Micaela at a music therapy session

It was one of the scariest moments of Liane’s life. With her baby’s heart rate dropping, she was rushed to the delivery room to give birth almost four months early.

"I tried to stay calm because I knew the baby was feeling what I was feeling," Liane recalls.

Baby Micaela weighed just one pound, 13 ounces. Born with complex health needs, she was soon transferred from her local Stockton hospital to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Serving high-risk cases throughout the Bay Area and beyond, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is renowned for its leading-edge, family-centered care.

"The hospital has been great from the very beginning," Liane says. "The nurses are always helping us bond with Micaela, like by showing us how to give her a bath or a massage. They let us be a part of her care team and we are really grateful."

Micaela has chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, so she struggles with breathing and circulation issues and has required multiple life-saving procedures. Her birth also coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, causing additional hardships. To limit the number of people in the NICU, only one parent can stay with Micaela at a time, so the family can’t be together. They’re also facing this challenge without being surrounded by friends and extended family.

"Her grandparents are always asking when she is coming home. She’s the first grandchild on both sides and they aren’t able to see her," Liane says. "It’s heartbreaking."

Nonetheless, Liane and her husband Michael find a lot to be grateful for. After four months in the NICU, Micaela now weighs more than 10 pounds. The NICU team has become like a second family. And Micaela has access to healing music therapy sessions, part of the comprehensive care that treats patients’ emotional and spiritual needs, made possible by the Perloff Family Endowment.

The hospital has been great from the very beginning. The nurses are always helping us bond with Micaela, like by showing us how to give her a bath or a massage. They let us be a part of her care team and we are really grateful.

LIANE, grateful parent

"She gets so calm when the music therapist comes," Liane says. "Usually, she needs her pacifier to be soothed, but once the music starts she doesn’t need it anymore. She’s just enjoying the music."

Michael and Liane are also thankful for generous donors who support the hospital and the families it serves, like the Branches, an auxiliary group that has funded a number of upgrades in the NICU. In addition to Micaela’s incredible care, they have also received gas cards to help cover their four-hour daily drive to and from the hospital to visit their daughter.

"Your gifts are helping all these babies get such good care, and you’re helping families in need," Liane says. "Even a simple gas card means so much to us. We worry about our baby and our bills, and to eliminate just one burden helps us get through each day."

Michael and Liane remain inspired by their daughter’s strength and resilience. "She’s been through so much already and she keeps pushing," Liane says. "I tell myself to take it one day at a time, and I tell her to take it one breath at a time. And she does. She’s amazing."

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