Always There

Fort Sanders Perinatal Center sees patients through devastating loss and incredible joy

There’s nothing particularly special about the way Michelle Irons and her family spend their time together.

“We cheer on the Vols, we love pizza and we often visit the zoo,” says the Clinton mom. “We’re blessed and thankful.”

What’s special to Irons is simply that they are together. She carries with her the knowledge that one child is absent, which causes her to hold the others more closely to her heart.

With strong faith in God, a loving husband at her side and the support of Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, Irons counts her blessings and treasures life’s littlest moments. “God’s plan isn’t always easy,” she says, “but when you keep your heart and eyes on Him you can see that God does indeed have a divine purpose.”

Compassionate Care

Irons’ first visit to Fort Sanders Perinatal Center came when she was pregnant with twins in 2018. Her doctor had referred the mother-to-be after some unsettling symptoms began.

The physicians at the center are specially trained to diagnose and fully understand complications in pregnancy. They take their time with each patient, making sure the care is complete and the mother is well-informed.

Irons’ twins were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), a risk specifically associated with identical twins because they share one placenta. In TTTS, one twin takes the majority of blood, fluid and nutrients, leaving the other weak and struggling to survive.

At 26 weeks and six days into her pregnancy, Irons had a mass rupture and went into labor. Both twins would be delivered. Only one would be delivered alive.

Care in a Crisis

As Irons was in labor at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, suddenly a new complication was discovered. The surviving twin’s umbilical cord prolapsed. 

“In truly a matter of seconds we were busting through the operating room doors to quickly have an emergency C-section,” Irons says. “Their fast thinking and action is why we hold our daughter today, and we are so grateful.”

Miley River Irons was born Oct. 4, 2018, and weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces. Irons and her husband Drew also gave a name to their second daughter before letting her go. She is remembered as Eleanor Kay Irons.

“Labor for us was not just physical, but all heart and emotion as we delivered both of our babies in an unimaginable situation,” Irons says. “The team at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center
and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center were with us every step of the way on that day when our lives stopped. Tears were shed with us, prayers said over us and the gentleness so generously given will never be forgotten.”

Baby Miley spent 88 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Today she is active and thriving, and fills her family’s home with joy.

A New Blessing

Irons chose to continue seeing the physicians at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center when she found out she was pregnant last year.

“When our pregnancy got near 26 weeks, where we had endured so much in our first pregnancy, I especially appreciated the kindness and compassion that was shown, as this was a difficult stretch mentally,” Irons says.

Price Wilder Irons, a healthy baby boy, was born Oct. 19, 2021. His parents rejoiced, and their family at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center and Fort Sanders Regional rejoiced right alongside them.

The new baby was named after a New Testament Bible verse that says in part, “You were bought with a price.” Irons wants it to serve as a tribute to family and faith.

“Our lives are so precious and hold purpose,” she says, “and no matter how short or long, a price was paid and we are thankful!”

Fast forward to 2023. Price, now a 1-year-old, enjoys cars and toys that move and playing with his big sister, Miley. Irons says seeing her children continue to grow closer is one of the greatest blessings in her life. “They are the best of friends. What more could two parents ask for?”

Reflecting on the birth of two children and the death of another, Irons has mixed emotions that are sometimes difficult to process. She wants to let other women with high-risk pregnancies to know that comprehensive and compassionate care is available at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center.

“We’ve seen some of the darkest day a parent can have and we’ve walked that hand-in-hand while having faith,” Irons says. “I know that God purposely placed this medical team in our story for a reason.”

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