Grateful three times over for the NICU

It’s difficult enough to think about having one child who requires the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but for Shane King and his wife Tanya, their whole world became the NICU when their triplet daughters required its care.

After an early ultrasound, the parents-to-be were surprised when the technician exclaimed that there were not one or two babies, but three! From the very beginning, they were monitored closely for their high-risk pregnancy.

Around the 13-week mark, there were concerns that one of the baby’s bladders wasn’t filling up, which could indicate twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition where the blood flows unequally between twins that share a placenta. This can lead to major risks to both babies. As a result, they went to frequent check-ups to see if they could confirm whether this was the case with their babies.

Once it was confirmed, they were flown on a day’s notice to Toronto where surgeons successfully completed a laser ablation surgery, cauterizing the placenta so each twin would have half a placenta. The twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome only affected two out of the three triplets.

The surgery itself was nerve-wracking for Shane as nothing was guaranteed. Thankfully, everything went well and they were able to return to Calgary to be monitored on a weekly basis.

Relief was felt by the parents as each week went by, knowing how essential it was to keep the babies in utero as long as possible, in order to increase their chance of viability. Once the 32 week mark was passed, it was a huge milestone for the King’s.

On a warm summer afternoon in July, Madelyn, Finley and Charlotte were born and quickly whisked away to the NICU. Each of the babies had challenges at different times, but Finley experienced the most difficulties.

She had a hole in her heart, which eventually healed on its own, as well as jaundice which required longer treatment than her sisters. She was also the baby that was affected by twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, so it didn’t come as a big surprise that she took a little longer to catch up to her sisters.

“We felt relieved and comfortable leaving them in the NICU, knowing they were getting the best care possible. The hard part was leaving them at the end of the day, and putting them in someone else’s care, but knowing they were getting the best care made it less difficult,” Shane recalls.

The triplets spent 12 days at Foothills Medical Centre before being transferred to Rockyview General Hospital to be cared for. Shane recalls it being a big transition because they were used to a team of healthcare professionals looking after their daughters instead of just one.

“A nurse said to us, once you’re here it’s good news because they’re potted plants now. We feed and water them, and help them grow.”

That sentiment stuck with Shane and he felt reassured that they just needed to get bigger and then they would get to go home.

“The NICU staff are so wonderful. They care about your children and you. The only thing they’re there for is to make sure your babies grow and get healthy,” Shane said.

As a first-time parent to triplets, the help and support the NICU team gave to them was invaluable.

“You never know a NICU exists until your whole world exists because of the NICU.”

Shane remembers one night, where they were preparing for the girls to be brought home and they were able to use a transition room where the goal is for the parents to do everything themselves, but if needed, there is back-up to ensure they’re ready to go home.

Finally, the day came where Madelyn and Charlotte were able to go home. Finley still needed a little more time in the NICU, but for Shane, as difficult as it was to leave Finley behind, they knew that bringing two girls home was momentous in itself.

For Shane, thinking back on how far the girls have come, he is amazed that they are now five and doing incredibly well. They are all excited to be part of the Mercedes-Benz NICU Charity Fashion Show happening on October 5 where they will walk the runway together.

“They’re all little fashionistas and they’re so excited to be a part of this.” Shane wants to raise awareness and funds for a cause that is so important to him. He knows the incredible work that happens within the walls of the NICU and wants to support their efforts so other parents are able to get the excellent care his family required.

To make a life-changing impact on a family like Shane’s, donate today.

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