Rachel Bjorkman

Experience that delivers

At six months pregnant, Rachel Bjorkman’s fifth run at motherhood took an unexpected turn. An ultrasound revealed a dangerous condition that threatened her baby’s life. The discovery was early enough that the chances of saving her daughter were high. But it meant Mom would
have to spend her last weeks of pregnancy in the hospital - during Christmas.

With the rare condition, called vasa previa, the fetal blood vessels cross the opening of the birth canal, putting the baby at grave risk if those vessels rupture. “She could bleed to death in minutes,” says Rachel, who had already had four babies at North Suburban Medical Center, two delivered by Dr. Vernon Naake, OB/GYN.

“He said he was comfortable with delivering this one, if I could agree to hospital monitoring and early delivery.” And, by what almost seemed like fate, Dr. Naake had successfully delivered a baby with vasa previa just months before. Rachel knew it was the right choice, but being away from her family during the holidays was hard to fathom.

“I tear up every time just thinking about it,” Rachel says, fighting back tears as she retells the story. “It was really hard. I’m a stay-at-home mom. That’s what I do. I like taking care of my family and running my house.”

But the nurses at North Suburban, and the confidence her obstetrician gave Rachel and her husband, Tom, made the necessary decision for Rachel to head to the hospital early less painful for the Thornton couple.

“I’m glad Dr. Naake was so insistent about the hospital move,” she says. “And the whole staff was just wonderful.”

Dr. Naake provided the staff with a detailed plan covering all scenarios. It started with moving Rachel into a room across from the nurses’ station at 32 weeks, and ended with delivering the baby by C-section at 35 weeks. The staff knew the emergency plan in case of rupture, and nurses monitored the baby daily. And they did everything they could to make her feel at home, Rachel says.

For Christmas, nurses helped decorate Rachel’s room, bringing cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer to go with her tiny Christmas tree. Then they set a visit for the other four kids with Santa on Christmas Eve. “Unfortunately, they were sick that day, so the nurses set up a Skype session. It was so cute.”

Although the stockings were hung by the IV with care, and Mom wore a hospital gown, the kids were able to come to the hospital the next day, and enjoy Christmas morning, presents and all, with their mother.

Baby Tess was born Jan. 5, weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces. “Everything went great. She was healthy and did not have to do any NICU time,” her proud mom says. “Every time my husband and I talk about it, we really feel blessed. We feel like it was meant to be that we were with
North Suburban and Dr. Naake.” Rachel had been worried that seeing the hospital, which held good memories of her first four births, would be traumatizing after Tess.

“But it’s not. I have nothing but good, happy feelings about it. They were great.”