Christmas miracle: Mother and baby die during childbirth -- and come back to life
"I was waiting to hear a baby cry. I was waiting for it and I never did hear it."
What should have been one of the best days of Mike Hermanstorfer's life suddenly became the worst.
"They were changing monitors at that point in time and in the middle of changing monitors, she stopped breathing."
When Hermanstorfer and his wife arrived at the hospital on that Christmas Eve seven years ago, they thought she would be in for routine labor and delivery. The births of their two other children had gone smoothly, and there was no indication that this delivery would be any different.
But then Tracy Hermanstorfer went into cardiac arrest.
"She was dead. She had no heartbeat, no breathing. She was as gray as her sweatsuit, no signs of life," said Stephanie Martin, director of fetal medicine at Memorial Hospital.
After failed resuscitation attempts, doctors decided to do an emergency cesarean section. But when they took out baby Coltyn, he, too, had no heartbeat.
"The next thing I know, a nurse walks out and tells me that they're going to bring Tracy out, and this is my chance to say goodbye, and a gurney rolls out covered up with a white sheet."
Hermanstorfer said he cradled his lifeless son as the nurses continued to work on him.
"We get the absolute worst news ever possible ... two members of the family gone."
Then -- a Christmas miracle.
"When they roll her away, take her down to the operating room just to finish up the procedure from doing the C-section ... her heart starts beating."
And then little Coltyn took his first breath.
"When he took his very first breath, he was in my hands," his father said.
"We have no answers on why it really happened and why I came back," Tracy Hermanstorfer told 11 News reporter Kyla Galer. "You know, getting told when this does happen at least maybe one comes back. If two come back, they have a lot of medical problems, you know -- they're not the same. A lot of times they talk about how the mom could be a vegetable, stuff like that. So to know that I'm breathing, talking, and kind of back to normal -- its awesome."
"Seven years later, they're both still here and goofy as ever," her husband added.
Coltyn's a normal first grader who loves to bowl and likes to try using his "miracle baby" status to get out of things he doesn't want to do.
"He's like, 'I'm the miracle baby,' -- he tries to get out of chores with that -- 'but I'm the miracle baby,' and I look at him, 'I'm the miracle mom. It's not working,'" Tracy Hermanstorfer laughed.
"You look at him right now, you'd never know there was ever anything to sit back and remember that day," Mike Hermanstorfer said.
Hermanstorfer witnessed half of his family die and then come back to life. He's determined to spread his family's Christmas magic.
"The only reason I do the interviews is because I want people out there that ever have second thoughts or ever have doubts about anything to realize that miracles do happen. Don't ever give up."