In December 2017, my husband and I were expecting baby number two, a baby girl! Our son and his baby sister were to be around 30 months apart and he was so excited to be a big brother. On December 11th, 2017 at 3:22pm, Olivia was born. 7 pounds, 7 ounces of pure joy in our arms. Olivia’s delivery was smooth and she was said to be healthy. We were discharged from the hospital when Olivia was 24 hours old and we headed home to her anxiously awaiting brother. Our family was complete. There was no greater feeling than being home as a family of four, but this feeling was fleeting as it all changed the very next day.
Olivia was having episodes throughout the night and the next day where she would stop breathing and responding. We rushed her to the hospital and we were admitted to the NICU. Olivia’s condition seemed to be a mystery, even to the doctors, until our third day there, when they finally diagnosed her apneic episodes as seizures. Olivia was given medications to sedate her and to help stop the seizures so that she could be sent to get an MRI of her brain.
December 15th, 2017; the worst day of my life. We found out that Olivia had a large ischemic stroke, which was affecting the the majority of the right side of her brain. We were told not to expect much from Olivia developmentally and take each milestone as a celebration. Olivia was discharged from the NICU after a nine day stay, just in time for Christmas.
We stayed busy; weekly physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractor appointments, monthly neurologist, high-risk infant and physiatry appointments. The journey has been long, but she is determined. Olivia is 16 months old now and has been meeting all of her developmental milestones. We are blessed.
While in the NICU, there were days when I wasn’t even allowed to hold Olivia. Having my Tiny Tag necklace with my kids’ names on it kept Olivia close to my heart when she physically couldn’t be. My necklace kept me strong on days when I felt down and it is still is a daily reminder of my purpose in life; being a proud mother.May is pediatric stroke awareness month. This month holds a special place in my heart and I hope that Olivia’s story will bring awareness to this often missed diagnosis.