Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Sarah P’s Amazing Birth Story

Mommie with MaddieMy name is Sarah and I would like to share my birth story. First off, I am an OB/GYN by trade, my husband is a general surgeon and all the years of medical training could never prepare us for the birth of our precious miracle Maddie.

Of course the road began with infertility… After 14 months, we were finally successful. We were floored, ecstatic even. I loved being pregnant, every bit of it. But sadly, it was cut short way too soon. At around 24 weeks I became concerned. Even though I had never been pregnant before, taking care of pregnant women for years brought to my attention that I never felt my baby move. “Hummm, strange,” I thought, so I decided I would do a quick ultrasound on myself after office hours just to make sure everything looked ok. Soon after I started the scan I quickly realized things were very wrong. Our sweet baby girl’s growth was severely restricted–4 weeks behind. I thought “maybe it’s just a bad scan,” so a couple days later I had a colleague rescan me. Needless to say, she came to the same conclusion. The next day, I went to high risk OB at The Ohio State University to see a colleague who I knew from training was the guru on IUGR babies, preeclampsia, clotting disorders, etc.

After they started the scan there, he quickly turned to me and said, “I really wish you were 32 weeks, Sarah.” My heart sank, I became physically ill. Not only was she severely growth restricted, multiple ultrasound measurements showed that if left pregnant over the next several days, we were a high risk for a stillbirth. But at 25 weeks gestation, we wanted to squeak every second we could to delay delivery.

Several days later I was admitted in anticipation of delivery at anytime fetal distress was detected. I never thought it would be me and not my baby making the call for eminent delivery. However at 12 hours after my admission, I began to have epigastric pain. Severe pain I played down to my sister who had stayed with me overnight. “It’s just heartburn, I just need some tums and a tylenol.” While I was in the bathroom in the shower bawling my eyes out knowing what was really happening, my sister ratted me out to the nurse.

I was experiencing severe preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome and getting sicker by the hour. The decision was make to deliver via emergency c-section at 26 weeks, exactly 3 months before her estimated due date. That day, we had a beautiful baby girl, delivered screaming at 1 pound 6 ounces, who was quickly swept away to be accessed and stabilized while the team finished the c-section.

My severe abdominal pain turned out to be a large liver hematoma at risk for rupture, which has a very high mortality rate. My labs were all spiraling out of control. I was sick, really really sick. It’s never good as an OB to be one of the sickest people you have ever seen in practice.

daddie-with-maddieBut even more painful than that was seeing my sweet, innocent, precious angel for the first time 36 hours later. Now, I have seen many babies in the NICU, but nothing could ever prepare me to see my own child there. Tiny, sick, helpless…And all my fault. I help people everyday have wonderful delivery stories and outcomes, but I couldn’t even do that for myself. My body had betrayed me and it was nothing I could fix or change. With all the years of medicine between my husband and I, there wasn’t a thing we could do to “fix” our baby.

Everything was totally out of our hands and control for 94 long painful days before we could bring our Maddie home. I tell people all the time, if a person could die from sadness, I would have. It was the hardest thing I have ever been through my entire life. But, she can home and simply thrived. She got better and more amazing everyday.

MaddieShe is now a healthy amazing 15 month old who is the reason I know there is a God. I see it in her everyday. I could not have designed a more perfect, happy, amazing child even if I could. Everyday we know how lucky we are to be her parents. She is the reason I was put on earth and has not only made me better mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend, but also a better doctor to my patients. She teaches me something new and amazing about myself everyday.

I know this was a long story, but it has taken me a long time to get the courage to write down my story and share it. I hope it will help others see that even these horrible things can happen to the ones who cared for you at your darkest hour, and that bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s how you handle the situation and grow from it that gives you strength and courage to go on, day after day during the most painful time you will ever experience.


  1. Melissa Smith says:

    My sister is an amazing inspiration for strength and courage. Maddie is a beautiful sweet blessing and I love them so very much!

  2. Thank you for sharing! Your miracle is adorable 🙂

  3. Elizabeth Parker-Sherry says:

    An inspiration, strength, and love. Simply amazing.

  4. Cindy Parker says:

    Maddie is my my newest grand baby …She and her mom and dad went through so much..But here they are,doing so well.
    Every baby is a miracle,but not all babies have to fight so hard.Maddie is a fighter and we are all blessed to have her in our lives…Miracle Maddie..

  5. I am the mother of a now 21 year old preemie who was 500 grams at birth. I know how you feel when you look at your child!! I’m surprised at your God comment though, especially because you yourself are a doctor. It was YOU, your body and the amazing staff of doctors, nurses, medicine and technology that saved your baby. Why would any God put you or your baby through that? Yet you THANK god for “letting” her live? I will never understand the correlation. Congratulations of the birth of your beautiful daughter and kudos to the best mom and medical treatment she could have.

    • I was surprised at your reply and wanted to leave my perspective. I agree with Sarah thanking God for saving her baby. My twins were born at 24 weeks, both received the best that modern medical treatment could offer and one lived and one died. I feel that my twins are a perfect example that with everything that we are able to do there are just things that are out of our hands. I don’t know why any of us or our babies went through such terrible times. I don’t know why some triplets survive and never see a day in the NICU and some singletons struggle. I don’t know why one of my twins is now a thriving 18 month old and the other barely got to live. I do know my son is a miracle and I thank God everyday for him. One day we may have the other answers but I believe that medicine will not save us without God’s blessing.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story! I also had severe pre-e and HELLP syndrome, and it is all very scary, probably even more so for you being an OB-GYN knowing the risks it really presents! Congratulations on your miracle, she is beautiful!

  7. Thank you for sharing your story! I also had pre-e and HELLPs, what a terrifying experience it is. Your daughter is beautiful.

  8. Tina Cornell says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I also developed HELLP syndrome. My doctors and the nurses at the hospital provided me with such outstanding care. I too know about the Grace of God from my experience. My son is a healthy robust 5 years old now. I wish you a happy and healthy long life!

  9. Sarah….Maddie has probably made you one of the best doctors around! You were always AWESOME but to now be able to speak heart to heart, with real experiences, to your patients, that can never be replaced!

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