Diagnosis: Pregnancy complications
Treatment: Bed rest
Catherina Brown had already suffered three miscarriages before becoming pregnant again – at age 41.
After she was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix, her cervix was stitched shut and she was placed on strict bed rest 13 weeks into her pregnancy.
A clinical researcher and self-described “Type A” personality, Catherina says, “Bed rest absolutely stopped my life.”
Mary Brady, coordinator of EvergreenHealth’s innovative antepartum program, understands.
“Women are being asked to do probably the hardest thing they’ve done in their life,” Brady says of bed rest. “I don’t think people can comprehend what it’s like to fight for your baby’s life every day on bed rest.”
There’s often no rhyme or reason as to why a patient needs bed rest. It can occur with her first pregnancy or her fifth.
Most patients in EvergreenHealth’s antepartum program have been assigned bed rest because of more common risks of pregnancy, such as pre-term labor, pregnancy-induced hypertension or multiple babies.
But no matter why they’re there, it’s still a struggle.
EvergreenHealth’s antepartum program helps with its family-centered approach to care.
The homelike private rooms include plenty of storage, an entertainment center and a daybed for overnight guests.
And Brady, an obstetrical nurse with 30 years’ experience, is there as each patient’s personal coach.
“I do their care planning, set up their medical appointments, whatever they need,” she explains. “I also do a lot of emotional counseling. Bed rest is a struggle…it’s not just lying in bed watching TV all day.”
“Mary was very informed, very educational,” Catherina recalls. “She told me what to expect. She really helped me emotionally. I had to totally surrender my life to have my baby, and it was very difficult.”
Bed rest is often just the beginning of the story. Complications can arise with the baby because of the mother’s condition, which can lead to an early – or even emergency – delivery.
In those instances, the lifesaving expertise of EvergreenHealth’s Level III Intensive Care Nursery is nearby.
That was the case for Catherina Brown, who had an emergency C-section at 34 weeks when her baby became stressed. Baby Tuscany was small but healthy, and was taken to the Intensive Care Nursery.
Then, shortly after the birth, Catherina developed an amniotic fluid embolism.
It’s very rare, and the survival rate is very low - but thanks to the quick work of her perinatologist, Dr. Carolyn Kline, Brown survived.
She woke up after two days in a coma and asked to see her baby. “That was the moment for me,” Catherina says. “I just looked at Tuscany and thought, ‘There’s no way I could have left her.’”
It was a tearful reunion with staff when Catherina was finally well enough leave the ICU and return to room with Tuscany in the Intensive Care Nursery, where they stayed until their discharge.
“It was a safe, nurturing environment for me,” she says. “It was a comfort knowing the nurses were aware of my condition.”
Stories like Catherina's make Mary Brady smile. “I strongly believe that patients’ memories will be that EvergreenHealth gave them the best shot and made them and their family feel taken care of,” she says. “EvergreenHealth just gives them hope.”