"Isabella was born at 31 weeks gestation in May of 2006. She was transferred the a NICU near her hometown for observation. After 2 days of life, her weight went from 4 lbs 2 oz to 2 lbs 0 oz. Her blood pressure was dangerously high. She was showing signs of renal failure, and the beginnings of multi-organ failure. The decision was made to transfer Isabella to LeBonheur Children‘s Hospital for higher level care. I knew when I received report from the transferring facility that this baby girl was very critical.
The Pedi-Flite team brought her in; this tiny, pale little girl with flailing arms and a feisty spirit. She was a fighter, screaming and swinging her arms as I admitted her and performed the necessary rapid assessment. Her blood pressure remained critical through the night, and into the next few days and weeks. Over the next 6 months during her stay in my NICU, she developed a pericardial effusion, requiring an emergent procedure to pull the fluid off her heart so she could survive. She also developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis requiring surgery, severe reflux requiring a G-Tube, and bleeding in her brain which developed into “PVL,” or periventricular leukomalacia. She required several central lines, endless transfusions, labs, ECHO’s, and other tests. Yet, she never lost her determination to live. I became one of her primary nurses, and I began to love her as if she was my own child. She became an inspiration to me.
Eventually, she did lose a kidney, but she never lost her fighting spirit. Although she would go through periods of deterioration, scaring the nurses, she would always bounce back, determined to live life to the fullest. Just before Thanksgiving 2006, Isabella went home. She took with her monitors, pumps, and a central line that her mother learned to care for. I remember coming in on my day off for this long awaited day. I watched, tears in my eyes, as Isabella was dressed in her little pink onesie, wrapped in the blanket I’d knitted for her, and placed in her car seat. Our sweet Isabella went home.
I kept in touch with her mother, visiting them several times a year. I watched her grow into a toddler, walking, talking, running, all the while feisty and strong-spirited, yet so sweet and fragile. When I got engaged in 2009, the only little girl I wanted to be my flower girl was Isabella.
In November of 2009, Isabella put on her white “princess” dress, little ballet shoes, and she was my flower girl. It was a sweet celebration, and tears of joy were again shed by staff from the NICU as they were reunited with this little girl that had made such a large impact on their lives. She danced around, twirling her dress, singing a song, and smiling. This little girl, born so small and delicate but with such a determined spirit, overcame the impossible, and continues to inspire strength in everyone she meets. "
Me and Isabella in the NICU, sometime in the fall of 2006
On our wedding day