The word doctors use to describe the reason she was born so early was almost longer than she was: “pre-eclampsia.”
Karlei didn’t have it; her mother, Wendi, did.
“It’s pregnancy induced,” Goodwin says, “and it can be fatal.”
The BBC series “Downton Abbey” brought the relatively obscure condition into the public eye.
The only cure, her specialist in Corpus Christi said, “was to deliver her baby.”
The problem, of course, was that she had been pregnant for only 24 weeks. But the doctors had no choice. Goodwin’s liver was so enlarged it was pushing up into her chest.
“The doctor told me he had to induce labor, or I would die,” she says. “Your organs begin to shut down.”
A year removed, she admits that she had a hunch something was going wrong with her pregnancy. “I know my own body, and I knew something wasn’t right.”
She went to the emergency room at Christus Spohn Hospital on Dec. 23, where doctors discovered her blood pressure was so high they feared any kind of excitement or stimulation would lead to a stroke.
“There was no other option but to have the baby,” says Goodwin, remembering her emotions a year ago which came with running out of choices. “If I didn’t deliver the baby, I would die, and so would she. If I delivered her, she might die, but I would live.”
Christus Spohn transferred her by ambulance to Bay Area Hospital in Corpus Christi. She arrived three hours after midnight.
“I was terribly emotional,” Goodwin says, “and hyper. I wanted the nurses to turn on the television.”
Doctors, cognizant of her high blood pressure, ordered her to sleep, instead. They said she had to give birth within the next 24 hours.
At 3:15 p.m. Christmas Eve, Wendi’s recovery began, and Karlei’s fight for life was just beginning.
“She was so tiny her eyelids were still fused,” Goodwin says. “Her hand was no larger than the end of my husband James’ finger.
“I remember praying, ‘if you are going to take her, take her now. Don’t let me get attached to my baby.’”
Wendi stayed in the hospital for a week; Karlei stayed in the hospital for 134 days.
Such a lengthy time fosters relationships not normally the case in maternity wards. All the nurses who tended Karlei now are Facebook friends with Wendi.
Finally, doctors felt the latest addition to the Goodwin family could go home. But not until Wendi and James could prove to them they were ready.
They were expected to enroll in CPR classes. The hospital provided a room where the couple could practice what they were expected to do when Karlei came home.
“The first two months were extremely hard,” she says. At first, she was on a three-hour feeding schedule. “It took an hour to feed and change her, so I was up every two hours.”
Today, a year later, Karlei weighs 11 1/2 pounds. But, she is still diminutive for her age. She wears zero to three clothing. Doctors expect her to catch up by the time she’s 3 years old.
“They actually say that mentally, she is advanced for her age.”
Glancing down at Karlei, growing restless, but eyes bright with excitement, she adds:
“She’s also a wiggle-worm.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.