Georgia on My Mind
Miracle at St. Ambrose
By Nancy Kiu, Director of Medical Research
As Charlotte points out to Sheldon in episode 609, being on bedrest means "staying in one spot, contemplating everything bad that can happen in one continuous loop." And with a daughter fighting for her life in the NICU and two others whose safe delivery is still not assured, Charlotte is left helpless with nothing but just her thoughts as she's literally confined to the same position for several weeks.
So as Charlotte rests and tries to buy the two remaining CoopLettes more time in the womb, she's unable to see Baby King-Freedman, who, while recovering, is not out of the woods yet. Initially, Baby King-Freedman looks to be recovering nicely, and able to breathe on her own off the vent. Addison and Sam recommend that the first thing Cooper does when the baby is off the vent is to do "kangaroo care" – aka, skin-to-skin contact. What does that mean?
The Kangaroo Care is the practice of holding a baby to the mother's or father's chest so that there is skin-to-skin contact; the diapered baby is otherwise naked, and a blanket is usually draped over the baby's back. The skin-to-skin contact is beneficial to both parent and child, as it will help ensure bonding and has been proven to be beneficial to premature babies. The warmth and stable body temperature from the parent can help regulate a baby's body temperature better than an incubator, and breathing and stimulation from the parent can help the baby's development. Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to aid with a variety of medical conditions in preemies, including regulating their breathing, stabilizing the heart rate, and helping with better oxygen saturation levels, rapid weight gain, and rapid brain development. This technique can benefit parents such as Cooper as well – being able to hold his baby can make him feel more positive about the strides his baby is making in the NICU, and can make him feel less helpless and more in control as a parent.
However, this victory was short lived, as Baby King-Freedman's condition takes a turn for the worse again, and Sam proposes ECMO, which stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, a process which helps provide heart and lung support when other treatments such as ventilation doesn't work. In ECMO, the patient is hooked up to a heart/lung machine and the blood flows from the body through the ECMO tubing to the machine's lung where it will receive oxygen; once the blood is warmed back up to body temperature, it is cycled back into the patient's body. However, there are dangers: the recommended age for a baby to receive ECMO is at 34 weeks or more, and other risks include bleeding, infection, clots, and strokes. It's a long shot, but it's the best option for Cooper and Charlotte's still-unnamed baby.
But, unlike every good romance, which according to Charlotte ends in death, this story has a happy ending, as not only does the baby stabilize, but Charlotte gets to finally see and name her child before being wheeled off to deliver the remaining CoopLettes. The only thing left to be seen is when Georgia can finally meet her sisters. Sometimes, holiday miracles do happen.