Maya and Dan describe their son as resilient, determined and one-of-a-kind. Intelligent, ambitious, and extremely perceptive…Eli is impossible to ignore!
Maya’s pregnancy was uncomplicated. She presented to Morristown Medical Center in labor, just before her due date. A day that began full of excitement and joy changed suddenly, when the obstetrical team was unable to detect a heartbeat. Eli was born urgently and without signs of life; He was not breathing, nor was his heart beating. The team from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was standing by prepared to intervene. In the moments after birth and the ensuing weeks in the NICU, Eli required the team’s full capabilities. His heartbeat recovered, but his condition was critical.
Fearing that Eli’s brain was deprived of oxygen, resulting in a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, Eli was immediately started on whole-body hypothermia and intensive neurological monitoring. Sam’s NICU is a regional referral center for this type of therapy which involves lowering the body temperature for several days to improve long-term neurological outcomes. Maya and Dan tirelessly kept vigil over Eli and vividly remember the moment that his brain activity normalized. Maya recalls, “It was the second day of his life, and the first moment that we felt hopeful about Eli’s future.”
In the days that followed, Maya and Dan became members of “Eli’s NICU Team,” developing close relationships with his nurses, neonatologists, pediatric subspecialists, and therapists. “The NICU staff made us feel like experts about our son, they included us in rounds and all conversations, even though we were first-time parents.” She adds her advice to other parents: “Be present and involved, ask questions, and be your baby’s voice.” Maya and Dan believed in Eli and felt supported by a team who shared their optimistic vision for his future.
Early in life, Eli struggled with hitting milestones, and learning to feed. By 9 months of age, Eli was eating and drinking normally. He loves apple sauce, peanut butter sandwiches, and meatballs. Eli is walking, jumping, and climbing stairs nearly independently. Eli uses his emerging voice to sing and “read” with gusto. Maya and Dan celebrate each and every day and achievement, however big or small. They have learned to let Eli reach milestones on his own time and feel truly blessed to be his parents.