STRATFORD – Dina Castelluccio and Heather Adzima knew they wanted lots of kids when they got married. They began the journey right away.
“We started the fertility treatment. We were trying together at the same time,” explains Heather of this unique approach.
She became pregnant first and delivered Bodhi without issue.
A few months later, it was Dina’s turn to carry a baby, but the birth was very different.
“It was very fast. She was 1 pound, 1 ounce, could fit in the palm of your hand,” explains Dina.
Due to a placenta problem, little River was born at 27 weeks. The couple says it was hard to feel anything but fear.
“You hear about preemie babies but this was a whole other level, she was a micro-preemie,” says Dina. “I didn’t even know that was a term.”
River is 6 months old now, still in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Bridgeport Hospital, where the staff is now like family.
“The NICU nurses are angels, actual angels,” says Dina, noting that one nurse made a special book, detailing River’s progress, for the family.
“It feels like Groundhog Day,” says Heather, of the daily visits to the hospital, especially challenging during the pandemic.
“There’s so much guilt about leaving her, she’s our baby,” says Dina. “It’s letting go of the idea of what you thought being a parent or childbirth was, for me.”
Connection with other NICU families through groups like Tiny Miracles is key.
“There’s a lot of ‘I wish’ that happens, like when we like take (Bodhi) to the beach, I wish our daughter was with us,” says Heather.
Hoping wishes become reality…now that River is over 9 pounds and making strides despite lung disease.
“It’s like she’s looking into your soul,” says Heather of River.
The couple feels lucky that their intuitive girl has persevered and can’t wait to welcome her home.
“There will be joy now in the little milestones the babies are reaching but it’s really staying present for your baby and yourself,” says Heather.
River will likely leave the NICU with a feeding tube and oxygen but her parents hope she sees her room and her own crib in the next two months.
Click here to learn more about NICU Awareness Month which takes place every September.