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Mould of Matthew

Honoring our wishes to carry my pregnancy to term

Last November, my husband and I found out we were expecting our fourth child. It seemed to be a normal pregnancy until our 20-week ultrasound when we discovered our son would be born with a serious congenital birth defect. We stayed with our obstetrician, who had delivered our other children, for another month or so, but we didn’t feel supported in our decision to carry the pregnancy to term.

That’s when we reached out to our trusted Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin pediatrician, Dr. Stephanie Whitt, at Pewaukee Pediatrics. Dr. Whitt has been caring for our family since the birth of our first child in 2008, and she’s such a caring, loving doctor and a gift to our family. She told me about the Fetal Concerns Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and even offered to call there on our behalf.

We took Dr. Whitt’s advice and made an appointment at the Fetal Concerns Center. The day we first met with that team changed our lives. Cara Stawicki, fetal care coordinator, listened to us and responded to our needs as she led us through the day. From day one, she made us feel we were her one and only patient case — she was totally focused on us.

The team was incredibly kind

The team took nothing for granted and started at ground zero with a full workup, including a fetal echo at the Herma Heart Institute. When we sat down with the team to discuss potential difficult outcomes, they were focused on outcomes for both our son and me. Above all, the team was just so incredibly kind.

Until we switched our care to the Fetal Concerns Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, it was up to me to navigate my care and schedule my appointments. With Cara at my side, I felt supported in a way I hadn’t before. She advocated for me numerous times and handled all appointment and schedule details so I could focus on my health, the baby and my family.

And then there was Julia Houdek, my nurse practitioner with the Fetal Concerns Center, who was such a knowledgeable and compassionate provider. She changed the outlook of our pregnancy from fear and sadness to supported and hopeful. She had such an impact on our family as we neared our delivery date. When I went into labor, she made the long journey between her office and the delivery room to see us in between her appointments.

The Fetal Concerns Center is a gift to our community

The delivery nurses at the Froedtert Hospital Birth Center, Raven, Angela and Laura, were amazing. They gave us their undivided attention and support from the moment we arrived. Another nurse, Tiffany, even took a family picture of all of us, and made foot molds of our son, whom we named Matthew. The kindness and care we experienced at every level of care was just incredible.

Most moms don’t consider that they might have a pregnancy that is high risk or a baby who might need special care. The Fetal Concerns Center is a gift to our community that I would recommend to any mom or parents who want to have their needs met with the highest level of care.

Our son, Matthew, passed away. He will always be with us in our hearts, and the loving care we got at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin helped us through a very difficult time. We will always be grateful to the people at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin who helped us honor our wishes for my and Matthew’s care, and gave us the most compassionate, personalized experience we could have asked for.