RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In 25 years, St. Mary's has practically doubled its NICU capacity. As technology has evolved, so has the hospital, adding beds and growing to serve hundreds of babies and their families.
The NICU is a place full of ups and downs, great success and tremendous loss. For one family, it was all of those things.
The anticipation of Sebastian and Trinitee's arrival was tremendous, a boy and a girl, and then, at 26 weeks while out of town, Terrail Williams' water broke.
"You think my baby's going to be healthy," said Williams. "You know, I'm going to take them home and play and have fun and that wasn't the realization of what my situation was."
Her children Trinitee Jewel Hosier and Sebastian Jamaarcus Hosier were born at just 1lb, 10oz and 1lb, 14oz, respectively.
And, just as quickly as the joy of birth came, it went. The couple flooded with fear and worry as their children clung to life in the NICU of St. Mary's Hospital.
Tragically, Sebastian didn't make it.
"Every day wondering, is she going to make it?" said Williams. "Her brother didn't. So it's very uncertain. Every day. And then, even when you think that you're there, sometimes you're not there."
Every day, this hospital takes care of 17 to 19 of those babies. Some make it. Some do not.
There are as young as 23 weeks, with some of the infants staying for months.
"Weddings and babies…you have this grand plan of how it's supposed to be, and then, even if they know they're going to be in the NICU, it's like somebody pulled out the rug from underneath them because it's not the plan and it's not how it's supposed to be," said Denise Smith, a NICU Nurse Manager at St. Mary's.
Mourning the loss of one baby and praying for the survival of the other, Terrail Williams had all of those feelings.
"I was healthy," said Williams. "I was healthy. I was in shape, had a great diet. There wasn't an answer for why we were here.
"I had to understand that sometimes things just are. And when I wanted answers, they weren't any for me to have. It just was," she continued.
And this weekend, she's set to take on another amazing hurdle, taking baby Trinitee home. It's not the way she imagined, as there's only one baby come home in their arms.
But, this family carries both in their hearts.
"Every patient we take care of is a gift," said Smith. "We follow these tiny babies all the way through until we go home, and not only are we taking care of babies, we tell parents all the time, I think we take care of them more than we do the babies."
Smith says it's a tremendously rewarding career.
And in this 25th anniversary, looking at all the children they've helped over the years, it sure feels that way.
Terrail has created a Facebook page to help other families with premies, to share their stories, ask questions, and encourage each other.
You can also support the family through their gofundme page here.