Piper’s Surgery and Recovery Updates

Hi there. We’ve shared quite a few updates with friends, family, supporters, strangers, etc in our Facebook group these last few weeks. And we’re endlessly thankful for the flood of prayers and love for her and us. It’s seriously been overwhelming in the best way at times. Thankful tears to balance out those heart-hurting tears. That’s a beautiful gift.

Anyway, enough of that. We wanted to also make these updates available to folks not on Facebook or, for whatever reason, in our Facebook group. (Although all are welcome – just message one of us to join. Not posting the link here for spam reasons.)

If all of this is puzzle pieces missing the picture, start by rewinding to these three newsletters:

Healing Baby Elliott – 1

Bringing Baby Elliott Home – 2

The Arrival of the Littlest Elliott – 3

Otherwise without further ado, here’s the history of updates – oldest first. (Note: These are a combo of my and Brian updating.)

February 20th


Piper Update: She will go into surgery in the next few hours. Additional attempts to remove the blockage have been unsuccessful – only removing partial fragments while the primary block remains.
We’re unsure of exact time of surgery as they’ve only made the decision in the last hour. They’ve flagged her surgery as emergency not because of health concerns but because it has to happen during the day (it’s 10am on Friday here) and they want to begin as soon as possible. We’ll camp outside of the surgical room and update as we can.
Until then, prayers. There are still two possible outcomes – one much more favorable. Sparing those details now but that’s where our prayers lie in hoping it’s what God, Piper’s ultimate healer, has planned.


Surgery complete! The doctor thought it went very well. Basically, she cut out 12 cm of Piper’s small intestine that had died due to lack of blood supply. She reconnected the good parts and all is functioning well now. She is back in neonatal ICU with IV nutrition only and is being monitored closely for the next 48 hours for dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, etc. They think she’ll be there for about 3-4 weeks but should be able to start drinking mother’s milk in a week. Thanks so much to everyone for all your prayers! Continue to pray for a complete and quick recovery, no infection or other unwanted side effects, and for God to be known and glorified through all of this. It’s be neat thus far just to see the opportunities we’ve had to talk about God with the nurses and doctors and to give Him glory.

May God always be glorified through Piper’s scars! And may this surgery and her wounds be a testimony to God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy as he continues to pour out His love on us.
Also, we are now back home (Amanda, Brian, and Pax) together for the first time since Monday. We’ll be taking daily visits to the hospital to see Piper for the next few weeks till we can bring her home.

Update: Just got a call from the doctor. Results from her blood test showed infection and a low platelet count. She will receive a blood transfusion tonight and they will re-check her blood in the morning.

February 21st

Blood test was done this morning and things are looking normal again. She’s been intubated (on a machine that breathes for her) since the surgery and will probably be on it for another day or two. We spent some time with her tonight reading Bible stories to her, singing hymns to her, and praying with/for her. Excited to be able to hold her again in a couple days when they take her off the breathing apparatus.

February 23rd

Piper Update: She was taken off pain meds late yesterday. Praise! One step closer to being intubator-free. They’re keeping it in for a while longer in case pain returns and she needs to be administered relief. Oh how we hope not. It’s strong, yucky stuff.
Overall, Piper is still stable. But a few specific areas for prayer: That the bile in her tummy clears up quickly. Typical is 5-10 days post surgery. That the risk of a UTI be squashed. She’s swollen as a result of the catheter and is being watched closely. That the secretion in her lungs will stop. Like NOW. It creates terrible discomfort for her. So hard to see. The nurses suction it out frequently. This also has an impact on how quickly she’ll be allowed to breathe on her own.
And prayer for two of the many nurses we’ll be interacting with in the NICU. One noticed the hymnal we were reading and singing from, and it struck a, albeit brief, conversation about Christ. She’s familiar.

February 24th

Piper Update: She’s continuing to make slow progress. They attempted to take her off the intubator but found her trachea swollen, which made it difficult for her to breathe – like breathing through a straw. They had to put the intubator back in. But Brian got to hold her while they prepared it. He loved that. They’ll try again in the next few days, giving her anti-inflammatory meds prior to.
Bile volume is lessening. Yay for that. Lung secretion is still present. This appears to be her greatest discomfort and requires suctioning dozens and dozens of times per day. Continued prayers, please.
On a sweet note, I was talking with the morning head nurse and she asked Piper’s nickname. (Thais rarely, if ever, go by their real, birth certificate name. Nicknames are customary.) I told her she didn’t yet have one. To which she then did the honors: Nongfa Noy Noy in Thai. It means Little Angel.
Thanks for keeping up with and praying for our little angel.

February 26th

Please pray for Piper today as the doctors think she might have Pneumonia and possibly an infection at the suture site from the operation. She has a lot of secretions in her lungs which are making it difficult for her to breather. They could be caused by the breathing tube or from pneumonia, or both. She’s already on broad-spectrum antibiotics from the surgery so it should take care of both possible infections. The Pneumonia would just cause difficulty breathing and increased secretions and may delay them taking her off the breathing machine and allowing her to breathe on her own. We are really hoping that are able to do that soon so we can hold her again.
Also, things are kind of slow with the healing of her digestive tract and she can’t take mother’s milk until that gets functioning properly.
On a more positive note, our relationship with all the nurses is growing and deepening every day. They continue to ask us about our lives and how we are doing with all that’s going on. We gave them a gift a couple nights ago, which they really appreciated, especially because we gave it to them right after they gave us a bill for some extra things that we weren’t expecting and were visibly frustrated by. We had a great conversation with them last night about God and what we believe about certain things as Christians verses what they believe as Buddhists. One interesting thing was how one nurse responded when I pointed out that what she was saying she believed and was told to do by monks is different from what their books say Buddha actually taught. She told me there is a group of elite monks that make/and change the rules and teachings based on today’s society, culture, and needs. So they really don’t even follow many of the basics of what true Buddhism teaches. She compared these elite monks to the Pope and elite Catholics at the Vatican and how they change what they believe and teach based on the society/culture and how they don’t teach exactly what the Bible says either. And she talked about she learned from National Geographic about how the Catholics at the Vatican have many secrets. I told her that we believe the Bible is the true word of God and that everything in is it true and accurate and that is what we base our beliefs, actions, and life on.
The nurses were also asking about Paxton and what his name means. We told them it means peace. They really liked that and said Thais love peace and strive for inner peace through Buddhism, making merit, etc. We told them we get our peace from God and that’s why we can have peace about Piper even though this is very hard to go through and see her suffer like this. The nurses can tell, especially during times like last night when she isn’t doing well, how much it affects us and hurts us to see her in there. All we want to do is hold her and take her home. But we continue to tell them that despite our hurting we still believe God is good no matter what the outcome is.
When we left they told us that we can talk with them any time we have problems or difficulties. They want to be there for us to support us through these difficult times. We even noticed on their bulletin board they had placed our note from the gift that said how much we appreciate them for taking care of Piper.
So, we started the night sad and frustrated by Piper’s slow progress of healing and difficulty in breathing, but we left with renewed hope in God and renewed energy and vision from talking with the nurses. We left with an attitude of thanksgiving for this rare opportunity to share our lives, the good and the bad, with these ladies and to share Jesus with them. We look forward to visiting with them every evening as we spend time with Piper.

February 27th

Just got a call from the doctor:
Piper is doing much better today. Less secretions in her lungs, surgical wound is looking better, x-ray confirmed no Pneumonia! This means they will be giving her steroids today to reduce swelling in her trachea in hopes that they can extubate her tomorrow and she will be able to breathe on her own. Bile drainage is also a lot less today, which means her intestines are working better every day!
Thanks for your continued prayers and support!
Also pray for Amanda and I as we are both quite exhausted from all this!

February 28th

Piper is off the ventilator and breathing on her own now!!

Piper Update: Expanding on what Brian shared about being off the ventilator, yes, she’s been breathing on her own for about 26 hours now. Yayayay.
In the first few hours after being removed from the breathing apparatus she did still require mouth suctioning for secretion, but when back 7 hours later she went the whole visit sans suctioning.
Her trachea is still a bit swollen but not so much that it interferes with breathing. It’s crucial that she stay calm – not cry – to progress the reduction in swelling. And the nurses are good at soothing her. It’s actually a bit heartbreaking as they’re currently more effective than me, but in a roundabout way is yet another reminder that our babies are not our own as we ultimately entrust them to the Lord.
And her bile volume made a big jump over the course of a day – from 80ml in a 10-hour period to 17ml. And the color is quite light, nearly translucent. Essentially, the lighter the better.
These are huge successes so worth celebrating and praising God. But still a ways to go before she comes home. One week down in this three to four week journey.
Next step is to introduce mother’s milk (her first non-IV nutrition) and carefully monitor bowel function. This could begin anytime between today and a week from now – dependent on bile and a few other factors.
Finally, my mom’s dear friend, Becky, thought up a neat way to remember to pray for Piper throughout the days: ‘Pick Pink and Pray for Piper’! In any situation where you have the opportunity to pick pink (clothing, product packaging, etc) do so and pray for Piper.
And we welcome you to share your ‘Pick Pink and Pray for Piper’ moments, too. It’s sure to be an encouragement.

March 2nd

Piper Update: Three huge happenings in the last 36ish hours.
She started pooping! The nurses said “a lot”. Woot!
She was moved over to the less critical side of the NICU. Woot woot!
She began receiving mother’s milk. 5mls every 4 hours and increasing by 1ml or so each day for the next few days. Woot woot woot!
She looked so good tonight – strong and healthy. And we got to hold her for the whole visit.

March 6th

Piper Update: She’s continuing to improve on the daily. Her milk intake is already up to 250ml/day.
And with just one IV (for supplemental nutrition) her isolette area is pleasantly bare and quiet – no beeps, alarms, hums, lights, suctions or heaters.
Thank you thank you thank you, Lord.
Her skin, too, is healing so beautifully after all the little tears and tugs from medical tape. We love seeing her full face. So sweet.
Tonight the nurse said they plan to take her off that last IV in 2-3 days. Then we can attempt breastfeeding and if all goes well there, she can come home!
I can’t even! That could mean she’s home as early as Tuesday or Wednesday! Prayers for continued healing and successes in these (hopefully) last days of her NICU stay.

March 8th

Piper Update: Amanda is at the hospital right now holding Piper on the couch! That’s huge! That means Piper is off all her tubes, IVs, etc. She is now solely on mother’s milk and Amanda will try to nurse for the first time in the next couple hours when the nurses say it’s okay. Piper still has too much secretion so they have to wait that goes down before she will be discharged. So possibly in a couple more days.

March 10th

Heading to the hospital to pick up baby Piper!! She’s coming home!!!

March 11th

Join Piper’s Coming Home Celebration!

We are having a celebration with fireworks, food, and prayer lanterns here in Chiang Mai tomorrow night (our Thursday night). The fireworks and prayer lanterns will be done at 7:15pm. Please join us wherever you are at that time to pray for Piper and thank God for healing her and bringing her home. Pray over her life, that she may love, serve, and enjoy God every day of her life. Also pray for Amanda and I as parents and Paxton as a big brother.

If you live in AZ it would be 5:15am Thursday morning.
If you live in Texas or somewhere CST it would be 7:15am Thursday morning.
If you live somewhere else you can figure it out based on CST.

Brian, Amanda, Paxton, and Piper