- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - On Sept. 20, 2007, Charity Thompson-Clark went into labor 26 weeks into her pregnancy. After an emergency Caesarean section, she became the mother of twin girls, Jayda and Jordan.

When she was 29 days old, Jordan died. Her sister continued to struggle.

Now 7, Jayda is in the first grade, something doctors originally said would never happen.

Thompson-Clark said Jayda is her miracle and a life she thanks God for every day.

When Jayda was born, she weighed 1 pound and 4 ounces, Thompson-Clark said.

“She was big enough to literally fit in the palm of your hand,” she said. “I could take my ring and put it around her wrist. That’s how tiny she was.”

Shortly after Jayda was born, doctors determined she had intracranial hemorrhages, which meant her brain was bleeding.

“She had a grade 3 and a grade 4 bleed, which we were told would be really hard for her to recover from,” Thompson-Clark said. “We were told she wouldn’t be able to walk, she wouldn’t talk, she wouldn’t do anything on her own, and that’s if she made it off of her ventilator.”

At 8 days old, Jayda and Jordan had infections in their intestines called necrotizing enterocolitis, which is a condition common in premature babies.

Jordan died because of the infection, Thompson-Clark said.

“When they pronounced her sister dead, Jayda woke up screaming,” Thompson-Clark said. “The moment they pronounced her. I will never forget. I can still hear the screech and then she went right back to sleep; it was like she was at peace.”

Jayda kept fighting. She fought through a bowel-resection surgery, and being attached to a colostomy bag and ventilator.

“She wasn’t breathing on her own or anything,” Thompson-Clark said. “When she came out of surgery, she almost passed away on us three times. (Doctors) did CPR and brought her back to us.”

Jayda lived the first six months of her life at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

Jayda weighed almost 5 pounds when she was able to go home for the first time.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Thompson-Clark said. “I was so happy to finally bring her home, but I was scared.”

Thompson-Clark said she didn’t sleep because she was afraid Jayda wouldn’t make it through the night.

Mary Livingston, Jayda’s grandmother, was also afraid to sleep.

“It’s just amazing what she (Thompson-Clark) was about to go through and be so strong,” she said. “We give God the thanks for it all.”

Doctors found early on that Jayda needed to wear glasses.

“She was the smallest little thing with glasses on,” Thompson-Clark said laughing. “It was so funny and so cute.”

When she was 2 years old, Jayda’s father, Dominique Clark, who now works at the American Cancer Society, was in the Army and serving in Afghanistan.

“I remember being gone and Jayda was 2, and I brought her home a 6-month onesie because she could fit in it,” he said. “She was so small. It was 6 months and she was 2 at the time, and it fit.”

That year, Jayda had a significant milestone.

“She walked,” Thompson-Clark said.

“She didn’t start walking until she was 2, but I’ll tell you what, that was the most amazing moment of my life, to see my baby walking after they told me that she wasn’t going to be able to do any of that.”

When she was 4, Jayda started talking. Her first word was “Momma.”

Thompson-Clark said Jayda is in the first grade at Pope Elementary and amazes her teachers with what she’s able to accomplish, even though she still struggles.

Jayda has weakness on her right side at times and attends speech and occupational therapy.

She’s also on two types of medication to help keep her from having seizures.

“Her seizures, when they start, if we don’t stop them, they can last for over two hours,” Thompson-Clark said.

“They’re supposed to last three to five minutes,” Dominique Clark added.

Clark was in Afghanistan in November 2011 when Jayda had her first seizure - which lasted two and a half hours.

“We were at the hospital and they could not stop it,” Thompson-Clark said.

“They finally got it to stop, and when she woke up she could not walk and she could not talk for three days. When she tried to eat, the spoon just fell out of her hands. She had no use of her muscles.”

Thompson-Clark said doctors weren’t able to determine why she went into labor at 26 weeks of her pregnancy, but she ran into one of her nurses seven years later who was able to give her insight to what Sept. 20, 2007, was like.

“She remembered me,” Thompson-Clark said. “She remembered me screaming for my mom. She said they were preparing for two dead babies and a dead mom.”

The care she and her children received from Le Bonheur is why Thompson-Clark is now a nurse.

“She’s a great nurse, does wonderful,” Livingston said.

Charity and Dominique have another child, 14-month-old healthy Kendyll Clark, who was born Oct. 16, 2013.

Thompson-Clark said Jayda remains a constant reminder of God’s work.

“I call her my little miracle baby.”

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