After three years of loss and heartache, Jacqueline and Simon Firnesz cautiously celebrated pregnancy number four in May of 2012. They knew from the beginning it would be a difficult pregnancy but were hopeful that they would see the birth of their first child.
At just 21 weeks, Jacqueline’s water broke and was admitted to the hospital. With no amniotic fluid surrounding the baby, the chance of survival was a mere three to five per cent. Amniotic fluid is "inhaled" and "exhaled" by the baby and is essential for lung development; without it, the baby’s lung will not grow.
Jacqueline and Simon were determined to give their baby the best chance possible and Jacqueline spent the next 50 days at the hospital on bed rest.
We knew each day I spent not giving birth could be the difference between our baby surviving or not surviving,” says Jacqueline. “We weren’t willing to admit it wouldn’t work out. We so badly wanted our baby.
They baptized their baby in utero and named her Amelia Grace Firnesz.
At 28 weeks, on October 28, Amelia was born weighing 2 lb 6 oz.
“Amelia came out, gave a big cry…and then she stopped breathing,” recalls Simon.
After a few hours, even with a whole team working to save her life, they were told she likely wouldn’t survive. Amelia’s lungs were just too small and she was just too sick. Simon and Jacqueline wouldn’t give up on her however and stayed by her bedside watching the machines breath for her.
Over the next few hours, things began to turn around as Amelia responded to medications. It was a hopeful sign that she might make it through the night – which she did, spending the next 86 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Day by day Amelia got a little stronger. She was on an oscillator that breathed up to 600 times a minute for her tiny lungs and after 21 days she was switched to a ventilator. A few days later, the tube was removed from her throat and she was on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to keep her lungs inflated, but she was able to take her own breaths.
On January 21, after 87 days, and weighing 5 lb, Simon and Jacqueline were finally able to bring Amelia home.
From the beginning Amelia was a fighter. At her sickest, she weighed less than 2 lb and had 16 lines of medication going into her tiny body at once. She overcame collapsed lungs, a brain hemorrhage, and pneumonia. She was diagnosed with chronic lung disease and is missing 30 per cent of her lung capacity; however, as she grows that number will decrease. In spite of it all, she is a happy, energetic little girl.
We’re so grateful,” says Simon. “It was a roller coaster, but the doctors, nurses and other team members were wonderful to us. We know it costs a lot for each baby and we are so thankful for the money that is raised. Amelia’s oscillator, incubator and home heart monitor were all purchased from Radiothon donations, through Hospitals of Regina Foundation. We can’t imagine if the NICU didn’t have the equipment it needs. It makes a world of difference.