Lucy Morgan was a miracle before she was even born.
Her parents, Adam and Alisha Morgan of Orem, met at BYU and had been married nine years without fulfilling their dream of starting a family.
“All the years without being able to get pregnant were frustrating, especially here in Utah County where there are so many people having kids,” Alisha says.
The Morgans tried to make the best of their time together. They traveled. They strengthened their own relationship. They looked for ways to help others.
Fertility treatments weren’t an option because of Alisha’s other health concerns. The couple patiently waited for the day when they might get pregnant.
Level III NICUs — like the one Lucy was in at Timpanogos Regional Hospital — raise the survival rate of preemies. Here we deliver statistics on what babies born at 25 weeks will likely experience.
• Of preemie babies born between 23 and 25 weeks gestational age, around 30-40 percent will develop normally without any major health concerns or disabilities.
• Around 20-35 percent will have severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy, severe intellectual impairment, blindness, deafness, or a combination.
• The remaining preemies (25-40 percent) will have mild to moderate disabilities, such as chronic asthma or learning difficulties and attention deficit disorder.
Then, in January 2013, the day came. Alisha was pregnant. The couple was elated and although the pregnancy ended in miscarriage, it gave the Morgans hope.
“The miscarriage was hard, of course, but it gave us hope because now we knew we could get pregnant and if we got pregnant once, we could get pregnant again,” she says.
And they did.
About a year later, Feb. 15, 2014, the Morgans saw a positive pregnancy test for the second time. However, this development didn’t come without challenges.
“I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (a severe form of “morning sickness”) and was throwing up 10 times a day,” Alisha says. “It was a difficult pregnancy, but Lucy always looked good during check-ups.”
At about 21 weeks, though, doctors noticed Alisha’s blood pressure began to rise. By 25 weeks, it rose to 198/136 and she was hospitalized at Timpanogos Regional Hospital to monitor and manage her blood pressure. Just a couple days after being admitted to the hospital, Adam and Alisha got surprising news.
“They came in one morning at about 4 a.m. and said they needed to deliver the baby that morning because of my high blood pressure,” Alisha says.
Adam was in shock.
“I didn’t know what to think, but the first thing I realized is that we had to decide on a name,” he says. “It was an emotional 180. We went from being worried about making the pregnancy last as long as we could to becoming parents in a matter of hours.”
Before Lucy’s birth, Dr. Dale Gerstmann (director of the neonatal intensive care unit) educated the couple on what concerns could be expected, and they planned their course of treatment.
“From the beginning, the hospital staff was helpful and gave it to us straight,” Alisha says. “We wanted real answers and they didn’t sugar-coat things.”
Lucy was born at 25 weeks — 1 pound, 3 ounces and 11 1/2 inches — on July 11, 2014.
“We were told that, amazingly, children born at 25 weeks had about a 90 percent survival rate, so we were confident that things would be OK, but it was touch-and-go for a while,” Adam says.
The preemie was immediately taken to the NICU and was fully oxygenated, kept warm, hydrated, fed and monitored closely. Then, everyone had to wait and see how Lucy responded.
At 11 days old, the Morgans had a scare. They had yet to hold their miracle when a nurse practitioner asked if the couple wanted to hold the baby.
“I asked if they were doing this because they thought the baby might die and they wanted to give us a chance to hold her,” Alisha remembers.
The nurse practitioner nodded yes.
“That’s when it hit us just how fragile she was,” Alisha says. “But she did great when we held her and things went beautifully in the days after.”
During her NICU stay, Lucy had a grade-one brain bleed (healed without surgery), pulmonary hypertension (controlled with medication) and has required oxygen as her lungs continue to develop.
Just before Christmas, the Morgans finally took home their own miracle gift -— complete with feeding tube, oxygen and a heart monitor — who was born at just 25 weeks and spent more than five months in the hospital.
“She’s a miracle,” Alisha says. “We realize it everyday.”