(posted February 2, 2021)
Teagan was born in June 2018, in Maryland. She surprised us at birth with an obvious cornea defect in her right eye. Due to the severity, they sent her by ambulance to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, where she received a cornea transplant at 5 days old. The doctors said she might actually be the youngest person to ever receive a cornea transplant. In the weeks and months that followed we discovered a few other health issues – most significantly, at 7 weeks old we determined she was aspirating into her lungs with every swallow. She immediately got a feeding tube. She also had significant issues with reflux and just generally spent her first year of life ill and in pain. That was a rough year for the whole family. But slowly but surely she started to improve. She eventually grew out of most of her reflux issues, and after many surgeries and we finally stabilized her right eye when she was around 18 months old. At that point she was finally more physically comfortable, and the rest of her development just took off.
In 2020 we were able to wean her off both the home oxygen and her feeding tube. She is now 2.5 years old and she is not currently on any type of medication – although she does wear a conformer in her right eye and a contact lens in her left eye. She does not attend school or daycare due to COVID, but we hope to enroll her soon because we feel she is ready to get out into the world. She has very little usable vision in her right eye and a very strong prescription in her left eye – but she doesn’t know any different and she does not let it keep her down. She runs all around the playground (making my heart stop when she climbs to the top of the highest equipment), keeps up with her sisters at home, is obsessed with her tablet when we let her have screen time, and loves when we read her books. She is starting to talk and sign with us and it’s amazing to watch how quickly she learns about the world around her. Her favorite things in life are applesauce, her two older sisters (twins who are 4-yrs old), family dance parties, and Elmo.
I am most proud of her for: how quickly she taught herself how to eat. She went from 100% tube fed to 100% oral in six weeks, and it only even took that long because we took a very cautious approach. It turns out she was capable of so much more than I realized – I’m taking that as a lesson that sometimes I need to just get out of her way and let her show me what she can do. Teagan is still very young and we know additional challenges could come up, but for now she is a happy, healthy 2-yr old, so we are just enjoying this phase and making sure she has all the support she needs to continue to succeed.