Then and Now: Sydney's Tiny Beginnings

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Riley kid Sydney Moss

Sydney Moss is an energetic, academically motivated and athletically determined 11-year-old. She loves reading, playing softball and competing with her school’s robotics team.

Oh, and she’s tall. Really tall. 

“She is the tallest in her class,” said her father, Richard Moss. “Surprisingly, she is taller than me!” her mom Stefanie Moss added with a laugh. Sydney has surprised a lot of people in her life, given her tiny beginnings. 

In the spring of 2007, Stefanie was hospitalized and placed on bed rest while only halfway through her pregnancy with Sydney. Doctors told the Indianapolis couple that their daughter would arrive very early, and the neonatology team from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health stepped in. “It was a very scary time, but the Riley team came in and calmed our fears,” said Stefanie. 

At 25 weeks’ gestation, Stefanie’s water broke and a tiny Sydney came into the world at two pounds, four ounces. “The Riley team was right there and took her immediately,” Richard said. In her earliest days, Sydney was cared for around the clock in the Riley Newborn Intensive Care Unit. “The nurses were absolutely amazing. Above and beyond in every way,” said Richard. Stefanie says the Riley specialists were exactly who their family needed during a scary time. “They were very knowledgeable about our situation and advised us to place the baby on a c-pap instead of a ventilator like we thought she needed.” 

Stefanie fought tears as she described the compassion and support the Riley team provided to her family. “They cared for Sydney, obviously, but they knew how to care for us as well. They held our hands and told us what we needed to do. They were with us every step of the way. I would never have wanted to go through this without Riley.” After 10 days at Riley, Sydney moved back to the hospital where she was born to continue growing bigger and stronger. After she went home, she visited Riley doctors frequently for her first year. 

Today, this once-tiny preemie is a healthy, thriving pre-teen and her family could not be more grateful. Sydney still visits Riley Pediatric Endocrinologist Emily Walvoord, M.D., each year to check on her thyroid―the only lasting issue from her early birth. “I feel very thankful for Riley,” said the seventh grader. “I hope my story inspires others. I am so thankful Riley is here. They saved my life.”

The Moss family frequently shares their experience with others, and loves advocating for Riley. They are thrilled that the new Riley Maternity and Newborn Health Center is being created, thanks in large part to Riley Children’s Foundation donors, helping more high-risk moms and babies have healthy outcomes like theirs. “It is money well spent,” said Richard. “Riley is an amazing resource for mothers and babies. We are so fortunate that it is in our own backyard.”

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Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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