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  • Writer's pictureHailey Ricks

Niklaus in the NICU

In honor of NICU awareness month this September I wanted to share our story with our son Niklaüs. Niklaüs is of Old Greek origin meaning "Victor of the People" and it is predominantly used in the German language. Niklaüs is a form of Nicholas (English and French), which is his Dads/my Husband's first name. Niklaüs is our second child and rainbow baby, his big sister Arabella was born and died on March 25th, 2022.

Going into a high risk pregnancy following our daughter's death, I knew it would be a rocky journey from the start. We had extra monitoring early on, with lots of blood tests and ultrasounds to keep an eye on him from the very beginning. We wasted no time doing a NIPT, and at 9 short weeks found out we were having a boy. To say I was over the moon is an understatement, and I knew I needed to do everything in my power to give my son a fighting chance.

I did my research and found a world renowned surgeon in Indiana, and met with him virtually to discuss getting a transabdominal cerclage. This type of cerclage is a permanent stitch to help keep the cervix long and closed, and avoid another loss from PPROM/incompetent cervix. I decided I would travel from Colorado while 13 weeks pregnant to get this done, and booked the trip for my husband and I, regardless of the wait and see approach recommended by my OB and MFM.

I had the procedure done on a Friday and flew back home on a Sunday, it was an “open” transabdominal cerclage similar to a c-section type incision. The surgery was very successful and we continued to monitor my sweet little boy growing big and strong each week with no issues.

Around 30 weeks, I started to have more pressure and cramping and decided to go to the hospital to get checked. It turns out I was having contractions a minute apart and was pumped with magnesium and transported to a hospital with a higher level NICU just in case. I was then put on procardia every 4 hours around the clock to hold off my irritable uterus and contractions and we scheduled my c-section for 36 weeks on March 9th, 2023. As time went on, I still found myself in the hospital several times with contractions on and off and knew I could not risk uterine rupture by going into labor with my cerclage so we decided after I was admitted to the hospital for the final time at 33 weeks that we would wait until 34, and then have my c-section then.

On 2/23/2023, Niklaüs Charles Hall was born at 2:20 PM weighing 5lbs 14 oz. This was my first c-section, and a nerve wracking experience after Arabella was born sleeping. To finally hear my sweet baby breathe and cry was such an emotional moment, and I couldn’t be happier he was finally here. But at the same time, I knew we still had a long journey to go with the Colorado elevation causing some respiratory distress. Due to that and also his prematurity, he was immediately admitted to the NICU. He was initially given blow-by O2 and had intermittent grunting and slight retractions so I did not get to hold him, only a quick kiss before they whisked him away with his Dad.

Later that night while I recovered, Niklaüs was hooked up to Bubble CPAP and surfactant was administered. He was intubated and given Fentanyl and Atropine. After an endotracheal tube was placed and the surfactant was administered, CPAP resumed. I was not able to walk much and was dealing with complications of my own, so I let him rest while I recovered and had his Dad hold him in the morning.

Our NICU stay was a total of 34 days, and filled with ups and downs. There were 17 total diagnoses we addressed while we were there, and they ranged from anything as simple as constipation, to other things more serious as COVID. The hospital stopped wearing masks including in the NICU when Niklaüs was less than two weeks old, so we both caught it and I was isolated at home after a trip to the Emergency room at the same hospital. Not being able to see your sweet baby after a stillbirth and during their NICU stay is a special hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It was also my birthday in the middle of all of this, and I was downright miserable missing my son. It was hard enough when I got discharged to go in public and see other babies, but to know I wasn’t allowed near him when he needed me the most still really bothers me to this day.

Fast forward to almost seven months later, Niklaüs is thriving and a whopping nineteen pounds. He does weekly in home physical and occupational therapy, and has two teeth already. It is such an honor to be his Mommy and I am so proud of the warrior he is inside and out. While we still battle issues like bad reflux and a cow's milk allergy, he is doing so well and I couldn’t be more grateful for my beautiful rainbow after such a dark storm.

Written by Kristianna Hall

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