Dirksen remembers every moment of the odyssey that brought her Viviana, Ruby, and Mariessa. Her local doctor in Monterey, her hometown, felt Dirksen needed a higher level of care and referred her to a UCSF outreach program in the area. Throughout her pregnancy, Dirksen saw visiting UCSF doctors, and planned to stay with family in the Bay Area, before and after the birth, to be near UCSF’s children’s hospital.
Then, five weeks before her babies could be considered safe outside the womb, her water broke, and she found herself in an ambulance, en route to UCSF. “The birth was quite a scene,” she recalls, “with sixteen staff members present—all of them women, except two male anesthesiologists.”
UCSF put me at ease. They helped me learn to be a mom. They did their part—and more—so I could do mine.
The girls were born perfectly healthy, but perfectly tiny—Mariessa and Viviana, 3.5 pounds; Ruby, only 2.5 pounds. Leaving them in the Intensive Care Nursery was excruciating, but Dirksen and her husband, Doug, visited every day while the triplets’ lungs developed, until they reached 5 pounds. “I couldn’t hold them close, like a new mom normally would,” she recalls. “They were connected to too many tubes.”
Dirksen recalls her birthing experience as “pretty awesome. But then, I knew it would be, because this was not my first UCSF experience.” Ten years ago, her mother had a kidney transplant at UCSF. And more recently, her cousin had a liver transplant there. She’s seen UCSF nurses and doctors in action. And in moments that might make others panic—including that fretful first month in the ICN, surrounded by babies even more fragile than her own—she’s never seen them sweat.
With new, integrated women’s and children’s hospitals on the horizon for Mission Bay, UCSF will be able to provide an even higher level of collaborative care for at-risk pregnancies. But for the blessings she’s received so far, Dirksen says, she is grateful—to God who gave her three healthy babies, and to the nurses and doctors at UCSF who gave her exceptional care, from her complex pregnancy to the text messages and photos they still exchange with her. “Someday I’ll be able to tell my girls they were delivered by an awesome group of women,” she says, “and the anesthesiologists were great, too!”