Jill Canada was pregnant with her third child and thought she knew the drill. Her two daughters were both born full term. Then came her third child.
At 30 weeks, Jill’s water broke, and Drew was born via emergency C-section a week later – nine weeks before his due date. Weighing just over three pounds, Drew was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St Vincent Women’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The ‘Golden Hour’ traditionally refers to the crucial moments following a major trauma, as the correct treatment needs to be administered within the first 60 minutes to maximize chances of survival. The term is now increasingly used to refer to the hour immediately after birth for babies born preterm, or with an illness or other health challenge. In this Baby “Golden Hour,” the infant needs to be continuously monitored for stable temperature and other vitals.
In the womb, the infant’s body temperature is effortlessly regulated at about half a degree Celsius above that of the mother’s. Once the baby has left the womb, its temperature will fall to within a normal range between 36.5 and 37 degrees Celsius, but a premature infant’s temperature can fall lower and will require immediate action by the neonatal clinical team. In fact, for every degree below 36 degrees Celsius, the baby’s survival rate drops by 28 percent.
Drew spent a total of six weeks in the NICU, growing in size and strength in GE Healthcare’s Giraffe Omnibed, which helped minimize his temperature swings. For the first week, Jill and Andy could only hold Drew for ten minutes once a day because he was so fragile.
“I saw things through a whole new light because I had had two perfectly typical babies before Drew,” Jill shared. “There are so many things you take for granted like being able to hold your child after they’re born and being able to leave the hospital with your child. Nothing is guaranteed or given when you have a preemie.”
“The NICU is also an extreme emotional rollercoaster with the most important consequences,” Jill said. “All that said, I feel like I got to be an eyewitness to a miracle and I will never stop being grateful for Drew’s care team that helped facilitate that miracle.”
Now at 17 months old, Drew is 25 pounds and is developing right on track with no lasting effects from his time in the NICU. Between the nurses, hospital staff, family and friends, Jill and Andy had a great support group. Jill shared there was one quote in particular from C. Joyce Bell that helped her during some of the dark moments: “Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
Andy and Jill are one of many families who have experienced prematurity and are sharing their words of wisdom and inspiration for others currently going through it. Read their messages here.