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May 17, 2017

After dramatic birth, mom and daughter fully recover

Photos/Fauquier Health
Carrie Banks, RN, shows the new parents how to feed Brianna.
I told him I didn’t care about me, just save my baby.
— Jennifer Clevenger
By Robin Earl
Fauquier Health

Brianna Nicole Carter came into the world in dramatic fashion. Born at only 3 pounds, 15 ounces, she is working hard to maintain her drama queen status.

After only three days, she made it known that she was done with feeding tubes and ready to take a bottle, just like the big kids. Tiny but fierce.

Brianna’s feisty personality is all the more striking because she very nearly didn’t make it at all. She and her mom, Jennifer Clevenger, barely survived the birth.

Ms. Clevenger says she has had high blood pressure for years and was monitored closely throughout her pregnancy.

On Sunday, April 9, she felt sick. Although not “due” for another seven weeks, she began to feel contractions. Her blood pressure was a dangerous 180/139. Ms. Clevenger had lost a baby from a previous pregnancy, so she was very concerned.

As she and fiancé Allan Carter walked to the car for a trip to the doctor, Ms. Clevenger felt a gush as if her water broke, but she saw that it was blood. She felt a ringing in her ears and her vision began to fade.

As Mr. Carter sped north from their home in Remington, Ms. Clevenger drifted in and out of consciousness. She managed to call 911, but passed out before she could communicate with the dispatcher.

Mr. Carter caught the phone and arranged to meet an ambulance at the Sheetz in Opal.

“I was really scared,” he said. “Her lips were turning blue; her eyes were sunken, and she was covered in blood.”

Although Ms. Clevenger’s doctor was in a neighboring county, the ambulance brought her to Fauquier Hospital. She pleaded with OB/GYN Wesley Hodgson to please save her baby.

“I told him I didn’t care about me, just save my baby.”

Ms. Clevenger was transitioned quickly from the Emergency Department to the operating suite in the Family Birthing Center. The baby’s heart rate was dangerously low and Ms. Clevenger was unconscious again.

Dr. Hodgson explained to Mr. Carter that there was no time to waste if they were going to save mother and baby.

Ms. Clevenger was whisked away.

“A nurse ran up to me and said, ‘Let’s go’,” Mr. Carter recalled. “She brought me up to a room in the Family Birthing Center and had me wait there while Dr. Hodgson did an emergency C-section. Within 10 minutes, which seemed like forever, she came back to tell me that the baby was out and they were both fine.”

Well, not fine, exactly.

Ms. Clevenger spent 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit, recovering from an abruption of the uterus and continuing high blood pressure. Even when she was able to return to a regular Family Birthing Center room, her kidney function was still a source of concern.

“They were trying to determine whether there has been any permanent damage, so they were monitoring me closely,” Ms. Clevenger said.

After a few days, her blood work showed encouraging signs.

While her mom recovered, the neonatology team in Fauquier Hospital’s Intermediate Care Nursery took good care of little Brianna. Dr. Elsie Mainali, neonatologist, said,

“Brianna was born with a very low heart rate that was fading away,” said Dr. Elsie Mainali, the hospital’s neonatologist. “Barbara Burke, RN; Kim Sperber, neonatal nurse practitioner; Ron Harver, respiratory therapist and Dr. Maria Alano, neonatologist, worked very hard in resuscitating Brianna. These four angels revived and stabilized her.

“She is doing so well today because our skilled professionals worked very hard to help her, right from the beginning,” Dr. Mainali added.

Despite her difficult recovery, Ms. Clevenger was determined to pump breast milk for her baby and was able to feed her for the first time April 13.

The new mom looked over at Carrie Banks, RN, with concern and said: “She keeps falling asleep…”

Ms. Banks explained that babies as small as Brianna have to be fed a little at a time every few hours, because they will become exhausted easily. The nurse showed the nervous mom how to burp the baby by patting her back and explained, “Don’t worry, you won’t hurt her.”

Ms. Clevenger and Mr. Carter are endlessly grateful for the kindness of Ms. Banks and the other nurses and techs that have helped them through this difficult time.

“Every single nurse was amazing,” said Ms. Clevenger.

Now a whole month old, Brianna is up to 6 pounds and her mom’s kidney function has returned to normal.

“I am so grateful to Dr. Hodgson,” Mr. Carter said. “He was cutting a tree at his house when he got the call to come in on Sunday. He was fantastic.

“I guess he does this kind of thing – saving people’s lives – all the time. But he’s a hero. He saved my two girls.”

The writer is a public relations specialist for the Warrenton hospital and its related businesses.
Member comments
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Silii · May 25, 2017 at 7:48 pm
Thank you for clarifying what I may or may not post, er, the time or place, I may comment. I must have missed the rules establishing content, timing, or placement of comments. My apologies for not seeking that information out before I exercised my right to submit a comment expressing happiness for this family along with concern for future healthcare for women and children given the House bill that just passed and the administration's position. Somebody has to be concerned about those nasty little realities.
LivingInLeftField · May 23, 2017 at 9:11 am
Silii, please do forgive me for being daft--I've reread this article, and not once does it mention the current political healthcare issues, therefore, while only your first sentence is applicable to the article, the rest of your comments are out of place. This is a feel good article about a lovely family and good, hardworking people at a local hospital, not a platform for your agenda. I would like to strongly encourage you to submit an opinion piece to the newspaper, considering how you obviously feel on the healthcare issue. Again though, this article is neither the time nor the place. Congratulations to the precious family, and good day to you!
Silii · May 23, 2017 at 8:22 am
Please re-read my comments and you will discover that my comments advocate for women and children. The first sentence praises the double success story. I made absolutely no ugly comments about the miracle that both mother and baby survived. What I am pointing out is that health care and access to health care insurance for women and children is under attack under the Trump administration and some of our seated representatives in Congress support the changes. My letter, if you read it closely, advocates for health care coverage for women and children, including prenatal care, delivery care, and newborn care, all of which are in jeopardy with the bill that passed the House of Representatives with all 3 of our local representatives voting "aye."
LivingInLeftField · May 19, 2017 at 10:14 am
Silii, the story does not get into whether the mom has health insurance for two reasons: A, It's none of our business, and B, it's not the point of the story, which you seem to be missing. This mom and her precious baby are alive! Please celebrate this beautiful mom, her sweet little baby, and the many people who worked together to save them with the rest of of us! What an amazing outcome to an incredibly scary situation. Please take your politics and soap box elsewhere. This is not the place for it.
Silii · May 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm
The article about this double success story doesn't get into whether the mom has health insurance. Given that the parents are not married, mom wouldn't be covered under the father's insurance. All of this aside, the US Congress recently passed a bill that would allow states to determine pre-existing conditions in the state which, in turn, would give the green light to insurance companies to put the pre-existing folks, depending on the condition, into high risk groups with such high premiums/deductibles/copays that most middle class and below people would not be able to afford. This mom had high blood pressure, a previous failed pregnancy, is female, has kidney issues just to name a few issues that could be defined as pre-existing conditions. (The Congressional bill would allow being female to be a pre-existing condition because some of the male Freedom Caucus members decided they didn't want to pay premiums that included coverage for pregnancy/delivery/newborn cars. These members are also virulently anti-reproductive choice.) Wittman, Garrett and Bratt supported the bill. Bottom line, the House bill should be thrown out and the representatives who voted for it thrown out with it. People without insurance will continue to use the emergency room, including using the ER for dental issues. We need a single payer system if millions of Virginians are to have health care coverage. Otherwise, the day will come when both the mom and baby in this article would be left to die.
BJ · May 18, 2017 at 9:11 am
Wonderful outcome to a very serious situation. The next scary thing will be the medical bill.
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