Greater Baltimore Medical Center
"A Healthy Family"

Stephanie Wingerd's Story

Our “journey” with GBMC actually started during our infertility treatment as patients of Drs. Katz and Yazigi at the Shady Grove office in GBMC.  My supervisor at the time suggested Drs. Katz and Yazigi as she had been a patient of theirs in years prior.

In our nearly six months of care at Shady Grove, we had a total of two retrievals and three transfers performed at the GBMC Women’s Surgical Center before we found out we were expecting. We had great experiences each time.

Close friends of ours had a baby at GBMC in 2009.  When we visited them in Labor & Delivery afterwards, we were very impressed with the nurses, room, services and their obstetrician, Dr. Dominique Allen.  When we found out we were expecting, we immediately decided to use the same obstetrician as our friends because we were set on having our baby at GBMC.

When I was 30 weeks pregnant, my water broke. I was not in active labor, so I was admitted to the high-risk OB unit for the duration of my pregnancy.  I was an inpatient in this unit from December 11, 2012, until I delivered on December 20th.  The nurse, Jeanie, and nursing assistant, Yvette, were absolutely amazing to me and my family.

Though I was happy to be in such great care, I was extremely depressed because I thought I would be spending the holidays on hospital bed rest. Jeanie and Yvette went out of their way to make things easier on me. They kept me company if they had down time, made sure both my husband and I were comfortable and did everything in their power to accommodate us while providing the most outstanding care I could have ever asked for.

When I went into active labor on December 20th, Jeanie and Yvette both happened to be on duty.  I was at the hospital alone at the time, so Yvette stayed with me as long as she could in Labor & Delivery and Jeanie even came over to check on me.  They both made sure I was able to contact my husband and, because of their help contacting him, he was able to make it to the hospital before my emergency C-section.

Prior to the day our son was born, we did not know much about the NICU.  Some doctors had come in to speak to us, but everything was a blur at that point so we honestly didn’t know what to expect.  Our son was admitted to the NICU on December 20, 2012, and stayed there until being discharged on January 9, 2013.  We spent our Christmas and New Years in the NICU, but all of the nurses and doctors treated us like family and truly made us feel like we were at home.

I specifically remember two nurses that did a tremendous job assisting us with caring for our preemie, Lauren and Kim.  Lauren was so great when I went up to visit, no matter what time of day or night it was.  After I was discharged home, I would call constantly and she never hesitated to take my call, provide updates and answer questions.  Lauren was so patient, really helped ease our fears and shared in the celebration of small milestones.  We were so thankful for her. 

Kim was also a Godsend. She always helped with any questions we had and was instrumental in teaching us about the monitors, various procedures and tests and the NICU terms thrown at us day in and day out.  There were many days where Kim felt like a part of our family because she would spend almost her entire shift with us. Drs. Helou, Pane and Birenbaum were wonderful as well.

The next stage of our GBMC journey included weight loss surgery. It was something we began discussing during our infertility journey.  I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at 18, and that is what caused our fertility issues.  We were both significantly overweight and had been our entire lives.  While researching PCOS and IVF, I came across information about bariatric surgery and mentioned it to my husband.  After going through so much to get pregnant and then again with the pre-term labor and NICU stay, we both decided that we needed to do whatever we had to so we could be healthy and enjoy the time with our precious child.  We both grew up in families that have significant weight-related health issues, and those issues caused close family members to die at early ages. We did not want our son to experience that because of us.   

Having the surgery at GBMC was really a no-brainer.  We had such amazing care in every department previously, so we had no question that the doctors in the COMP program would be just as great.

Since I had just had a baby, we decided my husband would go to the info session first and I would wait a few.  Unfortunately, while my husband was in the COMP program, he discovered one of our worst fears – he was diagnosed with severely uncontrolled diabetes.  His blood test results actually came in not long after Dr. Dovec started with GBMC, and our first interaction with her was her calling my husband on a Sunday morning to discuss his blood tests because she was so worried about him.  We were stunned, not only at the results, but that a doctor cared enough to call on a Sunday morning.

That call was reassurance to us that we had chosen the best doctors/practice for this step of our lives.  Because of his diabetes, my husband’s surgery was essentially put on hold.  We agreed that I would start the program at that point since we didn’t know how long it would take to get his diabetes under control.

I was ultimately able to have my surgery first and had it done the end of January 2014.  Of course, as soon as I scheduled my surgery, his blood tests came back good enough to proceed with surgery and his was scheduled also.  Although it was offered to have our surgeries on the same day, we decided against it solely because of having our one-year-old to care for.  My husband ended up having his surgery about six weeks after me in the beginning of March 2014.  

Our entire lives are different now that we have had weight loss surgery.  We are not embarrassed to take family photos, we are looking forward to taking our son to his first amusement park next summer (we have never been as a couple because we both were worried about not fitting in most of the rides) and overall, we just have more energy and the ability to play with our son and chase him around.  I have also become a runner which is something I always wanted to do, but I was never able to run more than a half mile before stopping (3-4 miles is a normal distance for me to run now).  My husband has always been active in sports but has faced constant embarrassment because he was always the “big guy.”  He is now able to play in games and no one singles him out.  We are both able to shop in “normal” stores now instead of plus size/big & tall stores.     

My health has been severely impacted. I am off all of my blood pressure medicine, I no longer have high cholesterol, I am no longer pre-diabetic and, within a month of my surgery, I began menstruating on my own -- something that has never occurred in my life.  We are not prepared to have another child yet, so we actually had to go as far as having an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted because my gynecologists believes I am no longer infertile.  

My husband’s health has also been impacted. He is no longer on insulin, his diabetes is under control and on its way to remission, he no longer has high cholesterol and he has less joint pain from playing sports.  

Our lives in general have been impacted because we just feel better overall.  We have better attitudes about ourselves and aren’t depressed.  Being happier with ourselves has made us happier in our marriage.

The most influential thing about our care at GBMC is how personable, knowledgeable and overall amazing everyone has been.  It wasn’t just one doctor or one nurse that touched us enough to remember, it has been several.  Since we were so impressed with the various dealings we have had with GBMC, we also decided to switch our primary care physician and our son’s pediatrician to a GBMC physician.  All of the specialists that we choose (obstetrician, endocrinologist, ear nose and throat) are at GBMC, and our son had minor surgery there (for tubes in his ears) in January 2015.

We couldn’t be happier with all that GBMC has given us.

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