A Family's Journey of Hope, Determination and Medical Breakthroughs

November 2, 2023

Brittney Paxson with her baby and a maternity nurseIn the quiet hush of an ultrasound room, the lives of Brittney Paxson and her husband took an unexpected turn as they heard the words that would forever change their world: "Your baby has fetal hydrops."

Paxson, 28, had a normal pregnancy in the beginning few months. On October 4, 2021, at her 18.5 week anatomy ultrasound, everything changed. They were told the fetus had non-immune fetal hydops, which is the accumulation of fluid in two or more body parts.

“The condition is rare and occurs in one in every 4,000 pregnancies per year,” explained Ruben Quintero, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist with Wellington Regional Medical Center, who cared for Paxson during the pregnancy. “Brittney’s baby had fluid in the belly and both lungs. Thankfully, we have ways to treat the condition with successful outcomes.”

The Paxsons traveled to Miami, a two-hour drive from their home, every week for four months. “It was not the pregnancy I was expecting or hoping for, but thankfully we were in the right hands and qualified for in-utero surgery that saved my baby’s life," said Paxson.

Dr. Quintero conducted tests to rule out a genetic component or infectious disease and then performed in-utero surgeries including placing a shunt in the fetus’ chest to expand the lungs.

Paxson was scheduled to be induced in Miami, where Dr. Quintero’s practice is, but when her water broke a day beforehand, she went to Wellington where he delivered the baby. Lily Faith Paxson was born on February 21, 2022. Lily stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for the first 24 hours.

“The care I received was better than expected. As a first-time mom, who went through so much during pregnancy, it was scary and nerve-racking to be in the unknown most of the time,” explained Paxson. “The nurses I had were some of the kindest people I have ever met. I even gave Lily the middle name Faith, after one of the nurses who was part of this journey.”

Today, Lily is perfectly healthy and thriving. Had the Paxsons not found Dr. Quintero, the outcome could have been much different.

Paxson decided to write a book about her miracle baby, entitled Mustard Seed of Faith. “There were so many things that happened throughout our journey that one would say were coincidences, but I knew they were not – they were meant to happen. I wrote the book about Lily because if nothing else, I wanted to use our story to help other parents and families who may be struggling with something of their own. I wanted to instill hope into others and remind them to have faith in the dark times and believe that things will be ok regardless of the outcome. It is a story about perseverance, faith, dedication and hope. I eventually got to the point in the journey where if the only reason we went through what we did was to bring others closer to faith or to help them have hope, it was worth every bit of what we went through.”