A 15-month-old girl was treated to a special bubble parade as she left the hospital for the first time in her life.
Helen was born early at 28 weeks gestation in December 2021 along with her identical twin sister Alma.
Alma was able to go home from the hospital after four months, but Helen needed more care and, until last week, had been receiving various treatments at Franciscan Children's, a post-acute rehabilitative pediatric hospital in Boston.
On March 15, Helen was finally deemed strong enough to head home to Cape Cod with her moms Harriet Alexander and Isabela Alexander-Astiz Le Bras, both oceanographers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
"We were a little nervous how Helen was going to take it … just going out," Le Bras told " Good Morning America." "She had never gone outside in her wagon before and she was really a little champ."
Le Bras continued, "We walked down the hall to the bubble parade. She was waving at everybody, a little confused, but a lot of the nurses, nurse practitioners, respiratory technicians, child life specialists, therapists were all there bidding her off with the bubble parade."
"It was a really emotional, I'm gonna say, week, leading up to her going home," Alexander added. "It felt very surreal and I think we were really excited and very ready for her to come home, but it also is kind of a scary thing to bring a medically complex kid [home] from the hospital."
Helen and her moms quickly found a second family in the staff at Franciscan Children's, while Helen received multiple therapies.
"Helen was receiving support for her respiratory system so she was getting weaned off of the support that she needed and getting stronger and ready to go home," Alexander said. "But she also received physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, as well as music therapy and a couple other wonderful services that they have at [Franciscan Children's], such as child life [specialists] who come and make the hospital environment a little bit more kid friendly."
- 1February 19, 2023
Now that Helen has now reunited with her twin sister Alma, Alexander said it's been a bit of an adjustment but everyone is happy to finally be together again.
"Helen has taken to being home much better than we ever imagined," Le Bras said. "She's been really calm and happy."
Alexander added, "One thing that I really hope that [the twins] are able to internalize is that their health does not define who they are or their worth. We love them no matter how healthy or not healthy they might be at any moment. They have shown us just how strong babies, kids are. They've been so resilient and they've worked so hard to get to where they are and we're excited to see where they go."
Both Alexander and Le Bras said they wanted to share Helen's story publicly in order to raise awareness of hospitals like Franciscan Children's and also to shine a spotlight on kids like their daughter who need extra care at a young age.
"I think this process has opened our eyes to what it's like having a child who has a complex medical situation and how that impacts your life more broadly. It's impacted our careers, it's impacted our family, basically every aspect of our life," Alexander said. "And I think at times it can be really isolating having a kid who has a lot of complex needs, and we found great community in parents of kids like Helen ... so I think sharing those stories is important."