A Scary Introduction Into the World
Avery was born at 40 weeks — full term — on January 19. As soon as she was delivered, doctors realized she had aspirated meconium (breathed in her fecal matter in the womb) and was in respiratory distress. She needed ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) to recover. Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware is the only hospital in Delaware that provides ECMO, a life-saving technique that allows the blood to be mechanically oxygenated outside of the body so that the infant’s heart and lungs can rest and recuperate.
“It was the scariest time of my life,” Kristen recalls. “But everyone was very professional, confident and supportive. Doctors, nurses, social worker — they helped get me through it.”
A Healthy Infancy Ahead
Avery spent four days on ECMO and a total of 14 days in the NICU at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware. Able to stay in the room with her daughter throughout her hospitalization, Kristen pumped and stored her breast milk, and learned about her daughter’s care regimen at the bedside. When Avery was weaned from IV feeding, ventilatory support and most medications, she was transported to a NICU in Dover, Del., to be closer to her home in Sussex County. After two weeks there, Avery went home.
“When I think back on it, it could have been so much worse,” says Kristen. “Once I got to the hospital, the competence of everyone there helped to put me at ease. I was terrified, no question, but every day got a little better. I just knew she was going to be OK. And she is — she’s perfect.”