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Expectant mom's instincts help save child

Fountain Valley woman thought something was wrong when she noticed that her baby's kicking had slowed considerably.

February 10, 2014|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Jennifer Juarez holds her newborn, Hope. The baby suffered from fetal-maternal hemorrhaging, losing about 80% of her blood before birth.
Jennifer Juarez holds her newborn, Hope. The baby suffered… (Juarez family )

Jennifer Juarez encourages women to listen to their intuition. She and her husband, Josh, discovered during her first pregnancy that following your gut feeling could be a matter of life and death.

Their daughter, Hope Juarez, came into the world pale white and suffering from a severe case of fetal-maternal hemorrhage, the loss of fetal blood cells into the mother's circulatory system, said Dr. Marielle Nguyen, a neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center, who assisted in the birth in November.

The parents had known something was wrong after prenatal tests, but it was when doctors struggled to get a drop of blood from the newborn that they discovered Hope had lost about 80% of her blood while in the womb. She had a hemoglobin count of 3.8, Nguyen said, but a baby typically has about 10 to 15 counts of hemoglobin, the protein in blood responsible for transporting oxygen.

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The medical staff in the neonatal intensive care unit reacted quickly and performed a blood transfusion.

Hope, now a healthy-looking pink, is recovering at home in Fountain Valley after a few weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. The outcome could have been disastous if Jennifer, 29, hadn't followed her instincts and told her doctor that she had a feeling something was wrong with the baby.

She was three weeks from her due date when she noticed that Hope wasn't kicking as much as before. Fortunately she had a doctor's appointment scheduled for that afternoon.

"Every morning I would count her kicks, and she was a very active baby," Jennifer said. "She would kick 10 times within a half an hour, which is quite a bit for most babies."

During the morning of Nov. 26, however, Hope's kicks were nearly nonexistent, Jennifer said. The expectant mother quickly tried to make the baby move by lying down, drinking a glass of water and eating something with sugar, but nothing worked.

After being checked by her doctor and told that she and the baby were fine, Jennifer told her physician that she still suspected that something was off.

Jennifer and her husband were sent to the labor and delivery wing of the hospital, and she was tested there. An ultrasound indicated that the baby was not doing well in the womb, and Jennifer ended up having an emergency C-section that afternoon.

"It's a classic textbook example of a mother doing what she's supposed to do — letting her doctor know that the kick count's down," Nguyen said.

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