Sydney Albors was at 29 weeks of pregnancy when a 4D ultrasound alerted her something wasn’t right with her baby.
Fluid surrounded the child’s lungs early this year, and Sydney was admitted immediately to Northside Hospital Cherokee, where she works as an ultrasound technician.
Sydney had two weeks of continuous monitoring before the baby’s movements “were significantly decreased,” she recalled.
A Cesarean section was required due to fluid in the baby’s lungs and throughout her body. Dr. Pushpa Phillips was the delivering physician.
Harper Rene was born Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. She weighed 4 pounds, 14 ounces. Dr. Pushpa Phillips was the delivering physician and Tori Flynn was Sydney’s nurse during delivery.
“She happens to also be my best friend,” Sydney said. “She came into work on her off day just to be my nurse and help me through my C-section.”
Harper was diagnosed with nonimmune hydrops fetalis, a severe, life-threatening condition where the baby experiences abnormal amounts of fluid buildup — in her case, in the chest cavity around her lungs as well as in her arms, legs, abdomen and skull. The mortality rate, Sydney said, is between 60%-90%.
Harper spent 87 days in the Special Care Nursery at Northside Cherokee, where she was intubated on an oscillator and had tubes on both sides of her chest continually draining the fluid off her lungs. She required several blood transfusions and was on many different blood pressure medications to keep her stabilized.
“We were told life in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) was like a roller coaster, and that was the honest truth,” Sydney said. “Every step forward was followed by a step back.”
After about a month and a half, the doctors removed respiratory support. Harper’s chest tubes were taken out because the fluid stopped accumulating.
Harper spent the next two months growing and getting healthy in the Special Care Nursery. Sydney said Dr. Sarita Patel, a neonatologist, was “amazing and seriously was my saving grace through it all,” and credited nurses Britteny Bone, Ginny Brown and Kayla Solazzo who “engraved such a special place in our hearts and still keep in touch to this very day.
“I felt comfortable going home each day knowing she was there with people that loved her just as much as we did. They called her their ‘miracle baby.’ She had all the odds against her and she fought so hard every day to make it to where she is today.”
Now Harper is 7 months old, home with her parents, Sydney and Daniel, and 2-year-old brother, Charlie, in Jasper, Georgia.
Harper’s mom said she’s “thriving,” and as of last week, no longer needs a feeding tube.
“Harper is the happiest and most smiley baby I know,” Sydney said. “She is still her feisty self, as they described her in the NICU. She’s blown everyone’s socks off on how happy and healthy she is. She also is the biggest snuggle bug.”
Learn more about high-risk maternity services at Northside.