When Jessica was 2 weeks old she was diagnosed with multiple heart defects. Some of these are: pulmonary artesia, VSD, pulmonary stenosis and pulmonary branch stenosis. click here to learn more about these heart defects Jessica was in congestive heart failure and was hospitalized. Jessica spent much of her life in and out of the hospital. Jessica was struggling to gain weight and every little cold or illness would send her into the hospital. She was very "blue" and would cough and choke a lot. Jessica was diagnosed with GE Reflux and put on medication for that. Finally the pediatric cardiologists felt that she needed surgery when she was 5 months old, even though she only weighed 10lbs. Jessica suffered a stroke with her first heart surgery and her right side was weak. The stroke was in the speech area of the brain and by 18 months of age, it was obvious that she was having extreme difficulty with speech and was trying desperately to communicate. Our home-bound teacher recommended sign language. We worked with the teacher and speech pathologist and only 6 months later Jessica could sign over 80 words! Slowly the speech came....being facilitated by the sign language. Jessica was also delayed in other areas due to the stroke. She didn't sit up until she was about a year old or walk until she was two. Her heart and body were weak, but her spirit was not! She was determined!
Jessica was born with polydactaly (2 extra fingers and 1 extra toe).
Jessica was about 8 months old in this photo. You can see the extra fingers here.
Jessica had surgery to remove her extra fingers and toes. Here she is with her older brother, Justen
Jessica used mostly sign language at this age due to a stroke she suffered during her first heart surgery when she was 5 months old. The sign language facilitated the speech and language skills. She did learn how to talk... but she didn't learn how to STOP talking. haha! She once said about her talking all the time, "It's what I do best!" She did a lot of things "best".