When a baby is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), there are certain development milestones they must hit before they go home. Milestones like gaining weight, feeding well, and passing screenings. All successes are monumental for babies in the NICU, but the ultimate milestone is going home. At MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, NICU patients receive a full graduation ceremony, complete with NICU-sized knitted graduation caps and diplomas.

Following graduation tradition, the graduate and their family arrives on “stage” after a procession of their physician and primary nurse to the “Pomp and Circumstance March” performed by one of our music therapists. After a commencement speech by their physician, the graduate is given a “diploma” by their nurse showing their growth during their time in the NICU.

Last month, Quinn Elizabeth and her family participated in this ceremony. Born at 26 weeks, Quinn was admitted to the NICU weighing only 1 lb. 13 oz. After 140 days, her family celebrated her graduation from the NICU, including her new weight of 10 lbs.

“We are very proud of Quinn and her parents for everything they’ve accomplished during their time in the NICU,” says Rebekah Halpern, PA-C, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “After five long months in the NICU, Quinn is finally going home. We’re so excited for them to start this next chapter.”

At 23 weeks, Amanda’s (Quinn’s mom) water broke and she was admitted to the Perinatal Special Care Unit in the Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s. Amanda was on bedrest for three weeks before Quinn was born. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists are available on-site 24/7 to assist in complex pregnancies and high-risk deliveries, so when the need arises, patients get the highest level maternity care.

When Quinn was born, she was immediately taken to the NICU, just down the hall from the Perinatal Special Care Unit. At other hospitals without the capabilities to care for both mom and baby, Quinn would’ve needed to be transported to another hospital, and away from mom. At Miller Children’s & Women’s, Amanda and Quinn both received the specialized care they needed under one roof.

“We’ve been through a lot,” says Amanda. “We had a lot of moments where we were afraid, but overall we felt confident that we were going to get through this. We felt confident in the care we were receiving. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without everybody. For some reason, this was the path we were meant to go on, and we know that she’s going to do great things.”