Born eight weeks early: Life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
August 9, 2021 started off as another typical day in the life of Sadie Champagne from Burlington. Seven months pregnant with a little boy, Sadie visited her obstetrician for a regular checkup which led to a journey with McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) that was anything but regular.
“My blood pressure was unusually high, so I was sent to the hospital in Burlington for additional tests,” says Sadie. “When they also found unusually high protein levels in my urine, they realized that something was definitely off.”
Sadie was showing signs of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure that can be extremely dangerous if not treated in a timely manner.
She called her husband Stephen from the hospital and told him the situation. “Over the phone, a nurse said it was very serious and there was a remote chance that both Sadie and the baby could be lost,” says Stephen. “It was one of the scariest days of my life.”
A stressful delivery
With lights flashing, an ambulance transported Sadie to MCH.
The following day, the medical team worked to stabilize her and her baby, but the unborn child’s heart rate began to fade in and out. It was determined that an emergency C-section was necessary.
“I was scared because I’d never had surgery before in my life, but the nurses helped me through it by providing emotional and physical support,” says Sadie.
The surgery went smoothly and “Little John” was born eight weeks early, weighing just 895 grams.
“When we heard him crying for the first time, we all rejoiced. The team in the operating room came together to make this possible and I’m extremely grateful to those amazing people.”
Into the NICU
Within a single day, so much had changed in the family’s lives.
“Just 12 hours earlier, we had no inkling that we would be experiencing all of these unexpected things,” says Stephen. “Reality suddenly hit us – we were really parents now.”
Little John wasn’t totally out of the woods yet and he was moved into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Because of his prematurity, his lungs weren’t completely developed and he required support through a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to ensure he was properly oxygenated.
A feeding tube was inserted to deliver the nutrients Little John needed, as his muscles weren’t strong enough for oral feeding yet. He also required a blood transfusion to help boost the hemoglobin count in his blood.
Sadie says her son is doing well. “We get to celebrate the progress as he keeps moving forward. Right now, the team in the NICU is focused on strengthening his breathing and getting him to the point where he can feed orally.”
Grateful for support
Stephen, who works for Dairy Queen Canada, now appreciates DQ’s support for McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation more than ever. Each year, proceeds from the sale of Blizzards on DQ’s Miracle Treat Day are donated to the Foundation. These funds support equipment purchases for MCH, important research initiatives and the ongoing education of health care professionals.
“You never think you’ll need the services of McMaster Children’s Hospital,” says Stephen. “All of that changed in an instant. I can’t thank donors enough for their support on Miracle Treat Day and making a real difference in the lives of patients like Little John.”
Sadie and Stephen now have a strong connection to MCH that will last a lifetime.
“We’ll always be thankful for everything they’ve done for us,” she says. “It’s reassuring to know that McMaster Children’s Hospital is always there when we need it.”