Kaliah Dailynn Holly Jeffery, by Chelsey Charles
- Unlike most teenage pregnancies mine was no accident; my sweet baby girl was planned. All I’ve ever dreamt
about was being a mother and having a family. I found out I was pregnant when I was about 4 weeks along, my boyfriend and I were ecstatic. Before we could find out the gender of our little one, I was for certain it was going to be a girl. Both mine and Tanner’s families weren’t too sure about the gender everybody thought I was going to be heartbroken if I were going to have a boy. I told them I pretty much knew I mean I had the name picked out and everything, I was set on Kaliah Dailynn Holly Jeffery. Though nobody else liked the name much I knew it was perfect. They would learn to love it sooner or later.
When I was 19 weeks along we had an ultrasound appointment to find out the gender of our baby. That day I was so nervous I laid there on that bed as the ultra sound was being done, with a blank expression on my face until the doctor said “ see those two white lines, I’m almost positive it’s a girl”. Instantly I smiled and began to cry, I was so happy everything was beginning to turn out perfect. The next 20 weeks I did what any expecting mother would do I shopped and planned and set up our room, made sure everything would be ready and perfect. At my last doctor visit I was 39 weeks and 2 days, I had a high blood pressure so they decided to induce me, I was so excited it was finally time. Well labor wasn’t moving very fast or at all, they decided to let me get a good night of sleep and start me back up in the morning. I woke up the next morning and the doctor broke my water, well things moved much quicker after that I got the epidural about an hour later. I rested for a few hours, and when I woke up they said I was almost ready. I pushed for two and a half hours; the cord was wrapped twice around my baby girl’s neck. The doctor had to cut it before she could pull her out, she was breathing on her own right away, because of that. They took her straight to the nicu. They had to make sure everything was okay.
They finally brought her up to me about an hour and a half later. When I first held her my whole entire life changed at that moment. Kaliah was everything I hoped for and she most even more perfect then I could of even imagined. Gazing at me with her big brown bright eyes, as I touched her thick brown hair, I couldn’t put her down she was absolutely gorgeous.
The doctor noticed I had a slight cough, she asked me how long I had had it for? I responded with about a week. That night my cough started to get worse, still nobody seemed too concerned about it. The doctors thought it was probably because I was tired, because I used all my energy in labor. I was asked if I wanted to get vaccinated before I left the hospital I said yes, since I hadn’t gotten it in 5 years and I needed it for school when I was pregnant, but they wanted to wait till after I gave birth. They gave me the shot the next day and sent my perfect little family and I home.
The next nine days everything was going pretty great. I still had my cough but it had not gotten any better or worse. When Kaliah was about ten days old I heard her sneeze, like any knew mother I panicked. I started searching the internet on symptoms of newborn colds. At first nothing seemed to catch my eye until I seen a site on whooping cough “extremely dangerous for newborns”. Out of all the symptoms, I had one and Kaliah had one, I had my cough and Kaliah sneezed. I kind of thought I was just psyching myself out. The next day I was on the phone with my mom and she said my cough sounded terrible. I had also heard Kaliah cough a few times that day. So again I started to research whooping cough, I watched a few videos read more about it. I began to get more panicked I convinced myself this is what Kaliah and I had contracted somehow. I brought it up to Tanner and my families, they thought there was no way we could have pertussis. They thought I was over reacting. I went with my gut feeling I mean there was no way I would still have a cough for 3 weeks without getting better. So the next day August 3rd , I walked my two week old baby to the walk-in clinic and told them that I thought we had whooping cough.
The doctor asked me about our symptoms, then he told me we “didn’t have the symptoms of whooping cough and that we appeared fine.” I explained to him about how I researched pertussis and that it makes you appear fine until your having a coughing spell. I asked him to test us both for it. He finally agreed to test me, but said they had never tested a baby so young before. He didn’t want to he didn’t think it was necessary, I kept insisting that he should. I told him I had a really bad feeling that pertussis is what we had. He called in a nurse to go ahead and give us the nose swabs. He then prescribed us both erythromycin (antibiotic for pertussis) so that if we did infant have this terrible bacterial disease it wouldn’t be contagious, after we took the five days worth of medicine. They would not know for a few days if we were positive or not with the disease.
Two days later I got a phone call from the health department telling me that Kaliah and I were both positive for pertussis, as I already had a feeling I was in utter shock. How could this happen? The women on the phones name was Holly she told me of all the precautions I needed to follow, and to keep taking are antibiotics. She told me to watch Kaliah very carefully, and to take her to the hospital if she was having trouble breathing at any point. Within the next day her cough began to worsen, she wasn’t keeping much food down, she also looked a little blue around her eyes. Kaliah began to look better throughout the night. The next morning August 7th, we went to Tanner’s house. Kaliah didn’t look good at all, she looked very sick. We then decided to go to the emergency room. There they told us her oxygen level was a little low, and that we should stay in the hospital overnight so they could observe her.
They transferred us to the women’s pavilion (where she was born) they put us on the nicu floor in a separate room because we were in isolation. I thought we were just there for the night and that we would be sent home the next day, but Kaliah wasn’t getting better, they had her on oxygen a very low level. She wasn’t eating very much, and when she did eat she would cough so hard she would throw up. They had to keep upping her dosage of oxygen she was slowly getting weaker and the disease was taking over more and more. On day 3 in the hospital the doctors decided to put her on a feeding tube, I would pump breast milk and they would put her on a continuous drip. So that it would be easier for her to keep down all the food she could. It wasn’t helping much so they took her off the feeding tube the next day. Her coughing was getting much worse, at times, her oxygen level would drop so low. On day 5 in the hospital she put us all in for our first big scare, she quit breathing for a short time tons of doctors and nurses rushed in to help her and stabilize her. The doctors then explained to me that it was time to put her on a ventilator, because she was no longer doing well with just the oxygen. They said she had to be moved in with the other babies so they could watch her more closely.
They let me and Tanners mom go into the room to see her after they got her settled in. We had to wear gowns, masks and gloves, to make sure she wouldn’t catch anything else on top of her sickness. Kaliah was in an incubator with wires on her, IV in her wrist, and a ventilator tube in her mouth. There was a blanket over her eyes so the light wasn’t too bright. It was so heartbreaking to see my poor baby like this, I couldn’t help but cry to see my little girl in so much pain. They were doing a bunch of blood test, checking for other infections and cell counts. The doctors told me to go home for the night to get some rest, and that he would call if there was any change. Well later that night my phone was ringing I answered it and he started telling me her white blood cell count was very high which indicates the infection is taking over her blood cells, he asked me if I would allow them to do a blood transfusion. I told him yes.
The next morning Tanner, his mom, and I all went to see our beautiful little girl. She looked puffy she could no longer open her eyes; they had her on medications for pain. As Tanner and I stood there the doctors told us we could hold her hand or her foot and that we should talk to her and let her know we were there. I grabbed her hand and Tanner touched her foot and we told her that we loved her. We both stood there and cried as we looked at our baby in the incubator for a few minutes then we took a step back, I thought about how just a week ago she was healthy as can be, now she was laying there fighting. All of the sudden Kaliah started moving weird like a twitch, we were watching our 3 ½ week out baby have a seizure, we had no idea what was going on. Doctors rushed in and were talking about how she was appearing to have a seizure; they did as much as they could to help her. It was about two minutes long, Tanner and I were so scared we didn’t know what was going to happen. The doctor explained that they would start her on seizure medicine. They asked me if they could do a spinal tap to check things out, I told them yes. Tanner’s mom insisted they move her to children’s hospital. They moved her that night; I didn’t get to go there until the next morning. When we got there the next morning a doctor informed me that she had yet another seizure the night before that lasted six minutes, they had done a blood transfusion, and the spinal tap. The doctor said that the next step would be to do a brain scan and make sure everything was normal, and that they might have to do another blood exchange because her white blood cell count was going back up again. The doctor brought up the ecmo machine she told me that if things begin to worsen that is our last option. The doctor brought Tanner’s mom, and sister, and I into the waiting room. This was the very first time anyone had ever even brought up the fact that Kaliah might not make it! We all three looked at the doctor in confusion, might not make it? The doctor began to tell us that her chances of survival. Tanner’s mom (Amy) looked at the doctor and said why this is the first time anyone has mentioned this? That was the very moment I started to shut everyone around me out, I didn’t believe it. “Not make it?” there was no way, I thought to myself of course she’s going to make it she’s a fighter, this lady is crazy. We began calling family within an hour everyone was there.
When they started hooking up the machine to check her brain, doctors began to panic not because of her brain, but because her white cell count was rising, she had a very low oxygen level her heart and lungs were working too hard. Everything was getting worse fast, doctors were rushing around trying to make a plan. The doctor then explained to me our last option again the ecmo machine. It was a machine that would bypass the lungs and heart, so that she wouldn’t have to the work anymore. It would pump blood out of her body into a machine, which would then put oxygen in the blood, after that it would pump blood back into her body. Plain and simple it was life support our very last option. I agreed for the surgery to be done, they started moving her into a bigger room immediately. One of the doctors brought me into a room to see another baby that was on the ecmo machine so I could get a better idea of what was going to happen. They started on her surgery, my family and I waited in the waiting room. About three hours later the doctors came out and told us, “Kaliah is done with surgery and stable”. I remember going back in that room to see her, she didn’t look like herself anymore I could barely recognize her. My little girl was swollen everywhere, her eyes were even more puffy then before, she felt as if her skin was tight and full, she was also really warm. There were two tubes inserted by her neck and right shoulder, this was the ecmo machine. One tube was in a large vein the other in the main artery. Life support, it would help her gain her strength back to fight on her own. The doctors told me it would appear to make her better even if she wasn’t yet, and that she would have to be on it for awhile. There was no doubt in my mind I knew my baby would pull through, she had to now that she was on life support she didn’t have to do any work, she will gain her strength back ad continue to fight or so I thought. My sister and I stayed in the hospital that night. The next morning when we went to go see my little girl, the doctor wanted to talk to us before we went in her room. This is exactly what she said “last night there were some complications with the ecmo machine, it kept cutting out” I asked her what she meant, she said “it wasn’t working how it was supposed to, we had to pump liquid into the tube to make it keep pumping, her body is rejecting all the medication, everything were putting in her veins is leaking right out into her body, that’s why her body is so swollen. Its part of the disease (pertussis), her chances of survival at this point aren’t good at all.” I began to cry I went back to see her I held her hand for a long time. I still wouldn’t believe the doctors, there was still a chance she was still fighting. Tanner and I and our entire families visited her, that day was day 9 in the hospital; her body was so puffy at this point. Kaliah’s whole body was turning purple from all the blood and medicines leaking from her veins. It was so hard to see her that way, I tried my hardest to stay strong for her, and stay by her side. I kept telling her I loved her, that everything was going to be alright, she would pull through this. We sat in the waiting room for a long time praying she would make it. We couldn’t imagine losing her. Doctors come out to talk to us I think there was four of them; they pulled all of us into a room. I remember exactly what they said to me, “we have all been working very hard on Kaliah, and the machine just keeps cutting out. It’s just not working anymore. There is nothing more we can do to help her, she’s too sick. We are so very sorry.” Everyone in the room was crying including all the doctors, one of the doctors looked at me and she said “ we can do this however you want, you can hold her or we could just take her off life support.” I immediately said “I want to hold her”. The doctors told me they would set the room up and bring us back.
The doctors came out and brought our whole family back into Kaliah’s room so we could say our final goodbyes. They sat me and Tanner down on a couch they placed Kaliah in my arms, for the last time. She wore a stripped pair of pajamas with a monkey on the front of them, she was absolutely beautiful. Our families left the room so Tanner and I could say goodbye to our beautiful baby girl.
August 16th day nine in the hospital I held my sweet baby in my arms, as tanner sat beside me, we both held her hands. I kissed her on the forehead and told her I loved her so much, I told her she wouldn’t have to fight anymore. Tanner kissed her on the hand and told her he loved her. A few moments later we were doing the hardest thing I think I will ever have to do in my entire life, we watched the doctor take her off life support, Kaliah gasped for breath. We sat there and watched our little girl go. The doctor came in and checked for a heart rate a few moments later, he looked at us and said “I’m sorry she’s gone.” He then took her out of my arms.
Tanner and I walked out into the waiting room where are families were. We were completely heartbroken, tanner and I both 17 years old had just said goodbye to our 27 day old baby girl. I keep telling myself “that god gave her to me for a reason, not for me to have her forever. So I could fall in love with her, so that when she passed I would make her live on and share her story to save other babies from this horrible disease. I would not let her die for no reason, she was too beautiful for earth.”
I am doing my best to educate the world by telling Kaliah’s story and save other babies. Pertussis (whooping cough) is very dangerous for infants, because they can’t even be vaccinated until they are 8 weeks old, therefore newborns don’t have a fighting chance. The best way to keep the babies safe is to get vaccinated. Although its only 85% chance against pertussis, the more people vaccinated the better it will be. If you are against vaccination or just aren’t vaccinated I really hope my little girls’ story changes your mind. Whooping cough is an epidemic and is spreading very quickly, to protect babies everywhere please get vaccinated.
"We are asking for Kaliah's Law. We ask that a new requirement be created to require the State Department of Health to send out a Public Health Warning Notice, in the form of a low cost post card should be sent to all households, businesses and Post Office Boxes in the affected area. This should happen as soon as any reportable communicable disease reaches the epidemic threshold, which is predetermined by the state Department of Health, in conjunction with the CDC."
Paul Offit, one of the leading vaccine experts in the nation, supports our request
for legislation to make the DOH warn citizens as soon as an epidemic reaches the
threshold they set each year. It took them 3 months to tell Washington
they were in the middle of the biggest epidemic in nearly 50 years! By then it was
too late to stop. Now, we are in the middle of the worst epidemic in 70
Kaliah died in August of last year and they still wouldn't tell
anyone. We (Kaliah's family) set up the first Booster shot clinics, the first
Public Service Announcements, and the postcards that were sent to all residents
in our County, because they wouldn't do anything! They did not release any of
the free press they have available, and when I asked them to create a Public
Service Announcement, they said they would have to lay off one of the three
nurses they have on staff to do that. They said that it was enough for them to
tell doctors about it and use the free press from stories like Kaliah's.
They wouldn't call the CDC when I asked in February, they said it wouldn't
do any good because they would only come our for a week and that would not help.
They wouldn't say the word Tdap or Pertussis, because they didn't think the
public would understand the terms. We had to threaten them to get them to say or
The booster shot everyone is getting also only lasts five years, but they are
telling everyone they can only have one per lifetime, until they have more data.
That means, in five years, everyone that is getting the shot now will have to
get it again. Who is going to tell them?
How long is it going to take them to tell us next time????? I am not willing to trust that they will do
anything differently when we have another epidemic, so we need a law to make
them. Kaliah's law - When an epidemic reaches the threshold set by the
Department of Health, they need to send a warning notice to every household in
the affected area. Simple as that.
Please show your support of Kaliah's law by contacting your local legislator, and letting them know you expect them
to support a law to warn citizens if there is an epidemic in their area! Follow
this link to find who your legislator is and how to contact them, then ask them
to support Kaliah's Law to send a warning notice to citizens if there is an
epidemic in their area!
Please vote and share Kaliah's bill BELOW. This bill will require the CDC to share epidemic information directly with the citizens instead of only telling providers. http://www.change.org/petitions/silence-kills-wa-send-epidemic-warning-to-citizens-kaliah-s-law