Ellie Fauley was a miracle for two parents who had exhausted their options.
"We tried to get pregnant for seven years," says Ellie's mother, Corina. "We'd done it all, and finally in 2002 a doctor said, 'You're not going to have your own kids.' He told us there were two options: IVF or utilizing a donor egg. We weren't comfortable with either, so we completed law school and the bar exam and finally moved back to San Angelo."
Just days after having scheduled a complete hysterectomy for medical reasons (including thinking she was going through menopause), Corina took a pregnancy test that turned out positive. "I was in total shock," she says. "I just couldn't believe it."
While getting pregnant was indeed a miracle, the pregnancy itself took on a life of its own. At the 14-week check, something on the ultrasound was not right. "We'd seen the baby enough to know that the look on the nurse's face wasn't right," says Jody. Something was indeed not right. The couple was told their baby had encephalitis, and a high-definition ultrasound was scheduled for the next day at the hospital. The ultrasound, however, revealed that everything was perfect. The doctors continued to keep an eye on the baby, and due to Corina's age, they consulted a pediatric neonatologist to make sure the baby was progressing appropriately. Although Ellie was thriving and growing, an ultrasound showed that Corina was having health problems of her own.
"The valve on her heart was swollen," says Jody. "It was swollen twice its normal size." The doctors wanted to do surgery on Corina immediately and felt that it would be necessary to perform an abortion. The fear was that the stress on Corina's heart could make it explode at any moment. Nevertheless, Jody was at peace. "For us to not trust God in this time was ridiculous," he says. "The doctor had her do an echocardiogram every week. The miracle was the valve never grew."
Still more challenges lay ahead. A C-section was scheduled a couple weeks early so Corina's heart wouldn't have to endure the stress of birth. On June 8, 2005 Ellie was born and everything seemed fine at first.
"At delivery, Ellie didn't cry," Jody says. "She was making noise, but didn't cry. The doctors wanted her to cry. They hooked her up to machines. It looked like her lungs weren't developed. The lungs weren't prepared. There was a swarm of new doctors around Ellie. She wasn't responding."
Ellie was placed under an oxygen hood the Children's Miracle Network provided to the hospital, and she started doing better. "When I first saw Ellie, I was afraid I was going to lose her because all of the tubes and the machines were beeping wildly," says Corina. "There was a possibility my daughter's heart was inside out or upside down—I just didn't know."
"If the Children's Miracle Network had not been involved with the neonatal unit, Ellie and I would have been shipped to Cook Children's in Dallas," Jody says. "Our family would have been separated. The fact all of the equipment was at Shannon allowed out family to stay together, and they took great care of us."
After Ellie was born, Corina had to have open-heart surgery. The decision to keep this miracle pregnancy not only saved Ellie's life, but it saved Corina's as well. It was the results of the last echocardiogram that revealed the problem with the heart.
According to the Fauleys, "Ellie is a very outgoing person. She likes to keep busy. She's joyful. She's meticulous. She's a perfectionist. And at church she smiles and makes people happy—especially us!"