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“The doctors at MetroHealth are wonderful. They got us our miracle.”

Stephanie Woods was 26 and engaged to be married when she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in 2015. She’d have a hard time getting pregnant naturally and would be at a slightly higher risk of a miscarriage.
After more than a year of fertility treatments, including injections of a medication to induce ovulation, Stephanie became pregnant in 2018. But at 16 weeks, her water broke a couple of hours after she started bleeding spontaneously. She was at home when she delivered prematurely on October 22, 2018.
While recovering at MetroHealth, doctors diagnosed Stephanie with an incompetent cervix. The cervix (lower part of the uterus) naturally starts to dilate when labor begins. If this happens too early, a woman is at risk of a very early delivery or, in Stephanie’s case, the loss of baby girl “Angel.”
Stephanie’s OB-GYN referred her to Kelly S. Gibson, MD, MetroHealth’s Division Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine. She and her husband, Sean, went in for a preconception visit, recommended for all women with a high-risk medical history who are considering a pregnancy.
They shared lots of concerns. Would she be able to carry a baby to full term? Was it safe?
During the visit, Dr. Gibson talked about options available to help make the next pregnancy safer.
Stephanie became pregnant again the following year. At the 12-week mark, Dr. Gibson performed a transvaginal cervical cerclage, a procedure in which the cervix is temporarily sewn closed with stitches to help keep the cervix in place.
Six weeks later, the complications began. The stitch had failed. On October 8, 2019 – at just 19 weeks – Stephanie and Sean had to say goodbye to their second daughter, Sophia Kathryn.
The next time Stephanie and Sean met with Dr. Gibson, it was to discuss transabdominal cerclage, a surgical procedure that involves a cut in the abdomen to reach the cervix and place stitches. In November 2020, Stephanie went in for the outpatient procedure, performed by gynecologic surgeon Linda-Dalal J. Shiber, MD.
It took almost a year and seven rounds of fertility treatments – and an early miscarriage at seven weeks – before Stephanie conceived again. After having her first ultrasound on September 6, 2022, Stephanie went on pelvic rest for the duration of the pregnancy.
When she reached the 12-week mark, Stephanie went in for ultrasounds every two weeks until she reached 20 weeks. By then she had found out that she was carrying a boy.
To help stave off complications, Stephanie was taking low-dose aspirin, prenatal vitamins, and iron pills. Early in the third trimester, Dr. Gibson put Stephanie on insulin after she developed gestational diabetes.
At 32 weeks, Stephanie began getting weekly ultrasounds.
On April 4, 2023, a couple of hours after eating a late dinner, Stephanie felt a little “off,” but she didn’t think she was in labor. She had experienced Braxton Hicks contractions throughout her entire pregnancy.
But the contractions started coming more rapidly.
The original birthing plan had been for a scheduled C-section at 36 weeks. Instead, Stephanie – who had reached 35 weeks – was in an operating room at 11:30 p.m.
At 12:50 a.m. on April 5, Stephanie and Sean’s son was born. He was 7 lbs., 6.2 oz. and 19 inches long. His name: is Sean Michael.
Dr. Gibson performed the delivery.
“I wanted to be there, having seen Stephanie’s prior losses, to see that moment when she and her husband first met their son,” she said. “They had made it through this long journey. He was here.”
Eight hours later, Stephanie visited baby Sean in the NICU where he was under observation.
Stephanie and Sean got to experience the new birthing center space. “The private rooms were nice and big. My husband stayed with me every night. Lots of privacy, own bathroom with shower. The nurses and staff were wonderful and helpful.”
Everyone went home four days later.
Today, baby Sean crawls around the house and pulls himself up on things to get a better view of what’s going on around him. He likes hanging out with DD, the Woods’s 6-year-old dog.
“He’s such a happy baby. Always smiling, laughing,” Stephanie said. “The only time he’s cranky is when he’s tired or hungry.
“The doctors at MetroHealth are wonderful,” Stephanie said. “They got us our miracle.”

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialty Clinics

MetroHealth offers several specialized clinics and programs to address specific concerns during pregnancy.

To make an appointment regarding high-risk pregnancy issues, call the Maternal-Fetal Medicine department at 216-778-4444.