Our Daughter Ella…

On January 20, 2017 we woke up to what seemed like a normal morning. My husband left for work, my son was getting ready for school and I was preparing to teach history at our co-op class. I noticed Ella, our youngest child, was sitting at the table with her cereal. She had her arm stretched out and her head resting on the table. I walked by and then turned around quickly. Something inside of me immediately wanted to check on her. I asked her if she was feeling okay and felt her forehead. Ella’s response was a shrug of her shoulders. My brain started down the path, hmm maybe she didn’t sleep well, maybe her blood sugar is low, I hope she is not fighting a cold. I got her something to drink and as I poured her milk, I heard a cough. I then noticed she was throwing up. Part of me felt a relief, okay she just might be fighting something.

So I guess I should go back and explain that Ella has a VERY high pain tolerance. It’s one of the remaining side effects from being born early. Ella was born 16 weeks early in my pregnancy. She weighed just 1lb. 6ozs. She was in the NICU for 171 days! She had heart surgery (PDA), kidney surgery twice, eye surgery (ROP), Tubes in her ears and her belly tapped twice. She got septic three times in the NICU with Gram Negative. One of the times the infection went into her bloodstream and shut all of her organs down. The doctors told us we only had 48 hours left with our daughter. They reported there was nothing else that they could do. Our 7 week old, 3 lb. baby swelled up with fluids as her organs shut down. It was the most painful, heart  wrenching two days of our lives. We prayed, we cried, I screamed. It’s honestly hard to sum up how we felt but we did not let up asking God to please save our daughter. It’s really a long story, that’s why I’m writing a book 🙂 …anyways the amazing thing is, right around 36 hours after the doctors told us we would be saying goodbye to Ella, she started to respond to the medicine and slowly recover. The doctors could not explain it but we were thrilled!

So back to Jan. 20th, I just had this feeling that I need to keep a close eye on her that morning. About an hour later she looked exhausted, threw up again and I finally noticed that she really was not talking much. Something just told me to take her to the ER. I carried her to our car and the fact that she did say, “Mom what are you doing?” I just knew something was not right. I called my husband and my older daughter sat in the back with her sister crying as she held her sister up in the car. We were taken in right away in the ER. It felt like a blur of questions as I watched them work on my daughter who seemed life less by the minute. We were there no more than ten minutes and the doctors were placing Ella on a vent. They told us that she would be Bayflighted to John Hopkins Hospital. It happened all so fast and I could feel the stress that I felt in the NICU coming back.

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After they Bayflighted her to John Hopkins Hospital, They started running all kinds of test. EKG, EEG, MRI, Cat Scan, lots of blood work, X rays. One by one over the next 5 days came back good, healthy. The only thing they found was just a little fluid in one of her lungs. The said it could be pneumonia but then the small amount of fluid cleared up so fast that they out ruled pneumonia. Either way it was crazy! She was on the vent, lots of medicines and monitors and one by one she came off them. As soon as the sedatives got out of her system I could see Ella coming around acting like herself other than a little tired.

The doctors were so puzzled by her recovery and all the testing showing that she was healthy. So they leaned towards a diagnosis of a seizure. Preemies are usually at risk for seizures. Even though we had never witnessed any seizure activity. We wanted the doctors to run any test and find an answers to what caused our daughter to get sick and have some sort of respiratory distress. They ran a 30 minute and a 24 hour EEG and both came back seizure free. Ella was such a good sport about the whole thing! I think she looks pretty cute here.