A Miracle Named Mae Margaret
Finally, Bekka Erickson Hagen's pregnancy was going smoothly. She was almost through her second trimester and, at 34 years old, was excited to be a first-time mother. She and her husband, Brent, already had endured two pregnancy losses. They were thrilled everything was progressing normally this time.
That changed on November 5.
"I felt totally fine and headed to my clinic for a routine ultrasound," she recalled.
While her care team could see the baby was growing perfectly, something clearly wasn't right with Bekka's cervix. Fearing the worst, she asked to be referred to a specialist. Clinic staff made the appointment for her right away.
After an hour ride from their home in Milton, Bekka and Brent met Kara Hoppe, DO, a UW Health maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the Center for Perinatal Care, a collaborative program between UW Health and UnityPoint Health - Meriter in Madison, Wisconsin. There was no doubt in Dr. Hoppe's mind. Bekka needed immediate attention or the baby would be lost.
"At 20 weeks of pregnancy, Bekka's cervix was like that of a woman who is at 39 weeks. The opening from the uterus to the birth canal had already dilated and thinned to the point where the baby wasn't likely to stay in utero and fully develop."
Exactly why this happened isn't clear, but cervical damage from a 2014 ectopic pregnancy was likely a contributing factor.
Bekka and Brent listened as Dr. Hoppe explained their options. A surgical procedure called cervical cerclage seemed like their only hope. Essentially, Dr. Hoppe would stitch Bekka's cervix closed temporarily to try and prevent a loss or premature birth. It wasn't guaranteed to work, nor was it without risk. The procedure could trigger labor or cause infection if the baby's protective, fluid-filled sac was punctured.
"Cases like Bekka's are pretty rare. It's called incompetent cervix and only about 1 percent of women are diagnosed with it," explains Dr. Hoppe. "But, UW Health is a regional referral center – we see a lot of these cases. It's definitely one of my areas of expertise."
The surgery went well. Bekka was advised to stay off her feet, which meant taking leave from her career as a third-grade teacher. The UW Health maternal-fetal medicine team of physicians, nurses and technicians monitored her progress carefully. For Bekka, every day that passed meant she was one day closer to carrying her baby to term.
The Miracle of Mae Margaret
At 36 weeks, the cervical cerclage stitch was removed. Bekka went into labor the very next day at UnityPoint Health – Meriter. On Feb. 27, she and Brent welcomed their beautiful baby girl, Mae Margaret. Mae was six pounds, five ounces, 19 inches and in perfect health.
Bekka's advice to other women?
"Trust your instincts. Never settle. Ask questions and make sure you get your answers," she says. "I'm so grateful Dr. Hoppe had experience with this kind of thing. She and her team literally changed our lives. They gave us our beautiful baby daughter, Mae."
More About Bekka and Mae Margaret
Date Published: 05/05/2016