A family from Malibu who was vacationing in Cancun ahead of the arrival of their new daughter is now scrambling to pay medical bills after an emergency C-section to save both the mother and baby girl's lives.
Maggie Stewart was six months pregnant when she left with her husband Jeremy and 3-year-old daughter Neri. With a July 11 due date, she was advised it was safe to take the trip, the family said.
But their last vacation as a family of three suddenly took a turn for the worse when Maggie began suffering complications from an infection in her uterus, husband Jeremy told KTLA.
Doctors told her she had no option but to deliver via an emergency C-section, or both she and the unborn child could die.
"So we had to make a life or death critical call on this to save my wife and the baby, if we could," Jeremy said. "We really didn't know if we would be able to do this. This was miracle after miracle after miracle that happened."
Poppy Elizabeth Stewart was born April 6 weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces, and with a hole in her heart. She has been fighting to stay alive since, her dad said.
"There is such a fragile, helpless, sweet little soul there that just caught a real case of bad luck," Jeremy said.
It was his first time outside the U.S., and no one in the family speaks Spanish. But he described the doctor who delivered Poppy as an "angel" and said the entire situation has been filled with "miracle after miracle."
But, at the same time, the family must deal with the reality of medical bills. Since their insurance doesn't cover them while out of the country, the family had to pay up front for all the medical treatment Maggie and Poppy received in Mexico, they said.
With their credit cards maxed out, the family then had to scramble to find the cash to fly Poppy to Children's Hospital Miami, the closest U.S. neonatal advanced care unit that could give her care under their insurance.
"The war isn't over, but what we've come through already is an amazing battle," Jeremy said.
Maggie is still recovering in Cancun with Neri at her side, while Jeremy traveled to Miami with Poppy and has been sleeping beside the robotic womb she's living in.
"She can't open her eyes," Jeremy said. "She can't even cry."
The family is still facing months of being in the hospital as Poppy gains the strength she needs to survive, they said. But despite the harrowing ordeal, Jeremy said he's had plenty to give him hope.
"Now that there's been so many people praying for us and rooting for us - and there are thousands of them - and I'm grateful for every one of those prayers," he said.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the Stewart family raise funds for Poppy's treatment.