Calgary Health Foundation

Care When And Where It’s Needed Most

Help Came Right On Time for the McTavishes’ Premature Son

 

Like most of us, when Lindsay and Mike McTavish imagined how life was going to be with their unborn son, they pictured something sweet. Sure, there’d be the sleepless nights and diapers, but on the whole it would be filled with the typical magic parents talk about. They didn’t ever think it would start the way it did with a premature birth, their son in an ambulance five hours into his life and a long road to recovery in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Lindsay’s pregnancy had been, by all measures but one, a fairly normal experience. The way it differed was exciting: she and her husband had planned a “babymoon” to New York. The trip was wonderful, filled with photos and pizza like most visits to the Big Apple.

A few weeks after they returned, things went in an entirely unexpected direction. At work one day long before Lindsay imagined being on maternity leave, she experienced persistent cramping. With her pregnancy so unremarkably normal up to this point, Lindsay and Mike went into the South Health Campus expecting a reassuring “all clear.” Instead, they learned that Lindsay was dilated and about to deliver their son 14 weeks early.

Typically, the South Health Campus would transport a family like Lindsay and Mike’s to the Foothills Health Centre for specialized neonatal care but Lindsay was in no condition to travel. Instead, they prepared for the delivery and a near-instant trip across the city for the newborn to the well-equipped hospital in the northwest.

As the transport team prepared, Lindsay’s labour advanced. Surrounded by caring and skilled people, Lindsay gave birth to Ethan – who only weighed 1 lb. 6 oz. Mike described him as “a pound of butter with arms and legs”.

So much happened so quickly for Lindsay and Mike, and things weren’t going to slow down for quite some time. But to this day, the couple remembers a brief, magical moment of hope and love. “Miraculously, he opened his eyes, wrapped his hand around the nurse’s finger, and let out a cry that sounded more like a kitten whimpering than a newborn baby. It was so emotional; beautiful and terrifying at the same time.” They’d made it this far, and with care they knew they could count on, they were sure they could keep going. 

Five hours into his life, Ethan took his first ambulance ride to the Foothills Medical Centre where he was admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. For the next 72 hours, Ethan received around the clock care, as that period is absolutely critical for stabilizing the infant and providing the foundation for healing and growth. Lindsay and Mike waited for three days to even hold their son as he was intubated and kept in a quiet, dark room to recover.

With the first 72 hours behind them, the family was able to finally come together for the long-awaited embrace. But they were far from out of the woods. Ethan, like most premature infants, would experience a series of complications and challenges over the next 110 days of care.

After a long, hard and emotional journey, Lindsay and Mike brought Ethan home and are now experiencing the life they imagined when looking into the future from New York many months ago.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit became the centre of the McTavishes’ world for almost four months – and to this day their gratitude and attachment to the hospital and its staff remains stronger than ever. In fact, the McTavishes keep in touch with Ethan’s nurses and many of the families they met along the way.

Most recently, they were grateful to welcome another boy to their family, Parker.