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Meet Some Of Our Graduates

Isabella Lehman

Izzie Lehman - SPIN Program Graduate

Born at 27 weeks - 1 pound, 2 oz

Isabella Lehman

First time holding Izzie

The Lehman Family

Izzie at age 5

"We knew we were in for the fight of our lives when our daughter, Isabella, was born. Our sweet girl was born at 27 weeks and weighed a mere 1 pound, 2 ounces. The NICU nurses called her "Izzie," as she was a small, but feisty little thing!

At a time when almost everything was out of our control, the one thing that we could do was to provide breast milk to our baby girl. This "liquid gold" was something that we knew would help to protect our daughter, not only in the most precarious first few months, but also for the rest of her life. Soon after our daughter was delivered, I pumped early and often and my husband would rush to deliver the fresh milk/colostrum to the NICU (initially only a few drops at a time).

Pumping breast milk during this most difficult time was certainly a challenge, filled with much emotional and physical exhaustion; however, with the support of the NICU staff, I was able to stick with it.

When Izzie was 17 days old, I was able to hold her for the first time (even though she was still incubated) - a moment that my husband and I will never forget. From that time, we were encouraged to provide Isabella with as much skin-to-skin contact as possible; this not only helped with my milk production, but also helped to create a phenomenal bond between us and our child. Although our daughter was never able to breast feed, I pumped milk for her for 15 months and if I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Our beautiful daughter is now 5 years old and she is as feisty as ever. Izzie is incredibly bright and although she is small, she has a larger than life personality! Izzie's physical, cognitive, and emotional development are remarkable and we know that breast milk was a integral factor in her health and well-being. We cannot extend enough gratitude to the brilliant physicians, nurses, and staff of the UC San Diego Health NICU who gave us the most precious gift imaginable...our daughter."

-- Stephanie & Aaron Lehman

Nathan and Trevor Rose

Nathan Rose

Nathan Rose at 1week
Born 7/25/09 2 pounds, 12 oz

Nathan and Trevor Rose 17 weeks

Nathan and Trevor at 17 weeks
9 lbs 15oz / 8 lbs 8oz

Trevor Rose

Trevor Rose at 1week
Born 7/25/09 2 pounds, 10 oz

Nathan and Trevor Rose Halloween

Nathan & Trevor are sprung
from ISCC and get to go home!

"As you can imagine these guys are keeping us very, very busy. Its been quite an adjustment for us all but we are settling in nicely and just loving having our little guys home. Its been so much fun to see them grow and develop. They are really starting to make eye contact now and smile back when we smile at them - which is just the best! They are also starting to grab things (including my hair) and lift their heads during tummy time.

We went to see Dr. Boies last Wednesday [11/18/09] and Nathan is weighing in at 9lbs 15oz and Trevor 8lbs 8oz - she is very happy with their growth to date, and so are we. I am still pumping, although unfortunately we have had to supplement with formula. Three of their six feeds a day are formula. I couldn't believe how fast they went through the freezer reserves. They are up to 180 ml a feed right now and eating like champs. They still have pretty bad reflux, but we are learning to deal with it and will be relieved when they outgrow it.

Wayne and I wanted to thank you all again for the love you showed our little guys to help them get well and the ongoing support you provided to us, as parents, as we made our way through the roller coaster ride of the ISCC."

-- Jennifer DeDario and Wayne Rose

Kalei Terrell

Kalei Terrell

1 pound, 6 oz
Born at 25 weeks

Kalei Terrell

Kalei in Sept. 2009

"When Jason and I found out we were having a little Diva, we couldn't have been happier. I always planned on breastfeeding. There was no alternative for me. I was breastfed and I knew all of the benefits of breast milk - and the fact that it is free didn't hurt either.

When you plan for a baby, no one wants to believe their child will be a preemie or spend time in the NICU.

At 25 weeks, Kalei was born, weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces. Having a preemie is very hard spiritually, emotionally, and physically. While you cannot be there for your baby around the clock, you can do your part by giving your baby what no one else can---- your breast milk. It gave me something else to focus on, while still caring for her.

Kalei Terrell

Kamilah's milk.

In the beginning, there were times when I did not get out a single drop after pumping for 30 minutes! Over time, I was happy to get a full 5ml. I refused to quit and continued to pump every 3 hours. It took several days before I began to produce any significant volume.

After 173 days in the NICU, Kalei is finally home. She has never had a problem with digestion. She rarely got infections in the NICU. Her current weight is 10 pounds, 9 ounces. Kalei has come a long way from being that tiny, frail baby I gave birth to. While I may have enough milk stored away to last 2 years, I plan to continue pumping and donating for a year. I see no alternative for nourishing my child."

-- Kamilah Terrell

Jonah Fagin

Jonah Fagin

Born 8/14/08
1 lb. 12 oz
Born at 25 weeks

Jonah Fagin

8 1/2 months

"I am incredibly grateful for all the support I got in the SPIN program. Providing breast milk was the biggest thing I could do for my baby boy while he was in the NICU. Milk production was the one thing I could control. I loved charting my daily milk production. It gave me a purpose and a goal to reach everyday. I truly believe my son is as healthy as he is because of his mommy's milk and the amazing care he received in the NICU. "

-- Julia Bengis

Watch Jonah's story on YouTube

Chloe and Connor Bonaz

Chloe and Connor Bonaz
Chloe and Connor Bonaz

"Chloe and Connor are doing very well. Connor has gotten more mobile: he started crawling some time ago. He sits on his own and he is even trying to pull himself to stand. While Connor ventures around the house, Chloe has been working on her speech skills. She is not crawling, rather she can roll her way through rooms and corridors. However, she yells at her brother when he leaves her alone! Quite cute, really.

"Last week, we celebrated their first birthday. I can hardly believe it has been that long. Every moment is a joy and an adventure!"

-- Patricia Bonaz

Patricia's Seven Steps of Successful Pumping:

  • 1. Don’t focus on the task. Focus on the purpose.
  • 2. Believe that you can do it because you really can.
  • 3. Use the mantra: “The pump is my friend, I love the pump”. Repeat it every day as you prepare to pump.
  • 4. Use a hospital grade pump. No seriously, it helps. If you going to do it, you may as well use the best possible tool.
  • 5. Take your pumping time as your much deserved break in the day. Believe me, no one wants to be around you when you are pumping so watch some TV or just relax!
  • 6. It really does not matter the number of babies you are trying to feed, even a little goes a long way.
  • 7. Watch in amazement the result of your effort. He/she/they deserve it!

Dale Metzler

Dale Metzler

Born 5/25/08
1 pound, 4 oz
Born at 25 weeks

Dale Metzler

Dale at 14 months

"When Dale was first born, we were told by the hospital staff that it was going to be an emotional roller coaster ride, but I truly didn’t believe it until reality hit me. At times I felt helpless, not knowing what I could do for my precious little baby. When Dr. Lisa Stellwagen first came to my hospital room to show me how to properly use the breast pump and to discuss the benefits of my breast milk, I realized that I could play a very important role in my child’s health and growth. Throughout his entire hospital stay, I was dedicated to provide Dale with as much breast milk as possible. My breast milk production was very low, but I did not give up. I pumped around the clock and gave him everything that I possibly could. It provided me with comfort, knowing that I was helping him with his growth and providing him with essential nutrition. I am proud to say that my production, even at my low volume, fed Dale throughout his entire hospital stay. Our hospital experience was one of mixed emotions. Many of the 135 days were filled with fear, helplessness, and exhaustion. However, we also had many days that were filled with relief, happiness, and sheer joy. The staff at UC San Diego Medical Center is amazing. We have made life-long friends and I will be forever grateful for all that they did for my son and our family."

-- Tanya Metzler