Abigail, 2020 Kid HERO Crew member
When we found out we were having a girl we were all so excited. I wanted a girl. And everything was going well until the end of my pregnancy. I had gotten into this bizarre car accident where a tree fell down around my car while I was driving home from work with no real damage. I felt fine and the ambulance came and Abigail was kicking so I went home. Abigail soon started to slow down and I had heard that that sort of happens towards the end when babies run out of space, but Abigail really slowed down a lot. We were sent to APD for a scan – steady heartbeat but the ultrasound tech could not get Abigail to budge so I was admitted to Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital (APD). They put a bunch of monitors on me and gave me a sleeping pill and at four or five o’clock in the morning I was woken up and told that I needed to have an emergency C-section.
James, my husband, was told to say goodbye and brought to another room. Abigail was delivered and resuscitated. They said she suffered hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and she was DHARTed via ambulance to CHaD. I came to right before they whisked her off to to CHaD’s Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) and I got to hold her hand through the box that she was in. Abigail was connected pretty much to everything they could put on her; she was intubated. She had heart monitors and all sorts of things attached to her.
Abigail in CHaD’s NICU
Fortunately I was able to recover from my C-section at Dartmouth-Hitchcock as well. Once I got settled into my room, a team of about a dozen doctors (I think most of them were students) came in and talked to us about Abigail. They said she had a lot of damage to her brain and they doodled on these sketch pads that had a picture of a brain on them to kind of scribble the parts that had damage to her brain and told us what we should be expecting if Abigail were to survive. I remember the Doctor who first started telling us this was wiping tears away himself as he told us what had happened to Abigail.
She had failure in every organ and was on every form of life support that the hospital has to offer. We made sure Abigail had run through the complete three days of cooling and stayed by her side as much as we could. I remember a photographer came and offered free baby photos for a new family photo shoot for us in the NICU. Abigail was still very connected to all the wires at the time and it was a hard for us not to cry in those pictures.
Abigail and her parents in the NICU
We had a daytime nurse, Keileigh, and a nighttime nurse, Sterling, volunteer to become Abigail’s nurses. They were only in charge of Abigail while they were there and James and I became good friends with both of those ladies and still keep in touch with them.
Abigail started to improve. She slowly came off life support and though we were still warned to expect a lot of disability, we were so thrilled with her progress. We took Abigail home from the hospital two weeks after she was born and although she made so much progress from her birthday, she was classified as failure to thrive, so we had a visiting nurse come to our apartment in Hanover at least once a week. Abigail had visiting therapists as early as I can remember. Pushing her along her milestones and honestly as a brand new mom it was helpful to have a little guidance.
I became a very busy secretary after Abigail was born. She had a date book full of appointments going back to see all sorts of specialists at CHAD with multiple appointments every week. And I always felt like I was bringing a celebrity to the doctors. Everyone who had known her from the ICN would come by and check on her regardless of who we were scheduled to see. It was very clear that everyone was very invested in Abigail and her progress.
Not long after Abigail got her first hearing aid we moved to Florida. There, Abigail was put into speech therapy. Abigail soon after had a sedated Auditory Brainstem Reponse (ABR) test and ended up with two hearing aids this time. While in Florida we had a baby boy named Danny who is Abigail’s best friend, annoying little brother, and constant companion.
Abigail and her brother, Danny
We continued to see an audiologist in Florida until we were able to move back home to New Hampshire. Moving back home we were so excited to be able to bring Abigail back to CHaD so she could get to see all her healthcare providers that have taken such good care of her before we moved away.
Abigail is a very bright, imaginative and caring. She adores all of her doctors, and for quite some time really wanted to be a pediatric audiologist. Abigail loves reading comic book novels, singing pop songs and dancing. She loves telling jokes and learning about nature. Abigail has her struggles with fine and gross motor skills and comprehension and executive functioning but she is a champion and a fighter. And so kind. And I am so proud of her every day.
— Abigail’s mom, Georgia
Abigail with her family
The CHaD HERO 15-day event has begun! It’s not too late to register and create a team. You can virtually participate now until Sunday, October 18! Learn more and register at www.chadhero.org.