Kenley – 24 weeks
The evening of January 14th was like one typical of any pregnancy. There were “normal” feelings of pregnancy at 24 weeks, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary, especially after reading all the pregnancy books. At about 3:45 a.m. on January 15th, we were taken by surprise when our “normal” pregnancy turned into a painful one. The pains that were so commonly associated with pregnancy were in fact labor pains. That morning, my water broke and I gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter, Kenley Rian, 16 weeks early. She was born at our home. At 4:04 a.m., my husband, Graig, now OB and first responder, delivered Kenley. He performed rescue breathing on her until the EMTs arrived. The EMTs and first responders were amazing and quickly got Kenley to Arden Hill Hospital. Due to Kenley’s extreme prematurity, she was immediately transferred to the Regional NICU at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, about 40 miles away. This NICU was her home for the next 122 days.
It is indescribable how everything seemed so normal and then changed in an instant. We were thrown into a situation that we never imagined possible and had absolutely no idea what we were in for or what was going to happen. Kenley’s premature birth at 24 weeks and the surgeries and procedures that followed were hard to overcome. On her second day of life, she developed a significant cerebral bleed, which led to an ommaya reservoir being put in, and then a shunt. During her first 5 precious months of life, she underwent three brain surgeries (ommaya, shunt and shunt revision) and one heart surgery (to close her pda). We were constantly reminded how critical and beneficial it was for us to be there for Kenley, for her survival and development. In our baby girl’s fight for her life, we knew she needed us and our love and support more than anything. We made sure that we were there for her each and every day, for 122 days, snow, rain or shine. Graig would visit Kenley in the morning before work and I would go in the evening after work. Living in Chester, New York, we traveled approximately 40 miles each way to the hospital. Some days when we got home and called the NICU for updates on Kenley’s condition, we would head right back to the hospital if we got bad news. We were back and forth a lot and easily added 20,000 miles on our brand new car, but we wouldn’t have changed a single trip. Life in the NICU took its toll on us, financially and emotionally. No one could prepare us for this!
Today, Kenley is doing amazing! She is exactly where she should be, according to her corrected age. We know we still have a long road ahead of us, and there are definite possibilities for obstacles, but right now, she is a very happy baby who is doing well. We truly believe that our presence during her time in the hospital, along with the great staff at the RNICU, played a significant part in where she is today.
Hailey’s Hope Foundation had an important role in helping us be there for Kenley. The support they gave us during our time in the hospital helped to ease our fears and made all of our trips easier. We are so grateful for what they did for us, and what they continue to do for families with babies in the NICU. When you find yourself in a critical situation like we did, having supporters like Hailey’s Hope there makes a tremendous difference.