Christie Reinhardt’s Why
The Reinhardt family (l to r): Brianna, Christie, Logan, Robert and Audrey
At age 31 Christie Reinhardt of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was a happy, healthy wife and mother of a 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter and pregnant with twin girls. She and husband Robert had already named them: Brianna and Lydia.
At about 36 weeks, Christie woke up in the middle of the night with intense chest pains and called for Robert, who was sleeping in the bedroom down the hall — “I’m a bit of a snorer while pregnant,” she said. She didn’t know what was wrong, but knew she needed to get to the hospital. Robert rushed her to the ER where they gave her heartburn and indigestion medicine and two shots of a pain killer. Her blood work showed low potassium, and her EKG was fine though her blood pressure was 180/120, but they got it down. She went home with two prescriptions for heartburn medicine.
About two weeks later, on December 11, 2011, she woke up early with severe chest pains again. When she sat up, she got dizzy. Before she passed out, she called for Robert. When he came in the room, Christie was pale, with blue lips and her tongue blocking her airway. He was able to clear her airway and called 911.
At the hospital, doctors performed a C-section. Both babies had to be resuscitated, but Lydia did not make it. As for their mother, she’d suffered an aortic dissection, a rupture in a section of her aorta that might have been tearing slowly for years. “They told my family there was a surgery they could try, but I had a less than 10 percent chance of survival,” she said. “They brought Robert and my parents in to see me before the surgery to say their final words.” Robert put out a prayer request on Facebook that went viral. Thousands of people from all over began praying for her and Brianna.
After open-heart surgery to repair the aorta, they kept her heart on a heart-lung bypass for several hours to let her heart rest, then they restarted her heart. When Christie woke up 24 hours later, she was groggy and did not know why she was in the hospital. Robert was summoned.
“How are the babies?” she asked.
“Brianna’s going to be just fine,” he said.
“What about Lydia?” she asked.
“Lydia didn’t make it,” Robert said.
Christie didn’t ponder why Brianna had lived and Lydia had not. But she had been waiting nine months to hold Lydia, and she wouldn’t be denied. “I wanted her so bad, and if there was any way for some miracle … like I could will her back to life almost, if I just held her tight enough,” Christie said. “I don’t know how long I held her, but that was actually the only time that I ever saw my husband cry. It was when he was next to me and we were holding Lydia together.”
In the NICU, Brianna’s brain was swelling. The doctors used a special blanket to lower her body temperature to reduce swelling and to try to control seizures. The newborn had several seizures before they got the swelling under control. After an MRI, she was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy — scarring of the brain due to the lack of oxygen. “We can expect developmental delays in the future and she may be prone to seizures,” Christie said.
Christie was discharged six days after her surgery, and Brianna came home from the NICU 20 days after her birth on Christie’s birthday. “She has been my favorite birthday present to date,” she said.
Today Christie describes herself as before — a happy, healthy wife and mother … and a heart patient. “I am so thankful for this second chance at life God has given me. Robert and I thank God for taking Lydia to him. She never felt anything but love as she grew and now resides forever in God’s love.
“I am very happy to be here and be a mother to my three children and a wife and homemaker. That’s what I always wanted to be when I grew up, so I’m living the dream. My family is why.”
Everyone has a reason to live a longer and healthier life.