When Lee and Kassy Hovenga took their newborn daughter McKenna to her first softball game last month, they were hoping to make pleasant family memories.
McKenna was only seven weeks old, and the game was her first public outing besides quick trips to the grocery store.
Kassy was planning to watch Lee’s game later that night with her new daughter cradled in her arms.
But before she had the chance, disaster struck.
Lee and Kassy were both busy setting up her breast-feeding cover when the crowd called that a stray ball was incoming.
The ball bounced off Kassy’s arm, but she didn’t pay any notice because seconds later McKenna started crying.
A nasty bump was growing on the baby’s head, and the Hovengas rushed to the ER.
The couple from the tiny town of Shell Rock, Iowa raced to the nearby Waverly Health Center. But doctors there sent McKenna to the Mayo Clinic for intensive care straight away.
Baby McKenna had suffered a skull fracture and brain bleeds, she was rocked by seizures and needed round-the-clock monitoring.
After the initial shock and worry, good news began to trickle in slowly about McKenna’s condition.
She gradually regained consciousness, and spent most of her time in the hospital sleeping.
But seizures still struck McKenna multiple times a day.
On a Facebook page set up by the Hovengas called Healing for McKenna, supportive messages poured in nonstop from friends, family, and total strangers.
“I do not like my phone blowing up,” Lee wrote, “but opening Facebook and getting a new notification of hope and prayer every half second is very heart warming.”
“I never truly believed in the power of prayer,” Kassy wrote.
“But after posting about McKenna, within 20 mins we started getting nothing but good news! We are blessed by everyone and everything that everyone is doing for us.”
After a very tense month in the hospital, doctors have finally discharged baby McKenna.
While there may be lingering brain damage from the softball – which could affect McKenna’s vision and motor skills – doctors say children’s brains recover very quickly from these types of accidents.
Kassy and Lee thanked their legions of online supporters as they took their baby home just after she turned three months old.
They promised to keep sharing McKenna’s story on a new website, but also warned that an accident like hers could happen to anyone.
“Everybody give your babies an extra kiss and hug tonight,” Kassy wrote.
“You NEVER know if your whole life will flip upside down in literally a blink of an eye.”