Jose and Alexis Enriquez,
Our NAIT baby Mateo Maximo
I will never forget that Friday afternoon when I received the call that something was wrong with my baby. I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time and during a routine ultrasound a week prior they had detected swelling on the right side of the brain. My doctor really couldn’t tell me anything except that she had made me an appointment in San Francisco with the high-risk prenatal department for the following Wednesday and that they would be able to tell me more then. My head was spinning. I couldn’t stop crying and the thought of waiting almost a week to get more information was the most agonizing pain I had felt up to that point. Looking back now, I could feel that something wasn’t right during the ultrasound. The tech spent what felt like hours viewing the brain and I could see the concern on her face.
Going into that weekend, my anxiety and stress was at an all-time high. I started researching on the internet the meaning of a “swollen brain ventricle.” It was horrifying. I spent those few days counting down the hours and minutes until our appointment.
Finally, Wednesday was here and I must say for such an anticipated day, I can hardly remember any of it. The doctor confirmed that yes, my baby had suffered a grade-two bleed on the right side of the brain. They didn’t know how or why but said the consequences could be devastating, even fatal. They quickly rushed me over for an MRI, which confirmed the damage. After a long day of devastating news, exams and invasive testing, we sat down with one of the specialists. All I can remember from this conversation is a few overwhelming case study examples and her very uncompassionate ‘medical’ recommendation for terminating the pregnancy. To this day, I have no words that can explain what I was feeling at that moment.
The weeks following are a blur, thankfully.
From the many tests performed, we were able to rule out that an infection had caused the bleed and discovered that NAIT, Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia had. Unsure at that time what NAIT really was, we decided to move forward with the recommended treatment regardless of what damage had already been done and what that meant for our family’s future. Starting at week 24, I was set up with two IVIG infusions weekly and 40mg of prednisone daily. It’s hard to explain the relief that the treatments brought me. I had lost so much control over the last month and finally I could do something that could at least help prevent further damage to my baby. A few weeks into the treatment, I started to come to peace with our current situation and allowed myself to talk about ‘the baby’ as our little boy again. I continued with the treatment for 12 weeks, all the while coordinating with numerous doctors and specialists, blood banks and hospital staff to ensure we were all ready for his arrival. I was scheduled for a C-section at 37 weeks. The day of the delivery is a day I will never forget. Not for the usual expectant mother reasons but because I was terrified something would go wrong. When I arrived at the hospital, there was a staff of 14 doctors and nurses to greet me, all ready for the delivery of my ‘high-risk’ baby. You would think that this would have made me feel a sense of relief but it didn’t. It was just another reminder that something was wrong. I prepared for surgery, lay patiently on the table and awaited my baby’s cry. Moments later, Mateo Maximo Enriquez was born, July 8th at 10:11am, weighing 8.8lbs, 21in, with a platelet count of 223.
Mateo was able to stay with us and the hospital staff checked his counts every few hours for the next two days to ensure they were stable. I was amazed and so thankful that we didn’t suffer any of the effects NAIT can have on newborns. We had escaped the NICU and all that the NICU means.
I was sure that nothing else could be as wonderful as that until the ultrasound tech came in for a follow-up head ultrasound to view Mateo’s brain a few hours after he was born. Both she and the pediatric neurologist were amazed. So amazed that they requested a third opinion from the NICU physician who confirmed the swelling was gone and there was little to no sign that a bleed had even occurred. Again, to this day I have no words that can explain what I was feeling at that moment.
The medical explanation we were given was that the simple act of being born and out of the womb had elevated the pressure on his brain allowing the swelling to dissipate and, in essence, heal itself.
I’m not sure what happened and I dare not question. All I know is we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy and are happy to be counted among the NAIT miracle families.
Mateo will turn one in just two short weeks and every day I am thankful for such an amazing outcome. He has had four pediatric neurology appointments to date and has received a glowing bill of health. He is hitting his milestones and continues to exceed all medical expectations.