This is the emotional moment a mom met her baby for the first time, seven days after she went into septic shock during labor.
Emilie Gentry, 28, almost died after contracting bacterial infection chorioamnionitis, which impacts the membranes of the uterus and the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.
The executive assistant was forced to undergo an emergency C-section at 39 weeks when her blood pressure dropped to a dangerous level and doctors could not detect her baby’s heartbeat.
She had also developed a high fever which indicated she was battling an infection.
This was confirmed during surgery when doctors discovered her womb had started filling with pus, and her lungs, kidneys and liver were in the early stages of failure.
Gentry’s surgeon at Providence Hospital in Washington delivered her son Edward Jack, "EJ," on August 24, 2016, but the new mom said she was terrified when she did not hear him cry.
A team of doctors worked on baby EJ for 6 minutes until his heart started to beat and he was immediately rushed by ambulance to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Gentry, of Lynnwood, Washington, did not meet her son before she was rushed to the ICU in critical condition as doctors worked to contain her infection.
Gentry received two blood transfusions and was placed on dialysis, which purified her blood and prevented the further spread of her infection, allowing her to heal.
Gentry saw baby EJ for the first time 24 hours after giving birth on Facetime thanks to her fiancé, Billy, who traveled more than 60 miles a day between the two hospitals.
Seven days after her traumatic labor, EJ was discharged from the NICU, and the mom held her son in her arms for the first time.
“The first time I saw my baby was on Facetime," Gentry said. “It was such an emotional thing. I remember seeing his cute little face and I just knew I had to talk to him."
“As soon as he heard my voice I could tell he recognized it," she siad. “He gave the cutest little smile. It was so, so hard."
“Your baby has spent the last nine months inside you, and then so violently he’s ripped out of you," she said. “I couldn’t bear the idea that he was hurting in another hospital. It was heart-wrenching."
“I didn’t meet him until he was seven days old," she said. “On August 31, Billy walked into my hospital room carrying this little bundle. It was so overwhelming, it was the most powerful moment of my life when I finally got to meet my baby."
“When he was put into my arms he immediately cuddled into me. He was like ‘This is my mom,'" Gentry said.
Gentry was discharged from hospital the next day but struggled to bond with baby EJ and would regularly have nightmares about her time in hospital.
She was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and post-partum depression, but a combination of medication, therapy and family support groups have seen her mental health improve.
“In the months after I would wake up screaming," Gentry said. "My nightmares were so bad. I was diagnosed with PTSD and I struggled to bond with my baby. It was very traumatic but I’m in a good place now.”
Gentry feels grateful that her experience has not left her with long-term health problems but she struggles with the idea she will not have any more children.
Frightened by the experience, the couple agreed that 39-year-old Billy would have a vasectomy, a procedure which will prevent Gentry from falling pregnant in the future.
“I’m very lucky that there has been no long-term damage to my health," she said. "My doctor said my case was the closest thing to a maternal death she’s experienced in 20 years. There wasn’t any long-term damage to my uterus but my husband decided to get a vasectomy. He said he couldn’t lose me or go through that again. Emotionally that’s been very hard for me.”
Gentry, who is also step-mom to Billy’s son Hank, 9, said she worried EJ would have serious health concerns after he was deprived of oxygen during birth.
However, the 2-year-old is thriving despite some expected developmental delays.
“It did take EJ a little bit longer to roll over but once he did he was crawling and running quite quickly," she said. “He has a slight speech delay, but we think he’s a really smart boy. He’s so amazing. He’s very laid back, he’s funny."
"He’s so loving, he’s always giving mummy and daddy kisses," she said. “Hank and EJ are best buddies. EJ loves to dance whenever you put on music.”
Gentry is set to walk down the aisle to marry Billy on July 22, where Hank will act as best man and EJ as ring bearer.
"I can't wait. I'm so excited to marry Billy," she said. "I would never have gotten through this without him."