Home Away from Home
Every mother’s pregnancy and birthing journey is unique, and most soon-to-be-moms would rather have that journey outside of the hospital. For some moms though, like Corina McCalister, that is not always the case. “It was the beginning of February 2015, about eight weeks along, during an emergency room visit when we heard two heartbeats. We followed up with our doctor the following day where an ultrasound showed we were having twins,” stated Corina. “I remember looking over at my husband, Eric, and we started laughing because of the shock.”
The ultrasound images showed Corina’s pregnancy was incredibly rare and risky as she was pregnant with Monoamniotic-Monochorionic twins, also known as Mono Mono twins. About 1 in 10,000 births are Mono Mono twins. The egg splits later in the pregnancy which results in identical twins who share the amniotic sac, chorion and placenta. The sharing of the amniotic sac means there is no barrier between the two babies, which is why this type of pregnancy is considered especially high risk and has a low survival rate for the twins.
Since Corina’s pregnancy was so rare, she was expected to stay in the hospital for nine weeks. However, the girls arrived early, so she spent six weeks in CHI St. Alexius Health’s Labor and Delivery. This might seem like a long time, but for Corina, she reflects fondly on it as Labor and Delivery became her “home away from home.” During her stay she was monitored three times a day to make sure the babies were healthy. “Nurses checked in on me every day, several times, to make sure I was well taken care of,” recalled Corina. She went on walks each day, read books and, when the lullaby played overhead, she prayed for the new babies being born. Soon Corina referred to the Labor and Delivery associates as family to her since she grew very close to the doctors, nurses and staff members.
Even though Corina developed a close bond with her new family, it was still hard being away from her husband and son. She dealt with everything very well until around two weeks before the babies were born when Corina received testing and found out she had gestational diabetes. She was devastated because she felt as if she no longer had any control over her body or her pregnancy. “That evening, I hit rock bottom,” Corina said. “I couldn’t be with Eric and my soon-to-be one-year-old son, Elijah, who were at home. I was ready for the babies to be out.”
Corina remembers that night sitting on the floor in the hallway down from her room, crying. A nurse named Sarah walked up and noticed something was wrong. Even though Sarah hadn’t started her shift, she sat down next to Corina and held and comforted her. “I was so tired, but I remember Sarah hugging me and talking to me. She later helped me to my room, tucked me into bed, and I had one of the most peaceful night’s sleep during my stay. I woke up the next morning and felt so much better. I am so thankful for Sarah for that night,” stated Corina.
During the day of May 22, Corina remembers feeling very well and went for a longer walk. However, later that evening when she got back to her room, something didn’t feel quite right. The nurses immediately hooked Corina up to the monitors. As she became more uncomfortable, she called her husband to come to the hospital. Corina had experienced Braxton Hicks contractions earlier in her pregnancy, so it seemed as if this was another false alarm and her husband later went home. The next morning though, on May 23, at 29 weeks, Corina delivered two beautiful, healthy baby girls via cesarean section. Braelyn weighed 2 pounds 11 ounces and Brooklyn weighed 2 pounds 8 ounces. They were taken straight to CHI St. Alexius Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) since they were born so early.
The girls spent the first three months of their lives in the NICU until they were around eight pounds. Corina felt very prepared and informed from the associates for her six weeks journey in Labor and Delivery and for her girls’ stay in the NICU. “During my time in Labor and Delivery the nurses would often give me tours of the NICU. They answered any questions I had so I knew what to expect when my girls were in there. I could never thank the staff at CHI St. Alexius Health enough for taking care of me and my girls. They helped me through so many things and everyone was absolutely amazing,” said Corina with an affectionate smile.
To learn how you can help by registering a team, fundraising and/or donating, visit st.alexius.org or call 530-7394.
Corina, Braelyn and Brooklyn McCalister are the St. Alexius Kickball Tournament (SAKT) 2017 Ambassadors, representing the patients served in CHI St. Alexius Health The Birth Place, which includes Labor and Delivery, Mom/Baby and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). SAKT 2017 is a one-day, coed kickball fundraising tournament on Saturday, September 23 held at Clem Kelley Softball Complex.
Proceeds from SAKT 2017 will purchase new equipment and technology to advance The Birth Place services to ensure future mothers continue to have healthy births and that newborns receive exceptional care.
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