When you find out you’re pregnant, one of the questions you ask yourself probably doesn’t include, “does my hospital have a good NICU?” My baby going to the NICU definitely was not apart of my plan. I knew I would deliver at Covenant Children’s, that is where my doctor practices, but I had no idea about the NICU. In fact it was pretty foreign to me. I had heard about it, but it was never a place I thought our baby would need.
I woke up the morning of September 26th and I knew something was wrong. I called my mom and we immediately drove to the hospital. We discovered my water had broken for no reason at all other than sometimes, these things just happen. I was only 23 weeks a long. What would happen to my baby? My doctor placed her hand on my knee and told me what to expect in the coming hours or days and possibly weeks, if we made it that far. I was admitted to the Antepartum Unit where every new day was a gift. They informed me a doctor from the NICU would come and talk to us about what to expect if we delivered our baby early. I remember thinking “is this guy speaking a foreign language?” It seemed like a whole other world. One thing he left us with was HOPE.
The Neonatologist gave us hope for our baby. He told us we were in the perfect place for our situation. Covenant Children’s is a Level IV NICU, which is the highest possible rank assigned to a NICU Unit. They are equipped to care for infants earlier than 33 weeks and weighing only ounces.
After being on bed rest for 4 weeks, my labor began at 27 weeks and I delivered our daughter via emergency C-section. That is exactly what I needed at that moment. The experience was scary and easy to feel overwhelmed, but everyone made the situation much better. The NICU team set up the isolette and explained in depth what each machine did. I heard the tiniest shrill of a cry when she was pulled from me and the NICU team immediately went to work. They talked through what they were doing to our baby as we watched them to warm up her body and intubated her for respiratory support. Within minutes they whisked her away to the NICU.
Hattie weighed only 2lbs and 4oz. She spent weeks in the isolette that helped keep her temperature maintained and the humidity right for her skin. She was placed on a C-PAP machine, then a high flow nasal cannula for oxygen was placed. She was always hooked up to a machine that monitored her heart rate and breathing, and a feeding tube was inserted shortly after birth. She had a feeding tube until she learned to eat on her own, at approximately 34 weeks. Hattie had blood transfusions, was poked and probed more times than a sweet tiny babe should be.
One thing is for certain, the doctors, nurses, and staff were absolutely one of a kind. They each went above and beyond for our sweet girl and always made us feel comfortable and included. If we hadn’t been in the Antepartum Unit at Covenant Children’s when our Hattie decided she was ready to come, she probably would not have made it. The NICU saved her life. The NICU gave her life. The NICU gave us a whole new perspective on life. We are eternally grateful for the care we received while Hattie was in Covenant Children’s.