Surprise Baby Catches New Mom Off Guard, But CHRISTUS Children’s NICU Team is Ready with Open Arms

Newborn Emery Grace

Many people have experienced surprises; it almost always catches you off guard. When it’s a happy surprise, the specifics stick with you for a long time.

It’s possible few people know this feeling more than Adriana Crabtree. At 21, she was a speech pathology student at Texas State University in San Marcos, balancing college, work and friends. With graduation a couple of years off, she was focused on the here and now. The future would come soon enough.

But on Oct. 12, 2023, Adriana found out that the future is now.

Her baby girl, Emery Grace, was born in the back of an ambulance that was racing toward the hospital – but didn’t make it in time.

In fact, she didn’t even know she was pregnant. “My weight hadn’t changed. I had no morning sickness,” she recalled. “I had really bad back pain but tried to ignore it because I was studying for two tests. I just hoped it would get better.”

She woke up at 2 a.m. and the pain went from “bad” to “severe.” Still, as she didn’t have a ride to the emergency room, she waited until her friend could get her to the local clinic. Once there, an ultrasound revealed Adriana was about to deliver a premature baby girl – estimated to be between 26 and 28 weeks at the time.

Things moved quickly from there. Adriana, in full labor, was transported by ambulance to CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital in San Marcos. “They wanted to take me to CHRISTUS Children’s in San Antonio because that hospital has a Level 4 NICU, but they said I was going to have the baby before we could get there,” Adriana said.

Sure enough, little Emery was born weighing 2 lbs., 6 oz., and was transferred to CHRISTUS Children’s. Adriana was able to travel on Oct. 13 to see her baby.

Growing Day by Day at CHRISTUS Children’s

Baby Emery needed some time to grow, to learn to breathe and eat on her own. She spent her early days in the CHRISTUS Children’s NICU with some of the most caring doctors and nurses Adriana has ever met.

“They were amazing and were there for my baby when I couldn’t be,” the new mom said. “I know the care she received made such a huge difference in her progress.”

Adriana was a full-time student and was working 40 hours a week in a restaurant. She said she visited Emery as often as she could.

“I was living in the Ronald McDonald House at CHRISTUS Children’s and the NICU team kept in touch with me daily to keep me updated. A lot of the nurses knew about my situation and made themselves available and were always there for me.”

“I know I could not have gone through this without the help of the doctors and nurses,” Adriana said, noting “Dr. Maria Pierce was so great, as well. She reassured me that I could reach out with any questions. The best part was that everyone was so nice and they made me feel a lot better by reminding me how amazingly well Emery was doing for how premature she was.”

She added that she is happy that nothing was specifically wrong with Emery and pleased that if she had to be in the NICU, she is glad it was the CHRISTUS Children’s NICU. “Emery was so premature that she stayed in the NICU to develop. She started in the incubator and eventually moved to an open crib,” Adriana said. “We watched and waited and Emery got there. She did everything in her own time.”

Adriana wants to particularly thank nurses Melissa, Jennifer and Bailey. “It’s very clear they love what they do. They were wonderful to Emery and they helped me so much. They taught me how to take care of a baby, to understand when the baby is hungry or needs to be changed.”

The new mom is quick to say that while she has certainly been caught off guard by Emery’s arrival, she feels like she has been training for motherhood for a long time. She is the eldest of five kids and was always a huge help to her mother. Emery Grace with Mom Adriana

Life Goes On

It’s estimated that Emery’s due date was likely in mid-January 2024. She was discharged from the NICU on Dec. 21, weighing about 8 lbs.

With her stay in the NICU in the rearview mirror, Adriana is embracing the future – and new life with a baby – head on. She is taking a semester off from school and is very grateful to her own mom for all her help during this whirlwind of a surprise arrival.

Emery had her first appointment recently with a pediatrician since leaving the NICU. She measured at the 95th percentile for everything, Adriana said. “I think she knows she is a star! If the camera is in Emery’s face, she always has the biggest smile. She is also already lifting her head up and coming into her own.”

“I felt so relieved after that appointment when I found out she is growing the way she should be,” mom added. “I can see her growing every day. It’s the most amazing thing to watch.”

To learn more about the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at CHRISTUS Children’s, please visit CHRISTUS Children’s | NICU (

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