Ana Isabella: A Special Pregnancy and Delivery at CHRISTUS Children's

Baby Ana Isabella at 2 months old. She is sitting in a small chair, wearing a pink outfit and a pink headband.

Just one month after deciding to start a family, Ana Cristina and Rafael learned they were expecting. The joy of impending parenthood reached a whole new level when the couple from Monterrey, Mexico, received official confirmation of pregnancy in early 2023.

Adding a touch of creativity to her pregnancy announcement, Ana chose a special way to share the exciting news with her husband, a devoted fan of the PUMAS Mexican soccer team.

I bought baby clothes adorned with the icon of Rafael´s soccer team, said Ana. One day, while we were at home, I called him over to check something on the shelf. As he reached for the shelf, he discovered the box with my positive pregnancy test alongside baby clothes featuring his team’s emblem. The mix of excitement, joy and shock on his face marked the beginning of our journey.

Navigating the initial stages of pregnancy

During her pregnancy, Ana coped with common pregnancy symptoms, such as stomach issues and fatigue. Despite being pregnant, she found herself frequently on the move due to work-related travel. “This baby has been to various places in the Americas and Europe while I was pregnant,” said Ana. “She was a true traveler at heart.” Despite the challenges pregnancy posed, Ana was managing them well. The ultrasounds at her OB-GYN’s office in Monterrey consistently showed that her daughter was developing normally except for the concern involving a dilated umbilical vein.

As a U.S. citizen, Ana chose to deliver the couple’s baby in the United States, a decision she and her husband considered the best, particularly given the high-risk nature of her pregnancy, among other reasons. Ana’s advanced maternal age (37 years old) and the presence of umbilical vein varix (UVV) classified her pregnancy as high-risk, which required careful monitoring.

UVV involves the dilation of the umbilical vein, responsible for carrying oxygenated blood from the placenta to the fetus during pregnancy. In addition to regular visits to her OB-GYN in Monterrey, who is affiliated with CHRISTUS Health, she received specialized care from Dr. James Hill, a maternal-fetal medicine physician and the director of the maternal-fetal medicine division at CHRISTUS Children’s in San Antonio.

I had monthly visits with Dr. Hill, and here in Mexico, I had appointments with my OB-GYN approximately every two weeks, said Ana.

CHRISTUS Children's - The Fetal Care Center

When the unexpected fetal anomaly occurs, the Fetal Care Center at CHRISTUS Children's connects pediatric specialists to pregnant women and their families, regardless of where they plan to deliver their baby.

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A special delivery

Due to Ana’s age and the couple’s preference for their daughter to be born at CHRISTUS Children’s, the delivery was scheduled in advance. I temporarily moved to San Antonio just in case our baby arrived early, said Ana.

Ana powered through 24 hours of contractions and received an epidural just an hour before she and Rafael welcomed their daughter at 39 weeks.

Having my husband by my side was incredibly meaningful, said Ana. In Mexico, fathers are not typically allowed to be part of the process, so experiencing that support here in the United States was powerful for both me and my baby. The CHRISTUS team was wonderful, with nurses available around the clock. As a first-time mom, I was naturally nervous, but a particular nurse, Angel, stood out to me. She not only calmed my nerves but made me feel comfortable and encouraged me. My midwife, Jana Sullivan, the director of the Midwifery Services at CHRISTUS Children’s, delivered my baby, and she was amazing during the entire birthing process. Everyone was extremely helpful.

On September 26, 2023, Ana Isabella was born. The moment Ana laid eyes on her newborn; it was like all the labor pains melted away— words couldn’t quite capture the overwhelming emotions. It was an incredible experience to finally see her, said Ana. Finding the right words to describe that moment is hard because it is so emotional. It is an amazing mix of feeling, touching, hearing and seeing this person you already love. It’s true what many people and nurses told me at the hospital. You forget all the pain as soon as you hold your newborn baby for the first time. When I held Ana Isabella, it was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’ It was absolutely worth every moment of it.

Further care 

When Ana had taken her newborn daughter to see the pediatrician, it was during this visit that she learned her baby had low iron levels, along with weight loss and dehydration. The pediatrician recommended she go to the hospital for further evaluation. Ana Isabella spent four days in the NICU at CHRISTUS Children’s where she was also treated for jaundice.

Since I lost a lot of blood during delivery, my iron was low and my breastfeeding was complicated because my body was not producing enough colostrum for the baby, said Ana. My baby lost 17 percent of her weight when she saw the pediatrician for her follow-up. We were very concerned.

While in the NICU, she underwent phototherapy to address her jaundice. Phototherapy involves exposing the baby’s skin to a special type of fluorescent light. The light helps break down bilirubin into a form that the baby’s immature liver can more easily eliminate. The nurses also monitored her weight gain, ensuring she was feeding correctly. Ana and Rafael spent every day with their baby.

We wanted to be by her side around the clock, said Ana. The nurses were very kind. We received a tremendous amount of support, with people dropping by to say hello. We never felt alone which meant a lot to me and my husband. We consider ourselves truly blessed.

Ana Isabella today


Ana Isabella, now back in Monterrey, is thriving despite her challenging start.

She is a happy, curious and healthy baby girl, Ana said. We’re thrilled to be her parents. Our gratitude extends to everyone at CHRISTUS Children’s, especially Dr. Hill and Jana Sullivan. They deliver many babies but they never treated me like a number. They treated us with individualized care, addressing our concerns, providing attention and creating a comfortable atmosphere.

While childbirth in the U.S. can be expensive for individuals from Mexico, it was the best choice for me and my baby, said Ana. Entrusting our baby’s delivery to skilled professionals from OB-GYNs to midwives, nurses and the NICU staff, ensured the best possible support. Our experience at CHRISTUS Children’s was exceptional, making it the perfect place to welcome our Ana Isabella.

Click here to learn more about Labor and Delivery Services at CHRISTUS Children's.

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