'So much love and empathy': Mom shares birth story, NICU experience

Shaquita McLellan’s first three pregnancies were relatively normal: She delivered her babies and was home within the next two days. Her fourth pregnancy was a completely different experience – and one that has left her with immense gratitude for all of the Stamford Health staff who participated in her care, from the nurses to the security staff.

Shaquita was just 24 weeks pregnant when she noticed that her blood pressure, which she had been tracking at home, was unusually high. She called her doctor who advised her to head to the Stamford Hospital emergency department. She arrived at the hospital thinking it would be quick visit and she’d be home soon.

“I ended up being at Stamford Health for almost two months,” Shaquita shared. “It was a week-to-week assessment (of my health) and I didn’t know when I’d be going home. I was overwhelmed, but the doctors made sure I was OK every day. They brought a gift bag with masks, footies, and a puzzle … I got so much love.”

Shaquita was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, Sjogren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disease), and anxiety. When she was admitted at just 24 weeks pregnant, doctors hoped to keep a close eye on her and monitor her health. At about 29 weeks, Shaquita’s blood pressure rose dramatically again, and her care team decided they needed to deliver her baby via Cesarean section.

“I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

Baby Naivy was delivered on Dec. 26, 2021, at just 2 pounds 11 ounces.

“She was so tiny,” Shaquita remembers. “When I went to the NICU to see her, I couldn’t hold her because she was so small. But the NICU nurses, her aunties, took such good care of her and were so patient with us. I always felt that she was cared for when I couldn’t be there myself.”

The Stamford Health nurses sent Shaquita pictures every day and constantly kept her updated on Naivy’s progress.

While Shaquita was allowed to go home a few days after delivery, Naivy stayed in the NICU for another four weeks. Shaquita was able to visit anytime and made sure to be there every day for all of Naivy’s feedings.

Shaquita and her fiancé, Glenn, were surprised by Naivy’s early arrival and didn’t have time to get all the necessary baby gear. Thankfully, the Stamford Health team came together to support the family and help them get everything they needed to prepare for Naivy’s return home.

On Jan. 31, 2022, Naivy was allowed to go home. She weighed 4 pounds 9 ounces and has continued to progress. Today, she weighs a little over 10 pounds and is smiling and starting to laugh.

“All of my pregnancies were great, but this was the most memorable one,” Shaquita said. “I got so much love and so much empathy. I’m so appreciative of everyone at Stamford Health – everyone showed up … They gave us moral and emotional support ... I’m so thankful for the hospital and thankful my daughter is healthy.”

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