In June 2018, Stephanie couldn’t believe it. She was finally pregnant! After nearly six years of trying, Stephanie and George could finally tell their son that he would be a big brother.

A week after her positive pregnancy test result, she went to her OB/GYN for an ultrasound. The test revealed that there was an empty gestational sac and no proof of life in her womb. They shared with her that she would most likely have a miscarriage. Devastated, Stephanie left the physician’s office.

Each week she had a regular appointment to follow-up with the physician for the next two months. She took weekly pregnancy tests, and all of them continued to be positive.

At about four months pregnant, Stephanie went to an imaging center for an ultrasound, and she finally heard her unborn daughter’s heartbeat for the first time.

“I cried,” says Stephanie. “Even though I was told I would have a miscarriage I kept hoping for good news.”

Though she had something to celebrate, her pregnancy didn’t get easier. She was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had to start taking insulin. At 20 weeks pregnant, she was rear ended in an accident. Following the accident, she went to a checkup and they couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat. That was concerning to her, but even that didn’t prepare her for what would come next.

At 4:30 a.m. when she was 26 weeks pregnant, her water broke. When she arrived to her local hospital, they told her that she was in labor, but they didn’t have the resources to care for such a premature baby. The baby would have to be transported to another hospital – one that was away from Stephanie.

“I didn’t want them to take my baby without me,” says Stephanie. “I was scared, but luckily my doctor knew about the Transport Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.”

Miller Children’s & Women’s has a dedicated Transport Program that is unique since it encompasses high-risk maternal, neonatal and pediatric transport available 24/7. A skilled team of doctors and nurses specializing in high-risk pregnancies help safely transport a mom to the Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center.

Once she was in the Perinatal Special Care Unit, a dedicated space for women with high-risk pregnancies, a team of maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy) specialists and neonatologists met with her to explain her situation and what they were going to do. In most cases, the care team will do what they can to safely delay delivery so the baby continues to grow in the womb.

At Miller Children’s & Women’s, maternal-fetal medicine specialists are available on-site 24/7 to assist in complex pregnancies and high-risk deliveries. At other hospitals, the specialists only oversee deliveries, but at Miller Children’s & Women’s they are part of the entire journey.

 “Everyone was so nice and they assured me that they had everything they needed to care for my baby,” says Stephanie. “The team was so welcoming. They even threw me a baby shower because I hadn’t had one yet. They have set the bar for how a mother should be cared for.”

With the use of medications and medical management, Miller Children’s & Women’s was able to delay Stephanie’s delivery for seven weeks. Izabell Hope was born weighing 3 lbs. Instead of needing to be transported to another hospital away from Stephanie, Izabell was taken just down the hall to Miller Children’s & Women’s level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

“Seeing your newborn hooked up to machines is scary, but everyone in the NICU was there to support us. Izabell was in the NICU for 22 days, but now at 8-months-old, you would never be able to tell she was a preemie.”

Thanks to the Transport Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s, Stephanie was able to hold off on delivering Izabell for a few more weeks, and even though she was born premature, she was able to be cared for under the same roof as Stephanie, rather than being transported to another hospital.

“We are so thankful to everyone at Miller Children’s & Women’s,” says Stephanie. “I text my nurses on a weekly basis with updates, and three of them even came to her baptism. When I felt like I had lost hope, Miller Children’s & Women’s saved my baby girl’s life.”