Miracle baby Padilla beating the odds
Conventional wisdom would have said that Melanie Kassandra Padilla had a small chance of surviving when she was born Sept. 16, 2016, weighing just one pound, six ounces.
Her mother, Elizabeth Padilla developed pre-eclampsia, a potentially fatal condition, early during her pregnancy, and the condition became severe enough during the 29th week that physicians elected to deliver the baby prematurely.
Pre-eclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterized by the onset of high blood pressure and often a significant amount of protein in the urine. When it arises, the condition begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy. In severe disease there may be red blood cell breakdown, a low blood platelet count, impaired liver function, kidney dysfunction, swelling, shortness of breath due to fluid in the lungs, or visual disturbances.
Pre-eclampsia increases the risk of poor outcomes for both the mother and the baby. If left untreated, it may result in seizures at which point it is known as eclampsia.
Elizabeth developed pre-eclampsia during her first pregnancy, with a little girl she and husband Anthony named Leilani. Like Melanie, Leilani was born prematurely. She spent a month in neonatal intensive care before she was able to come home, but became a victim of sudden infant death syndrome a week later and died on Jan. 16, 2015.
When Elizabeth became pregnant with Melanie, physicians told the young mother it was unlikely that she would develop pre-eclampsia again.
“Instead, I developed it earlier,” Elizabeth said. “We did everything we could. Finally, I went to Lubbock for observation and when they couldn’t get my blood pressure down and it kept going up, they delivered the baby by C-section.”
Melanie spent the first 79 days of her life in the hospital, most of it in NICU.
“They kept telling us not to get our hopes up that she would survive,” Elizabeth said, “but boy, look at us now.”
Eliazbeth said Melanie, who now weighs about 14 pounds and started to crawl on Monday. She uses that somewhat crab-like crawl that some babies develop early on. Melanie also tried standing, holding her mother’s hands, but she hasn’t quite got the idea that she’ll have to stand flat on her feet instead of on her tip toes before she can stand alone.
Anthony looked like a proud papa on Saturday as he and Melanie supported Elizabeth, who entered a photo in the Lea County Art Association photography show. Anthony sped the afternoon carrying the diaper bag, taking his turn carrying his daughter and saying, “Isn’t she pretty.”
Elizabeth said Melanie’s first words were “tata” and “papa.”
She also says “mama” and “bye bye,” Elizabeth said.
Anthony’s mother, Gabriela Padilla has been tremendously helpful, Elizabeth said, “My mother passed away several years ago and my father lives in Dallas. Gabriela has stood by us through everything. She’s wonderful.”
As is true with many premature babies, Melanie’s physical development is a bit delayed.
“She gets services from MECA Therapies,” Elizabeth said. “Three different therapists come every week to help her and she is catching up fast. It’s very challenging having a preemie baby, but you learn so much. I was a stay-at-home mom until she was seven months old and then I started working here at Station 1 (preschool) and I was able to bring her with me. Her grandmother works here, too.”
One of the things that Elizabeth is learning in addition to child care is photography.
“I always loved photography and the creativity behind it. I really didn’t get into it until Melanie was born. We look at Leilani’s pictures and remember the time we had with her. I love to capture every moment with Melanie. Holiday photos, milestones, first fiesta and just because. Being one year old is a very big accomplishment for her. She’s overcome so much and learned so much and is still learning. We are so grateful to MECA and her therapists for all they’ve done.”
One of the pictures Elizabeth entered at the photography show was titled, “Melanie’s First Fiesta.”
“We chose a fiesta theme because she was born September 16 and Mexican Independence Day is September 16. We thought that was really cool,” Elizabeth said.