MITCHELL COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Want to start this post by saying, every child matters. Even those no longer here.
Mom Megan Wilson wrote after her baby girl died. Isabella Grace Beltran was born in August and lived less than two weeks.
Megan and husband Chris, who live in Spruce Pine in Mitchell County, discovered they were going to add to their family last December. The first 12-week ultrasound showed the baby's heart was shifted to the right. They were referred to a high-risk OBGYN who later said their baby girl had congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or, CDH.
"I had never heard of CDH and was terrified to say the least," says Megan. "For the next two weeks we researched and found support groups to help us understand."
As Megan's pregnancy continued, it was discovered Isabella's heart was to the right, with her stomach inside her chest cavity, the most common form of CDH. The left side of her heart was also enlarged. She had small kidneys. There was a lack of lung tissues.
Her umbilical cord had also begun to dilate, which put her at a high risk for a blood clot to develop. Lots of things. Doctors decided Megan would be induced at 37 weeks.
"On August 5th, our beautiful little girl, Isabella Grace Beltran, made her way into the world," Megan said. "She did not cry. She did not move. She was purple and limp and it was the scariest night of my entire life. Minutes that felt like hours passed and they were finally able to get her intubated and swept her off to NICU."
It would be hours before Megan and Chris would see Isabella.
"She had gained color back and her heart rate was steady," Megan said. "But her oxygen levels wouldn't stay up. Later that night they decided to place her on ECMO to do all the work for her lungs and heart. That's how things went for a couple days."
When on ECMO a child can barely be moved – definitely not held.
So Megan remembers small things. On August 9th, she touched Isabella's hair. On August 10th, she changed her diaper. On August 12th, Isabella turned one week old, and her heart was stabilizing more every day.
But, there were still issues. Lung tissue was invisible on x-rays and ultrasounds. She was beginning to swell, and her kidney function was decreasing. On August 17th a procedure was done to help clear the lung, but it closed back up and doctors planned to try again the following day.
They didn't get the chance. On August 18th, Megan woke up, went to see Isabella, then returned to the Ronald McDonald House to feed her toddler. As soon as she arrived, the hospital called and said to get back to NICU.
"When I approached her bed I was taken aback," Megan said. "My poor little girl's hands and feet were swollen and purple. Doctors explained she was showering clots through her body and her liver was swollen so much it took up her entire abdomen. She was declining every second. Her pediatric surgeon told us the only option was to perform surgery to try to relieve some of the pressure, but the risk of her bleeding out on the table was likely. If she did not bleed out, she would likely have no brain function due to the blood clots."
Doctors told Megan and Chris to make a tough decision.
"It was the hardest choice of our lives," Megan said. "We removed her from life support."
Isabella's mom and dad took turns holding her, the first time they'd actually been allowed.
She was in Megan's arms as they turned off the machines.
"I spoke to her the whole time," she said. "I told her we loved her. At 7:48 pm, my baby was pronounced dead."
Megan said she wanted to tell her child's story because though it's sad, it's real. She thinks of Isabella every day and wants to spread the word about CDH.
"Life has been a blur ever since," she said. "I want to advocate for her and children like her every day."
Hopefully in some small way, Megan, this helps. Please feel some extra attention today for your girl, and your new cause.
Thank you for sharing Isabella with us all.