrived, her little veins were being pumped full with intravenous food and multiple antibiotics. And the nurse informed us that she was “very fragile” and we were not going to be able to even hold her for a few days. After multiple veins had collapsed, it was suggested that we serious consider having a PIC line, a central line which would be inserted through the vein in the head or neck. My heart and hopes collapsed; my hands were cold and shook slightly as I signed the release.

After 15 days the PIC line was removed and we were on what seemed to be the road home. She was gathering the strength and was slowing inching toward getting enough milk from a preemie size bottle. I was excited and filled with anxiety and anticipation.

Once again, my dreams were crushed. After a number of new complications and a series of tests, the doctor sat my husband and I down and carefully informed us that Hannah had a blockage in her intestine that require immediate surgery. Not only did she need surgery, but she would be sent by helicopter to Children’s Primary that very afternoon and undergo surgery first thing in the morning.

In crisis mode we packed and drove to meet her in SLC. She underwent a 3 hour procedure. During which I wept, felt as if my chest was being compressed and experienced true fear.

Seeing her after surgery, bloated with fluids, divided by a huge white bandage and hooked to every machine imaginable will be painted in my mind for a lifetime.

Eleven days after surgery, two scared, overwhelmed, and anxious parents carefully lifted the tiny, fragile little girl into a carseat and brought her home. Mere words are incapable of describing the range of emotions and experiences in the world of NICU.

Even now, five years later, when I hear a pregnant woman say, I wish the baby would just come now, I cringe and often say out loud, “You do not want to have the baby come to soon!”