Palo Alto, Calif. Eloysa and Roy Vasquez gazed down at their healthy newborn son this week in the neonatal ward at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, their beaming faces a reminder that every birth is a miracle.
Some births, like Timothy Abraham's, are just a little more miraculous than others.
The boy, who has a race-car-shaped bed waiting at home in Tulare, Calif., became one of a half-dozen babies delivered in Packard's 15 years to a mother with a condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta type 3.
The genetic disease makes Eloysa Vasquez's bones so brittle that a muscle move could break them. She weighs 37 pounds and has depended on a wheelchair since she was 10. Fewer than 50,000 people in the U.S. live with her disease.
And after two first-term miscarriages, the Vasquezes knew the odds were long for them to one day embrace Timothy. Only one out of every 25,000 deliveries involves a mom with OI, and far fewer involve moms with the severe type 3 version.
"I knew if I tried one more time, it would be worth it," said Vasquez, 38.
Vasquez's small stomach meant doctors had to carefully balance nutrition to keep her and the developing baby fed. Her full-size uterus expanded properly to hold her growing child, but after eight months her lungs became so compressed she could hardly breathe.
Mothers with OI must deliver by C-section, which means blood loss. The typical amount of blood loss would have been the equivalent of half Vasquez's circulating blood supply. So doctors prepared for that, too.
Eloysa Vasquez spent the last three months of her pregnancy at Packard.
She managed to gain 20 pounds, the weight gain recommended for a woman of taller stature but more than half Eloysa's normal body weight.
Finally, at 32 weeks, her doctor decided Timothy could hold his own.
And on Jan. 24, Vasquez was able to cradle all 3 pounds and 11 ounces of her long-awaited son. He filled her whole lap.