When expectant mother Alexandra Gardner went to her obstetrician’s office for her weekly check-up at 36 weeks and two days pregnant, she expected to go home and continue planning for her upcoming wedding set for Saturday, September 11. She had the marriage license, the dress, the shoes and her friends and family were ready to help her and her fiancé Jonathan Persaud, celebrate their marriage before she delivered their first child.
“My pregnancy had been super easy,” Gardner said. “No morning sickness or any other issues that many other women sometimes face. I felt lucky.” But at her September 2 appointment, Dr. Geffrey Klein, her obstetrician at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, told her that her blood pressure was high and he ordered a test to determine if she might have preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure, often with swelling of the hands and feet and protein in the urine. It can develop without symptoms and usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition can cause serious complications for the mother and baby and the most effective treatment is delivery of the baby.
“My last doctor’s visit felt like all my other check-ups and I didn’t have a clue anything was potentially wrong,” said Gardner. “After the test came back, Dr. Klein confirmed I had preeclampsia and told me I needed to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and that I would likely be induced in a few days.”
Gardner felt crushed because she was planning to be married soon and didn’t foresee an early hospital stay. On her second day in the hospital, she expressed her frustration about canceling her wedding plans to perinatal navigator Kathryn Faircloth. In her role, Faircloth helps women with pregnancies identified as high-risk due to a maternal or fetal diagnosis and provides personalized care coordination, resource information and support throughout their pregnancy.
“After hearing about her situation and how she had everything planned out to be married before having her baby, my heart went out to her and I just knew we could do something,” said Faircloth. “I asked Alexandra what she thought about having a wedding here at the hospital and her face immediately lit up.”
Faircloth explained the situation to the hospital’s leadership team and they agreed the wedding could take place. Gardner called her fiancé and her parents to see what they thought and everyone loved the idea. Faircloth immediately went to work contacting the food and nutrition services department to order a cake and coordinated with the hospital’s chaplain to have someone officiate the ceremony. She also went above and beyond the call of duty by purchasing and assembling decorations for the ceremony, as she wanted the event to be as beautiful and memorable as possible for the couple.
The intimate ceremony was held on Saturday, September 4 in the courtyard at HCA Houston Clear Lake. Special permission was granted for the eight additional campus visitors to attend the outdoor ceremony, who included the couple’s parents, Gardner’s younger sister, Persaud’s older brother and two close friends of the couple, who served as the best man and maid of honor. Faircloth and antepartum nurse Melissa Hughes, were there to make sure Gardner was monitored the entire time. Hughes provided music for the ceremony and several staff nurses decorated a wheelchair with streamers and a “Just Married” sign for the bride and groom to be wheeled back to her room after the ceremony.
The wedding party was amazed at how much effort the staff exerted to make the event so special for the parents-to-be. “The wedding was perfect,” said Gardner. “Our wish was granted with the help of Kathryn and the rest of the hospital staff. My husband, family and I are all extremely thankful.”
On Tuesday, September 7, Gardner was safely induced and delivered a healthy baby boy, Maverick James, just three days after tying the knot. Faircloth confirmed that both mom and baby are doing well.
“With all the sadness we are experiencing surrounding COVID-19 these days, this was an uplifting and joyous occasion, not only for the patient, but the staff as well,” said Faircloth. “These are the moments that remind me that as a nurse, I’m committed to being there for my patients for whatever they need – this time it just happened to be a wedding,” she chuckled. “For me, it’s not just my job, it’s my passion.”