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Amaris Lourdes Arredondo

Growing up in the NICU - 88 days, 2 pounds 15 ounces to 7 pounds 13 ounces

February 08, 2024
Amaris Lourdes Arredondo, NICU baby with parents


After a long inpatient stay and her little girl, Amaris, now in the world, Feve Coronado was tearful leaving HCA Florida Brandon Hospital. Her husband, Jose, was by Feve’s side every step of the journey just as he had been through her high-risk pregnancy.

Although Feve was upset to leave Amaris at Brandon Hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), she knew in her heart that she was in good hands. Amaris was born on February 10, 2023, at just 2 pounds 15 ounces. She would have a tough road ahead of her, full of ups and downs. Although the path forward would not be easy, her parents were too in love with their daughter not to feel blessed and hopeful.

Shona Husbands, Feve’s Perinatal Nurse Navigator, who was with her from the first visit to the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) department at Brandon Hospital shared, “Feve and her husband were picked for this baby. They will give Amaris everything that she needs. They were hand-picked for her.”

Respiratory failure at birth

Brandon Hospital’s NICU had been preparing for the arrival of Amaris during Feve’s high-risk pregnancy. During an ultrasound, it was identified that Feve had lost her amniotic fluid prior to 18 weeks, which further complicated her pregnancy.

“We were anticipating that once Amaris was born, because of the mom's low fluid, the lungs would likely not be as developed as they should be. So, we were very worried about respiratory failure immediately at birth, which she did have,” said Dr. Kelly Driver, neonatologist at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital. 

“We knew she may not survive delivery. Let alone the NICU stay,” said Dr. Driver. “It was a difficult transition from the womb to the outside world. In the first few minutes of her life, she needed a breathing tube and oxygen to survive.”

“She was on full mechanical ventilation support with respiratory failure, meaning the machines were doing all the work for her, for her breathing. She was on a lot of oxygen. She was on some extra medications that helped her lungs and her heart. Early on, she was very sick. She showed improvement slowly as she grew and developed. We were all very happy with how she progressed,” said Dr. Driver. 

At 4 days – off breathing tube

Miraculously, at four days old, Amaris’s breathing tube was removed in the NICU. “We weren’t sure if her lungs were going to work. Due to the lack of amniotic fluid, her lung tissue was not able to grow normally and she was born preterm,” said Dr. Driver. “She had a lot of growing to do in the NICU. And, thankfully, she thrived.”

Amaris was given a special diet to encourage growth via a PICC line, a special type of IV that is typical for preterm babies. 

Making progress

Another major milestone for babies born so prematurely is learning to feed by mouth and transition from IV nutrition.

At Brandon Hospital, caregivers encourage family-centered care. Feve stayed at the hospital and gave Amaris her bottles to encourage her to feed by mouth. Dr. Driver shared Feve’s words, “I think she [Amaris] can do it.” Shortly after, Amaris pulled out the feeding tube and started eating 100% on her own. Amaris continued to beat the odds. 

Due to the lack of amniotic fluid in the womb prior to birth, Amaris was not able to float and move her limbs freely. The lack of mobility created muscle stiffness later identified in the NICU. Occupational therapists began to work with Amaris to strengthen her muscles. Physicians identified that the early treatment would aid her muscle development as she grows.

Feve and Jose learned that Amaris struggled to hear through testing, while in the NICU. Today, she wears a helmet to help with torticollis, which is tight or shortened neck muscles, a condition she developed in the womb. Undoubtedly, these challenges will be overcome with Amaris’s strong will and her parent’s support.

Discharge & reunion

On discharge day, after Feve had an extended hospital stay and their baby was in the NICU for 88 days, the Arredondo family was ready to go home. At discharge, Amaris weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces on May 9, 2023. She more than doubled her birth weight.

Now, happily at home, Amaris has settled into this big sports-loving family with her adoring cousins and extended family nearby. Feve shares that her husband is “a great dad, very hands-on.”

Feve, Jose and Amaris recently returned to Brandon Hospital. “The nurses and the doctors were really good to us. They made us feel like we were family,” said Feve, reminiscing about their stay.

Caregivers were pleased to see Amaris and the family doing so well. “We wanted to introduce her [Amaris] to important people to us. They are a part of our lives now. It feels kind of special to see them holding her,” said Feve.

“It fills my heart with joy to see her thriving and meeting milestones that we don't usually get to see in the NICU because babies that go home from the NICU aren't developmentally ready to talk, make sounds and stand up. It is wonderful to see Amaris do all of that,” said Dr. Driver.

Elyse Fahey, OB Coordinator and registered nurse for Women’s Services, who supported Feve while she was being cared for in the hospital, surprised Feve. “Every day, she allowed me to be a part of her life. I shared things with her about my life. We have a connection,” said Elyse.

Feve and Jose said they believe it is important to see the positive in everything and they want that way of thinking to rub off on their daughter. Despite the challenges, Feve and Jose say Amaris is perfect.

Feve looks to the future and shared what she hopes for Amaris, “To be a good person. Be kind to others. And to be proud of herself and what she has overcome.”

Brandon Hospital’s Level III NICU

Brandon Hospital’s Level III NICU opened in February of 2021, a $16.5 million expansion project. The 36-bed NICU offers specialty medical equipment and advanced care. Our neonatologists and maternal-fetal medicine specialists are available 24/7 to care for infants who need additional support after labor and delivery. The NICU provides a healing environment for babies born prematurely or with health complications. Our caregivers practice family-centered care by working with families to provide your baby the love and support they need to get well. Specialized infant beds are designed to transform from an incubator to a crib as your child grows and gains strength.

Read about Feve’s high-risk pregnancy journey.

Feve and Shona
Amaris Lourdes Arredondo being treated in the NICU
Amaris Lourdes Arredondo, NICU baby, next to stats chalkboard, about to be discharged
Amaris Lourdes Arredondo NICU baby in Christmas dress, portrait photo
Amaris and Dr. Driver
Amaris and Elyse
February 08, 2024
HCA Florida Brandon Hospital

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