Mom Thanks Hospital Staff Saving her Son's Life

Jun 6, 2019

“He's not crying but nobody's telling me anything. There`s all this commotion and everybody's moving around in the room. The doctor tells everybody in the room to be quiet and hush. I still hadn’t heard him cry.”

At 28 weeks of pregnancy, Charlene Pettway had just given birth to baby Braylen, who weighed two pounds, two ounces. He was breathing but perilously premature. He would spend three months in the Hutzel Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and the special care nursery before coming home to grow into the active, healthy two-year-old he is today. Charlene credits the dedicated, skilled hospital staff with his survival.

“It was already a humbling experience to leave your baby in the care of people that are not family, that you don't know and you have to trust them as far as your child is concerned,” she said. “It was like he had a floor full of aunties who were able to look after him.”

At age 35, Charlene and her husband weren’t even trying for a baby. One evening she felt queasy while dining out with her mother who said, “Maybe you’re pregnant.”

Skeptical, Charlene stopped at the drugstore and bought a pregnancy test kit. “Yeah, right,” she said when she saw the results, then went out and bought six more kits. The results didn’t change. She called her husband at work and said, “We’re pregnant.”

“With a baby?” he asked.

Charlene says she was “bumping along” uneventfully with her pregnancy. Her age categorized her as being at risk but there were no signs of difficulty in her pregnancy until, at 26 and a half weeks, her water broke. Her sister rushed her to the hospital (“It’s usually a 15-minute ride. It took us five.”) There doctors said she’d give birth in the next day or two and painted a grim picture for her.

 “They said the baby could have spina bifida, that he might be blind, that he wouldn’t be able to walk; he wouldn’t be communicative. They were telling me all the bad things that could happen,” Charlene said.

“So I’m crying, my mom’s crying because I’m going to have this baby within the next 24 to 48 hours and he’s too little to survive outside the womb.”

Doctors put Charlene in a hospital bed and managed to delay Braylen’s birth by 10 days. She was celebrating her birthday with family members when a nurse, during a routine check on her condition said, “Charlene, I can’t find Braylen’s heartbeat.” They quickly moved Charlene from the maternity floor to the delivery room. Little Braylen arrived soon thereafter.

“The nurse brought him over and – I’ll never forget this – he’s wrapped in plastic. And I looked up and said, ‘Hi, Braylen, it’s mommy,’ and he opened his eyes.”

Over the next three months, a loving hospital family nurtured Braylen.

“The NICU and the special care nurses are phenomenal women,” Charlene said. They are the best I've ever seen in my life. They made me part of the process. They let me do things like take his temperature, weigh his poop, feed him and all the things I thought I was not going to be able to do.”

The nurses arranged a special exit when Braylen was ready to go home.

“I didn't get the experience to be wheeled out of the hospital with the carrier in my lap with my baby,” Charlene said. “But the nurses did it for me. They let me sit in a wheelchair. They put the carrier in my lap and they wheeled us out and they clapped as we were leaving. I knew what the other moms felt like when they took their babies home.”

Braylen was a happy surprise for his parents, but he wasn’t the last one. Charlene is pregnant again, this time with a girl.

“She caught us completely by surprise,” Charlene said. Based on doctor’s analysis of Braylen’s circumstances, they have Charlene taking progesterone and weekly intravenous iron infusions. At 33 weeks, she anticipates a normal gestation for little Baileigh Rose.

“This baby has been a cake walk compared to the last one,” she said.