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The Brooklynn Elsbecker Story: Learning to Eat, Breathe and Grow

Brooklynn in the NICU

During Brooklynn Elsbecker’s first days, she had a respirator to help her breathe because she had developed a pneumothorax, a collapsed lung, as a premature infant.

“She was on this giant respirator, 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide,” her mother Trista Elsbecker said. “It seemed enormous to keep a little 4-pound baby alive.”

One of the Elsbeckers’ scariest moments came when the respirator stopped and a nurse had to manually pumped air into Brooklynn’s chest to keep her breathing until it started again.

“She never acted like it was as scary as it really was,” Trista said of the nurse, Katie. “Everyone was great. We always felt calm and reassured by all the nurses and doctors.”

“She never acted like it was as scary as it really was,” Trista said of the nurse, Katie. “Everyone was great. We always felt calm and reassured by all the nurses and doctors.”

Trista, who lives in Spencer, Iowa, with her husband Jacob and Brooklynn, suffered from preeclampsia during pregnancy. Two days before Brooklynn was born she had a partial placental abruption, which means the placenta started peeling away from the lining of the uterus. This condition can deprive the baby of oxygen and important nutrients.

Trista was transferred to Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center and had a cesarean section at 32 weeks. Brooklynn was born July 31, 2011, at 3 lbs., 15 oz.

Because Brooklynn was premature, she spent about one month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“Mostly we were just there to learn to eat and breathe and grow,” Trista said. Brooklynn also developed pneumothorax her second day.

Brooklynn Today

After the first week, Trista was discharged from the hospital and the couple stayed at the Ronald McDonald House the remainder of time Brooklynn was in the NICU — a big help since the couple lives about 100 miles away from Sioux Falls.

“All the nurses were very friendly,” Trista said. “I didn’t feel like an inconvenience or a burden on anybody. I always had confidence that we were being well taken care of. They made me feel like Brooklynn was special.”

At 3 years old, Brooklynn just recently started preschool. She loves books and playing “mama” with her dolls.

“She was our preemie daughter for the first 18 months but then we kind of quit thinking about her as premature.”

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