With Support From the Mount Sinai-Rainbow Clinic, a Difficult Journey From Profound Loss to the Birth of a Healthy Baby Boy
Tricia, 43, a costume designer from Queens, struggled with serious infertility issues for more than five years. After two miscarriages, four rounds of in vitro fertilization and many rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI), she and her husband eventually became pregnant in summer 2020. Their infertility doctor recommended they reach out to Joanne Stone, MD, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies and then Director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Division at the Mount Sinai Health System.
Dr. Stone oversaw Tricia’s pregnancy from November 2020. There were some serious known risks that had to be closely monitored: during each of Tricia’s previous pregnancies, a subchorionic hematoma (hemorrhage) had developed. This is a condition where bleeding occurs under one of the membranes surrounding the embryo inside the uterus, and it had led to miscarriages in Tricia’s previous pregnancies. The condition was diagnosed again in fall 2020, and she was placed on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy.
“She initially had bleeding and a subchorionic hematoma. Then at 16 weeks she developed a related condition that is called chorioamniotic membrane separation. Usually, by 15 weeks, the amnion and chorionic membranes have fused, but when there is a large separation, there's a very high risk of premature labor and the membranes being ruptured” says Dr. Stone, a renowned specialist in maternal-fetal medicine who is now Chair of the Raquel and Jaime Gilinski Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
In February 2021, at 20 weeks, Tricia was rushed to The Mount Sinai Hospital with PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes), when the amniotic membrane surrounding the baby ruptures prematurely. Despite attempts to stabilize her condition, she gave birth prematurely to her daughter, Gala Rose, at 21 weeks. Gala lived for just 43 minutes before passing away in her mother’s arms.
“We basically had to say hello and goodbye in a very short time,” Tricia recalls. “We’ll never get over the loss of her, and the grief. Although she is not living with us, she is living with us in our hearts.”
The couple was then faced with the immense grief that came with losing their daughter. Tricia says that group therapy with others who had experienced a similar loss were key to helping them through this time.
“For us, group counseling was helpful, because you meet other people in your situation who can really relate to what it's like to lose a child,” Tricia says. “It's such a unique thing and you really need to find your people so you don't feel so alone.”
They decided try to conceive again, naturally and with IUI. After two further miscarriages, Tricia became pregnant in fall 2022. They once again turned to Dr. Stone to oversee the pregnancy.
As head of the newly founded Mount Sinai-Rainbow Clinic, Dr. Stone was able to provide them with the highly specialized care they needed after their recent loss. The Rainbow Clinic provides enhanced clinical care and psychological support for bereaved parents who are pregnant or planning to try again for a child after experiencing a stillbirth, or other kinds of perinatal loss such as that experienced by Tricia and her husband.
“We saw Tricia every two weeks,” Dr. Stone says. “We measured the cervix and prescribed natural progesterone, all the things we know to try to prevent pre-term birth. We always make sure that the staff demonstrate extra sensitivity for these patients during an ultrasound, to reassure them that there is a heartbeat, that there is no hematoma. We have a social worker who specializes in bereavement counseling, and she meets with patients as often as they want. We also have nutritionist available for support if they are needed.”
Dr. Stone and her team monitored Tricia extremely closely. Tricia had the opportunity for additional scans if she started to experience anxiety at any point and was encouraged to ask as many questions as needed.
“I wasn’t sure we were going to come home with a child. When you lose one child, you’re convinced you won’t have another baby,” Tricia says. “Gala made us parents, but we also didn’t know if we would bring a child home. But we didn’t give up hope. We never lost the dream.”
This time, there was no sign of a subchorionic hematoma or any other type of abnormality during the pregnancy. Dr. Stone planned an induced labor at 39 weeks. The couple also decided to bring in an independent doula to help give them mental support before and during the birth. During the delivery, the couple set up lighting in the delivery room that put stars on the ceiling, and they played music.
After only about six hours of labor, Tricia gave birth to her son, Liam, on March 15, 2023, with Bruce Springsteen’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” playing in the background. “He was born full term and beautiful and amazing,” Tricia says. “We had the most amazing birth.”
Tricia was able to fully embrace Mother’s Day in May 2023 with her 7-week-old baby boy, while still remembering her daughter. “This was my third Mother’s Day, but this one was much more joyful, we were able to bring home a brother for our Gala,” she says.