On August 5, 2011 (the day after our 10-year wedding anniversary), we found out we were going to be the lucky parents of twins! We didn’t know the turn our lives were taking at that time and the journey we were about to embark on as a family.
The day before Thanksgiving 2011 we received news that our two little girls growth had slowed down causing concern with our doctor. We were sent to a specialist who confirmed intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Our goal was to make it to 34 weeks, but we would be closely monitored for the rest of the pregnancy. However, due to complications we had to make the difficult decision to deliver the girls at 26 weeks 2 days (14 weeks early) in order to try and save their tiny lives. Tyler Annabelle (Twin A) was born at 1 lb 3 oz 11.75 inches long and Bailey Grace (Twin B) was born at 1 lb 2 oz 11 inches long. Tyler was smaller than the sock monkey she is holding in this picture. We use it for reference to show how small she was and how far she has come. This was taken on her 2nd birthday (12/14/13).
The girls came out screaming. Knowing in advance we were having issues, we were lucky to be able to get 2 rounds of steroid shots to help their lungs develop. As we began the long journey, Tyler was having gastrointestinal issues, but Bailey Grace was doing everything “by the book.” On December 29, we were called to the hospital as Bailey Grace had taken a turn for the worst. She had developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Within 8 hours of her developing this infection, she gained her angel wings. This had completely hit us out of nowhere as she was the one doing everything “by the book” and Tyler was having the medical issues.
This caused us to stop and rethink our course of treatment for Tyler. We made the decision with the medical staff at both Baptist Hospital and UMMC to transfer Tyler to UMMC for surgery to determine what was causing her gastrointestinal issues. At a little over 2 lbs and less than a month old, our surviving twin had surgery to determine the cause of the intestinal issues and were prepped (as much as we could be) for the worse case scenarios. After 120 days in the NICU and watching our little warrior flat-line in front of us twice due to infections during her NICU stay, we were finally able to bring her home where the next phase of our journey began.
Due to her being a micro-preemie, having major abdominal surgery, and her extreme prematurity, she has had some developmental delays in all areas, chronic lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and mild optic atrophy. Her speech is slightly delayed, while her motor skills, such as standing and walking are moderately delayed. Tyler’s pediatrician and neurologist told us about the Little Lighthouse once they started noticing the developmental delays and we immediately put her on the waiting list. On August 11, 2014, we were blessed with being accepted to the Little Lighthouse! God’s timing is perfect in so many ways! We were told this school had a 2-3 year waiting list, but Tyler was enrolled within 8 months! We had made arrangements for Tyler to start going to a day care 2 days a week, but the day before we got the call that Tyler had been accepted to the Little Lighthouse, that opportunity had fallen through and I was frantically searching for other options. Our prayers had been answered!
She has been attending this school for approximately 1 month now and to see how much she has progressed has been amazing. She is talking independently so much more, where before she was only repeating words we asked her to repeat. She is working hard to get her motor skills caught up as well. Not only have we been amazed, but our family and friends have noted a major change in her since starting school. We are still working toward standing and walking independently, as well as making general strides at catching up developmental with peers her same age. She has made so many new friends and looks forward to going to school each day.
It has also been a blessing for this school to be tuition-free. Since she does not have an actual diagnosis for her delays other than being extremely premature and a micro-preemie, she did not qualify for any additional medical/health insurance assistance. Therefore, we have to come out of our pocket for the medical expenses our health insurance does not cover. It is a major burden off our shoulders to be able to concentrate on helping our daughter and not have to worry about tuition to this wonderful school on top of her medical expenses. Thank you to all that have made monetary donations and/or given their time to the Little Lighthouse. My family and I will forever be grateful. Because of your generous donations my daughter and her classmates, will be able to reach their full potential in a loving, caring, and Godly environment. Her smile every morning and when she talks about her new friends, her teachers, and therapists is proof that God answers prayers and that miracles do happen!