When Kanan Solanki, 33, a staff nurse at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of SSG Hospital in Vadodara tested positive for Covid-19 in July this year, she was 26 weeks pregnant with her first child, after eight years of marriage and five IVF cycles.
While in quarantine, she suffered a Premature Rupture of the Membrane (PROM), in which an expecting mother goes into labour within 24 hours. Kanan recalls, “Being an NICU staff nurse, I knew what was ahead. Since I was Covid-19 positive, no private hospitals were ready to admit me. So I came to SSG and the team of doctors advised me against a Cesarean. But I told them that I wanted to see my baby. I am aware of what can go wrong but I also had immense faith in what can go right since I have attended to so many preemies.” On August 5, at 28 weeks of pregnancy, Kanan delivered a baby girl weighing just 1.05 kilograms.
Dr Sheila Aiyer, Neonatologist and Head of Department, Paediatrics, Medical College of Baroda, said, “The baby had severe Respiratory Distress Syndrome and perinatal asphyxia. While Kanan tested negative for Covid-19 on the day of delivery, the tough journey had only begun.”
The baby was put on ventilatory support for five days. “Next, she was put on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). Slowly she came to oxygen prongs but the days were long and involved close to 10 or 12 hours of Kangaroo mother care, wherein we tried to create as much feel of a womb as we could,” Kanan said.
The baby was put on Minimal Enteral Nutrition (MEN) feed even as she overcame Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) —a type of brain damage that occurs when an infant’s brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen and blood as well as jaundice, sepsis, anemia, acute Kidney injury (AKI) among other complications. Kanan and her husband, an executive of a pharmaceutical company, dedicated equal hours of Kangaroo mother care in the SSG NICU.
“The battle was difficult but the hospital has the best neonatal setup with experienced doctors and nurses. We started with all optimum care predicting and overcoming each difficulty. We started neuro developmental supportive care nesting, Kangaroo mother care and music as well as polka dot pattern bedsheets, mothers clothing with black white stripes to create a special sense and stimulation therapy,” Aiyer said.
At one point, when Kanan had to leave the NICU for a few hours, her friend staff nurse took over the task of KMC for the baby. Meanwhile, Kanan began donating breast milk to the human milk bank at SSG daily night as it could not be used for her baby. In a span of 53 days of hospital stay, Kanan became the highest donor of the milk bank, having donated 9.23 litres. A team of doctors from the gynaecology and obstetrics to ENT doctors, cardiologists and microbiologists helped the baby overcome the tough phase.
“It’s a long road ahead though,” Kanan says, adding, “At every interval, we undergo tests to check her overall development. If she were to be born naturally, I would have been 38 weeks pregnant right now and awaiting her arrival in the end of October. I do not think that Covid-19 caused the complications… IVF pregnancies are susceptible to complicated ruptures in the first two trimesters. But Covid-19 brought me to SSG and I am just grateful for everyone who stood by me.”
Kanan had named her daughter Greeva, which means one with a melodious voice.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines