Parker Grant Gehring, only a few months shy of his first birthday, made his first outing into the world with his family this past Easter.
The bright-eyed, bubbly little boy would be considered a miracle to his family — those who watched him struggle to live during his first days and weeks.
Parker’s mother, Brooke, and father, Chad, had tried for some time to have a baby. After two years — with 13 of those months with Brooke on fertility medication — the couple were “ecstatic” to discover they were having a baby.
“It was a dream come true and I was so anxious to meet our little boy,” said Brooke.
Brooke’s pregnancy progressed normally. Ultrasounds showed that their little boy was growing well.
But it was during an ultrasound in Brooke’s 27th week of pregnancy that something appeared to be amiss.
“ ... When the doctor looked at the results I could tell something was wrong,” said Brooke. “The doctor told me that the baby was a lot smaller than he should have been and he was concerned.”
The Gehrings’ doctor referred them to a high-risk pregnancy specialist in Lexington. It wasn’t long before a diagnosis was found. Brooke had a medical issue called absent end diastolic flow. Basically, blood flow through the umbilical cord was hindered, which significantly decreased the amount of nutrients and oxygen Parker was receiving in the womb. Parker’s slowed growth was a result of this, and doctors warned the Gehrings that Brooke would not carry Parker to full term.
The cause of the issue was unknown. Doctors told Brooke that a restriction of blood flow through the umbilical cord is usually a result of preeclampsia. Brooke, though, was not suffering from preeclampsia.
“The doctors had to come in and just say ‘Really, we have no answers,’” said Brooke.
Brooke was placed on bed rest, and two weeks later, when Brooke was 29 weeks and three days along, doctors decided to induce Brooke’s labor.
Parker was born on July 9, and he weighed 1 lb., 13 oz. He was 13.5 inches long.
“After he was born he had his own set of doctors and nurses that immediately started to work,” said Brooke.
Parker was whisked away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Everything was touch-and-go, but Brooke was certain Parker would pull through.
Brooke held Parker for the first time two days after he was born.
“ ... When they opened his incubator and handed him to me I saw exactly how small and fragile he was,” said Brooke. “But holding him was the greatest thing in the world.”
Parker began making progress, and within a week, he was breathing on his own — a fantastic development, considering Parker was only at 30 and a half weeks’ gestation. But alongside the progress came the ups and downs. Parker’s liver enzymes spiked, and doctors in Lexington decided to send him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for closer monitoring. So, at 9 days old, Parker was moved, via ambulance, north to Cincinnati, Ohio.
After 10 days, and “lots of prayer,” Brooke said Parker’s enzyme levels fell on their own, and nine days later Parker was moved back to Lexington. What followed were several weeks of progress and setbacks.
After 65 days in the NICU, three blood transfusions, and two surgeries — one to repair a bilateral hernia and one to build a urethra, since Parker’s hadn’t developed completely — the Gehring family was able to go home.
And today, Parker is doing fantastic.
“Parker is great,” said Brooke. “He hasn’t shown any developmental delays. He’s done really, really well.”
The Gehrings were approached to be this year’s March of Dimes March for Babies Ambassador Family, and Brooke said she knew it was something she wanted to do.
“I really had no idea what the March of Dimes really was before we had Parker,” said Brooke. “We are honored to be the March of Dimes Ambassador Family this year.
“March of Dimes has done so much that has affected the remarkable outcome of our situation and helped us bring a healthy baby boy home despite his early arrival,” Brooke added.
The Gehring family will lead the March of Dimes March for Babies walk in downtown Somerset next weekend.
And Brooke said she was grateful for the support the Gehrings received from family and friends through Parker’s roller coaster journey.
“We are so thankful to all of our family, friends, church members, and community who rallied around us and supported us and prayed for us,” said Brooke. “Every day when we hold Parker we get a glimpse of God’s goodness and his love for us and we are so thankful and humbled.”
The March of Dimes March for Babies is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27, beginning at Rocky Hollow Park in downtown Somerset. Participants will walk through downtown Somerset in support of the non-profit organization, which raises funds for research into pre-natal and postnatal medical issues.