Family celebrates Christmas miracle

Published: December 23, 2005 | 3099th good news item since 2003

Her head was so tiny, it could fit on top of her mother’s hands. The baby’s body was so underdeveloped, her skin appeared translucent.

Attached to an array of life-support tubes and monitors, Gabriela Guzman-Morales wondered if what doctors had prepared her for was true – that her prematurely delivered baby, born at 1 pound, 13 ounces, had only a slim chance of survival.

The baby was born on Christmas Day 2004, and her family hoped she would make it to see the next.

“It was like a gift, but we still didn’t know if she would make it. Her lungs were very premature,” Guzman-Morales said in Spanish.

Today those lungs are the same ones that scream at her mother when a spoonful of mushed vegetables are headed her way. Approaching her first birthday Sunday, Emily Delgado-Guzman is her family’s Christmas miracle.

Though she was only 15 weeks along in her pregnancy, Guzman-Morales’ water broke on Oct. 23, 2004. She was rushed to the Sarasota County Health Department’s Women’s Care Center, where she remained bed-ridden for two months.

Doctors did not want her to move, for fear that she would lose the baby.

“In a case like this where the water breaks so early on, many providers will tell the mothers to terminate the pregnancy,” said Dr. Christopher Swain, who treated Guzman-Morales at the health center. “But we believe in giving a baby any chance possible to live. The whole family was so determined to see this baby live.”

Doctors performed daily ultrasounds to check the status of the baby in the womb. Though doctors could tell her the gender of the baby from the ultrasound, Guzman-Morales did not want to know.

“I didn’t want to get too attached,” she said.

When the baby was finally born 25 weeks into the pregnancy, Guzman-Morales and her husband Raul Delgado were still reluctant to name the child. They wanted to make sure she survived her first week.

One day, as Guzman-Morales walked through the hallways of the women’s center, she stopped to rest in one of the waiting rooms. After flipping through the pages of a magazine, she saw an advertisement for a porcelain baby doll.

She ripped out the page, and showed it to her husband. The porcelain baby reminded her of her own, and now that her baby had lived 15 days she would name her Emily, just like the doll.

“We’re a small family,” said Guzman-Morales, who lives with her husband and 19-year old daughter Lesly in Sarasota. “This was one of the most difficult times for us.”

Even after Emily was released from the women’s center in February, she still had to use breathing tubes attached to an oxygen tank, and her family constantly had to check to make sure the little girl was breathing.

Now, her mother says, Emily is “una traviesa” – “a playful one.” She is always crawling and reaching for things.

“Emily is a baby who knows what she wants,” Guzman-Morales said. “She likes fruit, but hates vegetables.”

This Christmas, the family plans to celebrate Emily’s first birthday and first Christmas with a cake. No Christmas trees, though.

“She’s at that age where she’s always reaching for things – she would probably bring it down,” said mom.

Published in Miracles, Premature Babies
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