After Emily and Jordan Holdeman’s daughter was born just shy of 28 weeks weighing a little over 2 pounds, they had to get used to life in the NICU.
Fortunately, they say the doctors and nurses at Regional One Health’s Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center surrounded them with both expert medical care and plenty of support.
The Holdemans were so grateful they decided to give back, working through Emily’s business to donate swaddle blankets to keep other NICU babies cozy and warm.
Earlier this year, Emily and Jordan Holdeman returned to their home in Clarksdale, Mississippi from Emily’s baby shower with a car full of gifts and hearts full of gratitude.
They were thankful for the chance to celebrate the impending arrival of their daughter after eight years of struggling to conceive, and they were excited to set up her nursery.
They never expected that in an instant, life would never be the same.
“After I got home, all of a sudden my blood pressure went through the roof,” Emily said. “I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.”
Jordan called her OB/GYN, who advised him to take his wife’s blood pressure and get her to the hospital if the top number was over 140.
“My parents rushed to Walmart and bought a blood pressure cuff. It was 200 over something,” he said. “We started driving to Memphis, but decided we’d better stop at the ER closer to home. Within 30 minutes, we were in a helicopter on our way to Regional One Health.”
It was the start of a journey that would be harrowing at times, but that would ultimately lead Emily and Jordan to become parents of a beautiful baby girl and to pay it forward by giving back to other families with babies in Regional One Health’s Sheldon B. Korones Center NICU.
After arriving at Regional One Health, Emily was admitted with preeclampsia, severe high blood pressure brought about by pregnancy.
Until then, it had been a routine, healthy pregnancy. Suddenly, she was being monitored around the clock and informed that she needed to have a C-section at just shy of 28 weeks pregnant.
It was difficult news to hear, but she had confidence in her care: “I was very impressed with my high-risk OB team. They kept her in as long as they could, but eventually they said, ‘It’s time.’”
Scottlyn Rain was born weighing 2 pounds and half an ounce. Emily had to stay in recovery for 24 hours after surgery, so Jordan went to the NICU to be with their daughter.
Going down to the NICU alone as a new dad was scary, but, “They put me at ease. They told me, ‘This is normal here. We get 28-weekers all the time,’” Jordan recalls.
Soon, Emily could join him at Scottlyn’s side. “The first time I saw her, I couldn’t help but cry,” she said. “She looked like she should still be inside me; like she wasn’t ready for the world.”
Emily and Jordan say their medical team went the extra mile to support them.
“Your nurses are your people who really know what you’re going through. Most people can’t totally relate like your nurses can,” Emily said. “We’ve had awesome doctors too. We think very highly of Dr. Paul Molloy. He was optimistic and got us through some scary times with down-to-earth care and concern and by taking the time to explain things well.”
The care they received ultimately inspired Emily to give back to the NICU.
Emily is the owner of Harper & Jade, which sells baby blankets and swaddle wraps made out of buttery-soft fabrics. “I’ve always loved soft fabrics, and every baby needs a cozy blanket,” she said. “I’d always wanted to do something to give back. I talked to one of the nurses about it, and she helped me find a way to help other NICU families.”
Emily extended a special offer: Buy two swaddle wraps, and she would donate one to the NICU. She also let shoppers buy a blanket to donate directly.
Recently, Emily and Jordan presented the NICU with 116 swaddle wraps.
“It’s been super fun to look across the NICU and see a baby wrapped in one of my swaddles!” Emily said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Now, Emily and Jordan are eyeing another big reward: taking Scottlyn home, where she’s sure to live up to the meaning of her name, “abundant blessings from God.”
As the weather warms, Emily is excited to take her daughter outside to experience the spring breeze and sunshine. Jordan looks forward to simply caring for Scottlyn from the comfort of home: “I’m just ready to sit in my own recliner and hold her and give her a bottle,” he said.
When they do head home, they’ll do so knowing they made life in the NICU more comfortable for dozens of babies, and that little Scottlyn has a second family of nurses cheering her on. “The nurses made all the difference for us,” Emily said. “It’s a really hard experience to go through, but they have helped us and supported us every step of the way.”