Many soon-to-parents typically have a birth plan. While the list can vary, many times it includes your name, doctor’s information, where you plan to give birth, with or without an epidural and who you’re planning to have there with you. For one mother, her journey to a family of five was full of unexpected milestones – weeks of bedrest, changes to delivery plans and a surprise maternity photo shoot at the hospital.
After Jessica Cavanaugh and her husband suffered a miscarriage last year, they decided they were ready to complete their family and try again for a third baby. Jessica and her husband, Cody, share two sons. Cohen is nine-years-old and her stepson, Grayson, is 14.
“When we lost our baby last year, it showed us how much we wanted to have another child,” Jessica explained. “Incredibly, not even three weeks later, we were pregnant again with another little blessing.”
Jessica explained this pregnancy felt different than when she was expecting her son. In her first pregnancy, she exercised several days a week and worked right up until her due date, and delivered her son at full-term. With her most recent pregnancy, there were bouts of morning sickness, headaches and she felt exhausted. Nevertheless, she said it was still a blessing they couldn’t wait to welcome into their lives.
“Every woman has an idea of how they want their pregnancy to go and when it starts going different from the very beginning, you can look at it as a complete drawback or you can take it as this is God’s path for me or this is how it’s supposed to be going and I need to figure out how to embrace where I am,” said Jessica. “So that’s what I did, taking a positive outlook on things.”
Jessica went into this pregnancy with a plan. She also understood that unfortunately, things don’t always go as expected. At her 20-week ultrasound, which is also known as the anatomy scan, Jessica’s doctor, Tina Ramsey, MD, with Women’s Health Specialists, shared a bit of unanticipated information. Dr. Ramsey recommended Jessica meet with a specialist because there was a concern about vasa previa.
Vasa previa is rare, but severe. It happens when some of the fetal umbilical cord blood vessels run across or very close to the internal opening of the cervix. According to the National Library of Medicine, vasa previa is found in 1 in 2,500 to 5,000 deliveries.
After meeting with a specialist a week later, it was confirmed Jessica had vasa previa. At first the doctors told Jessica to be cautious and slowdown as much as possible. She was advised not to lift anything heavy, and to try to take breaks often, which she adds was tough with their fast-paced lifestyle.
“My husband and I have our businesses and we also help at my in-law’s farm, so we’re always very busy and always on the go,” she explained. “I had to come to terms that I wasn’t going to be able to continue my normal routines, and that was fine. I knew it was what I needed to do to bring a healthy little girl into this world.”
Jessica continued to meet with her doctors on a regular basis. At her 32-week appointment after the ultrasound, she sat down with the specialist, who recommended Jessica have a cesarean delivery around 34 or 35 weeks. At that point, Jessica was prescribed hospital bedrest until delivery.
“With everything we had going on with our family, the thought of bedrest scared the living daylights out of me,” Jessica recalled. “I was nervous that something might go wrong and we could potentially lose this baby too. I was also concerned for my husband and our boys. How do I ensure they wouldn’t worry and could continue with their normal schedules?”
Jessica would spend the next two-and-a-half weeks on bedrest at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. It can be a difficult adjustment for anyone, and for the very active mom of two, it was a big challenge. She found ways to stay busy – bringing work and projects along with her.
Jessica credits her husband, Cody, for so much support. As the world is still living through the COVID-19 pandemic, he was the only person who could visit her room. However, Jessica could down to the courtyard near the hospital’s main entrance. It was there that Cody would bring their sons to visit with their mom. They would sit and play cards, and even enjoyed lunches together as a family.
As time passed, she quickly began to connect with her nurses and doctors while on bedrest.
“All of the doctors and nurses were just phenomenal to us,” she said. “The care and support that has gone into my pregnancy was amazing. They reassured me, and made me feel confident throughout my time with them.”
Jessica said she felt she could ask for anything and everyone would do their very best to make her as comfortable as possible.
“We would swap recipes and I made friends with a lot of the girls up there,” she said. “They just kept me going.”
Adapting to Changes
Scheduled delivery wasn’t a part of Jessica’s original plan. She was willing to do anything to bring her baby girl into the world. Another part of her plan was to have a maternity shoot around 36-weeks to document her final pregnancy.
“I didn’t do them with my son and I always regretted it,” she recalled. “Now being on bedrest, I really did not think the photos could happen.”
Little did Jessica know, one of her best friends, Beckie Hahnen, had a friend who worked at ThedaCare. Beckie reached out to Natalie Kriese, an RN at ThedaCare, and photographer. They worked with the care team to coordinate a maternity photo shoot for Jessica.
After getting clearance from her doctor, Jessica spent the morning getting ready for her maternity shoot, which would take place at the hospital in the courtyard and rehabilitation garden. She said it brought her so much joy to plan for something she had looked forward to with this pregnancy.
“My husband got a couple of outfits organized for me,” said Jessica. “My girlfriends got my makeup and curling irons sent over. It was a thoughtful surprise, and I’m so grateful everything came together so well.”
After her positive experience, Jessica hopes more soon-to-be mothers have the same option if they are ever in a similar position.
“I cherish those photos so very much, partly because it is my last child, and also because of the complications we ran into,” she said. “I really didn’t think they were going to happen and it just made me really appreciate the journey. I can’t imagine what other women have had to go through on bedrest for longer periods of time to make sure their baby is born safe. I hope we can help other mothers coordinate maternity shoots if they also find themselves on bedrest in the hospital.”
After an eventful final few weeks of pregnancy, Jessica’s wish came true. On June 1, 2021, she gave birth to her daughter, Lyra Grace. Both mom and baby are doing well, and adjusting to life at home as a family of five.
“I am just beyond grateful for everybody’s personal, loving touches,” she said. “They made everything so wonderful and it’s an experience we will never forget.”
Photos 1-3: After being admitted to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah for bedrest, team members and loved ones surprised Jessica Cavanaugh with a maternity photo shoot that she would have otherwise missed to celebrate her pregnancy.
Photo 4: After an eventful final few weeks of pregnancy, on June 1, 2021, Jessica gave birth to her daughter, Lyra Grace. Both mom and baby are doing well, and adjusting to life at home as a family of five.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care
Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.