Anna Jordan: an ambassador for babies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Mike and Allisa Jordan walked into their baby's nursery, fell to the floor and sobbed.

The young couple had thought that day would be the happiest of their lives. They had envisioned bringing their baby home to the bright, cheerful nursery and sitting up all night singing lullabies and watching her sleep.

But they had come home alone, not know if little Anna would ever come home.

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Anna Jordan was born premature after Allisa developed problems associated wit h high blood pressure.

Allisa's pregnancy had been

"normal" up to 31 weeks.

But, one day the Charles Henderson Middle School teacher was having lunch

when she started to feel dizzy.

"I thought if I ate something I would feel better and someone suggested that I drink water," Allisa said. "But, nothing helped and I thought I was going to pass out."

Knowing something was very wrong, Allisa went to her doctor and found that her blood pressure was

"out the roof."

She was immediately put on bed rest for two weeks and monitored at home. In five days, she gained 11 pounds and her blood pressure was so high that she was not lucid . She had to be hospitalized.

After 25 hours of back labor with no medication, Allisa began to hallucinate. Her blood pressure remained high and she was in danger of having a stroke.

"I remember the doctor's telling me that 'We going to have a baby,'" she said. "Anna was born by C-section and she was a little small, 5 pounds and 5 ounces, but that was not a dangerous weight for a premature baby."

But, Allisa had the feeling that something wasn't right. She was right. Little Anna had developed digestive and respiratory problems and she wasn't eating.

After six days in the hospital, Allisa was dismissed, but although Anna's digestive and respiratory problems had been successfully treated, Anna still would not eat and was losing weight.

"She was being fed through an IV, but she kept pulling it out so they put a board on her hand and had her wrapped up," Allisa said. "They really couldn't give us much encouragement because they just didn't know what was going to happen."

Mike and Allisa had kept a steady vigil by their baby's bedside while Allisa was in the hospital. When they went home without her, they were devastated and wrought with worry.

"We prayed diligently and I cried until my eyes were raw," Allisa said. "We were home but our baby wasn't and we didn't know if she would be coming home. We both prayed and cried."

The couple had a newborn baby but Anna wasn't home. So, they weren't having to get up every two to three hours for feedings, but they got up anyway.

"Every three hours each night, we would call the hospital to check on Anna," Allisa said. "And during the day, one of us was there with her. We never wanted her to be alone."

A real scare came when the Jordans were told that Anna would need a spinal tap if she didn't begin to eat the next day or two.

"We didn't want that," Allisa said. "Anna was so tiny and she was so bruised from all the puncturing that had been done to her. We just didn't want to put her through that. We prayed that it wouldn't have to be done. And God is so faithful - so merciful."

That very night, around midnight, the Jordans got a call from the hospital. Anna had taken an ounce of formula.

"Those were the most wonderful words we had ever heard," Allisa said. "We were told that, if she would eat an ounce and have a diaper the next day , she could go home."

That night, Mike and Allisa flipped on the lights in the nursery and, for the first time in a long time, it was bright and cheerful.

The next day, 23 days after she was born, Anna Jordan came home.

"God is so faithful," Allisa said. "Through his hands and the skill and knowledge of the doctors and nurses, Anna was able to go home."

Anna is now 13 months old. Her physical development has been a little slow and her weight is slightly below average, but, otherwise, she is the typical little toddler.

"Anna didn't walk until she was 13 months old, but most premature babies are slower to roll over, craw and walk," Allisa said. "But she is the joy of our lives, Every day, every night, we thank God for her. Having a baby is the most wonderful thing on earth. Sometimes Mike and I just sit and watch her sleep. It is so heartwarming to have her with us."

Alissa still get emotional when she talks about Anna and the difficult beginning to her life, but tears quickly turn to smiles and she talks of the future with "our little girl."

"We know that we have been very blessed," she said. "Anna is doing great and every minute with her is just the most wonderful thing I could imagine."

The prayers of Mike and Alissa are always of thanksgiving for the blessing they have been given. And, they are also aware that many premature babies have far greater health problems than Anna.

"We were very protective of Anna," Alissa said. "For eight weeks, we didn't take her out of the house because we didn't want her to be exposed to anything. Premature babies are at risk for several health problems. Anytime a premature baby runs a fever in the first eight weeks, they are usually but back in the hospital. There is the potentially

deadly respiratory disease RSV."

Allisa knows, first hand, that the work the March of Dimes does to prevent premature births is so important.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn deaths. And, she supports the efforts of the organization.

"We went through a month of unbelievable hell, but it has been followed by 12 months of heavenly bliss," Allisa said. "There is nothing like having a baby."