During her second pregnancy, Danielle Schneeman was already anticipating the familiar “firsts” of new motherhood.
“You hear that first cry, and they put the baby on your chest,” she remembered. “You give the first bath. You change the first diaper.”
But when a high-risk pregnancy led to an early delivery, those picture-perfect moments quickly slipped away. Schneeman was diagnosed with placenta accreta—a condition in which the placenta attaches too deeply into the uterine wall.
Doctors determined that the risks associated with going into spontaneous labor outweighed those of an early delivery. After a scheduled cesarean birth at 34 weeks, Charlie was born weighing 4 pounds, 11 ounces.
“I was basically ‘out of it’ for the first 24 hours after my surgery,” said Schneeman. “When I came around, I met a little baby who needed a ventilator to help him breathe.”
Schneeman said it was difficult at first to imagine her role caring for Charlie while he had such intense medical needs. That’s when her nurses introduced the concept of kangaroo care.
“As soon as babies are stable, we want them to have skin-to-skin contact with mom or dad,” said Bobby Edwards, a registered nurse who work in the NICU at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. “The closeness promotes healing and empowers parents.”
When she remembers the first time she held Charlie, Schneeman’s eyes fill with tears. “I felt him on my chest, and I was his mom,” she said. “I couldn't do all of the normal firsts for him, but this was my special way of taking care of him. That feeling—I can’t even put into words how much it meant to me. He was mine.”