April 11, 2012
My oldest son brought home a cabbage seedling from school to enter in a contest. If his plant grew the largest, he would win a $1,000.00 scholarship. For the first 2 weeks he faithfully nurtured the plant but then his attention span decreased as basketball and track gained more prominence on his radar screen. His father felt sorry for the abandoned plant and sat it on top of soil in a larger pot so that it could receive some sunlight. The larger pot represented a burial ground of a deceased plant that had met its untimely demise due to unintended neglect.
A few weeks passed. We assumed the plant was dead. On a lazy Sunday afternoon a hint of spring was in the air as flowers blossomed. The sun shone brightly and my spouse stepped into the backyard to get some fresh air. A few minutes later, he beckoned my son to come outside in a voiced filled with excitement. The cabbage plant was miraculously resurrected. Although still confined to its original container it had somehow dug its way into the soil of the larger pot and was now firmly attached. It was thriving with large, thick green leaves and had a significant growth spurt. What a teachable moment. Ignoring the confines of its container, the cabbage plant sensed a window of opportunity in the form of fertile soil and literally – dug in. We cut away its first container to allow it to thrive even more.
Pregnant moms, a tree is known by the fruit that it bears. The seed within you has the potential to blossom into infinite possibilities if given the proper nourishment. When the challenges of life attempt to intimidate or discourage you be like the cabbage plant and ignore the external barriers. Deflect negativity. It cannot do you harm if you ignore it. Focus instead, on the potential within.
What can we learn from the cabbage plant? We learn that the will to live is far greater than any external challenge.
October 10, 2011
The story of Tanya* is compelling. She was 24 weeks pregnant with her third child and the hospital was threatening to send her home. Two years ago, she faced similar circumstances and delivered a baby at 23 weeks. Luckily, the baby is now two years old but the one before that was not so lucky. Tanya presented to a local hospital during her first pregnancy because of complaints of abdominal pain. She was sent home because her contractions “weren’t regular.” Ten hours later, Tanya returned to the hospital because of a “nagging feeling that something was wrong” although her contractions were still not regular. Unfortunately, her cervix was dilated and the contractions could not be stopped. Her son was born alive but died one hour later because the hospital was not equipped to deal with premature newborns. Tanya’s second pregnancy was similar to her first because she developed premature contractions again, at 23 weeks. As with the first pregnancy, her contractions were not strong and regular so she was discharged home from the hospital with a monitor that was supposed to help. It didn’t. Luckily, she had an appointment with her high risk physician the next day who informed her that she was dilated although she did not have regular contractions. Her preterm labor could not be stopped but this time, her baby did not die.
Tanya contacted her Bedrest Coach, DarlineTurner-Lee, owner of Mamas On Bedrest that provides support to high risk pregnant moms and Lee contacted me. She asked for advice regarding Tanya who was 24 weeks and about to be inappropriately discharged home from a specialized teaching hospital. I offered strategies on Tanya’s behalf but there weren’t necessary. One of the physicians at the hospital convinced the staff to allow Tanya to remain in the hospital until 28 weeks. There are lessons to be learned from her case
- Trust your instincts. Tanya was correct in not wanting to be discharged home because of her previous history. Women who delivery preterm babies (especially at 23 weeks) are bound to do it again. The chances of survival are far greater at 28 weeks than at 24 weeks
- She obtained an advocate and sought a second opinion. 2 heads are always better than 1 especially when there is doubt about a diagnosis or treatment
- If you have a high risk problem, always attempt to be admitted to a Level 3 hospital where they have specialized care for newborns
Tanya expressed her gratitude by saying “. . . I thank God for people like you and the staff who fight for our little miracles.”
1 out of 8 pregnant women will deliver a premature baby in the US each year. Hopefully, this time, Tanya will not be one of them.
September 19, 2011
In 2007, Melanie Jaggard went to the hospital for a punctured ear drum and was given the shock of her life. She had cancer; a very rare form that was located at the base of her brain.
Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is the second most common cause of salivary gland cancer but can affect other areas of the body. Melanie is one of only 20 to 25 people in the United Kingdom to have ACC and had a 2-inch tumor was removed from her head following a delicate 10-hour operation. She was single at the time, cancer free and one year later met the love of her life, Charlie Jaggard, on an online dating site. Charlie proposed three months after their first date and life was good, until she received the news that the cancer had returned, this time metastasizing to her lungs. Surgery was not an option because the tumors were too numerous and radiation was too risky to the lungs. However the couple was not discouraged. They married in January 2009 and Melanie decided to be a victor rather than a victim. Although 89 % of people with ACC survive after 5 years only 40% survive after 15. Melanie has a life-span of 15 years and she and Charlie have both decided to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty. After careful consideration regarding Melanie’s condition and prognosis, they decided to start a family.
Melanie is now pregnant with twins and is very optimistic about her future. While there may be people who will criticize her for starting a family, the Jaggards are convinced that 10 to 15 years will give them time to raise money for a cure or at least discover medicines that can shrink the tumor. Approximately 1 in 1500 pregnancies is affected by cancer. Melanie holds the distinction of being the only pregnant woman to have ACC in the medical annals thus far. She is treading in unchartered water but optimism will be her guide.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca once said: “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” Hopefully one day her twins will thank her.
May 9, 2011
There are two types of physicians who practice medicine: those who choose medicine as a career and those who medicine chooses to serve. When you are called to serve, your relationship with patients extends beyond a 15 minute boundary. Such was the case of my relationship with my patient, Adriana Echeverri Tucker.
Adriana was 38 years old when she first entered my office both happy and anxious about her first pregnancy. If Adriana had medical insurance, I might not have met her. She was married to a U.S. citizen but had to wait the prescriptive time period for her green card so she was not eligible for state-funded insurance and her husband was self-employed.
Adriana was a dog trainer by trade and originally from Colombia, South America. Her ambition and entrepreneurial spirit was contagious and admirable. She was also a perfectionist and because we shared the same birth month, I intuitively understood her fears and concerns about this first pregnancy. I would see Adriana even without an appointment on days when her anxiety got the best of her. She was an older woman who had conceived without the benefit of In Vitro Fertilization and I, who was childless at that time, knew her pregnancy was a precious gift. She ultimately delivered a beautiful baby boy, who she named Martin. When she brought Martin to Colombia to see her family, she brought me back a gift that remained on my desk for years.
I eventually lost contact with Adriana until this past Friday night when I flipped through my local newspaper and saw her name in the obituary section. At first I wasn’t sure if it was the same person until I read the part about her being a dog trainer. A was a memorial service scheduled for the next day.
The parking lot was completely filled and there must have been over 100 people in attendance. When the pastor asked if anyone else wanted to make a comment, I was given a microphone and tearfully stated how fitting that her memorial service was held on the day before Mother’s Day because she was such a proud mother. Through the testimonies I learned that Adriana was a volunteer COP in her community. She organized a movie night once a month in her church. She became a U.S. in 2009 and her 7-year-old son, Martin, was thriving. I also learned that Adriana had late-stage cancer that was only recently diagnosed 2 months prior to her untimely death that occurred in Colombia, one day after she returned to the country of her birth.
Her service ended by the release of purple balloons in the parking lot symbolically returning her spirit back to God. Her life was abbreviated but purposeful. I am proud to have been her physician and equally proud to call her my friend.
May 17, 2010
On February 10, 2010, Katy Hayes, a free lance massage therapist and mother of two, gave birth at home to her 10 pound daughter after 8 hours of labor without medication or intervention. (See AOL’s link
). It is not known whether the home birth was attended to by a midwife.
Katy did not have health insurance, nor did her husband, Al. Four days later, Katy was rushed to the hospital because of increased excruciating pain and almost died shortly thereafter. She experienced massive organ failure, and then lapsed into a coma. Katy had Group A streptococcal disease which causes strep throat or mild soft tissue disease. However if this bacteria gains access into the blood stream its effects can be devastating. It causes necrotizing fasciitis or the “flesh eating bacteria.” It is also responsible for Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, commonly referred to as either “Toxic Shock Syndrome” or TTSS. This infection has been on the rise in the U.S. since the 1980’s with 8 to 10 thousand cases occurring annually and 30% of people affected still die each year.
Katy’s husband faced a major dilemma. The physicians informed him that the only way to save Katy’s life was to remove the source of the infection which was her uterus. In addition, all four of her legs and arms had to be surgically removed as well as her ovaries, stomach and part of her intestines. And there was still the possibility that she might die. Al made the heart-wrenching decision for Katy to have the surgery.
Katy regained consciousness on March 12th and is on a slow but steady road to recovery. She will have to be fitted for prosthesis of her arms and legs and her greatest desire is to hold her baby and return to her family. Her friends and family are conducting fund raisers to pay for her hospital bills.
Some schools of thought will argue that Katy should have never had a home birth. Others will defend her right to do so. I hope Katy did not opt to deliver at home because she lacked healthcare insurance. That would be a moral tragedy. I wish I could turn back the hands of time because here’s what Katy should have known:
- Older women (those over 35) have an increased risk of birth complications. Katy was 41.
- There are federally funded community health centers to take care of the uninsured.
- A fever after childbirth needs PROMPT attention. Katy had a fever for four days before she was taken to the hospital.
Let’s all pray for Katy’s continued recovery and a swift return home to her baby.
Join the FB page created for Katy by clicking here
April 28, 2010
The story of Abbie Cohen Dorn (Severely Disabled, Is She Still a Mom?, LA Times, April 11, 2010) brought tears to my eyes and sadness in my heart. Abbie is a 34-year old mother of triplet boys whose former husband will not allow her to see them because she has a severe disability caused by a delivery complication.
Abbie was a chiropractor and the daughter of a physician. She married Dan Dorn, began infertility treatments and ultimately conceived triplets. A triplet pregnancy is extremely high risk and Abbie maintained the necessary precautions. Dan was extremely attentive to her needs during the pregnancy. According to the LA Times, on June 20, 2006 the couple rushed to the Cedar Sinai Medical Center. It appears that Abbie had a C. Section that ended with an emergency cesarean hysterectomy to stop the bleeding. Allegedly, her physician “nicked” her uterus. Oh, do I have several questions for her physician. Why wasn’t she scheduled to have an elective c. section rather than allowing her to have spontaneous labor? Was there an “expert” team to deliver the multiples? Did the labor room practice “emergency” drills or were they ill-equipped to handle this emergency?
Fast-forward to 2010. Abbie has significant neurological damage and receives intensive therapy at the cost of $33,000 per month. Dan divorced Abbie in 2008, is requesting child support and refuses to allow his sons to see their mom because he feels “it would be too traumatic for his sons as such a young age.” Abbie has not seen her sons since 2007 and her father sees his grandsons four times a year. Abbie’s parents are challenging Dan’s decision and a trial is set for May 18th.
I was the daughter of a disabled mother and there was never one day that I did not love her – unconditionally. Dan Dorn is wrong. Dead wrong. Abbie deserves to see her children and a community has emerged to give her support. I urge all of my beloved readers to join the “Stand Up for Abbie” Facebook page (
) and show her some love.
January 11, 2010
Just when I think that I’ve seen and heard it all, I read yet another bizarre story that proves me wrong. Last month CNN reported a story about a woman who had attempted to end her rival’s pregnancy Woman Tried to End Rival’s Pregnancy, Prosecutor Say in a most deceptive way.
Kisha Jones was arrested for allegedly tricking Monique Hunter, her husband’s pregnant lover into taking an abortion-inducing drug. Jones allegedly forged a physician’s prescription and prescribed a medication that would induce early labor. She told the pharmacist that the medicine was for “a procedure.” She then called Hunter and convinced her that her physician had prescribed an important medication and she should pick it up and take immediately. Hunter complied. Shortly thereafter, she was soon rushed to the hospital and delivered a premature baby boy two months early.
While Hunter’s baby was still in the intensive care unit, an unknown man brought what he claimed to be breast milk for the baby and it was later determined to be poison. The hospital staff called the police and Jones was arrested on a host of charges including criminal impersonation. The facts of this case suggest that either Jones was familiar with labor inducing medications or knew someone who was. The “abortion-inducing drug” referred to by CNN was probably Mifepristone.
Mifepristone is a medication that’s used for early first-trimester abortions and to induce labor with fetal demises. Since its inception back in the late ‘80’s, I have disagreed with it being prescribed as an outpatient medication. Any medicine that causes bleeding and the evacuation of the uterus should be done in a controlled environment under the supervision of medical staff to avoid complications. Unfortunately, the FDA has reported several deaths of women who had taken this medication at home.
While this story has all of the makings of daytime drama, the bigger tragedy is that an innocent newborn was almost killed. I think the FDA should reexamine its policy regarding Mifepristone. People like Kisha Jones should never be allowed to strike again.
December 30, 2009
According to Answers.com, there is a baby born in the U.S. every 8 seconds, a figure that is both staggering and exhilarating. As an obstetrician, my greatest desires is for all 11,803 babies born each day to arrive healthy and safely. I would like to dedicate my last blog post of 2009 to all the beautiful moms-in-waiting and share some pearls from my 22-year professional journey.
The force that moves the air within our lungs, the blood within our veins, is the same force that has created the life within your womb. The most important key to a healthy pregnancy is the consciousness that lies within. Your child will be shaped by your thoughts, your dreams, your values, your energy. You are the ship that will carry the baby to the shores of its pre-ordained human experience. Please let the journey be smooth. Do not create a storm from worry, a tornado from doubt, a cloud from fear, a disaster from envy. The majority of patients who end up with emergency cesarean sections are those with “fetal distress.” What was causing the distress? Who was causing the distress? Let it not be you, its mother.
Because of the advent of 4-D ultrasound technology, we can actually observe fetal behavior in the womb. We can see babies yawning, sucking their thumbs, stretching their arms and legs, even playing with their umbilical cords. They respond to music, the rhythm of your heartbeat, a touch from your partner, the sound of your voice. You are literally filled with the miracle of life. There is no gift on Earth more precious than that.
You are smarter, stronger, and more brilliant that you can ever imagine. You have been selected, yes, selected, to be this child’s mother. That is the Divine Connection.
I wish you a healthy, joyous pregnancy and a prosperous and blessed New Year.
This excerpt is taken from The Smart Mother’s Guide® to a Better Pregnancy. All Rights Reserved.
December 28, 2009
“A newborn baby abandoned in a Kenyan forest was saved by a stray dog who apparently carried her across a busy road and through a barbed wire fence to a shed where the infant was discovered nestled with a litter of puppies.” CBS News covered this story as well.
This baby girl was dressed in a torn shirt and wrapped in a plastic bag when the dog found her in a poor neighborhood near a forest in Nairobi. She was approximately two days old. “When the dog picked up the baby in a dirty bag, it came and dropped her behind the wooden building where the dog has its puppies,” stated an eyewitness. The baby was found by children who had heard her cry and was eventually taken to the hospital where, with the exception of an infected umbilical cord, was doing well. This story gave me reason to pause. Obviously, the act of abandonment was superseded by the will of a higher power who proclaimed that this baby would live. What amazed me the most was the compassion and bravery of the dog. It had risked its own life by crossing a busy street while holding on to the baby, faced physical harm as it crawled underneath a barbed wired fence and shared its resources by placing the baby alongside its own litter of puppies. Perhaps the dog understood how miraculous this newborn baby was even if its own mother didn’t.
In a world of infinite possibilities, miracles can occur under the most unusual circumstances. And yes, we can gain profound insight, even from a dog.
This excerpt is taken from The Smart Mother’s Guide® to a Better Pregnancy. All Rights Reserved.
November 23, 2009
A few months ago, a patient in her early third trimester came for a routine prenatal visit. Her vital signs were good, the baby’s heart rate was normal and as I handed her an appointment slip, I asked whether she felt her baby move during the past two hours. She said no, she had not felt the baby move all day. Despite hearing the baby’s heartbeat, my antennas immediately went up and I referred her to the labor room to have further diagnostic tests.
A few weeks later, my assistant said, “Dr. Galloway, you’ve done it again.” I asked what was she talking about and she explained that our patient was seen in a follow-up clinic for the removal of her staples. The same day I sent her to the hospital, she had an emergency C-Section because her tests were extremely abnormal. Her baby was in trouble. When the on-call obstetrician delivered the baby, he noted an umbilical cord wrapped around its neck five times and once around its body. However, the baby did well and was eventually sent home in stable condition.
My most gratifying moment occurred when I saw the baby for the first time. “She’s my miracle, Dr. Galloway” said the patient, and of course, I agreed. “She was channeling me the night before I came to see you.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “The night before I had her, I dreamt that she had died but because you sent me to the hospital, she’s alive. She’s my miracle.” Tears swelled in my eyes as I struggled to maintain my composure. The miracle of life never ceases to amaze me.