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    Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento

    Ellison Piper Craft - Prematurity

    Ellison Piper Craft -
    Ellison Piper Craft - Prematurity

    By Lauren, Ellie's mom

    Ellison Piper Craft came home on June 30, 2015. She was born at only 23 weeks, weighed only 1lb 6oz, and given little chance of survival. She was in the hospital for a total of 137 days.

    After Ellie was born she got sick with pneumonia in her lungs and a yeast infection in her blood stream, at the same time. Ellie was able to fight those off and get better with the help of medication. She also had a small bleed on the right side of her brain, which is very common in premature babies. Sometimes the bleeds require medical attention if or when they become too large. Ellie's bleed ended up going away on its own and never got any bigger.

    Ellie was also born with a hemangioma on her chest, which is a cluster of blood vessels that create a birth mark looking spot protruding off the skin. In the first month Ellie was put on a medication to treat it. After she started the medication she began to show signs of seizures. Ellie had several tests done to find out why and to make sure they were not from something of great concern. Among these tests she had a spinal tap, and also an EKG. I would not watch the spinal tap but I did stay to watch the EKG; it was difficult seeing around 20 wires attached to her tiny head. Thankfully, the spinal tap came out clean and the EKG didn't show any signs of seizures. The medication she was on for her hemangioma was then stopped assuming it was what was causing the seizures. The signs of seizures stopped.

    When Ellie was born she had a heart murmur which is also common with preemies. This will typically require surgery or medication to close the valve. Ellie's miraculously closed on its own and did not require any medical intervention. Ellie never had any trouble eating which is another big concern with premature babies. She tolerated all her feeds and mastered eating from a bottle; her weight gain was steady throughout her hospital stay.

    Another common procedure for premature babies is blood transfusions. During the first few months Ellie had to receive 5 blood transfusions. Her little body could not make enough blood fast enough. Right after she was born she was put on a ventilator to help her breath. She eventually pulled the tube out on her own just days before they were going to try and advance her to the bubbles CPAP. She did well on the bubbles and never had to go back to the ventilator. She eventually was able to get off the bubbles as well and was put on a cannula for a small period of time. After some time she was able to stop this as well and could breathe on her own without any assistance.

    Ellie would have been able to come home before the 137 days; however, she continued to have heart rate drops. They were all self-recovered but her primary doctor; neonatologist Dr. Gustavo Sosa wanted her to go at least three days without having one. He made the comment that "if it hadn't of been for her heart rate drops her case would have been the best he's ever seen at her gestational age." Ellie made it the three days without having a heart rate drop and came home on June 30th with a heart rate monitor to use while she slept. Ellie weighed 6lbs 9oz when she came home. She continued taking some of her medications as well. One medication was for her hemangioma, two diuretics, and vitamins. At home it took her about a week to adjust to the new environment. I would play her recorder that she had in the hospital, a recorder of me and her sister and brother reading her stories. She liked the familiar sounds and slept well while it played. Her hemangioma ulcerated not long after being home, but it is now healed and has gone down significantly almost flush to her skin. She has also passed all her eye exams for her retinas, a huge relief due to her being on oxygen for so long and at high doses. She goes in for a sleep study update at the end November and that doctor is confident she will be off her monitor soon. Ellie has seen a Physical Therapist and a Child Development Specialist and both have said they are blown away by her capabilities. They said considering her history and when she born they cannot believe how well she is doing, and that not only is she on point with her development she is advanced in areas as well. One of the programs the hospital provided for Ellie was called Beads of Courage. For every procedure, for every day she was on the ventilator, and every feet she tackled she received a bead. After putting all the beads on a string we stretched it out and it measures 19 feet long.

    Ellie has currently been home for a little over four months and weighs a hefty 12.4 pounds, she feels so huge! She is rolling over; reaching for toys, pulling everything in her hands to her mouth, eating oatmeal cereal, and is a big chatter box! She loves to try to escape her diaper changes and also loves Gunner, our 100lb black lab. Gunner loves her and she laughs when he gives her doggy kisses. Ellie enjoys our morning walks and her favorite show is Baby Einstein.

    Ellie is the definition of a miracle and has surpassed everyone's expectations. Hundreds of people have prayed for her since she was born and one lady told me that "she did not believe in answered prayer until Ellie." All of Ellie's doctors and nurses are beyond impressed with her little life and say she is one of the reasons why they do what they do. They say miracles do happen and she is living proof.


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