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Family photo
Steve Weddle holds his new son Eric after his birth Jan. 4, 1985. The circumstances surrounding Eric's birth were miraculous.

This is the third of five excerpts from the recently released book, "No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story," which follows the former Utah Ute's journey to becoming a Pro Bowl safety with the NFL's San Diego Chargers."No Excuses, No Regrets," written by Deseret News journalist Trent Toone, is available at Deseret Book.

Debbie Weddle was in the second trimester of her pregnancy with her son Eric, early in the fall of 1984, when she awoke to a mother’s worst nightmare.

Sometime after midnight, the young mother felt moisture on her sheets and bolted up in bed. A feeling of panic began to rise within her heart as she realized she was sitting in amniotic fluid. Debbie tossed the bed covers aside and carefully walked to the bathroom to sit on the toilet, where more fluid discharged.

Something felt terribly wrong. Rubbing her weary eyes, she flipped on the light and examined herself, trying to figure out what had happened. As she peered into the toilet, she blinked and stared in disbelief. Pregnancy tissue was floating in the white porcelain bowl.

“Steve,” she called to her husband, “we need to get to the hospital.”

In moments the couple was in the midst of a hasty 30-minute drive to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, Calif. Steve wonders now why he didn’t just dial 911. Both parents feared they may have lost their unborn child.

Upon arriving at the emergency room, they were met by Debbie’s mother and examined by a doctor. The news was not good.

“They told me I was going to have a miscarriage,” Debbie said, recalling the traumatic experience, “or I could go into labor. The baby’s heartbeat was perfect. There was nothing physically wrong with me. They told me to just sit there and wait for the miscarriage to happen.”

One possible explanation for the expelled tissue, the doctor told her, was that she had been carrying twins and one had miscarried. But that theory was discarded because a fetus was not found in the tissues. If she didn’t go into labor soon, however, a miscarriage would likely happen because the amniotic fluid had flushed out.

A feeling of despair gripped the huddled family. According to the doctors, losing the baby seemed like a foregone conclusion. But not knowing what would happen was the worst feeling of all.

So they waited. But the longer Debbie waited, the more irritated she became. She was frustrated and wanted answers. She remained in the room for several hours before she was allowed to go home and rest, but later returned to the hospital.

A long, scary week slowly passed, with Debbie under close observation in a hospital bed, but, curiously, the miscarriage did not occur. Medical personnel monitored the baby and its heartbeat. Much to the doctor’s amazement, mother and baby remained in good health, as if nothing unusual had ever happened.

Debbie was sent home and ordered to be on bed rest for the next month. Steve was at his wife’s side as often as possible to offer strength and support. Although a small chance of keeping the baby full-term still existed, the doctor’s opinion that Debbie would lose the baby didn’t budge. “They told us the chances of keeping the baby were slim-to-none. They told us to be prepared for a miscarriage at any time. It was minute-to-minute,” Debbie remembered.

While heartbroken by this discouraging development, Debbie found comfort in the kind words of a stranger. While marching defiantly around her room one day, she and her mother were not surprised to see a nurse open the door. What did surprise them, however, was what the woman said. Like an old friend, the nurse advised the distraught women to ignore the pessimistic doctors, because she had seen a friend experience the same symptoms and carry the baby full-term. Those hushed words gave Debbie hope that she and her child would get through this challenging time of her life.

“She said that only God knows what will happen and to have faith,” Debbie said. “At that moment my mom and I both cried. We told Steve and, needless to say, I stopped my marching around the room, and I lay down in bed.”

Miraculously, Debbie’s uterus healed and resealed itself. Fluid mysteriously returned to the womb. Doctors could not explain it. Almost four months later, on Jan. 4, 1985, Debbie delivered a seven-pound, eight-ounce baby boy by cesarean section.

Despite what she had already been through, Debbie had originally requested a natural delivery but changed her mind on the advice of her mother.

The delivery was uneventful and a healthy baby boy was born. The little guy had a severe case of jaundice, which required that he lie under a bright light for four days, but Steve finally had a son he could name Eric. The newborn was given the full name of Eric Steven Weddle. Little did they know that surviving the pregnancy to reach Earth was the first of many obstacles he would overcome in his life. Eric proved the doctors wrong then, and years later he would prove many football experts wrong. The love and support shown by his family was also a prelude of things to come.

Looking back, Steve and Debbie have no doubt that their son’s survival and birth were a miracle.

“He wasn’t supposed to be here. No one knows how everything sealed back up. No one knows how it filled back up with fluid,” Debbie said. “In that process you are praying to God every minute of every day, saying, ‘I will do anything.’ I am not one who asks for favors like that, but I prayed all the time: ‘I will do whatever you ask.’ So when he was born, we were just so excited. You look at him now and say, ‘Here is a kid who wasn’t supposed to be here.’”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone