More Amazing Birth Stories
Juanita Legere, 25, went to the hospital because she was having contractions. Six months pregnant with her third child, Juanita also felt under the weather.
“I thought I’d get some antibiotics and I’d be fine,” she says. But Juanita was diagnosed with a rare form of hepatitis that causes fatal liver failure.
“I was shocked,” she says. “They told me it was very serious, that I might only have two weeks to live.”
To save her life, Juanita needed a liver transplant. Her doctor also recommended that she terminate her pregnancy, but she refused. “My husband David and I already felt the baby move,” she says. “We decided we were going to do anything we could to have it.”
Juanita’s second doctor agreed to try to work around her pregnancy and placed her at the top of the national liver donor waiting list.
Meanwhile, in and out of a semi-coma, Juanita began to fade.
Within a few days, she went into labor. Little Kelly Nicole was born weighing just 2-1/2 pounds. Her liver, which was thought to have been doing double duty for her and her mom, was enlarged, but otherwise she was fairly healthy.
Juanita, however, soon went into a coma.
Remarkably, a matching donor liver became available — and not a moment too soon. “The doctors told me I would have died within 24 hours if I hadn’t gotten the transplant,” Juanita says.
Several weeks later, Juanita went home. Kelly was released from the hospital two weeks after that and is now a robust toddler. After battling several post-surgery complications, Juanita is also healthy. “The doctor said I was a miracle patient — and I think Kelly is my miracle baby,” she says.
A Scary Stroke
During a fitness class for expectant moms at a local YMCA, Karen Christensen, a 44-year-old teacher and actor who was 9 months pregnant, suddenly stopped exercising. The instructor noticed that Karen looked dazed; when she asked her, “What’s your name?” Karen was unable to talk.
Realizing that Karen was having a stroke, the instructor called 911. By the time the ambulance arrived, Karen had lost the ability to speak, couldn’t see out of her right eye, and was paralyzed on the entire right side of her body.
The closest emergency room was a major medical center, which by coincidence had one of the few stroke-recovery units in the region. The YMCA staff contacted Karen’s husband, Kenny, who met Karen at the hospital. Doctors administered a clot-busting drug as soon as she arrived. But because the drug failed to dissolve the clot fast enough, surgeons performed emergency brain surgery on Karen to unblock the artery.
Throughout the dramatic and dangerous operation, an OB/GYN team waited in the wings in case Karen went into labor.
“Thankfully, despite a few contractions, the baby didn’t budge,” Kenny says. Karen had 10 days to recover before she went into labor.
Surgery is dangerous for a stroke victim because it can cause blood clots, so a C-section wasn’t an option. With the help of forceps, Karen delivered a healthy baby girl, Scouten Elaine Christensen. Although the blood clot still hasn’t completely dissolved, Karen now has regained her vision, some of her speech and all of the movement on her right side.
Born in a Car Dealership
Susan Chae, a 36-year-old mother of two, knew from previous experience that the final stage of her labor would go fast. She had barely made it to the hospital birthing center for the birth of her second child. This time, however, she was prepared.
For the arrival of baby number three, “I had made up my mind that I was going to the birthing center as soon as I felt regular contractions,” Susan says. And that’s what she did — only to be sent home after three hours because her labor wasn’t progressing.
“When I got home, my contractions were still pretty light,” she says. But after an hour or so, things started picking up speed. As Susan’s contractions grew stronger, her husband, Won, a radiologist, gave her an internal check. “I was still dilated only to three centimeters,” Susan says.
In about 20 minutes, however, something completely unexpected happened: Susan began to feel the urge to push. “Apparently, I had dilated from three to 10 centimeters,” she says. Soon she was on all fours in the back seat of their minivan, trying to ease the pain as Won drove as quickly as he could to the hospital.
“We’re not going to make it!” she yelled to her husband. “Don’t push!” he yelled back. “We’ll make it!”
But they didn’t make it. Won had just enough time to pull over in the parking lot of a Buick dealership 10 minutes from the hospital, open the minivan door and assist in the delivery of his daughter Mia. She was born under the parking lot’s blazing lights. “I wasn’t nervous,” Susan says. “I was just mad at my husband for not pulling over sooner.”