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Elijah's Story (Grundy)

May 8, 2013 was the happiest and scariest day of our lives. Elijah Jacob Smith entered this world weighing 1 pound 14ounces and was 12in long. He and Daniel left the room quickly so he could be intubated. After he was placed on a ventilator they brought him back in so I could see him before he was whisked away to his new home to grow and develop for the next 3 months, the NICU at OSF Children’s Hospital. He was so tiny, his skin was thin, bright red and somewhat see through because his body hadn’t developed any fat yet. He had to live in a heated incubator with 99% humidity because his skin was so thin and fragile it would dry out. He also couldn’t eat because his digestive system was so underdeveloped so he received an electrolyte solution through his IV. We also could not touch him because of the risk of infection and their skin is so sensitive it hurts to be touched. His eyes were still fused shut and he had a respirator keeping him alive moving air into his tiny lungs. Just to put in perspective how tiny he was he was swimming in a diaper about the size of a business card and Daniel’s wedding ring fit very loosely over his entire arm and he was the length of two sharpie permanent markers.

Elijah faced many scary health issues being a micro preemie. He had a grade 1 brain bleed, PDA (hole in the heart), multiple blood transfusions, bradycardias(frequent heart rate drops), breathing apneas, jaundice and bilateral hernias that were fixed by surgery before he got to go home. He also had to get frequent eye exams to make sure he wasn’t developing retinopathy of prematurity (an eye disease preemies develop that causes vision loss) After Elijah’s brain bleed re-absorbed they did another brain sono and told us he had two areas of brain damage and didn’t know what disabilities would accompany this damage.

For the first 3mo of Elijah’s life we all lived in the hospital as a family but 95 days after being born we finally got to bring our baby home! The only medical equipment he went home on was an apnea monitor.

Today Elijah does have asthma and mild cerebral palsy in his lower extremities that make his leg muscles tight and causes cramping. Each year he gets casted for leg braces that help stretch his legs and foot muscles. While he has some learning difficulties we have found he is very gifted in music at playing the cello and he is starting to teach himself to play guitar. All 3 of Elijah’s siblings were born premature too. Elijah 25wks in 2013, Isaac 32wks in 2014, Gabriel 35wks in 2017 and Eliyanah 34wks in 2019, so him and all 3 of his siblings were in the NICU at OSF Children’s Hospital.

Elijah would not be here without the Children’s Hospital. The team of doctors and nurses in the NICU were by far the most exceptional and caring ones I have ever seen. Elijah does have a younger brother Isaac with severe cerebral palsy, so even though Elijah is pretty healthy we are still frequent flyers with the Children’s Hospital with Isaac’s health issues so they are a very big part of our lives and we are so thankful for them! Actually as I write this Isaac is admitted to the Children’s Hospital for respiratory illness.

Thank you for your support throughout the years it means so much to us families that need to use the hospital more frequently than we would like. But we are lucky to have one of the best children’s hospitals so close to home and support from generous people like you !


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