When I was pregnant with Hailey, everything seemed to be perfect. We were both healthy and she seemed to be growing at the perfect rate. At around 34 weeks, and still feeling great, I was suddenly diagnosed with severe Preeclampsia. My kidneys were struggling to keep up with the demands, and they were quickly failing. Many nights in the hospital, hundreds of tests, and a helicopter ride later, a decision was made that Hailey and I would both be better off if she was born early. At just over 35 weeks I was sent to Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville PA, to be induced. Hailey still seemed to be doing great, it was MY health that was the cause of the concern. When she was born, Hailey was crying and looked perfect. But a few minutes later she got very ashen and grey, even though she seemed to be breathing just fine. The whirlwind that followed was like a slow motion movie in a foreign language. Thankfully we were already at Geisinger, as The Janet Weis Children’s Hospital has a level IV NICU. One that she was in desperate need of. Initially Hailey was put on CPAP, to help keep her little lungs open. But not long after she was upgraded to a ventilator, and then an oscillator (look it up on Youtube, its not pretty). She still wasn’t improving like the doctors hoped, so we almost ended up getting sent to CHOP in Philadelphia so that she could be placed on ECMO. It turns out that Hailey had Intra Uterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) but she was still measuring as 'normal' as due to the over abundance of fluid left by my failing kidneys (she was born at 4.5 lbs). The bigger problem was that she also had Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN) causing her blood to circulate incorrectly and not pick up the oxygen it needed from her lungs. She also developed Pneumonia and severe Jaundice while she was in the hospital.
I can not say enough about the wonderful care that we received while Hailey was in the NICU. Not only from the doctors and nurses that provided round the clock care, but also from the March of Dimes staff that were there to help in any way they could. Having a loved one in the hospital for an extended period of time is very difficult, especially when its your child. Its incredibly easy to lose touch with reality and forget to take care of yourself. Simple things, like snacks and a professional picture of your baby, not to mention the daily activities and family picnics, reminded us that there was still life outside of the NICU. Far away from the loud alarms and jugs of hand sanitizer.
I will never be able to thank the March of Dimes enough for everything they do. The funding they provide that goes towards not just treating but preventing these tiny miracles is crucial. And it led to me being able to walk out of the hospital with a healthy little girl, that shows no signs of how much she’s already been through in her short life. And THAT, is why I walk.