News

Ten-month-old Harper Gifford is achieving developmental milestones faster than anyone thought possible. Even though she hasn’t even celebrated her first birthday yet, she has experienced great loss and triumph.

A Baby Celebrates a Graduation of a Different Kind

Harper GiffordIt’s graduation season, the time of year when many are celebrating kindergarten, high school and college graduations. But a local family is celebrating a graduation of a different kind.

Ten-month-old Harper Gifford is achieving developmental milestones faster than anyone thought possible. Even though she hasn’t even celebrated her first birthday yet, she has experienced great loss and triumph.

“We had tried for about a year to get pregnant,” says Harper’s mother Gabbi Gifford. “And finally, it happened. We were expecting twins. Everything was great until 14 weeks into my pregnancy when my water broke. Only we didn’t know that is what had happened at the time.”

At Gifford’s 18-week ultrasound she learned that Baby B was a girl, but they were having a hard time visualizing Baby A. Gifford was put on home bedrest and told to come in for weekly scans. Unfortunately, it was determined that Baby A would not survive and would pass away inside her mother’s womb.

The new goal was to carry the babies to 34 weeks, so that Baby B, or Harper, could have the best chance at life. But at just 24 weeks gestation, Gifford went into labor and underwent an emergency C-section.

Harper and Eliana Gifford were born July 18, 2018, each weighing barely over a pound. Eliana was born two minutes before her sister and miraculously was born alive. She lived for 23 hours and 53 minutes, just seven minutes shy of a full day.

“We had prayed for a miracle. It was not the miracle we were hoping for but a miracle nonetheless,” Gifford explains. “My husband, Sirandon, and I weren’t supposed to have any time with her. She was supposed to be still born, so the fact that we got to meet her and spend those precious hours with her was truly a gift – for us and for Harper.”

Harper became what is known as a “twinless twin” and perhaps even physically felt the loss. She soon fell ill herself. “It was the worst time of my life,” remembers Gifford. “I left the hospital without either of my babies and had to plan a funeral for one, while hoping the other would somehow pull through.”Gifford family

Harper proved to be a fighter and recovered from the lung infection. She would spend 98 days in the neo-natal intensive care unit at INTEGRIS Children’s. She
finally got to go home on Oct. 24, 2018.

To capture the momentous moment, Gifford dressed her in a graduation cap and gown that was designed to fit a stuffed animal. Harper weighed roughly 5 pounds at the time and
was able to actually wear the Build-A-Bear® outfit.

In honor of Harper, and her sister Eliana, the staff at INTEGRIS Children’s is working with Build-A-Bear and Carter’s® to be able to offer tiny caps and gowns to future NICU graduates.