“On January 27, 2019, I learned that I’m expecting. The expression of surprise and delight on my husband’s face when I told him was priceless.
We were both extremely startled because we weren’t attempting. The first half of the pregnancy, as it should be for any pregnancy, was wonderful. I did suffer from severe morning nausea, so you can imagine how often I visited the bathroom. Oh, and don’t neglect the frequency of your daily urination. The restroom was my dearest friend.
Initially, doctor’s consultations were scheduled every four weeks. Everything appeared to be in order, and our child’s development was normal! Our entire family was delighted to welcome a new member. After a few months and a blood test, we learned we were expecting a daughter. It took us a considerable amount of time to select the optimal name for our child when we were deciding on her appellation. We chose the name Paisley Renee because it resonated with our family and stood out to us.
Prior to my 20-week visit, our lives were turned upside down. In a typical ultrasound, the infant is measured, the gender is determined, and a few additional tests are performed to assure normal development. Due to the difficulty of capturing Paisley on the ultrasound, they were unable to take all the necessary precautions. However, we were informed of the measurements they did obtain, which revealed that she measured diminutive.
Our initial response was, “Okay, well, we have short relatives, so no big deal.” Then, we scheduled an ultrasound to obtain additional images of Paisley. Again, they were unable to acquire what they require, and it was discovered that she was still severely lacking. While they were unable to provide us with specific information regarding our daughter’s condition, our concern grew.
They informed us that the next step was to schedule an appointment with a specialist so that he or she could conduct a comprehensive ultrasound to measure all bones, organs, fluids, and anything else that came to mind. The duration of this consultation was estimated to be between three and four hours. When they informed us that this was the next step we had to take, my heart plummeted a bit, as I had never experienced any complications during my pregnancy with my first child.
The day of our appointment with the expert had finally arrived, and we were an apprehensive disaster. At the appointment, the ultrasound technician didn’t say much because they’re not allowed to tell us what’s going on; you can imagine how horrified we were on the inside. I would add that seeing our daughter again was a blessing. We found it quite entertaining to observe their attempts to photograph her, given that she was as stubborn as they come.
Following the approximately one-and-a-half-hour ultrasound, we were taken to a reception area to meet the doctor. We sat there and waited for a torturous hour because we had no idea what the doctor would discover or what was going on in general. We simply sat there, held each other, and beseeched God to heal our daughter.
They eventually summoned us back to see the doctor, and based on the expressions on their features, it was clear that the news he would deliver would not be good. His comments were, “Your daughter, Paisley, has Thanatophoric Dysplasia or TD, a severe, uncommon form of skeletal dysplasia (dwarfism).” My spouse and I both burst into weeping before he could even complete that phrase.
I recollect him saying, “There is little likelihood that your daughter will survive delivery.” My husband and I were shocked, outraged, heartbroken, and bewildered as to why this had to happen to our child. This appointment completely ruined my pregnancy, as I now feared my daughter would not survive.
When infants are diagnosed with a ‘fatal disease,’ doctors are so callous that they offer little hope. He informed us that she may not survive childbirth or may only live a few hours to days after delivery. That day, our world was turned upside down, and we were compelled to make preparations for a child with a permanent medical disability.
Thanatophoric Dysplasia is a severe skeletal disorder characterized by abnormally small limbs and extra skin pleats on the arms and legs. The term Thanatophoric means ‘bringing death’ because this disease causes a small, bell-shaped thorax that inhibits the lungs from developing normally. According to our research, 1 in 20,000 to 50,000 births are affected.
The eldest survivor was a 29-year-old woman. A limited number of Europeans and Americans are affected by this illness. We were ambivalent after conducting research and conversing with a few families whose children suffer from this illness. Paisley would not surpass two feet in height and would have a number of problems.
The remainder of the pregnancy was marked by extreme tension and a complete lack of clarity. I had weekly consultations with both the specialist and my primary care physician thereafter. I was required to undertake extensive blood testing, weekly ultrasounds, and stress tests due to my high-risk pregnancy. I prayed that God would allow our daughter to grow and that her thorax would develop appropriately so that she could survive the birth at each examination.
Her extremities ultimately measured approximately 17 weeks, her head remained on schedule (so she had a cranium of approximately 34 weeks), and her small chest only reached approximately 20 weeks. Consequently, you can comprehend how small Paisley was. I ordered an MRI so that we could observe the growth of her organs and lungs. Given her condition, we were astounded to discover that she had 80 percent lung tissue.
They continued to assert that she had TD despite never having witnessed a patient survive the disease. I would have erupted if they had brought up abortion, so thankfully they never did. I wished for Paisley to have an existence, whether brief or lengthy. She deserved the universe, so I was determined to give it to her.
I went to the hospital on August 28, 2019, because I was experiencing regular contractions and my amniotic fluid level exceeded 40 weeks. The excessive fluid production caused by Paisley’s illness poses a significant risk to the fetus. My doctors did not want to halt the contractions at this time because we did not want to put Paisley at further risk. Moreover, I was anxious to meet my daughter and eager to end my pregnancy. That day, it was decided that I would have her. As a result, my husband hastily summoned everyone to the hospital so they could visit me before I underwent surgery again (I was undergoing a second cesarean section).
We were both horrified because Paisley was born six weeks early, and we had no clue what to expect. We wanted only to hear her shriek. Well, what can I say? Multiple shouts from her indicated that she was present and healthy. She weighed 5 lbs. 2 oz. when they had anticipated that she would weigh only 3 lbs. She was transported to the NICU and promptly placed on a ventilator. We were so relieved that she survived the birth, but we had no notion what her future would hold.
They sent in her blood sample to later corroborate that she had TD. She horrified us and nearly died a few days later, so she had to be placed on the hospital’s last-resort Oscillator ventilator. In addition, she required nitric gas to assist with her C02 measurements. A week later, I could finally embrace my infant daughter. It was the most difficult week of my life and an emotional roller coaster. You feel defeated as a mother when you cannot embrace your own child.
Eventually, she was able to be removed from the oscillator and placed on a conventional hospital ventilator. We were delighted with the change because it indicated that she is gaining strength and improving. Unfortunately, our facility was unable to perform the required procedures on Paisley, so we had to travel to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
As we arrived, Paisley underwent tracheotomy surgery in which a small opening was created in her neck (at the airway) and a breathing tube was inserted. This was a crucial stage, as she was still unable to breathe on her own, and she may need this for the remainder of her life. One week later, she underwent cranial decompression surgery, during which surgeons removed a portion of the bone surrounding her vertebrae and cranium to relieve pressure and increase blood flow, thereby restoring her mobility. It is intended to promote her growth and help her brain transmit more impulses to her organs, allowing her to breathe more effectively on her own.
This placed a tremendous strain on our young infant, but she is a fighter and prevailed. Due to the fact that our daughter was only two months old when she began undergoing these significant operations, we were a hot disaster. As stated previously, we were unaware that our beloved Paisley was a combatant.
Currently in the NICU for day 113, what do you think? Physicians feared Paisley would not survive delivery. God, on the other hand, has magnificent plans for our newborn daughter, and He is demonstrating His power through her life by conducting marvels. By switching to a home ventilator, she is returning home. The patient can then be transferred to the TICU, where training for her care at home commences.
I am apprehensive because her life will be in my hands, and I have so much to learn about tracheostomy care and fulfilling her medical requirements. God chose my husband and me to be her parents, and we are beyond thankful for her and the opportunity to care for her. This has humbled us to the point of incomprehension because everyone believes they have difficult moments or days, but Paisley has endured more than I ever could have anticipated, yet she smiles through it all. We hope she will return home shortly, but we are proceeding slowly so as not to pressure her. We hope to bring her home by the beginning of the following year; therefore, we will see what God has planned for our daughter.
If I could offer advice to other parents in a similar situation, it would be to not give up on their offspring. They depend on us, so we must strive and be courageous on their behalf. Lean on your family and friends for comfort; suppressing your emotions is toxic and will drive you insane during this difficult time. I realized that maintaining a daily journal and keeping it up-to-date prevented me from sliding into a pit of despair.
You bear no responsibility for this. You are not at fault. You are not alone and are able to complete this endeavor. Take a deep breath, savor each moment, and be appreciative for it. Be thankful that ultrasounds enable you to see your expectant child. Be appreciative of your pregnancy. Be grateful for the chance to change a diaper. You are fortunate to have accompanied your infant to the hospital. Since you never know what the next day will bring, be appreciative of every minor blessing.
This path has taught me gratitude, to thank God for my modest miracle, and to appreciate everything. This was God’s plan for us, and we will be grateful for everything that comes our way.
Melissa Courson of Atlanta, Georgia submitted this article to Love What Matters. This experience can be found on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and sign up for our free email newsletter to read our best articles and YouTube to view our finest videos.
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Baby, birth, cranial decompression surgery, dwarfism, faith, fighter, Fighter infant, humbled, journaling, fatal condition, miraculous baby, NICU, pregnancy, rainbow baby, Skeletal Dysplasia, TD, Thanatophoric Dysplasia, grateful, tracheostomy surgery, faith in God. Why does she think I desire children? I’m 32!’ Her eyes blinked at me. This discussion troubled me for the following three years. Woman declares that she does not want children, stating, “You can live a satisfying life without children.” “When I’m with you, I give everything I have. I am able to dance, imbibe wine, and indulge in light talk. Despite this, I am done. I have a scheme’: A woman discusses the difficulties associated with being a “extroverted introvert” during the holiday season.