From the NICU to Pink and Princesses

May 28, 2019
“The doctor sat down with my husband and me and said, 'OK, here's what we know. You have gone into labor and you are now very high risk. In fact, you're so high risk you are not going home.’”

With that, Vickie Korsak, age 40 and 24 weeks pregnant, went directly to a bed in Hutzel Hospital’s. For two more weeks she fought off labor, with each hour buying time for her daughter’s survival. Today that child is five years old, hitting nearly all her development benchmarks and in love with pink and princesses.

Happenstance played no role in Vickie’s choice of a Wayne State Medical School doctor and the Detroit Medical Center. She knew that her “advanced maternal age” increased her risk.  She did her research, learning that the National Institutes of Health’s Perinatology Research Branch is housed at WSU.

“A lot of the perinatology research that is coming out is worked on right here in Detroit by the Wayne State doctors who make rounds at Hutzel,” she said. “How can you beat that? I was set up to deliver at Huron Valley Sinai, knowing that if I ever had an issue I could go to Hutzel. They have a level NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) but they also have a maternal-fetal ICU. So they don't just take care of critically ill babies they take care of critically ill moms-to-be.”

This advertising industry executive leaves nothing to chance. When she got married at age 36 and decided to have a child she left a large agency to start her own firm, for flexibility. She got pregnant right before the wedding then miscarried on her honeymoon.

“The obstetrician said, ‘these things happen,’” she said, “But I couldn’t take the status quo for an answer. Either I shouldn’t have gotten pregnant or I shouldn’t have miscarried.” WSU’s Dr. Elizabeth Puscheck, revealed that she had fibroids. She had surgery to remove them, miscarried again and decided to try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Seven months later she was pregnant.

“It was the most exciting thing that ever happened. It felt right. It felt like this one was going to stick and sure enough it did,” she said. But around the 24-week mark, Vickie was hammered with excruciating pain. A fibroid had grown back. She learned later that extreme pain is a form of trauma and trauma can cause a woman to go into labor, which is what happened to her. Almost coincidentally she was at Huron Valley at the time, where doctors stopped her labor then ordered her into bedrest at Hutzel.

“I had no problem,” she said. “Remember, I'm the one who researched this, just in case. I'm ready for this.” She expected and got “the big things:” world class care, technology and expertise.  But it was the little things that she never anticipated. Like the woman in the kitchen who would call if Vickie hadn’t ordered a meal in time or the woman who cleaned the room and shared photos of her grandchildren.

“They anticipated things I didn't know I needed and never would have thought of but made everything much more comfortable. It was much more homelike and warmer. It felt very familial while I was there.”

At 26 weeks and four days, Vickie’s daughter, Gianna, emerged and cried, then spent 9 weeks in the NICU.

“Hutzel has the highest level of nurseries, that are able to deal with the tiniest and sickest of babies. Then at the other end you have Children’s Hospital. So if there’s something surgical that needs to happen, it’s not a matter of hours that they’re transporting children, it’s a matter of minutes.

“These babies today are not the exception. My story is the norm. We send these babies home.”