Life at 670 Grams

Maranda Pisarik’s first preterm delivery happened at just 19.3 gestational weeks. Unfortunately, her young daughter didn’t survive. When the 36-year-old got pregnant for a second time, she was determined to take every precaution for a better outcome. At 13 weeks, she had a cerclage done to close her cervix and at 16 weeks she began getting hydroxyprogesterone shots to lower her risk for another preterm birth.

Maranda’s pregnancy was progressing well until her water broke at 22 weeks during a routine visit to her obstetrician’s office. An ultrasound revealed her baby was alive and not experiencing any distress, but Maranda’s doctor wanted her put on bed rest in the local hospital. Once there, it was determined that the mom-to-be was one centimeter dilated. Due to the high-risk nature of her pregnancy, her physician transferred her to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano ― the closest hospital with a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Maranda wasn’t able to tour the hospital’s NICU because she was on strict bed rest. But OB/GYN Wei Zhang, M.D., of the Texas Health Plano medical staff met with her and husband Michael to have a serious conversation about the low chances (about 16 percent) for their baby’s survival if Maranda were to deliver at less than 25 weeks. Baby Callum was breach and surrounded by a great deal of amniotic fluid so an emergency cesarean section was ordered when Maranda went into active labor at a little over 23 weeks. Callum weighed a mere 670 grams, or 1.48 pounds, at birth and was less than 12 inches in length.

Where There Is Hope, There Is a Chance

In the NICU the Pisariks were met by neonatologist Antonio Santiago, M.D., on the medical staff at Texas Health Plano, who tried to help prepare the couple for life in the advanced care unit. As the medical director for Texas Health Plano’s NICU, Santiago had seen many families experience the ups and downs that can come with an extended NICU stay.

“Tiny babies are very resilient and where there is hope there is also a chance,” said Santiago. “I assured the Pisariks that we were there to provide the best possible care to their baby and guide the family through their NICU journey. We have a dedicated NICU delivery staff that takes care of the premature and ill newborns starting at birth by not only providing respiratory care but also making sure the delivery room is warm for them, their body temperature is monitored and early infections are prevented.”

“Dr. Santiago explained that we would be there for a long time. Exactly how long that would be no one knew,” Maranda said. “He explained that there would be good days and bad days, but the staff would do all they could to care for our Callum.”

Special Care for Special Little Ones

As the Pisariks settled in to life in the NICU for what would end up being 134 days, they were able to take advantage of special services like the hospital’s Peek-a-Boo webcams to gain some peace of mind when they had to be away from their newborn.

“The nurses he had were great too,” Maranda remembered. “They would leave little notes for us to see on camera ― things like ‘Good night, mom, love Callum.’ I was finally able to do kangaroo care after about six weeks because he had breathing tubes up to that point. Best feeling in the world! The nurses also used Callum’s hand and foot prints to make a Mother’s Day gift for me.

The certified lactation consultants were my heroes and saving grace as well. These women were a constant source of encouragement. I had a low milk supply and lots of stress as a result so they helped me while I was trying to breastfeed and pump. And after Callum was found to have an issue with aspirating, they helped me create a pumping schedule for when we were home. I was even able to borrow a pump. Last but not least, in the NICU we thought it was great that they offered a CPR class, such a useful tool to offer parents. Because of it I later became AHA-certified for CPR.

To look at Callum now, you would never know he was born at 23 weeks. We owe it all to my OB, maternal fetal medicine specialists and everyone in the Texas Health NICU. We keep in touch with some of the nurses and the respiratory therapist who helped care for our son (and us) and who kept him alive, in cluding Janae Redmon, Jackie Senior, Patty Williams, Michelle Clinesmith and Kristin Stevens. We love going back to visit and enjoy the annual reunion. These people are our extended family so we feel it’s important to stay connected. We truly believe that without the THP staff our son would not be here today,” she added.

Learn more about having your baby at Texas Health Plano.

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