“A kind word goes a long way,” Alexis Nartia said.
This statement sums up the way she and her husband, Joe, have endured difficult circumstances since Oct. 11, when Mrs. Nartia was admitted to the hospital 30 weeks pregnant and had to undergo an emergency cesarean section.
Their daughter, Indigo, was delivered 10 weeks early and weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces at birth.
“There were some concerns with her coming out OK, but she surprised everyone, and she was fine,” Mrs. Nartia said. “They call her Miss Feisty, if that gives you an idea.”
Since birth, baby Indie (as her parents call her) has been in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mother Frances hospital. Complications aside, she is expected to come home around the time of her actual due date of Dec. 20.
“She’s done well but also experienced setbacks and illnesses that are common with premature babies,” Mrs. Nartia said.
The Nartias own and operate What About Kabob, a popular mom-and-pop restaurant at 713 WSW Loop 323 in the River Oaks shopping center.
Since opening in June 2011, they’ve learned the restaurant business is a difficult way to earn a living, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed, even without difficult circumstances.
The couple also has a son, Keanu, 5.
“It’s been a crazy couple of months,” Mrs. Nartia said. “We are back and forth to the hospital all the time. The business has been slow, because it is a slow time of year, but this year has been slower, and we’ve been experiencing one thing after another, but Joe has kept everything afloat and keeps our family going. He’s had the world on his shoulders. He just amazes me with everything he handles.”
Along with her husband’s hard work, she also credits a positive outlook she always strives to possess, regardless of circumstances.
“I am probably sugar coating things just because I am a positive person, but if we didn’t have faith and didn’t have positivity in our lives, then we would probably be in another place. It’s easy to fall victim to despair,” she said.
However, the challenges were difficult, and she found herself in situations she never imagined.
“The first month was very hard on me. I felt very helpless not being able to do anything with Joe at the restaurant and not being able to care for Indie like I wanted to maternally,” she said. “I had always heard about post-partum depression and wonder if it’s real and how people know if they’re experiencing it.
“I was lucky enough to figure out I was headed that way. So I started trying to do things differently so that it didn’t happen. It’s really easy to fall victim to things like that, but we’ve been supported by so many people in the community, and our family,” she said.
That support has helped the couple navigate the combined challenges of a premature baby and running a small business.
“I know Joey is probably wondering all the time what is going to happen. The restaurant business is day to day – especially now that we are in a slow time,” she said. “Some businesses thrive during the holidays while others suffer. We are one of those that suffer because we are small and can’t accommodate things other businesses can do.
“We have to be positive. Failure is not an option, especially for my husband. Joe gets to see Indie for maybe an hour a day. He is up at the crack of dawn and at the restaurant late since he’s doing so much himself.”
Mrs. Nartia tries to turn negative emotions into positive energy with a simple solution that helps make the best of each day.
“If you start the day being grateful, it’s really easy to have a good day,” she said. “It’s easy to wake up in the morning and think about everything that is going wrong or to be worried, but if you start to count your blessings, it is easy to get out of bed.
“I realize we are not in the worst situation. Everybody is going through something different. This situation has taught us the type of people we can be. And if we can be this way now with all these circumstances, it’s a lesson for us to step up our game when the odds are more in our favor. There are a lot of life lessons going on right now.”
After the Nartias bring home Indie and settle into life with the new addition to their family, they look forward to giving back to the community.
“For example, Indie is having a blood transfusion, and I never understood the importance of blood drives until now,” she said. “There are around 26 babies here in the NICU, and every baby here will have to have at least one transfusion. Because somebody donated their blood, my baby will get better.”
Many people in the community – customers, family, strangers and other small businesses owners – have found many ways to help the Nartias through these uncertain circumstances.
“Everybody has been really good to us,” she said. “I fully believe in the power of prayer. Both of us do, and because there were a lot of people praying for us, we are where we are now.
“My sister in law set up a Go Fund, because so many people were asking how they could help. A night in the NICU is something like $2,500, so we are going to get hit with some high bills, but people have really wanted to help out,
“When she was born, we were completely unprepared. We had nothing. Now, she’s not even home yet, and I can’t think of one thing I need to get for her. Everyone has been so sweet. I even had a lady come in last week with three bags of clothes for our son.”
Restaurant owners, such as John Florendo at Cork and Cedric and LaDawn Fletcher with Fat Catz, have been supportive.
“We all lean on each other, and it’s nice to have someone who knows what you’re business is going through and have someone understand how hard it is,” she said. “As much as I believe in faith, I also believe in the law of attraction. If you send out positivity, it will come back to you. And it has come back to us in this situation.
“No matter what situation we have faced, we’ve always had faith and found the help that we needed. I worry sometimes about what might happen, but because of faith, I have never felt we were at the end of our rope. I just have confidence that things will always turn around, because it always does. God is good, and he always is, and you just have to believe it.”