When Love Delivers: One Couple’s Journey through the NICU
When Valerie and Dominic learned they were pregnant they were excited to become parents for the first time. Initially Valerie had normal pregnancy symptoms, like nausea and swollen feet. At 24 weeks, Valerie was working the last hour of her shift as an emergency room unit clerk at PIH Health Whittier Hospital when her nose began to bleed. “Nurses quickly checked my blood pressure which was high at 215/165,” says Valerie. She was admitted to the hospital as a patient.
Valerie’s liver began shutting down and doctors diagnosed her with preeclampsia and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count, also known as HELLP syndrome. “Hospital staff organized a meeting with us to discuss the birth of our baby,” says Dominic. Due to the complications, doctors decided to deliver the baby through an emergency C-section. They gave the baby an injection to mature the lungs while still in the womb, and prepared the baby for birth.
Baby Scarlett was born on October 27, 2016 and cared for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because of her birth weight which was significantly low at 1 pound, 1 ounce. She was to be kept in the NICU until she reached 5 pounds and was feeding well. Her health improved and 112 days later, she was released from the NICU on a day filled with love—Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2017, which also happened to be her initial due date.
Scarlett is now two-years-old and has shown great progress. She passed her hearing and eye exams and shows no signs of hearing loss or eye damage, which is common with premature babies.
Valerie and Dominic appreciate the treatment they received from the Labor and Delivery staff at PIH Health Whittier Hospital. “Everyone was very involved and they treated us like family,” says Dominic. The hospital staff kept them up-to-date with all the details regarding their daughter’s recovery. Valerie adds, “Every day, doctors and nurses would explain any changes to help us understand the goals and progress of our daughter’s health.”
Dominic, Valerie and Scarlett would like to thank the entire PIH Health obstetrics group, the NICU doctors and nurses and the respiratory therapists who were all closely involved in Scarlett’s birth. Dominic says, “During a difficult time, you need to be there for each other. This was one was the hardest things we went through, but we are thankful that everyone was there for us.” Today, Scarlett is a happy, active and healthy little girl who is constantly on the go. Her favorite movies to watch are Boss Baby and Coco.