Someone once said, “it doesn’t matter how you start; what matters is how you finish.”
If there’s one Children’s patient who embodies that saying to a T, it’s Elizabeth, age 2 and a half.
The deck was certainly stacked against her at birth; she and her twin sister Catherine were born at just 24 weeks due to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Elizabeth weighed less than one pound, had a grade 2 bilateral brain bleed and was born coded - or not breathing. Sadly, her sister Catherine passed away the following day.
Since day one, however, Elizabeth’s family has had big dreams for her future, and Children’s Health is there to make sure those dreams come true.
When Elizabeth was just five months old, she was transferred to the Children’s Health NICU to undergo heart surgery. She was discharged one week before her half birthday and soon thereafter began outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy at Our Children’s House, where she first met physical therapist Nikki Pham. She and Nikki have been working together two days a week ever since - for two years now - and mom Caitlin says the sessions are full of laughter, high fives, waving and blowing of kisses.
“Elizabeth absolutely adores Nikki,” Caitlin says. “And my husband, Thomas, and I are very thankful for the passion she has for her patients. We fully trust Nikki and know she will be honest with us about Elizabeth’s progress, strengths and weaknesses.”
Over the years, Elizabeth and Nikki have worked on many of the milestones most parents are familiar with - rolling, sitting, crawling, pulling to stand, etc. Recently, they’ve been practicing walking with and without her walker as well as improving her balance and how to rise to standing from the floor. Caitlin says Elizabeth has taken some great strides over the past few months and that Nikki is always quick to share ways they can work on skills at home in between sessions to build upon her progress.
“Thomas and I continue to encourage Elizabeth to be the best version of herself,” she says “We know she has several gross motor obstacles to overcome, but we fully believe she can do it.”
Still, Caitlin recognizes the challenges that Elizabeth faces on her journey are a marathon, not a sprint, and offers some encouragement for other families who may be facing similar situations.
“Do not give up! All children develop in their own ways and on their own time,” she says. “As a parent or caregiver, the progress that children, like Elizabeth, make in the short term is hard to see, but every few months, we look back at how far she has come and are always amazed.”
Also on the list of Elizabeth’s recent accomplishments: become a big sister. Elizabeth and her family welcomed baby brother Ben this past May, and Caitlin says she’s filling her new role rather nicely!