Editor’s note: RMNB reader Tharen Koelsch shares this story about a very special Caps fan.
Less than two pounds. That’s what the machine read when Skylar Elizabeth made her life debut. She was just a little bit longer than a ruler. Among the many wires, machines and blue lights, there was a little baby who had a lot of fight in her.
Skylar was born without the typical fanfare of a baby’s entrance to the world. There were no bottles of champagne waiting to be opened. No outfit ready to make her look cute for the first car ride home. The hospital bag wasn’t packed and waiting by the door. Instead, frantic nurses, anesthesiologists, and doctors tried to hide their own fears. Her father didn’t see her being born, and her own mother was not conscious. Within minutes, she was airlifted in a helicopter to Children’s National Medical Center, without any of her family.
She couldn’t breathe, eat or be touched without the most delicate of care. Her beautiful blue eyes had no eyelashes, and were still fused together, knowing they weren’t ready to be out of the womb. Machines were attached to her little frail body, with beeping machines announcing when Skylar wasn’t breathing.
Over the course of eighty-six days, Skylar started her own journey of life. Her first feeding was through an IV. Her first bath was carefully monitored by a nurse. She spent her first Halloween and Thanksgiving in a clear plastic box. Yet, she thrived. She put on weight, she began to drink from a bottle. She began to breathe on her own. What is known to the world as Black Friday, Skylar came home from the hospital.
As the months began to pass, Skylar grew and grew. She started smiling. She slept through the night. The nightmare that had marked her beginning seemed like a distant memory.
Less than two months from coming home, one special follow up appointment would bring it all back in a flash. It was confirmed that Skylar, the little fighter, the miracle, was deaf. The medications that helped save her life, more than likely caused her hearing loss. While it was a severe blow for those that weren’t expecting it, there was hope.
When the hearing aids the little six month old wore didn’t cut it, she became eligible for cochlear implants, a medical device implant in the ear that would bypass the ear part that didn’t work. Skylar returned to her first home, Children’s National Medical Center, for the two surgeries that would change her life forever.
Her cochlears activated, Skylar began to babble and coo for the first time. She would startle at loud noises. She began to clap, a developmental milestone that had eluded her at the designated time. Slowly, sounds began to trickle in, and suddenly words. Her first word was “kitty”.
Skylar, like many children, had learned to occupy herself while hockey games played on television sets in the background. She had a padded hockey stick and puck. While in the hospital for one of her cochlear surgeries, she was given an Alexander Ovechkin Bleacher Creature, which she hugged immediately.
The first time her mother tested her hearing at home, Skylar was asked to “Get Ovi”. Skylar stopped, looked around, and brought her Ovi to her mom. Tears of joy welled up in her mother’s eyes.
Skylar turned two on September 2, 2012, a huge accomplishment for her. She is a tremendously happy child, whose smile is contagious to all around her. Skylar has taught so many to appreciate everything in life. The little details, the trivial arguments, the need for material items – it all loses its meaning with her.
Skylar, the little body with the huge fight. She continues her daily battles, but instead of fighting for her life, she now likes to fight naps, teethbrushing, and bed times. She is concrete proof, however, that not all fighters carry hockey sticks.
Thanks, Tharen, for sharing your story and photos.