Section: Saint Barnabas Medical Center News

One Tough Trio: Triplets Now Thriving Thanks to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center


Though born 17 weeks premature, triplets are now thriving thanks to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

Eight years ago, Mary-Jo and Robert bacon were in one of the worst situations new parents can find themselves in. their triplets were born on November 3, 2008, 17 weeks premature—daughter Colbea and sons Chase and Cooper each weighed less than 1.5 pounds. Their eyes were still fused, and their skin was translucent. “They were hard to look at, being so fragile,” Mary-Jo says. “We were given some grim statistics on their survival.” Doctors told the parents that the chance of just one of the babies surviving was no more than 20 percent.

Thanks to the care provided by neonatologists at Saint Barnabas Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), all three babies beat the odds. And the Monroe township family, which already had an 11-month-old son, Tyler, couldn’t be more thankful. When Mary-Jo went into early contractions, she was given a monitor to wear at home. “At 23 weeks it notified the nursing staff that I was having lots of contractions, and to get to the hospital,” she says. They later learned that Colbea had an infection, caused by a perforated intestine, which likely prompted the premature labor.

In fact, each baby had health problems. Chase’s lungs were weak, and he was on a ventilator the longest. “I couldn’t hold him for six weeks,” Mary-Jo says. Cooper would not eat and had retina problems, and he would remain in the NICU the longest. All the children had bleeding on their brain and needed multiple transfusions. Colbea needed ostomy surgery to repair her intestine when she was just 5 days old and down to 1.2 pounds, another surgery a month later and a third to reverse the ostomy before she came home.

“Everyone in the NICU went above and beyond what you expect,” she says. “After a while, the nurses would call me ‘Mare’ and tell me what to expect when we came in. They would say ‘here’s my boy, here’s my girl,’ like they were their own. When I saw a nurse holding my child it made me happy because I couldn’t be there all the time. They would see the kids at the follow-ups and say, ‘The miracle continues.’”

Now they are perfectly healthy, doing well in school and playing all kinds of sports. “Colbea is into girly stuff, dressing up in glittery things,” Mary-Jo says. “Chase is the funny one, my comedian, and he likes to sing. Cooper is more the engineer type, feisty, with a temper. He is small but no one messes with him. They are thriving more than any of us would have expected.”

About The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Since 1978, the Saint Barnabas Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has been providing specialized care for New Jersey’s smallest and sickest babies. As a level III Regional Perinatal Center, the NICU offers the latest treatments and modalities in the field to provide the most advanced care for more than 1,200 premature and ill newborns each year.

When a premature infant enters the world at Saint Barnabas, he or she immediately receives medical care by an attending neonatologist in the delivery room and later in the NICU. There are neonatologists in-house at all times (eight in the day time and two at night) ready to deliver the best possible medical care. As a result, the survival rate of the smallest and sickest babies is high and the morbidity rate is low compared to national and international data.

Mothers who are at high risk for complications during pregnancy come to Saint Barnabas Medical Center for our specialized prenatal care and take comfort in the fact that, if their baby needs special care after birth, the SBMC NICU is among the best in the country and is equipped to diagnose and treat a variety of problems.

Under the direction of dual board-certified neonatologists and staffed by specialized neonatal intensive care nurses, the NICU Team works together to meet the common goal of providing safe, quality care. Specialists in other pediatric subspecialties are available for prompt consultation and care, as are physical therapists, social workers, respiratory therapists and pharmacists. Parents are encouraged to participate in their baby's care.

A team of social workers meet with each NICU family and offers a variety of family-centered programming, including a NICU Support Group. Following discharge, high-risk NICU babies are seen on an outpatient basis by the neonatologists in the High-Risk Infant Follow-Up Program. A developmental psychologist is also on staff for follow-up of overall developmental status.

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