Declared for Dead, My Special Needs Daughter Proved Miracles Are Still Possible

ByTim Norkus

Less than 3%. That is what the doctor told us after a routine check-up. My wife was 18 weeks pregnant when we got the devastating news that her water had already broken. We were 6 weeks away from even the smallest chance of a live birth. Although not often, babies have survived at 24 weeks, but we were still 6 weeks away.

The doctors never put her on bed rest because they figured it wouldn't have mattered. However, at 23 weeks, we checked-in to Presbyterian St. Luke's just outside of downtown Denver. Women from the neighboring states are brought in to PSL because they are better-equipped to handle at-risk pregnancies. Every day was a struggle, because I had to work, and my wife just laid there waiting for time to pass. She made friends, and then watched them leave. She was even awarded the title of “Antepartum Queen” because she had been there the longest. It was actually the quickest 11 weeks of my life. There were some great support groups that worked with the soon-to-be moms at the hospitals. The “Acts of Grace Foundation” would hold game nights for the moms weekly, and there were also some knitting groups that would meet.

During one of the many routine tests that my wife went through, the doctors determined that Makenzie was going to be born with Turner's Syndrome. It is a chromosomal disease in which one of the sex chromosomes is absent. It occurs only in females and the odds are about 1 in 5,000, but about 99% of all fetuses with Turner's spontaneously terminate within the first trimester, so we were already past the toughest part.

One day before the induced labor, the last ultrasound produced a picture of Makenzie, in which the doctors thought she was 2 pounds, 8 ounces. The following day, she was born without incident at 3 pounds, 8 ounces. Our little miracle was put on oxygen, just as a precaution. We always knew she would be in the hospital after birth, so maybe it didn't really affect us in the same way it did some other parents there. 

There were many tests and obstacles for her to pass, and we knew she would be at PSL for a few weeks. 43 days after she was born, we took our first drive home. I was at the hospital for 105 straight days. Outside of being small, Makenzie hadn't shown any signs of problems that Turner's babies will typically have; her lungs, heart, and brain were all in good shape. 

Now the hard part: She has a physical therapist work with her once a week. Next month we will be starting human growth hormones, which she will get 6 times a week for the next 16 years. Without HGH, she will probably be about 4'7, but with them, she has a chance to get to 5 feet tall. Hopefully, no other problems will come up as she gets older. Most girls with this condition will have vision and hearing problems, but those can be corrected.

She will have many obstacles to overcome, but none bigger than the ones she has already crushed.