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Amber and Roger go “to bat” for Lucas

Roger, Amber, and Lucas Gantt will celebrate their first Christmas as a family of three this week. Photo by Cindy Crosby

Amber Driggers and Roger Gantt met and fell in love on the softball field at Colleton County High School. During the summer of 2012, the two were inseparable and became engaged in April of 2013. Seven months later, they were saying “I do.” Just 4 months after their storybook wedding, the Gantts found out some unexpected news: their new family would be increasing with the addition of a baby! On October 21st, 2014, Amber and Roger Gantt welcomed Lucas Ethan Gantt into their loving arms. Born at MUSC, Lucas weighed 5 lbs. 13 oz., and was 47 cm long. A precious peapod, resembling both parents, Lucas has stolen the hearts of many.

This is Lucas’s story. He is quite the Christmas miracle.

Amber first found out there could possibly be a problem with her pregnancy at 17 weeks, during routine screening. “There are a series of tests that doctors do for things like Down syndrome or spina bifida,” explained Amber. “It was discovered in the second series, that my AFP (alpha feta protein) level was highly elevated. So, they brought me back in to do another ultrasound and to discuss options.” According to Amber, at this point, the doctors suspected that Lucas would be born with spina bifida. It was during the follow-up ultrasound, that the doctor discovered something that would turn the next few weeks into the most difficult time imaginable for the Gantts.

Diagnosed by her OBGYN as having a dangerously low volume of amniotic fluid, Amber and Roger were put in an unimaginable position. “With the low fluid diagnosis, Roger and I had to discuss our options,” admitted Amber. “The doctor was very clear that Lucas’s chances were not good to make it to viability week (24 weeks). They said that there was a 10 percent chance of him surviving. And, if Lucas did make it, the doctor was very adamant that he would not have a good quality of life.”

Amber says that she and Roger were given two options: to continue with the pregnancy and let “nature” take its course or to terminate the pregnancy. “This physician gave us no hope and basically she said there was nothing I could do to save my baby,” struggled Amber. “The doctor believed that the pregnancy would terminate on its own. She also stated that if we continued with the pregnancy, that my health would be at risk, such as developing high blood pressure or going into organ failure.”

“Roger and I do not believe in abortion,” admitted Amber. “But, as a future mother, I battled with that decision. I was worried if I would make the right decision in the best interest of our family. I was also concerned if I would be able to handle the care of a special needs child, to the severity being discussed.”

After a weekend of long discussions and tears, Roger and Amber decided, as they always had, to put their faith in God. Believing in the power of prayer, they prepared for whatever would come next. “We relied heavily on our church family and our faith,” said Amber. “We were put on many prayer lists. My sister, Erin, said it best ‘We know that God can perform miracles. We have to believe that God will perform a miracle, but we should not expect a miracle.’”

During a referral visit at MUSC, the doctors found her placenta was not working as it should, which caused the low amount of fluid. They also discovered that Lucas had a right aortic arc instead of a left arc; however, the Gantts were assured it wasn’t an issue at that time. In hopes of aiding her placenta to increase fluid production, Amber was put on “non-strict” bed rest during her 2nd trimester; meaning she had to stay off her feet 75 percent of the time. Roger, according to Amber, went over and beyond taking care of her and helping around the house. “I would have to say his biggest challenge was taking care of me,” admitted Amber. “He made sure that I was eating the proper foods and drinking the right amount of water, because I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. His toughest job, without a doubt, was trying to keep me positive and up-beat, even when I felt beaten. My mood swings were, sometimes, unbearable and I became bitter easily. I still can’t imagine what toll this took on Roger.”

Naturally, Amber says she spent every passing second worrying whether or not they would hear a heartbeat on each and every visit. But as the prayers for the Gantts continued, so did little Lucas’s heartbeat grow stronger. By the start of her 3rd trimester, Amber’s fluid level had begun to elevate and it continued to rise until it became within the normal range. Out of the woods, Amber finally took a few cautious breaths of relief and began to fully prepare for Lucas’s arrival.

On October 20, 2014, at 7:15 a.m., at 37 weeks, Amber woke up to her water breaking. However, it would be a full 24 hours later, before Lucas would make his entrance, surrounded by family and a great MUSC team.

Lucas, with no signs of spina bifida or Down syndrome as originally thought, did have a right aorta arc. However, they also discovered that he has VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) which is a hole between the right and left pumping chambers of the heart. A VSD can be small, medium, or large. Depending on the size of a VSD, a child may breathe faster and harder or have trouble feeding or growing at a normal rate. Usually, depending on the size, the hole will close on its own over time. “They told us that Lucas would need to be evaluated by a pediatric cardiologist at least once a month to determine if the hole is closing quickly enough, or if he will need surgery to repair it,” said Amber.

Amber and Roger brought Lucas home, and have been adjusting happily to life with a newborn. However, on December 8, Lucas had his monthly cardiologist appointment and the Gantts received the news they were hoping to avoid. It appears Lucas will most likely need open heart surgery to repair his VSD because the cardiologist feels it is not closing quickly enough. They will return on January 5, for another echo, in hopes of changes, but they are preparing themselves for the proposed February or March surgery date and a weeklong stay at MUSC.

Preparing herself emotionally for another hurdle, Amber is finding strength through her faith and love. “I have to admit before Lucas was born, I was in a dark place,” she acknowledged. “Over the past few months, my faith has been my major source of strength. I believe that God has a plan and will wrap his arms around us, no matter what the outcome may be. My second motivation has been Roger. Not many people can say that they’ve found their soul mate, but I know I have. I am a natural pessimist, but Roger can always find the good in everything. And now that Lucas is here, he has become my strength. I have to be strong for him because he can sense when I’m not. I absolutely have to put my best foot forward when it comes to taking care of Lucas.”

Amber, who is now the Lady Cougars Head Varsity Softball Coach, will be in the middle of the high school softball season when Lucas likely faces surgery. But, already a seasoned pro at juggling the demands of career and motherhood, she isn’t worried. “Being a mom comes first,” said Amber. “I will definitely take time off to be with Lucas during the surgery and his recovery. Our program is at a point where; if I miss some time, they will not miss a beat. After Lucas comes home, I plan on returning. Roger and I have a great support system and will rely on family, friends, and our church family to help out when needed.”

 

Cindy Crosby (262 Posts)