Meet Kermani Parker…. After 119 days in the NICU, he is finally home with his mom Nikita, dad, Francios Charles and big brother Kemonte. “Woo hoo. It’s been crazy, restless, tiredness…but I’m so happy he’s home. And my 5 year old is so helpful, always wanting to pick him up, sleep with him, bath him. It’s been a joy.” It’s a happy ending to what was a terrifying journey.
When Nikita was only 22 weeks pregnant, she started to go into preterm labor and the doctors could not identify the cause. Nikita has trouble understanding what was happening because she had carried her older son full term. She was scared and feared all the challenges her baby would face coming into the world early. Doctors were able to delay the labor, but at 23 ½ weeks pregnant, she delivered a one pound 6 ounce baby boy at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
The U.S. survival rates for a 23 week baby is 30%. Kermani’s parents knew it was going to be a difficult journey. In the beginning there were many “ups and downs” as his medical watched to see if his lungs and other organs developed properly. Those were dark days for Nikita. “Some days I would come home and think how I would plan the funeral for my son. I always blamed myself. It was my fault he came early. I was in deep depression, thinking about him dying. I would cry myself to sleep and pray to God. And then one day it just hit me. He’s going to be ok. Be strong for him. He needs you more than ever”
That strength helped Nikita get on a bus every day after dropping Kemonte at school to visit her baby. Some days she would visit a second time, bringing her older son after school and then having to rush home to do homework and get him to bed.
During these months, she relied on a close friend whose baby was also a preemie and God. “I kept going. God, I talked to him everyday. So many people would ask why aren’t you stressed, but it’s because I asked God for strength and he gave it to me.”
Kermani is now an adorable, chubby, 5 ½ month old baby who is adjusting well to life outside the NICU. Nikita is back at work at United Cerebral Palsy. Her next big challenge is how to respond to her older son who said, “I love you and I’m so happy you gave me a brother. Now I want a sister!”