Calgary Health Foundation

Maya's Story

 

Giving Every Newborn a Fighting Chance

There’s not much that can prepare a family to go from enjoying a Stampeders’ game day and BBQ, to seeing their newborn baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, all within 12 hours. For the Richard and Gail, a significantly premature delivery meant the stakes became much higher than the rivalry between two CFL teams on one July afternoon – it became a matter of life or death.

Richard and Gail had planned for a day much like any other, except this was a Winnipeg vs. Calgary game day. They’d been looking forward to it all week and expected it to be an enjoyable afternoon with friends. Gail was 28 weeks pregnant but far from expecting to deliver their baby. In fact, they’d just had a perfectly healthy check up with their doctor. The baby was large for her gestational age but Richard is 6’4 and Gail is 5’11, so the doctor deemed this to be perfectly natural.

They headed to their friends’ place for an afternoon BBQ, followed by hopefully watching a Stamps win on home turf. However, shortly after they arrived at the BBQ, Gail began experiencing severe discomfort. With Gail in obvious pain, everyone was worried and their friends suggested it could be contractions, since they had two premature children of their own. Gail, however, didn’t think it was anything serious. She agreed to go to the South Health Campus to get checked out but insisted Richard go and watch the game with his friend.

Richard didn’t see who won that game. At half time he received a call instructing him to join Gail as fast as possible. Their baby was on the way – 12 weeks early.

Once Richard arrived at the South Health Campus, things intensified. Their daughter was on the way and there were likely going to be complications. With this in mind, the doctors decided to transfer Richard, Gail and the incoming infant to the Foothills Medical Centre where they would be treated by the specialists in the more specialized (Level III) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

At 6:30 a.m. the following day, Maya was born – surrounded by calm, caring and incredibly competent doctors and nurses who connected her to a seemingly endless number of tubes and ventilators. For a brief moment, time slowed down and Richard was able to process the situation. So much had changed since the BBQ the day before, but he was sure things would be alright. The flurry of action surrounding his daughter reassured him that they were in very capable hands. And they were.

Maya spent the next 66 days in the NICU where the new family developed a routine that included daily family time with Maya after work. Slowly but surely Maya went from surviving to thriving – and has now become an exceptionally energetic, healthy toddler.

To this day, Richard and Gail will happily talk at length about their Foothills NICU experiences and gratitude for the care team. Accessibility to a world-class facility was a matter of life and death for their family. Having specialized, local neonatal care allowed them to experience everything life has to offer with their precious daughter.