Getting pregnant after age 35 may be more challenging, especially if you have a preexisting condition like Gaby West, who has Type 1 diabetes. This means she is insulin-dependent, as her pancreas does not produce insulin. Like many women nowadays, West also wanted to ensure she was well-established in her career before starting a family.
West knew that uncontrolled blood sugar levels could be detrimental to a baby, so when she wanted to expand her family, she did her research to identify a doctor to provide personalized perinatal care and monitor her high-risk pregnancy. She found Sasha Davidson, M.D., who is double board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine and is affiliated with Broward Health Medical Center, who managed her pregnancies and delivered both of her babies.
“She’s our angel doctor, she's literally the reason why we have two healthy babies,” West said.
According to Dr. Davidsion, it is crucial to carefully manage the blood sugar levels of a diabetic pregnant mom. If an expectant mother’s blood sugar is poorly controlled, it may lead to complications in the pregnancy such as large birth weight or poor lung development which can lead to breathing difficulties in the newborn.
“It’s also more common for diabetic women to deliver their babies pre-term or even experience a stillbirth,” Dr. Davidson said. “My goal was to reduce Gaby’s risk and ensure a good outcome.”
West was 35 weeks pregnant with her second child when she felt something wasn’t right. “It was 2:00 a.m. and the baby stopped moving,” West recalls.
She contacted Dr. Davidson right away and by the time Gaby arrived at the hospital Dr. Davidson was ready with a plan. Her operating room included a team from the NICU, respiratory therapists, among other specialists. West gave birth to her baby boy, Charles Xavier, who weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces at Broward Health’s flagship hospital, which operates a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. West is well acquainted with the hospital, as she serves as the Vice President of Broward Health International.
Chavi, as his family calls him, had a series of complications that prompted the doctors to admit him to the NICU.
“His lungs didn’t finish developing, so he had trouble breathing,” said Johny Tryzmel, medical director of the NICU at Broward Health Medical Center. “We also had Chavi under Light Therapy (Phototherapy) to help lower his bilirubin levels.”
According to Dr. Tryzmel, such complicatios are not uncommon in babies admitted to the NICU. “We have evidence-based protocols to control every intervention to help ensure the best care for the baby.”
“I remember the first time I saw Dr. Tryzmel walk into the room, I just started crying,” West recalls. “I had worked with the NICU team for over a decade, but becoming their patient was one of the most humbling experiences.”
Chavi also had a feeding tube as he had trouble eating and swallowing. “My baby spent 20 long days in the NICU, it was rough, but the staff was magical,” West said.
While the NICU has 70 private rooms that offer parents the opportunity to stay overnight with their newborns, Chavi's parents were unable to do so because they had a 2-year-old daughter at home who needed their care and attention.
Chavi’s parents would often watch him through the innovative camera system placed above his bed at the hospital. This technology allowed them to see their baby live.
“When I would come in the mornings, I felt like everybody was rooting for us and that is just beautiful,” West said. “The staff at Broward Health are a gift to our community.”
Chavi and his family created such a special bond with the hospital staff, that he came back to the hospital for a special reunion after he turned one. The nurses and staff were delighted to see how much he had grown.
West looks back on her experience and wonders, “As a woman in today’s world, can you have it all? Can you have a career and have a healthy family, even with a preexisting condition that heightens the risk of complications?” The answer she says is “A resounding yes! With the team at Broward Health Medical Center and a talented physician such as Dr. Davidson, one can certainly have it all!”
To learn more about Broward Health’s neonatal intensive care unit, visit BrowardHealth.org/Maternity.