Hattie’s Story

When Hattie was born, she could fit in the palms of your hands.

She arrived at just 23 and a half weeks and weighed a fragile 1 lb 6 oz. Born at the same time was her twin brother, who passed away just 12 hours after birth. The early arrival of the twins and death of their son came as a brutal shock to parents Katie and Mike, who thought everything was ok before Katie went into pre-term labor.

“There were no hints of complications at all, other than that they were twins,” said Katie. “Everything was a total surprise.”

During Hattie’s first few weeks of life, she faced an uphill battle. She had tubes in her lungs for several weeks and had trouble coming off a ventilator. Her skin was thin and fragile and any stimulation had to be closely monitored. Even being held was difficult for Hattie – she spent 18 weeks in the NICU, and was three weeks old before Katie could safely hold her.

“When you hold your child, it’s a mother’s intuition to stroke her back and arms, but she was still so fragile I couldn’t do that,” said Katie. “I couldn’t talk to her or sing to her at first because that would have been too much stimulation, holding her was enough of a transition at that point.”

When Hattie was finally close to being discharged from the hospital, her parents knew regular visits to a pediatrician just weren’t going to cut it. She needed people who knew what to expect from a baby born almost four months early. The hospital referred Katie and Mike to ChildServe’s Developmental Clinic to help monitor Hattie’s progress and educate her parents on her physical, emotional and nutritional needs.

“The people at ChildServe have been really good about helping me know what things she can do and what to expect,” said Katie. “You see all these online baby guidelines, but when your child has an adjusted age, those don’t really help. It’s hard to know what milestones she should and shouldn’t be reaching yet, and ChildServe has been great at explaining that to us.”

The Developmental Clinic set out an adjusted timeline of milestones for Hattie, putting her four months behind her actual age. They gave her parents strategies and activities to try at home and milestones to watch for that might not seem significant for parents of a typically developing child. Katie said this guidance has been one of the most helpful things about the clinic and has helped her notice some of Hattie’s little victories.

“We started noticing Hattie was batting at toys dangling over her while she was lying on her back. She was reaching up and hitting the toys with both hands,” said Katie. “At the clinic, they told us vision develops from the outside first and then moves towards the center, so being able to see straight in front of her and reach up to bat the toys was a big deal. I would have had no idea this was noteworthy without information from the clinic.”

Hattie is hitting new milestones every day. Her parents describe her as perceptive and curious, always swiveling her head to follow the conversations going on around her. She loves attention and never passes up a chance to show off her dimples. Katie and Mike are grateful for their experience at ChildServe’s Developmental Clinic and excited to see Hattie to continue to grow.

“I don’t know how to explain how scary it is to be a parent of a micro preemie,” said Katie. “You’re looking at every development and you just wonder if everything’s right, you second guess everything. It’s really nice to get that reassurance to tell me she’s on track. Even if she wasn’t doing as well as she is, I think we would still leave feeling good about what we were doing for her.”

When Hattie was finally close to being discharged from the hospital, her parents knew regular visits to a pediatrician just weren’t going to cut it. She needed people who knew what to expect from a baby born almost four months early. The hospital referred Katie and Mike to ChildServe’s Developmental Clinic to help monitor Hattie’s progress and educate her parents on her physical, emotional and nutritional needs.

“The people at ChildServe have been really good about helping me know what things she can do and what to expect,” said Katie. “You see all these online baby guidelines, but when your child has an adjusted age, those don’t really help. It’s hard to know what milestones she should and shouldn’t be reaching yet, and ChildServe has been great at explaining that to us.”

The Developmental Clinic set out an adjusted timeline of milestones for Hattie, putting her four months behind her actual age. They gave her parents strategies and activities to try at home and milestones to watch for that might not seem significant for parents of a typically developing child. Katie said this guidance has been one of the most helpful things about the clinic and has helped her notice some of Hattie’s little victories.

 

“We started noticing Hattie was batting at toys dangling over her while she was lying on her back. She was reaching up and hitting the toys with both hands,” said Katie. “At the clinic, they told us vision develops from the outside first and then moves towards the center, so being able to see straight in front of her and reach up to bat the toys was a big deal. I would have had no idea this was noteworthy without information from the clinic.”

Hattie is hitting new milestones every day. Her parents describe her as perceptive and curious, always swiveling her head to follow the conversations going on around her. She loves attention and never passes up a chance to show off her dimples. Katie and Mike are grateful for their experience at ChildServe’s Developmental Clinic and excited to see Hattie to continue to grow.

“I don’t know how to explain how scary it is to be a parent of a micro preemie,” said Katie. “You’re looking at every development and you just wonder if everything’s right, you second guess everything. It’s really nice to get that reassurance to tell me she’s on track. Even if she wasn’t doing as well as she is, I think we would still leave feeling good about what we were doing for her.”

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ChildServe improves the health and well-being of over 4,200 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, acquired injuries, and other special healthcare needs.

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