Stephanie’s Story of Prematurity and How the PreTRM Test Helped Her

Long before Stephanie was married, she knew she wanted to be a mom. So it wasn’t long after Stephanie and her high school sweetheart, Brian, got married that they began the exciting process of trying to start a family.

A few months after this journey began, the couple was elated to learn that they were pregnant. Sadly, Stephanie suffered a miscarriage before the end of her first trimester. The doctor’s hopeful encouragement, “at least you can get pregnant” was met with cautious optimism from Stephanie.

When she was a teenager, she was informed by her OBGYN that she may have an issue becoming pregnant because of a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance that can make it difficult to conceive. Despite this guidance from her doctor, she desperately wanted to be a mom and decided she would not stop until this dream came true. So they continued to try.

About a year after her miscarriage, the couple found out they were expecting again. The initial excitement quickly turned to anxiety when Stephanie’s membranes ruptured around 21 weeks. After spending some time in the hospital where her doctors did everything they could to prolong her pregnancy, Stephanie made the decision to transfer to another hospital that specialized in premature births. Every day that she remained pregnant was cause for celebration, and Stephanie was hopeful that — under her doctor’s care — she would make it to 32 weeks. Unfortunately, despite her doctor’s best efforts, her daughter, Teagan Nicole was born at 23 weeks via an emergency C-section. At only 1 pound, 6 oz, her baby girl was immediately transferred to the NICU where the medical team tried everything they could to provide care that would help the tiny baby breathe and remain comfortable.

Stephanie, still recovering from her surgery, was taken to the NICU with her husband to hold her baby – which, she soon learned —would be for the last time. Baby Teagan sadly passed away within a few hours, snuggled tightly in her parent’s arms.

After the loss of their daughter, Stephanie and Brian waited about 6 months before speaking with their doctor about the possibility of trying to conceive again. It was determined that Stephanie’s placenta started to deteriorate when she was pregnant with Teagan, and – looking back – the doctors thought she probably should have miscarried; but baby Teagan was a fighter and held on as long as she could. Despite Stephanie’s previous challenges, the doctor had no biological explanation for the problem with her placenta, nor did he think that it would necessarily happen again. He suggested they try to get pregnant on their own for the next year.

After a year of trying at home with no success, Stephanie and Brian went to see an out of town fertility doctor. After four rounds of IUI, they were referred to an IVF doctor in another state. Two rounds of IVF and one additional miscarriage later, Stephanie and Brian were finally pregnant.

The couple, still hopeful that they would be blessed with a baby but also worried, nervous and troubled by the recent loss of their daughter, quietly celebrated every day that Stephanie remained pregnant.

Stephanie graduated from the IVF doctor and returned to her OBGYN at 9 weeks. They heard their baby’s heartbeat and had a healthy, normal ultrasound. Her OBGYN referred the family to a maternal fetal medicine (MFM) doctor for an initial consultation and she was watched closely by both doctors. Around the 19th week of pregnancy, Stephanie discussed her fear of having another preterm birth and her MFM doctor informed her about the PreTRM test.

Stephanie enthusiastically agreed to take the blood test. She not only wanted to understand her risk of delivering early, but also wanted to take all of the necessary steps she could to potentially improve the health of her child.

The PreTRM test showed that she had a very high risk of delivering early. Her doctor began to administer progesterone and she was monitored very closely with weekly ultrasounds, twice- weekly visits to her OBGYN and visits to MFM doctor once per week. At 32 weeks, she started seeing her OBGYN exclusively. At 35 weeks, the doctors took her off progesterone. At 37 weeks and a few days, Stephanie delivered a healthy baby boy, Brycen Charles who was born at 6 pounds, 3 ounces.

risk of having a premature baby

Stephanie could hardly believe her eyes when Brycen was wrapped in a blanket and given to Brian, without being whisked away to the NICU or requiring additional medical treatment. She and Brian spent the next several hours recovering with their brand new baby boy.

Today Brycen is a happy, healthy baby who is growing, developing and changing every day. Stephanie credits the PreTRM test for providing her family and her team of medical professionals the knowledge they needed to intervene and help her deliver full term. She currently lives in Helena, MT, surrounded by her extended family and loved ones.