Margot Shwery was born on Nov. 18, 2016, on the fourth floor of East Jefferson General Hospital (EJGH) after what was considered an unusually rocky pregnancy.
The child of Matt and Aimee Shwery of New Orleans weighed in at a paltry 1-pound, 12 ounces after just 28 weeks and five days in the womb. Under the experienced care of Dr. Stephen Champlin and a slew of vigilant nurses, Margot arrived via emergency C-section at just seven months gestation due to lack of growth and poor blood flow to the umbilical cord.
After six weeks of bed rest in the Labor and Delivery wing, the Shwery’s were beyond elated to welcome their daughter into the world. And although the delivery exceeded all expectations for Dr. Champlin and the new parents, Margot was still going to have a lengthy stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to ensure her weight, nutrition, temperature and breathing all improved enough to make life at home bearable and safe.
Where most new families make the nerve-wracking drive back home from the hospital with mom, dad and a baby in tow, Matt and Aimee made that trek alone, leaving behind Margot in the NICU. The incubator, nurses and doctors played keep on the premature newborn for the next 48 days, making for an emotional roller coaster over the next seven weeks for the parents back home.
“She received ‘food’ via an IV line through her belly button and later fed through a tube in her nose,” said Aimee. “The isolette she was in initially was very swamp-like, humid and warm. It was scary to see her hooked up to so many wires and monitors.”
Traditionally, the only way to check the status of a newborn in the NICU was through daily visits, which can be draining for mom and dad, or via phone calls, which were limited in both timeliness and in the ability to make an emotional connection.
But thanks to new technologies at EJGH and the generosity of its Foundation and its community; parents now have a third option: the Angel Eye Camera system.
Perched above an infant’s incubator, the small webcam provides a 24/7 stream, allowing parents and families to see and interact with their baby in the NICU via live video and direct, one-way audio. It works by having a user log into a secure account from their laptop, tablet or smart phone and promotes bonding between parents and their premature babies, who sometimes have to stay in the hospital for weeks or months.
EJGH is just the 25th hospital in the nation to install the system, which has been around since 2013, and brings it in thanks to the East Jefferson General Hospital Foundation’s Inspire Grants Program. The competitive grants program, Inspire, is designed to distribute charitable contributions in support of the mission of East Jefferson General Hospital. Through this program, all team members and physicians of the hospital have the opportunity to inspire innovation and collaboration and to enhance the expert medicine and extraordinary care delivered at EJGH.
It was through this grant that the Woman and Newborn department, as well as the Shwery’s, came to benefit through the Angel Eye camera system, which was installed in late 2016.
“The Angel Eye cameras truly helped to provide reassurance to us during an incredibly stressful time,” said Aimee. “The webcam also allowed us to share the joys of having a new baby with our family - laughing at her funny faces, sharing in her growth - even while she was quarantined away in the NICU.
“We were able to share the login information with our immediate family, and they enjoyed checking in on Margot as much as we did. This was especially nice for Matt's family, who lives in Iowa and could not visit as frequently as they would have liked.”
Margot was even able to join the family on Thanksgiving, streaming live at the dinner table, allowing the family to relish both the holiday, and their baby, while raising the spirits of all involved.
“The nurses even had a little fun with it and would leave funny notes for us in the incubator,” added Aimee. “We called it MargotTV, our own little Truman Show. Although we were there daily, the Angel Eye camera was helpful from the very start. It allowed us to be able to see her whenever we wanted, day or night. I don't know how we would have survived without it.”
Margot Shwery was discharged happy and healthy one day shy of turning 7-weeks old and has been home resting, bonding and growing with her new family.
Through the perils and ups-and-downs of life in the NICU, East Jefferson General Hospital is pleased to provide families with a sense of normalcy and a tool to cope with the otherwise taxing circumstances.
To learn more about the services provided by the EJGH Woman and Newborn department or the Foundation’s Inspire program, visit EJGH.org.