Updated: Mar 12, 2021
Read below as her mother tells their story:
My husband Drew and I found out we were pregnant in July of 2018. It was a major surprise! We had two boys at the time and thought we were finished growing our family, however we were thrilled to find out we would be welcoming a precious little girl to our family. I had a healthy pregnancy with the exception of having gestational diabetes, which I had with my middle child as well so was used to all of what that entails. I had weekly ultrasounds and NSTs to make sure everything was going well so I felt at ease especially since this was my third pregnancy. However, everything changed when I woke up on a Saturday morning at 37 weeks and 5 days. I immediately noticed I could not feel Anna Rees moving around very much. Having been a labor and delivery nurse for the last nine years, I knew it was important to count her movements but when nothing helped to get her moving, I immediately went into the hospital to get checked out.
Once at the hospital I was hooked up to the monitor where it was evident she was in distress because she was having decelerations in her heart rate after each contraction. They decided to induce me because it was obvious it was time for her to come out. After I got my epidural, her heart rate continued to drop after contractions and had a harder time recovering. They also noticed I had started bleeding, so I was rushed to the OR for an urgent c-section.
Anna Rees was born and needed a lot of respiratory support and help maintaining her oxygen level. The NICU staff was incredible at keeping her stable. I was able to see her very quickly before they took her down to the NICU where they could monitor her more closely. I would not see her again for 12 hours until all of my anesthesia had worn off. During the c-section the doctors noticed I had a placental abruption. and Anna Rees went without adequate oxygen for an unknown amount of time. She was diagnosed with HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) meaning her brain had received restricted blood flow thus resulting in a lack of oxygen to her brain. When the neonatologist said those words, I crumbled inside. I have never felt that amount of pain in my entire life. Seeing my precious little girl hooked up to all of those wires was heartbreaking. This was not how I envisioned welcoming my daughter into the world… it was crushing.
Anna Rees went on to stay in the NICU and neonatal progressive care unit for 29 days where most of the time spent there was trying to get her to eat from a bottle. Because of the trauma she went through, she did not have a suck or swallow reflex the first few days of her life. Slowly she gained enough strength to take a bottle and we were given the green light to go home.
We are so thankful to all of the amazing nurses, doctors and social workers that took care of us and our girl. While we spent most of the day at the hospital, they encouraged us to go home and spend time with our boys and to rest. I loved that we could watch Anna Rees on the video monitor they had set up so the boys could see their new sister and I could call at any point and ask for updates.
Once we got home we were immediately connected with the CDSA and were provided feeding support and physical therapy. It was a lot to take in but I’m extremely grateful for the support and guidance as we entered this new way of life. The first several months were full of follow up appointments with her pediatrician, specialists and lots and lots of therapy. Anna Rees was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy around the age of one.
We quickly realized that our insurance would not cover the amount of therapy that Anna Rees needed and deserved. Clearly we needed help. Our amazing service coordinator with the CDSA, Rachel, told us about Bee Mighty and the grants they provide for children like Anna Rees when insurance won’t cover certain therapies or equipment. We immediately reached out and they paid for extra physical therapy that Anna Rees desperately needed after we had exhausted all of our PT visits.
To say we are grateful is an understatement! We have been lucky to have received 2 grants from Bee Mighty and I know without a doubt this extra therapy has helped get Anna Rees to where she is today. She is an almost 3-year-old who is happy and full of energy. She wakes up with a smile on her face and works hard every single day. She has five therapies a week between PT, OT, speech and aqua therapy. It’s been a hard journey for sure but I’m grateful for how far she has come since those early NICU days that seemed to drag on forever. The fear of the unknown in the beginning was overwhelming but if I could go back and tell myself anything, it would be that yes, this life may not be typical and it may be harder than you imagined. But I promise it will be beautiful and full of lots of joy. Anna Rees has taught us so much in her short three years and we are incredibly grateful for her beautiful life and for organizations like Bee Mighty that help children reach their fullest potential.