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High-Risk Pregnancy During a Pandemic

Sarah learned she had a high-risk pregnancy, after having been in a new country for just two years — and during a pandemic. After moving from England to the United States with her husband Joseph and 4-year old son Stanley, Sarah says, “We came for an adventure and we love it here. Everything has been so amazing.”

But amidst the excitement, being pregnant so far from home and family posed some challenges. Not only did she have little knowledge of the hospital system in the United States, she was identified as high-risk from the beginning of her pregnancy.

Soon-to-be mom with son Stanley

High-Risk Pregnancy

16 weeks into her pregnancy, Sarah was advised to start receiving scans at the Center for Perinatal Medicine at Northside Hospital Cherokee. Originally, there were concerns the baby might have spina bifida, so Sarah was encouraged to start receiving extra scans. It was revealed that the baby did not have spina bifida. However, it did identify a placental abnormality called circumvallate placenta, which occurs when the fetal membranes “double back” on the fetal side around the edge of the placenta.

Sarah was told that making it to 28 weeks was the goal, and it was at the 28-week mark when all looked well. However, her appointments were increased to two times per week, just to be safe.

Sarah says of the care she received, “Everyone took such great care of me at both Cherokee Women’s Health and Northside Hospital Cherokee. They kept me so informed, took their time, and explained everything,” explains Sarah.

Baby Diagnosed with Heart Dips

During a routine Monday appointment at Cherokee Women’s Health, Dr. Jim Haley noticed a dip in her baby’s heart. Immediately concerned, he instructed Sarah to go directly to the hospital. Once there, Dr. Peahen Gandhi – who was on hospital shift that day – continued to monitor Sarah and her baby. The baby’s heart continued to have dips, so Dr. Gandhi made the decision to schedule a C-section that evening.

A Preemie is Born!

Early the next morning, little Alfie was born. He weighed a mere 2 lbs., 11 oz. so he remained in the NICU for four weeks. Sarah was in the hospital for one week and was with him every single day.

Proud dad holding baby Alfie, with a nurse at Northside Hospital Cherokee

Sarah was so impressed with how the nurses at Northside Hospital Cherokee worked in the unit. Sarah says they told her, ‘We perform like a pit crew, we work fast but we know what we’re doing.’ “The whole surgical experience was wonderful,” Sarah recalls. “My firstborn was a vaginal delivery but after this experience, I would choose a C-section all over again!”

Sarah’s first delivery with son Stanley, aged 4, was in England and she remembers it being a very different experience. She went on to say that the entire labor and delivery process is “much better here.” 

Happy family with baby Alfie

Sarah’s Advice for Moms-to-Be

After Sarah was told she had high AFP levels, she did some research and ultimately learned that what she was reading online was mostly false information, and only putting unnecessary worry into her mind.

So, when asked what advice she would give to other women who are identified as high-risk, Sarah said, “Don’t Google anything. Leave it up to the specialists to give you the information.”

Grateful for Dr. Haley and Dr. Gandhi

“If I hadn’t had the routine stress test on that Monday, I dread to think what would’ve happened,” Sarah says. She’s so grateful that Dr. Haley made the decision to send her to the hospital that day. She is also very grateful for Dr. Gandhi. “Without their knowledge, experience and care, my little boy would not be the thriving little bundle of joy he is right now!”