The Kooiker Twins

I am walking in memory of my twin sons, Aiden Robert Perry and Carson John Kooiker. They were born on December 6th 2013 at 26 weeks. The care they receive in the NICU at MHSM was wonderful. The NICU staff was informative, caring, and compassionate. Unfortunately their lungs were not ready for this world and they passed away the next day 12 hours apart from each other. With their brief presence, they change our world forever, and touched many others. Soon after they died, I was connected with another mother who had also lost her twin girls not long after myself. I was blessed to have met someone that could understand my loss. MHSM brought us together. We both since had another child ( 2 days apart actually, not planned). Caiden is our ‘rainbow baby ‘ daughter who will be attending the walk and is the light of our life.
I have looked for ways to support and show gratitude the NICU staff and the work they all do to help those in a time of need. I am excited to attend and show my unwavering support for this team and the families who’s children are cared for there.

Mason Ellsworth

Mason Ellsworth Wright born 2/20/18 weighing in at 2 pounds 14.5 ounces 16 inches long.

Mason was delivered at St Mary’s at 31 weeks and 2 days due to preeclampsia with special features. As my pregnancy progressed, my placenta matured very quickly an no longer wanted to support the baby. If my heart was not squeezing, blood was not flowing through the cord. My blood pressure also went very high due to the preeclampsia, and was at risk of a stroke or seizure. It was determined that the best option for both of us was to deliver. We spent exactly 7 weeks in the NICU.
During our stay, the staff was more than wonderful! They not only cared for our precious miracle, but they took care of us mentally, physically, and emotionally as well. Staff often asked how we were doing, or made sure we were sleeping, eating, and drinking. They befriended us and comforted us during what seemed like huge set backs. The day Mason got a UTI and had a hard time fighting was one of the worse days. I sat there and watched my boy turn blue, and receive blow by air due. As I sat there and tried to be strong all the while thinking I was going to lose him the nurses were right there to reassure me that they were well trained and he would beat this infection. After 10 days of antibiotics the infection was gone and Mason’s development really started to take off. It was then that he started reaching several milestones. The NICU staff was there to celebrate each one of those milestones with us. Several of the staff became like family to us and will never be forgotten. With out them, I do not know how any of us would have made it through this journey.
By the end of the 7 weeks, Mason had gained 3.5 pounds and weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces at graduation. He continues to grow like a weed and is gaining about 1/2 a pound and 1/2 and inch each week. We are beyond blessed


Our son Ian spent a week in the NICU when he was born due to hypoglycemia. We are so thankful for the staff in the St. Mary’s NICU, and the great care he received there!

Isabella Sue

Isabella was born at 27 weeks 5 days, she was 2 pounds 3 ounces and 100% full of sass! We spent 80 days in the NICU, overcoming apnea and brady issues, getting GERD ( Gastroesophageal reflux disease ) under control, fighting two infections, and her Grade 2 IVH ( Intraventricular Hemorrhage) started to self resolve. We learned so much during our NICU stay, our nurses became family, we strengthened bonds with friends and family and we also lost some friendships. Now, 3 1/2 years later, those 80 days seem like such a small part of Izzy’s life, but it is a time that we will never forget.

Two at 2

Hard to imagine it’s been more than 2 years since our 5 week stay in the nicu with our twins that were born at 31w4d. Our boys are happy, healthy, busy, and too smart for mommas good! They have no delays and are perfect little 2 year olds.

Blake and Brant were born at 4:44 and 4:48am, after a transport from our local hospital to Grand Rapids and a 13 hour induction due to severe preeclampsia.
From the moment I found out we were having twins I was shocked and terrified. My biggest fear was needing to spend time in the NICU. My fear became our reality. I cried for days. I felt guilty for not being able to keep them safe in my womb longer. I felt like I failed them because I couldn’t prevent preeclampsia. I did the best I could for them, and here they were, tiny and fragile, hooked up to tubes and cords. Alarms going off sporadically throughout the room. As the days passed, the boys grew, they needed less and less help. And I began to realize what a blessing the NICU is for families like ours. I’m grateful every day for the phenomenal staff in the NICU. They were understanding, sympathetic, and encouraging. Because of the NICU, I was able to recover from delivery, get my blood pressure under control, and establish an amazing milk supply by pumping every 2 hours without having to worry about my babies. If you are a family just walking into the NICU on the first day, or you’ve been trudging through for what feels like a never ending nightmare, you won’t be there forever. I know it feels like it while you’re there. Before you know it, it’s going to be a distant memory. Keep your head up, look for the positives while you’re there. Someday, you’ll have a story to share with other families that are facing the same emotional phase.
Sending love to fellow NICU families, and all NICU staff.

Our Angel

We had 3 preemie babies, so to say the NICU is like a second home is an understatement. My second pregnancy we found out we were having twins. This has been my dream since I was a little girl. Well these twins were no different then our daughter (32 weeker) and they came at 28 weeks. Landon and Aubree entered the world at 3 lbs 3 oz and 3 lbs 2 oz. Both strong and healthy for their age. However, our happiness turned to tragedy in day 4 of life when it was discovered Aubree had a catastrophic brain bleed that she would not recover from. Aubree was a fighter and lived for 8 days and died in my arms. A piece of my heart will forever be in heaven with my sweet Aubree Mae.