Having one baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be extremely stressful. Imagine having to do it TWICE! That was Ashley Baskin’s experience, delivering both her children prematurely.
How did she make it through these difficult experiences? Ashley credits her husband Justin, her family, the midwives who monitored her for weeks, the NICU staff and doctors, but also the team of specialists who helped her before she even delivered her children- the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) group, a group of specialists who provide comprehensive care to women who have high-risk pregnancies.
In 2010, Ashley was pregnant with her first child. At 28 weeks, she learned that she had preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous complication characterized by high blood pressure and a large amount of protein in the urine. After the diagnosis, Ashley met with an MFM doctor to discuss her options. “The doctor came into the room and she was immediately like family. She sat on my bed and explained what was ahead. She wasn’t throwing statistics at me. She was talking to me and my husband in a very clear way,” Ashley said.
The MFM doctors informed Ashley that most women with preeclampsia have to deliver within 72 hours. And sure enough, Ashley’s son, Andrew, was born three days later. He was born at 29 weeks and weighed only 2 pounds, 1 ounce. Andrew stayed in the NICU for 64 days.
In 2013, Ashley was pregnant with her second child. “Every day and night I would pray that I would have a full term or at the very least near full term pregnancy,” she said. But once again Ashley’s blood pressure was high. After several trips to the triage unit, an MFM doctor determined that because of her history and symptoms, they would have to deliver Ashley’s baby early. Her daughter, Alexis, was born at 34 weeks and weighed 3 lbs. 14 ounces. Alexis was able to go home after 21 days in the NICU.
Ashley reflected on the difficulties of having a child in the NICU. “It was so difficult to see other families coming and going while my baby remained. It really took a toll on me. There were days when I would just hold my son and cry,” she said.
But the support from the NICU staff, from nurses to the housekeepers, helped her push through. “Everyone was very kind, warm, and reassuring. It wasn’t a cold clinical setting. It really felt like another room in my home. The nurses were wonderful and even the maintenance team would reach out to us and wish our baby well,” she said.
Today, Andrew is six years old, playing soccer, and working toward his junior black belt in karate. His younger sister, Alexis, will turn three next month. She also plays soccer and loves Peppa Pig. They both have met and exceeded the benchmarks for their age groups.
Ashley still remembers the names of most of her nurses, midwives, clinicians, residents, and other staff members. She is eternally grateful for the care both of her children received. “Everyone was amazing. So many doctors and nurses stand out to me. When we took our son home we were excited but we were emotional because it felt like we were leaving family- the family we created at Magee.”
To learn more about the Maternal Fetal Medicine team or how you can help fight prematurity, please visit www.mageewomens.org or call 412-641-8977.