Minnesota baby born at 1-pound, 9.8 ounces and early manages to survive

DEERWOOD, Minn. - Jean Kruger believes in the power of prayer. She has a precious daughter to prove it. Kruger always dreamed of becoming a mother. On Dec. 13, 2014, her dreams came true in the form of a 1-pound, 9.8-ounce baby girl who was less ...



DEERWOOD, Minn.  - Jean Kruger believes in the power of prayer. She has a precious daughter to prove it.

Kruger always dreamed of becoming a mother. On Dec. 13, 2014, her dreams came true in the form of a 1-pound, 9.8-ounce baby girl who was less than a foot long - a baby who wasn't supposed to be.

Kruger, Deerwood, has battled varying gynecological issues most of her life. There was even talk of a hysterectomy.


Most recently, it was discovered she had blood clots in her uterus. Because of the clots, she needed to have some blood work done. Kruger's doctor entered the exam room with test results in hand. She was in disbelief.

"My doctor walked in and said, 'This isn't really medically possible, and I don't know if you believe in a higher power or not, but you're pregnant right now.' I began to cry," Kruger said. Her joy was short-lived, however, as her doctor informed her that because of the blood clots, if one burst, the baby wouldn't make it.

Kruger went home and a few days later she began to bleed. She went back to the doctor and was told she was having a miscarriage. She said she was lucky that it was something she didn't have to go through alone. She had the support of her fiance, Jason Karppinen, who told her that whatever happened was up to God. The doctor called them a few days later and said the blood work still showed she was pregnant but her numbers weren't doubling the way they were supposed to be.

"A couple weeks later go by and I start bleeding again really bad and I go in and she's like, oh yeah, you are definitely having a miscarriage now," Kruger said.

She went back home to wait it out again. But another call from the doctor revealed she was indeed still pregnant.


Uncertain future

Kruger, 39, was 17 weeks pregnant when she had genetic testing done in St. Cloud. Because of her advanced maternal age, the doctors suggested she have the tests done.


"That was horrible. They wanted me to do an amnio. I got all the way on the table and they told me that one in 200 (women), their waters will rupture and your baby won't make it. And at 17 weeks, there's absolutely nothing we can do," said Kruger.

Kruger decided she couldn't go through with the amniocentesis.

"I don't know, I had a feeling or something and I was like, OK, if I made it 17 weeks - I got on the table and then I said I can't do this."

The staff told her the baby would be born with defects.

"They told me it might not have its diaphragm. It might have more fingers or might have less fingers or toes. They just told me everything that was going to be wrong," Kruger said.

"I went home and at 22 weeks, my waters broke. It's called premature rupture of membranes. We were getting ready to go to Thanksgiving at Jason's sister's house and I was sweeping the floor and it all just broke and gushed out. I called the doctor's office and they told me that I peed myself and not to worry about it - that it happens all the time."

Kruger decided to head in to the hospital to get checked out. They ran some tests and again, she had to wait.

"I was in this room for a really long time and all of sudden they come in and tell me the ambulance is coming. They're taking you to St. Cloud right now," said Kruger.


Kruger was admitted and doctors immediately began running tests. She was hooked up to a heart monitor and they did an ultrasound. The baby's heartbeat was still good. However, they came back with results that the baby had Trisomy 13, which means she wouldn't be compatible with life.

"They told me she would live one to five days and they would give her injections of morphine and we could just hold her and she would die," Kruger explained.

Kruger was given the option to go to the University of Minnesota Medical Center and not "do the pregnancy" because of the Trisomy 13 results.

"Jason and I just didn't want to do that," Kruger said, holding back tears.

The doctors at St. Cloud Hospital explained to Kruger and Karppinen that viability isn't considered until 24 weeks.

"They didn't tell me at the time but after I had her, they told me that most people, when their waters completely break and there's no fluid left, only make it 24 to 48 hours (before giving birth). I made it 17 days. So I was able to get the steroid shots for her lungs and the 12 hours of magnesium to help with cerebral palsy," said Kruger, tears welling in her eyes.

"The hardest part of this journey for me has been that I couldn't always be there," recalled Karppinen, who was interviewed via email because his job takes him away from home and out on the road. "I missed a lot of time in the hospital. It is very hard being on the road when I want to be there."



Brielle arrives

Unfortunately, the one night Karppinen wasn't sleeping on the couch in Kruger's hospital room was when Kruger went into labor.

After being pregnant for 24 weeks and three days, Kruger gave birth via emergency C-section to tiny Brielle Leann Karppinen. She weighed 1 pound, 9.8 ounces but immediately dropped to 1 pound, 5 ounces after birth. She was 10.8 inches long.

Kruger said she had a different name in mind but when all of this happened, Karppinen said they needed to pick a name that meant "fighter" or "warrior." Brielle means warrior of God.

She was born screaming and flinging her arms and feet. The doctor told Kruger that was a good sign as some premature babies don't even make a sound. Some of the nurses told Kruger later they were there the night Brielle was born and could hear her crying from the hallway.

"She came in with a bang," Kruger said.

Brielle was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit immediately. She was breathing on her own in the very beginning, but was then placed on a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine when her health started to deteriorate. She had a hole in her heart and bled into her lungs. They put her on an oscillator, similar to a ventilator. The oscillator, or high frequency oscillation, puts pressure into the lungs, keeping them open and then shakes small volumes of air in and out of the lungs at a high rate.

On Christmas Eve, they were told Brielle wasn't going to make it through the night.


"We just sat there on that couch all night and cried and prayed," Kruger said.

The doctors told Kruger and Karppinen the oscillator was the last possible thing they could do for her and ultimately, it was up to Brielle to make it.

"They told me, 'It is up to them (the baby). We try everything medically, but it is up to them in the end,'" Kruger recalled. "She had to want to live. I saw other babies that didn't make it."

"The power of prayer is where we found our strength. Prayers were answered it seemed almost daily," said Karppinen.


Defying the odds

That power of prayer helped Brielle make it through the night and she has continued to flourish. On March 12, 2015, 90 days after being born, she was released from St. Cloud Hospital, weighing 5 pounds, 7.5 ounces and 16.73 inches long. She was 3 months old but, gestationally, she should have remained in the womb until closer to her due date - April 1.

Kruger is settling in to being a mom.


"Even though she doesn't sleep at night," said Kruger, with a smile.

"Jean is a great mother," Karppinen said. "She only wants the best for our child and she is doing a lot of the raising on her own as I am gone on the road a lot. We Skype when we can so I can see her (Brielle) which does help a little. I also talk to her on the phone and she does know my voice."

Karppinen is hoping to spend Mother's Day with Kruger and Brielle. He misses a lot of holidays and special days because his job can take him away at a moment's notice.

Kruger said because Brielle's immune system is not fully developed, they can't go anywhere.

"My mom and I have a tradition of going to the Lions' Mother's Day Tea at the little church in Deerwood," said Kruger. "We get hats and dress all up, but I can't go this year because I can't have her (Brielle) in public, so my mom is debating if she's going or not. I said maybe we could just have our own little tea here. We could dress up and take pictures here."

Because her prayers were answered, Kruger will have many years of traditions to build on for Mother's Day and every day.

"I just remember when I was on bedrest," Kruger said, her voice wavering. "I got out of my bed and I got on my hands and knees, and you know how they always say, they'll never bring you to your breaking point, but I said, 'I'm so there. Please help me to be able to have her because this is my only chance. It's my only chance. And here she is."

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