In Sock Monkey Slippers is a family food blog celebrating fresh whole foods and bringing the family together around the dinner table. You'll find step-by-step recipes for everyone in the family, product reviews, and a peek into the sometimes comical life of Meredith Steele in her sock monkey slippers.
Be on the look out! ISMS is getting a face-lift in May.
If you keep up with us here then you know that our sweet little girl, Mia, had a rough start to her young life. Being born 16 weeks early (at 24 weeks gestation) and weighing a little over 1 pound, her chances of survival were less than slim. She was so critical that her only hope was to be transferred to a hospital 40 miles away. She fought for 132 days in the NICU at the Children’s Hospital at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas before she came home. Shortly after we had her home, she returned to Scott and White PICU for another 2 weeks.
We owe everything to all of the staff at Scott & White for putting their hearts and souls into saving our daughter. If they where not there Mia would have never made it to the Children’s Hospital in Dallas over 100 miles away. Not only did they save her but they became apart of our family and helped Tim and I through every step of a very difficult journey. Two years have past and Mia is a healthy, happy and rambunctious little girl! Now Scott & White is beginning their own journey to provide a brand new state of the art and the only free standing Children’s Hospital in the central Texas area and they need our help.
From now until January 31st, the Pepsi Refresh Project is giving away millions to great ideas that will better the world and you guessed it, Scott & White’s strive to build a “World Class Children’s Hospital to Save Lives” is on their list. All we have to do is get enough people to vote for this and Pepsi will give the new Children’s Hospital at Scott & White $250,000 to build state of the art operating rooms and purchase surgical equipment! Please remember this hospital is being built mostly by the kind donations from the community and generous donors. So, whatever you may be doing today, please don’t forget about the thousands of Central Texas children and families who will be afflicted this year by illness and injury and need the expert care of this amazing hospital!
You can VOTE THREE WAYS every day until JANUARY 31,2010:
Every year 20 million babies are born too soon. My daughter, Mia, was one of them. Today, November 17, is National Premature Awareness Day and in support we’ve teamed up with March Of Dimes to tell Mia’s story and highten the awareness of this growing problem. Since 1981 prematurity has risen 30% and today we spread the word to fight for the babies who shouldn’t have to.
In the early hours of October 29, 2008, Mia Beritt Steele broke into the world fighting with a silent cry. There was no reason why six weeks before that day a blood vessel burst in my uterus causing a placental abruption that morning and the birth of Mia. Mia’s birth story is a frightening one (read Mia’s birth story here if you wish) and one that is still hard to talk about but the lesson that I learned that morning that I would like to convey is to trust your instincts. Even in this day and age some doctors are still unaware of the symptoms of premature labor. I felt no lower back pain or contractions just painful cramping, in my case was confused for the blood clot putting pressure on my uterus. On that cold October morning Mia was born weighing a little over one pound and 16 weeks early.
She was beyond critical and the hospital where she was born was not able to handle such as case. As we said goodbye to our daughter who we were already madly in love with, our hearts broke not knowing if she would make the flight to the Children’s Hospital at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas.
Born at 24 weeks gestation, Mia had a 35% chance of survival a statistic I was well aware of but during my first conversation with Mia’s amazing neonatologist that statistic wasn’t even close. She was not thought to live past the first week. Her lungs were in horrible shape and hardly developed. The ventilator was causing more harm than good and in a desperate attempt to help her breath she was switched to anoscillating ventilator, or high frequency ventilator. This did the trick but her problems were far from over. In the first week she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema, where air sacs in the lungs are damaged causing the air to pass through the lungs instead of being absorbed; bilateral cerebral hemorrhage at a level 2 and 3; and evidence of a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus), a fetal blood vessel near the heart that is supposed to close after birth remains open. She was on all sorts of blood pressure medications and antibiotics. One day, sitting in her room staring at her isolete, I noticed exactly how many machines she was hooked up to and it hit me just how bad she really was. I can still remember the sounds of alarms going off constantly in the midst of the loud pumping sounds of the ventilator filling the room while I waited everyday for her to pull through.
They tell you your first day in the NICU that your time here will be like riding a roller coaster and it was. A large giant roller coaster with loops, drops, and high hills with heart pounding falls. Just when it seemed she was stabilizing one day, she fell just as fast. In her second week of life I came into her room with alarms going off, a nurse performing resuscitation (a sight I sadly got used to towards the end), and a baby whose belly was three times the size it was before and dark blue. Mia now had Necrotizing Enterocolitis(NEC), an inflammation in the intestinal tract that causes perforations and scar tissue. Emergency surgery was performed to insert a drain in her abdomen to release the fluid that was now filling her abdominal cavity. At this time she was too week to perform extensive surgery to repair her intestines. We just waited and prayed that she hold on and grow strong.
She was such a fighter. You could see it in her. At her third week of life she was starting to become stronger and for the first time Mia opened her eyes. She was 26 weeks at her corrected or gestational age. That next week the doctors started giving her the breast milk that I was working so hard to pump at .1ml an hour. It was the first time I felt like I was helping her and I was elated. Unfortunately, days later the feeds stopped when Mia’s stomach just could not handle it and we knew surgery was inevitable.
At this point you just get used to the roller coaster ride. Everyday you hand the nurse your ticket and fasten your seat belt. Somedays you ride the kiddy coaster and somedays without knowing it your strapped into the scream-your-head off adult ride. I preferred the kiddy coaster but there was never enough tickets for this one. The only thing that I craved that I thought about everyday was holding my baby. I never had before and I could barely touch her in her isolete because she was so sensitive. The day finally came when Mia was six weeks old and her lungs were stable enough to switch to a conventional ventilator. It was one of the best moments of my life and I can only imagine this is what a typical birth felt like when they hand you your baby for the first time. Everyday I looked forward to holing her for that brief ten minutes that she could handle but it was all short lived when she became critical again days later.
There was no more waiting, Mia had to have abdominal surgery to repair the damage NEC had done. The surgery found three perforations in her small intestines and extensive scaring. To repair the damage the surgeon removed a foot of her small intestines, her cecum and appendix. After surgery I met her in her room only to find she was crashing. This time it was serious and she was the worse I had ever seen her. Surrounded by three of Scott and White’s best neonatologists and a team of amazing nurses and respiratory therapists the room was full of tension and I could hardly breath. I watched with amazement as they revived her and I could tell in everyone’s stoic faces that this one was a close one. This was one of the toughest weeks for her and the worst week for me in the NICU. That night instead of driving to the the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital where we were living, I drove 40 miles back home. Once I pulled into the driveway I screamed and hit the steering wheel repeatedly with my fists until they were burning with pain. I found myself crying, really crying for the first time. I had just let everything out under the moonlight in our driveway and it took every ounce of strength to drag myself into the house. The next morning I woke up early and headed back to the hospital to be with my baby and start the ride all over again.
In true Mia fashion she rallied on. I gave her her first bath with the instruction and hand holding of one of my favorite nurses. I was so nervous and afraid I was going to drown her but she stood by my side and made me laugh so hard I forgot I was nervous. That was the best thing about this crew. They were not here just for the baby but for the family as well. It was a wonderful day I still remember but it was overshadowed by Mia’s constant heart rate and oxygen drops. Her lungs actually seemed to be getting worse and in a last ditch effort Mia’s neonatologist began her on a round of steroids. An unthinkable step in the past because it was known to actually worsen her NEC but we had to take a risk.
A week later Tim and I awoke on Christmas morning and rushed to the hospital to celebrate Christmas with our new daughter. The day was joyous as the odds were against her to make it this long. Mia was nine weeks old. She was still recovering from her second surgery but there was evidence that her brain hemorrhage was actually decreasing in size and that her PDA had closed! We went to bed happy that night but quickly awoke to a phone call and that particular ring was assigned to only one number, the hospital. With panic I answered the phone. I started to gather my things to leave as I was answering the phone, this had become a familiar act. On the other end was one of Mia’s nurses who told us we needed to come immediately. I could hardly breath as I entered the NICU and ran down the hall late that night. We ran into Mia’s room that was full of her nurses and respiratory therapists. I grabbed Tim’s hand afraid to go in. I forced myself to look at everyone’s faces, the faces that have now become a part of our family and instead of sadness there were smiles. I was confused but when I saw my beautiful little girl I knew why everyone was smiling. For the first time since she took her first breath of air that October morning nine weeks ago, Mia was breathing on her own. She no longer was intubated. That Christmas night I cried with happiness.
The next few weeks Mia fought on. She was now able to wear clothing because she could regulate her temperature on her own and at 11 weeks old (34 weeks corrected age) she moved out of her isolete and into an open crib. After that the roller coaster was on a steady track up. Mia started taking bottles and growing. At 12 weeks old (35 weeks corrected age) she was 3 pounds and gaining everyday. From time to time we would hit bumps and snags but she would always overcome them and it looked like we were on the road home. I was thankful because I was getting pretty tired of cafeteria food.
Weeks passed and Mia had turned 4 months old. Her feeding tube was removed and she was taking bottles on her own. Her brain hemorrhage had completely dissolved and she was breathing without the aid of supportive oxygen. Of course the NICU roller coaster wasn’t done with us yet because on her final check-up the day she was to be released the neonatoligist found inguinal hernias, hernias in the groin area that are very common in preemies but also can be very dangerous and require surgery. The roller coaster took another fall as we wheeled Mia down to surgery yet again. Two weeks later after CPR classes, an observed overnight stay with Mia in the hospital, and a final check-up she was released and we went home. It was hard to say good bye to all of the people that we had grown to love and had saved our daughter’s life but it was time to start our lives at home.
Life was wonderful and we adjusted to having a new baby at home. We also adjusted to the alarms of the heart monitor and the new precautions we had to take now that we were in our own house. Just when we had our happy little routine down the roller coaster gave us one more ride as the fear that this wasn’t truly over came true. One day after being at home for three weeks Mia began to vomit green fluid. I had seen this before and immediately rushed back to Scott & White. Mia was admitted to the PICU (Pediatric ICU). After another two weeks of contrast studies and tests we found that Mia had scar tissue build up in her intestines from surgery and a slow colon due to NEC. The doctors decided the best action was to just observe her and hope she grows out of it and the scar tissue pass on it’s own. We returned home and with time our prayers were answered again as a year later she seemed to overcome all of her digestive issues.
We just celebrated Mia’s second birthday. She is a happy, healthy and very intelligent little girl that never gives up. Every time I look at her I see a miracle and a fighter. There is not a day that passes that I don’t look back and am thankful to all of her doctors, surgeons, nurses, and respiratory therapists at Scott & White Hospital. They will forever be in our hearts. Our time in the NICU was a wild ride and I don’t wish it on anyone. To see Mia suffer daily broke my heart but to see her rise and become a healthy amazing little girl brings a pride I can’t describe. Sometimes we don’t know why a premature birth happens but what we do know is that prenatal care and a healthy lifestyle can extremely decrease the risk. Please keep those babies who have fought to survive, who are currently fighting, and those who lost the battle today in your thoughts.
What’s smaller than a dollar bill? A lot of things but in a million years I would have never guessed that a diaper would be on that list. You can imagine my surprise when I first changed my daughter’s diaper. Not only was it a tiny diaper but we had to roll it down just to fit! Those were the days of the NICU. The days of constantly beeping monitors, frightening alarms, and a truckload of hope.
I am sharing this with you today because we were recently asked to help the children’s hospital that saved Mia’s life. The new Scott and White Children’s Hospital in Temple, Texas. For those of you who don’t live in Texas or don’t know yet, Scott and White is transforming the old King’s Daughters Hospital to an entire hospital just for children. It will be the only stand alone children’s hospital in central Texas and we were honored to help!
I won’t go into the details but we were asked to bring some personal items from our days in the NICU. As I was going through a box I haven’t opened in 16 months I was brought to tears when I found this tiny little diaper. The diaper I always struggled to put on. It was so small and so was my daughter. We had to be careful not to lift her too high or move her in a way that would cause her harm in those days. Every move was critical as it had the possibility of increasing her brain hemorrhage or disturbing her ventilator and breathing. It was so awkward and surreal trying to put this ittybitty thing on something the size of a kitten and the care we had to take to do so made us feel like we were members of the bomb squad. I remember trying to calm myself down by imaging myself adorned in a massive bomb suit and saying in my head, “What ever you do do not cut the red wire…wait or is it the blue wire?! Crap.” I laugh at in now, thankful that there wasn’t a hidden camera to capture my fumbling nervous hands during those intense diaper changing moments.
I look at her everyday thanking God for her life but yesterday, the first time I opened up that box from the NICU, I was reminded at how far she has come, how much she has grown, and a sigh of relief that I don’t have to use those incredibly small diapers anymore. Isn’t funny how much we hold onto items that remind us how much our children have grown?