Sergio Giusto was rushing down the Northern State Parkway on Feb. 13 to get his pregnant wife, Jennie, to North Shore University Hospital, but as soon as they neared the exit for the Long Island Expressway, it was already too late — the baby was on her way out.
“I kept telling myself this can’t be,” Jennie, a kindergarten teacher at the Clara H. Carlson School, recounted the next day, “but my body was doing it’s own thing.”
She started having contractions at around 8:30 that night, she explained, and continued to suffer through them throughout the car ride from their home in East Meadow. But, Jennie said, “when it came time to deliver, it was basically back-to-back contractions.”
Sergio, meanwhile, continued to drive until the baby started crowning near Exit 37A. “I don’t know what was going through my mind,” he said. “When I think about it, I get knots.”
Fortunately, Angelina was born safely at 9:45 p.m., weighing 7 pounds and 3 ounces. Her parents then continued to drive 10 minutes to get to the hospital, and the three of them were safely back at home the next day.
Angelina is Sergio and Jennie’s second daughter. Jennie previously gave birth to Sophia in 2015, but she was diagnosed with Pompe Disease shortly after. Pompe Disease is a rare, inherited and often fatal disorder that disables the heart and skeletal muscles, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It is caused by mutations in a gene that produces the acid alpha-glucosidase enzyme, which breaks down sugar into energy. Those mutations could either reduce the enzyme or eliminate it completely.
To help treat it, Sophia had a port placed in her chest when she was only 9-months-old, and now undergoes enzyme replacement therapy every two weeks. The family also travels to North Carolina every August to visit a doctor that specializes in Pompe Disease, and has Sophia enrolled in occupational, speech and physical therapies. “We do everything we can to make sure she keeps her strength,” Jennie explained.
And to ensure that their second child would not have to undergo the same ordeal, Sergio and Jennie conceived Angelina via in vitro fertilization.
“She already had a story before all of this,” Jennie said of Angelina’s birth.
But, despite everything the family has been through, everyone is now doing well, and Jennie expects to return to work in May.