Miracle times twoLightning may not strike the same place twice, but at the Lund house, miracles do. Born 12 weeks before her due date, Elizabeth Lund weighed just more than 1 pound when her mother, Shelly Lund, delivered Dec. 16. Elizabeth’s organs grew at a rate similar to fetuses her age, but her body was not, Shelly said.
Lightning may not strike the same place twice, but at the Lund house, miracles do.
Born 12 weeks before her due date, Elizabeth Lund weighed just more than 1 pound when her mother, Shelly Lund, delivered Dec. 16.
Elizabeth’s organs grew at a rate similar to fetuses her age, but her body was not, Shelly said.
“She was little, but her insides were big,” Shelly said.
After several ultrasounds and a medical transport to Minneapolis, Elizabeth was born premature, just like her brother Kolten was three years ago.
“We’ve got two miracles here,” Shelly said.
Given a body with reproductive problems, Shelly, and her husband, Daron, lost six pregnancies before Kolten. When Kolten was born in 2006, he too, was born early. The family stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis while Kolten, and later Elizabeth, received treatment at the Children’s Hospital there. Ronald McDonald Houses provide meals and shelter for families while the children receive medical care.
“This body is just not meant to have babies. It’s just not,” Shelly said.
The family returned to Jamestown one week ago today.
After Kolten, Shelly and Daron didn’t plan for another pregnancy. Living for weeks at the Ronald McDonald House and then coming home with a child needing special care and extra susceptible to sickness was stressful, and not to mention expensive.
Bills for Kolten’s birth neared $50,000 and the couple are still paying them off.
“I didn’t want to go back to Minneapolis, I didn’t want to do it again,” Shelly said.
Her doctor had warned her: the chance of getting pregnant again was slim, Shelly said. Even if she did, the fetal development would likely progress as it had for the couple’s other children.
Prematurity was not the last of Elizabeth’s health problems. She still needs an iron regimen twice a day, wears a monitor to check her breathing and heart rate and attached to her nose are little oxygen tubes to help her breathe. She was also born with Down syndrome, which will impair her mental development and physical growth.
Shelly said she and Daron originally thought their daughter’s health problems were their fault, but their family and friends have helped convince them otherwise.
“I bawled. Everybody wants the perfect baby,” she said.
In three months, Shelly said, the family has “gone through the ringer” with Elizabeth’s needs and health problems. But even though it’s difficult on the family, Elizabeth is alert, responsive and seemingly happy.
“Everything we’ve thrown at her, she’s taken,” Shelly said.
At 5 pounds, 15 ounces, Elizabeth is progressing well, said her pediatrician, Dr. Myra Quanrud at Innovis Health.
“Other than that (the Down syndrome), she actually has an excellent outlook,” Quanrud said.
Kolten is doing well too. He’s at a healthy weight for his age, Shelly said, and has just as much energy.
“He’s your typical little 4-year-old,” she said. Kolten turns 4 on April 12.
Money is still tight at the Lund home. Shelly said she hasn’t yet returned to her job waiting tables at the S&R Truck Plaza restaurant in southwest Jamestown. Daron is back to work as a truck driver, but even with his income, sometimes the family’s one-income doesn’t cut it.
“We wait everyday to see if there’s a knock on the door to see if the landlord is going to kick us out,” she said.
Many of Elizabeth’s medical bills were covered. Born so small, her condition meant she qualified for government aid. But with Down syndrome, uncovered expenses will continue throughout her whole life, Shelly said.
But she has help. Shelly’s sisters, Brook Beckley and Amanda Zink, both of Carrington, helped around the house, cleaning the residence and building the crib. Their mother and father helped too, watching Kolten and filling the fridge with groceries.
Beckley said her oldest son was born premature, so she can understand some of Shelly’s troubles. Beckley too, needed a lot of help when she returned home.
“You can’t really have just anybody come up to your house and start baby-sitting,” she said, saying a baby-sitter would need to learn how to care for Elizabeth and check her oxygen tubes and monitoring system.
At home, Kolten helps too, as much as a 3-year-old can. With his toy stethoscope, Kolten checks his sister’s heartbeat. He likes to hold baby Elizabeth while sitting on his mother’s lap.
Staying at home is difficult, Shelly said. She misses her “coffee guys” at the truck stop restaurant as well as adult conversation. Sometimes she feels like a single parent because Daron is on the road so often.
But she loves her children, Shelly said, and has only a few hopes for their growth.
“Just that they’re happy and healthy,” she said.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org