Wendy’s Story: Special Care For a Special Delivery

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Wendy Fullerton’s plans for the birth of her son were turned upside down when Hank decided to arrive six weeks early.

Instead of a birth at Miami Valley Hospital where she had been monitored in a program for high-risk pregnancy due to Crohn’s Disease, she ended up speeding to the maternity center at nearby Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) when her water broke in the middle of the night.

“He wasn’t waiting around. When my water broke, I was trying to talk myself out of it like it wasn’t real,” Wendy, a Troy area resident, recalls.

Among those who happened to be on hand when she arrived that early November morning was her obstetrician, Katherine Bachman, MD, and nurses she knew through her work at UVMC.

“I wasn’t alone, but it helped so much to know people in that department. They were concerned for me because they knew I wasn’t due yet,” she says.

An ultrasound was taken to ensure the baby was OK, and Dr. Bachman examined Wendy.

“Dr. Bachman is so calm. If she would have been frazzled, it probably would have frazzled me, but she is always calm,” Wendy says.

Within hours, she was a new mom. “He was not hanging out for the party. He progressed very, very fast,” Wendy says of Hank, who was delivered at 4 pounds, 14 ounces.

The delivery went well but she had to deal with issues of severe separation anxiety when Hank was receiving routine blood work and stopped breathing.

Hank was placed in UVMC’s Special Care Nursery where he was monitored and cared for almost two weeks.

Wendy says she was distressed to learn her baby would have to stay in the unit for five days straight without experiencing breathing or heart issues before he could go home.

“When my husband and I first saw him in the unit, I lost it. He was so helpless with tubes and monitors everywhere,” she says. “It was just the unknown. They had eyes on him, monitors on him, but I couldn’t stay with him like I wanted to.”

Dr. Bachman says the stay in the nursery was needed to monitor Hank’s apnea episodes. “They’re monitored with an apnea monitor to look for events of stopping to breathe. They’re often ruled out for infections,” she says. “Sometimes that can be a cause, especially in babies that are born prematurely.”

As the days progressed, so did Hank, and coping by Wendy and husband, Eric, with their son’s continued hospitalization.

Wendy credits the “amazing” staff.

One nurse was excellent at getting Hank to eat while another played music on her phone. Another nurse gave him an infant massage.

“Four or five days into it, I was able to go in (the unit) without anxiety. I felt Hank was getting the hang of eating and breathing on his own,” she says. During her stay, a nurse gave her a bag donated to the unit for new mothers. Among items was a notebook in which Wendy wrote about her experiences as she waited between the times she could be with her son.

“The staff was just, by far, saviors. Every one of them, it seemed like this was their calling. They just loved him to pieces. It was nice to know if I did want to step away, everything would be OK,” Wendy says.

Dr. Bachman says it’s “fantastic” that UVMC has a special care nursery. “It’s the only Level II nursery in the area,” she says. “It does provide patients with an option to be with their babies. Babies that don’t require transfer to the NICU can be cared for here, and their families don’t have to make the long trip back and forth to Dayton from this area.”

Following her return home and the settling in of the family, Wendy put together bags for the future Special Care Nursery moms, including items such as tissues, snacks, a preemie outfit, and a notebook, along with a personal letter she wrote.

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