As Fionnuala and Christopher Price awaited the arrival of their first child, they received devastating news. During an examination, Fionnuala’s doctor informed her that she had no amniotic fluid and that her daughter Elora had severe intrauterine growth restriction; measuring at the size of a baby of 20 weeks of gestation. The blood flow from her placenta to the baby was reversed. They were given no hope that their child would survive and told to wait and deliver her stillborn.
Unwilling to accept such a grim diagnosis, they came to UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for a second opinion. While Magee physicians agreed that the situation was dire, they did present her with an option; undergo steroid treatment to help the baby’s lungs grow and try to carry her as long as possible.
One week later Elora was born, after monitors showed her heart rate had dropped to a dangerous level. Her delivery was a flurry of activity and she was brought in to the world in less than 2 minutes by the skillful hands of a team of physicians and nurses.
Elora was born weighing only 13.6 ounces and measuring only 9 ½ inches long. Her mother describes her size at birth as smaller than a can of soda. Her parents were able to catch a glimpse of her as she was taken past them in her incubator, rushed to the NICU for immediate care. It was not until three hours later that they were able to see her again.
The odds were against the Prices, with the tiny baby given only a 10% chance of survival and a 1% chance to thrive.
“It is impossible to put fully into words what it is like to see your child born months before they are supposed to be. The initial shock of seeing your baby with a breathing tube, IV lines, skin that is red and bruised from delivery because they are so fragile, eyes still fused shut and just the tiniest hands and feet. To see them hooked up to machines you don’t understand, but in time will know what every number means and what sounds belong to the IV pump, the ventilator or their monitor for heart rate and oxygen levels,” said Fionnuala.
Elora spent 123 days in the NICU at Magee. During that time, she and her family faced obstacles few can imagine. “I was told constantly by doctors how sick Elora was and how she wasn’t going to make it. I cried every day after rounds from the poor prognosis they gave my little girl. I didn’t want to bring anything but a happy attitude into her room, so for the first week I would say goodbye to her after rounds and head upstairs to cry,” Fionnuala explained. Despite the trials and the setbacks, Elora proved that she had more fight in her than anyone could have imagined.
“They tell you from the start that the NICU is a roller coaster. And that is the most accurate way to describe it. How quickly a good day can turn bad. Thank you to all of Elora’s nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, PAs, NPs and all other staff for being there for her. And thank you for being there for me, to help celebrate in all of her victories and to help me through the bad days,” her mother shared.
Recently, Elora celebrated another victory: her first birthday! This beautiful, spirited little girl is an inspiration to us all, proving that there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome.
If you would like to donate to the NICU to support patients like Elora, visit www.mageewomens.org/giving.