Montara Johanson is praying for a Christmas miracle.
She has reason to be hopeful. Johanson, a student at the University of Kansas, is 32 weeks pregnant with a baby boy who doctors had written off and who wasn’t supposed to survive 19 weeks.
“Although doctors told us to terminate the pregnancy we chose not to and to put it into Gods hands,” said Kary Ramsey Johanson, Montara’s mother, a rural Barton County resident. “Everyday is a gift. And everyday is closer to the miracle of him being born.”
She spoke by cell phone Tuesday morning while at her daughter’s bedside at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. Montara goes there twice weekly to have the unborn child monitored.
Montara and family have nicknamed the baby “Bean,” a handle that came about early in the pregnancy and stuck. The expectant mother assures everyone this will not be the boy’s name after he is born.
A Facebook page (Team Bean https://www.facebook.com/teambabybean) has tracked Montara’s and Bean’s ordeal.
“So now begins the road to we don’t know where,” said Kary. “We are going to war for Bean’s life. We were plainly told the prognosis is nil. They gave us no glimmer of hope in this whatsoever. They gave us nothing to build on or hope for. Nothing.”
But, “we aren’t accepting this. We refuse to. Where there is a God there is a way.”
None the less, there are many unknowns.
The battle for Baby Bean
Kary said they found out Montara and her boyfriend Clinton Hale of Shawnee were expecting in June. “It was all rainbows and butterflies until September.”
It was on Sept. 6 that Montara went in for her first sonogram.
“It couldn’t come soon enough for our family,” said Kathy Phelps, Montara’s aunt from rural Ellinwood who has accompanied Kary and Montara on most doctor visits. “It was the day we were to find out the sex of the newest addition to our family, our baby we affectionately nick named ‘Bean.’”
When they arrived at the doctor’s office, a problem with Bean was immediately discovered. There was no amniotic fluid.
“To our absolute horror, we were sent to a specialist in Overland Park,” Phelps said. “There we were told the worst news we could’ve possibly heard. We were totally unprepared.”
Bean not only had no amniotic fluid but the heart was abnormal. It took up 50 percent of the chest cavity and the walls of the heart were thickened.
They were also told they could not find any kidneys or bladder.
“The doctor was completely honest about his opinion for Bean’s future,” Phelps said. “He looked my niece in the face and simply told her ‘this is not a baby you will take home.’ They might as well have cut our hearts out, it would’ve been much less painful.”
They gave Montara two options. The first was abortion which needed to happen immediately as she’s right at 20 weeks. The second option is just let Bean go on and see what happened.
“Both Bean’s parents agreed along with us (Phelps and Kary) that termination was not an option,” Phelps said. “In the beginning of Bean’s life there were struggles, and Bean made it this far so there was no chance of ending the life like that.
“We’re believing God for Bean’s life,” Phelps said. “We’re going to do everything we can to try to help Bean. We have to. This is our baby, our family. And family doesn’t give up on family, they stick together until the very end.”
A reason to hope
Since that fateful, dreadful, day in September, the family has learned Bean is a boy. Doctors have also found that Bean does have kidneys and some of his heart problems have healed.
The road is still a long one, Kary said.
“We want to get her to 36 weeks before she delivers,” she said. That would be Dec. 30.
But, on this trip to Children’s Mercy, it was discovered that Bean had rolled over on the umbilical cord, compressing it. This was causing the heart rate to drop.
Because of this, “she may have to deliver early,” Kary said. Either way, it would be a cesarean section.
It was planned for Montara to be hospitalized starting Dec. 16 for the last two weeks of her pregnancy. Hospitalization may have to start now should the baby have to come earlier than planned.
“Now that is all uncertain,” Kary said.