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|The Swenson Family Children,
SAKT 2019 Ambassadors,
were all born at CHI St. Alexius Health.
The CHI St. Alexius Family Became Our Family
When Nate and Becca Swenson of Mandan were planning to begin their family, the idea of having many children came to fruition as they grew to better understand God’s Will for them to be more open to life. However, throughout the six labors, births, and hospital stays that were to come, they became happily surprised to realize their family would grow to also include CHI St. Alexius Health’s Mom/Baby and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurses.
In 2007, Nate and Becca were preparing for the birth of their first child. Like many expecting mothers before her, towards the end of the last trimester Becca was counting down the days until her son, Andrew, made his grand appearance. On December 13, 2007, Andrew was born three weeks before his due date.
“As first time parents, we had no idea what to expect and were somewhat oblivious to what was to come,” said Becca. “We were excited to become a family of three but did not anticipate an extended stay at the hospital after our son was born.”
“Andrew stayed in the NICU for eight days after my wife was discharged,” said Nate. “These few days seemed like an eternity, but we knew we were in good hands at CHI St. Alexius Health. The nurses not only cared for our son while he was in the NICU, but they cared about Becca and I as they helped us navigate our first days of parenting.”
Nate and Becca continued to add to their family by welcoming Lainey, Levi and Nora.
“When Lainey and Levi were born, the experience with them was much different as they were our only two children that were able to stay in the nursery,” said Nate. “It was just amazing to keep them in our room with us and have the chance to hold them right away.”
When Lainey and Levi weren’t in Nate and Becca’s room, they were being cared for by the nurses in the nursery. When Nate and Becca’s family would bring Andrew up to the nursery to visit, Nate fondly recalls holding Andrew up to the window so he could see Lainey; and then when Levi was born, holding both Andrew and Lainey up to the window to welcome their new brother. “The nurses were always so gentle and caring, and it was fun to listen to the lullaby overhead and know the lullaby was for our newest family member,” said Nate.
In 2016, the Swenson’s learned they would welcome their fifth child in 2017. This pregnancy was nothing out of the ordinary. However, at about 27 weeks, the Swenson’s learned there was something wrong and a few weeks later, John, was born at 30 weeks weighing in at just over three pounds. Although Nate and Becca had experienced early deliveries with their first and fourth child, they were not prepared to spend 80 days in the NICU while undergoing the ups and downs and endless complications their son had to endure.
“Our faith in God, frequent visits to the chapel and the nurses caring for our son are the reason we made it through one of the most vulnerable times of our lives,” said Nate. “This time we had four young kids at home so it was difficult to always be with John, but the nurses and staff continued to offer the support we needed and were our extended family during this time, loving our son and nurturing him to health.”
The Mom/Baby nurses were also incredibly important to Becca during the times when her babies were in the NICU as they were the nurses that cared for her while she recovered. “When Nora was born, Becca was in recovery in the Mom/Baby area. The nurses knew Becca wanted to be with her new baby and they were so helpful to make sure Becca could get to the NICU. There was one time when the nurses wheeled Becca’s entire bed to the NICU, just so she could hold Nora,” Nate recalls.
Nate and Becca never questioned which hospital to go to for their medical care. They now have six children, all of whom were born at CHI St. Alexius Health, and they often stop by to visit their extended family - the nurses. “It was always nice to hear the little, adorable voices coming down the hall, ready to see their new sibling,” said Amy Dion-Rader, Clinical Supervisor for Children’s/NICU. “They are such a loving family that when the next baby came the kids were always in awe. To watch their reactions to their new sibling was heartwarming and rewarding for us nurses; and it’s also fun to see the children as they grow. Welcoming the new baby that’s born and seeing how the siblings have changed and developed - it’s very special.”
Although each experience for the Swenson family has been unique in its own way, they attribute the health and wellness of each and every one of their children to the health care they received in their first days and every day in between at CHI St. Alexius Health.
“When we were asked to be the 2019 St. Alexius Kickball Ambassador family we knew we wanted to do it,” said Becca. “The nurses and staff have done such an amazing job caring for all of our children and our family. We believe it’s important to shine light on the great work they do, and we want to give back so they can have every tool to take care of future babies.”
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