Last August, Kristen went for her regular 28 week ultrasound and learned that everything was great with the little twins she was carrying. Expecting to settle into the remaining couple of months of her pregnancy, she was in utter disbelief when she went into labour four days later and delivered a boy and a girl weighing around 2 lbs each. Both babies were whisked away into the NUCI at the Foothills and had to be intubated. In fact, neither Kristin or her husband Jeff held their new babies for the first few days of life. Twin B, Emmery, was able to come off her breathing tube on the second day, but little Kaiden had a few more complications such as a hole in his heart, and a bleed in his lungs, and needed a bit more help. In fact, on day two, Kaiden had a very serious stroke – stage 4. As Kristin and Jeff tried to come to terms, not knowing how the stroke would affect this baby boy as he grew, it was also determined that he also had hydrocephalus – serious swelling caused by the brain’s inability to drain itself. By end of August the twins were transferred over the NICU at the ACH where Kaiden received a series of surgeries as he needed them: one to put a port in his brain, so fluid could be manually tapped as needed; one to repair his hernia; and most recently – another to install a shunt to drain the fluid away from the brain and into the stomach. During his recovery from his shunt surgery in December, Kaiden was in the PICU. Ironically, this is the unit where his mum, Kristin, is a nurse.
Kristin says she has always been proud to work at the ACH – especially in the PICU – but having now been on the other side, spending a total of more than 50 days in in hospital with her babies, she feels even stronger about the exceptional care provided on these units. Not only is she so grateful for the expertise and advice that was provided to her family, but for the compassion and all the “above and beyonds” she has experienced.
Kristin says the experience reminds her role can make a serious difference to parents who having a child in the PICU are “living their worst nightmare”. She says that community support has provided the NICU/PICU so much and has definitely made the care they provide infinitely better. “ECLS (heart and lung bypass) is literally saving the lives of kids who wouldn’t have a chance.”