Stacie Crimm called her brother with astonishing news.Stacy's conditioned worsened and doctor's had to do an emergency C-section. In the hospital Stacy finally got to hold her daughter before she died.
“You're not going to believe this,” she said.
She laughed and cried all at once that day in March as she explained that five pregnancy tests showed she would be having a child. It was a joyous surprise at age 41 but even more so because she'd been told she would never be able to get pregnant, said her brother, Ray Phillips.
But even as she shopped for clothes for the child she longed to hold in her arms, she knew something was not right.
She sent 159 text messages about her pregnancy to her brother in the months that followed. Many were joyful but then the bone-chilling messages came in during the predawn hours. She said severe headaches and double vision tortured her while tremors wracked her entire body.
“I'm worried about this baby,” she texted.
“I hope I live long enough to have this baby,” said another message. “Bubba, if anything happens to me, you take this child.”
Initially, she and her brother used the Internet to try to diagnose her illness. The single mother-to-be had been exposed to mold while she was remodeling her home and her symptoms seemed to match up to mold exposure.
At her family's encouragement, she visited a number of doctors. In July, a CT scan revealed that she had head and neck cancer.
Now she had to choose between her life and her baby's life. Phillips said she agonized only for a while before deciding against taking potentially lifesaving chemotherapy in hopes that she would soon hold a healthy baby in her arms.
On Sept. 8, Crimm stopped breathing and once again was resuscitated. Hospital doctors and nurses warned the family that she likely was dying.
“Her heart had stopped. She quit breathing. She was technically dead, and then they brought her back,” said Ray Phillips.
But she had not yet held the baby whose life she had chosen above her own.
She'd never touched the golden fluff of fuzz framing her baby Dottie's angelic face. Never counted those fingers as tiny and perfect as a doll's. Never looked into those dark blue eyes.
But a quiet yet determined nurse and mother, Agi Beo, couldn't bear to think of Crimm's emotional pain.
“She was in the last stage with the brain tumor. And she never got to see the baby,” Beo said.
“This baby was everything she had in this world.”
With Crimm's death imminent, Beo worked with nurse Jetsy Jacob to step up their questioning of the family, healthcare professionals and disease experts about Crimm's condition, including her staph infection. They talked to Neoflight, the medical center's neonatal transport team, about using a capsule-like ICU to safely move Dottie.
When his sister regained consciousness later that day, Phillips asked what she thought about possibly seeing Dottie. Crimm's eyes popped open and she raised her hands as if to ask where was her child.
Nurses wheeled Dottie down the hallway to her mother moments later. Phillips said doctors, nurses and others clad in protective gear gathered as nurses carefully lifted the baby from the incubator under her mother's watchful eye.
They placed the baby on her mother's chest. Mother and child gazed into each other's eyes for several minutes. She smiled at the baby who at last lay in her arms.
No one said a word. No one had a dry eye.
Stacie Crimm died three days later.
Last week, Ray Phillips fulfilled his last promise to his sister. Healthy, 5-pound Dottie went home to live with Ray and Jennifer Phillips and her four new siblings.
HT: Hot Air