REACH Stories

April Snyder

A Precious Gift

April Snyder

When April Snyder and DeWayne Johnson met, they learned they had something in common—they both had daughters. Amber Lynn Snyder is 15; Aaliyah Tatiana Williams is 9. So when April became pregnant last summer, they crossed their fingers for a boy. With a due date of April 8, they chose the name Aries. But, as is often the case, this baby had its own plans.

When April woke up early the morning of February 24, she discovered that she was bleeding. Coincidentally she had a doctor’s appointment later that day. She called her doctor to report what was happening, and she was urged to come in. A few tests later, doctors at St. Helena Hospital in Clearlake were concerned enough to inform April that they were going to have her transported by an air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

April doesn’t know for sure what caused the bleeding to start, but she wonders if it was the Zofran she was taking. Zofran helps prevent nausea and vomiting and more recently, has been prescribed to pregnant women who experience morning sickness. The drug is still being studied, but many women have found it to be a lifesaver.

“I was so sick the whole time during my pregnancy! I couldn’t keep anything down.” April says. ”It wasn’t until the end of my first trimester that the drug was prescribed. I took less than the usual dose, but it still worked. It was amazing!”

The doctors in Clearlake, knowing April might go into early labor administered a steroid shot prior to transport. A helicopter from REACH 18 in Willits arrived soon thereafter. April’s flight team was Pilot John Wilson, Flight Nurse Darin Huard and Flight Paramedic Melinda Waters. “It was my first helicopter ride. When the crew got there, they had such a calming effect,” she says. “They were just super nice and considerate, and they explained everything to me. I was comfortable the whole time. I honestly found the flight calming and peaceful, especially with all the beautiful scenery. I asked if they could take pictures for me. They were like, ‘Sure! No problem!’ Melinda took some photos from the outside the helicopter before we left, and she gave me permission to take pictures on the inside. I had a great flight; it was fun!”

REACH 18 comes in for landing. REACH 18 comes in for landing.

Soon they were nearing Santa Rosa Memorial, where John Wilson touched down on the helipad. Darin and Melinda gently unloaded April and headed for the hospital’s Family Birth Center. “When we got there and went through the doors, it was beautiful!” April says. “There were pictures of babies on the walls. One was a close-up of a man’s hands holding a baby. I really liked it. And you know what? Darin turned to me and said, ‘Those are my hands and that is my child.’ That was so cool!”

The REACH team turned April over to the skilled Birthing Center staff. “I received awesome treatment at the hospital,” April shares. “Everyone was just so nice. And I mean everyone—doctors, nurses, the cleaning crew—everyone I had contact with.”

The attentive medical care bought April a little time. It was two days later that her baby made its impending arrival known. “My daughter Amber Lynn was delivered by C-Section, so I thought I would like to try to have this baby naturally,” April says. “I think something was going on with the baby’s blood pressure or heart rate, so they wanted to do a C-Section.”

As soon as the decision was made, they started prepping April for surgery. A little later, April and DeWayne met their new baby girl. “If it was a boy, we were going to call him Aries, so decided to stick with the Aries name but spelled it differently. We stuck ‘ahnah’ at the end. Her middle name is after his DeWayne’s mama,” April explains. Arizahnah Ra’Nay was 17” long. She weighed 3 lb. 13 oz. “My boyfriend got this amazing picture of the delivery,” April says. “She looked like a Klingon when she came out!”

L to R: Flight Nurse Jene Lowater, Flight Nurse Katherine Taylor, Flight Nurse Stephanie Weber, Flight Nurse Melody Winslow, Pilot Rick Hipes, Flight Paramedic Nat Norling, Flight Paramedic Charles Robbins. L to R: Flight Nurse Jene Lowater, Flight Nurse Katherine Taylor, Flight Nurse Stephanie Weber, Flight Nurse Melody Winslow, Pilot Rick Hipes, Flight Paramedic Nat Norling, Flight Paramedic Charles Robbins.

The Birthing Center staff was fairly enthralled. “They said that for her gestational age she was really alert,” April reports, “and they also said that she didn’t have the look of a premature baby. But since she was early, they figured she would have to stay in the hospital for about six weeks.” Once again, Arizahnah had other plans, arriving home just 13 days later. “She just kept passing all the little tests they said she needed her to pass so she could go home.”

April can’t praise the Memorial staff enough. She says they went out of their way for her on more than one occasion. “Usually they only allow one other person,” she says, “but they managed to get permission for my sister Crystal to stay, too. I really appreciated everything they did for me.”

Like Arizahnah, April recovered quickly, too. That was handy, because multiple members of April’s family were getting ready to move into new homes. In total, three households’ worth of belongings needed to be moved just after the birth. “There was no time for a boohoo recovery,” says April. “My mom always told me, it’s better to get up and get moving. So I did!”

Six months later, mother and daughter are doing well. Arizahnah remains a gorgeous and healthy baby, who by four months had grown to 12 pounds and 23 inches. “And she’s never had any breathing problems,” April reports. “She’s eating cereal and baby food. She sleeps through the night. She’ll fuss if she wants a bottle, but she doesn’t cry.”

What do friends and family call the newest addition? “Sometimes I call her just Zanah,” April says. “She likes to touch my phone at a lot of inopportune times. When she does that, I use her full name, Arizahnah Ra‘Nay Johnson. Some people call her Ari. But no matter where I go, everyone comments on how beautiful she is.”

Everyone at REACH offers their congratulations to April and DeWayne, and a future overflowing with goodness to the entire family.

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