Curwensville family blessed with miracle baby|
Saturday, June 16, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
CURWENSVILLE - A pregnancy is supposed to bring with it anticipation, hope and joy and maybe a little anxiety about the future. Will the baby be healthy? Will he or she do well in school? What will their lives bring?
Occasionally difficulties in pregnancy crop up, bringing worry to the forefront for many parents. Sometimes those difficulties become heart-rending periods of time where the mother fears for the child inside of her and when the long, steep road ahead seems to have no end and no rest.
Unfortunately, too many families face this, but many find their way through with the help, love and support of friends and family and often faith.
This is the case of Jessica Bloom of Curwensville and her family. The past 13 months have been an odyssey for them as they confronted a difficult and, at times, even dangerous pregnancy and the joy of a little boy who defied the odds.
Bloom and her husband, Ray, had been trying to have a third child, having already welcomed Hannah and Tiffany into their lives. On May 25, 2011 Bloom learned she was pregnant again, very early into the pregnancy.
Two weeks later she started spotting, but wasn't very worried, since it is normal early in a pregnancy. Her doctor, Dr. Carnavale of Clearfield, started having her come in for checkups a little more often and scheduled more ultrasounds. However, the last week of June she started hemorrhaging. They learned then that she had actually been carrying twins and was losing one of them. Shortly after, it was explained that the one twin had not developed very much and died very early into the pregnancy, which was why in early ultrasounds the doctor hadn't seen twins.
She said she was surprised to learn she'd originally been carrying twins, and was scared something would happen to the second baby and was very relieved to learn he was OK.
Bloom said things were fine for about another month, then she started hemorrhaging again and this time they learned that the placenta wasn't completely attached and was causing the problem. She was put on modified bed rest at this point, allowed to do some things but restricted in what she could do.
On Sept. 12, she went to see the high-risk pregnancy specialist at DuBois Regional Medical Center, Dr. Knupple, who did a 3D ultrasound and said everything looked good and they learned the baby would be a boy. However, that evening, while the family was eating supper, her water broke and she started having contractions. At this point she was only about 19 weeks into the pregnancy. Due dates are calculated at 40 weeks.
Bloom was rushed to Clearfield Hospital via ambulance. She said she remembers praying in the ambulance for a miracle, knowing the baby wouldn't survive birth at this point.
Dr. Carnevale was away, so Dr. Babb was filling in for him. When they got her settled at the hospital the contractions stopped and Babb said the baby was doing well and that she still had some amniotic fluid left. He decided they would wait and see what happened, adding that there was a 3-4 percent chance that the amniotic sac would seal and regenerate. She was also told that there was a chance she and the baby could contract an infection, putting them both in danger.
However, after a week in the hospital, the sac did seal and the fluid did begin to build up again, although there was almost constant hemorrhaging. She was sent home on complete bed rest at this point. In the next few weeks she returned to the hospital a couple of times when the hemorrhaging got worse, but they could not give her a blood transfusion.
According to Bloom, DRMC wouldn't admit her and the baby until she had reached 24 weeks and she felt that if she could just reach that point, and be admitted, everything would be OK.
Then the call came. Dr. Knupple called Dr. Carnavale and said it was time for her to come to DRMC. On Oct. 12 she was admitted and they began steroid treatments in order to help the baby's lungs develop faster. At home, people at her home church and churches in the Curwensville area, who had had her on their prayer lists for a while, began praying in earnest, she said.
On Oct. 14 the placenta abrupted and she was taken in for an emergency Cesarean Section. To the surprise of the doctors and Bloom, they found that the baby, named Christian, was only 23-and-a-half weeks in gestation. She said if the doctors had known how old he was, they might not have been admitted to the hospital. Somehow the calculations were wrong and she thinks back now on the difference three days can make.
Christian was immediately taken to the neo-natal unit in the hospital and the doctor there told the family he had a low chance for survival. They feared his lungs wouldn't be elastic enough to allow Christian to breathe, but two days later they learned the lungs were pliable.
Of course, this was only the beginning for Christian. He became the youngest gestational-age baby born at DRMC who was not sent to Pittsburgh or Geisinger. Christian spent his entire hospital stay at DRMC.
His mom remained in the hospital for eight days. She needed blood transfusions and other care and noted she is still recovering from the blood loss. Christian had to be monitored carefully with regular X-rays and imaging on his brain to ensure everything was developing correctly.
Around this time her husband, Ray, noted the bulletin board at Susquehanna Community Church on Filbert Street, which said, "Christian: Blessed to be a Blessing." Even though the message might not have been meant for them, the family took comfort in its message.
The long journey reached a milestone on Jan. 16 of this year when Christian finally came home. Bloom had spent every day but two in the hospital with him.
"The doctors were completely impressed," Bloom said, adding that he can't be doing any better. He has very few complications. He is on oxygen but it is at a very low setting. He also needs medications for asthma and acid reflux. Also, one heart valve didn't form right, but Bloom said it is working and being checked every six months. His muscles are gaining strength as well. He wants to sit up on his own and is working on learning to roll over by himself.
"Everyone is impressed with how well he's growing," Bloom remarked. She said "preemies" often don't gain weight well, but, "Obviously, that's not a problem with him!"
When Christian was born, he was 12 inches long and weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces.
He went down to 1 pound, six ounces after his birth but at his most recent appointment he weighted 16 pounds, 10 ounces and is 24 inches long at 8 months.
Looking back, Bloom says the pregnancy and birth were rough on the entire family, especially their girls. Bloom says now, when they look back, it's hard to imagine everything that happened.
She believes that the prayers of others carried her and her family through and helped strengthen their faith. She regularly meets people who were praying for her and Christian who ask how he is.
She also remarked that they had to keep a positive attitude and outlook, although it was very difficult at times. The first two weeks after his birth were especially hard emotionally, but finally she said she had to force herself to put things in perspective and realize what a miracle they have.
The future is still unknown for them.
Physical development is progressing and he should be "caught up" by age 2, although he will probably struggle with asthma and allergies for the rest of his life. As far as other complications, especially in regard to learning development, they may not know until age 7 or 8.
"He's doing spectacular," Bloom said, hugging him in her lap.