Opalyn Nicholson and her mom, Evangeline Ortega, have spent countless hours caring for sick babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Mainland Campus in Galloway Township, where they are both nurses.
But for nine weeks they had to step aside as their co-workers took care of Opalyn’s daughter, Layla, born at just 30 weeks June 18 and weighing 2 pounds, 12 ounces. Nicholson had developed preeclampsia — a dangerous high blood pressure during pregnancy — and had an emergency C-section.
“I had to stop being a nurse, and thinking of every possibility,” said Nicholson, 31, of Mays Landing, who has been a NICU nurse for about two years.
In the early weeks, Layla had a rocky road, particularly when she was still on a ventilator, Nicholson said.
“But I was happy she was in good hands,” she said. “I probably couldn’t have asked for a better situation, with my friends and co-workers, and my mom.”
Hospital rules did not allow Ortega, a veteran NICU nurse with more than 30 years of experience, to be the one caring for her granddaughter, said Ortega, of Egg Harbor Township. But she kept an eye on her.
The Center for Childbirth at ARMC’s Mainland Campus is home to the region’s only NICU, spokesman Frank Tedesco said.
Layla is now 5 pounds, 2 ounces, and has been home for more than a week, joining big sister Mya, 22 months; and dad Chad, 35, a UPS driver in Atlantic City. She is doing well, said Nicholson, who expects the experience will make her a better nurse.
“Parents go through so many different emotions,” she said. “Now, I’ve been there.”
Oakcrest Wall of Famers
Four graduates soon will be added to the Oakcrest High School Athletic Wall of Fame. They are Steven Johnson, Class of 1980, for football, baseball and community leader; Michael Warker, Class of 1999, for football, baseball and track; Erica Bell-Henry, Class of 2004, for basketball; and Danielle Hagel, Class of 2006, for soccer, basketball and softball. All are Mays Landing residents except Hagel, who lives in Egg Harbor City.
An induction dinner will be held at 4:45 p.m. Sept. 28 at Mays Landing Golf and Country Club. For more information, call 609-625-1462.
Sea Isle’s Got Talent results
The students of Dance Dynamics Dance Studio in Seaville, Upper Township, placed second in the 2012 Sea Isle City’s Got Talent Contest on Aug. 17 at the Band Shell. Valerie West, 10, of Broomall, Pa., came in first; and Christian Foti, 17, of Galloway Township, tied for third with Selena Marie, 12, of Maple Shade, Burlington County.
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