Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital will celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of its Newborn Intensive Care Unit on Saturday, April 14.

The carnival-themed event will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the RWCH Atrium.  All former NICU graduates and their families are invited to attend the celebration.

“Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital opened our NICU in 2001,” said Courtney Gremillion, RN, NICU manager. “In that time, we’ve seen more than 3,600 babies – and when they leave us to go home, we like to call them our ‘graduates.’ This anniversary is the perfect opportunity to get them all back together so we can see how they’ve grown.”

NICU staff have put together an afternoon of carnival-themed games and entertainment – including photos and music – along with refreshments and door prizes. The graduates will be recognized during a short program beginning at 2:30 p.m.

The event is free, but those who plan to attend are asked to pre-register online at rapidesregional.com.

Racheal Trahan of Forest Hill has already registered her family – which includes 7-year-old Timothy Dawson Trahan.

Timothy was born in May of 2005, weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces.

“My husband and I had tried for 15 years to have a baby,” Racheal Trahan said. “Then, I went into labor at 23 weeks, after having no problems at all with the rest of my pregnancy.”

Timothy spent 3 months on a ventilator and 5½ months in the NICU.

“I went to the hospital every morning at 7:30 or 8 a.m. and stayed until 3 or 4 p.m. every afternoon,” Racheal Trahan said. “A lot of times, we went back at night so my husband could see him. We didn’t even get to touch him for three days. Looking back now, it’s really unbelievable.”

Timothy is the Trahan’s only child – and he’s still small for his age.

“He’s been going to school since he was 3,” Racheal said. “He loves it.  He has trouble with his eyes, and they’re evaluating him for speech therapy at school. Everything has been a battle, but we have been blessed. He is my miracle.”

For John and Monica Marcase, they have two NICU graduates, but for different reasons.

Oldest son Nolan, soon to be 5, decided to come 10 weeks early on John and Monica’s third wedding anniversary. Born 2 pounds, 15 ounces, Nolan spent five weeks in the NICU without any complications.

Nolan’s brother, Cooper, was a term baby born in September of 2010, but he developed an infection after birth and had to spend a week in the NICU.

“It was amazing to see so many familiar faces,” said John Marcase. “Cooper had many of the same nurses as Nolan, while others were constantly checking on him.
“I’m still amazed at the miracles that take place in the NICU.”

Trahan, like many NICU graduate families, is looking forward to seeing some of the staff who cared for Timothy while he was in the NICU.

“They were all fabulous – and they had such an impact on our lives.”