Monday, March 4, 2013

Ella Grace's Story (so far): Always in the Light of Christ

Well, after much planning, stressing and waiting - Ella Grace Vogel is finally at home with us!

She is doing great.  We go see the pediatrician tomorrow for updated weights and measures, but in the meantime: she was born on February 21st, 2013 at 8:13 pm at the Women's Hospital of Texas in Houston.  She weighed 6 pounds even and was 18 inches long.  The smallest of the girls at birth, in length anyways, but no doubt, she will soon do what her sisters did - which is chub up!

Her first week of life was quite an adventure, one Dave and I never experienced before.  We have friends that have gone through it, so we could sympathize with how tough it was, but never could we empathize.  To say the least - now we can.

Here is how everything went down: 

2/21/13, Thursday - I went into labor.  No good reason why, although I hear some of the moms at the Book Fair have some interesting theories.  My OB for sixteen years delivers her and I got to hold her for a minute.  The nurse noticed she had some breathing issues, but before they admitted her to the NICU, Dave took her to see the family, including her mooning big sisters. 

2/22/13, Friday - She was doing ok on nasal canula in Level 3 NICU.  They had her on positive pressure.  This is the day we'd scheduled for her to be born if we'd been in Italy.  We got to see her and take pictures.  Here's my favorite:
2/23/13, Saturday - She developed a pneumo-thorax (hole in her lung) partly due to the positive pressure from the oxygen canula but mostly due to her immature lungs.  She was placed in a hood (Nats calls it her 'space helmet') and she remained in Level 3.  I came to understand this is a very risky situation, but not one the doctors are unfamiliar with.  They reassured us, saying we should be concerned but not in fear for her life.  It was very scary nonetheless.  I came off my epidural early and pay dearly for it later that evening.  Thank the Lord for the great nurse I had who woke me up every 2 hours with alternating doses of meds that got it under control so I could think rationally again.

2/24/13, Sunday - After a very long day, we found out at 5 pm her pneumo-thorax completely resolved, there was no more sign of it!  We rejoiced!  She stayed in her space helmet and still just as precious as when I first saw her.  I was discharged.  It was so sad to go home without her.  :(

2/25/13, Monday - She was doing much better and I spent all morning with her in NICU.  She was taken off vent hood and placed again on nasal canula with no pressure and they started weaning down her oxygen. 

2/26/13, Tuesday - We got the news before I even made it to the NICU that she was being moved to Level 2!  Her feed volume was increased and they continued the oxygen weaning process.  I got to hold her for the first time since she was minutes old.  Also, I got to change a diaper, but I didn't do it very well (must be out of practice!)

2/27/13, Wednesday - (Her original target Houston birth date)  Her feed volume was upped again, while her oxygen was lowered.  They'd had her off the warmer but she couldn't maintain her body temp, so they put her back on it.  I got to change 2 diapers this time, hold her and Dave got to hold her for the first time.
2/28/13, Thursday - It was the slowest of all I'd spent with her in the NICU, until the very last hour.  It was a very true test of my patience!  I got to feed her for the first time and so did Dave.  She did great!  Later that night, I called to be told the doctor had ordered her off the oxygen and the warmer.  VERY exciting news because both were requirements to go home.  

3/1/13, Friday - This was the day I'd held in my heart because before I was discharged from the hospital, I had a feeling this was when she was coming home.  I wavered in my belief all week.  Early that morning I called the NICU to find she had maintained her O2 levels on her own all night, done great with her feeds and maintained her body temp.  I told Dave he might need to put the car seat in just in case.  When I got to the NICU (thanks to my dear friend Kay, who gave Dave a break from trucking me back and forth), the doctor found me.  Her exact words were "She is doing so well and this is not a place you want to hang out in.  We want to get her home with you."

Best words I've ever heard.  Another test as the discharge process can be long and arduous (which we knew from Sophia's treatment), but we finally got her and showed up at school just in time to pick up the girls and show them sister was home!  

So began our real journey as a family of five.  Our realities finally combined.  Dave and I got everything situated for her and dusted off our newborn skills.  She came home on a schedule, which really helped us get through the first night (and so far the next 2). She is a great sleeper too - making just enough noise to make me comfortable to go to sleep, but not enough that I can't sleep.  She is an excellent baby (as if there were any doubt, she has two great role models for that!)

The last 3 months have been so stressful, so painful and so full of doubt.  All the decisions we had to make, without knowing the outcome or if it was even the right one.  I understand now what it means in Isaiah 30:21: 

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying "This is the way; walk in it."

We've been led and are right where we need to be.  I have been sad about this part of our journey, that this was asked of our family after all we've been through.  I see now it was worth it for her.  Not that I think God couldn't have healed her in Italy, but that would be an added level of difficulty I believe God spared us.  God knew she would need the care she did and I am humbled that what felt like the dark wasn't.

We were walking in the light of Christ the entire time.

I read the words of one of my favorite heroes of the faith today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  They seem so appropriate now:

I believe that nothing that happens to me is meaningless, and that it is good for us all that it should be so, even it if runs counter to our own wishes.  As I see it, I'm here for some purpose, and I only hope I may fulfill it.  

I have said all along that Ella Grace was God's idea.  She wasn't in our "family plan" but God knew better and I'm so glad He is in control.  At 11 days old, she has already touched so many of you, through your prayers and concern for her.  I can only imagine, like my other two sweet girls, God has big plans for her as she grows up.  I am content to hold her for now, knowing that one day He will call her beyond the reach of my arms for the good of His Kingdom.  He gave her to us to continue to show us how close He is, how much He loves us.  

We have been blessed in so many ways.  My prayer is only that I fulfill my purpose in all of this, whether as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, writer - whatever.  I pray that others will be touched by our story, knowing God is real, He loves them and that they are filled with a desire to know Him.  

We are every grateful for your prayers and love that helped bring our baby doll to health and home to us. Stay tuned.  There are more Vogel Family Adventures coming!


Janice and James said...

Tears of joy and praise to our precious Lord! Great is His faithfulness. Love and continued prayers!!

In God's UNFAILING Love,

Gindi said...

Just love reading this all over again sweet friend. Can't wait to hang out with all 5 of you!