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Born Dangerously Premature At 23 Weeks Gestation, How My Daughter Overcame The Odds


Haef family, Texas Children's Newborn Center[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"71216","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"330","width":"540","style":""}}]]

In early 2010, after 2 years of struggling with infertility, my husband, James, and I discovered the joyous news... we were pregnant! Although it was my first, it seemed like a simple, routine pregnancy. There were no signs of complication, discomfort, or even the typical pregnancy struggles like morning sickness. However, that all changed on June 14, 2010 — when this normal pregnancy turned into anything but, as Madilynn Rose decided to make a very early entrance into the world. Born at 23 weeks and 4 days gestation, just short of 6 months, Madilynn was dangerously premature. At birth, she weighed only 1 pound and 5 ounces and was 11 inches long. Even her eyes were fused shut. Given only a 30% chance of survival, we knew it would be an uphill climb, but our Madilynn was a fighter from the beginning.Tiny hand of premature baby

During her stay at Texas Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), she faced numerous procedures and care from the multi-disciplinary team of specialists, as many of her organs struggled to survive. Her tiny body fought against chronic lung disease, retinopathy, a blood infection, bi-lateral inguinal hernia repair, blood transfusions and a platelet transfusion. This was paired with countless head ultrasounds, echocardiograms, intubations, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), X-rays, heel sticks, blood draws, shots and IVs. However, the most serious complications affected Madilynn’s growing brain — a grade IV bi-lateral hemorrhage and hydrocephalus (an accumulation of fluid), which led to the surgical placement of both a reservoir and shunt. It was an endless and difficult emotional roller coaster to endure as parents, but we knew Madilynn was getting the best care available, as she had access to all of the subspecialty care and surgery, all in 1 of the best facilities in the country.Tiny foot of premature baby

Despite all of these severe challenges, Madilynn continued to progress and grow with flying colors, and after 119 days (nearly 4 months) in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Texas Children’s Newborn Center, we were finally able to bring Madilynn home. Although she still has therapy to help with a few developmental delays, Madilynn is now a very healthy and outgoing girl with a big personality that has brought our family so much joy!