Melissa Johnson is claustrophobic. So when she found herself facing transport by helicopter after her water broke in her 26th week of pregnancy, she knew it would be a tough ride. “I started hyperventilating.
The helicopter guys were so great, but it was scary. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. I sang songs to myself. And I prayed for the baby.”
Most women don’t anticipate helicopter guys playing a starring role in the drama of their child’s birth. Melissa certainly didn’t; she was thirty-seven years old, in excellent health, and had had good prenatal care. This was her first pregnancy, long anticipated after a bout of infertility. She’d had amniocentesis, and the results had come back normal.
No one knows why she went into labor so early. The baby weighed one pound, five ounces at birth. She was so tiny that Melissa’s husband could slip his wedding ring onto her wrist, like a bracelet. Doctors came to the delivery room as Melissa labored to explain that there was a less than 50% chance of survival, and even if the baby did survive, she would most likely suffer serious health problems. After more than three months in the NICU at Johns Hopkins, during which Melissa stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, commuting many hours to and from work and the NICU, Melissa and her husband were finally able to bring their daughter home.
Tymeesha is now a healthy first grader in Calvert County who loves to read. “We’ve been blessed,” says Melissa. “She’s my heart.”