A Patient Story: Timara McCollum

Timara McCollum
Timara McCollum rests for a moment with her daughter during a difficult pregnancy. The second time mom-to- be dealt with cholestasis, gestational diabetes and even heart palpitations, all while continuing her doctoral studies at UT Knoxville.

It was the last thing she expected to hear. Timara McCollum had gone to the campus clinic because she thought she had a urinary tract infection. She found out instead she was pregnant.

High-Risk Pregnancy

Finding out a baby is on the way is especially exciting for women like Timara. Her efforts to bring a second child into the world hadn’t been easy – or successful. It had been about a year since the latest of three miscarriages. She was older and knew this pregnancy probably wouldn’t be a typical one. 

Searching for Someone

Before Timara found Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, she knew she wanted to be surrounded by people who understood that her baby already meant so much to her.

“I was looking for someone who would not just take care of my body and my unborn child, but who would listen to me. I was looking to be seen, I guess. Not just talked to, and not just to be another patient coming through the door, but someone to hear our background and walk with us through that.”

Perry Roussis, MD, began asking questions and found out Timara was a doctoral student in evaluation, statistics and measurement.

“I think that gave him insight into how to talk to me. He immediately started drawing pictures and diagrams of what was going on inside my body.”

Timara McCollum
Timara holds her “rainbow baby,” a phrase often used for babies who arrive after a miscarriage or stillbirth. Fort Sanders Perinatal Center helped guide her through this high-risk pregnancy.

Strength in Difficulty

In her first two trimesters, Timara was diagnosed with a marginally placed placenta, heart palpitations and gestational diabetes. In her third trimester she developed cholestasis, a liver condition that would force an early delivery. On top of all that, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing.

Dr. Roussis and Fort Sanders Perinatal Center worked faithfully to keep Timara and her baby safe every step of the way. Timara brought research to her appointments. Doctors and nurses patiently helped her sort through it, answering her questions and helping her develop a plan she could feel confident about.

“I’ve never experienced someone who had so much knowledge while also being so compassionate,” McCollum says of Dr. Roussis. “I felt like he was a family member during the labor and delivery process, and I felt like I had a team with me. It was such a great moment.”

Pining for a Blessing

The McCollums named their first born daughter Jozsa, in honor of McCollum’s Polish ancestry. They wanted a similar style name for their new baby boy. They decided to call him Azsa, after a man of great faith in the Bible (also referred to as Asa in Scripture). They gave him the middle name Pine.

“When you’re pining away for something you have much longing for it, and that’s definitely where we were — longing for him. Also, the strength of the tree itself, standing tall and being rooted in faith.”

Tense Moments

There wasn’t much time for a sigh of relief once the baby was in her arms. Little Azsa had trouble breathing. The medical staff at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center moved quickly. The Women’s Services department works closely with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital so that babies who need extra help after birth receive quick, expert care.

Timara’s husband stood strong and comforted her, reassuring her that everything was going to be okay.

“I was nervous, but I was never in a fearful panic or rage. I knew they were prepared to get him breathing again.”

A nurse offered frequent updates and about five hours after he was born, mother and baby were reintroduced and began to truly connect.

Timara McCollum
Timara leans into a family photo with Azsa, her daughter and husband.

Today Timara rejoices in the blessing of motherhood. She encourages other women facing high-risk pregnancy to listen to their bodies and find support. She also says women should be able to share their fears and triumphs with a qualified doctor and medical team willing to listen.

“Expectant moms have a right to educate themselves about their bodies and about the growth and development of a child. We are their voice before they get a say.”

Learn More

For more information about the high-risk pregnancy services offered at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, please call (865) 331-2020

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