Moscow native Tatiana Baier was in Charleston nine years ago when she was working on research in exercise science and fulfilling a six-month internship at the MUSC Wellness Center. While in Charleston, she met her future husband Paul, who at that time was playing professional hockey with the South Carolina Stingrays.
She went on to work in media operations at the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi for skiing and snowboarding and later earned her doctorate in sport science from Moscow State University of Physical Education and Sport. Tatiana and Paul married three years ago and returned to Charleston.
Today, she is the program director for a clinical fitness program at the Wellness Center, where they work with a number of patients on preventing and caring for those who have chronic diseases including boxing programs for individuals who have Parkinson’s disease, fitness programs for women who are breast cancer survivors and even children who have autism or mild brain damage. She is currently designing a new pre and postnatal program for women that will begin in January 2020.
U.S. medical hospitals and physicians were still new to Tatiana when she became pregnant. Her knowledge of healthcare in the United States was gained by watching old episodes of ER on Moscow television.
She recalled how she and her husband looked for an OB by studying the profiles of obstetricians on the MUSC Women's Health website. They decided Dr. David Soper would be a good fit, and when they met, she said they clicked right away.
“I don’t like stress, especially stress related to happy health issues like pregnancy,” she said. “Dr. Soper has an attitude that doesn’t make you nervous or worried at all. And if you are worried, he will explain everything from a scientific and medical view.”
Her pregnancy seemed fairly normal, which was important since she had miscarried previously. Tatiana’s parents flew in for the due date but unfortunately, their baby wasn’t cooperating. Her parents stayed for 10 days and since both are teachers in Russia, they needed to return home for classes before the baby arrived. Tatiana remembered their tearful departure at the airport on January 12.
Timothy was born January 15, and he weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces. He was due 10 days earlier. While they had hoped for a normal delivery, it ended up being a cesarean delivery.
“We saw Dr. Soper on January 14 for a regular visit, and he said it was about time. He said come tonight, and we’ll get it going,” she said. “When we arrived, I was having contractions. Dr. Soper knows it all. He called it.
“He gave us about four or five hours, but the baby wasn’t moving. With every contraction, the baby’s heart rate went down, and they decided to do a C-section. We learned the cord was wrapped around his head twice, so it was a good thing we didn’t go natural.”
She remembered it was 2 a.m. but if felt like 8 a.m. because the staff was so attentive. She said everyone was moving fast, and the team worked quickly. Overall, she described the experience as very good.
“The nurses were great. They taught us a lot of tricks like swaddling and how to naturally imitate a “shhh” noise in his ear to help calm him down. A few student groups showed us his reflexes and little tricks to get him calm too,” she said.
She described Dr. Soper is a professional who organizes his team well and is very personal.
“I don’t know when he sleeps. I don’t know where he gets his energy,” she said. “And the staff at the hospital made us comfortable with every single step too.”
For Tatiana, giving birth in an American hospital was a new experience. It is not anything she ever imagined would happen as she recalled watching the old ER episodes as a child but she found the experience and acceptance of her Russian background very rewarding.
While she was sad that her parents couldn’t be there for Timothy’s birth, she was very appreciative that Janis Newton, director of the wellness center at MUSC, stood in for her parents and came to hospital after work and ended up staying the entire time until Timothy was born.