Kaitlyn and Stewart Skloss from Fredericksburg were excited about the prospect of giving their only child, Ella, a younger sibling. After all, they always wanted a house full of kids and are hoping for as many as five, so learning Kaitlyn was pregnant was welcome news.
Things for the couple were progressing well. Kaitlyn was active, healthy, and felt great. She was enjoying extra quality time with Ella, and both were looking forward to the arrival of a new bundle of joy in late August.
When she was 28 weeks along, Kaitlyn had an anatomy scan, and that’s when it was detected that Mae was a little small – she was experiencing what doctors refer to as “restrictive fetal growth.” At this moment, Kaitlyn’s obstetrician, Dr. Sharrel Carlton of Peterson Women’s Associates, brought her under the care of maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. James Hill at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHofSA).
Both Kaitlyn and Stewart instantly liked Dr. Hill and knew they were in good hands.
“I loved his personality. He’s super smart and direct, but also makes you feel at ease and comfortable. I knew we could trust him, and I thought he provided excellent recommendations,” said Kaitlyn.
At this point of the journey, there was not much Kaitlyn could do differently. Other than being small, Mae was perfect. Dr. Hill and his team wanted to keep close track of Mae’s growth so Kaitlyn would go in weekly for anatomy scans. The scans revealed she was growing and doing just fine until Kaitlyn was 36 weeks along.
During one of her appointments, Kaitlyn’s umbilical Doppler reading was elevated. A Doppler reading is used in the third trimester of pregnancy to detect the well-being of the fetus. When such a reading is high, it could be a sign that a baby is in distress. Dr. Hill was brought in for a consult, and he decided that Kaitlyn would deliver Mae at 37 weeks.
Kaitlyn was all set for a delivery day of August 10. But during her appointment the day before, another umbilical Doppler reading showed it had jumped to 99%, which was concerning to Dr. Hill. Kaitlyn’s team decided August 9 would be Mae’s birthday.
The C-section with Dr. Peter Hsu at CHofSA was uneventful, and at that time, everyone thought Mae was doing just fine. But shortly after birth, Mae was having issues breathing, and her heartbeat was not where it should be.
“The next thing we knew, Mae was being rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU),” Stewart, Mae’s father, recalls. “Things went from bad to worse – to the point of them telling us she was one of the sickest babies under their care. Her lungs had not fully developed, and it was terrifying.”
During the next 48 hours, Mae as they began to call her and nicknamed “Mighty Mae” by her godmother, would have to be intubated and put on a ventilator with a feeding tube to survive.
During these medical procedures, Stewart was taking care of Ella at home and helping Kaitlyn’s mother. When he realized just how bad things were with Mae, he rushed back to the NICU and fearing the worst, he started scanning the room franticly for a priest as there were numerous doctors, nurses, and staff all surrounding Mae’s bedside. He was scared to death for his brand-new baby girl. It was torture for Kaitlyn and Stewart not to be able to hold Mae, but they had complete confidence in the CHofSA team.
Mae was put on a feeding tube and umbilical catheters were placed in her belly button for the medication to enter. And within 48 to 72 hours, Baby Mae was on the road to recovery. Once she started on the medicine, she turned the corner a made small improvements every day.
Kaitlyn and Stewart were so grateful to the team for saving Mae’s life and acting so quickly. They were so thankful that they brought food in three times a day for more than 70 care team members during their 12-day journey in the NICU and kept the meals coming even after they left.
“The doctors and nurses were just phenomenal. It felt like a little family. I was hysterical during the first few days of Mae’s life and I was amazed at how supportive and loving the NICU family treated me. We wanted to do something to show our thanks for all they did to help Mae,” said Kaitlyn. “Drs. Maria Pierce, Sowmya Mohan, and Cody Henderson and all the nurses and staff were absolutely incredible. Even Dr. Hsu, who delivered Mae, checked in on her in the NICU every day.”
Reflecting on the entire experience, both Kaitlyn and Stewart are particularly appreciative of Dr. Carlton. She had the foresight to suggest Kaitlyn deliver at CHofSA just in case there were any issues with Mae’s delivery. Kaitlyn knew how important it was to deliver at a facility with a NICU just in case something happened but did not ever think she would actually need to use it. Kaitlyn and Stewart now believe without a doubt that recommendation saved Mae’s life.
“We hope to have another baby in the next three years, and even if I have an uncomplicated pregnancy, I’m going to deliver at CHofSA. I know how important it is to have a plan in case something goes wrong like in Mae’s case,” said Kaitlyn.
Today, Baby Mae as they now call her, is at home. Weighing just over 10 lbs., she continues to gain more weight and Ella is enjoying her role as big sister.
While they are still not sure exactly what caused their daughter to go into distress after she was born, there is one thing they know for sure: they were at the right place at the right time.
“Everyone was fantastic, and we feel incredibly blessed that our paths intersected the doctors, nurses and management who took such great care of us at CHofSA,” said Stewart.
To learn more about the neonatal intensive care unit at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, please visit: https://www.christushealth.org/childrens/services-treatments/nicu.