In 2009, Crystal’s second pregnancy was going smooth until one morning when she had bleeding and spotting. At only 29-weeks-pregnant, she was nervous and went to her local hospital. They sent Crystal home and told her that everything was fine and it “just happens.”
Two hours later, Crystal’s water broke and she immediately drove to MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. Miller Children’s & Women’s is the only hospital in the region to offer elite care for expectant mothers and babies under one roof 24/7. With a level IV maternity center and level IV NICU together, both mothers and babies receive the comprehensive, unique care they each need. At other hospitals without these capabilities, the baby may need to be transported to another hospital and away from mom.
She was admitted to the Perinatal Special Care Unit in the Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center. The Perinatal Special Care Unit helps babies continue to grow in the comfort of the womb for as long as possible. It is for women faced with complications at any stage in their pregnancy that may require a hospital stay for several days, weeks, or even months before delivery.
After six days, Crystal’s daughter was born and moved just down the hall to the level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). By delaying delivery for six days after her water broke, Crystal’s daughter had more days to continue developing and growing in the womb. Her daughter was in the NICU for 53 days to grow and get stronger before going home.
“My family didn’t understand why I was frustrated or emotional about my baby being in the NICU, but the nurses were always so understanding,” says Crystal. “It was the ‘little things’ they did. My daughter’s name means princess, and the nurses decorated her isolette with a princess theme. I will forever remember all they did for me.”
During this time, Crystal was a manager at a bank, but after her third baby also was in the NICU at Miller Children’s & Women’s, she wanted to make a change. She decided to go back to school to become a NICU nurse. After five years of school, Crystal became a registered nurse.
While she completed her Bachelor’s degree, she worked at another hospital. On the last day of her program, she applied to be a nurse in the NICU at Miller Children’s & Women’s. About a week later, she received a call to start the interview process and officially joined the team in January 2021.
“The culture in the NICU is still the same as when my babies were here,” says Crystal. “The nurses care not just about the patients, but about each other. I have always felt welcome and we all have the common goal to care for these babies and their families. I don’t wish a NICU experience on any family, but if someone has it, I hope they go to Miller Children’s & Women’s. I want to be the person to do the ‘little things’ for their family.”