When Kendra Jones starts nursing school in the fall, her desire to succeed and someday work in a neonatal intensive care unit will be motivated by so much more than dreams of straight A’s. Every class and every bit of knowledge Kendra absorbs will be driven by her baby daughter.
“She’s my motivation,” Kendra said of daughter Brooke Jones, who celebrated her first birthday in the Dana Brown NICU on June 3. “I think it will help me understand Brooke and care for her.”
For the past year, Brooke has been at Cardinal Glennon receiving treatment for a number of disorders. She has undergone multiple surgeries to treat her tracheoesophageal fistula, a condition in which the trachea and esophagus are abnormally connected. She also has two heart defects, Down’s syndrome and pulmonary hypertension.
Despite her obstacles, Brooke has thrived and progressed beyond all expectations. And Kendra has been there to witness her entire journey. When Brooke first came to the hospital, Kendra stayed most nights in the private NICU room and traveled twice a week to her house in Florissant for more clothes.
But in March, Kendra was unexpectedly laid off from her job along with dozens of her coworkers. What would be seen by many as a stressful situation became a blessing in disguise for Kendra, who is using her time off to stay in the NICU full-time and learn from the nurses who care for Brooke every day.
“I try to do as much for her as I can,” Kendra said. “The nurses do a great job, but she’s my daughter and I want to be caring for her.”
Kendra’s mom, sister and grandmother have all taken CPR classes in preparation for Brooke’s arrival home. Cardinal Glennon neonatologist Robert Fleming, M.D., who has taken care of Brooke, expects that she will go home within two months.
While Kendra contends that Cardinal Glennon has been like a second home, she can’t wait to take Brooke to her home for the first time ever.
“I’m just so proud and amazed by her every day,” Kendra said.
** Watch Kay Quinn’s KSDK report and Mark Schnyder’s KMOV report on Brooke Jones.