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!