DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – You won’t find any turkey or homemade pie in the sterile environment of Texas Health Presbyterian’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Dallas.
Still, there’s nowhere else Dede Hayes would rather be this Thanksgiving than at her daughter’s bedside.
“Hi! How are you? This is your first Thanksgiving,” she tells her. Now 5 weeks old, Khloei was born three months ahead of schedule.
“I didn’t know if she was going to be here, but I’m glad she is,” said Hayes.
Born weighing just 2 pounds, 2 ounces, Khloei has faced plenty of challenges already. “Just for her to breathe is hard,” said Hayes.
Her body is fragile, and her mother can only hold her once a day for three hours. But, Hayes is here at the hospital day and night, helping change diapers and watching over feedings. “I can always say I was there for my child,” said Hayes.
With the help of a feeding tube, Khloei has been slowly growing toward three pounds, a milestone in her struggle to gain weight. “I’ve been calling every day. ‘How much does she weigh? How much does she weigh?’” said Hayes.
This Thanksgiving morning, she finally reached it – weighing in at 3 pounds, 3 ounces. “I bawled and cried,” said Hayes.
At Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, nurses say,premature babies like Khloei have a very good chance of surviving and thriving, thanks to modern medicine.
“When I started doing this 20 years ago… we didn’t have the ventilators we have now, we didn’t have the medications we have now,” said Stephanie Stetina, one of Khloei’s nurses.
For the Hayes family, it’s a gift they won’t take for granted. “A miracle. This is my miracle grandchild,” said Janice Hayes, Khloei’s grandmother.
This year, they may not get all the traditions of Thanksgiving Day, but they certainly get the meaning of it. “I really am grateful for this little girl here,” said Hayes.