Emma Kinley was an unexpected gift. She was supposed to have made her grand entrance into this world on June 3, 2010. I began having complications, Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome which sent us to UAMS in Little Rock. The doctors thought that they would have to deliver Emma that night but surprisingly they were able to hold off.
We were given the series of shots to mature Emma’s lungs at a faster rate so that maybe she wouldn’t have more complications than what were already expected. The doctors told us we’d be lucky to get two or three days extra with the shot. I was at 24 weeks and we desperately wanted to hit 25 weeks. We were told a baby had better chances at 25 or more weeks. We did it. We managed to get five days. At exactly 25 weeks, February 20, 2010 Emma, our unexpected gift had arrived.
The room was cold and sterile. I remember the doctor coming in and looking me straight in the eye and asking me, “You do want us to revive her, do all that is possible?” This was not my first delivery but it was the first time I had been asked that question. I looked at him for a second, only because of fear of the question and answered, “yes”. I realized then I had no control over the fate of this human being. It was a helpless feeling. We knew she was going to be very small, we were looking at a little over a pound. She was 10 ¾ inches long and 13 oz. Yes, we had to ask again..not sure we heard that right. Two days after Emma was born the doctors discovered that she had a congential heart defect. She was born with Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV). There are so many obstacles for premature babies to have to overcome. Amazingly, Emma never had a brain bleed which occurs often with premies. Emma spent 56 days on a ventilator. Because she was on the ventilator for more than 28 days she was diagnosed with chronic lung disease. What does that mean? She could have asthma later in life, she may get sick a little easier than other children. Okay, we can live with that at this point. The goal was to get Emma to ten pounds before having to do her heart surgery.
The first week of June 2010 Emma was transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. She needed to be there for her heart surgery and Emma’s saturations (breathing) was not holding at a number they were comfortable with. The day came, September 2, 2010 Emma was eight pounds and taken into surgery. She came out of surgery only to be taken back because she was bleeding and the doctors couldn’t get it to stop. A few more minutes the surgeon comes out and says she’s okay, the bleeding resolved itself, they would not have to go back in. Of all the days with Emma, I believe this day was the hardest. I will never forget the way she looked right after the surgery. All the tubes coming out her and thinking if I could only take her place. Emma recovered beautifully from her heart surgery and had no other complications. Her next hurdle was feeding issues and growing. She had some reflux issues and was tube fed for a while but as with everything Emma conquered that as well. On October 16, 2010 Emma was going home. Her first venture out into the world around people, fresh air since the day she was born. I worried over so many things throughout Emma’s journey and one of those was that she and I didn’t get to bond like my other children. I didn’t get to hold or really touch her until about three or four months after she was born. I afraid this would have some effect on her. Emma is 2 ½ now and she is just as close to me as my other children are. She’s still little but to look at her today you’d never know the road that she traveled to get where she is today. She shows no signs of developmental delays, she’s a chatter box, she runs, draws on everything, sassy and yes, is going through the “terrible two’s”. To this day she is fearless and shows great determination in everything. The best advice I can give? Some days you’ll have to take day by day and some minute by minute. Listen to your intutition and feel with your heart.