This is a message to my family to keep the faith, faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains...
By Renee Roberson
On October 24, 2007, a miracle baby named Amillia Taylor turned 1 year old in Miami, Fla. The daughter of Sonja and Eddie Taylor, Amillia was born at 21 weeks weighing just a little over 9 ounces, and is the first baby known to survive after a gestation period of fewer than 23 weeks.
The Taylors' story begins with a struggle many couples face when trying to start a family – infertility. They conceived Amillia through in vitro fertilization, and there were complications from the beginning. Sonja Taylor was put on bed rest early on in the pregnancy, and was finally released after about four months. "After about two weeks I got dehydrated and went into premature labor," says Sonja Taylor. "I was put back on bed rest but lost my mucous plug." Taylor and her husband immediately headed to Baptist Children's Hospital in Kendall, Fla. The staff there sent her to get an ultrasound and told her they would have to deliver the baby as soon as possible. But Taylor's maternal instinct kicked in, and deep in her heart, she knew her baby would die if it were delivered at 18 weeks."I put my foot down and said, 'You are not delivering this baby right now,'" Taylor says. Although she was leaking amniotic fluid and was already dilated, Taylor refused to let her doctor deliver the baby. She stayed in the hospital, with her mother and husband keeping a constant vigil over here. When she started spiking a fever almost a week later, the doctors knew they had to act soon. They gave Taylor steroids to help develop the baby's lungs and prepared for an emergency C-section. "I was septic, and my uterus and cervix were both infected," Taylor says. "When they took her out, the whole room gasped. They were shocked because she was so small. She had one eye opened and was looking around."
Amillia Taylor was born weighing 9 ounces and measuring 9 1/2 inches long (about the length of an ink pen). Taylor says the neonatologist on staff didn't know what to do with Amillia because he had never seen a baby so small. She had one nurse assigned just to her.
According to Taylor, her doctors believed she was closer to 23 weeks when they delivered Amillia. When her fertility specialist pinpointed the baby's true gestational age of 21 weeks, they were shocked and said they never would have delivered the baby early if they had known that.
Because of her prematurity, Amillia had to stay in the hospital almost four months. At the time of her release, she weighed 4 pounds and required the assistance of an oxygen machine. She had premature lungs, a mild brain hemorrhage and suffered from reflux as an infant. During her first year of life she had laser surgery on her eyes when her retinas started detaching. When she left the hospital she was on 15 different medications. Despite that, Taylor says her daughter never seemed to expect extra attention from her caregivers.
"Amillia never needed much attention from the beginning," Taylor says. "She started out a fighter. She would hold her breath whenever people would open the isolette to touch her."
Taylor had to remain in the hospital for eight days after the birth to recover from her own infection. She may have been released to go home after that, but she was back at the hospital every day to visit her newborn daughter.
Because of her fragile state, Taylor had to take Amillia to daily visits with a specialist after her release so she could be monitored closely. Today, she suffers from no major health problems and the visits have been cut back to once a month.
Taylor was so confident about her daughter's progress that she made plans to return back to teaching emotionally handicapped children at the local elementary school this fall. She says her mother, Amillia's grandmother, didn't want Taylor to put baby Amillia in daycare. It took only three days for Amillia's grandmother to move from her home in South Carolina and into the Taylor home in Florida, where she watches Amillia during the day while Taylor and her husband Eddie work.
In addition to Amillia, Sonja and Eddie also have an adopted daughter, Jacquiria, who is also a former student of Taylor's, and a 6-year-old niece who lives with them.
The whole family celebrated Amillia's birthday with a party attended by family members, doctors, nurses, physical therapists and other caretakers whom have been instrumental in her survival.
"From the time I got there, I only held my baby for an hour and that was while she was taking a nap," Taylor says. "Everyone took turns holding her."
Amillia Taylor now weighs 17 pounds and measures 27 1/2 inches long. Her favorite foods are watermelon and bananas, and she has begun self-feeding and loves to laugh, play, and interact with her family members.
Despite the emotional ups and downs of the year since Amillia's birth, Taylor knows she would do it all over again if given a choice.
"Absolutely," Taylor says. "She's our little miracle."
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matt 19.14
(Take your children to the Lord in prayer)