NRL News

Mom refuses to take “no” for an answer, baby said to have less than 5% chance of surviving is now thriving

by | Nov 20, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Graceanne with her older sister Allie Claire

Graceanne with her older sister Allie Claire

When Graceanne Payne came home from the hospital, just before Christmas 2013, she joined her mom and dad and older sister one day before her actual due date. Almost a year later, she “crawls enthusiastically and has already taken her first steps,” according to Scott Rogers of the Gainesville Times.

So, Graceanne came a little early? Actually she arrived September 8, 2013, weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces. She was so premature doctors had given her less than a 5% to survive. Graceanne experienced a 97-day stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and spent almost six weeks on a ventilator.

“Definitely the hand of God was involved in her survival,” her mom, Melissa Payne, said.

Graceanne’s remarkable story began when the Payne family was visiting relatives in Maine. Rogers explained

Only in her second trimester and more than 1,300 miles away from home, Payne woke to discover her water had broken. She was taken to the nearest emergency room, where doctors said her unborn daughter Graceanne would need to be delivered in the next 24 to 72 hours.

“At that point, we weren’t quite 19 weeks, so she wouldn’t have been able to survive,” Payne said.

They visited a specialist in a nearby town who “pretty much told me this was the hand of cards we were dealt, and we would have to fold them and start over,” Payne told Rogers. Meaning the prediction of a less than 5% for survival and the likelihood that, if she did survive, “he would have a very low quality of life and be a burden on their family.”

But Payne had no interest in giving up on their baby and was determined to return to their home in Georgia.

Rogers explained that several of her friends “orchestrated her return to Georgia and set up her appointment with the obstetrician-gynocologist who approved her for continuing the pregnancy.” And

When Payne’s doctor performed an ultrasound and found a heartbeat, she was given the cautious — though not optimistic — OK to do what her heart told her to do. Payne wanted to continue her pregnancy, come what may.

“I believe that all babies are conceived for a reason,” Melissa Payne said. “It is our job to try to protect them and support what they need. Even when it’s difficult or very trying, what some could see as a burden to your family is still a gift from God.”

Payne was, of course, put on immediate bed rest. She told Rogers of feeling Graceanne kicking and moving and then going to the doctor “and they’d just frown and nod.” To keep strong for her baby, she Payne said she “relied on her family, friends, prayer and visits from church deacons to get her through the next seven weeks.”

Graceanne was born via an emergency C-section at 26 weeks and 2 days, weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces and measured 12 inches long. She had many health hazards—starting with having sufficient lung capacity to breathe on her own or be put on a ventilator.

“I woke up in recovery and asked where the baby was,” Payne said. “They said she was down in the NICU, and had enough lung tissue to ventilate.”

Of course, there were more hurdles to overcome, but as Graceanne’s health improved, so did her doctors’ optimism. Graceanne went home just in time for Christmas, 2013. Far from having medical issues, she is right on schedule, developmentally.

Carolanne Owenby, who was instrumental is helping Melissa find the right kind of help back in Georgia, calls Graceanne “the greatest miracle I’ve known in my life.” But according to Rogers, she credits another source for her survival.

“(Graceanne) was told over and over again that she had no business being here, that she wouldn’t be here, and she’s not only here but she’s thriving,” Owenby said. “A huge part of that is a testament to her mother. Melissa is one of the strongest people I know. She fought tirelessly for (Graceanne) and refused to take no for an answer at every corner. And that’s why she’s here and that’s why she’s thriving.”

Categories: Premature babies