I had signed up for all the newborn classes, planned out the baby shower and maternity picture session, read up on breastfeeding tips, researched all the signs of labor. Despite my best laid plans, I delivered 2 months premature, had an emergency C-Section and spent 5 weeks in the NICU.
Be familiar with the closest NICU hospital
My local hospital did not have a NICU which meant they could not support a baby under 34 weeks. It’s good to know your closest options because that location could be the center of your world for a while. Consider if that hospital is in a network with your health insurance, reviews and reputation, what the drive is like to your partner’s work, extended family, etc.
So here is why it’s nice to figure out your closest NICU options
I was 31 weeks pregnant and went to a regular office visit. My blood pressure for the first time was elevated and they found protein in my urine. The doctor turned to a serious tone and spoke to me about Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome.
Since the test done at the office took days to get results back, I was told to go to the hospital and get further tests which the results could be in within hours. So I headed straight to the hospital (that I just toured a week ago) and was expecting about a 4-hour visit.
Those tests came back positive
So then my 4-hour visit turned into a 24-hour urine test to see just about how much protein is in my urine. That came back positive for Preeclampsia, so then I was told I would need to stay until I delivered. The goal was 34 weeks.
There I sat thinking what just happened, 4 hours may turn into 3 or more weeks?!?!
Not a fun time to travel
If I delivered before 34 weeks, a CHKD equipped NICU ambulance would transport my baby, and I would follow in a regular ambulance separately to a hospital with a NICU. I didn’t like the idea of traveling separately from my baby.
The other option is transporting me before delivery by a regular ambulance and have the baby at that other hospital. Everything was hanging on how stable I stayed with my liver function tests.
I began to get worse on day 4
My upper back pain was unbearable. The room lights seem to be blaring at me that I actually covered them with pillow cases. The nurse and doctor came in and my test came back very elevated. Then they immediately put me on Magnesium Sulfate.
Thankfully, I was stable enough to be transported to the NICU hospital before delivery which was about 50 miles away. With stopped traffic from closed tunnels and road construction, the trip took about an hour and a half. I just got in a mental state of mind to stay calm no matter what. I focused on breathing deeply to stay as relaxed as possible in the back of that ambulance.
Overall it was a stressful trip.
Will you have a premature birth? Hopefully not.
It’s worth the small conversation or self-planning to run through the “what if’s” when you are about 6 months pregnant. It will be one less thing to worry about.