Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy 11 monthday Kathryn - Here's a sample of our year in review!

I hope that you enjoy this. I had a great time making it and even shed a few tears. I'm sorry that it's six minutes long, but I just couldn't leave anything out!! You'll want to pause the music player on our blog before playing the movie!!

Exciting news!

Each year the Regions Bank internal communications department produces a video that is shown to all associates as part of the company's United Way efforts. And each year, Regions Bank asks its associates to share how United Way has touched their lives. Usually I can't respond to such a request, as Greg and I have been fortunate enough that we have not needed the services provided by United Way - until this past year.

One of the services affected by United Way is Children's Hospital and we have certainly appreciated having this wonderful hospital right in our own back yard. I hesitated two weeks before responding to this call and I prayed about it. In the end, I feel it is a privilege that Greg and I have to be able to share the miracles we have faced over the last year of our lives. So I decided to submit our story of Kathryn and the benefits we have received through Children's Hospital.

I was notified today that they would like to include our story as a part of the United Way video campaign that will be seen by all Regions Bank employees in the Central Alabama area, at least. Kathryn and I will be part of a video shoot which will touch on some of the medical victories Kathryn has overcome with the help of the services offered by CHS and the BPD team there. I feel honored to be able to share her story.

Please pray for me on the upcoming video shoot - I would like to think that I can relive the story without tears, but I think I'll need prayer to do that!! I will let you know more details about the date when I have them.

Faithfully, Kelly

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daddy came home, we hosted a picnic, and Maddie's in Zoo Camp

Greg got home safely from his trip last Wednesday night and we were all glad to see him!! Saturday, we had a picnic at our house with our wonderful Sunday School class, the DINKS, and I think that everyone had a great time. Here are a few pictures:

Monday, Maddie started Zoo Camp and is having a great time. It's one week long and she will be a junior zookeeper/animal adventurer for the week. They are talking about special things with all the animals, riding the carousel, riding the train, and walking a lot!! She is absolutely loving it!!

I have not gone a-wall!

I will try to post tonight - finding the time some days is fairly tough!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Greg's trip to Los Angeles

So Greg left Monday morning at 4:30 to get on a flight to LA by 6am. I think we both slept about 3 hours all night on Sunday because we were afraid he would miss the plane! Monday, I went to work and came home to Maddie with a red swollen left eye. The doctor said it could be pink eye so he called in eye drops. So we started the battle of eye drops Monday night. Then about 10:30 pm, I was awakened to Grilled Cheese and Strawberry throw up all in my bed - which was where Maddie was sleeping! She had a fever of 101 and I called my mom in the middle of the night to come help (since Greg was out of town). Kathryn was crying because she was awakened by all of the commotion, Maddie was crying because she was gross and had a fever, and the bed was a mess. My mom came and stayed until around 12:15, and then I got another 3 hours of sleep or so before time to get up for work.

Tuesday Maddie seemed better, but her fever wouldn't come down completely and I called the doctor to see if there was anything more to give her. He wanted to see her in his office, of course, so my mom left work early and stayed with Kat while I took Maddie to the doctor. He said it was a 24 hour viral thing - not contagious - and oh, by the way, she didn't have pink eye (purchase of medicine wasted!)

Maddie's temperature as of today, Wednesday, is completely gone and she is perfectly fine. Of course, just in time for Greg getting back from LA tonight.

Oh and during these three days, Bailey, our dog, had some type of eye thing - a clogged tear duct, so I have also been to the vet to pick up her medicine and been applying it to get her better. Of course, she is now much better - just in time for Greg getting back in town.

When he is here, nothing goes wrong at our house. He goes to the other side of the country and our household decides to go all nutty on me!!! Pray for me in July, he heads to Baltimore for 4 nights!!

We sure are glad to have him home tonight!! Welcome home daddy!!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!!

Happy Father's Day to my sweet husband. You are a wonderful father and your kids absolutely light up when you walk in the room!! The smile on your face when you see them is worth a million!! We love you Greg!!

Quick catch up post

So I haven't posted in a while, we have been a little busy lately!! After our clinic visit almost two weeks ago, we also went in to Kathryn's Medicaid pediatrician on Wed the 5th of June. In the room next to us was a dad with his child who had evidently cut his head wide open and was screaming so loudly I am surprised you all didn't hear!! And to top it off, this dad had not taken his child to the CHILDREN's emergency room, the dad had not taken his child to the child's pediatrician, no, he had taken his child to the first pediatrician he could find. So this doctor didn't even know the poor child while it screamed incesantly for almost 45 minutes while we waited in the room next door with Kathryn naked and her oxygen tank running low and Madelyn trying to climb the walls to get out because she was so bored and we couldn't find anything else in the tiny box of a room to play in "I spy!" Anyway, we finally left and the visit went fine!

That Friday night, Greg asked Madelyn on a "date" to the 5:30 movie and she raced to her bathroom to get ready. She frantically brushed her hair, applied her Cotton Candy lip gloss, and her Strawberry Shortcake spray glitter perfume and they were off to see Kung Fu Panda. I think they had a great time.

Last week, Madelyn was in Vacation Bible School at our church and had a great time!! Her teacher's name was Hannah, who Madelyn called Hannah "not Montana" everyday!! Wednesday afternoon, I took her and Kathryn to the zoo for an hour of playing in the fountains with her dear friend Logan and Friday night she had Jalyn spend the night at our house. Logan and Jalyn are her best friends from school and they are not seeing each other much this summer so we are trying to do extra things to get them together!! All day yesterday, Maddie went with Jalyn to the pool and had a great time!

Last night we celebrated Father's Day for Greg! He got new outdoor speakers, a foot massager, a photo book, and a jewelry box that Madelyn made for him. We also took him to Dreamland for dinner.

We are preparing for another crazy week as Greg leaves tomorrow for LA for three days and it's just me and the girls!!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What an Honor - Our March of Dimes Story

For those who are not aware, our new & dear friend, Lurenda, recommended to her contact at March of Dimes that the four of us would make a great choice for a March of Dimes Ambassador Family. So we were asked to be the Ambassador Family for the Birmingham Chapter of the March of Dimes Blue Jeans for Babies event this year. This is in honor of our preemie, Madelyn, AND our micro-preemie, Kathryn!! It's a tremendous honor. Our pictures and story will be highlighted in literature for the event and the four of us will be interviewed and introduced at the kickoff event in November. I will let you all know details closer to the time, but for now, I thought I might share the story I submitted. Bear with the length, and I hope that you like it.

We are the Ellis family: Greg, Kelly, Madelyn, and Kathryn. Our two daughters, 5 years old and 1 year old, were both born prematurely due to Preeclampsia or Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH). Here’s our story…

My first pregnancy was a wonderful blessing in our lives. Everything was going smoothly until around 24 weeks, when my blood pressure began to slowly elevate and there were concerns of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH). At around 29 weeks, I was placed on bed rest in our home for three days until the doctors realized that my blood pressure was increasing day by day, at which time I was placed on bed rest in the hospital. While on bed rest for weeks 29 and 30 of this pregnancy, I received steroid injections to stimulate the baby’s lung functions. At 31 weeks, the doctors could no longer safely hold the pregnancy back since the only cure for PIH is delivery of the baby. As my blood pressure reached record heights, an emergency C-section was scheduled, I was administered magnesium sulfate to aid in the prevention of seizures, and Madelyn Dane Ellis was born on October 10, 2003 at 3:35pm at 31 weeks gestation weighing 3 pounds, 3 ounces and 16 inches in length. We were very fortunate that Madelyn was born with healthy lungs and required no mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen. Madelyn received the drug Surfactant to supplement her lung function and spent 15 days in the NICU in order to learn to eat properly before being discharged home on October 25, 2003. Madelyn is now a healthy five year old with a beautiful spirit and a happy heart!!

Our family was blessed again in February 2007 when we found out that we would have a second child. The doctors monitored me very closely in this pregnancy and it seemed to be a text book pregnancy with little weight gain and a healthy and active baby. In July 2007, I was again hospitalized for dangerously high blood pressure bordering on the level of a stroke, but this time at 23 weeks gestation. I experienced a rapid spiral of health concerns including high blood pressure, swelling, elevated liver enzymes, and the beginning of kidney failure when the doctors again ordered an emergency C-section to deliver our second daughter.

Fortunately, I again received steroid injections to stimulate the baby’s lung functions and on July 25, 2007, Kathryn Bryan Ellis was born at 5:01pm at 24 weeks, 1 day gestation weighing 14 ounces and 11 inches in length. Kathryn was immediately rushed to the NICU and placed on mechanical ventilation in order to sustain her life. Kathryn received the drug Surfactant over the next few days in order to supplement her lung function. Kathryn remained on mechanical ventilation for the next 3 ½ months. We waited 83 days to hold our tiny miracle. During her 143 days in the NICU, Kathryn endured mechanical ventilation, countless blood transfusions, received numerous medications to strengthen her lungs, and fought septic infections. She battled the odds and miraculously beat them. At 143 days in the NICU, Kathryn was discharged on December 10, 2007 on supplemental oxygen, which is the last reminder of her tiny start. Since her initial discharge, Kathryn has had three additional hospital stays, which ended in a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension that the doctors expect she will outgrow shortly along with her need for supplemental oxygen due to BronchoPulmonary Dysplasia (BPD). Kathryn has been on supplemental oxygen at home along with numerous medications since December 2007 and the doctors expect that by Spring 2009, she will outgrow them all and live the life of a typically developing child with no medical concerns.

Our children are miracles. The March of Dimes raises money that can help to identify factors that predispose women to an early delivery. Thanks to breakthroughs in amazing medications, advances in research, and the generosity of strangers, March of Dimes is making a difference. It certainly has made a difference in our family and in the health of our daughters.

Later in the year when this event comes up, please think of our little family of four and do everything that you can to support the March of Dimes. The money raised will help March of Dimes continue to fight for the littlest of God's miracles and the money already raised is part of the reason that we have two healthy girls!! May God bless you as he has blessed us!

Faithfully, Kelly

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Great Visit at Clinic

At Kathryn's clinic visit, she was 11.15 pounds (up from 9.39 pounds in April). She has increased her length by 1 inch and the circumference of her head by 1 inch. All in all, she is in the 33rd % for both height and weight, but for height to weight ratio, she is in the 50th %. What that means is that she is still small in both weight and height, but she is perfectly proportionate - just tiny in comparison to other children her age!! I just keep thinking that she will be the perfect size two that women with average builds wish they could be!! They said that average 6 month olds (her adjusted age) gain around 12 grams a day and Kathryn's weight gain over the last two months was 14.5 grams a day. So she is gaining what an average child her adjusted age would gain and then a little "catch up" weight - they just wish she could gain a little more "catch-up" weight, but for now she is still doing wonderful!! The only nutritional change at this time is to move her to a little bit more caloric formula which simply means making her formula a little bit differently, but the same stuff!

Two of her diuretics had to be increased because her CO2 levels were a little elevated in her blood sample. So they increased her Diuril and her Aldactone, but the good news is we are getting rid of one of the medications!!!!!!!!!! Her Lasix has become so minimal in comparison to her weight that we are going to drop it. She had been getting 0.15 ml twice a day, so for the next two weeks she will get it once a day and if she tolerates that, after two weeks, we can stop giving it to her altogether!! So we may be down to only 9 medications by Monday June 16!! And Dr. Lozano said that she is outgrowing some of her other meds too, and they are going to let those do the same thing - gradually get to the point that they are minimal doses compared to her weight and just let her drop them!! So even though we are still giving the same meds and the same doses, she is still weening from them because she is growing!!

She did excellent with getting her blood drawn. My little trooper just watched the nurse draw her blood and she did not even cry. That partly makes me a little sad because it means that she is so used to it, but at least she didn't cry!

Dr. Lozano was very pleased that her oxygen is down to 1 liter per minute and he said to hold there for a while, but he was very impressed with how much progress Kathryn had made since April. He suspects that she should be off of a lot of her meds and possibly her oxygen by Christmas or at least the first part of next year!! That would be amazing!! Of course, it would mean that we have to be super careful with her through next winter so she doesn't go right back on it, but we can certainly do that!!

We go back again for follow up in August!! Thanks so much for your prayers!! My fears can calm a little now!!

Faithfully, Kelly

Monday, June 2, 2008


So, pray for a good clinic visit today - it's at 2:00!!

Faithfully, Kelly