My husband and I were ecstatic when we found out we were having a second child. We couldn’t wait to welcome this new life into our growing family. But nothing could have prepared us for what happened in the 31st week of my pregnancy. Sharing my story is very difficult for me, but I do so in gratitude to the hospital, with a hope that it moves you to give.
An unexpected ride
It happened on a night in March when I was reading my toddler a bedtime story. I felt sharp pangs in my stomach. I was hoping I wasn’t in labour; it had only been 30 weeks. We frantically called my in-laws to take care of our son and rushed to North York General Hospital (NYGH).
Everything moved so quickly from there. As I checked in, our fears were confirmed, and I was in pre-term labour. I was terrified. Was my baby going to be safe coming into this world so early?
Apollo’s tumultuous journey into the world
During the delivery, my obstetrician, Dr. Elad Mei-Dan, stayed by my side and reassured me that we would both be ok. After a few harrowing hours and a C-section, our son Apollo was born into the arms of neonatologist Dr. Shawna Granovsky, who was right there to provide him the immediate medical attention he needed. Dr. Granovsky gave my son life. Little did we know his birth was only the first obstacle he would have to face in his first few weeks.
An isolating time
As a mother, I had longed for the moment when I’d hold my newborn in my arms, feed him, and watch his little fingers roll up against mine. But in the days that followed, we saw Apollo mostly through the glass walls of his incubator with tubes and machines helping him take every laboured breath.
The COVID-19 restrictions made it harder. Only one parent could stay with Apollo at any time, and no extended family was allowed to visit or support us.
For those 44 days that Apollo spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) I couldn’t risk infection, so I isolated myself. I was screened for COVID-19 every day as I visited Apollo. I knew one small sneeze would mean being denied entry to see my baby.
A healthcare team that felt like family
The isolation felt extreme. The only way I survived this difficult time was through the help of the incredible health care team at NYGH. As family and friends had to stay away, doctors and nurses cared not only for my fragile infant but doubled as support systems for my husband and me.
The health care team stayed by my side so that I wasn’t alone in my worry. They were patient and kind when my husband asked repeated questions about Apollo’s health. We were lonely, frantic and exhausted, but the doctors and nurses helped us feel confident that Apollo would win his fight. I am so very grateful that due to their tireless efforts, after almost 7 weeks in the NICU, Apollo emerged as a graduate.
The path to a healthy childhood
His journey however is not over as he will be followed by the incredible care of Dr. Shaheen Doctor and Dr. Kayla Feldman in the Neonatal Follow up Clinic, until he is three years old. I know that the expert care that Apollo received in those first few weeks at the hospital is the reason he survived, and the care he continues to receive will help him have a healthy life.
North York General needs your support to make sure others like my son are given the chance to live. Your gift can have a major impact on families like ours right here in the community.