It was a Thursday I’ll never forget. I was about 37 weeks pregnant when we learned there were complications, including Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and an asymmetrical Inter-Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). PIH can be a precursor to Preeclampsia, which leads to a risk of seizures, stroke, major organ failure, and potentially maternal death. The asymmetrical IUGR resulted from Baby Charlie’s body redirecting his limited blood flow to the most important organs, especially his brain. His blood flow was somewhat reduced by an abnormality in the placenta. By Saturday, we were at UC Davis Medical Center for an urgent induction at 37 weeks and 2 days.
Charlie Undergoes Hypothermia Protocol
Charlie was born on Monday evening, weighing in at a whopping 4 pounds 8 ounces. Immediately after delivery, Charlie was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). After analyzing the gas levels in his umbilical cord, NICU doctors recommended Charlie undergo a cooling procedure known as Hypothermia Protocol in order to treat Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). In this procedure, Charlie’s core temperature was lowered to 33.5 degrees Celsius for 72 hours, and then slowly re-warmed. The process slowed the flow of blood to his brain and is intended to prevent further injury and protect neurological function.
After delivery my PIH worsened, and I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia. I received IV medications for several days to lower my blood pressure and prevent seizures. Once my condition began improving, I was discharged from the hospital. At this point we were unsure how long Charlie would need to stay in the NICU.
Video Conferencing Via Ronald McDonald House
Our social worker, Leslie, was aware that we did not live locally, and immediately put us in touch with the Ronald McDonald House down the street from the hospital. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for a total of five nights. While at the Ronald McDonald house, the NICU doctors and nurses helped us set up a video conferencing application on our laptop that allowed us to watch Charlie whenever we couldn’t be at his bedside. Being able to keep an eye on Charlie, even though we were still close by, helped ease some of the anxiety felt from having to leave him in the NICU for several days and nights.
After eleven total days we were finally able to take Charlie home. The amount of support, love, and quality of care we have received has been overwhelming. The quality of care was evident starting in Labor and Delivery until my discharge from the Women’s Pavilion. The doctors and nurses in the NICU went above and beyond in terms of explaining diagnoses, providing care for Charlie, and offering support and understanding for my husband and I during one of the most challenging times our young family has faced. Even with my background as a nurse at UC Davis, this experience has been eye-opening. I am proud to be able to work alongside the nurses and doctors at UCDMC. There are too many people to thank for the care we have received; our family is very fortunate and grateful.
–story told by Charlie’s mom, Caitlin