Denise Janson’s positive pregnancy test in fall 2008 was a surprise. She and her husband, Mike, both police officers, had been married a year and weren’t planning on having children.
And then the Chardon couple received another shock: At only 19 weeks gestation, Janson’s uterus had no amniotic fluid, a condition known as preterm premature rupture of membranes. “Our specialist was recommending termination [of the pregnancy],” remembers Janson, 39. An infection would kill the baby and could kill her as well.
She was placed immediately on antibiotics and bed rest. Her ob-gyn warned her that she could miscarry at any time. “We were all waiting for the worst,” she says.
As Janson researched her condition online and called specialists throughout the country, she discovered Dr. Brian Mercer, an internationally regarded expert in her condition at MetroHealth Medical Center.
She was admitted to MetroHealth at 23 weeks for constant monitoring and a planned induction at 34 weeks.
A clear ultrasound of the baby’s development was impossible without amniotic fluid. And because of the critical role amniotic fluid plays in lung development, the doctors warned her that even if the baby survived, he would likely be profoundly disabled.
Still, the Jansons had hope.
“I remember Dr. [Marc] Collin [a Metro neonatologist] saying, ‘babies do amazing things, and they surprise us every day,’ ” Janson says.
After 15 weeks of bed rest, 11 of those at MetroHealth, Janson delivered a perfectly healthy baby boy named Matthew on March 6, 2009. He spent just 10 days in Metro’s neonatal intensive care unit before heading home with his parents, with barely a sniffle ever since.
“I feel like I can do anything now,” Janson says. “This was a miracle. There’s no other way to explain it.”