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New Mom Stranded with Preemie in ND, 1000 Miles from TX Home

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Braden Gunem/ThinkStock

There’s one new mom in North Dakota who’s holding it together despite nearly-overwhelmingly difficult circumstances.

You see, Crystal Russell and her brand new baby boy Wyatt, who is currently in residence at CHI St. Alexius hospital in Bismarck, are 1,000 miles away from their home in Arlington, Texas, with the likelihood that they won’t be going anywhere until mid-April.

A month ago, Crystal, her husband Chris, and her teenage sons Trey, 16, Joey, 14, and Dawson, 13, were in Williston visiting Chris’ family for the holidays. The day they arrived, Crystal visited with family for about an hour, then went to bed. Crystal, who was only 24 weeks pregnant, did not expect her baby to make an appearance for another three-and-a-half months. A long-distance vacation shouldn’t have caused any issues.

That all changed when Chris woke his wife later, alarmed that Crystal had begun bleeding profusely.

Terrified, the Russells rushed to a Williston hospital, where it was quickly decided she needed to be flown to St. Alexius in Bismarck. Crystal was losing enough blood to cause acute alarm, but Williston doctors could not determine whether or not she was in labor.

As it turned out, she was not in labor, but half the placenta had pulled away from the uterine wall, causing the bleeding. It was determined that Crystal would have to spend the rest of her pregnancy — until her due date of April 15 — in the hospital.

Things took a dramatic turn once more a few days later, when Crystal began to hemorrhage again. This time, the bleeding did signal labor.

Crystal gave birth to son Wyatt Lynn at CHI St. Alexius in Bismarck on December 26, at 10:45 a.m. The baby weighed just one pound, five ounces.

Wyatt was initially given only a 50/50 chance of survival, but in his first month, Wyatt (whose name quite appropriately means “fighter”) has come a long way. He is eating again, as Crystal explains on baby Wyatt’s Facebook page; momma is now able to hold him, after initially having to limit contact to just his tiny hand, due to his skin being so fragile; and as of January 17, at three weeks and two days old, he weighed one pound, ten ounces.

Dad Chris had to return to Texas to resume working, and Crystal’s sons had to return to school as well, so Crystal is on her own here in Bismarck with her tiny bundle of joy and hope. It’s been hard, she says, but “everyone here has been so nice and so helpful,” and both mom and baby are hanging in there.

Family in Texas has nicknamed little Wyatt “the Yankee,” while “Dakota” seems a likely second nickname.

Crystal, who, during the rare times she’s not at Wyatt’s side, is staying at the Ronald McDonald House in North Dakota for the time being, says one of her sons wants her to come home soon — so as to avoid Wyatt beginning to “talk like [North Dakotans].”

As for family time for the Russells, you can help out with that: visit Wyatt’s GoFundMe page to donate to a fund which will help out with, not only hospital and lodging expenses, but travel costs for Chris to come see his wife and their tiny new son on Valentine’s Day weekend.


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