By Dauna Ditson
Kayla Chinchar felt alright, just pregnant, when she went for her regular checkup at 28 weeks. But she and the baby she was carrying were anything but fine.
At her appointment, she learned that her blood pressure was alarmingly high and that she had developed pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition that can harm both mother and baby. Ms. Chinchar was rushed to Cranbrook in an ambulance where she had a C-section.
“The baby was starting to go into distress and my body was completely in distress,” she said. “In the matter of a day, I went from being fairly well and pregnant to having a baby.”
A mere twenty-five hours after her routine checkup, Myles was born at 2.4 pounds. The tiny baby, who didn’t utter even the faintest cry, was whisked away from her.
“The had to immediately stick tubes down his throat to get him breathing,” she said. “He was covered in wire and tubes… It was very scary. I was terrified.”
Her fears only escalated as Myles’ lung collapsed a few hours after he was born.
“At that point I was basically preparing myself that he wasn’t going to make it,” Ms. Chinchar said.
The brand-new mom estimated that she got to spend about five minutes with her son before Myles was rushed to Edmonton ahead of her. Ms. Chinchar flew after him a day later when she was stable enough to transfer from one hospital to the next.
Meanwhile, her partner Mike Tegart raced to pack up everything his little family would need for an extended hospital stay.
After two days apart, Ms. Chinchar and Myles were reunited. She wasn’t yet allowed to hold her too-tiny baby, but she could rest her hand on his little body and tell him how much she loved him.
When Myles was a week old, she got to hold him for the first time. He was so little he fit in her hands.
“It was the best feeling in the world, the joy you feel holding your baby,” she said. “It was so comforting.”
Myles’ collapsed lung re-inflated and he kept getting bigger, an ounce at a time.
His first cries – which didn’t come until he was two weeks old – melted her heart.
“He just had this cute little cry. It was so heartwarming to finally hear him,” she said.
In addition to treasuring his first cries, Ms. Chinchar cherished each milestone from giving him his first bath in a tub to dressing him in a premie onesie. One month in, she held a birthday party for him where she “put him in a little outfit and just held him” and felt overwhelmed with gratitude.
“I couldn’t believe we had made it that far,” she said.
By six weeks, when Ms. Chinchar spoke with the Pioneer, Myles was up to 4.1 pounds and making the cutest expressions from grins to glares.
“He’s got quite the personality,” she said. “He’ll smile in his sleep… He’s generally a very happy baby.”
Myles is the 23-year-old mother’s first baby. She’s not sure but he may also be her last as any future pregnancies she may have could also be at risk.
“It’s a long, hard journey, but we’re getting there,” she said. “It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.”
Myles is still in need of care and could have to spend another two or three months in the hospital. He has a lung disease that could take five years to heal. Ms. Chinchar didn’t escape her pregnancy unscathed either. While she isn’t a patient anymore, her kidneys were damaged.
But mother and baby are both on the mend.
“It’s a complete miracle that my baby is alive. And he’s doing as well as can be expected,” she said.
The pair were transferred from Edmonton to Red Deer, but Ms. Chinchar is hoping for another transfer to get closer to home and so Mr. Tegart doesn’t have to travel so far to see his little family.
Ms. Chinchar is awed by how kind the Valley has been in the time following Myles’ early arrival. She offers “a giant thank you” to everyone who is helping out, checking up on her and donating to her family. Finances are tight, she said, so any little bit helps cover gas so Mr. Tegart can visit. Donations can be made through their GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/help-baby-myles-tegart.
“The whole Valley has been there for us the entire time,” she said. “It’s really comforting knowing that there’s so many people supporting us… (and) so many people waiting to see me and meet my baby.”