Parents with hospitalized babies can watch them from miles away

When first-time parents Kay and Jesse Clark learned their daughter would be born 15 weeks early, they had a decision to make.

“We couldn’t agree on a name,” Jesse said. “We both had our top-choice names picked out, and neither of us would budge.”

The couple didn’t want their baby, who would have to fight for her life, to be born nameless — so they put their heads together, and Kay finally revealed her second pick.

“She said, ‘How about Amelia?’ and I couldn’t believe it — that was my second choice,” Jesse said.

On Dec. 21, Kay gave birth to Amelia, after 24 weeks and six days of gestation. Amelia's placenta was attacking Kay's liver, and they had no choice but to deliver premature. 

Amelia has been in the Bryan Health Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 113 days, and both of her parents had to return home to Wahoo for work.

But with a new piece of technology acquired through the Git-R-Done Foundation, the Clarks can keep watch of Amelia even when they’re not around.

The Angel Eye Camera System provides a 24/7 live video stream to parents whose babies are in the NICU. The camera is placed above their bassinet and can be moved around the baby's room. The average stay for a baby in the NICU is about 14 to 16 days. Ten to 15 percent of newborn babies get placed in NICU.

The Clarks and their extended family have benefited from the cameras since their installation three weeks ago.

“I can be at work and get on my phone on break and watch Amelia,” Jesse said. “It’s great.”

Jesse has watched nurses play, cuddle and care for Amelia from 40 miles away, while Kay watches Amelia as she pumps milk from home.

“It was very tough leaving her, but it’s helpful to have the option to go back to work, or just leave for fresh air and food, but you can still see her,” Kay said.

It takes just a few seconds for the Clarks to log into the system from their phone or computer to pull up video of Amelia. They’ve also given video access to family members in Delaware and New Mexico.

Laurie Ketterl, nurse manager of the NICU, said they have 23 camera systems. Currently, there are 19 babies in the NICU.

Amelia may get to leave the hospital around Easter, and her parents now appreciate her name more than they expected.

“A lot of people have told us Amelia is a strong name,” Jesse said. “It’s a suiting name for a girl who’s gone through what she’s going through.”