A Mother’s Journey
In July of 2015, it was an exciting time for Melissa Wallace to finally find out the gender of her baby. During a routine checkup about five months into the pregnancy, Melissa’s OB/GYN doctor was unable to find the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler instrument. Somewhat alarmed, the doctor performed an ultrasound which discovered a high fetal heart rate beating 240 beats per minute; the reason why the Doppler instrument was unable to pick up a heartbeat. The ultrasound also found out that Melissa was having a baby girl leaving her with mixed emotions.
Melissa’s primary doctor referred and scheduled her to a high-risk OB/GYN specialist. Another ultrasound was performed as well as an amniocentesis – a procedure used to obtain a small sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus during pregnancy which also tests for certain birth defects or serious health problems. Thankfully the test results were negative for any birth defects but it found that her baby had a severe case of polyhydramnios – the excessive accumulation of amniotic fluid. This would further explain the extreme swelling following Melissa’s second trimester, gaining nearly thirty pounds, to the point where friends and family thought she was “nine months pregnant with twins.” Melissa purchased everything from wedge pillows and body pillows to try to ease the discomfort but nothing seemed to work.
Twenty-nine weeks into the pregnancy, Melissa could barely get any rest and decided to go to her scheduled appointment a few hours earlier to discuss with the doctor. The doctor said since she was in so much pain to go to the general hospital as they would be more capable to accommodate her condition. Upon arriving at the general hospital, the doctor was stumped having learned that her baby had severe Hydrops – a life-threatening problem of severe edema (swelling) in the fetus and newborn. The attending doctor consulted with UC Davis Medical Center for their advice and was informed that Melissa’s baby had a five-percent survival rate and she had to deliver the baby as soon as possible. Left with no other choice, Melissa went into surgery.
Baby Kinney was born on August 31, 2015 in San Joaquin County and was immediately air lifted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Mission Bay following the delivery. She was born at twenty-nine weeks gestation with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), and diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. Two and half months later, the genetics department was called in to do further testing on Kinney. The genetic testing discovered she had a rare genetic disease called Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS). BWS tends to cause problems such as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, and Macroglossia (enlarged tongue). This caused eating by mouth somewhat of a challenge. Before Thanksgiving, things were looking positive for Kinney even with discussions of discharging. That was until she “coded” meaning air wasn’t getting into her lungs causing her heart rate to drop to 20 beats per minute which led to emergency chest compressions. On Thanksgiving Day, Kinney was intubated for one month. The pulmonary department performed a bronchoscopy on her and found out she had severe Bronchomalacia and Tracheomalacia. Little Kinney was finally challenged and extubated on December 23rd, and has been thriving ever since.
During this struggle, one of which we are still fighting, I was fortunate enough to stay at the Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco. When I checked in, I was alone and scared because I didn’t know what my daughter’s future was going to look like. But the staff has been so good to me; they have become family. I’m extremely grateful for the volunteers, who come to cook much needed meals. For Thanksgiving, volunteers came to cook a huge Thanksgiving dinner which was amazing. For Christmas, the staff went out of their way to have a workshop, and wrapped a whole bunch of gifts for all the families, and didn’t leave anyone out. They go way above and beyond to take away the everyday stresses of our lives. They have thought of everything! After spending days at the hospital, there’s no greater feeling than coming to my “home-away-from-home”. Meeting the other families has helped tremendously, sharing our stories of strength and miracles of our strong children. I’ve met some incredible people here, some of which will be in our lives for years to come.
*Update: Great news! Melissa was finally able to take little Kinney home after spending over seven months at the Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco. Our best wishes to Melissa and her family!