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Ellie's Story - 3 Pounds at Birth, Months Later, Healthy and Growing.

A Complicated Pregnancy


Ellie Gillespie was delivered by emergency cesarean section eight weeks early. Her mom, Erin, was diagnosed with hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count, known as HELLP syndrome—an extreme form of preeclampsia that raises blood pressure, damages the liver and kills platelets. An emergency delivery was the only option to save Ellie and her mom.

The Birth

Right after the delivery, Ellie was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit where she stayed for 29 days.

"Every single person—from the doctors to the volunteers—who took care of Ellie was amazing," Erin says. "Sousan Akhaven-Yazdi, "Suzie," was our evening nurse. She was so friendly and caring—you can tell that being a NICU nurse is not just a job for her. She shared with us that her mom is a NICU nurse and she grew up wanting to do the same thing. Suzie took exceptional care of the babies and the parents."

Erin says that she was able to visit Ellie every day for her noon and 3 p.m. feedings. Her husband, Patrick, would join her for the 9 p.m. feedings.

"We drove more than 3,000 miles in July traveling back and forth to the hospital," Erin says.

The NICU staff spent a lot of time showing Patrick and Erin how to take care of baby Ellie; they explained the monitors and how everything worked. Patrick and Erin could hold Ellie and talk to her as she was fed through a tube—all while receiving encouragement and support from the NICU staff.

Any questions or concerns that Patrick and Erin had were addressed right away. Several nurses would visit Ellie to check on her, even if they were assigned to other babies.

A Happy & Healthy Baby

"The NICU staff felt like family for that time," Erin says. "Even though we had not planned to be in a situation like that, they made it bearable because we knew she was in good hands every night when we left her."

Months later, she is healthy, smiling, laughing, learning and growing.

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