Like most new parents, Katrina and Adam Hutchinson pictured cradling their newborn baby bundled up in the comfort of their home.
But life took a drastic turn on Feb. 8, when at 31 weeks Katrina went into labour – nine weeks before reaching full-term.
“Adam drove me to Prince County Hospital in Summerside, from Tyne Valley. When we saw our doctor, he said we needed to travel immediately to Moncton Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in New Brunswick,” recalled Katrina while acknowledging the IWK Health Centre in Halifax was full.
“Our doctor wanted to send us by helicopter, but because of the freezing rain, we travelled by Island EMS,” said the paramedic that learned how it was like to be on the other side as a patient, with the careful watch of her two supervisors.
On Feb. 10, Kadence was whisked away weighing just 3 pounds, 14 ounces.
Wires and tubes obscured her perfectly formed but tiny 17-inch body from the inside of an isolette (clear plastic enclosed crib that maintains a warm environment for a new baby) while the hum of machinery masked any cry.
“It was scary to see. For the (Moncton NICU) staff to reiterate the fact that we needed to take care of ourselves, so we could take care of Kadence, helped. And I agree with what they stressed. Mentally and physically, new parents need to take care of themselves to be the best for their child.”
Adam added, “The staff knew what we were going through was very difficult. Every single staff member was great to us, especially Dr. Blayney, Dr. Soliman, and all the nurses. It was stressful at times not knowing what each day was going to bring, and if Kadence was going to have setbacks, so I just tried to be as supportive to Katrina as I could.”
While the couple were away, family, friends, including work colleagues were accommodating.
“My bosses told me not to worry about work, and to take as much time I needed,” said Adam.
Moncton NICU monitored Kadence for three weeks.
“After, we were transferred to Prince County Hospital for four weeks. We had the best, worst-case scenario. Kadence was on a CPAP (breathing machine) for about a week, but she didn’t require any intubation and passed all her tests,” said Katrina, while acknowledging one in ten babies are born prematurely.
Katrina said the doctors didn't know what caused her to go into premature labour.
To give back to the Moncton NICU and the Prince County Hospital maternity ward, Katrina and Adam are collecting and donating premature baby (sleeper) clothes.
“Kadence just passed her 12 month birthday and has hit all her milestones, so we decided on her birthday instead of family and friends giving us gifts we would collect 60 sleepers in total to donate.”
The couple hopes to raise awareness of donating premature baby sleepers to both hospitals.
“They need them,” said Katrina.
Her daughter's experience is the inspiration.
Kadence was too small for standard onesies after the tubes and wires were taken away.
But today Kadence is "doing amazing, full of spunk and sass,” Katrina noted.
The couple can't help but extend thanks to the staff of both hospitals for saving their daughter’s life.
“It was just an all-around great experience for something so unexpected,” said Katrina.