Dayna and Nekoda’s Story

“The NICU can be a very lonely place,” says Dayna Cobb, Family Room Coordinator for RMHC Richmond. Dayna works within the walls of the hospital serving families with sick children through RMHC Richmond’s in-hospital programs. She’s also experienced the NICU as a parent.

“My son Nekoda was born at 29 weeks. As a first-time mom, I created a birth plan to prepare for my baby boy. His early arrival was unexpected and certainly not a part of my plan.”

Nekoda weighed 3 lbs. 3 ounces and was immediately taken to the NICU after birth. “I couldn’t hold him for seven days,” recalls Dayna. “Before Nekoda, I didn’t know a thing about life in the NICU. It is a roller coaster, each day felt like two steps forward and one step back. He was on a breathing machine and a heart monitoring machine. My family and friends kept their distance because we were worried about germs and his fragile immune system. Many days were so lonely and I quickly became very close with his nurses. I was so grateful for them.”

Dayna felt fortunate to live only three miles from the hospital. She spent her days with Nekoda, went home to sleep, and returned.

After 53 nights in the hospital and many ups and downs, Nekoda grew to over 5 lbs, and Dayna was finally able to take her baby boy home.

“Nekoda still had complications and required medications. We had regular visits from physical therapists to make sure he was meeting milestones. I began meeting other moms who had been through similar situations and a whole new world opened to me. I learned about families who lived over an hour’s drive from the hospital. My heart broke for them.”

It was through these families Dayna learned more about RMHC Richmond and how our programs support families with hospitalized children. “I knew I wanted to get involved. I wanted to help families like mine. Even if our children have different diagnoses, we’re all still parents and face the same emotions when it comes to concern over our children’s well-being.”

Dayna (center) volunteering with RMHC Richmond’s Red Shoe Crew

Dayna volunteered preparing dinners for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House on Monument Avenue. She shared her personal story with staff, began helping with special events, and in Spring 2018 when a new position became available, she decided to apply.

“Dayna is so personable and understanding. The Family Room Coordinator position required a special person to interact with families at the hospital when their emotions may be most fragile. We knew Dayna was the perfect fit and our families have confirmed that. I think her personal experience plays a large role in her ability to relate to others. She is a great representative of RMHC Richmond,” says Sarah Wind, Director of Programs.

“I love connecting with families. Being able to offer them a room in the hospital or a meal is so much more than just a place to sleep or food–it means more time with their child. RMHC Richmond can take care of these families so they can take care of their children. I love what I do.”

Nekoda today, holding a photo of himself in the NICU

Today, Nekoda is 5 ½ and Dayna describes him as a ball of energy. He loves his iPad, Spiderman, and riding roller coasters at Kings Dominion. To Dayna and Nekoda, we salute you and are inspired by your strength and courage. Thank you for keeping families close!