Meet Miss Gracyn! She is our October calendar model! This sweet girl was in the hospital at the same time as Emry...in the same town but different hospitals. She texted and kept me up to date on tornado warnings! HA We grew up with her Momma so we said lots of prayers for this girl! Here is her story, written by her mom, Amanda.
In August of 2010 we found out we were having our 3rd child. …we were beyond ecstatic! We immediately started planning and adjusting our lives for a new baby. On October 12, 2010 we went for our 14 week prenatal check-up. My doctor had some free time that evening and asked if I wanted to do an early ultrasound. He thought I was measuring a little big and could have been a few weeks farther along than we thought. So of course we were so excited to see our precious baby on ultrasound earlier than expected! But what was to come following those next few minutes changed our lives forever. He got very quiet and I knew immediately something was wrong. He explained that he saw a large mass growing on our baby’s tummy and he thought we needed to go in for a more detailed ultrasound to confirm. We were scheduled an appointment at UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock that next week. We made the long 3 hour drive down where they confirmed to us that our daughters intestines were growing on the outside of her body. They told us that she was perfectly healthy otherwise but this was a very serious condition that would require immediate surgery following delivery and she would spend weeks to months in Arkansas Children’s Hospital. This news was devastating to our entire family. How were we going to cope? Mentally, physically, financially?? How were we going to raise our other 2 children and live in Little Rock all at the same time?? All these thoughts were running through my mind. Why us God?
My pregnancy continued as planned and we accepted the fact of what was to come and prepared our lives for our baby to spend her first weeks of life in a hospital 3 hours away from our home. The pregnancy was fairly routine until I reached 35 weeks and they told me I had entirely too much amniotic fluid and she could possibly be born within the week! SCARY!!! Not only will she be born with this condition (which we now knew was called “gastroschesis”), she would be born prematurely! On March 17, 2011 at 36 weeks Gracyn Sloane made her grand entrance into this world. She weighed in at 5 lbs even. It all happened so fast. They wrapped her tiny body in a plastic like bag to protect her intestines and then swaddled her the best they could in a blanket before handing her to me to hold for just a minute before they whisked her away to meet the Angel One helicopter that would fly her over 200 miles away. Of course I could not be released from the hospital until the next day so daddy jumped in his truck and raced away to Little Rock. That was the hardest part to me….being 200 miles away from my newborn daughter. As I lay in my hospital bed all I could think was how scared she was and how I was supposed to be there by her side. She needed her mommy!! Finally a few hours later, Children’s hospital called my room and let me know she landed safely in Little Rock and was all settled in the NICU. I had to give verbal permission over the phone to allow them to perform her first surgery. That was a terrifying thought! Just a few hours after her arrival, Gracyn had her first of 3 surgeries. It consisted of sewing a “silo” bag around the opening in her tummy and placing her intestines in this bag. Their plan was to allow gravity to do its job and the intestines would return inside the body without any force. When I arrived at children’s hospital 20 hours later I got to see Gracyn for the first time since she had left my arms. She was hooked up to every machine and cord you could possibly think of. I COMPLETELY LOST IT!!! I couldn’t stop crying. Daddy had already been there with her and had tried to prepare me for what I was about to see. There is no preparing for something like that. It was the most difficult thing I have ever faced…….
“So, she’s here now, what is our plan doc?” They explained to us that Gracyn would lie flat on her back and their hope was that her intestines would return to her body like planned and they would sew her up and we would just wait for them to start working correctly. And that if all went as planned she would go home in a few weeks. On March 24th (one week old) her intestines had returned inside her body and they took her back for her 2nd surgery. They sewed her up and we prayed for success. “Within the week she should start stooling and be on the road to recovery and be home in no time.” Those were such encouraging words to us. Well, weeks went by…..still no stools. We prayed every day for POOP! That’s all I could say was “God please let there be poop today!” After 6 long weeks of waiting and still no poop, they took her back for an x-ray. They shot some sort of dye through her intestines and we found out that there was some blockage and she would require another surgery. Those words were like a knife to our hearts. All I could think was this isn’t supposed to be happening to her. Why?? I remember feeling jealousy towards another family who had a baby there with the exact same condition. She arrived a week after Gracyn and was already home at this point. I was so frustrated, exhausted, stress and scared. We were so ready to be home at this point. We had been juggling our family life with our other 2 children. My fiancée still had to work during the week and they had to go to school. But thankfully my mother was able to be off work and spend the entire time with me down there. Tim and the kids would come down on the weekends and we tried to make it as normal as possible for them. But it took a toll on our entire family. 6 weeks away from my other babies was heart wrenching. I felt like I had abandoned my children. I know that sounds crazy, but I just felt so helpless. We continued to pray. There was a chance this surgery wouldn’t work and she could possibly face some very serious challenges ahead.
On May 5, 2011 at 7 weeks old Gracyn had her FINAL surgery!!! They cut her open, pulled her entire small intestines out, snipped the bad part out and sewed the ends back together. And BAM…..2 days later we had POOP!!! I have never been so happy to open up a diaper and see that! 2 weeks later on May 19 we rolled her down the halls of Children’s Hospital in a little red wagon. Hands down the happiest day of our lives!!! We loaded her up in our truck and headed back to Fayetteville. HOME!!!!
Gracyn is now 19 months old and we haven’t looked back once. She hasn’t faced any problems from this. She is the picture of perfect health and you would never know she was a preemie or had 3 surgeries…unless you look at her tummy, which is beautifully scarred ; ) She eats constantly, talks your ear off and has a smile that will light up the room. She is the boss at our house and has every right to be. God has truly blessed us with our little miracle baby. The road was a long one and was the most challenging experience of our lives….. but worth every single minute.