Where the NICU team cared for Emily like family
The term “high risk” doesn’t come close to describing the 34 weeks of Emily Mabey’s fourth pregnancy. Though her three previous pregnancies had been precarious, this one came with added dangers for both Emily and her unborn daughter, Maggie.
“I’ve had four difficult pregnancies, with hypertension [high blood pressure] and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) every time. HG is an extreme form of morning sickness that lasts the entire pregnancy. I threw up 20 to 30 times every day and lost 60 pounds. I needed IVs and feeding tubes, the whole works. But with Maggie, the hypertension started earlier, at just 22 weeks.”
By 23 weeks, Emily felt awful. Her obstetrician, Dr. Layne Smith, told her to go to Labor and Delivery at Lone Peak Hospital. There, nurses discovered that her blood pressure was dangerously high and she was showing signs of preeclampsia. There was a chance that Maggie would need to be delivered that day.
Fortunately, with bedrest, magnesium, and other medications, Emily’s blood pressure was gradually controlled. Instead of delivering Maggie at only 23 weeks gestation, Emily was able to return home on bedrest.
“This is going to sound crazy—and my husband, Jeff, and I joke about this—but my goal at that point was to make it to 34 weeks so that I could deliver at Lone Peak Hospital. That’s how much we loved having our other babies there. We’ve had opportunities over the years to change health insurance companies, but I wouldn’t do it because I have to be able to go to Lone Peak.”
Lone Peak Hospital has a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), certified to care for premature babies weighing over 3.3 pounds. Emily wanted to make it to 34 weeks to be absolutely sure Maggie could stay there, so she was extra vigilant about her doctor’s bedrest instructions.
Dr. Smith was also vigilant about checking up on Maggie’s condition. Beginning at 30 weeks, Emily had a non-stress test twice a week. At 34 weeks, tests indicated that the baby was not growing enough, and Emily’s blood pressure was once again dangerously high. This time, stabilization was not possible. Maggie needed to make her appearance.
“I was induced in one of Lone Peak’s huge, beautiful delivery suites. That’s one of the best things about delivering there! Another great thing is that the nurses in Labor and Delivery are pretty consistent; I had some of the same nurses I had when I delivered my other babies. All the nurses are excellent!”
Maggie was taken to the NICU as soon as she was born. She would stay there for over a month so she could focus on getting stronger.
Although Emily remained in the hospital for three days after she gave birth to allow her blood pressure adequate time to calm down, she was released long before her young daughter.
Emily says the most difficult part about going home was leaving Maggie behind at the hospital. But, she knew her baby girl was in good hands.
“Lone Peak Hospital is only eight minutes from our house. I went every single day for the five weeks she was there. My husband visited every day but one. We got to know the NICU nurses really well. I truly believe that they are angels on earth. The work that they do taking care of those babies… and what those babies put them through every day! There were four or five nurses who cared for Maggie as if she were their own child. It gave me great comfort to know she was getting loving care when I wasn’t there.”
“And they didn’t just care about Maggie. They always asked how we were doing,” Emily continued. “I knew each of the nurses by name, and I feel like they became friends. They even learned the names of our other three children.”
While no one wants to deliver a baby premature, Emily and Jeff say their time with Maggie in the NICU at Lone Peak Hospital was a great experience—even a peaceful, pleasant experience. While their daughter took them on an emotional roller coaster ride, constantly taking two steps forward and one step back, they watched other NICU parents face greater challenges and during that time, they developed great empathy for all parents of preemies.
Maggie is now home with her sister and two brothers. She is doing well and even sleeping through the night.
Emily, however, is finished having babies.
“Two boys, two girls. That’s enough. I certainly couldn’t go through that again. But if I did, I would absolutely choose to go back to Lone Peak Hospital!”