Women & Infant Health: Oh, Babies!
Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU is managed by the neonatology team of physicians from Children’s National Medical Center. The NICU is a Level IIIB, as designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and can care for babies at and above 24 weeks gestation.
Dela Acolatse knew something wasn’t right about her pregnancy. Many expectant moms suffer with morning sickness, but Dela couldn’t eat or drink anything. Her OB/GYN diagnosed hyperemesis gravidarum, which is severe nausea and vomiting.
“I lost a lot of weight in the first trimester, and I found out I was carrying twins,” Dela said.
Dela’s doctor referred her to Carolina Reyes, MD, Medical Director of Maternal and Fetal Medicine and a member of the Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group. Dr. Reyes specializes in medical and fetal complications of pregnancy, obstetric and genetic ultrasounds, and prenatal diagnosis. Along with a specialized team, she works closely with the patient’s OB/GYN to coordinate personalized care.
An ultrasound confirmed that Dela’s twins shared one placenta, with a significant difference in size between the two babies. “With this condition, each baby was at risk,” explains Dr. Reyes. Dela required careful monitoring throughout her pregnancy.
“A pregnancy involves the whole family,” Dr. Reyes says. “Our job is to diagnose and manage care, as well as prepare the family for what to expect once the baby is born. We help coordinate care before and after the delivery for a seamless transition.” In the event that the twins might need specialized care after birth, Dela and her husband, James, felt reassured knowing that Virginia Hospital Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is managed by the neonatology team of physicians from Children’s National Medical Center.
Dela spent much of her pregnancy on bed rest and saw Dr. Reyes every week. “She took very good care of me,” Dela recalls. “She was not the kind of doctor to say, ‘Let’s wait and see what happens.’ If I needed to see another specialist or have another test, Dr. Reyes didn’t wait. She was very proactive.”
That proactive approach proved to be crucial. A month before her due date, Dela noticed that the babies weren’t moving as much as they had been. Dr. Reyes had her come in immediately for an ultrasound.
James was at work when he got a phone call to meet Dela at Virginia Hospital Center that day in July. “They were checking her vitals,” he said, “and then Dela was rushed in for an emergency C-section.” Janelle was born weighing 4 pounds, 9 ounces and Naomi at 5 pounds, 5 ounces. “Janelle was fine, but Naomi was not responsive. She wasn’t moving or crying. The doctor said she might have been oxygen-deprived. It was pretty scary.” Within an hour, Naomi was transferred to Children’s National Medical Center for whole-body cooling, a procedure that lowered her body temperature for 72 hours to reduce brain swelling. Children’s National has one of the largest whole-body cooling programs in the country for infants with hypoxic brain injury (trauma that deprives the brain of enough oxygen). “Here was this tiny little baby, shivering a little,” James said. “It was hard to see her like that. But I really appreciated how the team kept us updated all the time. By the time the cooling process was done, Naomi was responsive and looking around. We felt really fortunate that she was at Children’s.”
Back at Virginia Hospital Center, Janelle was in the Hospital’s Level IIIB NICU. Within two weeks, both babies were at home.
Eight months later, they’re doing “extremely well,” their mom says. “They are crawling everywhere and trying to take their first steps.” Dela said she still keeps in touch with the NICU nurses, who took such good care of her babies. And she recommends Virginia Hospital Center to her expectant friends.
“I always refer my friends to Virginia Hospital Center for their babies,” she said. “I live five minutes from another hospital, but I would only come to Virginia Hospital Center.”