• Higgs Feagins, NICU patient

  • A family's journey
  • Laura Feagins was excited to become a mother for the first time, but hers was a high-risk pregnancy. And when her intense labor and C-section meant a NICU stay for son Higgs, as well as her own time in ICU, Laura and her family were grateful for Holston Valley Medical Center’s expert care – and incredible compassion. Now, a year later, they’re excited and proud to support the hospital’s Generations campaign to build a new Center for Women and Infants.

  • Laura tells their story

  • My husband, Bob, and I checked into Holston Valley Medical Center on July 30, 2014, in preparation for our son’s birth on July 31. Higgs would be our long prayed-for first child. Indeed, our pregnancy had been flawless, especially considering I would be a first-time Mom at the age of 41.

    We were pleasantly surprised that Stacey was our nurse that first night, as she was the wonderful teacher of our birthing class. The next day, everything seemed to be going smoothly. We had another great nurse when Stacey left: Kay. We are fortunate to have four Holston Valley anesthesiologists as members of our church, Mafair United Methodist. One of those doctors, Mark Alley, came to do the epidural.

    Then it was time for Dr. Renda Knapp to deliver Higgs. I pushed for three hours, but he didn’t want to come out! In the midst of this, Kay’s shift ended, which caused us some anxiety at first. But Amanda came in, and it was the smoothest transition ever. Finally, although my blood pressure and vitals and Higgs’s vitals still looked good, Dr. Knapp said she would need to do a C-section. This quickly became an emergency C-section as Higgs’ heart rate dropped. I was so tired and feeling no pain, so I really wasn’t aware what was exactly happening. Bob, however, knew how scary the situation had become.

    But Bob had a welcome sight as we entered the operating room, when we saw Dr. Jeff Weatherall, another member of our church and also Sunday School class.

    One part etched in our memory is Dr. Knapp saying, “I can’t get him.” We waited for that cry, that beautiful scream trumpeting a new arrival. When it didn’t come right away, we were so scared. It was as if time had stopped. After resuscitating and cleaning Higgs, they allowed us to take a photo with him – which eased our hearts – before spirting him away to the NICU. I will always remember Amanda and the resident doctor taking the time to sit with Bob outside the delivery room and reassure him that our son was going to be okay.

    We cannot say enough good things about the NICU. Dr. P.J. Powers was Higgs’ first doctor, and he allowed Bob to come down right after the birth to hold Higgs. Dr. Elizabeth Lail and Dr. Chris Martin also took excellent care of Higgs during his weeklong stay. Higgs had superb, compassionate, caring nurses. Jessica, Kayla and Dana will forever be in our hearts for loving our baby as if he was theirs.

    When I ended up back in the hospital and the ICU a week after going home, due to a seizure and total kidney failure brought about by post-eclampsia, some of these nurses and doctors visited me. That meant so much and demonstrated a level of caring above and beyond anything we would have expected.

    We received such great care on the Labor and Delivery floor, Bob commented if he is ever in the hospital, he is requesting that floor. Another detail that made us feel good was Tim Attebery, Holston Valley’s president, came twice to see us after Higgs was born. That meant so much to us. We also had great assistance from our long-time friend Lee Fish, who works for Wellmont Health System. Holston Valley is a special place that will always be in our hearts. You don’t expect a hospital to make you feel that way, but that’s because it’s not the hospital itself: it’s the wonderful people!

    As a 25-year resident of Kingsport, I am so happy Holston Valley is embarking on the Generations campaign to assist women and children of the area. I teach preschool at First Baptist Church on Church Circle, so I understand how important it is to take care of our smallest citizens. Several children who have attended our program began their life at Holston Valley or in the NICU.

    Also, we had the great pleasure of taking Higgs to his first NICU reunion this May. That was a wonderful event, one we had marked on our calendar since we first learned of it. When you look around and see all these healthy, happy children, you really understand how fortunate we are to have that care right here, not in some large city far away. Seeing the NICU doctors and nurses interact with the parents and hold the “graduates” puts a smile on your face.

    So, we offer a deep-felt thank you to Holston Valley Medical Center, Wellmont Foundation and all who donated to the Next Generation campaign and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Simply put, we wouldn’t have Higgs were it not for the excellent care we received at Holston Valley. I’m very excited that Holston Valley and Wellmont are making this extraordinary commitment that will give hope and life to future generations of babies. Thank you!

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