Courtney Thomas does not remember the birth of her son Briggs. He was born via emergency c-section on September 30 – the day she was placed on a ventilator to help her recover from COVID-19.
As Courtney’s oxygen levels dropped, her baby began to experience distress. Medical City McKinney intensivists and OB/Gyns worked together to quickly get her to the operating room for an emergency c-section. Her son was born at 33-weeks gestation, weighing 4lbs and 7oz.
After testing negative for COVID-19 himself, Bryan Thomas, Courtney’s husband checked on Courtney in the ICU and visited Briggs in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“The hospital Chaplain, Raylene Hoxey, greeted me and took me under her wing,” recalls Bryan. “That first day, she took me to see and get an update on Courtney and then took me to see my son, Briggs.”
Over the next several weeks, Bryan developed a routine that included daily visits to the NICU to feed and hold Briggs and then checking on his wife.
“The NICU nurses taught me everything I needed to know. They taught me how to change diapers, mix formula, give Briggs tummy time, and what stretches and exercises I should do with him once he was home,” says Bryan. “They had me squared away, and by the time he was discharged, I was comfortable taking him home.”
In mid-October, Briggs was discharged from the hospital even though his mother remained in critical condition in ICU. A few weeks later, Courtney’s condition began to improve. The day after the ventilator was removed, the ICU arranged a special surprise reunion in the Women’s Services Unit. Courtney held Briggs for the first time, five weeks after his birth.
“I thought I was going for an X-ray, but I was wheeled into a labor and delivery room, and my baby and husband were there,” Courtney says. “I was so overwhelmed with emotion. It was the most amazing thing ever.”
The NICU and ICU nurses wanted Courtney to know about the progress she and Briggs were making, so they wrote in a journal daily that outlined the daily strides they were both making through the time she woke up from the induced coma. For example, the nurses bought Courtney and Briggs the same sound machine, so they could both listen to the same calming sounds, and even placed one of his blankets in bed with her. The compassionate caregivers presented that journal as a keepsake for the family to remember their fight for life.
“I could feel the love that they gave us. I can’t believe how much people did for me, Briggs, and Bryan out the kindness of their hearts,” Courtney says.
After more than a month in ICU, Courtney transferred to Medical City McKinney’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Institute to work on regaining her strength so she could return home and care for her newborn.
The therapists customized Courtney’s therapy and added weights to the CPR training baby doll, so Courtney would be comfortable carrying her baby’s weight and added buttoned clothes to the doll to work on her fine motor skills. After seven days in therapy, she was discharged home on November 14.
“I was motivated to go home. I wanted to go home and be with my baby. I wanted those calm moments when Briggs could sleep in my arms. I didn’t want to miss any more time,” Courtney says.
“I feel like every single person at Medical City McKinney has a heart full of love for their patients. They do an incredible job taking care of people they don’t even know,” Courtney says.
“I am was very impressed with everyone in the NICU and ICU,” adds Bryan. “I am grateful to have my wife and child at home. It’s all I could ask for.”