ABC News’ Amy Robach, Natasha Singh and Sandra Lee report:
Gideon Marcus Whitchurch is now a healthy 6-month-old baby boy with doting parents. But to parents Rachel and Jeff Whitchurch he’ll always be their miracle baby, born 39 days after his mother’s water unexpectedly broke in the 28th week of pregnancy.
The Salt Lake City couple had already struggled to get pregnant again for five years and so they were overjoyed but cautiously optimistic about the pregnancy.
“After three miscarriages …. to finally have a child a baby that was doing well and made it past 20 weeks, we were thrilled,” Rachel Whitchurch said.
“I was trying to walk that fine line between being really excited that she was pregnant and being really not too emotionally attached,” her husband said.
At just 28 weeks in to her pregnancy, Whitchurch’s water broke. “I called up the doctor and he said come in right away and I was thinking this can’t be happening,” she recalled.
But it wasn’t the first time this had happened. Five years earlier while pregnant with her first son, TJ, Whitchurch’s water broke at 35 weeks; this time, doctors told her that a birth at 28 weeks could mean serious complications.
“When a woman breaks her water so far from her due date the No. 1 concern is infection,” ABC News’ Senior Medical Contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. “It is literally a race against time.”
Preterm premature rupture of membranes, or “P-PROM,” occurs in 3 percent of pregnancies and causes approximately one-third of preterm deliveries, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Doctors at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem, Utah, hoped they could prevent Whitchurch’s labor for up to two days and told the couple for each day she managed to keep the baby inside her, the newborn would be spared three days in the NICU.
“I woke up every morning and thought, ‘There’s another day I just gave my baby,’” Whitchurch said, adding that prayer was the couple’s cornerstone.
Only 5 percent of women are able to keep their baby inside them for seven days after their water breaks, Whitchurch said doctors told her, and that 10 days would be a miracle. In the hospital on bed rest, Whitchurch kept holding on for 39 days, longer than anyone thought possible.
After five weeks in the hospital, Whitchurch’s doctor, Dr. Mark Saunders, said they made a decision to deliver her son when the baby showed signs of distress.
On April 3, 2013, Gideon Marcus Whitchurch was born via C-section at 33 weeks, weighing 3 pounds. He spent five more weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit. Now, he’s a healthy 6-month-old with a mom who says her fight was more than worth it.
“That first night, it was just amazing because we would stop and say, ‘Wait, listen, there’s no beeps! We could hold our baby! There are no cords on him!’” she recalled. “We could finally be together as a family.”