ST. LOUIS - Vivien is a spunky, happy, and—most importantly—healthy 2-year-old. Her moms, Carrie and Stephanie, decided to start a family and had dreamed of the day Vivien and her twin brother Jerimiah would arrive.
That excitement, though, soon turned to worry.
Carrie was carrying the twins but started experiencing problems at 17 weeks and was hospitalized.
“Delivery was going to happen, we just didn’t know where or when or how far into the pregnancy we would make it. I didn’t make it out of the hospital at that point,” Carrie said.
It was a good thing that they were at the hospital because, according to Stephanie, “they went in and checked and she was dilated and they said we can’t do anything, you’re going to be at least delivering the first baby today.”
Jerimiah was delivered but unfortunately, he didn’t make it. They struggled between the tragedy of losing their son and the desperation to save their little girl.
“They did what was called a delayed interval delivery, so they kept his placenta in, in hopes that it would keep her from delivering,” Stephanie said.
It worked – at least for a while. Carrie stayed at the hospital for four more weeks, in the same place they had lost their son.
“It was trying to push that aside to really focus on her. To give my body time to heal enough to help her get far enough along,” Carrie said.
Just one month after the first delivery, Carrie developed a fever and the doctors had no choice. They had to deliver Vivien at just 22 weeks. Four and half months early and weighing only 1 pound, 2 ounces.
“Whenever babies are born on the borderline of viability, so anything less than 24 or 25 weeks, survival isn’t that good,” said Dr. Hall, the neonatologist caring for Vivien.
At less than a five percent chance of surviving, Vivien was in the NICU at Mercy Hospital St. Louis for 157 days.
"She was tiny, her skin was very thin, she had to have IVs put in her umbilical cord, she was on the ventilator for a long time because her lungs were not really developed very well at all,” Dr. Hall said.
When Carrie and Stephanie finally brought Vivien home, she still needed oxygen, two monitors, an apnea monitor, and an oxygen saturation monitor and a feeding tube.
“It was scary but it was joyous because there were so many times we didn’t know if we were going to have that opportunity to leave with her," Carrie said.
It’s been a long tough road for this little fighter.
“There were days when the doctors said, 'This is most likely not going to end well and it’s just a matter of time.' We just didn’t give up. I mean, we said, Vivien, we kept telling her, 'You tell us when done,'" Stephanie said.
Vivien was never done.