March 8, 2019

UAMS Delivers Christmas Gift

Michelle Stilwell and Maggie Jane Nichols

Michelle Stilwell and Maggie Jane Nichols

Michelle Stilwell and Jamey Nichols of Osceola got their Christmas wish when they took their infant daughter home just days before the holiday. Little Maggie Jane Nichols had spent 108 days in the hospital by then. Stilwell was just 23 weeks pregnant when she went into labor Sept. 24.

“My obstetrician in West Memphis called the hospital in Memphis pleading with them to take me. They refused because they didn’t consider my baby a viable life at 23 weeks.” After three attempts by phone to talk to the closer hospital into taking Michelle, her physician called UAMS. “They said, ‘come on down’ and I was taken there by helicopter. Jamey and I were scared to death,” she said.

When Stilwell arrived at UAMS, “There were so many people that came in. I was by myself because Jamey had to drive, but they took such good care of me. There must have been about 20 doctors and nurses that came rushing in. It was overwhelming.” Within an hour after she arrived at UAMS, Stilwell gave birth to Maggie Jane who weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce.

Maggie Jane was more than a month old before her parents got to hold her for the first time and then it was only for a minute. By the time she was discharged she weighed more than 4 pounds and her parents were able to hold her as long as they wanted.

The care at UAMS, said Stilwell, has been wonderful. “The nurses in the NICU are so caring and you can tell they love what they do,” she said. “They really keep you informed and treat you so well. The doctors are the same way. We saw so many, but they all remembered us. We would be walking down the hallway in the hospital and they would stop us and ask us how we were doing.”

Because Stilwell and Nichols couldn’t be with Maggie Jane all the time, the nurses in NICU took pictures of her and kept a daily journal for them. “They let us phone the NICU anytime of the day or night,” said Stilwell, “and they would put the phone up to her bassinet so we could talk to her and listen to her coo.”

While Maggie Jane was hospitalized her parents stayed at the UAMS Family Home in Little Rock to be close to her. The couple has two other children, Hannah, 17, and Matthew, 5, and they stayed in Osceola with family. “The staff in the UAMS neonatal intensive care unit asked us if we wanted to move the baby to a hospital closer to home, but we declined,” Stilwell said. “We wouldn’t trust anyone else with her. UAMS was there for us when others turned us away, and without the doctors and nurses there we wouldn’t have Maggie Jane.”