Born at 24 weeks, 'miracle' baby now home with family in Oceanside
Clinique Brundidge Jingles stands next to a crib in Rady Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) reading to her daughter Sienna. Her husband Brager leans on the opposite side of the crib with a smile on his face.
"It’s a mommy holding her little baby with a pigeon," Clinique said softly to Sienna. "They’re having so much fun — just like we’re going to have with you when you come home."
The Jingles have been by Sienna's side in the NICU for more than a 100 days, after she was born early at 24 weeks. A full-term pregnancy is about 40 weeks.
"I called (Brager) and I said, 'I'm on the road — it's raining — I'm driving to the hospital right now because I think we're going to have this baby,'" Clinique said. "His reaction was, 'Oh no you’re not having the baby right now it’s too soon,' and I said, 'Get to the hospital right now we’re having this baby.'"
Brager was at work in Riverside County when he got the news.
"I’m like 'what it’s too early what do you mean — it’s not the right time,'" he said.
The couple said the last few months have been a rollercoaster. Sienna was delivered weighing only one pound nine ounces. Since then mom, dad or other family members have been by her side every day.
"It’s has been fear, love, apprehension, excitement," Clinique said.
Rady Children's Hospital is honoring NICU families and the medical staff who support them in September, part of NICU Awareness Month.
The Jingles had no idea what to expect after the surprise of their daughter's early arrival — including the bills. They estimate the cost of Sienna’s care to be near $1,000,000, but because they have health insurance they are only expecting to pay about $3,000.
It is the ups and downs the couple said are the hardest for NICU parents, especially when there are complications. Sienna has undergone multiple procedures and had a breathing tube at one point.
"Because she wasn’t doing well — I wasn’t doing well," Clinique said. "I was emotional, I was sad. I could see her struggling to breathe and she was fighting and fighting and there was nothing I could do about it but watch her fight."
Doctors told them to trust the process, but as first-time parents, that was not easy initially.
"Trying to figure out what’s the medication, what are these procedures, who are you, why is there a different nurse every day, who is the doctor, what time do they come," Clinique said.
Sienna has been ahead of schedule and gaining weight quicker than expected. The Jingles said being NICU parents is tough — but they do have some advice.
"From parent-to-parent I would tell someone: hang in there," Clinique said. "It may take longer than you expect, but every day is important. Still have hope. Bring positive energy to the room as much as possible. And if you’re having a bad day just compose yourself and get that positive energy because your baby can feel it. They tell you that, but it’s real, let me tell you, our baby is a miracle and it’s real."
Because she was born so early, Sienna may have some developmental delays, but her future is bright. After interviewing the Jingles for this story Sienna was released from the intensive care unit and is now at home with her family.