Home > Advocacy, health professionals, Infant loss, Stillbirth, Stillbirth Awareness, Stillbirth Research > Home Fetal Monitoring and One Devoted Grandfather

Home Fetal Monitoring and One Devoted Grandfather

February 25, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

This month we are honored to have a guest blog by someone who knew all too well the story about stillbirth – she has lived it her entire life as she watched her father push forward his passion for preventing these needless tragedies.  And then she had her own brush with tragedy……. read on….

Guest Blog by Catherine Alford

Jason Collins and babies

The Alford Twins – Nicknamed Bean and Beanette long before their birth, and their proud Grandpa Jason!

I’ve been hearing all of your stories – your stories of loss, love, sadness, and eventual triumph – my entire life. My dad, Dr. Jason Collins, started his research on umbilical cord accidents when I was only 5 years old. In fact, I was so used to him staying up late every night looking at heart rate strips that I used to draw him pictures of them and tape them to his bedroom wall so he’d see them before he went to bed. It was far more exciting than drawing him stick figures, and he thoroughly enjoyed them.

My dad has been trying to solve this problem, this terrible, preventable problem of umbilical cord accidents for such a long time. It has been his life’s work, his obsession, and his amazing gift to medicine. When I was a kid, we had a phone in our kitchen connected to the wall with a really long cord. This was back before cell phones of course. Every time other physicians would come over to the house, my dad would try to explain what happens to a baby in utero with a UCA using the phone cord. He would wrap that cord around his arm, twisting it and turning it, trying to explain. “Torsion!” “A true knot!” These moments, these lessons, slowly seeped their way into my mind. I knew at a young age that having a full term healthy baby was truly a miracle.

Needless to say, when I got pregnant for the first time, I was nervous. Very nervous. I was living abroad at the time away from my family and away from American healthcare. When my husband and I went in for an early ultrasound at 5 weeks to confirm the pregnancy, we got the shock of our lives and found out we were having twins. After the shock wore off and I had time to compose myself, the first person I told was of course, my dad.

“Dad,” I said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I’m having twins.” His immediate response was, “Oh cool! Twins are so fun to look at on ultrasound.”

My dad was there for me every step of my pregnancy. I obsessively e-mailed him pictures of every single ultrasound, even when my twins were just tiny little circles, even when he and I both knew there was nothing he could do to save them if something went wrong.

I wish I could say I enjoyed my pregnancy, but I couldn’t. Whether it was a blessing or a curse, I was fully aware of the risks. I knew about the unthinkable, the unfortunate reality that many of you have faced in your lives. To top it off, carrying two babies at once meant more risks, more chances for the kids running out of room, more opportunities for cord compression. I tried to stay calm and tried to enjoy it, but it was hard. Both my husband, who is a medical student, and I just wanted to make it to the end and hold our babies in our arms – alive.

cat and jason

Cat and her Dad peeking at the tiwns!

I moved back to the United States during my second trimester with plenty enough time for my dad to spoil me with steak dinners while my poor husband studied for a massively important medical school board exam. I received countess ultrasounds both from my regular physician, my maternal fetal medicine doctor, and my dad. I knew that if anything bad were to happen, I would know about it.

I know my dad though, and I know he was nervous about my pregnancy even though he tried not to show it. When I told him how happy I was to make it to the viability point of 24 weeks, he just calmly said, “Let’s just try to make it to 28.” When I told him I was having one boy and one girl, he let out the funniest laugh, which I got on video. He was slowly getting attached to the babies as a grandfather and yet remaining detached as a physician observing what could potentially be a problem.

At 30 weeks, my dad gave me a heart rate monitor so he could monitor the babies’ heart rates remotely, like he has for many of his Pregnancy Institute patients the past two decades. Every night, I would monitor my daughter for 30 minutes and my son for 30 minutes, sending my dad photos of the strips every five minutes. I had to put up with his commentary of course. When I had a contraction he’d say, “Yeah. That looked like a good one!”

At around 34 weeks, he started noticing a bit of cord compression on my daughter’s strip. He monitored me even closer, all while I was being seen by my regular physician every week. Throughout the day, I counted kicks, making sure I could feel both babies.

Then, the morning I hit 35 weeks, it happened.

I counted my daughter’s kicks but I couldn’t feel my son. I shot straight up in bed and yelled at my husband hysterically: “I can’t feel him!”

I went straight to the guest room to get attached to the heart rate monitor while my husband listened for his heart beat with his stethoscope. A wave of relief hit us when he found it. He was there. Alive. He just wasn’t moving.

I hopped in the bathtub since both babies got really active in the warm water. Again, my daughter kicked around happily but nothing from my son. After I ate a pop tart to try to wake him up and still nothing happened, I told my husband we were going to the hospital.

I didn’t wait for an okay from my doctor. I didn’t hesitate. I knew from hearing all of your stories that time was of the essence. I called my doctor to tell her I was on my way, then I called my dad. When I got there, I was contracting every 7 minutes and in labor. I hadn’t even noticed because I was so focused on trying to feel my son kick.

At the exact moment my doctor told me that I was going to be having the babies that day, my dad was texting me frantically ordering me to stay at the hospital (my husband sent him a picture of the heart rate strip, and he knew it was time!) I was able to calmly call him and say, “Yes, Dad, my doctor agrees! We’re having the babies now!”

On March 23, 2014 at 11:35 A.M. my son was born alive and healthy. A minute later, my daughter was born also alive and healthy. After a bit of a rough start and two weeks in the NICU, they came home with us. They’re now almost one, crawling all over the house and all over each other. They love to FaceTime with my Dad. They know his voice and try to clobber the phone when they see his face on it.

I know I’m fortunate because my story has a happy ending, and I’m confident that happy ending came because of my nightly remote FHR monitoring.

I also had the world’s best doctor and the world’s foremost expert on UCAs watching my every move during my pregnancy, and I’m especially blessed because that same doctor is my dad.

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Catherine Alford  is the daughter of Drs. Jason & Candace Collins and is a well rounded professional in the digital space who is best known for her ability to write about difficult topics in an engaging way. With a formal background in American History, Catherine worked for years as an historian before she began to focus her attention on her love of blogging and building online businesses. Currently, she is a professional blogger for numerous websites and is actively growing her online reach.  Read her blog – Budget Blonde.  Her most important job however is Mom to her beautiful twin son and daughter.

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  1. Britany
    February 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Cat, I found your dad in a desperate attempt to “prepare” for our subsequent pregnancy after losing our baby Emmy to a cord accident at 34.5 days, only 5 mos before. I saw the pregnancy institute online and called his number. I was NEVER so shocked as when Dr. Collins ANSWERED his own phone!!! He answered all of my questions, gave me advise, listened and most importantly had me pass along his book, “the Silent Risk” to my OB.
    My doctor read the book and thanked me for bringing it to her attention. She even credited it to deciding to deliver another of her patient’s babies under distress early, saving it! She tailored our care under Dr. Collin’s advise in the book and I now have a sibling for my little boy.

    I’m so very grateful to your dad, what a calling and in a field where ignorance abounds on the subject of “cord accidents.” I pray he continues to help many more families fill their empty arms and spread the word about the TRUTH of how to prevent these deaths.

    Here is the link to his book:

    Silent Risk: Issues about the Human Umbilical Cord https://www.amazon.com/dp/1493114646/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_TcO7ub08XRKY5
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1493114646/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_TcO7ub08XRKY5

    • March 1, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Yes he loves answering his own phone for sure. So glad you had a great experience working with him, and I’m so sorry for your loss and that it took that for you to be led to his research. Wishing you and your family well.

  2. March 3, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I am so, so grateful for the support I received from your father during my subsequent pregnancy with my son, after my daughter was stillborn at 39.5 weeks likely due to cord compression. Dr. Collins’s research and expertise is unrivaled, and he was so reassuring to speak to over the phone, giving me practical tips for monitoring my son and for advocating for ourselves with our doctors/hospital. He was always so responsive over email and phone, and just absolutely selfless with his time and his knowledge at a time when I was so, so desprayers for support – I will truly never forget his kindness. I remember him mentioning your pregnancy when I was about halfway through mine and I could tell he was worried about your son – I was so thrilled to hear that your twins had been delivered safely the next time we spoke. Your father is truly a godsend and I really don’t know how to express how incredibly grateful we are to him for everything he’s done for us and the community at large. We wish your family all the best! 🙂

  3. March 3, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I am so, so grateful for the support I received from your father during my subsequent pregnancy with my son, after my daughter was stillborn at 39.5 weeks likely due to cord compression. Dr. Collins’s research and expertise is unrivaled, and he was so reassuring to speak to over the phone, giving me practical tips for monitoring my son and for advocating for ourselves with our doctors/hospital. He was always so responsive over email and phone, and just absolutely selfless with his time and his knowledge at a time when I was so, so desprayers for support – I will truly never forget his kindness. I remember him mentioning your pregnancy when I was about halfway through mine and I could tell he was worried about your son – I was so thrilled to hear that your twins had been delivered safely the next time we spoke. Your father is truly a godsend and I really don’t know how to express how incredibly grateful we are to him for everything he’s done for us and the community at large. We wish your family all the best! 🙂

  4. Kami
    March 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    My husband and I feel very blessed to have met Dr. Collins after the stillbirth of our daughter due to a u/c accident. He is a God send and one of the few (in the OB community) that seems to really care and understand the shoes we walk in. It was and is very obvious that this is his passion. I continue to refer him to those people whom I have met and will continue to meet in my life’s journey who share the horror of having a stillbirth. Honestly, we can’t put into words how very grateful we are for your father.

  1. February 28, 2015 at 9:03 am

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