Cassie’s Story

We were having a baby, a little girl and we could hardly wait!  We were expecting our little angel to arrive around July 13, 2005, but she ended up making her debut 6 weeks early, on June 3rd. So here is our story.It was a planned pregnancy and we were blessed to have conceived in our first month of trying. I had been taking my prenatal vitamins long in advance to ensure I had all the folic acid and other nutrients to make my body an optimal place for our baby to grow. I read all the books and I followed all the rules (EVERY RULE!) You see, I had a little too much information about what could happen.  I had worked for 3 years as a social worker in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU.)  My job was to advocate for and provide emotional support and resources to parents and families of premature and critically ill infants.  I had provided support to couples whose babies died in NICU and to those whose babies came to soon to even attempt resuscitation. I had seen and was aware of all of the complications related to prematurity, and I knew I wanted to do everything I could to carry my baby full-term.  What I did not know was that things would happen to me that I had absolutely no control over, and those things were PREECLAMPSIA and HELLP SYNDROME.

My pregnancy had been going wonderfully until about 33 weeks when at a routine prenatal visit it was discovered that my blood pressure was elevated.  My physician put me on modified bed rest and ordered weekly non-stress tests (NST’s) and ultrasounds to better monitor the baby.  I was very compliant with all of the instructions. That following Tuesday I had an appt. w/ my OB for follow up, it was then discovered that I had protein in my urine, I was then sent directly to the hospital. After many tests and steroid shots to help with lung maturity it was decided that for my safety and health, labor should be induced.

Induction began on Thursday morning and Cassie Cathleen Ryan arrived at 7:21 PM on Friday June 3, 2005. She weighed in at 4 pounds 6 ounces and 17.5 inches long. I got to hold her briefly before they took her to NICU.  I was not able to see her for 24hrs after that, as I needed to stay on the Magnesium Sulfate that was given to me to prevent a stroke or seizure caused by my extremely high blood pressure. I kept my eye on the clock waiting until I would be allowed to see my baby again, shortly before that time; a physician entered my room to tell me that my condition had changed. My blood platelets had dropped putting me into HELLP Syndrome and I would need to stay on the Magnesium even longer and would not be able to see my baby until my platelets increased. I was crushed, I didn’t think my baby would remember me. I finally got to see my girl again at about 2 AM Sunday morning, it was amazing, she was awake and looked at me and I knew at that moment I really was a mother.


Cassie had a few incidents of apnea (stopped breathing) and bradycardia (heart rate dropped) around her 2nd day of life, so most of our time spent in the NICU was to ensure she would not experience those again.  On day 10 we were almost ready to take her home so the nurse showed us how to give our little one a bath, she did not tolerate her 1st bath well and could not get her temperature back up, so that tacked 2 more days on to her stay, we were so disappointed.  But, on day 12 we got to bring our little girl home, she had lost some weight in the beginning, but gained it back and came home weighing a little more than her birth weight. Cassie was followed by retinologists to watch her for ROP and it was discovered that she had retinal hemorrhages in both eyes and required an exam under anesthesia, so on July 13th (my due date) we were back in the hospital for this exam. Well, the good news was it was not ROP and due to where the bleeding was located, it was not expected to cause problems with her vision. Unfortunately though, there was no explanation for the bleeding, so further tests were required. That led us to a pediatric oncologist/hematologist who ran many blood tests to rule out any sort of bleeding disorder. All the tests came back normal, and her retinal hemorrhages are classified as unexplained, could have just happened during the delivery. We have followed up with a pediatric ophthalmologist and so far Cassie’s vision is perfect.


Cassie is now 5 years old and perfectly healthy in every way. She is petite, but I think she would have been even had she been born full-term. She is sassy and active, talks NON-STOP! She started kindergarten in the Fall and LOVES it!  It is hard to believe that she was once so little.  Even though she has grown, we will always think of her as the nickname her Daddy gave her when she was so tiny, “Our Little Cassie Bean.”


–Kelly Ryan, Parenting Program, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator

1 Response to “Cassie’s Story”


  1. 1 Jen O'Brien April 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Kelly that was beautiful…


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