First-time VA mom, born a preemie herself, welcomes own micro-preemie daughter: 'Full circle story'
6th April 2022

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A Virginia woman who was born prematurely has given birth to a daughter — who arrived under circumstances incredibly similar to her own.

Megan Grace Baker celebrated her 24th birthday on March 26 with her first child, Grace Lyn Baker. The baby is currently in the neonatal intensive care unit at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond. She was born at 24 weeks.

Staff at Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia are calling the moment a “full-circle story of multigenerational preemie survival.” 

Baker arrived 10 weeks early when she was born in the 1990s — and now, her own baby Grace has arrived 15 weeks early.

Megan Baker, who is 24, gave birth to daughter Grace Baker in Richmond, Virginia, on Jan. 14, 2022.
(Megan Baker/Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

Some medical studies suggest that preterm birth does run in families, according to the University of Utah Health.

Baker was born in 1998 at St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina. 

She weighed 3 pounds, 9.7 ounces, and was the first child of TC and Gretchen Bradford.

Megan Baker (left) was born prematurely in 1998 in South Carolina. Shown on the right is her daughter, Grace Lyn Baker, born as a preemie weeks ago. 
(Megan Baker/Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

“I decided to come early,” Baker told Fox News Digital. “Mom’s water sac broke, she got a fever, high blood pressure — so they let me be born.”

Baker remained in the NICU for 39 days after her 1998 birth. Years later, she and her husband Stephen faced the same challenges her parents faced when Baker was born: limited visitation of the baby, and worry about the unknown.

Grace Lyn Baker was born weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces, in Virginia. Her mother, Megan Baker, was also born prematurely. In this image, Megan Baker is touching one of her new daughter’s feet.
(Megan Baker/Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

“They’ve been advising us emotionally and practically through that process,” Baker said of her mom and dad. 

“I think it was initially just a shock for everyone. I know my dad stayed up all night until he made sure my daughter and I were OK, knowing what happened many years ago.”

Baker experienced a normal pregnancy up until Jan. 14, when her water broke while she was at work. Her original due date was May 2, 2022.

Baby Grace defies the odds

When Baker arrived at the hospital, she was 4 centimeters dilated.

“The conclusion was an incompetent cervix,” Baker said of the complication contributing to Grace’s premature birth. “All other labs [were] normal. That’s as far as we were able to medically confirm at this point.”

Grace Lyn Baker is seen at Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia, where she’s been cared for by a team of specialists since her premature birth. 
(Megan Baker/Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

Grace was born weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces. 

“She came out crying. She came out on the CPAP, which is the machine [that] breathes for you,” Baker recalled. “I think the initial thought was, ‘Wow, this kid is actually crying, which means she may actually pull through this.’”

“The survival right at 24 weeks, which is where Grace was, is about 50 percent.”

Dr. Ann Heerens is a neonatologist and medical director at Pediatrix; she oversees the neonatology team and is baby Grace’s primary caregiver. Heerens said doctors placed Grace on a breathing tube for the first two days of her life to help her lungs perform. 

Grace was also placed on a ventilator for several weeks. 

“Grace has been our little rock star and when she was born, she came out very, very quickly,” Heerens told Fox News Digital. “Mom came to the hospital, and [the baby] was born two hours later. So, she didn’t get the benefit of some of the treatments we provide to our highest risk moms.”

In this photo, baby Grace is seen breathing room air for the first time.
(Megan Baker/Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

“We were really worried about her,” Heerens added of Grace. “The survival right at 24 weeks, which is where Grace was, is about 50 percent.”

Caring for Grace has been a team effort, with nearly 45 Pediatrix staff members who improve the outcome for tiny babies, Heerens said.

Heerens also credits Baker for pumping breast milk and delivering it to the hospital. Grace now weighs over 5 pounds.

Dr. Ann Heerens (left) and Stefanie Martin, RN (right) are seen holding baby Grace.
(Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

“Thinking of the time Megan [Baker] was born, I am in awe of the changes,” Heerens said, adding that specialists have more experience and knowledge, plus better medication and technology.

Grace is still dependent on a feeding tube, though on March 31 she took 30 milliliters from a bottle. 

“Once she figures out how to eat, she’s going to go home,” Heerens said.

‘Little Feisty One’

Grace is “right on track” to head home, possibly later this month. 

Because of her determination to rise above, Grace was nicknamed “little feisty one.”

“She is the type to say, ‘This is what I want, and I’m going to get it,'” Baker said of her tiny daughter. “She has some of the quieter moments, which we know comes from my personality, but there’s definitely a mix. Keeps it interesting, for sure.” 

Baby Grace is expected to head home during the month of April 2022.
(Megan Baker/Pediatrix Neonatology of Virginia)

Since Grace has progressed so well, all of Baker’s fears have subsided. 

Now, the Bakers are focused on getting their baby home.

“Regardless of what happened, you still have that precious baby. You still have a life.”

Baker’s message to other NICU parents is that “it’s OK” to go through the wave of emotions. 

“Regardless of what happened, you still have that precious baby,” Baker said. “You still have a life. You still have a story, and it’s definitely worth telling.”

She went on, “Watching Grace’s incredible journey and seeing everything she’s going through is definitely not by her own merit. It’s the many people praying for her, the number of people helping you.”

“You’re going to have many people around you helping to make sure that little life has the best chance possible.”

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