Melissa and Super Sam
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At 23 weeks pregnant, Melissa Harris was feeling grateful to have had a surprisingly easy time carrying her baby. Before this pregnancy, she and her husband Peter had suffered through two miscarriages. But things were going well this time—until she noticed a little bleeding.
Melissa immediately went to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, where a medical team began monitoring her condition. She was shocked to learn that labor contractions had begun—two minutes apart—and she was 4 centimeters dilated. Her team explained they would do everything possible to delay the birth—and if she could carry the baby to 24 weeks, the chances of survival would be greater.
At the hospital, Melissa was put in a Trendelenburg position, in which her hospital bed was tipped to keep her feet higher than her head. In this position, gravity would help to keep the baby inside of her, but Melissa had to keep her body nearly motionless.
For the next several days, labor and delivery nurse Tamara Rich, R.N., worked with Melissa, helping her stay calm and reassured. “I told her she’s in the best hands and to have faith in that,” remembers Tamara.
Melissa persevered for six days until a C-section became medically necessary. Tamara held Melissa’s hand in the operating room. Baby Sam was born at 1 pound, 12 ounces—a startlingly healthy size for a baby born at 24 weeks.
Sam spent the next 95 days in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, undergoing surgery and treatment for one medical challenge after another. But today he is happy and healthy. “Without question, Sutter Health and Alta Bates Summit saved the life of my son, and I will never be able to thank the doctors and nurses and staff enough for everything they’ve done for us,” says Melissa.