Heart of the High Plains: Sunshine for Charlotte


Premature birth and its complications are the number one cause of death of babies in the United States
The March of Dimes began in the 1930s to improve the health of mothers and babies through research, education, advocacy and support. While the Price family didn’t get the ending they were hoping for with their newborn, they are working with the March of Dimes to ensure the future can be brighter for other families

“You know in a hospital when they’re just kind of talking to you and they’re admitting you and all of a sudden, you can feel like the room change and like an emergency happen?  I instantly felt that,”  Stephanie Price said. 

A relatively normal pregnancy became a very abnormal one when Stephanie started to feel “off” at 28 weeks.  

“So, to be fair, I think that if I had gone home, I would have died.”

Newly-diagnosed with preeclampsia, within 30 minutes of arriving at the hospital, she was in an O.R.  having an emergency c-section.
“That was close to one of the worst parts,” Stephanie said.  ” I just kept asking is she going to cry?  I’m not going to hear her cry.”

Shortly after, little Charlotte was born at one pound 14 ounces. 

“I looked down and she looked up straight at me– at that moment,”  Joe Price said.  “She looked straight in my eyes.”

What followed was a roller coaster of emotions.  Charlotte was diagnosed with a heart condition and was flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.

“They say every day in the NICU is a battle, but it was like every ten minutes,”  Stephanie said. “One minute they’d say her brain had no issues so that was wonderful.  Her lungs were great. Then thirty minutes later, her blood pressure would drop.”

“I just remember saying, ‘hi, it’s me.  I’m here.  It’s going to be ok.’  Truthfully, as stupid as it sounds, I said that until she passed away– it’s going to be okay– when it wasn’t okay.”

Twelve days.  That’s how long the Prices had with their precious baby girl.  

“We just held her and talked to her and loved on her and kissed her and she slowly faded.  That was the worst moment of my life.”

How you continue after such tragedy takes time, and while the Prices admit there are still tough days, the years after Charlotte’s death have given them a chance to think about how Charlotte can live on through them.  For the first time this year, March of Dimes will award two Amarillo NICU nurses the Sunshine for Charlotte award– honoring their outstanding work they do with their littlest patients.

“It’s important for us to share Charlotte’s whole story– that Charlotte lived 12 days, that Charlotte mattered and touched a lot of lives,”  Stephanie said. 

Stephanie also encourages pregnant moms to ask questions of their doctors, to study and to be advocates for themselves and their new babies.

“I am glad that i paid attention and kept saying I don’t feel good to Joe and listened to the doctors when they told me to go to the hospital because we got 12 days with her,” Stepanie said.  “We’d do it all over again just to have those 12 days.”

For more information on the March of Dimes Signature Chef Gala and Auction and for ways to help fund the mission of the March of Dimes, click here

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