Holly and Nate Kroeze still don’t know when they’ll be able to bring their baby, Scotland, home for good.

But thanks to new video technology in the NICU in the Gerber Foundation Neonatal Center at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Scotland has already had a homecoming of sorts.

A state-of-the-art video system at the NICU has given the Kroezes a live video feed of their newborn, 24/7.

At home or anywhere they are, they can call up the live feed on any device.

It has become prime viewing for the whole family. They placed their iPad with the livestream on the fireplace mantel in their living room.

The Kroezes’ two other children—Georgie, 3, and Liam, 2—have enjoyed watching their new sibling.

Holly had been pregnant for 29 weeks when she suddenly developed severe preeclampsia. To save her life and the baby’s, doctors performed an emergency C-section on Aug. 21.

Scotland’s original due date had been Nov. 3, so she came quite early. She weighed just 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

Dialed in

The NicView system is a tremendous comfort to parents anytime, but it’s been particularly valuable during COVID-19 because families are limited to just two visitors in the NICU, according to Spectrum Health NICU nurse manager Gabriel Laney, RN.

That means Georgie and Liam still haven’t officially met their baby sister.

“We were able to show them what their sister is doing,” Holly said. “It helps them understand that they have a sister, because they can’t visit her in the NICU.”

Georgie talked to her new sister about her dog, bounce house and more.

All the important kid stuff.

“They try to talk to her on the iPad like it’s Facetime,” Holly said. “The whole night they were telling her stories.”

Laney said it took about a year to bring the NicView system to the NICU. They currently have 20 cameras, with an ultimate goal of having one for every baby in the NICU. At times, more than 100 babies are there.

“It’s a simple concept, but it makes a huge difference,” Laney said.

Building bonds

Parents log into the NicView system online. They’re given a unique username and password that gains access to a web portal or a downloadable app. Parents can also share the login information with family and friends.

At the NICU, the camera is simply zeroed in on their newborn’s special crib, much as a typical baby monitor would work at home.

Log on and—voila!—baby takes center stage.

“It’s a really easy process from the parents’ perspective,” Holly said. “It is nice that the rest of our family can look at Scotland. My mom almost started crying, because it gives her access to see her granddaughter.

“She said, ‘Oh, this is a way for me to see her without having to bother you,’” she said.

Laney said NICU stays can be stressful and traumatic for parents.

“A lot of that comes from the strong need to protect your children,” Laney said. “But when your child is sick, you feel helpless and a lack of control. Add in the fact that you cannot take your child home with you, and it can be very difficult.”

Holly and Nate spend most of their days with Scotland at the NICU. Holly took a leave of absence from her job and Nate handles his work remotely while at the NICU whenever possible.

They return home to spend evenings with their other children.

It’s been easier for them now, knowing they can watch Scotland whenever they wish.

“I have never looked at a camera with so much admiration,” Holly laughed. “We’re so grateful for it.”

She’s kept an eye on the slightest developments.

“It’s been crazy to watch her grow,” Holly said. “It’s so remarkable to see such a little human thriving and doing so well in the NICU. We are so blessed.”

She’s also cherished watching her other children enjoy screen time with their new sis.

“It’s so precious to see their relationship growing in a new way,” she said. “It’s fun to watch because you really do miss that as a parent of a child in the NICU. This gives us a unique opportunity to help flourish the little friendship they have going on.”