Life Lynn DeKlyen's birth last Wednesday created a whirlwind of emotions for everyone following her story. The baby girl was born at 24 weeks, 5 days, weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces, while her mother, Carrie DeKlyen, was in the last stages of terminal brain cancer, unconscious and on life support.
Carrie and her husband, Nick, had named the baby before Carrie knew she was pregnant and before she got sick. After the birth of their son, the parents were talking casually about what they might name their next child if they had another.
The name they decided on became more symbolic than anyone could have imagined. In April, the 37-year-old mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, and she underwent surgery to remove the tumor. In May, Carrie found out not only that the tumor was growing but she also was eight weeks pregnant. Since then, it became a fight for Life.
Carrie qualified for a clinical trial at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor that could possibly prolong her life 10 or 15 years, but she could not join the trial if she was pregnant. The mom had a hard decision: undergo chemotherapy and end her pregnancy, or die trying to keep the baby.
"Me and my wife, we are people of faith," Nick told USA Today. "We love the Lord with everything in us. We talked about it, prayed about it. I asked her, 'What are you thinking?' She said, 'All the treatments, I'm not doing any of them.' We went back to the surgeon. He said, 'If you choose to do this, you will not live another 10 months. I promise, you will die.' Even with everything on the table, my wife chose the baby."
In June, at 19 weeks pregnant, Carrie was rushed to the hospital after suffering from a massive stroke. She lost consciousness in the emergency room. Doctors put her on life support until the baby could grow to at least 500 grams (about 1 pound, 2 ounces) to survive birth. Last week, Life Lynn hit the minimum required weight, but she was not moving.
Nick authorized a C-section, and doctors took Carrie off life support. The mom of six died Friday morning.
“I sat by her the whole time. I kind of held her hand and kissing her [sic], telling her that she did good,” Nick told the Washington Post. “I told her, ‘I love you, and I’ll see you in heaven.’”
The Facebook page Cure 4 Carrie has been documenting the journey. Life Lynn is expected to be in neonatal intensive care unit for four or five months. While all initial reports of the baby's health have been fairly positive, given the circumstances, yesterday the page alerted its 17,000 followers that Life Lynn's condition was not stabilized.
"Life Lynn had a rough night last night. They needed to up her oxygen levels, her blood pressure is low and there is more fluid on her brain. She is not requiring surgery yet. Please be praying that her levels stabilize and that there is a reduction in fluid," the post read.
Quality time with family is precious, don't take a moment for granted
Nick, who currently does not have a source of income, is trying to focus on getting his daughter home. He and Carrie have five other children, ages 2 to 18. A GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $125,000 is still about $13,000 short of its goal as of this morning.
When she was born, Ella Maintz was given between a zero- and 1-percent chance of survival. Her lungs had collapsed, and she was suffering from both hypertension and low blood oxygen. Doctors didn’t expect her to survive the helicopter flight from Springfield, Mo. to St. Louis for an operation. Not only did Ella make it through the flight and surgery, but she was also breathing on her own, gaining weight and breast-feeding just a week later. Better yet, despite a prolonged period of time when her brain was only receiving 50 percent of the required oxygen, Ella suffered no apparent brain damage.