On March 24, 2011 my husband, Arturo, and I found out that we were finally going to become parents! I was in such shock — I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. At our first appointment with the OB/GYN everything checked out great, as did every appointment after that until we hit 21 weeks.
Up to that point my husband had been able to make every appointment with me; however, this time he wasn’t able to make it. I wasn’t very comfortable going by myself, but I put on a brave-face and told myself everything would be fine. As soon as the nurse was done with the ultrasound, the doctor came in to take a closer look at one area where the nurse had concerns. It was then that my doctor told me that it looked as if the baby had a large mass growing from her bottom. This condition is known as a Sacrococcygeal Teratoma (SCT). My doctor said she would have me meet with a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist in order to provide my husband and I all the information we would need to know.
My first Maternal Fetal Medicine appointment finally arrived. The specialist immediately referred us to Texas Children’s Hospital, and we quickly scheduled a consult with the Fetal Center. By the following Tuesday we had completed an MRI, a very extensive ultrasound, fetal echocardiogram, and a one-on-one consult with Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, a pediatric surgeon at the Fetal Center.
Fast forward to the night of October 10. I was woken up around midnight by braxton hicks contractions and immediately knew something was wrong. Arturo took me to the Emergency Center where I was told the contractions were real and I was going to have an emergency cesarean because I was having preeclampsia.
At 32 weeks, Sophia Grace Perez was born at 7:15 am on October 11, 2011. She weighed just a little over 2 pounds with her tumor weighing in at over 3 pounds. It was the happiest day of my life, but also the scariest. I was able to see her briefly before they took her off the NICU, and it was another 30 hours before I saw her again.
She was 6 days old when she was wheeled off to the operating room for surgery. The night before her surgery took place her night nurse, who we came to care about very much, let us hold Sophia for the very first time. As soon as Sophia was placed in to my arms it was as if she knew exactly who was holding her. We will never forget this wonderful moment.
After anxiously waiting for over 5 hours, Dr. Darrell Cass gave us the good news that Sophia’s surgery went well. Seeing Sophia for the first time without her tumor was like seeing a brand new baby; she just looked so much healthier. After recovering from her surgery and spending several more weeks in the hospital gaining weight and learning how to nurse we were able to take her home just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Words can’t describe how grateful we are for the Fetal Center; they are a team of amazing minds and hands. Without the Texas Children’s Fetal Center, NICU Staff, Milk Bank Staff, the support of our family and friends, and the grace and love of God, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Sophia just turned 9 months old and is growing more each day.
Sophia’s contagious smile is a constant reminder to never take life for granted, be grateful for what you have, and know that health is a precious gift.