My Doernbecher Story

Katharine's Story - Doernbecher Children's Hospital

Katharine's Story

We’d recently moved to Walla Walla, and so we didn’t even get established with a provider until I was about 28 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I chose a midwife in town who used to work at OHSU. When I had an ultrasound, we discovered that the fetus had a neural tube defect; the perinatologist said it might be myelomeningocele, the most severe and complicated form of spina bifida. That was a big shock.

My husband and I looked at programs all over the country, but when our midwife got us in touch with Cathy Crommett and OHSU, we knew it was the right place: Cathy was great at coordinating appointments with the perinatologists and other specialists, including Dr. Merkens, Dr. Shaffer, Dr. Pereira, Dr. Selden, and Dr. Tran, so we minimized travel. She told us, “Everyone needs an advocate,” and it’s true. Even though I’m a nurse and my husband is a physician, it’s still difficult to navigate the system sometimes.

At OHSU, we learned that the baby had meningocele, a rare - though less severe - form of spina bifida. Between Dr. Merkens and Dr. Shaffer, we had a clear picture of our situation. They were supportive and encouraging and willing to work with our preferences; I wanted to avoid a C-section, and thanks to their support, I delivered my daughter, Katherine Isabella naturally at OHSU. I had some really great nurses post-partum; they taught me some things I didn’t even know about breastfeeding - and I’ve had three kids!

Everything went quickly and efficiently; my daughter had a cyst on her back, which the doctors covered, and other than that, she did well. She will probably have surgery to remove it when she’s four months old, but things are great so far. She’s functioning better than we all expected.

Hospital experiences aren’t normally what you’d call wonderful. I would definitely rate my time at OHSU as much more positive because of the compassionate, knowledgeable and excellent care.

More about the Fetal Therapy Program at Doernbecher

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