Editor’s note: The article focuses on the safe, quality care a couple receives having their baby at the Grey Nuns Hospital. The author makes no claims regarding the ethical issues of IVF therapy nor Covenant’s involvement with such programs.
Lisa Bussiere had always dreamed of having a baby. So she and her husband, Mat, were overjoyed when they found out she was pregnant. But Lisa had a miscarriage, and attempts to conceive another baby failed.
Lisa and Mat were devastated.
“We always pictured ourselves being parents,” says Lisa. The couple, both 33, have been married for five years and together for 15 years. They met in kindergarten and became high school sweethearts.
Their consults with doctors and obstetrician-gynecologists did not offer a conclusive diagnosis other than unexplained infertility, so Lisa and Mat sought in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.
Six healthy embryos were harvested from Lisa’s ovaries. Unfortunately, Lisa miscarried again. But after three years of trying to get pregnant, their hopes were answered — the second embryo grew and kept growing.
Lisa’s ultrasound appointment at the 30-week mark revealed a healthy baby inside her womb. “I passed with flying colours,” she recalls. Two weeks later, her water broke while she was in bed, ready to call it a night. Lisa and Mat rushed to the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and were admitted that evening.
The couple were in for another emotional hurdle. At 32 weeks, their unborn baby, who was not yet ready for the outside world, needed to be delivered because Lisa had lost a lot of fluid in her amniotic sac and the baby was at risk of infection.
“It was scary. My baby’s lungs were not fully developed yet,” says Lisa. “I had to get two steroid injections for the baby before I could deliver.” Lisa was given medication to delay the start of labour so the steroids could take effect on her unborn child.
“My pregnancy had been going well, and I was not anticipating a preterm baby. I was in shock and did not think that this was happening. I don’t smoke, did not have pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes.”
Lisa trusted the care she received.
“As unexpected as it was, I felt we were at the right place and were where we needed to be. I just knew [my baby] being in my womb was not the best place after my amniotic sac ruptured. The risk was so high that they weren’t too concerned about how dilated I was.”
Lisa says she felt assured by the neonatologist, a high-risk obstetrics specialist, who methodically explained the process leading up to the baby’s birth. “I felt the right decision was being made at every step.”
Part of the information given to Lisa was that her baby’s breathing was going to be the biggest concern at the time of birth. And when her baby entered the world at 10:04 p.m. on August 15, 2020, Lisa did not hear a cry. Her tiny newborn daughter, whom the couple named Stella, weighed a mere three pounds and 12 ounces and was not breathing.
Registered nurse Jessica Cortes, who was on duty that day, remembers running to the delivery room when she received the Code Pink alert that signals a neonatal medical emergency. She says Stella was already in the warmer when she arrived, and the team was trying to get air into her lungs. They successfully intubated and stabilized Stella and moved her to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“Somehow, I felt everything was going to be OK,” says Lisa. “Stella had been responding to all the interventions really well. And it played out the way they had said it would.”
Jessica spent more time with the new parents in the NICU, where she coached them on the delicate task of caring for Stella, who was still on respiratory support and unable to be fed orally. Lisa and Mat were excited when Stella could be bottle-fed. “I saw the dad was feeding the baby by bottle, and that was a milestone,” says Jessica.
Since her birth, Stella has been slowly gaining weight and continues to show signs of improvement. She now weighs five pounds and six ounces.
“It’s been an interesting and long IVF journey, and it was a lonely place to be,” says Lisa in retrospect. While Mat and Lisa endured disappointment and setbacks along the way to becoming parents, the immeasurable joy of Stella has made the journey worth it.