Note: this story is not an easy one, especially for parents who may have experienced infant loss of any kind. However, it is a powerful one of miracles and hope.
On December 13, 2017, I got a phone call from Ashley. We had photographed and filmed her and Gustavo's wedding, and taken newborn photos of their daughter Belén. Most recently, we had run into them at Costco and heard they were expecting their second baby. On the day she called, though, it wasn't with news anyone expects. She was about 37 weeks pregnant and had lost their baby. Earlier that morning, she hadn't felt the baby move and she went in to the hospital to have things checked out. They told her there was no fetal movement and they couldn't find a heartbeat. Ashley asked if I would come to the hospital to take newborn photos after the stillbirth. I agreed.
Ashley then labored for about 36 hours. During that time, they grieved with their families, and planned a funeral. I arrived at the hospital the next evening and waited in the waiting room for them to call me back. A baby girl was born with no heartbeat and no pulse. A nurse placed her on Ashley's chest, skin-to-skin. About 10 minutes went by when the baby girl gasped for air. A natural reflex, they said. And then she did it again. And again. Ashley's doctor and nurse responded quickly, and felt a faint pulse. The respiratory team was dispatched and rushed into the room, resuscitating Ana Sofía -- a baby girl, fighter, miracle, gift from God.
The video below shares some of that story. It shows the moments in the delivery room right after Ana Sofía was rushed to the NICU. It shows her 3 days later, at Children's Mercy, undergoing therapeutic hypothermia to try and restore brain function after the lack of oxygen for so long. And it shows her a few weeks later, just after the new year, still in the NICU but obviously growing and exceeding expectations. And it shows her a few months later, at home with her family.
The road still holds a lot of unknowns. She has some hearing loss, but not the profound hearing loss they once believed. She will likely face cerebal palsy, but the effects are unknown. She is already moving, laughing, babbling, responding, and bringing light and love to everyone she meets. You can see it in her eyes. She is a light. A miracle. A gift.
Her dad, Gustavo, said something to me three days after her birth, while the prognosis was still very unknown, that I can't ever forget. About the future, he said: "I cannot be afraid, because I have seen God in my daughter."
Click the image below to play the video.