When many women find out they are pregnant they are already working with an OBGYN, they start envisioning the type of birth they want, and lets face it everyone wants theirs to be easy. It rarely is. My experience was harder than most, and gave me a four week stay in Littleton Adventist Hospital, and let me just say they are really wonderful.
If you are still looking for a hospital in Denver, I recommend you choose them, they are knowledgeable, have excellent bedside manners, you remain beautifully informed through the entire process and despite what could have been an awful end to my pregnancy and nothing like my “birth plan” my daughter and I came away happy, healthy, and feeling blessed.
My story is not typical, but then what mother’s is? At 31 weeks I started lightly spotting. We called my OB and headed to the hospital, I was terrified I’d lose my daughter, but by the time we got to the doctors the bleeding had stopped. It had been so light I wasn’t even sure if I had bled any more. They checked me in, a long process at any hospital, but despite my nerves, the nurse was cheerful and helped me to relax. They monitored the baby’s heart rate for an hour and there appeared to be nothing wrong. I went home hopeful of going the full 40 weeks, excited and cheerful that they hadn’t needed to keep me at the hospital till the end.
The very next week, at 32 weeks, my water broke, again we called my OB and went to the hospital, this time certain the baby would be born within the next 24 hours as everything I’d read said. My team of doctors decided that they would prefer her to stay in (since I was not in active labor, dilated, or effaced) and I was sentenced to hospitalized bed rest. And this was where I started falling in love with my hospital.
I was put on steroids to help my daughter’s lungs mature in case we couldn’t keep her in. That is a painful process and one I hope you never have to go through. The needle is large and when they stick it into your hip you feel as though your entire buttock is on fire. The nurses were simply amazing, they walked me through the process, they talked to me about the good things it was doing for my baby, alleviating my fears of her coming out with strange muscle bulges.
The room I was in at first was pleasant, sort of like a mini-hotel room, very clean and yet without much of that “I’m way too sterile to be comfy” feel. In hopes that I would go the entire 3 weeks that the doctors were hoping for, they moved me to a “long-term” room, which while being nearly double the size of the regular hospital room also had a view of the mountains that was so beautiful I have plans on painting it for over my fireplace at home. They also gave me a gel mattress, which was again for their long term patients. Though honestly, I was comfortable on both beds, well as comfortable as a pregnant woman towards the end can be! The bathroom was nice, beautifully tiled, and the showerhead was amazing, nice pressure and adjustable, a luxury I hear in most hospitals.
After I was settled in my new room, and had been confirmed yet again not in active labor, we had a visit from the NICU, the woman spoke in depth about things we could expect should the baby be born then, at 32 weeks, or should she be born after 3 more weeks. She told us tips for handling her, like that preemies prefer gentle pats to back rubs because their skin is hyper-sensitive, and she explained that our baby wouldn’t necessarily have the cute baby fat we saw most babies with. She explained the different tests that our daughter, Ashleigh, would have to pass in order to be released from the NICU. Things like breathing on her own, drinking breast milk or formula, and gaining weight. She answered all our questions, and welcomed us to call her should we have any more. Then she scheduled a tour with the NICU.
I will say that one of the reasons I chose Littleton Adventist when I found out I was pregnant was because the NICU is prepared to handle issues of all kinds. According to the Littleton Adventist Hospital ‘s website, ” Littleton Adventist Hospital is the only designated Level III B NICU in the south metro area and highest level NICU in Centura Health. Our designation as a Level III B NICU is based on our ability to care for the most critically ill, premature or multiple birth infants.” I was not disappointed.
The NICU divided to allow levels of privacy, each “cubby” had spaces for parents to sit and hold their babies. The NICU nurse that showed us around showed us their state of the art equiptment, and we got to see little babies and how they were being cared for. While it is always sad to see babies who are having a hard time I was at once astonished at how small they were and at how lovingly they were being cared for. The point of that experience I am sure was to prepare me, and it did a fantastic job. The other thing I liked about their NICU was it had a little room parents could sleep in – and should we have needed it we could have stayed with Ashleigh after I’d been released from the hospital.
I was able to stay pregnant for the entire desired three weeks, and during that time I had the opportunity to meet most of the nurses at Littleton Adventist, and while each has their own personality I found them all to be caring, professional, and watchful. There were several times where they seemed to know my needs and moods more than I did. It was them that convinced my doctors to allow me wheel chair rides around the hospital grounds once a day, and them who found a cot for my sweetheart to sleep on when he was able to stay the night with me, which was based entirely on his choice.
When it came time to induce the nurses were with me whenever I needed them. They offered me answers to questions I had and assisted me with walks, and helped me with anything I needed. When I had been in labor and no progression for nearly 24 hours and the pain was too much for me to bear it was a nurse that convinced me and helped me get the drugs that would be safest for my daughter and I, and it was a nurse that held me as they put the epideral in. When my doctor explained that it was time for me to consider and try a c-section it was a nurse that helped me and my husband prepare and come to terms with the diviation from our birth plan.
My sweetheart was dressed in scrubs and the c-section went off without a hitch and my beautiful baby girl was born 36 hours after being induced. The nurses who cared for Ashleigh were careful, professional, and wonderful. The nurses that cared for me while I recuperated after the surgery were attentive and gentle. And luckily for me Ashleigh was perfect and only after two hours in the NICU was released to her father and my care.
I have written this article because it seems the only stories I hear of late are horror stories. Stories of doctors barely knowing their patients, of babies being delivered in a completely sterile environment, and of how things didn’t work out the way the mother had planned. I will say the birth plan I had pictured did not come to pass, but I have a healthy, happy, beautiful, eighteen-month-old and though we have moved much further away from the hospital than would be convenient, I am considering delivering at Littleton Adventist Hospital again when my husband and I decide to have another child. The birth plan I had pictured: all natural with laboring in one of their tubs and delivery med-free, didn’t work for me, but the way my daughter’s birth did work was peaceful, comfortable, and nurtured, and in truth those were what I was seeking.