JoLynne Knelsen’s daughter Ava just turned one on Monday — a milestone birthday they weren’t sure they’d ever see.
She knew her pregnancy wouldn’t be a normal one: a prior health condition ruled out Knelsen going full-term. She wasn’t even sure she’d ever be able to get pregnant at all.
But 23 weeks into her pregnancy, Knelsen’s water broke.
“Everything was going through my mind,” she recalled. “I had a thousand different questions. It was a pure panic attack.”
She was hospitalized and, a week later, Ava was born.
The baby girl would spend 98 days in Regina’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Knelsen, who’s from Moose Jaw, stayed with her daughter at the Regina General Hospital for seven weeks before going to stay with a family friend in Regina.
“It was very hard, very draining,” Knelsen said of her daughter’s time in the NICU. “It was a long time to be worried, scared to answer the phone.”
She credits the team of nurses in the NICU that helped her family get through the ordeal.
“We wouldn’t have been able to stay sane without them. They were there just as much for us as they were for our daughter,” she said. “I can’t even describe how much everything — the Radiothon and the staff and all the services and stuff they provide — it kind of kept us afloat to the next day.”
Today, Ava is a happy one-year-old.
“(It’s) super exciting that we’ve come this far but emotional … we didn’t think we’d get that chance,” Knelsen said.
The Knelsens are the poster family for this year’s Z99 Radiothon, which raises money for Regina’s NICU.
“It means everything,” Knelsen said of the event. “It helps make Regina one of the best places where you could have your baby.”
The Radiothon takes place on March 16 and 17, with the Z99 Morning Show broadcasting live from the Cornwall Centre.