Elissa Anthony

Morgans Mission

Fundraising for Allegheny Health Network
raised of US$16,500 target


The birth of a child is among life’s most beautiful miracles. Anticipation for the baby’s arrival mounts with each passing week until joy and celebration can finally welcome the precious newborn. But what happens when complications arise and all does not go as planned? 

Take a moment to imagine yourself in the shoes of the expectant mother who doesn’t experience an easy pregnancy: 

Imagine waking up at 37 weeks pregnant and realizing your baby has stopped moving. A phone call to your doctor results in an ambulance ride to a bigger hospital that can help your baby in distress. An immediate C-section delivers a silent, unresponsive newborn. It feels like an eternity as the care team performs CPR on your infant who is not breathing. Choked-back tears are desperately waiting to hear the wail of the child you’ve been waiting to hold since conception. 

Or imagine at 26 weeks pregnant, you awaken from a deep sleep with a strong contraction. You try to convince yourself that you are experiencing Braxton Hicks. However, the reality that you are in labor comes when an hour of increasingly painful contractions and the inability to walk results in your husband calling 911 and your tiny, fragile baby being born in an ambulance en route to the hospital.  

I am a mother who faced such trauma. My son, Morgan, was born unresponsive and needed life-saving resuscitation. He had no blood flow or oxygen during the two minutes the doctors frantically performed CPR. I barely got a glimpse of my newborn son before he was whisked away to the NICU unit for the support he needed. After several hours of waiting, the caring staff wheeled my bed to his room that night for my aching heart that desperately needed to see him. 

After a few days, I was discharged, but Morgan was much too fragile to consider allowing him to come home yet. My blankets and I relocated to the NICU, where I spent many hours standing over his incubator, praying he would live. Numerous wires and his extreme sensitivity to movement forbade me to hold him. Through singing and talking to him and gently rubbing his head, I did all I could to let my little one know I was with him. I took hundreds of photos of my struggling baby, “just in case.” 

This newborn’s mother learned to read all his vitals on the screens, ventilator, and the nitrous tank, watching like a hawk for any signs of trouble. My resting place was a plastic couch in his room, not allowing any chance of something happening to him during a time I was not there. Remorse for being absent during an emergency was an agony I was unwilling to add to my hurting incision and already hurting emotions. I needed to stay strong for my Morgan. 

My precious baby finally began making progress. His ventilator was removed and he was slowly being weaned off some medications. I was never more prepared for anything in my life when I was asked if I was ready to hold Morgan on his 7th day of life.  

I was unaware at the time, but my room was one of two that had new chairs. The chair was amazing! It had soft leather, automated reclining and footrest, and deep, wide armrests. It was perfect. When Morgan began having seizures the following day, the chair was perfectly accommodating for holding him while he was hooked up to the EEG wires (we discovered he has Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, which is brain damage from the lack of oxygen and blood flow to his brain at birth). Once the seizures were under control, the chair continued to be perfect as he learned how to nurse. 

On Morgan’s 15th day of life, he was well enough to be moved to the NICU step-down unit. This new room only offered me a plastic chair similar to a school desk chair. The couch was too far away from his wire hookups to bring him over to it. I requested a mother’s rocking chair, having noticed one in the neighboring room. To my disappointment, there were none available at the time. But seeing how the chair in my room was unsuitable for me, the nurse went on a hunt for one anyway.  

After a couple of hours, they finally found a mother’s chair for me and brought it into our room. For a recovering mother healing from a Cesarean and trauma-filled birth, everything about the hard plastic, half-broken chair felt terribly wrong. It tipped slightly to one side because of a broken rocker, had very thin armrests that were uncomfortable to use, and the shallow seat with no cushion literally hurt to sit in.  

Trying to breastfeed my son with latching issues was a miserable balancing act that caused me to long for his release to go home even more. 

I cannot express my gratitude for the EMTs who keep babies breathing en route to hospitals and nurses waiting for expecting mothers or prematurely delivered babies with urgent needs to arrive. Words are inadequate for the amount of thankfulness I feel toward the doctors and respiratory team who are prepared to take over the moment their patients enter the room. I am so appreciative for all of the other medical professionals who are prepared to do whatever is necessary for their tiny patients. May God bless all of them for all they do! 

That being said, it is a sad reality that most NICUs and children’s hospitals overlook the suffering mothers who are physically and emotionally hurting and exhausted. Chairs are only an afterthought amidst the necessary, life-saving equipment. Too often, only the bare minimum is provided for the mother’s comfort, which is severely lacking. 

Considering all I went through, I realized I am not the only mother who has gone through a traumatic birth and lengthy hospital stay, praying that the baby will survive. I am not alone with my experience of needing to recover from major surgery while sleeping on a hard, plastic couch. I am certain that I am among many mothers with medically fragile babies and lengthy hospital stays who wish for a comfortable place to hold our precious newborns.  

This fundraiser was created from the heart of a mother who has been in the shoes of many other mothers with a difficult beginning with their newborns. It also shed the light on why good chairs were needed and the hospital is buying new chairs themselves. So we are focusing on the other needs a new mother living in the NICU might have - a nice blanket, some toiletries, a journal, and other items. I want every NICU mama to feel the love surrounding her as she faces the uncertainties associated with newborn babies with multiple medical needs. While the average person can’t work miracles or provide medical expertise, we can give these scared, exhausted mothers a seemingly small gesture of comfort and care that really isn’t so small after all.   

About the charity

The Office of Development is the sole fundraising entity for AHN, supporting patient-centered care, through donor-centered philanthropy. We do this by collaborating with health care providers, patients and the community to create a remarkable health experience, freeing people to be their best.

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