Amanda’s first pregnancy started perfectly. She was tired, but that’s to be expected. But then, at 23 weeks, the unexpected happened – her water broke.
“I wasn’t sure if my water actually broke,” says Amanda. “It was just too early to be having the baby already, but it didn’t stop. I was planning on giving birth at a birthing center, so I called my midwife. She told me to go to the hospital immediately.”
Amanda was admitted to the Perinatal Special Care Unit in the Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. The goal of the Perinatal Special Care Unit is to help babies continue to grow in the comfort of the womb for as long as possible. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists started giving Amanda magnesium to delay birth.
“We went to the hospital that night expecting to deliver,” says Amanda. “The team knew it was important for my baby to keep growing, and they did everything they could to delay delivery. We were in the Perinatal Special Care Unit for three weeks, including over Christmas. Everyone made me feel comfortable at my ‘home’ away from home.”
On New Year’s Eve, Quinn Elizabeth made her grand entrance into the world, weighing only 1 lb. 13 oz. and measuring at 11 inches. She was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – just down the hall from where Amanda was recovering from her C-section.
Miller Children’s & Women’s is the only hospital in the region to offer elite care for expectant mothers and babies under one roof 24/7. With a level IV maternity center and level IV NICU together, both mothers and babies receive the comprehensive, unique care they each need. At other hospitals without these capabilities, the baby may need to be transported to another hospital and away from mom.
Quinn went to a unique area in the NICU, called the Small Baby Center. The Small Baby Center is designed to care for the tiniest premature infants in a serene, womb-like environment with dim lights and quiet surroundings. The Small Baby Center’s multi-disciplinary team has extensive training for babies who need extra special care. The team utilizes medical best practices to provide the unique environment needed by these infants. Miller Children’s & Women’s treats the most low-birthweight babies in Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Inland Empire.
Even with her small size and chronic lung disease, Quinn never needed to be on a ventilator. During her 140-day stay in the NICU, Quinn experienced ups and downs, but the biggest curveball of all hit in March – a pandemic. While Quinn was fine, her parents struggled with adjusting to the “new normal.”
“When the visitation guidelines changed, my husband and I would take turns spending time with Quinn,” says Amanda. “We only saw each other for about an hour each day, so we were thrilled when she was finally able to come home.”
After 4.5 months, Quinn finally went home. She initially required 24/7 oxygen, but now at 7.5-months-old, she just needs oxygen at night. She has a gastrostomy tube to assist with feeding and continues to see a pediatric gastroenterologist and occupational therapist to help her meet growth milestones.
“Quinn is thriving and we are so thankful for the care we both received at Miller Children’s & Women’s,” says Amanda. “We got to know the care teams well, and we were involved in every part of Quinn’s care in the NICU. Even though this was a very difficult time for us, we knew we were in good hands.”