From NICU Alumni to NICU Nurse: When Life Comes Full Circle

It is a “full circle” life story for Sofia Machado, 23. In June 1999, Sofia and her triplet siblings, Carlos Machado and AnnMarie Machado, were born at South Miami Hospital at 27 weeks’ gestation. She spent two-and-a-half months at the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and today she is a nurse at the same NICU that took care of her at South Miami Hospital.

“Finding out that I was going to be the dad of triplets was shocking to start,” recalls Carlos Machado, Sofia’s father and attorney. “Then you go through a stage that's very, very scary. You realize the risk associated with that pregnancy and the risk associated with the kids.”

(Watch now:  Hear from triplets, Sofia, AnnMarie and Carlos Machado, and their parents. Sofia is a nurse at the same NICU at South Miami Hospital where she was cared for as a newborn. Video by Alcyene de Almeida Rodrigues.)

Remembers Maria Machado, Sofia’s mother who is a real estate broker: “But the more time that passed, the more we got used to the idea. And then it just became a matter of waiting.”

At 27 weeks’ gestation, the triplets needed to be delivered because Sofia was in distress and not growing as much as her siblings. She is the oldest by a minute and was labeled “baby A.” Sofia was born weighting one pound and six ounces. Carlos Junior was labeled “baby B,” and he was two pounds and eight ounces. And Ann Marie, “baby C,” was two pounds. From the delivery room, they went straight to South Miami Hospital’s NICU.

Carlos and AnnMarie stayed at the NICU for two months, and Sofia needed to stay two weeks longer.

“They were very, very challenging weeks of our lives, but they were in the best place, getting the best care. And we're blessed,” said Mrs. Machado. “We're very blessed,” adds Mr. Machado.

Carlos is currently studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to go to law school in the fall. AnnMarie is a second-year law student at the University of Miami and teaches yoga and Pilates on the side.

NICU Nurse at South Miami Hospital

“I think Sofia, being a NICU nurse is amazing, and I think it does fit her very well,” said her father proudly. “She was made to do that job. I'm so, so proud of her.”

Mrs. Machado believes her daughter can be a source of inspiration to parents in the NICU. “I felt like she was coming full circle in her life, and that was just so special,” she said.

“I think she decided (to be a nurse) we were on the high school,” said her brother Carlos. “You know, the storyline makes sense. We were preemie. It's a nice thing, right? But she's a very nurturing person. She's a very motherly person. To me, it makes sense.”

Her sister, AnnMarie agrees: “I think there's something to be said about your feeling of purpose when you know that you're coming full circle. Knowing that she was in their shoes (NICU babies) gave her a bigger purpose to that job.”

Sofia is positive that her personal experience, 23 years ago, being a premature baby in the NICU, has an impact on how she works. “Seeing the little, tiny babies, I just relate to them. I think that knowing that's how I started helps me be really in the moment --- compassionate.”

She also likes the idea of being able to give back to the same NICU that took care of her. “I sometimes work in the same room that I know I was in. I just feel like it's home.”

Message to NICU Parents

Sofia has a message to all parents with premature babies in the NICU: “It's really important to stay hopeful and stay strong for your baby. You're going to have setbacks and you're going to have leaps forward. At the end of the day, the baby really needs your support, so that they can excel, and they can, hopefully, have a wonderful life and go home with you in the end.”

Maria Machado also has an important message to all parents who are in the same situation as she was once in: “Remember that you're a couple first. You know, we had some tough times. And I remember him saying to me: We were fine before this, and we'll be fine after this,” she says with tearing eyes.

Sofia adds: “One day, you'll look back and be grateful that your child was so strong and that you were so strong for them.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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