Diagnosis: Pregnancy complications
Treatment: Bed rest
Melody McMillan was 23 weeks into her pregnancy and excited to begin shopping and setting up the baby’s nursery.
Then her plans were turned upside down when she began leaking amniotic fluid and was instead plunged into a world of doctors and tests.
A week later, the 25-year-old was admitted to EvergreenHealth Medical Center’s antepartum unit, where she would stay on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy.
“I had to put my work, the baby shopping, everything aside,” she recalls. “But you have to do it to protect the life of your baby.”
Melody also feared that her high-risk pregnancy would dictate a Cesarean delivery, and she’d had her heart set on a natural birth. But she found that wasn’t the case at EvergreenHealth.
“People often assume that a high-risk pregnancy means an automatic C-section,” says Mary Brady, the coordinator of EvergreenHealth’s antepartum program. “But that’s not true at all. Melody did have a very high-risk pregnancy, and she spent an enormous amount of time in the hospital, but we were still able to give her the natural delivery that she wanted.”
Meeting the goals of women with high-risk pregnancies is the driving force behind EvergreenHealth’s antepartum unit.
“It’s a comfortable, nurturing and homelike place where there are no rules,” Brady explains. “We take each family and create a way of caring that works for them.”
Each room becomes a cozy patient condo, with women bringing in family photos, their own pillows and other personal comfort items.
There’s an entertainment center and a daybed for overnight guests.
“We even have a washer and dryer so women can wear their own clothing,” Brady notes, “because simply not wearing a hospital gown can make you feel better.”
Care is delivered according to the patient’s rhythms. “If you’re not an early riser, we won’t be waking you for medications and breakfast at 7 a.m.,” Brady says. “If you want some private time, we’ll post a note on the door so staff won’t barge in without calling first.”
The antepartum staff is also there to help the patients mentally get through the day, and to guide the entire family through this journey.
Both mom and baby are monitored by EvergreenHealth’s perinatologists – specialists in maternal-fetal medicine. They are backed by EvergreenHealth’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery, which can care for babies as tiny as 24 weeks – the gestational age of viability.
Melody McMillan would spend 75 days on the antepartum unit.
“Everyone worked so hard to make this my home away from home,” she says. “I even had my baby shower here.”
“We want to create the best memories for these patients,” Brady shares. “Whatever it takes is what we will do.”
Melody’s lasting memory will be getting the natural childbirth that she’d dreamed of for baby Tyler. “I’m so grateful I was able to deliver my baby the way I wanted to,” she shares, “because my pregnancy was not the way I had wanted it to be.”