Fourth-Trimester Series: The NICU Experience (Question 1)

September is NICU Awareness Month. This month was designed to honor the families experiencing a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals who care for them. We reached out to a couple of brave Max + Moose mamas and asked them five questions about their experience in the NICU. For the next five days, we will be sharing what they had to say. 

(Image: Tori Casanova)

Question One: Why were you admitted + did you know ahead of time that you would be spending time in the NICU?

One month prior to my daughter’s due date, I went in for a routine appointment with my midwife. Everything was normal until the fetal heart rate doppler was used; her heart rate came back at a dangerous speed of 243 bpm, her normal range was in the high 150’s. At that moment I was rushed to labor and delivery for an emergency cesarean section. My daughter was prematurely born with an atrial heart flutter which caused her to be sent to NICU. I had zero warning or cause for concern that her heart was under stress at all. Her movements seemed normal and I felt like my normal self at the time - though it was a pretty rough pregnancy. (Kamri Pitchford - @hellakidsinhere)

When I was 16 weeks pregnant with my oldest, I went in to do the gender ultrasound. At the end of the ultrasound- the tech said she found a few abnormalities + that we needed to speak to our doctor so to hand tight. Uhhh... did see that one coming! Turned out my son had Gastroschisis- he was born with his intestines on the outside of his body [normally at 14 weeks in utero- babies bowls + intestines migrate into the body. His never did] I am so grateful I knew about this beforehand- I needed that time to process what was all going to happen. They told us we would be in the NICU anywhere between 6-8 weeks. We were released at 5 weeks 3 days. (Alyssa Andrus - @max_and_moose)

I went into labor at 22 weeks 3 days. I spent 11 days on hospital bed rest. Conner and Caden were born at 24 weeks (16 weeks early). Caden passed away at 1 day old and Conner spent 194 days in the NICU. I knew that carrying twins would possibly lead to a NICU stay, but I never imagined our journey would turn out the way it did. (Jenny Saunders - @OurLifeAfterNICU)


(Image: Jenny Saunders) 

At our 20-week anatomy scan, we discovered our son, Maddox, was very small for his gestational age (at that point in the 7% in weight). At that point, we were sent to a high-risk doctor to have ultrasounds taken every week, and he was measured every three weeks to monitor his weight. Every week that passed, he fell further and further behind in weight and was eventually diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), which is basically a fancy way of saying that something was preventing him from growing inside the womb the way he needed to. Due to his lack of weight gain, my doctor and I both agreed that the best plan of action was for me to be induced at 38 weeks since we could offer Maddox better care on the outside than we could on the inside. Going into my labor + delivery, I knew that the chances of him going to the NICU were pretty high, but I was holding out hope that he would be perfectly fine, just a little tiny. That, however, wasn't the case. He was born at 38 weeks, 4lbs and 13 oz. Up until this point, we still had no idea why he was so small, but once he was born, our doctor discovered an abnormally large knot in his umbilical cord. Knots in umbilical cords can be common, especially during delivery; however, this was different, and my husband and I were told that our son was truly a miracle baby. Due to his lack of weight, and inability to regulate his breathing and temperature, he was immediately taken to the NICU. I held him for all of three seconds, which I know, to some NICU mamas, is such a blessing, but giving him up was by far, one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. (Tori Casanova - @toricasanova)

We were discharged from the hospital that Olive was born at on schedule with a clean bill of health. The following morning we had her first pediatric visit, at which point she was diagnosed with jaundice at significant enough levels that we would need to be admitted overnight for phototherapy. The following morning, minutes before discharge, she went “dusky.” One minute I was nursing her (with a lactation consultant supervising), the next she was snatched from my arms and whisked down the hallway. Basically, Olive was born just a couple of weeks early and had a bit of trouble with autonomous breathing. Because her “spell” happened in the hospital, precautionary measures had to be taken and other causes needed to be ruled out. She needed to go five days without incident, which ultimately resulted in a ten-day stay in the NICU. (Casey Yost - @caseyfromaway)

(Image: Casey Yost)


QUESTION 2: What is something you wish you knew about the NICU going into it?
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