After 10 years of trying to have a baby, Magda was elated when she found out she was pregnant. Magda suffered from endometriosis – a condition where the tissue that typically lines the inside of the uterus actually grows on the outside of it. Thankful for her miracle, Magda followed every pregnancy instruction to the tee.

Gabriel in NICU

At her 20-week appointment, the ultrasound technologist noticed that Magda’s cervix was already open, which typically doesn’t happen until the third trimester. When Magda reached 23.5 weeks of pregnancy, she was admitted to the Perinatal Special Care Unit (PSCU) in the BirthCare Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, so doctors could keep a closer watch on her.

The BirthCare Center cares for more than 2,000 women with high-risk pregnancies each year. Many women that stay in the PSCU may be there for days, weeks or even months before their child is born, so each spacious, private room is designed to provide a peaceful environment. The care team provides specialized care to allow the baby to continue growing in the womb as long as possible and ensure the mother’s health and safety.

“While I was in the Perinatal Special Care Unit, I was given incredible care,” says Magda. “I will never forget all they did to keep my baby growing as long as possible to give him his best chance.”

Magda was in the PSCU for 10 days before her son, Gabriel, was born. Gabriel was born at 25 weeks and weighed 1 lb. 11 oz. He was immediately rushed to the level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Miller Children’s – just steps away from Magda’s delivery room.

A level III NICU means that the unit must meet strict state regulatory criteria to provide the highest level of necessary care for very sick or premature infants. The team of dedicated physicians, nurses, therapists and other care team members are specially trained to care for the tiniest babies.

Gabriel’s 99 day stay in the NICU came with many challenges. When he was 2-days-old, he pulled out his breathing tube, which caused his lung to collapse. He was treated for a heart defect, several kidney infections and a few intestinal blockages. In addition, Gabriel had several surgeries and blood transfusions during his time in the NICU.

“The NICU at Miller Children’s is amazing,” says Magda. “It is simply the best care. They gave Gabriel life, kept him alive and helped him grow and develop. The care team tackled every issue and were successful at treating any complication that would arise. It felt like home and every nurse was my friend. They always told me to not look at the monitors and machines, just look at my baby, and that is precious advice.”

Knowing the benefits that breast milk has for infants, especially premature infants, the NICU has dedicated lactation consultants who also are registered nurses with many years of NICU experience. Breastfeeding can be a challenge when an infant is connected to ventilators and other machines. The NICU lactation consultants have helped many new moms successfully breastfeed their babies.

“The care helped me so I could continue producing breast milk for Gabriel when he could take it,” says Magda. “They calmed me down at times that I just felt completely overwhelmed.”

Today, Gabriel is a happy 2-year-old that loves to play with toys and run all over the playground. He is still doing therapy for a language delay and gross motor skills, but his other developmental milestones are on target.

“Gabriel is doing great now,” says Magda. “I have Miller Children’s to thank for that.”