When Mary Sargent went in for her 19-week pregnancy checkup, she and her husband, William, were looking forward to finding out their baby's sex. They were having a girl — but scans, unfortunately, revealed more than their child's gender.
Their unborn baby was suffering from gastroschisis, a rare condition in which the abdomen forms incorrectly, resulting in an external stomach and intestine organs. Little Elliotte Sargent's belly was forming in the open, instead of safely behind her skin.
Mary was monitored closely throughout the rest of her pregnancy — doctors knew that they would have to operate immediately, as soon as Elliotte was born, to save her life. "Immediately," wasn't an understatement, either.
"Before I even had a chance to hold her, she was whisked for surgery," Mary told the Daily Mail.
As soon as Elliotte was born, doctors wrapped her belly in a clear plastic bag so her organs wouldn't be exposed to the air. William then accompanied his newborn daughter to another operating room, where doctors worked on fitting her organs back into their rightful place. They couldn't, however, finish the operation: Elliotte was just too small, so they would have to wait for gravity to take its course and push the remaining external organs back in naturally.
Over the next two weeks, Elliotte's belly bag was gradually shortened as her organs fell back into place. She was placed on a feeding tube to maintain nutrition — she couldn't eat on her own. Neither of her parents could hold her. On the eighth day, though, the doctors decided they were pleased with her progress and stitched up the hole in the baby's stomach.
"Then, finally, I got to hold her," Mary explained. "It was an awesome moment. Completely wonderful."
Even more wonderful? Breastfeeding her child after a long, 19-day wait.
"Before then she'd been PICC line-fed," Mary said. "Seeing her drink my breast milk was very emotional."
Thankfully, after 63 days in the hospital, doctors gave the Sargents the go-ahead — little Elliotte, weighing a sturdy 8 pounds, was going home with a clean bill of health. As for additional surgeries? Today, four months later, it's likely the vivacious infant won't need them, her doctors said — and we're so glad to hear it!
[h/t Daily Mail]