NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — “It feels great, and we’re very thankful to the staff at Yale,” said Andre Williams of North Haven, holding on tight to his 10-month-old daughter, Ari.
The little girl recently left Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital after an astounding 298 days — a celebration after months of uncertainty.
“For me, it was definitely a blur,” said mom, Taryn.
After complications during pregnancy, the baby was born at 26 weeks, weighing just more than one pound.
“Within two or three hours, the NICU staff came downstairs and said, ‘Listen, we have to do emergency surgery,'” explained Taryn. “‘She has a laceration in her liver.'”
“The doctors weren’t too optimistic about her making it through the night,” added Andre. “Somehow, she made it through the night.”
The small fighter continued to make it despite facing numerous obstacles like brain bleeds, kidney problems and meningitis.
“The first five months, four to five months, it was rocky,” said Taryn. “It was scary; every day on pins and needles.
Then the pandemic hit. Only one parent could visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a time.
“[It was] very difficult, had to have a mask on,” said Andre. “It was kind of difficult going up to the hospital with a mask on because the babies can’t see you.”
But, through it all, Andrew and Taryn stayed positive.
“These parents really were amazing,” said Jona Sager, Ari’s primary nurse in the NICU, who remembered the amazing windows that Taryn decorated with a friend to mark special occasions and warm-up the hospital room.
“There were people coming from everywhere just to see what Ari’s window looked like with the new holiday,” smiled Sager.
“It was a coping mechanism for me, but I also think it lifted the spirits of everybody,” said Taryn.
Ari has come such a long way — a testament to her strength and the love and care she received from the medical staff, family and friends.
“It’s been amazing to have a child as special as Ari and just to see people come together and say, ‘We’re Team Ari!’ Everyone is really in support of her,” said Taryn with appreciation.
Ari faces a somewhat uncertain future with more surgeries, therapy and training ahead. But the Williams’ will take it one day at a time and enjoy life at home together.