Expecting the worst - Blessed with the best
When a couple is expecting a child, they usually spend most of their time thinking about baby names, nursery colors and stocking up on all the necessities.
Daniel and Erika Willprecht of Garfield spent most of their time during their first pregnancy in 2011 wondering if their baby would even survive child birth.
The couple had a few scares early on in the pregnancy. Erika thought she was miscarrying about four weeks into the pregnancy and again at 16 weeks. Both were false alarms.
In March, Erika developed preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. If untreated, it can develop into eclampsia which can cause life-threatening seizures.
In April, at 20 weeks, she had a routine ultrasound. Based on that ultrasound, the couple was informed that their baby appeared to have some form of dwarfism.
They were referred to the St. Cloud Hospital, where they underwent another ultrasound that confirmed suspicions of dwarfism. The couple was also told that the baby’s chest was not growing and the lungs not developing.
“They wanted us to do an amniocentesis, but we didn’t want to chance miscarrying, so we didn’t do it,” Erika said.
An amniocentesis is a medical procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is taken from the amniotic sac surrounding the fetus and examined for genetic abnormalities. While rare, the procedure does elevate the risk of miscarriage.
The Willprechts were also told about the abortion option.
“That was something we would never even consider,” Erika said.
The couple was told to return once a month for tests. They were also told that their baby girl would probably not survive. (An earlier ultrasound indicated that the baby was a girl.)
They returned for more testing in May to find that the baby’s chest had grown and the lungs were developing.
The following month, the test showed that the chest and lungs had again stopped developing. But that wasn’t all. Tests also showed that the baby’s heart had a hole in it, and that she didn’t appear to be able to empty her bladder.
The Willprechts were told that if the baby’s lungs didn’t develop further, she wouldn’t live.
In June, Erika was put on bed rest. She was at home for a week before being admitted to the St. Cloud Hospital. Daniel, who was working in Wahpeton at the time, made the trek to St. Cloud nearly every day after work.
While the baby’s original due date was August 13, it was decided to induce labor early because of Erika’s preeclampsia.
Because the baby was in a frank breech position (right side up with legs going straight up in front of the body), a Caesarean section was scheduled for July 18.
When it came time to start the procedure, the baby had turned, so labor was induced for a vaginal delivery. Soon, the baby flipped again, so the Caesarean section was conducted.
The couple braced themselves for what the doctors had prepared them for – a few brief hours, minutes, or possibly even no time at all with their baby girl before she died. They were told the child would immediately have to be put on a ventilator.
“I was pretty calm at that point,” Erika said. “We’d known for a long time that the baby might not live long so we were kind of prepared.”
Instead, at 9:35 a.m., she was born vibrantly alive and “screaming like crazy,” Erika recalled.
Despite being small, 2-pounds, 15-ounces and 15-inches long, the baby was healthy. All of the concerns caused by earlier tests were unfounded.
The baby did not have dwarfism. She did not have a hole in her heart. She did not have underdeveloped lungs or need to be on a ventilator.
The couple celebrated the birth of their baby girl, and announced her arrival to family and friends.
Twenty-four hours later, they found out the tests had erred on one other thing: Their baby was not a girl.
Instead, they had a baby boy who suffered from hypospadias, a birth defect of the urethra that involves an abnormally placed urinary opening.
Colton was in the hospital for three weeks before he was allowed to go home. Meanwhile, Erika was still dealing with the preeclampsia. She was out of the hospital for three days before being re-admitted for two days due to high blood pressure.
A BRIGHT FUTURE Despite the fact that Colton is quite small – currently 20 pounds at age 2 1/2 – he is otherwise a healthy little boy.
When born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and also had a knot in it, which could account for his small size, Daniel noted.
He did have two hernias, which were repaired through surgery.
He also underwent two surgeries, one in June 2013 and one in December 2013, for the hypospadias.
Other than that, Colton is doing well.
“Developmentally he is smart as a whip,” Erika said.
Doctors have talked with the family about options to address Colton’s small size, such as growth hormones, but for now, the Willprechts have decided to just let things be.
“We finally just came to the conclusion to let him be a kid,” Erika said. “He’s doctored a lot already.”
It took Erika awhile to recover from the pregnancy herself. Her blood pressure didn’t return to normal until January of 2012. She lost 95 pounds throughout the ordeal.
She quit her job to stay home with Colton. Daycare wasn’t a good option due to his size and weakened immune system.
The Willprechts miscarried a baby after Colton before getting pregnant again in December of 2012. Everything went well with that pregnancy and Erika did not suffer from preeclampsia.
Colton’s brother, Landon, was born on September 8, 2013, weighing a healthy 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
The Willprechts are thankful for their two healthy boys and are now focusing on a healthy future for both. They harbor no ill feelings for the stress they were under during their first pregnancy caused by inaccurate test results.
“We may have just been given the worst case scenario,” Erika said. “They did an awesome job taking care of us. Our doctor was very sensitive to everything.”
They also believe that perhaps prayer changed the outcome for their baby.
“There were a lot of prayers being sent by our family and church,” Daniel added. “We had a lot of messages and visitors. People were really praying.”