After an accident and 17 days, North Huntingdon mom holds daughter for 1st time

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Markki Elgin cradled her newborn in her lap, smiling with relief as she stroked the baby‘‍s dark hair. 

For more than two weeks the North Huntington woman had waited for this moment, wracked with worry in her Forbes Hospital room as her daughter, born premature, remained 15 miles away at West Penn Hospital. Mrs. Elgin, 24, laid eyes on Emma for the first time Friday morning at Forbes — 17 days after she gave birth.

“It‘‍s overwhelming to see her,” she said. “I really don’‍t know how to word this.”

The newborn’‍s father, Cody Elgin, 28, stood close beside them while Mrs. Elgin sat in a wheelchair. 

“‘‍Good’‍ isn‘‍t the word,” said Mr. Elgin. “She’‍s a miracle.”

Mr. Elgin was working under the hood of his Chevrolet Silverado on July 1 when blocking wedges underneath the front wheels slipped out of position. Mrs. Elgin was sitting in the driver‘‍s seat so she could test the brake pedals. When the truck began rolling backwards, she jumped out of the truck and was injured while the vehicle dragged her as it rolled down the driveway.

The truck did not stop until it hit the front end of another vehicle and a retaining wall in the next-door neighbor’‍s front yard. 

Mrs. Elgin arrived at Forbes Hospital at about 6 p.m. with four pelvic fractures as well as injuries to the chest and neck, trauma surgeon Chris Kaufmann said.

Because she slipped out of consciousness, she could not tell doctors what occurred. The last thing she could recall was being inside the truck, Mrs. Elgin said.

Obstetrician-gynecologist Elizabeth Knepp said Mrs. Elgin was conscious when she arrived at the hospital, but could not move or speak very well. After the initial examination, she was taken into surgery for an emergency Caesarean section.

Emma weighed a little more than 3 pounds at birth and was immediately flown by helicopter to West Penn‘‍s neonatal intensive-care unit.

Both mother and daughter are doing well, Dr. Knepp said. The newborn was intubated for the first seven days, but has since been breathing on her own. She will be discharged from Forbes, where she moved Friday, after she reaches a safer weight.

Mrs. Elgin has had three surgeries since the accident. Before Friday, she had only seen Emma through video conference.

On Friday, she placed a green hat dotted with purple flowers on Emma‘‍s head, holding up her phone for pictures. Emma, wrapped in a white blanket, kicked her feet and yawned.

“She’‍s smiled for me a few times,” said Mrs. Elgin, who was likewise covered by a white comforter that stretched from her chest to her ankles. Only her magenta-painted toes were visible at the foot of the wheelchair.

While Mrs. Elgin may be discharged as early as next weekend, a long period of rehabilitation will follow. She plans to undertake physical therapy at Manor Care-Health Services-Monroeville. 

Emma is the couple‘‍s second child. Their older daughter, Juliana, 4, chose the name. 

“Her first suggestion was ‘‍Spaghetti,’‍” Mr. Elgin said with a laugh.

Yanan Wang:, 412-263-1634 or on Twitter @yananw.

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