Danielle Fishel‘s first days as a new mom weren’t what she expected them to be like.

The “Boy Meets World” actress, 38, gave birth to son Adler Lawrence a month before her due date, and he spent 21 days in the NICU before his release in July.

Now, Fishel revealed to People that her son had to stay in the hospital for so long because he had been diagnosed with chylothorax, a rare condition “in which lymphatic fluid leaks into the space between the lung and chest wall … [that] can cause a severe cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing,” according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Fishel said the baby was “rushed via ambulance” to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after staff at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, where he was born, noticed his lungs were not working properly.

“That was obviously devastating for us,” she said. “It was traumatizing. We were not expecting that … we really thought we were on our way out, and this was at, like, day 12 of being in the hospital with him. To hear, ‘We have bad news: The fluid has tripled, and now we no longer think we’re the best place for him. This feels much more like an emergency and we need to rush him to Children’s Hospital,’ was extremely scary.”

Luckily, Adler’s lungs eventually healed on their own.

Fishel also said her breast milk was “creating fluid in his lungs, and we had to take him off of breast milk and put him on a specially formulated formula.”

Adler is Fishel’s first child with husband Jensen Karp, 39. The couple tied the knot in November 2018.

Now, Fishel has some advice for new parents who may be in similar situations.

“It’s a real long, slow process in the NICU,” she said. “If we have one thing to tell people about, if someone is going into the NICU with their child, it would be, ‘Do not think you’re only going to be here for 48 hours or 72 hours. Maybe you will be and that will be great, but just think about this as being a marathon and not sprint. You’re here for a while, and nothing moves quickly.’”

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