Craig family grateful to celebrate Mother’s Day
CRAIG — Janet Espino’s eyes fluttered open once, twice, bringing her newborn daughter — Sadie Espino — into view long enough to confirm the baby was breathing. Then, Janet lost consciousness.
“I was ripped out of my life and thrown into this whole other life,” she said.
A condition, preeclampsia, set off a chain of events in Janet’s body — a stroke, a C-section birth, a flight for life to Denver and brain surgery — that put both mother and child at risk of death.
Preeclampsia is a rapidly progressive condition that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period; it is characterized by high blood pressure and, usually, the presence of protein in the urine. It affects both the mother and the unborn baby, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.
The foundation estimates it occurs in 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies, accounting for about 20 percent of maternal deaths.
Janet believes her life was saved by the quick actions of her medical team, a powerful will to live and the stalwart faith of her family.
When Levi Espino, Janet’s husband, made the trip to Denver with his three younger children — Jada, Max and Ben — his wife’s survival was in question. Doctors had placed her on a ventilator, and her kidney’s had started to fail.
Levi was doing his best to keep it together for his other children and get them safely to Denver.
“My mind wasn’t even here. It was the longest drive of my life,” he said.
Janet had a feeling, perhaps a mother’s intuition, that something was going to happen. She had packed bags for everyone except her husband.
“I grabbed three shirts — that’s it,” he recalled.
The couple’s eldest daughter, Jada, found herself staying strong for her family.
“I was scared, but I was trying to keep it together for my brothers and my dad. My mom is my best friend. If I would have lost her, I would have lost everything,” she said, struggling against tears.
Janet was also frightened; she’d been concerned about this baby, but now, she knew she was fighting to live long enough to see all her children grow.
The Espino’s became pregnant with Sadie four years after a miscarriage. At 14 weeks, Janet was showing signs of pre-labor and her doctor, Scott Ellis, from Memorial Regional Health, began careful monitoring.
By 24 weeks he’d prescribed bed rest for Janet. Two days before the stroke, Janet was admitted to the hospital to count down to a planned inducement at 35 weeks. Then, she suffered a stroke in the right frontal lobe, losing her ability to speak, move the left side of her body and control some of her emotions.
“I can remember the stroke, but not the day before the stoke,” she said. “Dr. Ellis saved my life. He administered magnesium and stopped it (the stroke), helped my memory and my language is still here, intact.”
It wasn’t an easy recovery. The family spent 2 1/2 months in Denver as Janet relearned how to talk and walk. Her left hand sits limply in her lap, a lingering symptom of the stroke. She has good days and bad days, though doctors expect her to make a full recovery.
“We are learning joy through this,” she said. Levi added, “and patience. When you don’t know what to do, just stand and be patient, and things will come to pass.”
The family is writing a blog on Facebook — Our Learning Journey of Joy — about their journey together and to raise awareness of preeclampsia and stroke.
“If you see signs of it, go to the doctor. Don’t wait it out. There are people out there who would have waited it out. We could have lost Sadie; we could have lost my mom,” Jada said.
A sign made from a wooden pallet outside the Espino family’s front door reminds them, “there is always something to be grateful for.” Among the Espino’s blessings are four healthy, happy children and a mom and dad who showered them with love them — this Mother’s Day and, as Janet said, “God willing, the next.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.