It’s been nearly two years since Vanessa Lachey and her husband, Nick, welcomed their son, Phoenix into the world ten weeks prematurely. And while Phoenix is now healthy after battling respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Lachey says she and the singer still haven’t “gotten over” the impact their son’s hospitalization had on their marriage.
“[It was] definitely the hardest part in my life and also in my marriage,” Lachey said on E! News’ Mom2Mom. “Not in a negative way, just in a very challenging way.”
Her husband agrees. “Nick actually mentioned the other day, ‘I don’t know if we’ve ever gotten over that,'” she added. “We’ve never really talked about it and gotten over it. We’ve still kind of just been playing catch-up since then. It’s an intense time.”
It’s no surprise the couple has felt rushed ever since — everything seemed to happen so fast. Lachey explained that the complications began while she 30 weeks pregnant on bedrest and noticed that her umbilical cord had prolapsed.
“When I went to the restroom, I noticed my cord was coming out,” she said. “It’s called a prolapsed cord, so the umbilical cord is coming out before the baby.” (Prolapsed umbilical cords affect one in 300 births and can reduce the amount of oxygen flowing to the baby, according to the Cleveland Clinic.)
As a result, Lachey said her son developed RSV, which the American Pregnancy Association says causes lung and respiratory infections.
“He was in the hospital for seven days in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit),” she explained. “[We] could have lost him.”
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Today was my due date for this little guy, March 1, 2017. But he decided to show up 10 weeks early, Dec 24, 2016… our little Christmas miracle. Because he was premature, I knew it would be a tough road, but I didn’t know how tough during RSV season! Babies who are premature or who have lung or heart conditions are considered high risk and need to be extra careful during cold/flu/RSV season! People always forget about RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). It’s like the flu’s evil cousin! It’s an extremely contagious virus and almost ALL babies by two-years-old will get it! This photo was taken last year, this time. Phoenix was 1. He got RSV and we were scared for his life. I encourage ALL you Mommies & Daddies to read up on it and ask your doctors if your baby is a high risk baby. I hope you never have to experience what we did. Sending Love & Light and the power of knowledge! I will never give up talking about it, spreading the word and sharing my story. There’s a link in my bio to a website that I hope you will find helpful! ❤️
Amidst the stress, Lachey said she and Nick also had to figure out how to best take care of their other two children, Brooklyn and Camden.
“Thankfully, I have such a supportive husband who was like, ‘I got the other two, you focus on Phoenix,'” she said. “I did not leave [Phoenix’s] side in the hospital.”
Having a child in the PICU or NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) can take a toll on parents’ emotional health and on their relationships. Parents of premature babies should know there are ways to help alleviate some of their stress, including joining a support group, familiarizing themselves with the NICU and PICU staffs, and taking breaks to rest. Parents should also carve out time to talk to one another about their fears. As difficult as it may be, having non-NICU or PICU conversations outside of the hospital can also help parents feel more grounded.