Roberto Sosa, M.D., wanted to see the babies.
As medical director of the International Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Sosa had cared for many newborns who live in his native Guatemala.
“He wanted to see his babies–my daughter just happened to be one of them, so I said, ‘I understand! I’ll try and do it!’” says Michelle, the mother of Alexia.
Michelle organized a yearly “Preemie Party” to allow patients and families to come together to have fun and celebrate their common bond: All of them were transported to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, where they were treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“We are surrounded by miracles here, yeah,” says Claudia, who is the mom of 2-year-old Natalia.
All of the little miracles are now running, jumping and playing. The event includes inflatables, face painting and games, and organizers added a teddy bear clinic this year.
“I played pirates with my new friends and I went in that wheel thing a lot, and it was a really fun time,” says 8-year-old Alexia.
“I think the teddy bear clinic was an amazing addition,” Michelle says, “so having more interactive elements, I think for the kids, it will be a lot more fun.”
The party allows families to reunite with Sosa and share their own touching journey with others who understand.
“She’s very smart,” Claudia says about Natalia. “She’s fun. She’s happy. She’s outgoing.”
Claudia is so proud of Natalia, who was born at just 3 pounds.
“I felt like my world was dropping,” she says. “It was very scary. I didn’t know if she was going to make it or not. And all of the Johns Hopkins team, since they came to Guatemala, were so helpful.”
Now she is 2 years old and up-to-speed on her developmental milestones, just like baby Katia, who is enjoying her first time at the preemie party.
“I’m just really grateful and I love this opportunity to meet other families that went through the same thing,” says Katia’s mom, Paula. “I’m just so happy that everything turned out great for us.”
But it was a scary journey for this first-time mom.
“We found out that I was going to have a complicated pregnancy because of my blood type,” Paula says. “And Katia and I aren’t compatible.”
Paula was closely monitored, and doctors discovered that Katia had become anemic.
“It was stressful, I had to stay in St. Petersburg the whole month before she was born,” Paula explains.
Paula delivered Katia in St. Petersburg so she could be cared for in the NICU at Johns Hopkins All Children’s right away. Today, Katia is doing great.
“She’s a really, really, really happy girl, she smiles all the time, she waves at everyone, and she’s just like ready to discover the world,” Paula says.
Ready to discover the world just like all of the other kids at the party, who started off fighting for their life. Now for Katia, one of the youngest here, it’s time to live life.
“And I’m just excited! For this great adventure!” says Paula, as baby Katia, smiles, waves and giggles in agreement.