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More challenges for Amboy family and premature baby

Father: 'It's taking a toll on both of us'

Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:45 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/
Kennedi Smothers yawns while her mother, Kelsey, holds her. Smothers, who arrived 7 weeks premature to save her mother's life, has since suffered seizures. "It's pretty tough on both of us," her father, Justin, said. "It's taking a toll on both of us. I hate not being there with my daughter, but I also hate having bill collectors calling me."
(Alex T. Paschal/
Kennedi Smothers has been having seizures and has had to see a host of doctors.
(Alex T. Paschal/
Justin Smothers smiles as he looks at his wife, Kelsey, and daughter, Kennedi. Justin has had to take as much work as he can in order to pay the family's rising bills.
(Alex T. Paschal/
Kennedi Smothers, 3 months, is fed by her mom, Kelsey, on Friday afternoon. Three months of doctors and hospital visits have taken a toll on the young family.

AMBOY – Kennedi Smothers' first 3 months have been hard on her and her parents.

She was born on Dec. 31 at KSB Hospital in Dixon. Her parents, Kelsey and Justin Smothers, both of Amboy, were expecting a Valentine's Day baby.

Kennedi was born 7 weeks premature during emergency cesarean section surgery to save her mother’s life. Kelsey had eclampsia, a condition that can occur late in a pregnancy and can be fatal.

The only cure is to give birth.

Kennedi and Kelsey spent nearly 2 weeks in the hospital, during which Justin worked and then drove to Dixon to be with his wife and daughter.

Despite the events surrounding Kennedi's birth, Kelsey told Sauk Valley Media in January that her daughter was "perfect."

Since then, the family has returned home, but the challenges haven't stopped.

This week, Justin told Sauk Valley Media that the past 2 months had been a "roller-coaster of emotion."

"Everything that went on with Kelsey, that broke me down – possibly losing my wife and my daughter," he said. "That was the hardest thing ever."

On the night of Feb. 27, Kelsey heard Kennedi making noise in her crib, she said, and thought her daughter was just hungry.

But Kennedi was having a seizure, Kelsey said, and she and Justin rushed her to KSB, arriving around 2 a.m. By 11 a.m. the next day, Kelsey said, Kennedi was being transferred to a hospital in Rockford.

After a week in the hospital and plenty of tests, Kennedi is back home and on seizure medication, Kelsey said.

Kelsey has had health issues of her own to deal with since giving birth to Kennedi. She sees a neurologist and still has some memory loss. The hope is that it's only temporary.

Justin has been working nearly 7 days a week since Kennedi was born, he said, but the bills are piling up.

"It's pretty tough on both of us," he said. "It's taking a toll on both of us. I hate not being there with my daughter, but I also hate having bill collectors calling me."

Although they're not comfortable asking for help, Justin and Kelsey let a relative set up an online fundraiser.

"We wouldn't ask for the help if we didn't need it," Kelsey said. "It's been a struggle, and insurance only covers so much. ... We want to make sure Kennedi has everything she needs."

Justin and Kelsey will take Kennedi to a specialist in Wisconsin, they said, to get a second opinion. The Rockford doctors, Kelsey said, think the seizures were caused by acid reflux.

Despite the recent trip to the hospital, Kennedi is doing just as she should be, Kelsey said, adding that at her 1-month checkup she was, developmentally, where a 2-month-old should be.

"It's kind of overwhelming, but right now it's the most rewarding thing ever," Justin said. "I have my wife and daughter in relatively good health."

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