HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (October 18, 2021) Brittney Brown was born in Forrest General Hospital’s Labor and Delivery Department at 38 weeks some years ago. Despite weighing a healthy 7 lbs. and a few ounces, she was placed in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she stayed for quite some time.
These days, Brown, a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), has come full circle and now practices as an obstetrician/gynecologist delivering babies in the same place where she got her start. While the facility name has changed to The Family Birthplace, and equipment has been updated with the latest state-of-the-art technology, the same loving care and support that was given to babies and their families back then is still evident and in abundant supply today.
From the time she was four years old, Brown always said she was going to be a doctor. “At that point it was a baby doctor even though I didn’t know what an obstetrician/gynecologist was,” she said. “Then, it was a pediatrician for a while. In high school I started looking into different specialties and decided to go the ob/gyn route.”
From Carriere, Brown completed her undergraduate degree at William Carey before entering the university’s School of Osteopathic Medicine. She married in Hattiesburg before spending the next four years in Florida where she completed her internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology. When the opportunity presented itself to come back home and practice medicine in the Hub City, Brown considered that to be a miracle job, a dream and a blessing, especially to end up back at home where all of her family still lived.” And it happened.
As an ob/gyn who delivers babies all the time, she sees some of them placed in the NICU. And it reminds her of her own stories – from her own mother’s perspective when Brown was in the NICU at Forrest General to when Browns’ own daughter was born and placed in the NICU in a Florida hospital.
Brown’s mother, Danene, was from Carriere but had all of her prenatal care in Hattiesburg. As someone who struggled with infertility, Danene was excited to become pregnant with a little girl. The pregnancy was not without problems, mainly some pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure. Brown was born via C-section during what seemed a fairly normal delivery. It wasn’t until about 12 hours later that she became quite ill. The diagnosis was Group B streptococcal (GBS) septicemia, a severe bacterial infection that affects newborn infants. Septicemia is an infection in the bloodstream that may travel to different body organs.
Brown said these days all pregnancy patients are screened for Group B Strep. “If they are positive, they receive antibiotics during labor which can help prevent all of these things from happening,” she said.
“I was very ill in the NICU for quite some time,” Brown said. But for her mother, who was septic and also quite sick, it was several days before she had the opportunity to meet her new daughter. At that time, mothers were put to sleep for a C-section, so she never saw her daughter after the birth before she was taken to the NICU. It’s not like today where we have Facetime or these cool little cameras on our phones. “That’s something I couldn’t imagine, waiting several days to see my newborn child,” Brown said.
Once released from the hospital, Danene had to leave Brittney in the NICU where Dr. Kimble Love was her pediatrician. “He was the most wonderful and fantastic man ever, according to my mom,” said Brown. “Mom said he came in after hours to see me and would talk to her about my condition.”
“I eventually recovered, came home and grew up hearing these stories and others. As an only child, my mother still talks about it. With the condition I had, they said it would be very rare for me to have a complete recovery. They figured I would have some sort of underlying deficits. The fact that I didn’t was kind of a miracle in itself. I guess God has me back here for a purpose.”
While in Florida and during the beginning months of COVID-19, Brown, who was completing her residency, gave birth to her own little girl. Born at 36 weeks, she still needed a little help breathing and was placed in the NICU where she was intubated for about a week.
Having witnessed the trip to the NICU by many of the babies she delivered, she knew her daughter was going to receive the best care. But she admits, “When you are the mom and a doctor, it’s different when it’s your baby lying in that Isolette. That was a long week, and I was not a good NICU mom.” The Florida NICU was a closed NICU, as opposed to the open Family Friendly NICU here at Forrest General. In a closed NICU, parents, like Brown and her husband, Mike, weren’t allowed to spend the night, and because of COVID-19, they couldn’t be there together for such milestones as their daughter’s first feeding. “I appreciate that Forrest General’s NICU is Family Friendly, and it allows and encourages parents to be there, to stay in the room with their babies.”
Brown calls a NICU stay an emotionally draining experience and understands how her own patients’ feel and how upset they are when their baby is whisked off to the NICU. “I feel for them, because I’ve been there and know,” she said. “I’ve never cried so much in my life as I did that week. For NICU families, there’s a feeling of helplessness, so I have the utmost appreciation for all NICUs, but especially our NICU here at Forrest General, taking care of all of these babies I have delivered.”
These days, Brown is following her childhood dream. Her little girl is now 17 months old, and they can’t imagine life without her. For the one-time NICU baby herself, life has come full circle and Brown now enjoys helping Pine Belt families create their own Special Moments, Special Milestones, and Special Memories… Every Day.
For more information about Forrest General Hospital’s Women & Children’s Services, visit www.forrestgeneral.com/specialmoments.