Sometimes in life, were not promised tomorrow. I found this out 2 years ago on January 2, 1998. As I reflect over my daughters first year of life, I was struck by a life I had never lived. The hospital staff, my family and I shared in the typical illusion that her survival throughout the night was all up to her and the power from above. However, the crisis that began in the NICU continued and in some ways intensified. Our lives would remain in turmoil

While driving to the hospital, my anticipation of seeing Kiersten for the first time bordered on dread. I did not know what to expect, but I did not want to think the worst. After scrubbing down and getting instructions on what to expect, I then entered the nursery and saw this big long corridor with these box like machines lined up and down on each side, and beeping noises that sent chills up my spine. Standing there feeling numb, a nurse walked over to me and took me to this tiny little object they called a baby.

Kiersten, 17 weeks early and weighing only 17 ounces, laid there alone beneath the ultra-violet light in a tangle of tubes and wires, and because her underdeveloped nervous system was essentially raw, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort. So we could not even cradle our tiny Baby girl against our chest to offer the strength of our love. The Doctors already knew her chances were slim with a 20-percent chance of survival, and if by some chance she does make it, her future would probably be left with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, developmental and health problems.

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Kiersten had to undergo two different surgeries, during those first two weeks of her delicate life. A PDA Ligation, which is a heart surgery and Ventricular reservoir, which is placing little tube inside my scalp to alleviate the fluid building up around her brain. It was a journey I knew nothing about and a feeling, of lack of control came over me. I just wanted to be able to help her and there was nothing I could do, except be there and try and let her know she was loved. In times like this every thing is on hold and the only thing that matters is that little child laying there fighting for her life.

Every struggle, hurdle, and conquest, but she began to beat the odds, not being another statistic. Kiersten was ready to come home. Through all those hard days, and all the pain, there have been life s lessons of love, commitment ant the will to live. I am constantly amazed at my precious daughter s strength and I feel a tremendous joy in her smile. We celebrate each of her milestones and take nothing for granted. We still continue to deal with issues surrounding her chronic lung disease, but by medical technology and the grace of god she is a happy and almost healthy beautiful girl.

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