Fidelia Owusuaa-Poku named her daughter April Miracle Aidoo for two reasons. April for the month Fidelia first met her husband, Cobby, when they were university students in Ghana. And Miracle for what occurred a few months before April was born at Ascension Saint Joseph - Joliet in Joliet, Illinois.
Advanced care for high-risk pregnancy
Fidelia discovered she was pregnant at 38 after a year of trying. Her OB-GYN at Ascension Illinois, Brian Egan, DO, referred her to a maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialist, Farhan Hanif, MD, for prenatal care. In addition to her age, Fidelia needed to manage other risk factors. Dr. Egan had identified several fibroids in her uterus.
During her regular checkups, Fidelia met with each of the medical group’s OB-GYNs in turn, including Baqir Jakvani, MD.
“We usually try to have our high-risk patients meet all the obstetricians in our group so everyone is familiar with their situation and can be ready if an emergency occurs on their watch,” explained Dr. Jakvani.
In her 18th week of pregnancy, Fidelia began to experience severe abdominal pain. She made multiple trips to the emergency room with the same pain.
“The pain was so bad that I would cry in bed every night and every morning,” she says.
Fidelia was admitted for observation and pain control. As she arrived at the Labor & Delivery unit, she started bleeding heavily. Dr. Jakvani observed that Fidelia had already lost a significant amount of blood, her blood pressure was low and her vital signs were unstable. The rapid response team was called in to take blood draws, perform EKGs and check on Fidelia’s baby with an ultrasound.
“It was extremely chaotic, but everyone was working in sync,” Dr. Jakvani remembered. His main concern was finding where the bleeding was coming from. He suspected it was either the placenta or fibroids. “Fibroids outside of pregnancy can sometimes cause heavy bleeding. In the case of pregnancy, though, depending on their location and size, they can cause more serious complications.”
To determine where the source of bleeding was, Fidelia’s surgical team decided to send her to the operating room.If the placenta was bleeding and needed to be removed, it would compromise Fidelia’s pregnancy. And if the bleeding could not be controlled or the uterus closed again for any reason, a hysterectomy would be needed to save Fidelia’s life, which would end any hope of ever getting pregnant again.
Dr. Jakvani knew that Fidelia was lucky to get pregnant spontaneously in the first place, given her risk factors. “To tell someone that I might have to take that away from them is not easy.”
Fidelia remembers the conversation with her care team and recalls, “It was the first time I ever saw my husband cry.” She held on to her faith, hope and love for the baby she felt kicking just hours earlier. At peace with what she was facing, she went into surgery.
Advanced emergency surgery
Even before Dr. Jakvani made the incision into Fidelia’s uterus, he could see and feel three large knots under the skin of her belly. These were some of Fidelia’s uterine fibroids, which had been pushed to the surface as the baby grew. Dr. Jakvani identified one of these fibroids from the ultrasound - a non-cancerous tumor, which resembled a piece of a rope the length of an egg - and he thought it could be the cause of Fidelia’s bleeding.
Dr. Jakvani went into the uterus and managed to surgically remove and extract the fibroid, which would have endangered the baby. The surgical team also removed another fibroid and removed a blood clot during the procedure. This confirmed that Fidelia’s bleeding had stopped.
Once Fidelia’s incision had been closed, the fetal care team used an ultrasound probe to listen for the baby’s vital signs. According to Dr. Jakvani, “You could hear a pin drop. The OR was completely quiet. No one was saying anything.”
Then, in that silence, from the monitor came a baby’s heartbeat. The whole room erupted in cheers.
When Fidelia woke up after the operation, the first thing she saw were the smiling eyes of her masked nurses.
“The moment I opened my eyes, one of the nurses told me, ‘Fidelia, the doctors stopped the bleeding, your baby is going to be OK.’ I had to breathe so deeply. God is wonderful!”
Care you can trust, close to home
Fidelia spent three days at the hospital afterward. She continued to see all the doctors who had helped her during her remaining prenatal visits. At 37 weeks, Fidelia safely delivered her daughter, April, by C-section.
On the second day after her delivery, Fidelia’s care team from her surgery visited her room to have breakfast with her and take pictures. The memory still brings a smile to her face. “The staff, the doctors, they are so sweet! Everybody was wonderful. Everybody was kind,” she said.
Fidelia is grateful that Ascension Saint Joseph - Joliet had all the specialists and advanced technology to treat her and her baby. Had she needed to be transported by ambulance or helicopter to another facility, the delay might have led to a much less happy outcome.
“I would highly recommend Ascension Saint Joseph - Joliet to any family member or friend, to anybody,” Fidelia said. “Had it not been for the hospital, I would not be here with my baby.”
Find an OB-GYN that’s right for you
Your pregnancy may be considered high-risk if you are 35 and older, are expecting multiple babies such as twins and triplets, or if you have a pre-existing health condition that might put you or your baby at risk.
We’re here to listen to your concerns and provide the care and support you need. Together with you, your OB-GYN, MFM and care team create a personalized care plan and monitor your health and your baby’s health. Learn more at ascension.org/ILbaby