Cook family kidsIt was Friday, April 16, 2021. Sarah Cook of San Clemente had given birth to a baby girl, Sunday, at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center two days prior. She had no idea something special was about to happen.

Returning to her room, she suddenly heard, “Surprise!” and saw balloons, cake, gifts, her husband Kevin, their two boys, her parents, and about 20 Saddleback Medical Center nurses. Sarah was overwhelmed with emotion. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” Sarah said. “Nurses came in on their day off. I was so honored by all the love for our family and baby girl.” 

The Labor, Delivery, Recovery & Postpartum (LDRP) nurses knew that Sarah hadn’t bought a single item for her baby girl. Many of them had cared for Sarah back in 2019, when, at 39 weeks pregnant, the unthinkable  happened. 

Unexpected tragedy
Sarah had come to Saddleback ready to deliver her third boy. Shockingly, doctors discovered the baby’s heart rate was alarmingly low, so an emergency C-section was ordered. 

In surgery, doctors discovered Sarah’s placenta had separated from the inner wall. This can decrease or block the baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients and cause heavy bleeding in the mother. Sarah had to receive 20 blood transfusions, and baby Fisher was delivered and rushed to the NICU. Ultimately, the trauma was too great, and Fisher would take his last breath the next day, in his parents’ arms.

Compassion amidst grief
Within the sadness and despair, Sarah recalls that, in the darkest moments, she felt so much compassion and calm from the Saddleback staff. 

“I truly believe the doctors and nurses saved my life,” she said. “They also grieved and cared for us in a way that 
truly felt like family.”

Sixteen months later, Sarah became pregnant again. Naturally, they worried about a similar outcome, so she was monitored closely as high-risk. 

Eight months pregnant, Sarah was back at Saddleback, the first time since their devastating loss. She was having contractions, and doctors decided to keep her on bedrest. During that time, she saw many nurses who had cared for her and Fisher two years earlier. 

Comfort through familiarity
“To be with the same people when I was back to deliver again was so therapeutic,” Sarah said. “They had shared the painful moments with us. They cared so much about us. Every staff member went above and beyond their normal duties to ensure our well-being and comfort.” 

Sunday Lynn Cook was safely delivered on April 14, 2021. The nurses were already planning the surprise shower.

“Most of the clothes she wears today are gifts from the nurses,” she said. 

After 12 days in the NICU, baby Sunday went home on a Sunday. Wrapped in a snuggly blanket covered in fish in honor of their angel Fisher, she ushered in a new era of joy for the Cook Family.