GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ever since her birth earlier this year, Alexandra Sherrell has been a fighter.
It all started in August when her mom BrookeAnne and dad Randy went to a routine doctor’s appointment. A few months prior to the August appointment, the couple found out they were pregnant with twins.
“At that appointment we found out that they had the diagnosis of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome,” said BrookeAnne Sherrell.
That is where one twin donates blood and other nutrients to the other twin.
The couple were going to see specialist in Grand Rapids two to three times a week. They were then referred to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor for a second opinion.
“At a certain point it all kind of spear headed, and the donor twin was giving too much to the other one and it was to a point if we didn’t intervene with a surgery, we would lose both our daughters,” Sherrell said.
BrookeAnne had the surgery. It went well, both babies did fine but, in the morning,, they got the devastating news the smallest of the twins had died. They named her Eliza.
The complications didn’t stop there, a few days later BrookeAnne started to go into premature labor. She had to have another surgery to stop it. Just four days later as her mom was driving her to Ann Arbor the contractions started again.
“On the way to the hospital, my mom was driving me, I went into labor. Hard contraction every three minutes, the stuff you see in movies that looks like it’s time to go,” said Sherrell.
Her husband was able to leave work and get to the hospital where BrookeAnne delivered the twins at just 23 weeks.
“Because Eliza was still with us, we were able to hold Eliza for a while which was really cool to have that time to say goodbye to her was really good,” Sherrell said. “It was the most perfect and peaceful goodbye you could imagine. It was hard, no one wants to lose their kid. But to be able to have that moment to say goodbye was huge.”
The surviving twin Alexandra weighed in at just one pound five ounces.
“It was really scary to see something so small and know there was so much potential for so much to go wrong. Especially since we had fought so long for them for so long. So, it was really scary but also really cool. She kind of screamed when she came out the tinniest little scream so we knew she was a fighter, but it was still terrifying to see her so small,” Sherrell said.
Since the birth of her twins BrookeAnne has had to have another surgery as well as Alexandra.
“Between when I delivered and when we were able to transfer to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, she did have several surgeries a couple of belly surgery, a little procedure on her heart to close a hole that wasn’t supposed to be there. Some infections, so it’s been a really pretty rocky road,” Sherrell said.
Alexandra spent the first month of her life at the hospital in Ann Arbor and was able to transfer back to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids about two weeks ago.
“She’s growing, she’s two whole pounds, she’s a whopper,” said Sherrell.
The prognosis for Alexandra is not whether she will survive but rather what complications she may have, if any. She has had some bleeding on the brain which could lead to Cerebral Palsy or she could be totally fine.
“Somedays are really hard, it’s so hard to celebrate a really hard loss and a really exciting victory all at the same time,” Sherrell said.
It may be January but more likely February or March by the time she is able to come home.
“That’s really been our hearts cry through all of this that no matter what it looks like we want people to know that Gods still good. There is still hope, there are people willing to open their arms and embrace you and support you in your journey,” Sherrell said.
Randy must continue to work to support the family. BrookeAnne splits her time between the hospital and at home with the couples one-and-a-half-year-old son.
“I have tried to say thank you so many times to so many people its endless the list of people that have been so supportive,” Sherrell said. “People have really come out of the woodwork in a way that you don’t ever feel like you deserve it and receiving it is so hard sometimes because it’s just overwhelming goodness.”
BrookeAnne said she can go from euphorically happy to crying on the bathroom floor. Time and time again she pointed to the couple’s faith as the power to keep moving forward.
“More often than not I’m like I don’t even have words to pay right now but I know that somebody somewhere has words for me, and they are standing up on my behalf and that has been huge. Absolutely keeps you going when feel like you can’t go anymore,” she said.