BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — She was brought into this world far too soon.

“She could fit into our hands,” said Alexis Rodriguez.

The tiniest of tots at just one pound, three ounces.

Aaliyah Rodriguez was born prematurely, nearly 20 weeks early. Due to medical complications, her twin sister, sadly, didn’t make it.

Born at Mercy Southwest Hospital in late April, Aaliyah spent the first 171 days of her life in neonatal intensive care, two months of critical care at UCLA Children’s Center and nearly four months of intensive care at at Lauren Small Children’s Center in Bakersfield.

“I knew she had a long road. But I was joyful obviously to have my daughter and I knew she was a fighter from the beginning,” said Jorge Rodriguez, Aaliyah’s dad.

“The care was amazing,” said Alexis Rodriguez, Aaliyah’s mom.

The NICU’s mother-daughter duo, nurses Deb Condren and Heidi Cosme took Aaliyah under their wing,
and brought to bear the best technology available to give this tiny girl a fighting chance.

“The equipment we have here is state-of-the-art. The babies wouldn’t survive…they wouldn’t thrive if we didn’t have this equipment,” said Heidi Cosme, R.N./NICU Nurse at the Lauren Small Children’s Center.

“It’s hard to share our story but it’s important because we want to make sure that people donate to Lauren Small,” Alexis Rodriguez said. “So that way they have the equipment and everything they need in that facility so we’re not having to go to L.A so that we continue to fundraise and have all the equipment we need here in Bakersfield.”

And during those critical weeks in Aaliyah’s life, with Covid protocols in place and visitation limited to one parent, the Alex and Jorge could still check in on her, using NicView, a 24/7 video streaming system purchased with donations to CMN and Lauren Small Children’s Center.

“Having to work and travel it was very useful to just be able to log in on my hone and be able to see her at any moment I wanted to,” Jorge Rodriguez said.

Today, at nearly ten months old and 13 pounds, little Aaliyah, as you can see, is a happy, healthy little girl.
A living testament to the quality care administered by skilled nurses and physicians, and the giving spirit of the Golden Empire.

“Going through a journey that is so hard on the baby and the family and to see them go home and thrive, is what every nurse in here hopes for,” Cosme said.

“Just to know that she survived is a great feeling. I see both of them in her. She’s definitely my miracle,” Jorge Rodriguez said.

Alexis Rodriguez is a nutritionist at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, and works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Never in a million years did she imagine that one day, instead of assisting in the care of preemies, she would be the parent of one and, in turn, relying on the skilled nurses in the NICU, whom she works with every day, to take care of baby Aaliyah and eventually send her home.

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