In honor of NICU awareness month this past September, I wished to share our story with our rainbow son Niklaüs. The name Niklaüs, of Old Greek origin, means “Victor of the People” and is predominantly used in German. It is a form of Nicholas, which is the first name of my husband and Niklaüs’ father. Niklaüs is our second child and a miracle baby, as his older sister Arabella was born and passed away on March 25th, 2022.
Following the loss of our daughter, we embarked on a high-risk pregnancy, knowing that it would be a challenging journey from the outset. We underwent extensive monitoring, including blood tests and ultrasounds, to ensure that Niklaüs was healthy from the very beginning. At nine weeks, we discovered that we were having a boy, and I was overjoyed. I was determined to do everything in my power to give my son the best possible chance. After conducting thorough research, I found a world-renowned surgeon in Indiana and met with him virtually to discuss getting a transabdominal cerclage. This permanent stitch helps to keep the cervix long and closed, preventing another loss from PPROM/incompetent cervix.
Despite my OB and MFM’s recommendation to wait, I decided to travel from Colorado while I was 13 weeks pregnant to undergo the procedure. My husband and I booked the trip, and I had the surgery on a Friday, returning home on a Sunday. The surgery was an “open” transabdominal cerclage, similar to a c-section incision, and was highly successful. We continued to monitor Niklaüs’s growth each week, and he remained healthy and strong. Around 30 weeks, I began experiencing more pressure and cramping and decided to go to the hospital for a check-up. It turned out that I was having contractions a minute apart and was given magnesium and transported to a hospital with a higher level NICU as a precaution.
Subsequently, I was prescribed Procardia every four hours around the clock to prevent my irritable uterus and contractions. Additionally, we scheduled my cesarean section for March 9th, 2023, at 36 weeks. However, despite these measures, I found myself admitted to the hospital multiple times due to intermittent contractions. Given the risk of uterine rupture with my cerclage, we decided to delay the procedure until 34 weeks, following my final admission to the hospital at 33 weeks.
On February 23rd, 2023, at 2:20 PM, Niklaüs Charles Hall was born, weighing 5lbs 14 oz. As this was my first cesarean section, I was understandably anxious, having previously experienced the loss of Arabella. However, hearing my newborn son breathe and cry was an emotional moment, and I was overjoyed that he had finally arrived. Nevertheless, I was aware that we still had a long journey ahead, given the respiratory distress caused by the Colorado elevation and his prematurity. Consequently, he was immediately admitted to the NICU, where he received blow-by O2 and intermittent grunting and slight retractions were observed. Unfortunately, I was unable to hold him, only managing a quick kiss before he was taken away with his father. Later that night, Niklaüs was placed on Bubble CPAP and administered surfactant. He was intubated and given Fentanyl and Atropine. Following the administration of surfactant and the placement of an endotracheal tube, CPAP was resumed. Given my own complications and limited mobility, I allowed him to rest while I recovered, with his father holding him in the morning.
Our stay in the NICU lasted a total of 34 days and was characterized by a mixture of positive and negative experiences. During this period, we encountered a total of 17 different diagnoses, ranging from minor issues such as constipation to more serious conditions like COVID-19. Unfortunately, the hospital discontinued the use of masks when Niklaüs was less than two weeks old. As a result, both of us contracted the virus, and I was subsequently isolated at home after a visit to the Emergency room at the same hospital. The inability to be with our precious baby after experiencing a stillbirth and throughout his stay was an incredibly distressing ordeal that I would not wish upon anyone. Furthermore, my birthday fell in the midst of all these challenges, and I was utterly miserable being separated from my son. It was already difficult enough to venture out into public spaces and witness other babies, but the knowledge that I was not permitted to be by his side when he needed me the most continues to deeply trouble me to this day.
Fast forward to nearly seven months later, Niklaüs is thriving and has reached an impressive weight of nineteen pounds. He receives weekly physical and occupational therapy sessions at home and has already sprouted two teeth. It is an immense privilege to be his mother, and I am filled with overwhelming pride for the resilience he exhibits both internally and externally. Although we still grapple with issues such as severe reflux and a cow’s milk allergy, his progress is remarkable, and I cannot express enough gratitude for the blessing of my beautiful rainbow baby after enduring such a dark and tumultuous period. I am sending you all love, and want everyone to know, we hear you, we see you, and we are you.
Kristi started a Colorado non-profit called A Mother’s Chance in July of this year to help other bereaved families navigate life and loss. Her hope is to share her story and bring support, advocacy, and education to those facing similar challenges. You may reach her at [email protected] or by going to www.amotherschance.com.
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