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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Everlasting Ella

Today, our sweet angel, Ella, would have turned 4 years old.

In previous posts, I have mentioned our sweet angels, Ella and Ava, and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you Ella’s story.

( Okay ... here come the tears already. I thought I would get further than this - but no. )
Eric and I aren’t terribly successful when it comes to conceiving. When we found out that we were pregnant, it took me 4 pregnancy tests and a trip to the doctor to believe our good fortune. After 5 positive confirmations, I let myself fall in love. It was easy, we were having a baby !
When I found out that we were expecting a girl, I was even more in love. I fell even a little deeper with the very first kick. We were so excited and so ready to hold our sweet girl in our arms forever.

When I reached my halfway mark into my pregnancy, at 20 weeks, I breathed yet another sigh of relief knowing that I was well on my way to having the child I have always dreamed of. At the beginning of my 26th week, I began developing some unusual symptoms. The first day, my back and neck were painfully tight and sore. Soon after, I developed a headache like no other and my vision began to blur like I was actually losing my sight. After a visit to a chiropractor, I called my ob-gyn. After relaying my symptoms to the nurse over the phone, she suggested that I come in that afternoon. Once I was there, the nurse checked my blood pressure and then again and then asked the doctor to come out and check my blood pressure. Without too much conversation, the doctor very calmly told me that he wanted me to go to the labor and delivery part of the hospital for some more testing. After some more questioning on my part, he told me that he had some concern that my blood pressure was "pretty high." I do respect the fact that he didn’t want to freak me out, but my blood pressure was something like 200/ 120. "Pretty high."

When I checked myself into the L/B unit, the nurse told me that she wouldn’t have guessed that I was the one who was presenting with pre-eclampsia due to the fact that I wasn’t swollen and didn’t appear very obviously pregnant. Eric met me at the hospital shortly after my admittance and we waited patiently to see what was going on. Very soon, I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia. Okay, I was pretty oblivious to what this entailed due to the fact that I had opted to skip those chapters in the pregnancy books because that kind of "stuff" only happens to unhealthy people who don’t take care of themselves. Me, on the other hand, am a different story. I ate healthy, I got plenty of sleep, I didn’t smoke and I didn’t cause myself undue stress - I WAS the healthy one...

I’ll spare you the whirlwind of what was my next 2 days, laying on my left side and hooked to 78 tubes, plugs and wires while being pumped full of brain melting, nauseating drugs. We learned that we were out of time and staying pregnant for any longer wasn’t an option. I would not only be risking my life but the precious life of our baby girl. Our families were with us as they had rushed into town the day after I was admitted, and we all hoped and prayed for the best outcome possible for all of us.

At 26 weeks, an emergency c-section was scheduled and we welcomed Ella Rose into the world with raw emotion and intense concern. My brain was still hot and shaking full of magnesium sulfate and I just remember feeling scared to death of letting myself fall in love with her too much. Ella was immediately taken to the NICU where Eric and our family stayed at her side, tearfully learning about her condition and praying for a miracle. Hours later, he joined me at my bedside with 2 polaroids of our tiny girl. He and the nurses described what she looked like, what she was hooked up to and the critical concern of her severe prematurity. It was 2 days later that I was able to sit upright and my blood pressure was maintained at a new high, which the nurses finally stopped panicking over - it just stayed high. This was my golden ticket into getting to see my beautiful baby girl in the NICU.

I remained in the hospital for 4 more days until I was released on tons of new meds and persistent blurred vision. In fact, my eyesight was so poor that I was convinced that I was going blind, never to see clearly again. (This lasted nearly 4 weeks for someone who previously had 20/20 vision !) Eric and I went to the NICU everyday to see our sweet girl and consult with an array of medical professionals. Ella, our 1.11 ounce beauty with a teensy pink bow in her hair everyday. We were only able to touch her with gloved hands through the porthole window of her isolette. We were instructed that it was best only to touch her, not to stroke or try to stimulate her since her nervous system was so fragile. She was hooked to an oscillator ( more intense than a ventilator ) and a multitude of high tech machinery. While in the NICU, she endured many surgeries and procedures. Every last one of them, more complicated than the first.

We (Ella and our entire family) rode a heartbreaking roller coaster of tearful emotions. She had more than her share of bad days and her good days were only "good" by comparison. Ella lived 3 weeks in her isolette in the NICU surrounded by her family who fell in love with her, despite the impending heartache, and devoted nurses who cared for her. We were finally able to hold our precious angel in our arms and whisper our prayers of love and devotion into her tiny ears. I know for a fact, that she heard every word.

It’s not worth my while sharing how any one of us felt after losing Ella. It’s just not possible to
put into words.

So, this is the day, 4 years ago, that we welcomed our sweet baby into our hearts where she will remain forever.

2 Welcome Comments:

Giselle said...

I cannot imagine your sorrow. I know just from watching my sister how much she touched people's lives in the few weeks she was here.

Thanks for sharing Ella's story.

Grandma H. said...

Even though I wish this memory to be gone forever, it is permanently burned into my mind. We lost our wonderful, beautiful, first grandchild and almost lost our precious daughter. We were all one big emotional mess, being tossed from fear to hope to sadness. But through all those tears, I did learn several things. I learned that my son-in-law is a terrific man and that we are so lucky that our daughter married him. I learned that his parents are wonderful people. And I learned that I have great faith in God. Sometimes it takes awhile, but God answers all our prayers in His own special way.The answer to our prayers was Elaina.