An Answered Prayer

While recovering from COVID, Gabriella had a nightmare in which she experienced a miscarriage. The next day, she consulted her doctor who determined she needed to deliver the baby by emergency C-section.

Gabriella and Andrew Silva were over the moon to learn they were pregnant with their first child. They had been married for about three years and had watched their close friends have babies. Even though they were not trying to get pregnant, the timing was perfect to start a family.  

“I still remember telling Andrew that he was going to be a dad. I had just taken the test and I told him when he woke up. He was really excited. It was a special moment,” said Gabriella.

Gabriella’s pregnancy was uneventful. She had always been healthy, watched what she ate, took her vitamins, and got plenty of exercise. Her only complaint was how tired she was that first trimester.

Her second trimester was pretty much the same. Even though she had no issues, she switched her birthing plan from using a midwife to an obstetrician. Aside from occasional heartburn, Gabriella was sailing right along with pregnancy until she was 33 weeks along.

That’s when she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I’m healthy, and I’m young. I was 26 at the time and didn’t think much of it,” said Gabriella. “I had the sniffles and thought it was allergies.”

Bbout the seventh or eighth day into her COVID diagnosis, Gabriella was not feeling well at all and developed a high fever. She was extremely lethargic and could barely find the strength to get up and get herself a glass of water and found it challenging to eat anything. 

Still, Gabriella was not too concerned. She consulted with her sister, a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist, about what she should do and how she should take care of herself. At this point, she had not told her obstetrician she had COVID.

One night, as Gabriella recovered, she went to bed and had a horrible dream that she lost her baby – a little boy she had already named Daniel. She thought the dream might be a sign something was wrong and called her obstetrician right away. Luckily, she had reached her last day of quarantine and was no longer symptomatic.

Upon arrival, Gabriella explained to the nurse that it had been about 18 hours since she could feel Daniel’s presence, and they became concerned. While they could detect a heartbeat, Daniel’s heart rhythms were off, and he scored a two out of 10 on his ultrasound test. Something was wrong, and Gabriella needed a C-section right away so Daniel could survive.

“At that point, I had a total meltdown. I had all these expectations for a beautiful birth. I wanted to be unmedicated. Now, not only did I have to have a C-section, but I had a sick, premature baby. It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” said Gabriella.

The next thing she knew, Gabriella was getting prepped for a C-section. After they took Daniel out, she got to see him for a brief minute, and then the care team rushed him to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he had to be intubated. His oxygen levels and blood pressure had dropped. Daniel was in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Gabriella hemorrhaged twice and had to have a blood transfusion. Thankfully, she did not have to have a hysterectomy. It was not until several hours after he was born that Gabriella was able to meet her son.

“The first time I saw him was very difficult. They weren’t sure if he had COVID and were taking all the necessary precautions. He was this tiny baby connected to all sorts of machines, and there were lots of nurses around him,” said Gabriella. “At that moment, I just started praying over him, praying that he would come out of this and survive.”

The first time Gabriela saw her newborn son Daniel, he was connected to machines that were helping him breathe. At that moment, she knew she had to ask everyone she knew to pray for him.

She extended the invitation to pray over Daniel to all of their family members and friends – everyone they had ever known.

“For the first time throughout this ordeal, I had a moment of peace. I knew deep down everything was going to be OK. It never crossed my mind that we might lose Daniel. That was the grace of God,” said Gabriella.

A day or so later, the doctor in charge of the NICU came into Gabriella’s room, where she was still recovering from her C-section. She came to inform Gabriella that Daniel may need to receive a process called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation  or ECMO as a precaution. ECMO is used in critical care situations, when the heart and lungs need help so they can heal. This method allows the blood to “bypass” the heart and lungs, allowing these organs to rest and heal. Because that particular hospital did not have access to one, he would need to be transported to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHofSA).

The transport team at CHofSA arrived and spent three hours meticulously preparing Daniel for the trip to CHofSA.

When Daniel arrived, he was immediately put under the care of Dr. Cheryl Motta and Sarah, one of his nurses. Dr. Maria Pierce was also on the team, a family friend of Gabriella’s, and told her and Andrew that she would take care of their baby as if he were her own grandson. 

Still thinking there might be a chance Daniel had COVID-19, they isolated him from the rest of the babies, putting him in a less intensive area of the NICU, something Gabriella felt was significant. Fortunately, Daniel did not need ECMO after all, but he was still struggling. One lung would collapse, followed by the other, which impacted his heart and blood pressure. From Gabriella’s perspective, Daniel was getting worse and not better.

“I believe CHofSA has a special place in the heart of God, taking care of the most innocent and vulnerable in our community,” Gabriella said. “The prayers of the nuns who started the infirmary in the late 1800s are still being answered today.”

So, Gabriella and Andrew asked again for prayer from family and friends. At one point, they had about 2,000 people praying for their baby boy. Sarah, the same nurse who took care of Daniel when he was admitted, gave Gabriella a little voice recorder. Gabriella used it to record worship songs for Daniel. One of the other nurses, Amber, played the recordings for Daniel that same night.

The next day when Gabriella and Andrew arrived, something miraculous had happened: Daniel was better.

“No one could explain why, but Daniel was getting stronger. One by one, they were able to disconnect the machines. All the staff was shocked at his quick progress. We truly believe it was the power of prayer,” said Gabriella.

Gabriella remembers the day that Daniel was extubated. It was the first time since he was born she could hear Daniel cry, and from there, he just continued to get better. He was in the NICU for a total of five weeks.

To this day, his doctors are not 100% sure what happened. There is a possibility that he developed COVID-19 in the womb, which would explain why Daniel had so many issues with his heart and lungs when he was born. But they can’t make that diagnosis with certainty.

Today, Daniel is home and hitting many of his newborn milestones. He has had no developmental delays. Daniel is 100% breastfed, and in the 99th percentile for his gestational age. 

“The staff at CHofSA as well as our family and friends were the hands and feet of Jesus to us during our time in the NICU. From Dr. Rosen, my obstetrician, who delivered him to all the janitors in the NICU, they all get credit for the incredible life Daniel will have the opportunity to live. Once, when I was driving home from CHofSA, I felt so strongly God’s love for the place that I wept. I believe CHofSA has a special place in the heart of God, taking care of the most innocent and vulnerable in our community – our children. The prayers of the nuns who started the infirmary in the late 1800s are still being answered today,” said Gabriella. 

After five weeks in the CHofSA NICU, Gabriella is happy to have Daniel home where he continues to grow and meet many of his newborn milestones right on schedule.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio takes care of the sickest and most vulnerable babies in our community and from all over Texas. Learn more about the Level IV NICU by visiting our website:

Life is Fragile. Handle with Prayer.

Jacob’s world came crashing down after experiencing a tragic loss. Then he learned his newborn son was fighting for his life as well. Once the baby was transported to CHofSA, Jacob rarely left his side while he prayed for a miracle.

Jacob and Libby Eubank of Lubbock were overjoyed to learn they were pregnant with their second child. Their excitement grew when they knew they were having a boy to round out their little family.

“We already had a little girl, so knowing we were having a little boy was just perfect,” said Jacob. “I would have been happy with a little girl, too, but deep down, I was ecstatic about having a boy.”

Jacob and Libby were excited to welcome a baby boy to their family. In the photo above, the family of three happily posed for photos to capture special moments with daughter Hadley when she was a baby.

Libby’s pregnancy went well. There were no complications, and she sailed through it. Everything was going as planned, including scheduling Libby for an induction on September 8.

After arriving at the hospital, doctors gave Libby some labor-inducing medication. Soon afterward, Libby’s water broke. It was the moment Jacob and Libby had been waiting for – the arrival of their son who they had named Huxley.

The excitement soon turned to worry and fear when Libby started telling the nurses and doctors that she could not breathe. She ended up needing an emergency C-section and Huxley needed to be intubated right away. At that moment, Jacob’s world came crashing down on him. There were complications during the delivery and Libby did not make it through.

“I remember them taking me out of the room because Libby was struggling. They tried to start her heart several times, but she wasn’t responding,” remembers Jacob. “I was told she had an amniotic embolism which is a super rare condition that can come at delivery.”

While processing this devastating news, Jacob was told Huxley’s life was also in jeopardy.

Doctors determined that he had an abnormal umbilical cord – something doctors did not spot on Libby’s last sonogram. Regardless of whether Libby had survived or not, Huxley would have been born with some issues.

Huxley was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the hospital in their hometown of Lubbock, located in northwest Texas. His physician was fairly sure that he would eventually need to be placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a process where a machine pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. The hospital in Lubbock was not equipped to handle ECMO so preparations were being made for Huxley to be transported to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHofSA) as quickly as possible.

“He was teetering on life or death and was critical,” remembers Jacob. “I told the doctors to do whatever they had to do to save him.”

The next thing he knew, Jacob and Huxley were on a jet plane headed for San Antonio. With every breath he took, Jacob prayed his son would survive. He could not bear the thought of losing both his wife and his son.

When they arrived at CHofSA, the physicians, including Dr. Maria Pierce, were upfront with Jacob and told him exactly what was going on. Jacob remembers how they did not sugarcoat things for him, but at the same time, promised to do everything they could to save his little boy. Jacob did not leave his boy’s side for a moment, often forgoing sleep and meals.

Huxley’s lungs and pulmonary artery were in bad shape. He was sick in the womb, and the trauma of his mother needing an emergency C-section had just been too much for him.

The doctors were worried about Jacob and ordered him to get some sleep. Before he left, Dr. Sowmya Mohan warned Jacob that Huxley might need to be placed on ECMO that night. Jacob signed the paperwork giving his consent and then left to get some much-needed sleep.

“When I left that night, I was pretty freaked out. I remember seeing Huxley’s roommate on the ECMO machine and it was really hard to watch, and I could see how scared the parents were sitting there,” said Jacob. “But, when I came back early the next morning, Huxley was not on the machine. I was relieved.”

Miraculously, it was at that point that Huxley started to show improvement. He became stronger and showed signs of healing. There was a glimmer of hope.

But he was not out of the woods. While he did not have to go on ECMO, his lungs were still very sick, and his pulmonary artery was not functioning well. He was on a ventilator and multiple medications.

“The hard part was that I wanted answers, but the doctors didn’t know why he was so sick,” said Jacob. “Slowly, though, he was making progress and getting better. His body just finally decided, you know, I want to live.”

Jacob remembers watching his son throughout the day and night and the nurses telling him he could touch Huxley with one finger and not his entire hand and that he had to be extremely quiet as to not upset Huxley’s care.

“At that point, his body needed to focus on healing and nothing else. They even had his ears covered and muffled and his eyes blocked. They didn’t want anything to stimulate him,” said Jacob.

Knowing that his son was in the best possible hands at CHofSA, Jacob made the six-hour trip back and forth to Lubbock to check on his 4-year-old daughter, Hadley.

“I left to see my daughter, but I knew Huxley was in good hands. These nurses, especially Katie and Becky, and the doctors have a passion for what they do. And they care. You can see it by the way they treat their patients,” said Jacob.

After one of his trips to Lubbock to attend his wife’s funeral, Jacob returned to CHofSA to find Huxley no longer on a ventilator. It was a huge milestone for a baby who had spent most of his short life connected to tubes. Jacob was about to leave for the night when Katie came over and asked if he wanted to hold Huxley.

“I finally got to hold Huxley for the first time. I held him for an hour and it was the best feeling in the world,” remembers Jacob.

The very next day the news kept getting better and better. “It was a snowball of good news. He just started progressing faster and faster,” explained Jacob.

Not long after, Dr. Pierce and the rest of the team at CHofSA felt like Huxley was finally ready to go home to Lubbock. Out of an abundance of caution, they thought it was best for Huxley to spend a little more time at the hospital there, just to make sure everything was OK.

They kept Huxley for a few days, and soon after, he was reunited with his big sister and his dad. Huxley was in the NICU at CHofSA for three weeks.

“Hadley was over the moon to have her baby brother home. She’s smitten with him and loves to help,” said Jacob. “She likes to feed and burp him, and she’s really quick to get the pacifier for him if he’s sad.”

Hadley (right) enjoys her role as a big sister, helping her dad take care of her baby brother.

Today, Huxley is doing great. He has gained weight and does what normal babies do, a beautiful site for his dad to see after spending long days and nights at Huxley’s bedside in the NICU.

Life changed on a dime for Jacob, Hadley, and little Huxley, but together they are finding their way thanks to the enormous support they receive from their family. Jacob knows his wife is looking down on them and to her he would say, “We miss you and we love you and we’re doing great.”

Huxley continues to grow and thrive after returning home to Lubbock with his dad.

Every day Jacob says he says a prayer for the team at CHofSA and is eternally grateful to them for saving his son. “I pray for those doctors and nurses every night. It’s amazing what they do. They are just amazing human beings,” he said.

If you need more information about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or the ALL KIDZ Critical Care Transport Team, please visit our website.

Forever Grateful

Kaylee experienced several challenges during her pregnancy. After Dax was born she was grateful for the care he received in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

Kaylee Tovar’s pregnancy was anything but ordinary. About a week after she learned she was pregnant, she experienced some cramping and then significant bleeding. She thought she was having a miscarriage. She later learned that she had what is known as a subchorionic hematoma or bleeding under one of the membranes that surrounds the embryo inside the uterus. She continued to spot on and off for the next few weeks and then started having symptoms of what she thought was morning sickness at around three months into the pregnancy. But she was in for another surprise.

“It turns out I was positive for COVID-19. I was feverish, lost my sense of taste and smell, and just felt really tired,” said Kaylee. “But thankfully, my symptoms were mild.”

After recovering from COVID-19, Kaylee continued with her prenatal screenings. It was during one of these prenatal checkups that doctors discovered Kaylee’s baby had Down syndrome. Kaylee took the news in stride and felt like it was something she could handle until she started Googling and learning about all the different birth defects associated with Down syndrome.

“I was pretty depressed during the pregnancy just because of everything that was going on. I was really worried about him,” said Kaylee.

When she was about 16 weeks along, Kaylee had a sonogram to detect other birth defects. Much to Kaylee’s relief, they could not see any heart defects or anything else out of the ordinary – only features that indicated Down syndrome.

Kaylee tried to stay hopeful and positive after learning Dax had Down syndrome.

Her doctors scheduled a C-section for 38 weeks, but her baby, who she would name Dax, had other plans.

When she was about 36 weeks along, Kaylee started having contractions. She thought they were Braxton-Hicks contractions and was not too concerned. But Kaylee was uncomfortable and couldn’t even sit up in a chair or get a good night’s rest. She went to see her obstetrician, who told her that her cervix was only dilated one centimeter and sent her home. Later that night, the contractions got more intense. She found herself back in the hospital and was five centimeters dilated.

Kaylee had a C-section when she was 36 weeks and five days into her pregnancy. Initially, Baby Dax was doing well but needed some oxygen, so the doctors admitted him to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“I thought everything was OK. We went back and forth to the NICU a couple of times, and we were able to hold Dax,” said Kaylee.

Then, things changed – quickly. The medical team informed Kaylee that Dax would need a blood transfusion because his white blood cell count was extremely high which meant he was trying to fight off some sort of infection. Kaylee thought this was only a minor setback and that Dax would get through it without issue.

Less than an hour later, though, Dax was coughing up blood, and the doctors didn’t know why. The doctors had to act fast and decided to transfer Dax to The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHofSA). Kaylee and her husband remained by Dax’s bedside until it was time for him to be transferred.

“I was hysterical. It was already bad enough Dax wasn’t at my bedside. Now, he was going to be in another hospital, and I wouldn’t be able to see him because I was still recovering from my C-section,” said Kaylee.

As the CHofSA team transported Dax, Kaylee returned to her room and tried to rest. Within hours, she received a phone call and learned that Dax would need another blood transfusion and would need to have emergency surgery because there was a tear in his stomach, the source of the blood he was coughing up earlier.

All sorts of things went through Kaylee’s mind. Was the tear in his stomach something to do with Down syndrome? Was it something that wasn’t detected during her pregnancy that should have been? Was the reason for the high white blood cell count leukemia?

Dax underwent his surgery and did remarkably well. He was having some issues with his lungs – something Kaylee expected. He was put on a respirator to assist with his breathing.

The next day Kaylee was discharged from the hospital where she had her C-section and was reunited with her son at CHofSA.

“They weren’t sure what may have caused the tear in his stomach. It could have been a variety of things, but the good news was that he did well. It was definitely a lot to take in. I’d never had a NICU baby before,” said Kaylee.

Dax was transferred to the NICU at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio where he could receive the most comprehensive newborn care available in our region.

But through the whole ordeal, the team at CHofSA kept Kaylee informed, so she knew exactly what was going on. Kaylee still was very nervous throughout his recovery and remembers him needing another platelet transfusion a little later.

“I’d really like to thank the entire team for taking care of him. The nurses, the therapists, and the doctors, especially Dr. (Michael) Megison, and Dr. (Lindsay) DeVries, Dr. (Pratik) Parikh, Dr. (Katherine) Bratton, Dr. (Adam) Wolfe, and Dr. (Maria) Pierce, took care of Dax as if he was their own,” said Kaylee. “I could tell they all cared about Dax and took care of him when I felt helpless.”

Kaylee also extends her appreciation to the Ronald McDonald House located inside The Children’s Hospital, which served as a home away from home when Dax was in the NICU. Kaylee was able to get some rest while remaining close by.

Dax spent 34 days in the NICU and is now at home with his older brother where he is doing well. He sees his pediatrician frequently – and tells Kaylee that Dax is doing great.

“We just take it one day at a time and are forever grateful to the team at CHofSA,” said Kaylee.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio provides comprehensive care for the area’s most vulnerable babies. Learn more about this amazing multidisciplinary team by visiting our website.