The 16-month-old Marystown toddler also delights in listening to music, hearing nursery rhymes, and playing peek-a-boo and Itsy Bitsy Spider.
However, there was a time – in the months following the child’s birth – that her parents, Alisha Power and Mark Herridge, were uncertain about what the future held for their baby.
Paisley was born on Sept. 23, 2014. Shortly after her birth she was airlifted to the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John’s, where she spent the first two months of her life in the hospital’s neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU), unable to breathe properly on her own.
Paisley was diagnosed with Pierre Robin sequence (PRS) – a name given to a combination of birth defects that usually include an undeveloped lower jaw, small airway and cleft palate.
Over the first year of her life, she has had to go to multiple check-ups and appointments in St. John’s. Her medical team includes a pediatrician, plastic surgeon, speech pathologist, ear nose and throat specialist, dentist and an optometrist.
“When Paisley was younger, she had a special bottle where you’d squeeze the milk into her mouth … now she drinks fine out of sippy cups,” Power said during a recent telephone interview.
Although the toddler has a speech impairment, she has no trouble expressing herself.
“She can say ‘Mom’ and ‘Nan’ and ‘go’ and ‘no’. She calls her dad ‘la la’ because she can’t pronounce her Ds because of her cleft palate,” Power said.
A surgery planned for December 2015 to repair Paisley’s cleft palate was cancelled when the child’s blood work turned up abnormal results, leaving doctors concerned about the amount of bleeding that would take place during the surgery.
Paisley’s blood work has since come back normal and the family is optimistic her surgery will take place within the next few months.
The operation requires up to a 10-day stay in the hospital, and Paisley will have to wear arm restraints for three weeks.
Power will have to take time off work to keep a close eye on her daughter to watch for infection, fistulas and other complications that could develop, the baby’s grandmother Kathy Bonnell wrote on a fundraising page she’s set up to help the family with expenses associated with Paisley’s medical condition.
Power said she and the baby’s father are grateful to all those who have been supporting them, in various ways, since Paisley’s birth.
“We’ve gotten a lot of support from people and from local businesses,” she said. “And people that I don’t even know would come up to me if I was out shopping and tell me that they were going to pray for the baby and they wished us all the best. That really helps, too.”
Bonnell said, via e-mail, that when the family was told Paisley had PRS, they had many questions about what lay ahead for the baby.
“But, now that we are familiar with what PRS is, I would like to tell any parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle of a PRS baby that things do get easier and there is light at the end of that long, dark tunnel. We thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and support they have shown to our little princess,” Bonnell said.