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'Miracle baby' born at Wilford Hall

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Jessica, Mary, Rachel and Brent Decker pose for a family picture in Wilford Hall's birth center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Mary was born Jan. 30 -- healthy -- despite being given a 1 percent chance of surviving in the womb. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Campbell)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Jessica, Mary, Rachel and Brent Decker pose for a family picture in Wilford Hall's birth center at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Mary was born Jan. 30 -- healthy -- despite being given a 1 percent chance of surviving in the womb. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Campbell)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Jessica Decker delivered a perfectly healthy girl at Wilford Hall Medical Center here Jan. 30. Although it does not sound like a miracle, to Jessica's doctors it was. None of the doctor's thought the baby would live long enough to be born.

Jessica told her husband, Army Capt. Brent Decker, a helicopter pilot at Fort Polk, La., that she was pregnant in June. They already had a 12-month-old daughter, Rachel, and eagerly awaited child No. 2; however, at only 16 weeks pregnant Jessica's water suddenly broke in the middle of the night.

"We immediately went to the Fort Polk hospital and the (obstetric) staff informed us I'd lost all my amniotic fluid and the baby wouldn't survive," Jessica said. "They suggested we terminate the pregnancy immediately as I was susceptible to infection, but I wanted a second opinion."

Fort Polk doctors sent the Deckers to a civilian doctor in Shreveport who agreed with the original diagnosis.

"The baby's heart was still beating, so we couldn't give up," said Jessica. "We asked if we could get just one more opinion."

The Fort Polk doctors referred them to Wilford Hall because of its outstanding OB and neonatal care reputation. So, at about 20 weeks pregnant, Jessica traveled to San Antonio where Lt. Col. (Dr.) Michael Gordon, chief of obstetrics, examined her.

Gordon told Jessica her baby had a 1 percent chance of surviving and that she could terminate the pregnancy then or wait until the baby died on its own. If the baby somehow managed to survive to 24 weeks, it could be delivered and possibly live, but would probably have serious medical problems and physical deformities.

Jessica decided to wait and the family headed back to Louisiana, expecting the worst any day.

Throughout the next few weeks, the Deckers lived in torment, anxious and nervous each time Fort Polk doctors checked the baby's status. Although tests still showed no change in Jessica's womb, the baby's heart continued to beat. At 24 weeks, the Deckers headed back to Wilford Hall.

It was back in Texas that Jessica and her baby astounded everyone.

Ultrasounds showed the membrane attached to the placenta had sealed and refilled with fluid. Although the baby had been in a dry womb for almost two months, it showed no signs of medical problems or any deformities.

"Dr. Gordon said, 'Somebody call the Pope, this is a miracle,'" Jessica said. "He said if he'd never examined me before, he would have thought this was a typical pregnancy."

Gordon happily informed the Deckers the baby was a girl and suggested they check into the Lackland Fisher House so Jessica could be monitored easily in case problems occurred again.

"We stayed at the Fisher House, free of charge, from Nov. 15 to Jan. 30. They were wonderful," said Jessica. "Between the Fisher House and the compassionate, fantastic Wilford Hall OB staff, we were in the best hands."

On Jan. 30, Capt. (Dr.) Marissa Valencia, an obstetric/gynecologic physician, helped Jessica deliver Mary Decker, who was 6 pounds, 11 inches -- and "perfect."

The Deckers, along with big sister, Rachel, beamed with pride as they prepared to return home with their little girl -- the baby everyone told them would never survive, but beat all the odds.

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