Fort Worth, Texas,
28
June
2017

Avery's Journey

A Cook Children’s employee documents her time in the NICU

Summary

In April 2014, Kelly Wooley, a Cook Children's employee, began documenting the birth of her daughter and the journey that followed. This is the beginning of Avery's Journey. See the links below for all of the articles that followed.

I have worked in the marketing department at Cook Children’s since December 2012. I’ve toured the NICU and even shadowed one of the nurses there for a day. But never in a million years did I imagine that I would ever have such personal knowledge of the facility.

From the beginning, it was clear that my body didn’t like being pregnant. My husband, Shawn, and I worked on getting pregnant for a little over a year and were finally successful after seeing a fertility specialist. I can honestly say that I didn’t really have one day during my pregnancy where I could just enjoy being pregnant. Whether it was being really nauseous, increased problems with my asthma or dealing with high blood pressure.

This new chapter of our lives began on March 13 when I called the doctor with an exceptionally high blood pressure reading. I’d been battling high blood pressure since week six of my pregnancy but it had been controlled with medication. I remember thinking to myself before I called the doctor that morning that I was probably just overreacting. Two hours later, I was in a helicopter being taken from Harris Southwest to Harris downtown. The whole feeling was completely surreal. I didn’t really feel that bad so why were people acting like I was so sick?

I was told that I was being transported to Harris downtown so we could be closer to Cook Children’s in case I needed to deliver. Deliver?? I was only 26 weeks; there was no way I could deliver yet. I wasn’t ready. She wasn’t ready. But, less than 48 hours later, at 8:33 p.m. on Friday, March 14, Avery Leigh Wooley came into this world via a C-section, weighing 1 pound, 5 ounces. The doctors had diagnosed me with preeclampsia and decided it was just too dangerous for me and her to stay pregnant any longer.

Being in the operating room for the C-section was another surreal experience. Shawn just kept telling me to “stay Avery strong!” That has now become our battle cry. We’ve even printed up bracelets that say “I am Avery strong” for friends and family to wear.

We are on day 14 of being in the NICU. Overall, she has done really well. She is experiencing all the normal things that a premature baby at 26 weeks would but nothing out of the ordinary. You never know what news could be lurking around the corner so we’ve really focused on taking it one day at a time. We celebrate the good news, try not to focus too much on her setbacks and try not to think too far in advance. This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. They say to plan on her being her until her due date, which was June 20.

The care that we’ve received here in the NICU has been incredible. There is nowhere else, except in my belly, that I would rather Avery be right now. All her nurses and doctors show incredible empathy and do a great job of comforting me on a daily basis. It’s not just a job for these people, it’s a calling. They do it because they love it. They’ve taught me so many new terms and do a great job at explaining things in plain English.

The amount of guilt I have for not being able to carry Avery to term is overwhelming. I feel like I failed at my first act of motherhood. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to her. For right now, I am trying to do that by being here with her as long and often as I can and giving her my breast milk to make her grow big and strong, so she can be Avery strong!

To Donate

If you would like to help kids like Avery at Cook Children's, click here to donate. Our nationally recognized Level IV NICU provides the highest level of care available for our tiny patients. Cook Children's is one of only a handful of NICUs nationwide to provide single patient rooms. These individual rooms enable us to provide the highly specialized intensive care services and attention that medically fragile babies need. All of these advantages plus our advanced technology, top doctors and one-of-a-kind developmental program, means we give every baby we treat the biggest chance possible for a happy, healthy childhood.

Comments 1 - 20 (20)
Thank you for your message. It will be posted after approval.
cathy Russum
08
April
2014
I love you Kelly, Shawn and little Avery praying for her everyday. You need not blame yourselves for her early arrival sometimes this just happens. God didn't want anything to happen to you are her. Lv yall
matt freeman
08
April
2014
Kelly
John
09
April
2014
My wife and I had some complications with our twin girls. One of our girls ended up staying in the NICU for 4 months. She was born at 1lb13oz and ended requiring abdominal surgery as a result of NEC. During the process, many things changed from day to day in terms of drugs, feedings, and her general progress. We found that keeping a short journal of the daily status became very useful in keeping touch on what was happening and celebrating her progress. Take it day by day and don't fret it too much. Your girl needs you to be rested and positive. She can sense your emotions, so be positive and strong and so will she. Kangaroo care is good for the soul for everyone involved. I wish you the best!
Jackie Melman
09
April
2014
What a beautiful family! I am praying for you each
Larry Tubb
09
April
2014
Kelly, Shawn and Avery:I hope that you will continue to share the story of your journey! You should know that you have nothing to feel guilty about, in fact (knowing your passion for children) you should be proud of the resiliance you all have in weathering this storm.My wish would be that all of us could be "Avery Strong" in working to improve the health of every child - especially Avery!Best,Larry
Jan
09
April
2014
What a lucky baby Avery is to have such a brave mom. You are truly the example of what it means to be Avery strong!
Marilyn Nappier
10
April
2014
You three are inspirational. The concept of Avery Strong is a wonderful gift -- thank you. Thinking about your family every day.Best wishes.
JT
10
April
2014
We are praying for Ms Avery , you
Kelly Pumphrey
10
April
2014
My prayers are with all of you!!!Stay Avery Strong!!!I love it!!!!
Bev Yates
10
April
2014
Kelly, you are in my heart. Avery comes from a long line of strong women. You and your sweet family will stay in my thoughts and prayers. Keep looking forward. Love, Bev
dianne rose robbins
10
April
2014
Wonderful story! Praying for you and your family. Junior LeagueSunshine Special is singing atCooks on Tuesday, April 15 at 3:00 inthe main hallway - this is a kid friendly program; even though Avery is too young to hear us, see the expression on the other kids faces!Dianne
jfr
10
April
2014
Thank you for your willingness to open your heart and share this story with the world. It will be an inspiration to many. We're grateful to be a part of this journey with you, and blessed to encourage you along the way. I'm praying for you all.
Pat Gosney
14
April
2014
Shawn, Kelly and Avery,you are in our every pray. This time next year Avery will be perfect, running around every where. We love you, Lloyd and Pat
Julie Diamond
24
April
2014
Wishing you all and Shawn all the best. Avery strong! xoxo
Gary and Lisa Nussbaum
25
April
2014
KellyI am a close friend of our mom. I wanted to reach out to you and let you know that we are praying for you and your family. Thank you for sharing so we can keep up with the progress!
Julie
27
April
2014
Dear Kelly,You are going to have to let go of your guilt and look at all of the amazing things you have accomplished as a mother! From reading your blog I see that you are an amazing mother and dedicated to your little Avery! Being with her at the hospital and giving her your breast milk is pure dedicated LOVE for your baby.
Sara LeBlanc
01
May
2014
I know it's very hard to believe, but you are her champion! You are not failing at all. You are so brave and courageous to share this journey with us. Praying for her strength and your peace during this roller coaster of life.
Betty Crenshaw
05
May
2014
Kelly,We are all praying for Avery and your family. I got a bracelet at the shower and it reminds me of the blessing Avery is and the struggle ahead for you and Shawn. Your mom told me about your blog and I will follow your reports.God Speed,Betty
Amy Dantzler
08
May
2014
My little Avery Elizabeth was born at 26 weeks last June 17th. She is almost a year old. Reading about your journey brings back so many emotions. Avery was in the NICU for 96 days. I will pray for your Avery every day and for you and your husband. Hang in there, just keep going, praying, and hoping. May God help Avery to come home soon!!
Lita Marquez
13
June
2014
God continue to bless your little princess. I went through the same thing. Preclamsia is horrible. But God is GREAT...
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photo:Jeff Calaway
Jeff Calaway
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682-885-4158
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