Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
Raylen Dula, born Nov. 24, 2020, at 33 weeks, has overcome and is still overcoming significant physical hurdles, according to her parents, Randy and Tanya Dula. Raylen, and others like her, are affectionately known as “snowflake babies” because she was adopted as a frozen embryo and, as Tanya noted, “each one is unique, just like snowflakes.”
Because Tanya’s pregnancy was difficult and Raylen was not expected to live, the couple and other people, including doctors, have dubbed Raylen a miracle. At one point just after her birth, Raylen was on 12 different IV pumps, a ventilator, and a special light for jaundice. Her father, Randy, told Macon County News (Feb. 25) “One doctor said I’ve not seen a baby as sick as yours in a very long time. I can give no medical explanation for how she’s survived. He pointed to the ceiling and said God is the only reason.”
The local couple believes that it is through the ongoing prayers of many people that their daughter’s health has continued to improve.
A major milestone was to wean the 6-month-old off of oxygen – a process that began taking place in early May “trialing being off oxygen day and night,” explained Tanya. Since that process proved successful, Raylen’s pulmonologist told the parents that “she is doing well off her oxygen.” Their hope, added Tanya, is that “she will be off all her pulmonary medications by August and she will still be doing okay without oxygen.”
Another health-related milestone will be removal of a feeding tube by year’s end.
“Raylen still has a long way to go with her feedings but we are working on trying to improve on them,” said Tanya. “She is still being bottle fed and what she does not take by bottle she is fed through her feeding tube.”
Despite physical challenges due to her precarious beginnings, Raylen proved to be a fighter even while developing in Tanya’s womb. When doctors suggested the pregnancy be terminated due to foreseeable complications, the couple declined and Tanya commented in February, “As long as her heart was beating , she was fighting and we were going to fight for her.”
Her mother said Raylen not only has a fighting spirit but a happy nature as well. Despite also needing physical therapy for her feet, which requires braces to help straighten them, “Raylen loves the characters Nemo and Dori [from the Disney movie “Finding Nemo”] so she has them on her new foot braces.”