Ellie Gillespie’s birth came as a surprise - a surprise because she was born too soon.
“Ellie was born 8 ½ weeks early, just about 32 weeks, and she weighed 3 pounds 4 ounces,” says Erin Gillespie, mom.
What hasn’t surprised anyone is how far she’s come. We’ve followed Ellie for almost her entire life. Here she is as a newborn. At nine months Ellie was growing, but still lagging on motor skills and feeding. By year one, she was on the move.
And this is Ellie at two.
It must do your heart good seeing her running playing and everything else.
“We just, we never dreamed that she would be like other kids at this stage. It was such a long road getting her caught up,” says Gillespie.
Getting preemies caught up is the driving force behind the neonatal follow up clinic.
“Now that we’ve gotten a better survival rate we want babies to have a better quality of life. We want to minimize the morbidity, the hearing impairment, the visual impairments, and cerebral palsy. And we’ve really come a long way with that in the last maybe 40 years,” says Sherri Campbell, nurse practitioner with Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Consistency is the key. By continually checking in on these babies, experts compare what they are doing with what they should be doing. And give them a boost if needed.
“It gave us so much comfort to be able to go there and know what she needed to work on, what she was doing well with,” says Gillespie.
“We have charts based on babies’ weight categories and we use an adjusted age until they’re two years old. By the time they’re two years old we expect they are caught up on all their developmental skills and their growth. And at that time they can be plotted on a regular baby growth chart,” says Campbell.
Ellie’s development played out exactly on time.
“At 18 months I was still really concerned about her. She wasn’t speaking hardly at all, she was walking very clumsily. And it was just like lightening struck at two,” says Gillespie.
We watched it unfold. The baby born much too early, is finally right on time.