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Sarah Esche-Lange, 36, and her husband Erik Lange, 34, a fitness instructor, are marathoners and know the discipline needed to reach their personal best. That grit served Sarah well in mid-July 2018 when, in week 27 of her pregnancy, she started experiencing contractions every two or three minutes and serious vomiting.
Her obstetrician, Michael Feingold, M.D., told Sarah to head to the hospital where, after examining her, he suggested she start another kind of marathon. This time the goal would be to delay giving birth until her twin babies were at a safer level of development — closer to 36 weeks. Dr. Feingold is an independent obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN) with Women’s Healthcare Professionals and a member of Edward Hospital’s medical staff.
Sarah’s “training plan” for her marathon would involve admission to Edward for weeks of bed rest and medications to delay the birth and enhance the babies’ development in order to avoid the respiratory, digestive and other complications common in premature babies. Sarah would also receive medications to help her manage the contractions, nausea and vomiting.
The Aurora couple spent several years overcoming obstacles to get pregnant, including rounds of IVF and Sarah’s two surgeries for endometriosis. This painful fertility-threatening disorder involves tissue that normally lines the uterus growing into other areas, such as the fallopian tubes or intestines.
Bed rest begins
Sarah checked in to Edward on July 14. Dr. Feingold suggested they bring in maternal fetal medicine specialists for additional guidance during the complicated pregnancy. Initially, she would see Dr. Feingold almost daily.
She also had regular visits from either Donald Taylor, D.O.; Kevin Madsen, M.D. or Jill Moran, M.D., independent maternal fetal medicine specialists with DuPage Medical Group and on the medical staffs of Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals.
Sarah’s nausea and vomiting were tamed with medication but she continued to have contractions throughout her hospital stay.
“The bed rest itself was the hardest part,” says Sarah. “(Erik) and I are a very active couple and I only was getting out of bed to go to the bathroom or to take our half-hour a day “field trip” — with me in a wheelchair. Fortunately, Erik’s work schedule allowed him to be with me much of the time. We would spend those half hours going to the hospital’s koi garden or cafeteria. We also watched a lot of movies and TV to pass the time.
“We knew we were doing what was needed to keep our babies safe, so having some days that were a little boring was worth it.”
A team approach
Sarah’s extended stay allowed her to get to know the hospital staff.
She says, “Over the eight weeks I was in the hospital, I talked with close to 60 nurses and got to know many of them personally. The atmosphere was very informal, not cold like it feels at some hospitals.”
She says other distractions also helped.
“I had visits from the Animal-Assisted Therapy dogs. This was great since I really missed our 12-year-old pointer-boxer mix.
“I was impressed with the team approach at Edward — from the doctors and nurses to the food staff who would come to the door to check on me if I hadn’t ordered a meal. I also had visits from the social worker, who suggested we visit the Ronald McDonald (Family) Room, and the massage therapist who helped me work out some aches I had from staying in bed so long.
“Throughout my stay, Dr. Feingold was coaching and guiding the whole process. He was great, talking me through every step. I knew my questions would be answered.”
On Thursday, Sept. 13, Sarah was discharged from the hospital.
The twins are born
Only a day-and-a-half later on Saturday, Sept. 15, she was back in the hospital and in full labor. It was finally time.
Dr. Feingold was joined in the operating room by Linda Anderson, M.D., an OB-GYN with Edward Medical Group and on the medical staff of Edward Hospital; as well as nurses, surgical technicians, and specialists in anesthesiology, neonatology and respiratory therapy. Assisted by Dr. Anderson, Dr. Feingold performed a C-section to help Sarah bring two healthy babies into the world.
Madison Josephine weighed 5 lbs., 5 oz. and her younger-by-one-minute brother Dylan Jeremiah tipped the scale at 5 lbs., 2 oz.
The birth represented Edward Hospital’s 2,000th delivery of multiples (twins, triplets, quadruplets and one set of quintuplets) since 1996.
Says Dr. Feingold, “The Lange babies got to the point where they could breathe and eat on their own. They got to stay with mom while they were in the hospital and go home when she did. There was a team of doctors and hospital personnel involved in this successful outcome, but Sarah herself had to sacrifice a lot to make this happen. And it helped that she had a husband who was at her side and very supportive.
“Without Sarah’s willingness to cooperate with the program, and push her limits to get to the end, this wouldn’t have been possible. Now, she and her husband have bragging rights for another couple of marathon runs. But instead of medals, they brought home two miracles.”
Learn more about pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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