The last year was challenging for many in different ways. For the Balschmiter family, the year 2021 was also a trying one, but ended with a beautiful gift: their new baby Abram being home for Christmas.
“Breiten and I are super Christmas people,” said Abigail, Abram’s mother. “We actually got married on the 22nd three years ago. So Christmas is our thing. To have him with us on our favorite holiday is just amazing.”
Abigail learned she was pregnant in fall 2020. Her pregnancy was far from easy. She battled hyperemesis gravidarum – a condition that causes a pregnant mother to endure severe nausea and vomiting, more so than typical morning sickness.
Every day, Abigail’s husband Breiten had to administer IV fluids at home to offset the dehydration resulting from her condition. A short time later, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, followed by preeclampsia.
With all of this happening, Abigail kept moving forward. Abram’s expected due date was in early June, so when Abigail started her new job in April, she assumed she would have some time to adjust before his arrival.
However, she did not end up having as much time as she hoped.
“I started leaking fluid the same day [I started my job],” Abigail said.
Medical staff with Rochester Regional Health assessed Abigail, determined her baby needed a specific treatment, and prescribed it at Rochester General Hospital.
“They kept me overnight to observe me and then they sent me home so I could finish…at Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, which is about three minutes from my house. So that was amazing.”
After a series of tests and bloodwork, Abigail returned to Rochester General Hospital on Friday. Following another assessment and ultrasound, Abigail and her medical team made the decision to have her stay in the hospital until the following Tuesday.
While Abigail was waiting in the hospital, an attending physician and a couple of nurses from the Twig NICU came over to talk with her and her mother about what she could expect with her son’s early birth and the interventions that were available to help him.
“The fact that he could be transferred [to the NICU] if he needed to be made me feel a lot more comfortable,” Abigail said.
Claire Gardner, RN, was one of the nurses who worked with Abigail and Abram.
“For a baby at that gestational age, our primary concerns are going to be respiratory distress which is very common in pre-term premature babies,” Gardner said. “That’s the immediate concern for the most part. Then longer term is usually temperature problems…they need to be in an incubator or radiant warmer for a long time.”
On Sunday, April 25, Abigail’s water broke. Abram was born on April 26 and weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz. – a healthy weight, despite his premature arrival. Upon his delivery, he was transferred to the Twig NICU as planned, where he was able to receive the care he needed as a pre-term infant.
After Abram’s birth, the staff made it a priority to stabilize Abigail as quickly as possible so she could be brought over to the NICU and be with her son.
“Our first picture is me lying in bed because I can’t get out of bed holding his hand while he’s got the breathing tube and stuff on,” Abigail said.
Abram stayed in the Twig NICU for 22 days. The nursing staff helped the newborn learn to breathe and eat on his own.
Megan Adams, RN, was the clinical nurse leader with the Twig NICU while Abram was there.
“Sometimes our time with them is very short and sometimes our time is a little bit longer like in Abram’s case, but in each case, they leave an impression on us as a staff and sometimes it brings us to tears,” Adams said.
“Seeing him for the first time and seeing him in the NICU was very scary,” Breiten said. “Their team there was nothing but comforting though all the time. The staff there just made everything better.”
After making enough progress to be stable, Abram was released from the hospital and went home with his parents. Now six months old, Abram is a happy and healthy baby able to celebrate his first Christmas at home.
“I can’t even describe how special it is,” Abigail said. “During my pregnancy I was so sick and I wasn’t even sure if we were going to end up having Abram…so to celebrate and have Christmas with him is unbelievable.”
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