While states were fighting for the right for abortions to take place during the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with the World Heath Organization releasing a statement calling abortion “essential,” a tiny 2-pound baby was fighting for her life inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at South Texas Health System McAllen’s Birthing Center. This beautifully triumphant story of life began on Leap Day, when mom Alana Patten went into labor at only 26 weeks. Because it was so early, baby Gloria came into this world by way of an emergency C-section. Due to the infant’s premature size, Patten wasn’t able to hold her until she was 2 weeks old.
Speaking to ABC’s Good Morning America, Patten said, “She was so tiny, and I just remember how painstaking of a process it would be just so I could hold her,” adding, “We’d have to get the whole team to come over to transfer her from the incubator to my arms.”
Gloria spent her first weeks of life in an incubator. She gradually continued to develop and grow with the help of round-the-clock care, her mother bringing milk daily for her little one, and lots of prayers. Babies born at 26 weeks weighing only 2 pounds are considered micro-preemies and face a very tough battle to grow and live healthy lives.
As little Gloria continued to steadily improve, the coronavirus pandemic became more widespread and hospitals stopped allowing regular visiting hours. Marcy Martinez, the marketing director of the hospital, said that during Gloria’s time in the NICU, the hospital was “forced to restrict visitations due to the COVID pandemic, but Mom was able to see her little one as often as possible.”
As a new mother now caring for her first child who needed a great deal of treatments and love, Gloria’s mom, Alana, says she is thankful that the hospital provided the safest environment for her miracle baby. Gloria’s father, Jon, works in home health care; and due to the risk of what he might be exposed to at work, he didn’t get the chance to hold his daughter until she was safe at home.
The nurses who took care of Gloria all think of her fondly and were so happy to see the baby thriving against the odds. One of the registered nurses who cared for Gloria, Enedelia Reyna, pointed out a unique thing the mother did for her daughter while struggling to survive: “They read to the baby all day, which is very important, and was heartwarming to watch, to say the least.”
After 80 long days living in the hospital, baby Gloria graduated from the NICU on May 19, wearing a shiny red cap and gown that her mother made for her, since nothing could be bought that would fit this teeny-tiny infant! She also donned a small string of pearls to mark the very exciting occasion.
Gloria is now safe at home with Mommy and Daddy and clocking in at a whopping 7 pounds. We pray that Gloria will continue to thrive, and we thank the doctors and medical staff for their ever-essential care in helping to bring her this far. May all life at every stage be deemed not only essential, but vital. God bless you, Gloria and the Patten family!