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A couple shares their son’s NICU experience

Kim and Brett Bartlett married in their 30s and decided to start a family right away. But after years of trying, they still were not able to conceive. “We realized it wasn’t going to be so easy,” says Brett.

The Bartletts saw two doctors and went through months of fertility treatments, like intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Their first pregnancy

Finally, they became pregnant. “But then we realized it wasn’t just a problem getting pregnant, it was a problem staying pregnant,” explains Kim.

After about 20 weeks, Kim’s body began to reject the pregnancy and she went into labor. “Christopher was born alive and we held him in our arms before he passed,” says Brett. “It was truly the hardest thing that I’ve ever been through.”

Trying again

Kim and Brett were able to get pregnant again and deliver a healthy baby girl named Campbell. They decided to try again and Kim got pregnant for the third time. This time, her water broke at 24 weeks.

“I was hysterical because we’d had the 20-week delivery and I wasn’t certain I was ready to go through that again. I didn’t know if I could emotionally handle what we’d been through before and the pain of losing another child in the delivery room.”

As they arrived at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, Kim thought that because her water broke, she would deliver the baby that day. However, doctors were able to stop her labor. Kim remained in the hospital and was able to hold her son inside for 19 more days.

“When they wheeled us back into the delivery room, I was so scared,” she remembers. “Even though I knew we’d now made it to 27 weeks, I was just petrified of the possible outcomes.” She compares her pregnancy and delivery to an emotional marathon.

“It was very unlike what I think a normal delivery would be like, with the excitement of holding your baby,” she says. “We weren’t able to hold him at all.”

Their son’s stay in the NICU

Their son, whom they named Beckett, went straight to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he remained for 72 days. “Fortunately, because of the good care that the doctors provided, Beckett came out,” says Brett. He weighed 2.5 pounds when he was born, then dropped to 2 pounds.

“The first time that we saw him, he was just tiny – he could have fit in my hand,” says Brett. “There’s something so scary about seeing your newborn son in the NICU, in an incubator, covered up with a blanket and not being able to actually touch him or hold him.” The couple visited Beckett in the hospital each morning, Kim returned midday and then they visited again together at night. They also called the nursing staff after midnight on many occasions to ensure their son was all right.

“Each time, the nurses and doctors would take care of us and make sure that we understood what was going on,” says Brett. “It’s so neat to think about these nurses who are having to care for these kids. My son’s arm would literally fit through my wedding band. They’re putting needles into these little veins and making sure that they’re fed well.”

Their new normal

Life in the NICU became the family’s “new normal.” “It’s because we were able to trust the caregivers at Piedmont in the NICU,” says Brett. “Those people saved our lives.” Beckett is now healthy and happy at home.

“When we have this outcome with this perfect baby born so tiny and so small, being cared for by all of these medical professionals, we’re still to this day blown away and humbled,” says Kim.

For more information on neonatal intensive care, visit Piedmont Women’s Services.

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