Lindsey Woltering never expected to give birth to her baby in the bathroom at 24 weeks gestation.
She knew something was up that June night, but had no idea baby Avah, who was due Oct. 4, was about to enter the world, weighing a mere 20 ounces.
“It was pretty scary,” said the 37-year-old mother of two. “I didn’t expect to deliver my own baby. But I believe in the power of prayer, and she is definitely a miracle. When you deliver a little human, who is purple and gray and doesn’t really look human, you realize just how far she has come.”
After 99 days in a neonatal intensive care unit in Spokane, an emergency eye surgery in Portland and overcoming other significant obstacles, the premature infant is thriving and considered a miracle in the medical community, Woltering said.
Avah is almost eight months old now and meeting all of the milestones of her adjusted age of four months. She giggles, grabs for toys, responds to her name and “drools like crazy.”
Pediatric nurses and physicians have told her parents, Lindsey and her husband, Chris Woltering, they only see babies like Avah once or twice in a lifetime.
The fate of the newborn was much more ominous when she arrived at their farmhouse around 2 a.m. on June 16.
“After she was born, she was grabbing my finger and trying to breathe,” her mother said. “She was so teeny tiny with almost see-through skin, but she is a feisty little human. They say the feistiest babies are the ones who survive.”
Her parents wrapped the premature infant in a towel as they waited for the volunteer ambulance crew. Upon arrival, the emergency medical technicians administered CPR and kept Avah stimulated as they rushed to an airstrip near Nezperce that is used by crop dusters.
A helicopter touched down and whisked the baby to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, where a pediatric Life Flight crew from Spokane would then take her to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.
“She wasn’t expected to live,” Lindsey Woltering said. “When she was four days old, on our 10-year wedding anniversary, the hospital told us most of her blood work was not compatible for life, and we could stop treatments. We said we will continue treatments as long as she fought, and she fought. There was no question.”
Avah’s mother stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Spokane throughout the next 99 days. Chris, 47, who works as a bartender at Trestle Brewing Company in Ferdinand, traveled back and forth with their son, Parker, who just turned 9.
Lindsey Woltering worked as a special education teacher in Craigmont, but is now on family medical leave from her job. She doesn’t plan to return, because Avah can’t be exposed to germs in a daycare setting.
“She weighs just under 13 pounds, which is very good,” she said. “But she is very susceptible to illness and has to have monthly shots and special formula. We still have to get groceries and go to doctor’s appointments and do our normal stuff, but she can’t be around other kids. We’re big on hand sanitizer and have rules about handling her — anything to keep the baby safe.”
Doctors say there could be some cognitive issues down the road, but at this point, Avah is making good progress, her mother said.
“She wants to be here,” she said. “I really believe she is here to teach us something. Her prayer network is extensive, and we appreciate everyone who has prayed for her from near and far. Miracles happen.”
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2264. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.