Aiden’s Story: How the UVA NICU Team Cared for Our Family

I had a healthy pregnancy. Every check-up was routine and every indication was good. I planned to have my baby at UVA, not because I work here and not because another hospital wouldn’t happily deliver my baby. I chose UVA just in case something went wrong. In case I needed the NICU team.

Not all hospitals have neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Not all hospitals have teams of specialists devoted to caring for the sickest of the sick. Expert doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians, social workers, lactation consultants and more — all focused on the tiniest, most vulnerable humans. UVA does.

I chose UVA just in case something went wrong, and I am thankful I did.

C-Section Complications

At the time of delivery, my body didn’t respond normally to the medicine I was given to stop my contractions. As the doctor was trying to get my baby out during the C-section, my body was still contracting.

Because of this complication, I was later told it took seven minutes to get him out — and there was no way to know how long he went without oxygen during that time.

The care team diagnosed my son, Aiden David Sweeney, with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is a lack of oxygen affecting blood flow to the brain that affects about 2-3 out of every 1,000 babies born. Luckily for us, following 72 hours of cooling, constant monitoring and days of recovery, he never showed signs of seizure or any other abnormalities.

Patient and Family-Centered Care

Aiden wasn’t a preemie. He was born full term, and he spent 10 days in the NICU at UVA. An expert team of doctors, devoted nurses, professional staff and generous volunteers tended to him (and us) around the clock.

The team included my husband and me when discussing my son’s care plan for the day. His nurses spent significant time answering our questions, calming our fears and educating us on how we could help care for him. They were quick to show us how to safely do all the normal things new parents do, like holding him, changing diapers and breastfeeding.

Aiden is now a happy, perfectly healthy 3-year-old, and I still cannot stop telling everyone how incredible the NICU team is. Don’t believe me? Just watch them for yourself.

Comments (1)

  1. Patricr says:

    I am a parent of 4, & out of my 4 children 2 of them had to go to UVA NICU. UVA NICU is a great team of doctors, nurses, & a whole lot of staff who truly cares & gives all of the babies their time & dedication. My first son was born at 29 weeks due to a placenta abruption & he had to stay in there for a month, it was my first child & I was scared & didn’t know what to think & I had to do it all alone without my son’s father being there, that was 8 years ago, & 8 years later I’m in the process of doing it all over again. My last son I just gave birth to a week ago is now in the NICU after being born & in the same room with me. The doctors had done all they could do, he had a high bilirubin since birth & it seems like it was only getting higher instead of lower so they sent him to the NICU. He is currently still in there but glory to God it had went up all the way to a 21 then down a little bit more. With the help of the great doctors & nurses they have his bilirubin is still high but is now at a 15, praying that it continues to go down. The nurses are there for parents 24 hours a day & parents can call to check on their little ones any time of day or night. I love UVA NICU & very grateful for them. I’m hoping to have my last little one home soon & will be the first one to tell any parent that UVA NICU is the best NICU that I know of & very grateful for them. God continue to bless the UVA NICU as a whole & any chance I get I will be sure to donate & even if I could volunteer there. Thanks for all you do uva NICU!!

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