In the year of 2015, Samantha and husband Devon Brassard, already parents of two boys, were expecting not only a third child but their first little girl. September 14, 2015 Samantha had a c-section and welcomed her beautiful little girl, Vivian. Everything went great, the baby came out healthy and perfect or so this is what doctors, nurses, and the family had thought. Due to Samantha healing from a C-section, the next day was the first time she was able to see Vivian. The nurses wheeled Samantha to the nursery where she was able to meet her baby girl. Baby Vivian was doing just fine, so Samantha was wheeled back to her room to rest.
About 45 minutes later a nurse rushed into her room saying they needed to get Samantha back to the nursery, something was wrong. The nurses told Samantha and Devon it was time to say their goodbyes to their newly born baby girl. Confused, Samantha said, “I think you have the wrong mom, I was just there and she was fine.” The Brassards truly thought the nurse had them mixed up with a different family. The nurse was quick to say no and rushed the parents to their baby. “They were doing compressions. Vivian was purple; purple spots, her ears were purple and she had Pulmonary Hypertension causing cardiac arrest and was flat lined when Devon and I got to the room,” says Samantha. Vivian had been trying to breathe so hard for too long. The hospital called Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago and they helicoptered Vivian up North. Samantha says, “they told us she wasn’t going to make it and had bagged her all the way up”. Vivian’s father, Devon, received a call from the helicopter team stating that they had arrived at Comer Children’s Hospital. Being so worried, Vivian’s grandfather, Dan, and father, Devon, arrived at Comer’s the same time as the helicopter. Meanwhile, Samantha was discharging herself, because she refused to stay while her baby was in a different hospital, hours away. Her mother-in-law, Gina Brassard, and father-in-law, Todd Brassard, drove her. Samantha’s mother, Rita Tincher, stayed back to take care of Vivian’s older brothers.
When they got there, Vivian was on an Oscillator, which is worse than a vent considering the stage level. She had three chest tubes because both lungs had collapsed. To help make sure there was no more damage to other organs, Vivian was put in a cooling unit for 72 hours since the oxygen to her brain was limited. After the 72 hours ended, she was then brought back to normal temperature. Doctors told the family if Vivian made it past two weeks, medically she’d be a vegetable.
As the weeks went by, Vivian was doing better. Samantha and Devon were sure that they would not be able to bring their newborn home for at least a few months. “The first two weeks were the hardest, we were unable to even hold her for 13 days. She was on phenobarbital and paralysis… Vivian was pretty much medically paralyzed, laying there with all these tubes attached to her,” says Samantha.
Vivian’s two older brothers finally got to meet her on day 20. There were a lot of tears and unknowns still to come. Little did they know, when day 27 arrived, Vivian would be released to go home. Right away, Samantha called to set up an early intervention. She was told it would be months before she would be able to get her baby girl in since the family had insurance, so she called IMH (Iroquois Memorial Hospital).
IMH Rehab Services was able to get her in right away and start physical therapy with Therapist Amy Schroeder. Vivian rotated from going to physical therapy three times to two times to now only once per week. She is a very active little girl involved in dance at Studio on Main and walking her show pigs while, of course, wearing a princess dress. “She’s a miracle baby,” says Samantha, “for years it was so hard to watch her grow and not reach the same milestones her brothers had at that age. Thinking she’s never going to crawl, walk or talk… When you’re a mom you’re constantly wondering if she’s going to get married, is she going to experience these life events that she is supposed to. You want the best for your child.”
When Vivian turned two years old things began to look up. She began to walk thanks to IMH Rehab Services and all the support family had given her. Grandfather Todd, Devon’s father, had built a walkway out of PVC pipes to help Vivian learn to walk. It ended up helping her so much that he built one for the IMH physical therapy clinic for other children to use. Today, Vivian walks on her own, speaks full sentences; going to speech therapy at Yakos Therapy twice a week in Kankakee; and everything else a typical four-year-old can do. IMH Outpatient Therapy Team has helped Vivian reach these milestones and will continue to help her reach new ones. Samantha says, “The entire staff is family to us at the Outpatient Therapy.”
Mother, Samantha, thinks Vivian’s older brothers also had a lot to do with her turn around. “The boys have so much patience with her. She wants to do everything they do, and for the most part, they let her. They watch after her like big brothers should and to them she is a princess,” says Samantha.
“We are so thankful for the entire community coming together and praying for us and for Vivian. It’s truly a miracle she is here and without God and the prayers, she wouldn’t be,” states Vivian’s Mother, Samantha.
Vivian Brassard is diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, but you would never know unless you knew her story. “She wouldn’t be as advanced as she is without IMH and her Physical Therapist, Amy Schroeder,” Samantha Brassard says, “she’s a medical miracle”.