Amber Zepeda

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.  And, when a child is born way too soon, families find themselves trying to hold on — to hope, to their faith, and to every bit of encouraging news.

Watching numbers flash on the monitors, listening to the teams as they discuss your baby’s progress and setbacks, asking lots of questions, learning everything you can. You just hold on, as you count on the advances of modern medicine and you pray for a miracle.

Amber Isabella Zepeda knows something about holding on. She was born way too soon, with the tiniest of hands, but when it came to her fight for life, she held on tight.

Amber was born at University Hospital on December 6, 2016.  She would have been the perfect early Christmas gift except for the fact that she wasn’t supposed to arrive until late March. Her mom Adriana will never forget seeing her daughter right after delivery. “She was so tiny and skinny,” she says holding her hands about 10 inches apart.

Amber was small.  Just one pound, five ounces.  But she was alive.  Adrianna was grateful, but also terrified. Amber’s lungs were far too underdeveloped to allow her to breathe on her own and, as a micro-preemie, that was just the first of the many serious concerns that would need to be addressed. She was immediately whisked away by the neonatal resuscitation team. Several hours later, Adriana was wheeled into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to meet her daughter. Amber was intubated. A ventilator was breathing for her, keeping her alive. There were lots of machines and cords.

Adrianna sat in her wheelchair looking into the incubator wondering and worrying about what the future would hold for her precious little girl and her family. That was Day One of what would ultimately be a NICU stay of more than six months —  a journey that pushed the boundaries of medicine, and put to the test the resolve of a family to hang onto to hope and the strength of a tiny baby to hold on to life.