Having a baby during a pandemic
Justa and Brooke Adams’ miracle child
It takes some planning and serious effort to bring a miracle baby into the world during a pandemic. For Brooke and Justa Adams, the process of creating their biological child consisted of in vitro fertilization. Of nine eggs, only one survived without Justa’s genetic blood clotting disorder, called Von Willebrand Disease Type IIB.
“Similar to hemophilia, she has a factor eight deficiency with a different antigen – her blood does not clot by the normal definition.
A single egg and a single chance. He will be the first grandchild on both sides of the family and the only grandchild on Brooke’s side.
“Because of my medical issues this is our one and done miracle child,” she said. “That wasn’t the plan, but after going though this my hematologist told us, ‘You cannot do this again.’ I think all children are a really big deal, but this child has made it through a lot of obstacles and is so loved already.”
A roll-over accident with a leg injury that would not stop bleeding, a brain bleed after a spill on her skis – despite wearing a helmet– Justa knows the fear of having a rare and serious condition in a remote place. Baseball, basketball, skiing – anything could prove incredibly dangerous for their kiddo if he had her condition. It was out of the question for them to move out of Big Sky, so the only option was to lean on science and hope for a miracle.
“I’m a very high risk pregnancy,” she said. “My hematologist here [in Montana] was like, ‘There is no place here that is equipped for real-time [blood] testing.’”
At 34 weeks pregnant, she packed her things, kissed her husband goodbye and headed to her mother’s home in Florida. “I’m fine and the baby is fine – we are doing great! I am just so grateful, but the doctors were scared and they were scared for a while – and then you add a pandemic on top of it,” she said.
A team of specialists prepares. The plan is being established – contingency plans upon contingency plans. Hoping for the best, but preparing just in case.
“I am waiting for a game plan for the team of hematologists, the high risk OBs, and the maternal fetal medicine specialists – three teams of doctors that are having to get together to make this game plan for me, so it’s a lot of moving parts,” she said.
Justa’s mother realized there was something wrong when Justa was about two years old. She heard Justa crying over the baby monitor and discovered blood caked all over the side of her face and in her hair.
“She looked like an axe murderer. I cleaned her up and looked in her mouth and her mouth was bleeding - an extraordinary amount of blood. I made an appointment with her pediatrician,” Becky Thomas said. Her bloodwork came back normal. The abnormality is with her platelets, something that is not picked-up by a typical blood panel. The pediatrician said there was no cause for concern. Following her instinct, she took Justa to the emergency room at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where she was diagnosed.
Cameron will be born around mid-August – in that same hospital where the doctor’s diagnosis may have saved his mother’s life.
“I think with all medicine you really need to be proactive, don’t believe everything they say – research it,” Thomas, who was trained as a nurse said.
Justa had to go to a more urban area with a larger research hospital and wanted to go to Florida due the proximity of family. Still, when she is admitted so she can go into labor, only one person can come with her. There will be no mother, brother, or motherin-law, no scores of family members drinking single cups of coffee from a machine or trying to ease their concerns with hugs and snacks.
“There’s one person – and that is going to be my husband. Once you get into the hospital you can’t leave. The husband can’t leave to go get food. I’m not sure if I can even walk in the hall,” Justa said of hospital procedures during a pandemic. “They’re going to quarantine us in our room. Until the baby comes, until you leave – you are just stuck there. We have friends who just had a baby who brought coolers of food.”
Justa’s journey is not what she expected. She thought she would be living in Florida and working with horses.
“I realized I was in love with Brooke Adams and my life took a turn,” she said.
On May 5 of 2014, the couple turned to Big Sky together – an adventure Brooke had tried to convince Justa to take for three years. Brooke went to work in construction and is now building spec homes in Spanish Peaks. Justa earned her master’s degree in Fish and Wildlife Ecology and Management at Montana State University, but now works in real estate.
Now that she has made it to the Treasure State, she never wants to leave. They do not watch much television. Instead, they drive around in Yellowstone National Park or up Taylor Fork and look for animals. Justa takes her camera and they marvel at the splendour found in fields of sage brush and on mountaintops; they savor miraculous views of wildlife at twilight. They are excited to bring a baby on their adventures.
“Having a life [in Big Sky] is a dream,” she said.
It is hot in Florida right now. Justa is trying to keep her feet elevated, and is awaiting the arrival of her husband – and her baby. She is delighted that they have made it this far.
“We are over the moon to have one healthy baby and to live in a community that has embraced us,” she said.