Getting pregnant and giving birth are big decisions in the best of times, and today, the decision is even more personal and requires considering risks we know very little about. When you’re under the care of your ARC team, you don’t have to make this decision alone.
COVID-19: a major concern, but not a pregnancy deterrent
Dr. Jayme Evans, ARC Ob/Gyn Department Chief says her patients ask all the time about the coronavirus and how it affects pregnancy. “For those patients wanting to become pregnant soon, COVID-19 seems to be a major concern, but it has not negatively affected conception,” she observes.
According to the CDC, pregnant women may be at an increased risk of becoming very ill if they are infected during pregnancy, but the information we have changes rapidly. Dr. Evans says, “With such uncertainty, I advise my patients that it is a personal decision of whether to continue or postpone growing their family. I encourage them, just like I do my pregnant patients, to be diligent in trying to avoid contracting the virus by maintaining good hygiene, keeping close contact with others to a minimum, avoiding public places when possible, and wearing a mask while in public.”
Fertility patients feel the clock ticking
Dr. Maya Bledsoe, ARC Fertility Specialist said some patients paused their care in March due to COVID-19, but now all are back. They follow careful safety measures and are very committed to prenatal health. Dr. Bledsoe says that she has not had anyone tell her they are taking a break due to COVID-19, but she always has some patients who have reasons to pause their care. “This is emotionally difficult. And in Austin, many insurances do not cover fertility. If there is any chance of financial instability, patients may take a break.” For most of her patients she says they feel the clock is ticking.
Two patients’ journeys under the ARC umbrella
When it takes longer than expected to start your family, you can’t wait to start expecting. Delays and complications can be frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking, but a team of doctors working with you and pulling for you can make all the difference. For two patients, Marlina and Emily, the journey began with ARC. Watch their stories >>
As soon as they married, Marlina and Tim wanted children. Once they started their journey toward becoming a bigger family, the road was a little longer than they thought it’d be. They turned to Dr. Maya B. Bledsoe, Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine at ARC Seton Northwest, and found that she was not only an expert in her field, but she would also become their cheerleader.
Marlina miscarried during her first pregnancy at nine weeks and remembers how supportive and reassuring Dr. Bledsoe was. “You don’t have to put on a show,” Marlina remembers Dr. Bledsoe saying. “If you want to cry, I’ll cry with you.”
“Sometimes my job is not to tell them what to do, but to be a shoulder,” said Dr. Bledsoe.
Reassurance during high-risk pregnancies
When Marlina became pregnant with Ben, born in 2018, she was put on bedrest. Dr. Robert J. Cosentino, Obstetrics/Gynecology at ARC Far West, was on call when Marlina felt dizzy during that pregnancy. Dr. Cosentino, who actually delivered Marlina when she was a baby, assured the couple that Marlina and the baby were okay and updated with Marlina’s regular ARC doctors. “ARC doctors kept making us feel reassured and optimistic,” said Tim.
“You look at the milestones as the pregnancy progresses, and you want to report the positive things … each milestone is one more victory,” said Dr. Cosentino.
A growing family
On March 13, 2020, Marlina and Tim delivered Ben’s baby brother, Jacob, and couldn’t be happier. They are grateful for their active, growing family and the care they continue to receive from their team at ARC.
“We have our family. We couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Marlina.
Emily and her husband Efrain had been ARC patients for many years when they sought help from Dr. Bledsoe to grow their family.
Support for the journey
“She was on this journey with us and she was going to see it through,” said Emily. “On our seventh round, it was four in the morning and I emailed Dr. Bledsoe to tell her we got a positive.”
Just as Marlina and Tim discovered, Emily and Efrain learned the journey only begins once you get pregnant. “Eventually you ‘graduate’ from fertility treatments,” said Emily, but she found that the support doesn’t end there.
Through it all, Emily’s doctors stayed in constant contact with each other and the couple. “They were all on our team, trying to make things work out for us,” said Efrain.
A family of doctors
Daughter Analise was born in 2017, also with the help of Dr. Bledsoe. Both children now see Dr. Sharon C. Leong, Pediatrics at ARC Quarry Lake.
It truly feels like a family, said Emily, “She knows my kids. It feels like she’s parenting right along with us.”
Your team for the journey
For Marlina and Tim and Emily and Efrain, ARC helped to grow their family, becoming their care team that continues to support them on their lifelong journey.
Building strong families means working together with our patients and other doctors to make sure care is coordinated and connected.
About Austin Regional Clinic (ARC)
At ARC, a range of doctors and specialties can grow with the needs of your family from diaper rash to achy joints and all the bumps and bruises in between. ARC is a multispecialty medical group committed to providing comprehensive healthcare services throughout the greater Austin area, with 28 locations in 12 Central Texas cities. ARC patients enjoy access to same-day appointments, 24/7 online and phone appointment scheduling, ARC MyChart patient portal, After Hours Clinics, and nursing services through the night.
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