Rick and Tara Whittaker found out they were expecting in July 2016. The newly married couple was excited about the new adventure and big sister Sarah couldn’t wait to meet the new addition. Flash forward to September 2016 when they received the news that their new addition would come with an extra chromosome and Teagan was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 under an amniocentesis procedure. At first, the news devastated Rick and Tara. The doctors all used scientific terms and scared the soon to be parents describing surgeries that “could” take place when the baby was born. Fearful of what was to come, Tara was scheduled for weekly ultrasounds for the last two months of pregnancy. It was like getting her own private viewing of what this little baby was up to every week.
Teagan David-Edward Whittaker was born three weeks early on February 5, 2017 weighing 5lbs 11 oz. Platinum blonde hair and bright blue eyes shining. Other than a small pinhole in his heart he was perfect. Sarah was in awe when she got to meet her baby brother. Teagan got to go home as scheduled and skipped NICU. He slept all night long the first two nights home. Four days after he was born, he was admitted to Prisma’s Children’s Hospital with severe jaundice. After a two day stay and a fancy “tanning bed session” Teagan was able to go home again. Tara took Teagan to his first cardiologist appointment when he was six weeks old and was elated to hear that the pinhole had closed itself and no surgery would be needed. He doesn’t have to follow up with cardiology again until he turns 15!
Teagan started PT and OT when he was three months old. He rolled over for the first time when he was five months old. Teagan had great arm strength but a very weak core due to low muscle tone and favored one side. He wore a helmet for a few months to fix his torticollis. He started getting sick frequently, with congestion and coughing mostly. In November 2017 he got RSV from his daycare. Teagan was hospitalized for five days fighting the battle to breathe. The next month he was diagnosed with pneumonia the RSV. That was a 7 day stay. They got home just in time for the holidays. During the start of spring, Teagan seemed sickly but he was always smiling. He started Speech therapy shortly after. In March came to the decision that Teagan was staying sick because he was aspirating his feeds. In April of 2018 after finally learning to sit up unassisted at 14 months old, Teagan was admitted for surgery for G-Tube placement. After 14 days Teagan was once again able to come home. After sitting down with the pulmonologist, the family and care team decided it was best for Teagan to “fire” the pediatrician and start going to the Ferlauto Center. To this day that was the best decision, his parents have ever made for their son. The Ferlauto Center is equipped with a great team that not only helps children with medical complex needs but also acts as a support for the family…and that is what this family needed the most. Tara had beaten her head against the wall with the previous pediatrician and her concerns were never heard. At the Ferlauto Center, the staff listens and take the time to explain. They also do a great job of teaching parents and explaining processes. With their help, Teagan got the G-Tube removed in only 14 months!
Teagan is now five years old. He will be six in just a few short months and he is the best addition this family could have ever asked for. He has been in school since he was three and a half years old. He rides the bus every day and greets his aid and driver with big waves, smiles, and the occasional fist bump. His vocabulary expands every week and working on potty training! His favorite person is his big sister who is now 14. He loves all types of music and enjoys playing the drums with his dad. In the evening he enjoys kitchen dance parties with his mom while she cooks dinner. He is making great strides on his IEP goals and just completed his first season with Fountain Inn’s Miracle League Baseball team. He climbs on everything and loves mud puddles. Any days spent outdoors are his best days. The family camps often to let him enjoy the outdoors. The family dog has also taught him to sneak her snacks and share his meals. He now has a care team involving Pulmonology, Sleep Medicine, and ENT. This little man has his own plan for life and his family wants nothing more than to show love and support!