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Miracle baby - After suffering seven miscarriages, Millen couple has daughter
Miracle baby
Charles and Tanna Dobbs play with their ‘miracle’ baby in her nursery. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    There's nothing more devastating to a couple trying to have a child than the reality of a miscarriage.
    Except perhaps seven miscarriages.
    This is exactly the situation Tanna Dobbs and her husband Charles of Millen faced during the past 11 years. But on Jan. 23, on her eighth pregnancy, she had a little girl — a miracle baby — Zoee Marie Palmer Dobbs.
    "I had seven miscarriages and four surgeries," Tanna said. "(My doctors) never did diagnose me with any problem, no one ever told me why I miscarried."
    Tanna's first miscarriage was in 1996. Since she wasn't really trying to get pregnant, she didn't think much about it at the time. She and Charles started trying to have kids about four years later, when she miscarried again.
    And again six months later.    
    That's when she began to suspect that there was something wrong, but doctors could never pinpoint the problem. She switched to another doctor after the last physician she was seeing recommended a complete hysterectomy.
    "When the doctor told me that, I told him, 'I'm 25 years old and I have no kids and I want kids. That's not even an option for me,'" Tanna said. "Then he told me, 'I guess you'll just have to live with the pain.'"
    Tanna watched as all the people around her — her friends, cousins, even her sister — had children.
    "A couple even said 'Oh no, I'm pregnant.' We would have loved to be in that position," she said.
    Charles said, "I can tell you it was very hard. I wanted this to happen so much for my wife. And for myself, but it was a bigger deal for her. I couldn't stand to see that happen."
    Enter Dr. Al Palmer. He was the fourth obstetrician that Tanna saw over the years. The Dobbs' attribute Tanna's successful pregnancy to his care, though Palmer is a bit more humble about it.
    "The tests we ran did not show any definite cause for [the miscarriages]," he said. "While she had a severe case of endometriosis, that usually causes infertility rather than repeated miscarriages. She was fortunate to get pregnant rather easily, but she was never able to carry outside of the first trimester."
    Even after going to see Dr. Palmer, Tanna continued to have miscarriages. Her seventh miscarriage happened last April, after which she had a laser laparoscopy to remove some cysts and again treat her endometriosis.
    In May, she was pregnant again.
    "Honestly, we were too scared to get excited. It was like, 'Here we go again.' But it didn't. I just kept getting further along and further along," Tanna said. "Dr. Palmer monitored me every closely. I have a whole book of ultrasound pictures."
    Charles echoed their concerns at the time.
    "We were scared to death, we wouldn't even buy anything," said Charles. "I'd run across a good deal on a crib or something, but we didn't want to buy it and then have something happen. It took about five or six months before we really got excited."
    In her previous seven tries, she never made it past 10 weeks. That's when Tanna made her first trip to the maternity store.
    "It was something, it really was," said Tanna. "Incredible and surprising to actually get that far."
    Palmer said she was one of his happier patients, never complaining about the discomforts typical of pregnancy.
    "Oh yeah. She did not complain about the usual aches and pains that women have," he said laughing.
    When their daughter was born Jan. 23 at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, the Dobbs' named their daughter Zoee which means life, saying it was fitting after all the miscarriages. They were also so thankful for Dr. Palmer's care that one of their daughter's middle names is Palmer.
    "(Dr. Palmer) was bragging to everyone saying 'Go ask that woman what she named her baby,'" Tanna said.
    About the middle name, Palmer said, "We were all pretty excited. As far as I know, the only baby named after me is my youngest son, except this one. I was pretty proud of that."
    How do they like being parents, despite all the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn?
    "To me, she's a miracle baby. I have a hard time even talking about her without breaking down," Charles said. "Even now, we're the most guarding parents you've probably ever seen in your life. She's a gem. I rush home every day I can."
    Not surprisingly, Tanna has been accused of being an over-protective mother — a label with which she feels comfortable.
    "I had people wear face masks when they came into my house," said Tanna. "During the first week after she came home, if I thought anyone had the slightest bit of a cold, they had to wear a face mask."
    The Dobbs' said it was important for them to share their story with the community, supposing it might help others facing similar situations.
    "It could give others hope that've been through the same things and are ready to give up like we were," said Tanna. "Don't give up hope."
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