ROME — A baby born at 23 weeks is now home with her family after her mother gave her a fighting chance to survive instead of agreeing to a recommended abortion.
The site Avvenire tells the story of a 27-year-old mother named Jessica, whose daughter, Nicol Vittoria, overcame a number of obstacles after she had to be delivered via a Cesarean section due to a placental abruption.
Born on May 8 at the Policlinico Umberto I hospital in Rome, the child weighed just over a pound (480 grams) and measured shy of 11 inches. She had to be resuscitated right away and was given a nasal canula to help her breathe. Nicol was eventually placed on a ventilator, where she continued to receive mechanical ventilation for two months.
During this time, Nicol also struggled with a number of issues, including patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a condition that is common in premature babies in which a coronary duct fails to close after birth, sending extra blood into the lungs.
Nicol also battled staphylococcal sepsis, blood sugar issues and the preemie condition retinopathy of prematurity, in which those born under 31 weeks experience abnormal blood vessel growth near the retina, the layer of tissue in the back of the eye.
Jessica says that she sat with her daughter four hours a day in intensive care, holding her hand and telling her about those who were waiting for her at home, including her father Valentino and her grandmother Rita. After about a month, she was finally able to hold Nicole, and held her skin-to-skin, hearts beating in unison.
“Strength was given to me by prayer,” she told Avvenire, “together with the always comforting words of doctors and nurses, in particular the reassuring smiles of Dr. Viviana Cardilli, who treated Nicol.”
And even though Nicol initially had been given a 30% chance of survival with a significant possibility for brain damage, she beat the odds and was able to go home after five months, joining her brothers Alessandro and Sofia, ages six and four.
Jessica recalls that she had been advised by another hospital to obtain a therapeutic abortion, but she would have nothing of it.
“I had been proposed therapeutic abortion as a hypothesis, but I immediately refused,” she explained. “I would have accepted her with any problem.”
A “therapeutic abortion” is one performed for medical reasons, as opposed to an elective abortion committed simply because the baby was unwanted or unaffordable.
Jessica said she named her daughter Nicol Vittoria to reflect her fighting spirit, as it means “victory of the people,” “conqueror.”
As previously reported, in a similar recent story out of Italy, Consiglia Varriale, 42, also refused an abortion earlier this year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“They all told me that I had to give up the baby if I wanted to continue living,” she told the outlet Riformista.
But Varriale soon found that she didn’t have to choose between treatment and saving her baby. At the Pascale Institute in Naples, she met Michelino de Laurentiis, who came up with the plan to help her while simultaneously protecting her child.
Varriale gave birth to a healthy baby girl in September, who she named Aurora.
Psalm 139:13-16 reads, “For Thou hast possessed my reins; Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.”
“My substance was not hid from Thee when I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.”
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