ugg boots Anne Arundel Medical Center smallest baby goes home
Thursday at noon, Ariana Sophia Cruz Gutierrez finally was ready to go home for the first time. March 9 in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
The last few months have been a roller coaster for the infant and her parents, Annapolis residents Oscar Gutierrez and Claudia Cruz. During the first several weeks, the couple and the hospital staff were not sure Ariana would make it.
Ariana was born during her mother’s 24th week of pregnancy. The very premature infant weighed just 12 ounces at birth less than the weight of three sticks of butter.
“When the baby was born, we were uncertain of what could happen,” said Gutierrez, who has lived in Annapolis for 13 years. “The baby could die, but with God’s help and blessing, and the incredible work of the people here, everything has turned out well.”
Gutierrez, 34, and Cruz, 31, went to a pre natal appointment with a midwife when Cruz was more than midway through her pregnancy.
“It turned out I had really high blood pressure,” Cruz said.
She had gestational hypertension, caused by the pregnancy. The decision was made to bring on the birth.
When she arrived, Ariana was not breathing. Her parents made the tough decision to resuscitate her, despite fears that she might not survive.
“We felt like we wanted to die,” Gutierrez said. “But, now that we’ve thought of it, it was the best decision we made. Truthfully, when they told us the baby could die, our life changed completely.”
Dr. Suzanne Rindfleisch, director of the NICU, said the baby is the smallest preemie ever to survive at AAMC.
“She was our smallest survivor,” said Rindfleisch, who’s been at the hospital for 24 years. “She was 12 ounces and dropped to 8 ounces. It was a long and difficult course for her, but she has a bright future ahead. Being at 24 weeks gestation, all the issues of a premature birth were there with the placement of tubes and monitors. She had transfusions and intubations. Her head sonogram was normal, though. And her parents were by her side all these months.”
She added, “The family involvement was crucial. The attention they gave her and how they fought for her.”
Gutierrez is a carpenter and Cruz is a house cleaner; Cruz also has a 14 year old son, Fernando Cruz Hernandez.
The family could still have challenges ahead. Physical or intellectual challenges, if there are any, won’t become clear until 18 months at the earliest and perhaps not until school. Ariana will return to AAMC on a regular basis for physical therapy and checkups.
As Ariana and her parents prepared to go home Thursday, NICU nurse navigator Polly White stepped forward, holding a plastic case filled with different colored beads.
“We have a Journey Bead Program in the NICU,” White said. “There is a bead for the first diaper changing, the first time breastfeeding, and other firsts. This red bead is for going home.”
She presented the bead to a smiling Cruz. She’s received enough Journey Beads to form a necklace.
In a hospital room with a view of woodlands beyond the hospital, Ariana lay in her bassinet, bundled in a pink patterned blanket with a knitted cap pulled low on her brow.
A nurse gently lifted her out and laid her on a hospital bed. Her car seat had been placed at the head of the bed.
The small infant was alert and looking around, her brown eyes open wide. She has her father’s dimpled chin. The tiny fingers on her doll sized hands opened and closed with anticipation. She stuck her tongue out and wagged it at the visitors.
Now, a few days short of 5 months old, she is nearly three pounds lighter than an average American newborn.
“This is a good time to tell all the women they should get their blood pressure checked as soon as they find out they are pregnant,” Gutierrez said.
“They should get into pre natal care early. Claudia’s blood pressure was really high,” he said, clasping Cruz’s hand. “We’ve cried blood for everything the baby has suffered and we’ve suffered.”