Rindy Utz describes her daughter’s birth as “A Christmas miracle movie on the Hallmark Channel.” All the elements of a made for TV movie were there, including a medical emergency that led to an early delivery.
At age 39, Rindy Utz was told that she wasn’t able to have children, so a positive pregnancy test at 45 was a big surprise! “I was in shock,” says Rindy. “My husband Michael and I were in the process of adoption. I was also terrified, given my age.”
Knowing she needed a care provider with experience in high-risk pregnancies, Rindy relied on the referral of a friend to Southdale ObGyn, where she was cared for by Dr. Annelise Swigert. “At this point, I was throwing up morning, noon and night, had lost 30 pounds, and been hospitalized twice,” says Rindy. “I was weak and scared that my baby was not going to be okay. A lot of women need hand-holding, but I needed two hands held!”
Rindy and Michael were adamant about not having invasive testing procedures, such as amniocentesis. “We had a thoughtful discussion with Dr. Swigert about the risks of something being wrong versus everything being okay. She respected us and our decision, and together we focused on the positive.
Rindy was fearful of stillbirth and given her high-risk status, Dr. Swigert recommended weekly ultrasounds. “My fears were always acknowledged and respected as valid and my own, rather than something common,” says Rindy. “And, every time I called the clinic with a concern, the on-call doctor called me back within 10 minutes. They made me feel like I was their only patient.”
The Made for TV Movie Plot Thickens
At 36 weeks, Rindy was diagnosed with a complication of pregnancy, affecting the liver, known as cholestasis. Dr. Swigert was out of town at a conference, but she communicated with the team of Southdale ObGyn physicians via phone and together they made a decision to induce labor.
Hours later, Dr. Stark delivered Journey Rowan Rose Utz. The baby was healthy and Rindy’s liver rebounded, but her medical journey was not over.
Seven days after returning home from the hospital, Rindy became ill and was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with pulmonary edema and acute congestive heart failure, due to fluid build-up. She was admitted to the cardiac floor for four days, where Dr. Stark visited her several times a day, and was in communication with Dr. Swigert. “They said, ‘We’ve got this’ and they solved the problem. They are all amazing,” says Rindy. “They gave us our baby and saved my life.”
The Happy Ending
Appropriately named Journey, this beautiful little girl is an inspiration. Her mother says, “She’s a beacon who inspires hope because she’s here with us, against the odds.” She added, “We are so grateful to Dr. Swigert, Dr. Stark and everyone at Southdale ObGyn. I don’t know how it would be possible to forget the nurses and Nan, my ultrasound technician. They became my friends and I absolutely adore them! They took amazing care of me and I miss seeing them every Tuesday. Seriously, I cannot rave enough. I want everyone to go to Southdale ObGyn, not only for their medical expertise but also because they treat the heart and soul! I have so much gratitude for them.”
Photo Credit: Meghan Elizabeth Photography