Amber Lancaster is looking back to the happy moment she finally got to hold her son Russell Levi for the first time, a week after he was born.
In a touching Instagram post on Saturday, the Hard Times of RJ Berger star and Price Is Right model, 38, got candid with her 232,000 followers about the emotions she was feeling at the time, writing a lengthy caption about the experience. Her words came attached to a video showing her and her son’s first skin-to-skin contact, which appeared to bring them both to tears.
Lancaster had given birth to Russell, her first child with husband and Los Angeles-based businessman AJ Allodi, back on Aug. 3, two months before his due date. And his early arrival didn’t only put him in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) — it also put Lancaster in the ICU.
“After suffering severe blood loss (5 liters total) and other complications during and immediately following delivery including the removal of my uterus and an injury to my carotid artery, my kidneys were failing,” she wrote. “Life saving procedures were put into place as I was intubated and put on continuous kidney dialysis.”
When Lancaster was finally extubated, she immediately requested to see her baby: “Finally at the end of one of my treatments I had a 30 minute window before my next one and the doctors and nurses coordinated for me to finally be able to see my Russell. Holding him was the best medicine anyone could have given me.”
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Lancaster and Allodi first announced they were expecting back on April 15. “Traded in Coachella for Babychella this year and couldn’t be happier about it! So excited to finally share the news,” she wrote on Instagram. “We have a little one hitting the main stage October 2019!!”
From then on, the self-described “game show model extraordinaire” was sure to share every mom-to-be milestone along the way, including her baby shower. But sadly, that also included the pregnancy complications.
The day before Russell’s birth, at the 31-week mark, Lancaster posted that she was in the hospital and diagnosed with preeclampsia — a pregnancy complication that, according to Mayo Clinic, is “characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys.”
“The goal now is to keep me pregnant as long as possible, and to hopefully reach 34 weeks,” she wrote. “Thanks to my amazingly proactive OB, and all of your messages — I was hyper aware of the symptoms of preeclampsia and was able to advocate for myself properly.”
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Days later, on Aug. 9, Lancaster shared her first photo of Russell.
“So much to be thankful for,” she wrote. “Baby’s in NICU, mom’s in ICU, but we are both on our way … “
“Things can get put into perspective pretty quickly in times like this and I am beyond grateful for my people … and for the outpour of support, love, and prayers for our family from this community 🙏🏼,” Lancaster added. “Thank you.”
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A cute solo photo of Russell followed on Aug. 15.
“Our little Leo baby came out fighting two months early, and I’m already so inspired by his strength and have never loved someone more,” Lancaster said. “Thank you [for] letting me be your mommy 🙏🏼.”
Meanwhile, the new dad has had his own skin-to-skin time with Russell.
“In awe of how amazing this guy is doing and we’re praying he’ll get to see his mom soon,” Allodi wrote on his Instagram page Aug. 7, along with a photo of their sweet moment. “We know he will ❤️ … “
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