A Different Kind of Birth Story

Let me start by saying that this is a very personal post. I have been toying with writing about this for a long time, but always get stuck somewhere between sharing too much of something so personal and helping someone.  I was finally convinced a couple weeks ago that it’s time to tell the story, the story of Giovanna Phoenix Ramirez.  My intent is to tell people what happened, so that maybe people that have been through something similar would know that they aren’t alone, and God forbid, anybody that goes through something similar in the future may have an idea of what to do in the middle of the chaos.

So let me tell you what finally pushed me to write this.  I was at the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at Loma Linda, for my 33-week check up, and when I was scheduling my next appointment, the nurses were writing a referral to another patient to see a doctor in my town.  I live two and a half hours away and there is only one OBGYN in my town, I’ll call him Dr. M, so when the nurses mentioned the doctor’s name I knew that she was from Ridgecrest.  I turned to her and asked her if she was from Ridgecrest even though I already knew the answer.  She replied that she was, and asked me if I was. I said yes, and she next asked me why I wasn’t seeing Dr. M. I couldn’t reply for many reasons, which I hope you’ll understand by the time you’re done reading this, so she asked me if I was pregnant with my first or second to which I replied “It’s my second only because the doctor you’re seeing lost my second”.  The nurses immediately jumped all over me saying, “Don’t say that!” and then began telling her it would be fine. As I looked at the girl who asked me and watched her face drop I thought to myself that maybe I shouldn’t have said anything, but after thinking about it for a while and talking to those close to me, I realize that if I help one person by telling my story, then it’s completely worth it.  So here’s the story of Giovanna Phoenix Ramirez.

The month of July 2009 was full of big plans and big events for our family. We were moving into our first home that we had been building the previous four months.  We got the keys on the first of July and started moving in immediately.  It was the standard self-move full of boxes, clothes, and furniture.  On the second of July, I was busy steam cleaning our couch because I had noticed that there were black spots on it from some boxes that had been set on top of it.  Now, at this point I was 20 weeks 6 days pregnant.  We already had one son who was a little over a year old and decided to keep the sex of the second a surprise.  The pregnancy had been going great. Completely different from my first. I felt healthy, energetic, and happy! I was sick with my first a lot, and felt drained throughout the pregnancy, but this pregnancy was different.  Because we hadn’t finished moving our furniture in, we were staying at my parents for the night.  During the middle of the night our son, who was sleeping with us, woke up from a nightmare.  After consoling him, I got up to use the restroom and noticed that I was bleeding.

Before I continue, I want to talk about the town I live in and the hospital for those that aren’t familiar with Ridgecrest.  I live in a town of 26,000 people, and the nearest metropolitan area is about an hour and a half away.  We have a hospital that has no ICU or capability to handle major emergencies.  Patients are usually transported to Loma Linda or Bakersfield, C A if they need care that Ridgecrest Regional Hospital cant give.

When I noticed the blood, I wasn’t sure what to do. My whole family was sleeping, and the pregnancy had been going so smoothly I didn’t want to freak out needlessly. So I called my insure providers nursing line.  The nurse said that I should seek treatment, but that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I woke up my husband and told him what was going on, and by this time, my mom was already up.  My husband encouraged me to go to the hospital. We headed off to the E.R. at about midnight and left our son with my mom.

We waited about an hour in the E.R. and when we finally saw a Dr. he said that I probably had a urinary tract infection, prescribed me some anti-biotic and made an appointment for me to see an ultrasound technician the next morning.  Apparently, the hospital didn’t have any ultrasound technicians on call.  So I went home and barely slept.

My husband and I woke up first thing in the morning to go see the ultrasound tech.  At this point, we still hadn’t found out what we were having. We already had a boy and we were fine with whatever we were having next.  When the ultrasound began, the tech. asked us if we wanted to know the sex and we said no.  As the appointment continued, the techs face began to look more and more concerned.  When she left the room in the middle of the appointment, my husband and I knew that something was wrong.  She returned and said that Dr. M said he wasn’t our doctor, and she asked us if we had been seen somewhere else.  I explained that he was in fact our doctor and had an appointment with him next week, and had seen him throughout this pregnancy as well as my first.  She called him again, and he said that he would see me at my next appointment.  She couldn’t hide her concern anymore, and told us that we needed to go get treatment somewhere, anywhere. She told us that she suspected that I had an “incompetent cervix” and I had started to dilate.  I was at 3 centimeters already.  We were in shock and weren’t sure what to do next. We asked what we were having as we were leaving, and got amazing news that we were having a little girl!

As we were leaving the hospital, I called Dr. M and his nurse told me that his instructions were that I should just lie down and try to stay in bed until he saw me next week.  Dr. M didn’t seem that concerned, and I wanted to trust him.  I felt that if he wasn’t worried, I shouldn’t be.  I didn’t want to overreact.  I know someone that overreacts about every health concern, and after awhile you stop listening to them. I didn’t want to be that person so we went home. I wanted to trust my doctor. Trust that they wanted to do the right thing and would never put me or my baby in harm’s way.

I stayed still Friday day but by that night, my bleeding had picked up.  My husband and I went to the ER again, and this time I insisted on being checked into the “B” Wing.  The “B” Wing is the Birthing Wing within the hospital.  They called Dr. M who then said he wasn’t treating me for anything and I was discharged faster than I had been checked in.  I went back to my parent’s house where we were staying picked up our son and went to our new and empty house.  Luckily, my husband and my dad had put together our bed and enough things that we could stay there.  I was worried and confused. I cried myself to sleep.

The next day I stayed mostly still.  I was up and down, but refrained from doing anything strenuous.  That afternoon I was using the restroom and I noticed that a bag of bulging water was protruding.  I told my husband and we dropped our son off at my parent’s house again, and we headed to the hospital.  I checked myself into the “B” Wing again.  The nurses called Dr. M again, and he said that if I wanted to, I could stay, but that he still wasn’t treating me for anything so I could only stay one night. Every time I tried to show the nurses the sac, it would recede.  I’m not sure if they believed me or cared.   We laid in the birthing wing listening to the nurses discuss who was going to Dr. M’s house for his 4th of July party, and who was going to wear what.  I was astonished, mad, sad, confused….you name it that I still hadn’t been seen by Dr. M and that part of it was because he was having a party.  I cried myself to sleep again, but this time in the hospital.

The next morning I woke up to use the bathroom, and the sac was showing. I called the nurse in to see it, and she finally called Dr. M confirming that she had seen it.  At this point, he still hadn’t seen me or my ultrasounds to make any type of diagnosis himself. She told me that he would be in later that day.  An important point to make is that not only was he my OBGYN and had been treating me throughout both my pregnancies, he was and had been the Dr on call.

Dr. M finally showed up towards the end of the day.  He asked me what was going on, and after I told him everything, I asked him why he hadn’t seen me.  His reply was that it wouldn’t have helped if he did.  I believed him at the time. I was exhausted physically and emotionally, and had never been given an actual diagnosis by a Dr to research.  He again told me that he could not admit me to the birthing wing because he wasn’t treating me for anything. He told me to go home and wait, that the birth of my little girl was only a matter of time.  He told me that because it was so early in my pregnancy, that if she was born so early and kept alive that she would have Cerebral Palsy at the very least.  I started crying…harder.  I kept saying that I was scared I was going to have her at home and I didn’t know what to do. Dr. M pulled my husband aside, gave him a specimen bucket along with surgical scissors, and told him where to tie and cut the umbilical cord.  He left with our number and said he would call to check in on me.

The next day, Monday, my husband and I drove an hour and a half to Lancaster for a second opinion.  In the first two hours I had more care and attention then I did in Ridgecrest. I had a heart rate monitor hooked up, blood work, ultrasounds etc before I could even blink.  Within two hours I had been checked into the Birthing Wing and assigned two Dr’s, a regular OBGYN and a high risk OB.  The put me in the trendlenburg position and prepped me for surgery just in case the high risk OB prescribed it.

Later that day, the specialist came in to see me, and we told him what we had been going through.  He didn’t want to hear about what the other Dr hadn’t done which almost made me feel ashamed for feeling as if he hadn’t done anything to help us.  He did however want to do an emergency cerclage and diagnosed it as an incompetent cervix.  As we finished telling him about how the bag had been exposed, he no longer wanted to do the surgery.  He said that the bag had been exposed to bacteria and it was only a matter of time until the bacteria ate through it, and if he were to sew my cervix, it would only speed up the process.  He also said that I had dilated too much by that time to safely put in a stitch.  The Dr. gave me the option to stay at the hospital for as long as we wanted or until she was born. I talked to my husband about it, and decided that the outlook for our little girl was not good and that being away from my son and family was not something I could stand to do in such a hard time.  We checked out and went home.

Over the next few days I stayed in bed, cried a lot, denied the situation to myself, talked to this little marvelous girl in my belly A LOT. I let her know that I thought she was an incredibly strong little being and that whatever she decided to do, I would support her either way.  I apologized over and over to her for not having a healthy and sound enough body to keep her safe and sound until she was supposed to be here on earth with us.

I started becoming ill… My husband and I slept with the bathroom light on every night.  The surgical scissors, specimen bucket, and tons of towels had been laid out in case I delivered her.  The thought of having her in the bathroom made me sick to my stomach every day.  I was scared to go to the bathroom. What happened if the bag came out and I delivered her? I had already dilated and I knew she couldn’t be that big. My husband and I barely slept, barely talked, and cried a lot.

By Friday, July 10th I was running a fever, had been bleeding heavily for over a week, and had become increasingly weak.  Dr. M still hadn’t called to check on me so I called him.  He said that he would be right over (this was in the A.M.); he didn’t show up until about five in the afternoon.  He did a quick exam and said that I was becoming septic and that I needed to be induced. He told me to show up to the hospital the next morning at seven.

We showed up the next morning July 11th, and began the induction.  I don’t remember much except for the immense pain that the contractions were bringing.  It wasn’t long until my little girl was born.  No one was there to catch her, and I just remember asking if she was alive.  The nurse told me she was and asked me if I wanted to hold her.  I was crying so hard I couldn’t bear to look at or hold her.  I felt ashamed that my body had failed her and that I hadn’t done more.  I held on to my husband and cried.

The next thing I knew I woke up as I was being wheeled out of the delivery room and was told that I was going to need emergency surgery.  I woke up again later after a couple of transfusions.  The Dr examined me and cleared me for release.

After I woke up and came to, I wanted to hold my baby girl.  The nurses brought her to me along with some photo’s that had taken. She apparently didn’t live more than a minute or two.  She weighed over a pound and was almost a foot long.  I looked at her little face when I was holding her, now 22 weeks old, and she looked just like me. My son looks just like my husband and my little girl looked just like me! She had my nose, my eyebrows, and my lips… my everything. She was perfect. There was absolutely nothing wrong with her, just the house that held her.

I had to fill out the birth and death certificate before I left.  We were given the option to leave her as a Jane Doe but I couldn’t do it. I felt that I couldn’t do anything else for her, the least I could do was give her a name and an identity. She hadn’t done anything wrong, and I wanted to remember how perfect she was. My husband and I had always like Giovanna for a first name, but had never discussed the middle name. I had brought up Phoenix a couple of times but it wasn’t met with much enthusiasm.  This time when I brought it up, it fit perfectly.  We named her Giovanna Phoenix Ramirez and went home.

The next time I left the house was for a checkup with Dr. M. I told him that I was still bleeding heavily and he said he wanted to check to make sure everything was okay.  He did an exam and had found that he left large pieces of placenta intact.  He removed them right then and there.  I felt even more humiliated and sick.  He told us that God must have chosen us for a reason and that this experience had encouraged him to go back to church again.  He told us that if we weren’t strong enough to handle this God wouldn’t have given it to us and that we needed to find faith.  We went home.

My husband and I went to work shortly after, but neither of us dealt with the public that well.  Friends made comments like “If it makes you feel better…” or “why didn’t you” some people disappeared all together and others acted as if nothing had happened. While some disappeared, others showed up as expected and expected angels. My supervisor at the time referred me to grief counseling and let me work from home. He is one of my favorite people to this day for the guidance he gave me.  My dad checked on me and listened, a lot. My best friend and cousin held my heart from afar. Most importantly, my husband and I learned to work through it together.

Over the next couple of months, I talked to Dr’s about what happened and researched what could have been done.  I could have received an emergency cerclage if caught early enough and given medication to stop the labor.  I should have trusted my instincts and not relied so heavily on the Dr.  I should have been assertive and demand that I receive the proper care, but now I know. I know that I can refuse treatment, and if I don’t get the treatment I want or deserve I can go get it somewhere else.

I would be lying if I said my husband and I have completely pulled it together since this. I still think about her daily, as does he. We sometimes find moments that bring all of the thoughts and feelings rushing back, but don’t know how to properly cope, or try to handle it on our own.  Anniversaries of the day she was born and the day she was due have come and gone and it affects me every year.  I’ve pulled out of the depression I was in, and have re-evaluated my relationship with just about everyone, but most importantly my four-year-old son and my son due in just a couple weeks.  We don’t get a do over in this life. It’s here, it’s now. Do the best you can with the one’s you have.




First Senior Moment

Not that kind of senior moment :).

I was in San Diego again for work last week, but this time I took my cousin with me who will be a senior next year.  We headed to Imperial Beach on Coronado Island. Here are a couple of pictures…

I’m so glad I was able to do this for her! She’s beautiful and I learned a lot without any pressure! Still a hobbyist and completly okay with it :).

Sea World and My Hiatus

 Ahhhh….I’ve been on Hiatus for a while. I feel like I’ve been saying that every time I post for the past couple months. LOL! But what can I say! I’ve been living life! I do however look forward when it’s not so busy with the “musts” but full with the “I get to do what I want to do”, like post more often, take more photo’s, spend long nights at my parents pool, wander in the desert, all that good stuff. Soon! I’ll be done with school in December so I’m hoping for some time after that. That’s if I don’t roll straight into the masters program. Shhhhh!!! Not sure how many people will be happy with that decision, but sacrifice in the present will lead to benefits of plenty in the future.  Or that’s what I like to tell myself anyways!


So I owe you all a HELLO, well anyone that still reads this, but I’ll just let the polar bear wave for me. As you can tell we went to Sea World last weekend. I was in La Jolla for work last week so the family came down to spend some time at the amazing hotel and hit up Sea World. Sal and I also caught a football (soccer) game on Wednesday. We watched Real Madrid vs. Guadalajara Chivas. We had a great time, and Sal was like a giddy little school girl watching Christiano Ranaldo play. He had the camera and I think the majority of the pictures are of him. Which is fine by me!!!

Roman recently watched Free Willy from beginning to end and is now in love with whales. So we got up Friday morning and headed to Sea World to meet all of Sal’s sisters and kiddo’s.  We knew we had to see Willy (Shamu- but try telling Roman that) and didn’t have anything else planned. There were so many of us that we didn’t really make plans besides that. Before the show started we stopped to see the seals. We fed a couple of seals, and one blasted seagull that took a sardine right out of my hands. Damn him! LOL!

We saw Nemo and Dori too! 

I have a photography challenge coming up where I will be in low light so I tried my hand at high ISO with no flash. I thought it turned out pretty good. Not good enough, but not bad. Maybe a little more brightness in LR? Anyways, this was the shark exhibit that Roman loved. He usually runs through these tunnels not really paying attention, but this one had his full attention. What is it with guys and sharks? For any of you interested, it’s shark week right now. LOL!

Finally, in the artic area a beluga whale giving the crowd a show :).

First Day of School

Roman’s first day of school was last Monday. I know I’m a little late posting but I’ll get to the reason in a bit. For now lets chat about school….

Before the first day of school, we had talked to Roman about it. We told him about all the friends he would make, and all the playing he would do. He was excited! He was out the door before we were with his lunch box in hand.

He was in the Navigator ready to go!

Ahhh….and here he is with his Dad.  But wait….what is that you see???? Is that a half-smile half frown???

Awww…..there it is. The fear, the trepidation, the uncertainty!!! Yep. You can follow the emotions through the pictures. See, I’m not sure we explained that we would be back. Yeah, I left that part out as I was pumping up school.

Anyways, we walked him in. He sat down at a table and started playing a game with locks and keys. We talked to the teacher, said our goodbye’s and we were off. But there was still this uneasy feeling in my stomach. I kept telling everyone that I was probably more worried about it than him.  Ahhhhh…..but Momma knows best.  When I went to pick him up Roman and his teacher were sitting in the lobby waiting for me. I must have stopped dead in my tracks and looked like I got hit by a semi, because the teacher calmly told me that “Roman had a rough day”. Uh huh. So I said “what happened?”  The teacher then informed me that he started crying at 10:30 and it lasted for about 45 min. My heart sank. I asked Roman what was wrong when he told me “I’m mad at you Mamma”. I asked why and the reply was “because you went to work”.  SHATTER- My heart broke. I held back my tears as I told him it was okay and that I would always come and get him.

The rest of the week went the same way. Except there was hiding in the morning, yelling, and crying.  I couldn’t keep it together at work. My concentration was blown. I couldn’t eat (which shows on the scale now), I was crying off and on. Basically a hot mess. Not a good look.

This week however, has been much better. He still hesitates in the morning but hasn’t cried once. My mind and heart are right again. Which I’m sure my boss appreciates. 

So on to the other reasons I havent posted for a while (like that’s not enough or something!). Well here goes…my cousin is staying the summer with us. It’s a little hard adjusting to a 17-year-old living in the house and on the computer. Our new puppy is really sick. He’s eating dirt apparently and is currently sleeping at the vets. Sal went to Mexico (check the next blog). I had finals (two A’s). And hell…life was happening.

Well I know that this has been a long blog, and if you’re still reading….THANK YOU!!!



Romans First Trip to Disneyland

We took Roman to Disneyland for the first time last Friday. The picture above is at the very end of the day. Roman was wiped out :). Do it right or go home!!!!

I had reservations about taking Roman at such a young age for a couple of reasons. 1) He’s a little scared of giant costumes i.e. Mickey Mouse, Goofy, the Red Robin guy (there’s a story behind that). 2) He’s so young, and I wonder if he’ll even remember it. 3) Goes along with 2. If he may not remember it, is it worth shelling out the money to go? Disneyland tickets are NOT cheap.

After months of talking it over with Sal (who was all for it from the day Roman was born) and arguing with myself about it, we decided to do it. It didn’t hurt that ticket prices dropped by $30.

The best part of the day (for me anyways) was the Finding Nemo ride. If you havent been to Disneyland, Finding Nemo is a little submarine that goes half way under water. You look out the little port holes and see the whole cast of Finding Nemo hologram style. It’s really cool. You hear what they are saying, see them swim around, and are part of the adventure.

A little while before this picture was taken, this was the end, Roman was off my lap and had his whole head in the port-hole. He was talking to Dori and Nemo and the shark, waving his little hand as fast as he could. He kept yelling out Hi Nemo! Hi Dori! Hi Shark! He would turn back around and say “look momma!!!”. The joy on his face, the speed of the wave, the excitement in his voice…made it all worth it. The lights were turned out and the volume was up when tears were rolling down my cheeks. This little boy who I love more than life itself was having the best time of his life and “meeting” fish he had watched since birth.

We hit Toon Town after Finding Nemo and explored and played. Well….kinda. It was time for Romans nap and he was hungry. So we ate lunch and realized he had started to go down the dark path to evil. We had anticipated this though, so no biggie. So we started to head for the gate and finish the circle of Disneyland.

On our way out we found some ducks.

This was the end of the day. Poor little guy and family were worn out. I’ll leave you with the best picture of the day wich was also the first….

He was soooo excited to meet Mickey Mouse….until he met him. Lol! He was a little bigger in real life than I think Roman expected him to be.  All in all Disneyland was awesome! Cant wait to go again!

Family Time

Cant you just hear the laughter coming from these two? The weather was perfect today so of course we went outside.  We threw rocks, fixed the garden, and played with tractors. I love spending time outside with my boys! I need to start using the crock pot more though. I hate having to go inside and make dinner in the middle of all the fun. By the way….I am way outnumbered in the house now. We got another dog. Yep another pound puppy.

His name is Cheech. Unfortunately he is very sick right now. He had kennel cough, a double ear infection, and an intestinal virus. He’s been on medication for a week now and still isn’t feeling better. He’s going back on Monday.

I have a couple of things growing in the garden. So far we’ve only harvested radishes, but we have cucumbers, pea’s, 3 different types of beans, tomatoes-big and small, jalapeno, and orange bell pepper. To be honest with you, there are other things that I’m not sure of what they are because nothing was growing so I just threw a whole bunch of seeds down in no particular order. I’ll let you know when they are growing something.

I’ll leave you with some more laughter for the weekend…

I really like this last one though. Think Ill print it out. 🙂


I know I’ve havent posted in a while, and the truth is I am busy, and enjoying no pressure. On the flip side I miss all of you! The good thing is I have been taking photo’s in the mean time. Here are a few….

This is SOOC, from a photo walk with Jake!

This isnt. Lol! I like it a lot though. I might put it in my bathroom. Need to print it and see what it looks like.

I also did a “for fun” photo shoot with Roman’s best friend Ty. We went out at sunset and I thought “I’ve got this!” Lol. No I didn’t. I learned a ton of things. Like fill flash is your friend at sunset, get closer, and use the middle focusing dot. 🙂 Doesnt Sal look good though? 😉

Ty….showing some love to the world.

Every Memorial Day weekend Sal plays soccer in a local tournament called the 5-A-Side. Unfortunately this Memorial was horrible. The wind was killer. It took me soooo long to get the dirt out of my ears. Yuck. Sals team did really well, but unfortunately the last team was a fouling bunch and won by one point…off of a hand ball. Isnt that some ish? Oh well….there’s always next year.

The tournament is near and dear to Sal’s heart. Its put on in memory of Sal’s best friend Matt Armstrong who died his sophomore year due to Meningitis. Sal has played every year almost since it’s conception. 60 teams played this year. What a great tribute!

Anyways, I’m going to try to post more often and catch up with everyone’s posts!


I posted 6 months ago about a baby girl being brought into this world by my best friend Amanda.  I got the pleasure of finally getting to meet her this past weekend.  Unfortunately her and her family live all the way on the east coast so I don’t get to see them that often. But I must say that she is the best baby ever! We went to the March of Dimes walk and she was great the whole way! We went shopping and she never even peeped. She smiled so much and was so easy to make laugh. We took pictures on Sunday and has so much fun!

The whole weekend wasnt just about baby though, it was about family and friends. And friends being so great they might as well be family.  Amanda is married to Keith, who I refer to as my brother. He is so laid back and chill! Absolutely love him. However…he did buy Roman a Nerf gun, then we had to go buy more, just so we could join in the fun, now I’m finding Nerf darts EVERYWHERE! Ridiculous! Another fabulous friend came Sunday too. He’s not just a friend though he’s Roman’s Godfather. The great thing is that everyone knows each other from our Air Force day’s.

I feel so lucky that they flew all the way from the east coast, then drove an hour and a half the day after they got to my house, to participate in the walk with us. Thanks guys! Love you!

Roman Turns 3!

So my little boy turned 3 on Easter. Wow! Where did this time go? I swear it feels like I was just leaving the hospital with him yesterday. I also threw an old pic in to show you the before to present. Bonus!

This fabulous cake was made by a wonderful person! Thank you so much Denise! Roman picked a John Deere theme and Denise made the awesome cake and sent me templates for this cute banner!

Ahhh….chaos of screaming kids and tons of presents! I freak out during it, but after I realise I LOVE every moment! Im not sure why it wouldnt let me space the pictures like I wanted to, but oh well.

I think some people (love you guys) were waiting for some good pics. Ahahaha! Yeah, I put down the camera again. I wanted to be in the moment. Sitting next to him as he opened presents.  Holding him as he blew out his candles. All that jazz. Im looking forward to seeing everyone else’s pictures! 🙂

I have two more posts. Hopefully Ill get to them soon. I have the pics, just havent downloaded them yet!

Sunday Funday

Has a whole new meaning when you have kids. Spending time with family is what makes the day perfect! This whole weekend was pretty great if I do say so myself. We spent last night with my parents and celebrated his birthday.

Roman loves blowing out the candles :). 

The card that we got Grandpa :)! Happy Birthday! We love you!

Sal’s sister came into town too. She brought her adorable family! The kids played. Tata (Roman’s Grandpa on Sal’s side) BBQ’d. Love it!

I thought this photo lent itself well to a cool preset called Bitchin Camaro.

Doesnt he have the most beautiful eyes? Lucky boy. I didn’t do anything to them except for adjust the normal things like blacks, lights, highlights, etc. He’s just handsome on his own. 🙂

I asked him to pose sit for me so I could take his picture and this is what I got. Such a model. 🙂

I also learned something new tonight. You shouldnt edit when your laptops not plugged in. Haha. Hope they look okay on everyone’s computer!

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