Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Crystal and Marshall Diehl couldn't wait to get married and start a family.
They wasted no time, with Crystal finding out she was pregnant right after their honeymoon.
"Because she came from our honeymoon we call her our honeymoon souvenir," says Crystal.
The couple was absolutely thrilled to begin their journey as parents.
Everything was going smoothly with Crystal's pregnancy but then things took a turn for the worse.
"I woke up and I swollen and I just didn't feel right and I was seeing little floaters," says Crystal.
Crystal went to the hospital where she was kept under close supervision.
A few weeks later, doctors discovered Crystal was suffering from pre-eclampsia, a rare disease which can lead to serious complications or even death for the mother and unborn baby.
It was then that Crystal and Marshall were forced to make a decision no parent ever wants to face.
"The doctor came in and then the first thing she said was it doesn't look good. We have two choices here, we can take her now at 24 weeks and risk the effects of a 24 week baby or we can try to make it to 25 weeks but risk still birth," says Crystal.
"You sit there and your mind just goes numb from having to try and make this decision," says Marshall.
The couple decided to try and maintain the pregnancy for a few more days.
The doctor had warned them that a baby's rate of survival is very low if born before 25 weeks.
"I was so mad and scared and angry and thinking why is this happening? I think every emotion went through me," says Crystal.
Once Crystal made it to 25 weeks doctors wanted to deliver the baby immediately, as both her and her baby's lives were in jeopardy.
"We had three doctors in our room telling us that it was time to deliver Audrey. The blood flow started to go retrograde, which means that it reversed so it was no longer giving her enough to survive," says Crystal.
Crystal underwent a C-section and delivered a 12 ounce baby.
Little Audrey was the smallest baby ever to be born and survive at Essentia Health, formerly known as SMDC.
"She was so perfect yet so tiny and so sick," says Crystal.
"It was very scary to see her like that and to sit there and wonder is she going to make it or isn't she," says Marshall.
Audrey spent the next 93 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she was monitored by doctors around the clock.
But on June 23rd Crystal and Marshall finally got to take their 4 pound 2 ounce baby girl home, still almost two weeks before Audrey's due date.
"Doctor Muskovitz said I think I can tell you this now it's not a matter of if she goes home. It's a matter of when she goes home," says Marshall.
"Those were the words that we had been waiting her hear," says Crystal.
Audrey has continued to grow strong and surprisingly she has suffered no developmental issues due to her premature birth.
As for Crystal and Marshall, they are grateful for every minute with their baby girl, enjoying what they almost lost.
"We are so blessed with Audrey. So many things could have gone a different way and our journey could have had a different ending. So to have the ending that we did is just remarkable," says Crystal.
The Diehl family is very active in the March of Dimes, which is an organization devoted to researching and working towards preventing premature births.
They will be the ambassador family for the March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction Fundraiser scheduled for October 28th at Northland Country Club in Duluth.
The event begins at 5:30pm.
Posted by Laura Langemo