Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation and excitement, especially when planning for the arrival of your first child. That was certainly the case for Besa last year until she started having pre-labor contractions at about 21 weeks that caused her to dilate. In an effort to prevent a premature delivery, Besa was hospitalized on bedrest 25 weeks into her pregnancy.
Spending five weeks on bedrest in El Camino Health’s Mountain View Hospital with your first pregnancy is not usually part of the plan. Besa went from working and being very active to sitting all day. “I went from working out four times a week to complete bedrest. It was a challenge just from a boredom standpoint. I actually felt great, so sitting all day was hard for me,” explained Besa.
She says that the massage therapy and Art at the Bedside sessions offered relieved the stress and anxiety of her hospital stay, and helped alleviate her boredom. The Art at the Bedside Program is led by expressive arts therapist Nili Helman-Caspi who visits patients in their hospital rooms with an art cart. Although Besa doesn’t consider herself an artist, she enjoyed learning new techniques from Nili and creating something with her hands.
“I worked on a couple different art projects while I was in the hospital. The first one was a white mask and I decorated it with some birds on a branch. I also decorated a box using colored tissue paper and tried my hand at watercolor using watercolor crayons. I had never done anything like that before,” she said.
When Besa was finally discharged, she spent one week at home before her water broke and she was back at the hospital. Besa delivered her son, Xander, at 31 weeks. He was born weighing over four pounds, but his lungs were not completely developed yet so Xander spent two months in the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at El Camino Health’s Mountain View Hospital while the team worked to get his breathing under control.
Soon after birth, Xander had to be intubated for a few hours and then was put on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to help with breathing. Respiratory therapists monitored his breathing closely and provided appropriate interventions until things improved and his breathing was consistent.
Xander weighed seven pounds when Besa and her husband Jason, were finally able to bring him home. Today, he is almost a year old and a healthy baby on the cusp of walking. “Xander sleeps through the night, eats well and is pulling himself up on furniture and balancing for a few seconds,” says Besa.
Due to her and Xander’s extended stays in the hospital, Besa got to know most of the doctors and nurses very well. “Everyone was amazing and very sweet. I created personal relationships with many of them and when I reached my 28-week milestone, one of the nurses brought me a cake to celebrate!” recalled Besa. “No matter the circumstance or the delivery, patients at El Camino should feel they are in very good hands. I always felt very secure and even though I gave birth early, I never questioned what they were doing. I always felt like I understood what was going on.”