This is a guest post by Veronica Stoltz, who delivered Katherine 15 weeks early at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Katherine was taken via tunnel to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, where she remained for 99 days. Today, Katherine is a healthy 3-year-old who has three big brothers at home.
I never expected my baby’s delivery to include a high-speed footrace under a major metropolitan thoroughfare just minutes after her birth. But that is exactly what happened following our daughter’s premature birth on the morning of Jan. 3, 2009.
Our daughter, Katherine, was still 15 weeks away from her due date when it was discovered that the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding her had become dangerously low. My care team decided that I should stay overnight at Abbott Northwestern Hospital for observation.
At about 2 a.m., I was situated in my hospital room with monitors and encouraged to get some rest. My husband went home to be with our other three children overnight. However, as soon as he returned home, he heard the phone ringing. With fear in my voice, I said, “I think you’d better come back. The doctors and nurses don’t like what they’re seeing.”
He made the 20-minute return trip to the hospital and arrived on the floor in a panic—but he was too late. The medical team had just delivered our daughter via emergency C-section in order to save her life. A nurse threw him a pair of scrubs and told him to join us in the delivery room.
At the time of her birth, our teeny, tiny daughter weighed 470 grams and was 11 inches long. She looked like a featherless bird that had fallen out of its nest. I was whisked away to a recovery room while tears streamed down my face as I lay helplessly still in the middle of the biggest tornado my little family had ever experienced.
Meanwhile, my husband went to be by our daughter’s side. He watched as the neonatal transfer team frantically worked to stabilize her enough to move her. Moving her to Children’s was the only way she would be able to continue to get the life-saving treatments she required.
A medical team of neonatal doctors and nurses ran alongside her isolette through a half-mile underground tunnel that connected Children’s and Abbott Northwestern and admitted her into Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
My husband accompanied the team in his socks, trying to keep up and avoid tripping on his ill-fitting scrubs. He remained with my daughter as long as possible and tried to learn all he could about her condition and chances of survival before returning to Abbott Northwestern to check on me.
The two most important girls in his life were in separate hospitals – each with significant needs. He desperately wanted to be a comforting presence to each of us. He traveled the underground tunnel several times during the next few days until I was well enough to be discharged and join him full time at Children’s.
Thanks to The Mother Baby Center opening this winter, families who find themselves in situations similar to ours will no longer be separated from one another. Babies will be delivered just down the hall in a top-notch facility with a world-class neonatal team ready to care for them 24/7 if it’s needed.
We spent 99 days at Children’s before our daughter was well enough to be discharged and join her three big brothers at home. I am unabashedly proud of the fact that I was able to be by her side each and every day she was hospitalized. Even though I was unable to care for her in a traditional way, I knew she recognized and found comfort in my voice, my touch, my smell, and my presence.
Being able to do nothing more than hold her precious little hand through the small holes on the side of the isolette will always be one of the most sacred moments of my life. As she was clinging to life, it was imperative for her to know she had somebody who desperately loved her clinging right back.
Thank you, Children’s and Abbott Northwestern, for your innovative and incredible new partnership and facility. You are giving families what they need the most in times of crisis…each other.