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  • Writer's pictureDr Kendra Clifford ND

My Birth Story

Recently I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy Luca and let's just say it was not the traditional labour and delivery story we all hope for. There was no excitement of my contractions starting, my water didn't break, and he didn't arrive the traditional route. Instead he arrived a full 12 weeks early, through an emergency c-section to save both of our lives. But let me start at the beginning.

One nice, sunny Thursday afternoon in September I, like a lot of pregnant women had a regular check up with my obstetrician. Now, due to some additional testing we had done (very common for those of us women of 'advanced maternal age') this happened to be the first time I was meeting my OB. Now, whether it was white coat syndrome nerves, or the start of our emergency journey, for whatever reason my blood pressure was a little high at the OB office. Better safe than sorry we decided and off to the Southlake labour and delivery department I went to run some basic tests - or so we thought.

By that evening I had been admitted to Southlake with a whopping blood pressure reading of 182/120. Now a 'normal' blood pressure is 120/80 (approximately) so as you can see this was definitely not normal, pregnant or not. Over the next few days, and through trial and error with medication, we were able to stabilize my blood pressure. Yay! This meant I could go home right? Nope. My OB at the hospital thought it would be a good idea to just check with the high risk unit at Sunnybrook to make sure there was nothing else we should be doing.

Next thing I know I'm in an ambulance, lights and sirens being transferred to the high risk unit where I would be until I delivered. What I didn't know is that my stay at Sunnybrook would be slightly over a week in length. At this point I had officially been diagnosed with preeclampsia. While being monitored, there's a number of symptoms they would ask about every day - headaches, blurred vision, abdominal pain. These were the big three. Every day my answer was the same - no, no, no. That is until I woke up with excruciating abdominal (epigastric) pain on the Saturday morning. One quick call button to the nurse and I was now in the birthing suite, hooked up to a magnesium sulfate drip (to prevent eclampsia - seizures), and making a frantic phone call to my husband that we were going to be having a baby that day.

By two o'clock that afternoon our beautiful baby boy Luca had made his appearance.

At 28 weeks and 2 days, 2 lbs 10 oz Luca needed some extra help in the NICU.

We were very very lucky - other than some help eating (infants this far along in gestation do not have the ability to co-ordinate breathing/swallowing) and some extra breathing support (those poor little lungs were so small!) we really lucked out - our guy was a little fighter.

Those first few days in the NICU were terrifying. Not only were we new parents, but I was recovering from major abdominal surgery, with a TINY infant to now call our own.

Our daily trips to the NICU soon became routine, and it was wonderful to watch Luca hit milestone, after milestone. First by being able to regulate his own temperature, then to be able to eat only via the feeding tube. Each milestone came with it weight gain, and the hope that he would be home sooner than later.

The next thing we knew he was a month old and being transferred from the level 3 NICU at Sunnybrook, to the level 2 NICU at Markham Stouffville Hospital. It was graduation day. This meant that he was stable enough, and had made enough progress that he no longer needed the same amount of care provided by the wonderful staff at Sunnybrook.

So off to Markham Stouffville we went. Here Luca continued to make leaps and bounds! First by being able to leave the isolette (incubator) and sleep in his own cot, to having no tubes at all! Soon we were bringing him home!

After 8 long weeks of daily visits to the NICU we were finally able to bring him home. Like any parent, that first car journey was full of nervous excitement. Especially as he was only 6 lbs, and just barely fit into his car seat.

But get him home we did, where he was finally able to meet his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, and other cousins and family members who had been dying to meet him. Due to COVID -19 restrictions only his father and I were allowed to visit the NICU.

When Luca first arrived they told us he would probably be in the NICU until his due date - December 9th. So we realistically set a goal to have him home for Christmas. Not only were we able to celebrate his first Christmas at home with his family, he had already been home for a month! He exceeded every expectation and continues to do so.

So if you don't see me around the clinic as often now you know why. I'm still in the office on Tuesdays for now, while this little guy still needs me (he has gramma visits Tuesdays), but I am available virtually throughout the week.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the office again.

- Dr K

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