Living life to the Max
Introduced by mutual friends in 2013, Niall and Princess Fiel-Murphy married in 2015. They have a great love for one another, their dogs, and especially for their toddler, Max.
Shortly after returning from their honeymoon, the couple was surprised to learn they were expecting.
"I always wanted to be a father," Niall says. "A close friend of ours texted us and said he had a dream we were pregnant with a boy the same day we received a positive result on our pregnancy test."
Princess' pregnancy started easily and she was healthy. At the end of her second trimester, Dr. Greg Dunham noticed something on her ultrasound. A follow-up ultrasound determined she had Vasa Previa, a condition that can result in rapid fetal hemorrhage of both baby and mother or lack of oxygen for the baby.
"Dr. Dunham caught it right in time because the condition is harder to detect in the third trimester," Princess recalls. "We were told I would need to have an early, planned c-section to avoid complications, which could be fatal for the baby and me, in labor. We scheduled a c-section to deliver Max at 35 weeks."
Princess was instructed to minimize her activity and movements during this time. She could not have any signs of labor before the operation. She also received a steroid injection to help strengthen Max's lungs since he would be born prematurely.
The day for delivery came and everything went smoothly at the hospital until Max was born.
"I watched Max's color changed from bright pink to purple as his oxygen levels were dropping, but Dr. Dunham made us very comfortable with the situation and told us we would need to take care of Max first and get him to the NICU," Niall recalls. "Before the delivery, I was sitting by myself and it was really nerve-wracking. It didn't help me to see her prepped for surgery. It gave me relief to hear Max's first cry, but going to the NICU after that and seeing all the tubes and wires was very scary as well."
Dr. Michael Wagnon, Shannon Pediatrician, worked quickly with the team after noticing Max had respiratory issues.
"We worked quickly to transition Max to the NICU after delivery," Dr. Wagnon says. "Max was placed on the Bubble CPAP machine, due to his lungs being premature. Fortunately, he did not require surfactant, a substance given to most premature babies to spur lung development."
Princess was still in recovery during this time.
"My mind was racing wondering where Max was as I was still recovering from surgery," she says. "I was very confident in our doctor and all the staff we encountered were wonderful."
In the NICU, Niall and Princess met NICU nurse Tammy van Stockum, BSN, RNC-NIC.
"I met Max during his first 24 hours of life," Tammy says. "Most premies need help breathing and Max was no exception. Princess and Niall were a little scared to hold him and change his diaper with all of the wires and beeps from the respiratory machines he was connected to. But, they smiled and remembered our names as we were taking care of their son. It was an honor to take care of Max."
After the Bubble CPAP, Max moved to vapotherm oxygen for three days. He also needed assistance eating and was placed on a feeding tube and the bilirubin blanket to combat jaundice. After 96 hours in the NICU, he was off all oxygen and eating orally. During their stay, the Fiel-Murphys were able to utilize the Parenting Suite located directly across from the NICU.
"We were able to help Princess and Niall more with the addition of the Parenting Suite, funded by Children's Miracle Network," Tammy says. "The room helps makes the transition from the NICU to home much easier. The environment provides the comforts of home with a television, bed and private bathroom, but we are right across the hall in the event the parents have questions or concerns."
Princess and Niall are grateful to Tammy and the NICU nurses for the care they provided Max and the support given to them as new parents.
"Tammy treated Max like he was her own child," they say. "The Parenting Suite was such a nice surprise and a big convenience for us. It made us feel like we were at home, but we had the security of the nurses across the hallway. The nurses were very gracious and extremely encouraging."
After a week-long stay in the NICU, Max was ready to go home.
"It was a relief to bring him home," Princess says. "We knew we were ready because the NICU nurses made us feel that way. They gave me the confidence to be ready to take him home and care for him. Going through this process with Max was the first time we heard about Children's Miracle Network. It's amazing to see what our community does to support little ones. You don't know you need the services CMN provides until you do."
Along with the Fiel-Murphy family, Tammy and Dr. Wagnon are grateful for the support of Children's Miracle Network to assist them in taking care of patients like Max.
"All of the equipment Max needed was provided from donations to Children's Miracle Network," Dr. Wagnon says. "It's awesome to work at a CMN hospital. It means a lot to us as pediatricians to have the support of the community and, in turn, for us to be able to support our community."
Now, two-year-old Max is enjoying life as a spunky toddler with his parents, dogs and family.
"We want Max to have the world," Niall and Princess say. "We want him to live life to the fullest and become the person he wants to be."