One-pound baby thriving

A local mother is giving thanks to staff at Kelowna General Hospital.

Suzette Postma says without the care, attention and great work of the KGH doctors and nurses, her son might not be alive.

Postma went to the hospital last August after she started experiencing labour pains, but at only 26 weeks pregnant she didn’t think giving birth was an actual possibility.

Earlier that day she says she had been reading the book, ‘What to expect when you're expecting,’ and had just learned her baby was only the size of a turnip.

“I ended up going to full blown labour, but originally they had tried to stop it because I was only 26 weeks. I took some medication; we thought it was OK but then I started to dilate fairly quickly and had contractions.”

KGH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a Level 2B which means it can care for acutely ill and premature infants born as young as 30 weeks.

The Infant Air Transport team from Vancouver had been dispatched to the area and was supposed to take Postma to B.C. Children’s Hospital, but there wasn’t time. Her baby was on the way.

“Right about the exact moment the team had arrived to talk to me about my flight to Vancouver's B.C. Women and Children hospital, the largest contraction took place. There was no time for a transfer,” she said.

Postma had her husband and best friend by her side, who as luck would have it, is a NICU nurse at KGH.

“Everyone was in an uproar. They weren’t ready for this baby, but he was coming. They called in every specialist they had for infant care to stabilize him. It was just crazy, totally crazy,” she explained, adding more than 20 people were assigned to help her.

Postma’s best friend and nurse, Krystal Hendricks says the mood in the room was very serious and silent.

“We were all busily mentally preparing for what we are all trained to do. It’s intense,” said Hendricks. “Any delivery under 28 weeks makes everyone's heart rate rise and brings everything you know to the surface.”

With the clock ticking, Dr. Laberge broke Postma’s water; however, the baby wasn’t where he should be.

“Suddenly, he dropped quickly and abruptly into the birth canal and the need to push was more intense than ever. It was quick – only two hard pushes, but with her (Laberge) hand guiding him safely out of my womb.”

Little Maddix was successfully delivered at one pound, 15 ounces.

“Everyone was amazing. They managed to stabilize him,” Postma said. “It was so hard to get a breathing tube down his throat because he was so little. Someone who had actually never even done it managed to get the tube in as it took some time to get it in.”

She says everyone involved did the most amazing job, and she doesn’t know what the future would have held for her son if the KGH staff wasn’t so qualified.

“I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” said Postma, choking back tears. “It was pretty incredible. They told me he really shouldn’t be here but because of them he is.”

At just 26 weeks old, Maddix had to be flown to B.C. Children’s Hospital where he spent two months in care, before spending a third month in the KGH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“He suffered from grade 2/3 brain bleeds on both sides, retinopathy of prematurity and sepsis. He was on respiratory support for 45 days, had two surgeries for inguinal hernias and a list of other issues but today he is healthy, happy and thriving,” said the delighted mother.

Hendricks says during Maddix’s time in NICU, she cried every time she saw him.

“It has got to be the scariest thing looking at your helpless baby that you can't pick up, covered in wires and tubes from every place you could put a wire or tube,” Hendricks said of the situation. “You can't prepare a parent for a baby that little, yet perfectly made with all the parts in all the right places.”

Maddix is now healthy and growing strong, a little smaller than average, but it’s not holding him back says Postma, who also has a five-year-old son.

While KGH does not typically deliver babies under 30 weeks, it does happen, as often as once a month, according to Hendricks.


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