Stories From The NICU: Ashley Rodgers

Written by: McKayla Magleby



Time to read 3 min

With the launch of our community involvement programs, specifically our Tiny Steps, Mighty Hearts Initiative,  we want to take a moment to chat about the experiences of those who have had a baby in the NICU.

Ashley and Cody Rodgers’ were more than happy to share their story with us. Ashley is the Marketing Director here at Freshly Picked and is especially excited for Tiny Steps, Mighty Hearts Initiative because of her experience with the NICU. She is excited to help give back and provide encouragement to those who are going through a rough, and uncertain moment in their lives.

In 2012, Ashley and her husband, Cody rushed to the hospital as they prepared for the birth of their first child. This was an exciting journey they were about to embark on. The pregnancy had gone smoothly and their baby boy was full-term. There weren’t any complications that they were aware of upon entering the hospital. Everything was going exactly to plan.

That was until Ryan was born, but wasn’t breathing.

Ashley describes his small little body as blue, limp, and almost lifeless looking. Before she had the chance to understand what was going on, someone had sent out an alarm, and a team of nurses and doctors came in. Ashley then began to have some complications herself. The nurses told her that they would be taking her baby to the NICU. They brought him over to her so she could see him, give him a kiss, then off he went.

Cody, despite wanting to stay with Ashley, went with Ryan to make sure he was ok. Ashley says that “it all happened so fast, and I wasn’t told much - not even why he was going to the NICU. I didn’t know what was wrong with my baby. They just took him. It was super scary.” As a first-time mom, there were many unknowns that Ashley faced. She remembers having the misconception that the NICU was only for babies with very serious, long-term/life-threatening conditions. This misunderstanding made her more worried than she needed to be.

Ashley went in with the expectation that immediately after her baby was born they would give her the baby to hold on her chest and have this beautiful moment together. Her experience couldn’t have been more different. But, like many mothers, she immediately felt her nurturing instinct jump into action as soon as he was born. She wanted to do everything she could to make sure her baby was ok. But she first had to get some work done on herself before she could see her baby. It was a difficult moment to be pulled away like that.

A few hours later, Cody came back in and showed her pictures of their baby boy. He was hooked up to machines with wires and tubes connected to his body. Cody let her know that Ryan had passed meconium and had a temperature of 104 degrees. This means that he had taken his first poop while in the womb and this had contaminated the amniotic fluid. Ryan had swallowed and inhaled some of the contaminated amniotic fluid and that was why he was having trouble breathing and was sick. Ryan was also 10 lbs, and since he was delivered naturally, they had to break both of his collarbones to get him out. Ryan was in the NICU for almost a week and received IV antibiotics throughout that time to help him get better.

Because of her complications, once she was allowed to visit Ryan in the NICU, she was too weak to sit in a wheelchair by herself. The nurses and her husband had to put her on a stretcher to get her to the NICU. She only had the strength to lift a hand to touch his little toes. The next day she was able to sit up in a wheelchair and hold him. She cherishes these first moments with her baby.

For dealing with the stress and uncertainty at this time, Ashley talks about how her family, especially her husband helped her. She describes how she had to take a step back and just trust that everything was going to work out and that the people around her would help their little family along the way. She knew that these scary times would eventually end, and wanted to enjoy the moments she had with her son and husband that would make the entire experience worth it.

Ashley wants NICU families to know that going home from the hospital without the safety of nurses and monitors to reassure them is really scary, but you are not alone. There are people out there that understand what they are going through. It is ok to ask for help and you will most likely need help that first little bit as the new normal sets in.

We are so grateful for Ashley sharing her story and the influence she has had in the Tiny Steps, Mighty Hearts program.

Ryan is now 11 years old, loves basketball, hates math, and is a strong, confident young man that is a light within his family.