“She’s a miracle,” Kennewick family recounts extreme preemie journey

KENNEWICK, Wash. — “I wanted to plan everything get everything set up for her and everything but,” Kennewick Mother Lizet Robles said.

Sometimes though, life has other plans.

“Sometimes I stare at her and I can’t believe she’s here, I just can’t,” Lizet said, talking about her baby daughter, Savannah.

Kennewick couple Lizet and Francisco Robles, who also have two sons, said it’s hard to believe their 17-pound, happy, healthy daughter, had a fighting start to life.

She was born on July 19, 2021, at 22 weeks and three days gestation.

“I felt so guilty, I felt like I had done something to her,” Lizet said.

Last year, the Kennewick couple was thrilled to find out they were expecting a baby girl in early 2021 and Lizet said her third pregnancy was going smoothly.

“Everything was perfectly fine, my 20-week scan was fine,” she remembered.

Then, at 21 weeks.

“I was just feeling a little off,” she said.

After a visit to the ER and her doctor’s office, Lizet learned she had dilated two centimeters, much too soon for little Savannah.

Then her doctor called.

“Said, ‘I want you to drive up to Seattle, to UW, they’re going to check you and hopefully we can get a cerclage placed.’ I was there admitted until – who knows when. I remember just like crying and just begging for her, but they said we’re going to do our best, we’re going to get the NICU team ready and just wait until she decides to come,” Lizet said.

Doctors told Lizet the survival outcome for a baby born under 23 weeks was grim but they would do their best to save her. Until January 2021 at UW Medicine’s Montlake Campus, there may have been zero chance for babies like Savannah but thanks to new research and an Extreme Preemie Program from UW, she had a fighting chance.

“We went live back in January of 2021 where our first baby under gestation of 23 weeks where we attempted resuscitation,” Dr. Thomas Strandjord said.

The medical team was just months into new efforts to save babies born before 23 weeks, when tiny Savannah needed their care. Lizet said they did everything to keep her inside, and administered steroids to help boost her lungs, then she went into labor and delivered Savannah at just one pound and three ounces.

“Had surprising success and that half of the babies that we’ve taken care of at 22 weeks’ gestation have survived to go home,” Dr. Strandjord said.

The months following Savannah’s birth were filled with trips to and from Seattle, procedures, a surgery, highs and lows.

“I just wanted her to be okay,” Lizet said.

The one day, during January of this year.

“We finally got a call and they said – we think she’s ready to go home and I just cried – I remember crying because I couldn’t believe it, you know it’s been such a long time,” Lizet said.

Today, Savannah, is being weaned off of an oxygen tank and sees a physical therapist.

“She’s just living life, her little attitude, her feistiness hasn’t changed it’s just amazing.”

The Robles family said they’re forever thankful for the team of doctors and nurses who helped save their daughter’s life.

“I’m forever grateful – like I wish I would’ve had a chance to say goodbye to every single one and just thank them – because of them, she’s here.”

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