Miracle Baby: born at 23 weeks, weighing 15.5 ounces

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Baby Chelsey survives though born at 23 weeks
John Kass
February 18, 2011
Baby doctors have their schedules, but life doesn’t always abide by some official timetable.

And so months before Tamika Harris’ twin girls were due, she began feeling the pains of labor.

One of the daughters began pushing to leave Harris’ womb after just 22 weeks and hadn’t grown strong enough for the terrible adventure of birth.

So Harris was at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, with the pressure and pain. She felt the first twin crowning and shouted for the nurse, who came to speak to her in the calm voice of nurses everywhere.

Harris knows that voice. She uses it herself, as a 911 dispatcher for the village of Burnham, talking over the phone to the desperate and the terrified.

“She said, ‘OK, we’re just going to put you back into the bed,'” Harris recalled. “I’m a dispatcher. And when people call frantically, you use that calm voice. And I realized she was doing that with me. I’m thinking, ‘No, she’s not doing that! This is an emergency!'”

The first twin wasn’t ready, but Harris and her fiance, Charles Hansbrough, were told she was coming anyway, and with little chance of survival.

Chazey Hansbrough weighed just a little more than a pound when she was born on Oct. 1, 2010.

“We knew that she wasn’t going to make it,” Harris said. “Here’s my baby that I’ve been wanting, waiting for, for I don’t know how long, and she’s not making it. She’s going to die. … So I cuddled her, I kissed her.”

Less than five minutes after the birth, her daughter was gone. But the parents had no time to grieve.

“I had to actually snap out of it very quickly and I had to realize that I have another baby inside of me, that I can’t be so upset, so emotional that I deliver her and she doesn’t make it,” Harris said.

Doctors expected the other twin, daughter Chelsey, to follow quickly. But she didn’t. Something kept Chelsey back, kept her inside her mother, kept her safe long enough for her lungs to grow and save her life.

Chelsey stayed inside the womb for eight more days. That gave doctors enough time to give her mom two injections of steroids to promote the lung development. Those extra days made the difference between life and death.

Chelsey was born on Oct. 9, at 23 weeks and three days gestation. Babies born that early have only an 18 percent chance of survival, according to the National Institutes of Health.

But Chelsey survived. At birth she weighed 15.5 ounces.

She was the size of her daddy’s fist.

“It was like it was preset, like God had said, ‘I’m going to keep your baby for eight days. I’m going to give you this shot for two days, and then we’re going to have her,'” said Charles, her dad.

Chelsey stayed at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for 100 days.

There were transfusions. There were monitors beeping. In a NICU, a baby’s hand is so tiny when strapped to one of those boards with all the tubes and the wires extending, the hand waving as if holding a sail.

3 Responses to “Miracle Baby: born at 23 weeks, weighing 15.5 ounces”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by pam caymol , Saynsumthn Blog. Saynsumthn Blog said: Miracle Baby: born at 23 weeks, weighing 15.5 ounces http://wp.me/ptUz8-2oM […]

  2. Geraldine Says:

    thank you for this inspiring story, my daughter is fighting to keep her little girl safe in her womb, she is 23 weeks and 3 minutes as I type, so excited she has reached this as she has been in hospital for 6 days and showing the courage and determination that makes me proud. God is answering our prayers, she has been given her first steriod injection and we are hoping she holds on for as many days as possible… 7 cm dilated for at least a day but waters intact, so thank you for sharing. Geraldine (London UK)

  3. Geraldine Says:

    HI just want to share my news, my grandaughter was born today at 3.40 london time… a little fighter. She is in special care but doing great. she weights 500g

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