Life has found a way. This story could have been a double tragedy. Instead, a beautiful miracle has come out of one family’s loss. Her name is baby Faith.
In January, Jessie Ayagalria’s mother heard her laughing with family members, when all of a sudden Jessie suffered a seizure. Shirley Jerry says that it was the last time she heard her daughter’s laughter.
Ms. Jerry tells KTUU: “Next thing I know they were hollering for me and I told them to call 911.” Jessie went into cardiac arrest. She was briefly revived and brought to the local hospital in Bethel, Alaska. Then, she fell into a coma.
What they didn’t know was that Jessie was pregnant.
Jessie, who had been living with her mother at their rural home, had been talking about marrying Arnold, her boyfriend of ten years, and starting a family with him. But no one knew that they had already conceived a baby until after she arrived at the Bethel Hospital.
She was later airlifted to Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) in Anchorage. Doctors discovered that Jessie was about 12 weeks pregnant. However, KTVA reports that testing at ANMC showed that Ayagalria had no brainwave activity in her swollen brain.
At that time, according to Ayagalria’s cousin Catherine Greydanus, the family made the difficult decision to take her off of life support.
But the family’s tragic story took a turn towards hope after she was placed in hospice care. Neurologist Dr. Brian Trimble told them that he believed that it was possible for Jessie’s body to still carry the baby.
The possibility of someone in a coma birthing a healthy baby remains very controversial among doctors the world over, and Anchorage was no exception. The Inquisitr has reported stories that have gone both ways – one in Michigan where a brain-dead mother was kept alive to nourish her twin babies until her blood pressure rose too high to keep the baby twins alive. Her twins were birthed via c-section at 25 weeks. Another was in Texas where physicians believed that a baby “gestating within a dead and deteriorating body” led to abnormalities. The mother was taken off of the life support that kept the baby in her womb alive.
Ayagalria’s family believed that they needed to at least try to keep her alive to give her baby a chance at life. She was placed on a feeding tube, and given an IV and oxygen. The family did not want her to suffer, so they asked for a “do not resuscitate” order. And they watched and waited, hoping for a miracle, that the baby would make it, even though they were broken-hearted over Jessie’s fate.
Ms. Jerry said, “At least try. I didn’t want to give up.”
Their faith paid off. On Tuesday, baby Faith was born via c-section at 35 weeks, weighing six pounds, one ounce. She needed a little help at first, but Faith is reportedly doing very well, waking up on her own every three hours, and feeding well.
Her aunt says that Faith has her mother’s cheeks.
Shirley Jerry tells KTVA that Jessie “would have been very proud of [Faith].” She also says, with quivering voice, that her daughter “was a strong woman, and she [Jessie] loved her [baby], because she was strong enough to carry her that long, to make sure that she was ok.”
Catherine Greydanus says that the family received the news Friday that baby Faith should be coming home to Bethel this weekend. According to KTUU, her aunt plans to adopt Faith very soon.
KTVA reports that an online donation page has been set up to help with airfare and other expenses. There is also a baby registry set up at Babies R Us, under the names Catherine Greydanus or Shirley Jerry.
The birth of baby Faith brings a bittersweet roller coaster of emotions. The family is in love with the new baby and feels very blessed by her presence. But they also recognize that the final goodbye to Jessie is right around the corner. They will carry her memory in their hearts, and in Faith.
“We’re just gonna let her pass on ’cause I know in my heart she wouldn’t want to be like this,” says Ms. Jerry. “That’s the last of my Jessie; she’s precious. She’s a miracle; she made a miracle” – a miracle named baby Faith.
[images via KTVA and Catherine Greydanus]