Parents Express Twice the Heartfelt Blessings for CHRISTUS’ NICU Team

Of the millions of babies born in the United States each year, only about 10 percent of parents, thankfully, ever have to visit their newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Both of Amanda Clutz’s babies – Theo, 2 ½, and baby Georgia LeeAnn, now 5 months – spent their earliest days in CHRISTUS Children’s NICU surrounded by spiraling tubes and whirring machines. And while one might think Amanda and her husband, James, drew short straws when it comes to childbirth scenarios, the couple looks at this experience from a different perspective.

“We feel quite blessed,” Amanda said. “Do I wish I never had to walk into a NICU? Of course! But we feel quite blessed that we have access to CHRISTUS Children’s. It’s such an amazing children’s hospital and I don’t think it would be possible to get higher quality care available from more loving, experienced NICU doctors and nurses.”

Georgia LeeAnn

Amanda’s second pregnancy was filled with long days caring for a toddler on the move – Theo – and working in the family’s business in the Gruene district in New Braunfels, Texas. She admits she felt anxiety, feeling something might go wrong as it did with her first pregnancy two years prior.

So, as she passed the 16-week mark – the date her water broke with Theo – she was on high alert. In fact, she kept recalling the weeks and weeks of visiting her son in the NICU. She and her husband were living at their beach house in Port Aransas, hoping for a calm pregnancy.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.

At 19 weeks and three days, Amanda felt that all-too-familiar gush of fluid. “I knew my water broke and I was so afraid. I knew the baby wasn't viable at that point and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I only had one thought: we had to get back to my doctor, Kristyn Mathewson, DO, at CHRISTUS Children’s,” she remembers.

The couple returned to their New Braunfels home closer to San Antonio and Amanda remained on bedrest until 22 weeks and 5 days – the point when she could be admitted.

“I remembered the ‘waiting game.’ We had been there before,” she said.

Amanda managed to make it to the imposed deadline and was admitted to the hospital on July 12, 2023. Georgia LeeAnn was born five weeks later on Aug.14, 2023. She was born at 27 weeks and three days and weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

In fact, while Theo was born via emergency Caesarean section, Georgia surprised everyone, especially mom, when she entered the world naturally – without pain medication, Amanda is quick to mention.

“Things could have been so different but other than having underdeveloped lungs and needing a little bit of respiratory help, Georgia was born very healthy,” Amanda said. “It was truly the best-case scenario we could have hoped for her.”

Georgia LeeAnn left the hospital for the last time on Nov. 2 – at what would have been the 38-week mark. She weighed a healthy 7 pounds and was breathing and bottle feeding like a full-term baby.

Amazing Care from an Amazing NICU Team

Two years prior, the situation was quite different with Theo’s stay in the NICU. He was born with underdeveloped lungs and needed a lot of support, Amanda said, noting, “I got amazing care. They saved his life. All of the nurses were amazing.”

Having a baby in the NICU takes an emotional toll on the entire family. “I had emotional breakdowns,” mom said. “They talked me through everything they were doing. I was always in the know even though the hospital was taking COVID precautions.”

She wanted to point out that CHRISTUS Children’s made it very easy for her to be with her babies in the NICU, both times whenever she wanted. With Theo, it was mid COVID-19 pandemic, and she stayed in the Ronald McDonald house a floor above the NICU. With Georgia, it was a bit different. She went back and forth to the hospital since she also had a walking, non-stop-talking little boy to care for this time around.

Living a Normal Life – Post NICU

There was definitely a time Amanda and James couldn’t see clearly to a day when everything felt “normal.” But today, that’s exactly how Amanda describes her life.

“I have two completely normal babies and I owe their good health to the doctors at CHRISTUS Children’s– especially to Dr. Maria Pierce,” Amanda said. “She is always super friendly and that really makes a difference. When your baby is sick, you are scared and you have so many questions. She never hesitated to answer all our questions. And, she was great about answering in ways we could understand.”

Amanda said she will never underestimate the value of finding a doctor with a good bedside manner. “It’s important because, when you are dealing with health issues, your emotions are so high. It’s easy to let the stress get to you. I’ve experienced doctors without a great bedside manner and it’s not a comfortable feeling,” she recalled. “But having an empathic compassionate doctor helped me feel comfortable. I knew my children were in great hands at CHRISTUS.

Amanda wanted to thank all the nurses and entire NICU team for being a “source of strength” for her and her family–especially Dr. Cody Henderson and Dr. Pierce and nurses Brittany, Madison and Morgan.

Amanda also mentioned that Gayle from Child Life Services was “an absolute angel. She was so compassionate and kind and is truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Amanda said, noting she even gave Theo books and activities to do while he waited.

“Knowing your child is in really good hands, especially considering the circumstances, allows you to have a bit of peace of mind in a very chaotic situation. I never would have chosen to go through the NICU process with a second baby. But when it happened, I knew there was no other hospital for me. Georgia deserved to be cared for by the NICU team at CHRISTUS Children’s.”

To learn more about the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at CHRISTUS Children’s, please visit CHRISTUS Children’s | NICU ( 

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