Preemie Baby Born To Preemie Parents In Same Provo Hospital

Feb 21, 2019, 4:45 PM | Updated: 5:35 pm

PROVO, Utah — Little Wendy Bird was born six weeks ago, but she wasn’t due until March 6.

“The nurse came in and she said, ‘How close is your husband to us?'” Candace Bird explained.

“I get a call saying, ‘Hey get over here, we’re having a baby,'” her husband, JT Bird, said. Within 30 minutes, Wendy Bird arrived. As a preemie, she only weighed 2 pounds 12 ounces, which wasn’t unfamiliar for her parents.

“She was almost exactly like me. She was two months early,” Candace Bird explained.

Like mother, like father, and like daughter, all three were born prematurely and cared for in the same NICU at Utah Valley Hospital by the same doctor.

JT and Candace Bird spent about five weeks in the NICU with their daughter.

JT and Candace Bird spent about five weeks in the NICU with their daughter.

Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Stephen Minton, the chief of neonatology at Utah Valley Hospital, has watched over more than 34,000 babies over the last 40 years when he opened the nursery in 1979.

Candace Bird was diagnosed with preeclampsia and was going into liver and kidney failure. Her obstetrician decided to take the baby early to protect Candace’s health. After a high-risk pregnancy and intense delivery, the Birds are grateful to have Wendy in their arms.

Candace Bird said the first time she saw her daughter’s face after the nurses removed all the tubes was amazing. “The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Some might call their story a coincidence, but Minton said there’s more to it.

“We have more information that this is a genetic disease,” he said. “If a mother has a preterm baby, they are much more likely to have another preterm baby.”

Dr. Stephen Minton cared for both Candace and JT Bird and their new baby, Wendy Bird, who was also born prematurely.

Dr. Stephen Minton cared for both Candace and JT Bird and their new baby, Wendy Bird, who was also born prematurely.

Minton also said that if the family has a history of preterm labor, “then the girls are more likely to have preterm babies, and their daughters are more likely to have preterm babies.”

However, Minton explained 50 percent of the time, doctors have no idea why a baby was delivered preterm. He said it’s challenging to fix a problem, “if you’re not sure what the cause of the issue really is.”

But Minton said technology has helped the medical community make significant progress in delivering “babies who used to die inside moms before viability,” and in delivering early preterm babies as late-term or term babies.

Additionally, Minton referenced a recent landmark project published by 23andMe and researchers around the world identifying six genes that have an increased incidence of causing mothers to deliver preterm. Minton said he hopes this allows medical professionals to start preventing preterm labor.

While genetics is likely the reason Wendy Bird came early, Minton said there are other contributing factors you can control like a healthy diet and regular exercise. “Especially when you’re taking care of two — you and the baby. They’re really, really important issues,” he emphasized.

For now, the Birds are enjoying time with their little baby girl at home.

“It’s life-changing,” JT Bird said. “It was probably the coolest thing in my life,” Candace Bird added.

Minton also encourages pregnant mothers to stay on top of infections which could induce early labor. He said very young women and older women, and mothers to multiples are more likely to give birth prematurely.

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Preemie Baby Born To Preemie Parents In Same Provo Hospital