After a high risk pregnancy due to an Incompetent cervix & Cerclage, I gave birth to him at 36 weeks and 4 days. Because we knew Callum was a boy, and knowing my history of early babies (36+ weeks), I knew that he may have more difficulties because of his prematurity.
When he was born, he looked great. He nursed almost immediately. I felt as though a huge weight had been taken off of my chest. Until about two hours after his birth, his nurse and I noticed him grunting. He had a low body temperature, even after being skin to skin with me and warm blankets. She took him from me and placed him under the warmer. She checked his oxygen saturation, and it was only 82%. It should be close to 100%. My heart sank. Something was not right with our little boy.
The nurse took him immediately to the nursery for further evaluation. She came back to tell me his blood sugar was only 23. Much, much too low. A sign he was sick. His blood sugar should be well over 50. He was under the oxygen hood and working very hard to breathe. Once I realized how sick he was, I never left his side. I spent the entire night by his side watching him get sicker and sicker. By morning, everyone agreed it was time to transfer him to Maine Medical Center's NICU.
Pulmonary Hypertension or Persistent Fetal Circulation or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn
All I could think of was why. Would our baby be okay. What did I do to our baby. I had lots of guilt. I blamed it on myself and having to have him early, and that my body failed me and him. But the neonatologist spoke to us about pulmonary hypertension and how this was a "big boy disease" and how premature babies do not get this. Not that I was happy that Callum had this, it was a relief that he was sick with a big boy disease. He could have gotten this at 40 weeks. 42 weeks.
|What is persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN)|
Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) is also known as persistent fetal circulation. In this condition, a newborn baby's circulation changes back to the circulation of a fetus, where much of the blood flow bypasses the lungs.
|About one in every 500 to 700 babies develops PPHN. It occurs most often in full-term or post-term babies after a difficult birth, or birth asphyxia (a condition that results from too little oxygen).|
|During pregnancy, the fetal lungs are not used to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide, so the lungs need less blood supply. The fetal circulation sends most of the blood supply away from the lungs through special connections in the heart and the large blood vessels. When a baby begins to breathe air at birth, this fetal circulation changes dramatically. The change in pressure in the lungs helps close the fetal connections and redirect the blood flow. Now blood is pumped to the lungs to help with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.|
|When a baby has lowered oxygen levels or difficulty breathing at birth, these changes may not occur and the baby's circulation returns back to the fetal system with blood directed away from the lungs. The lung pressure stays high. That is why this condition is called persistent pulmonary hypertension.|
On day 11, Callum was discharged home from the NICU. He was an amazing breastfeeder much to the amazement again of the medical staff. They told me it would be several weeks before he went home because many babies who have suffered through pulmonary hypertension take a while to "learn" to eat again. Not Callum.
Since then, Callum has been flying high and progressing very well. We pray that Callum does not suffer any long term consequences from his illness as a newborn.
You can read about his first few days here:
Happy Birthday, Callum John
A Very Rough Start