It seemed everything was going well when one Ohio mother went in for an ultrasound and saw that her unborn baby appeared to be giving the thumbs up in the womb at 28 weeks.
It was Lisa Strait’s third child, but it soon turned out to be her most difficult pregnancy. Her unborn son appeared to have developed a fluid buildup around his lung and abdomen, and his heart rate fluttered abnormally.
The unborn baby, named Jackson, had already started battling for his life from within the womb. Jackson was suffering from a fatal combination of the two conditions known as hydrops fetalis and atrial flutter.
“His lung couldn’t inflate the way it needed to,” says Lisa. “It was compressing. It was like an elephant sitting on him.”
Doctors John Clark, MD, and Chandrakant Patel, MD, at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio had concluded that if Jackson didn’t get to 32 weeks in the womb, his prospects would be grim to say the least.
In the latter stages of Lisa’s pregnancy, the expecting mom was advised to get plenty of rest, and was transported to see Dr. Patel every 48 hours for a checkup until the 32-week mark.
Typically, a baby’s heart rate would be around 110–160 beats per minute, but Jackson’s heart rate was racing at 220 beats per minute.
“All the literature on babies with hydrops showed that babies born before 32 weeks gestation don’t survive,” said Dr. Patel, as reported by akronchildrens. “I wanted to get Jackson past that milestone if at all possible.”
At a time when Lisa was going through such a difficult time, both she and her husband, Robert, turned to their faith for support.
As the doctors did their part, Lisa and Robert could only hope and pray.
“You have to closely monitor both the mother and the child when administering these medications to make sure they aren’t adversely affecting the mother,” explains Dr. John Clark.
Between each appointment to monitor Lisa and Jackson, Dr. Patel had to decide whether or not to wait another 48 hours. But he kept faith himself, and insisted till the end of week 31.
By 32 weeks, the Jackson’s state picked up.
“Jackson turned the corner during that time,” says Dr. Patel. “At exactly 32 weeks, his health was looking more promising. His lungs were filling with air and developing.”
Finally, at 32 weeks and one day, Jackson was born on March 27. He came out crying. The little guy weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces (approx. 3 kg).
“The fact that at the perfect moment, literally the day before I had him, the fluid around his lungs cleared and he could actually breathe outside the womb is a miracle,” recalls Lisa. “There was a lot of prayer for us during that time and we are so grateful for that support.”
Though baby Jackson’s coming into the world was a huge relief, his heart rate needed to be cardioverted. Though this seemed to do the trick, two days later, “his heart skyrocketed again,” recalls Lisa, and Jackson went into a critical condition.
A second shock to his tiny heart finally restored his heart rate to a more stable rhythm, and Jackson seemed to be okay from then on. Though he needs to be on four kinds of heart medication for an unspecified amount of time, there is hope that his condition will normalize, and he won’t need to be on any more medication.
“Half the kids with tachycardia outgrow the condition and the other half can control it with either medications or an ablation procedure in the cath lab,” assures Dr. Clark. “Either way, the outlook is bright for Jackson. He’ll be out there on the baseball diamond with the other kids. There are no restrictions for this kid growing up.”
Whether you want to call that a home run or what, it looks like Jackson is already kicking goals. He’s certainly made it clear to the world that he’s not to be underestimated. Perhaps that thumbs up in the womb was his way of saying, “everything will be okay,” despite the ordeal that was to follow.
Watch the video below:
Parents see baby’s face for first time after wearing ventilator for 4 wks—then mom grabs camera