Mother finds comfort in crisis as son is rushed to Springfield hospital

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

BERRYVILLE -- Christine Clarke expected an easy delivery for the birth of her second child.

Her oldest son Clyde was born at home with a midwife in attendance. She had planned another home birth -- but that was not to be.

"At 36 weeks along, I started gushing blood," she recalled. "It turned out my placenta was detaching. They got it under control and sent me home. Then it started again."

Christine, who holds the title of corporal at the Carroll County Detention Center where she works as a jailer, was unprepared for what happened next.

She underwent an emergency C-section at St. John's Hospital -- Berryville and her son Douglas was born with a rare blood disease that required immediate transport to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Mo.

"My placenta had grown into my uterus, a condition known as placenta acretia," she said. "My doctor Sherlyn Moffett said it was only the second time she had ever seen it in the 20-some years she had been practicing."

To complicate matters, Douglas wouldn't eat and was unusually quiet, she said. His platelet count was low and a second count determined it had dropped even further -- prompting a quick transport to St. John's in Springfield.

"Weather didn't permit air travel so he was taken by ambulance," Christine recalled. "I had to stay behind a day because of my C-section."

In Springfield, Douglas was diagnosed with alloimmune thrombocytopenia, "a condition like the Rh factor, but not," she said.

The doctors were amazed her first son was born problem-free, explaining that Christine and her husbands' genes were not compatible. "They recommended we have no more children," she said.

In the meantime, Christine was desperate to get to her son's side and was finally able to make the trip to Springfield.

"My mom, and my boss at work and his wife took me. My husband at-the-time went up there immediately," she recalled.

Christine said she was able to see her newborn son almost immediately upon arrival, but was soon faced with the dilemma of finding a place to stay, not knowing how long baby Douglas would be hospitalized.

To top it off, she was not feeling her best having just delivered a baby by C-section and was confined to a wheelchair, unable to climb stairs.

"Not knowing where to stay, we called the Ronald McDonald House," she said.

Christine said that decision turned out to be the perfect solution.

"As stressful as the week was, with my C-section and Douglas in the neonatal intensive care unit, I couldn't have asked for anything better.

"The Ronald McDonald House was only a five- or six-minute drive to the hospital. They put us in a room with no stairs, near the back door so I could get to the car easily. I and my husband Doug stayed nearly a week. They had meals for us, a room where you could watch movies, and breast pumps there -- they were just as nice as they could be. They charge $10 a day, but when we attempted to pay, they wouldn't take any money."

Christine said their stay at the Ronald McDonald House made it possible for them to spend every possible moment with their newborn son.

"The staff said our many visits with him made a difference," she commented. "They gave him a blood transfusion and that fixed it. He's had no problems since. They were great in that unit. They have one nurse assigned to each baby -- one person who knew what he wanted and needed."

Christine says she's thankful for many things, including the staff at the hospital, and her co-workers and the many law enforcement officers who helped in her time of need.

"It was great to know they all really cared," she said. "They all rallied around me. That was really awesome."

When recalling her time at the Ronald McDonald House, Christina said, "They have no idea how much help they were.

"After a week there, we were able to bring Douglas home. We could not have afforded a hotel for a week and the comfort of the house helped ease the stress of having a baby in the intensive care unit. We were able to focus completely on getting Douglas healthy.

"You always think that it's not going to happen to you," she added. "Douglas is now more than a year old, perfectly healthy and always happy. His three-year-old brother Clyde loves to help his little brother and is very happy that the family is at home together.

The Ronald McDonald House is a wonderful operation and I'm so grateful to them for helping us through it.

"And, when I look at my son, I feel really lucky to have him."

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