Tuesday, December 29, 2009

About time for an update!!!

Not sure where my time goes...but I found a little bit of time for an update. Grace is doing so well! She is working so hard with her therapists on holding her head up and communication. They have been doing a lot of supported sitting with her as well as tummy time. She really enjoys sitting and looking around...it's a whole new view when you’re not laying on the floor! She is also working on getting used to her stander. She spends only about 15 minutes at a time in it, but this is a big improvement because she used to hate it! As for communication, Grace has really made some progress. She responds with big smiles to let us know that she thinks something is funny or that she likes it. This melts mommy and daddy's heart every single time (we waited a long time for those smiles!) Her speech therapist is also working on getting Grace to show us when she wants something. This has been pretty amazing. If we stop doing something she likes and she wants more, Grace will kick her legs and sometimes "coo" or make a noise to let us know she wants more. We have also been working on the sign for mommy, daddy, more, and all done. Not sure if she will ever use signing as a form of communication, but it doesn’t hurt to try!

As far as her health goes...her kidneys remain stable, and her blood work is down to every other month! We got some great news from her heart Dr., her last ECHO showed that both of her holes in her heart are now closed! He told us that Grace's heart is no longer a concern, and we no longer have to see him. One less Dr, it was a very great day! Otherwise Grace has been pretty healthy, just colds that we pray don't turn into something bigger. Grace is growing and getting heavier everyday! She now weighs 20 lbs 15 oz! In the 65th percentile for her weight!

Christmas was a lot of fun. Grace LOVES all of the lights. She enjoys doing tummy time in front of the tree, and I have to say, she may be sad when we take it down! She got some new toys that she loves...a monkey from her cousin, that we named Marty the Monkey, a sing along stage from Grandma Kathy, and lots of clothes from Grandma Deb. It has been so nice being home with daddy and Grace this week! Lots of time cuddling with her, it is wonderful. Grace will also be going on her first trip to Wisconsin Dells! We are taking her to Great Wolf Lodge, I hope she likes the water. It should be lots of fun!

Hoping the new year brings more great news for Grace…she is such an amazing girl and has come so far in the last year. We are so proud of her!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

Wow, it has been a long time since I have updated! Grace has been doing well and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a healthy winter!

Halloween was very exciting this year, because we were home, and not trick or treating in the hospital like last year! We spent the night with family, which was very nice. Grace enjoyed listening and watching her cousin Mason. He is very funny! We watched Toy Story 2, and Grace watched almost the whole movie!

Of course Grace was a pretty pink princess...no better costume for her! Here are some pictues of all of the fun!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Grace is ONE!

Hi Everyone,
Today is Grace's first birthday. We wanted to thank all of you for sharing in her life...it has been an amazing journey so far! Your thoughts and prayers have been so comforting. We wanted to share these two things, we have both of them hanging on our fridge. Grace is one amazing little girl, we are so lucky to have her in our lives!

"Why I was Born" Author Unknown...

I was born to learn and love like everyone else. My body is imperfect, but my spirit needs no help. I was born to give to you, with open hand and heart. I'm the strongest soul you know, though I don't look the part.
I was born to teach you hope, faith, and patience, too. I came because no one else can do what I do. So the next time you think of me as broken, damaged, torn, know that I am here to lift you up...
That's why I was born.

by Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Thanks for all your support, love, and prayers,
Amanda, Beau, and Grace

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1 year ago...

It was one year ago today, I was in the hospital on bedrest...it had been 2 weeks so far. We got a phone call at 7am from my doctor asking if Beau was with me. She said she wanted to come down and talk to us about the amnio results. We knew right away that something was very wrong. We waited and waited, and while were were waiting we were looking through pregnancy books trying to figure out what it could be. Nothing could have prepared us for what she was about to tell us about our baby girl. She came in after a long time, with the genetics counselor and my nurse (who was amazing). They started talking and it seemed like forever before they said what was wrong......."Your baby has something very wrong, she is mentally retarded..." That was it I don't remember hearing much else. The worst possible thing was just said...the "R" word. Then I remember, "she may not walk, talk, or ever feed herself. She has Emanuel Syndrome. We have never heard of this before, it is very rare." She handed us some sheets she printed of the internet...yes they didn't have any handouts from the hospital nothing...just from the internet.

They told me I could go home until Grace was born. They didn't need me to stay at the hospital, they wanted me to be with my family at home. The C-Section that was planned that same week was canceled. Both my doctors felt it was important to let my body go into labor naturally, so Grace and I both had the best chance, even though she was breech. Really I wanted to keep the C-Section...lets just get her out, I needed to hold her to see if she would be ok, no more waiting around!

Our families came to the hospital and we packed our things up and left. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. At this point we really didn't even know if Grace would be born alive, or would live long after birth. To be honest, after all we were told we didn't know if we wanted her to be ok after she was born, we didn't want her to have to suffer and have a hard life. So many emotions went through our head. We tried to look information up on the internet, but it was all to much, to horrible to imagine our baby not being healthy. It was like loosing a baby, a baby who was supposed to be healthy and would grow up talking and walking...all of the things kids are supposed to do. We had some difficult decisions to make.

We had a meeting with the doctors at the hospital where Grace would be born. We had to make sure everyone knew what was going on and what we wanted during my labor and after Grace was born. We asked not to have me monitored during labor, we didn't want to know if Grace didn't have a heartbeat, that would be way to hard to handle during that time. We also asked that she not be resuscitated or a breathing tube be placed if she was not breathing on her own. I felt like a horrible mother saying these things, it was a very difficult decision for Beau and I to make.

I was so worried about giving birth because Grace was breech, coming out butt first. But she was small and both of my doctors thought it would be best for me, and an easier recovery with all that I was going through. Two weeks later, Grace decided to maker her entrance. It was an exciting but scary time in the delivery room. I was pretty quiet, worried about the birth and what would happen after with Grace.

All went well, Grace was born, I had no complications and it was great! She was so pale and not responding right away. They cleaned her up and she opened her eyes so big. She needed to be taken to the NICU, but was breathing on her own.

There were many tests done and yes there were things that were wrong, but I had my little girl...and that is all that mattered.

It was all very hard, a nightmare, something I would never wish upon anyone. But the truth is, I would do it all again. In a second. I would go through all of the hurt and pain to have my Grace. She is truly amazing!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Can't Life Just be Easy...

Not sure what is going on with me these past few days, I just find myself so sad. As Grace gets closer to her first birthday I can't help but look back at the last year and think of where we were a year ago. I was going through an up and down pregnancy, getting bad news weekly it seemed. Then to find out Grace would not be born healthy...it was a nightmare. But that was only the beginning...we spent months at her bedside wondering if she would be strong enough to pull through all of the crap she had to go through. Finally at two months old, she came home, and what should have been a wonderful day was not, because I was so scared...how would we do all of this...take care of her all by ourselves. Feeding tubes, more than 8 different meds...and if that wasn't enough stress, Grace had terrible colic. She cried day and night non stop, it was not a fun beginning. But the hardest thing is not any of the medical things...it's what comes with the idea of turning one. Walking, talking, sippy cups...and Grace is far from this. Yes, I know that she may never do some of the things that other kids can do, but that just doesn't make it any easier. Things are still not easy today, but are much better, 100 times better. Grace is smiling and "talking" now more than she is crying. She is working so hard on holding her head up. You just can't help but stare at her in amazement and smile. We enjoy all that she can do and love her so much. So sorry I went on and on, but I feel better now. Sometimes I just with life could be easier...not for me, but for my sweet Grace.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

10 Months Old Already!

Grace is now 10 months old, we just can't believe how fast time has gone. She is getting so big and has done so many new things in the last month. She is now about 18pounds, getting so heavy. Everyone comments on her rolls. We love them! Grace's 9th month has definitely been the best yet. She has started eating baby food by mouth. Even though she doesn't take much, she does a great job with it. She loves sweet potatoes the best! Grace lifted her head for the first time during tummy time. She likes tummy time a lot more too. We hope it won't be long until she has more head control. Grace has been working very hard on keeping her head up. She has become a much better sleeper, only waking once on a good night. She has also become a fan of the rocking chair, and we don't have to bounce her so often on the exercise ball (Thank God!) No teeth yet, but it won't be long now. We can see one on the top and one on the bottom. This teething thing has not been fun for Grace or mom and dad. Her reflux seems worse because she is drooling more, which really sucks. I feel so bad for her when she is throwing up...she hates it! She definitely recognizes her mom and dad. She will watch us when we walk by and smile when we do something funny. This has been one of the most exciting things. It is so nice to see her smiling so much more. We are so excited and proud of all the progress Grace is making. We look forward to celebrating many more new things that Grace will be able to do...

Grace, you are such a fighter. You work so hard and have come so far. We love you baby girl!
Mommy and Daddy

A fun 4th

We had a fun 4th of July weekend. We went to Grace's first parade...she only lasted about 5 minutes and then fell asleep. We went over to our neighbors for a cookout. We also went up to Lake George camping at my parents trailer. Grace had her first dip in the lake and enjoyed it for a little while.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grace's Morning Talk...So Happy

Grace was having a lot of fun this morning...(Pause the music below to watch)

View this montage created at One True Media
Grace's morning talk...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fun in the Sun

Today we went to a friend's pool. It was Grace's first pool experience and she loved it! We put her in her raft and she spent most of the time just floating around. By the end of the day she was pretty tired. I can't wait to take her swimming again soon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Look at me...two firsts!

It has been an amazing week for Grace...today being the most exciting! I had my first taste of food last week...rice cereal, sweet potatoes, peas, and applesauce. I have been eating a little each day. Mom and Dad are so excited and so surprised with how well I am doing so far. We will just take it slow. I'm not eating a lot, but enjoy tasting new things!

Today I had my PT and Speech therapy. I worked on rolling over with a lot of help and tummy time. I am really enjoying tummy time now. My PT, Sue put my arms up a little closer to my body than I am used to...and then I did it...I held my head up for the first time! My mom and dad were so excited. I didn't just do it once...I did it 3 times and held it up for awhile! So exciting! My therapists also brought me a new chair to use, and I love it.

What a day! We are so proud of you Grace!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

An Exciting Dr. Appt...

Today we took Grace to her renal appointment, to check in with her doctor about her kidneys. Her doctor was very pleased with how she is doing...she is growing and gaining weight which is very important for Grace. She now weighs 16 lbs 8 ozs. This is great considering that every time she gets a cold (which seems like every other week) she can't seem to hold down her food. Her kidneys are also stable and have been for many months now. They are still only functioning at 25 %, but they are stable! Her doctor also gave us the OK to start some solid foods with her. We just have to record what she eats and be careful not to give her foods with too much potassium. I am so excited, I can hardly wait to get home and try some cereal with her! We were not sure Grace would be able to have any solid foods because of her renal failure and strict diet, so we were so happy to get the go ahead! I don't have my hopes too high, as Grace does not do well with things her her mouth (bottle, nuk...) she tends to gag, so we will just start very slow and see how she does! Also, her Dr. told us that kids with renal failure tend to not be very good eaters and not very good at taking things orally. This may be true for Grace, but I am just excited to try, and if it doesn't work...Oh Well! I will let you all know how it goes!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Article about Grace

This article was written about Grace!


'Hope for Grace' a hit - Lifestyle

'Hope for Grace' a hit - Lifestyle

Here is an article about the benefit that UW-Whitewater had for Grace. We appreciate all that they have done for our family!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Busy Busy

No time to blog lately, but finally a little time while the little lady is sleeping! We have had an exciting couple of weeks. UW-Whitewater had a sand volleyball tournament benefit for Grace "Hope for Grace". It was a lot of fun and it was a beautiful day! We appreciate all of their support!

Grace also got her first ear infection. She had tubes put in her ears when she was two weeks old and they have been working great until now. She is not feeling well and not getting much sleep at all. I am hoping the meds kick in soon and hopefully in a couple of days things will be better.

Grace is getting her hearing aid on Thursday and I am so excited. I hope she doesn't hate it! I also hope it makes a difference for her.

Today Grace had her first trip to Lake George. My parents have a trailer on the lake there. I grew up with my parents taking me there every weekend, starting when I was only a week old! It was a special day taking Grace there today. Hopefully it will warm up soon and then we will be able to go swimming and for a walk!

Grace will be 8 months old soon, where does time go? Here are some 7 month pictures:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Home and Doing Well

So with lack of sleep I haven't had time to update...We got home from the hospital last Wednesday afternoon. Grace had the worst night ever (sleep wise) last Tuesday night (while still in the hospital)...we got 3-4 hours of sleep, she just couldn't fall asleep! The good news was that she was feeling better, just couldn't sleep. Finally at 6 am she feel asleep. Then I heard her fussing at 7 and couldn't believe she was already up. When I looked a Doctor was by her AHHHHHH! We had had enough so when the pediatrician said, "What do you think, are you ready to go home or do you feel more comfortable staying one more day," the choice was easy...I couldn't get the words out fast enough...HOME! The grandma's stayed through the day on Wednesday so mom could get some sleep, poor dad had to work! The last few nights were much better. We all got some sleep and feel a little better. Grandma Kathy stayed home with Grace the rest of the last week so mom and dad could finally made it back to work.

Last Friday Grace had an appointment to get her ear mold for her hearing aid. We are pretty excited. It was a long wait for medicaid to approve it (over a month of waiting), but now we can finally go ahead with the ear mold. She should get her hearing aid in 2 weeks. Mom got to pick out the color which was fun, pink with pink glitter. I really hope Grace likes pink because she doesn't get much of a say...mom loves it and that is the way it is! We hope it helps and hope she doesn't hate it too much!

Other news...we got the report back from one of Grace's therapist. She did an evaluation before Grace had gotten sick to see the progress she has made since she came home from the hospital in November (she was 2 months old). Developmentally Grace is at 2-3 months, even though she is now 7 1/2 months old. It is hard to hear, but we know that Grace will be behind other kids her age. It is hardest when we are around other babies Grace's age...your mind naturally wonders thinking Grace should be doing those things. But we take one day at a time and are so happy with all of the things that Grace can do. We are so proud of how far she has come since we brought her home at 2 months old in November. We have seen huge improvements in the last 5 months...she is much calmer and is able to calm herself when she is upset. She is also babbling non-stop...she has so many stories to tell. She will give us little smiles and I cry nearly every time she does! She is working at holding her head up and is getting better. And new this week...Grace started tummy time and doesn't mind it too much! YEAH! We are so proud of Grace for all she can do and continue to get excited for every little thing she learns!

So for now...thank you for all of the prayers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Not Home Yet

We have not made it home yet as things got worse before they got better. We had a terrible night; Grace was up crying nonstop. She was so miserable and there was nothing we could do to help her. She finally fell asleep around 5 this morning. We are all so tired. She was coughing nonstop and was just exhausted. This morning was bad too, but now she seems to be doing a little better. She is still on oxygen, but really only needs it when she is sleeping. We are in no rush to leave; we feel more comfortable being here with the Doctors when she is this sick. They have now called this sickness RSV which we hope she never gets again. I told Beau we are not ever going to let anyone near her...maybe that way she will stay healthy :). We are thankful that Grandma Kathy could come up today and take care of Grace while Beau and I got some sleep. We also got to go out for dinner while Grandma and Grandpa Harbort stayed with Grace. Grace had her first tornado drill tonight too...you have got to be kidding all the kids had to go into the hallway. Grace was sleeping until that happened! Hope tonight is better! We have a great nurse tonight and are thankful for that!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not So Happy Easter

Poor Grace...it seems that whenever a holiday comes around we are at the hospital. Halloween, Thanksgiving, a couple weeks before Christmas, and now we find ourselves here again on Easter. The last four days or so Grace has been battling another cold. I spent some time at home last week taking care of her but things got worse on Friday and we took Grace into her pediatrician. He diagnosed her with bronchiolitis. He prescribed steroids to help and said things should get better. But things only got worse and Grace's cough was so bad that she would turn bright red almost purple and not be able to catch her breath. We took her to the ER yesterday and spent 5 hours there until they admitted Grace to the hospital. She got their attention fast when she had a coughing fit and was having a hard time breathing. The first assessment was that Grace had pneumonia. I was terrified knowing that for kids with Emanuel Syndrome...this could be very serious. After coming up to the room different doctors took a look and think that her x-ray does not show pneumonia...they felt it looked more like RSV, because the symptoms get worse before they get better...but that test has come back negative. She had also had the RSV shots to help prevent RSV... So for now she seems to be a little better and the plan is to get her off of the oxygen today and go home tomorrow. The Easter Bunny did bring a basket to the hospital with candy for mom and dad, and a book, sleep sack, and little lamb for Grace. The hospital is always so great! I also hear that the "grandma and grandpa bunny" stopped at our house and left a surprise! Grandma Kathy and Papa Tim came back from their vacation in Florida and brought Grace the cutest princess outfit and sweater...she will look so cute in it! Mom and Dad's friends...Pete and Jenna brought candy for mom and dad and a cute bunny for Grace...so thoughtful! So it has been a pretty nice day after all, but still can't wait to get home and for Gracie to feel better! Hope everyone has a great Easter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hip Hip Horray, I am 7 Months Old Today!

I can't believe that Grace is 7 months old...time flies! To bad she was sick with a cold. Mommy got to stay home with her and is glad she is feeling a little better. Grace is doing a few new things. She is constantly babbling which is so fun to hear and watch! She continues to work on holding up her head...and today she even laid on her tummy and lifted it up for a short time. She used to hate her tummy time! Sleeping has some sort of pattern...usually. She gets to sleep by 10 and then is up by 1am. Awake for an hour or two. Then up around 4 or 5. So we do get some sleep. Car rides are better! She has learned to fall asleep which makes for a much more relaxing ride. Although Grace still loves to bounce on her exercise ball...we don't have to use it much anymore. We usually bounce her to sleep, she still won't fall asleep on her own yet. Grace loves bath time! We are looking forward the weather warming up so that we can take her swimming! Grace is concentrating on people more and watches us when we walk by or walk away from her. She is also starting to act like she wants to roll over...arching her back and raising her arm way up...so cute! Take a look at Grace's new bib mommy got her...so true!

Dear Grace,

You have been through so much in your short little life. You are such a fighter. There have been some very hard days but mommy always said...life gets much better. We are so happy that you are finally able to enjoy being here with us...you are our angel! Happy 7 months! We are so proud of everything that you can do and we love you!


Mommy and Daddy

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Wonderful Weekend

We had a fun weekend. It was Grace's cousin Mason's 1st birthday. We had to drive to Menomonee Falls for the party. If you know Grace, you know that the car is one of her least favorite things. But lately, around 5 months, Grace has changed. She is doing much better on her car rides. But we were still worried because this ride was going to be about an hour and a half! AHHHHHHH. We are excited to report that Grace had no tears...NONE. She slept and looked all around both ways. It was so exciting for us! She sure has come a long way. That was not the only exciting thing that happened! Grace doesn't smile too often, so when she does it is very exciting. Grandma Great caught a smile on her camera! It was so great. What a fun

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring Break for Grace and Mommy

Well it is spring break and we are staying home. Hope to get some rest! We were supposed to spend this week in the hospital for Grace's surgery for her malrotation in her intestines, but we have decided against the surgery since we got some new news about her kidneys...We found out last week that Grace's kidneys are only functioning at 25% and another hit would be a disaster. It was a hard and tearful week for Beau and I, as we know that at some point we may be faced with some very difficult decisions. For now Grace is stable and just needs to continue gaining weight. We enjoy everyday and take one day at a time, trying not to look too far ahead. Grace is 6 and a half months old and now weighs 14 lbs. 6 oz. Getting to be such a big girl! She is much happier and doesn't need so much attention from mom and dad. She enjoys laying on the floor kicking and looking around. She has gotten a lot better at riding in the car and even falls asleep now! Nights are still not too good. It takes a long time to get her to sleep, then when she wakes up, she may be up for 3 hours AHHHHHH. Hopefully this will get better soon! Hope to add some new pictures of the little lady soon!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grace's Story

The day we found out we were pregnant was the happiest day of our lives, but following a very eventful and scary pregnancy we got terrible news. While I was on bed rest at the hospital we found out that our daughter would be born with Emanuel Syndrome. Here is her story...

The Day We Found Out:
Even though I had been in the hospital on bed rest due to low amniotic fluid, it was to be an exciting week. It was Monday and in a few days...Thursday our Doctor had scheduled a C-Section because Grace was breach. We had done an amnio 2 weeks before for some piece of mind because there were so many complications during my pregnancy. During this time is when I was admitted to the hospital, I had low amniotic fluid. The results came back a few days later...everything was normal! We were so relieved, even though our doctor told us the full results wouldn't be in for 2 weeks, but that the tests that come later are problems that are very rare. Well 2 weeks later our doctor called down to our room in the hospital. It was very early around 7am or so. She had asked if Beau had left for work yet, when I said no, she told us she wanted to talk to us about our results. My heart sank. I knew something was wrong and while waiting for the doctor we went through all of my pregnancy books looking for what it might be. It seemed like forever when the doctor and a genetics counselor walked into the room. Our nurse also sat with us. They told us that they tests came back and there was something very wrong. All I remember hearing were the words "your daughter will be mentally retarded (I HATE that word!), may not walk and talk..." They told us most babies that have Emanuel Syndrome miscarry and that they had never seen this before. That there were only 200 or so documented cases. They were not even sure if Grace would survive after she was born. I lost it and the rest is a blur. It was like losing our child we had hoped for. Our dreams of a healthy girl were gone. Your mind goes right to the future...no sports, no college, no hearing your baby say MaMa, or DaDa... It was the worst day of our lives. After the doctors left we just felt lost. They told me I could go home because they now know why I was having so many problems. They wanted us to have time to be with our families. My doctors both (high risk and OBGYN) advised me that even though Grace was breach, she was small and for my health they thought I should have a vaginal birth. The thought of this scared me! I just wanted to keep with the plan of the C-Section. No more waiting around. Let's just have her and find out if she is ok or not. Looking back I am so thankful that I listened to my doctors advice! We went home. Beau and I talked about everything. We tried to look up information, but turned the computer off because it was all too hard to handle. We went through every emotion. We were thankful to find out the news before Grace made her entrance to the world. It gave us time to comprehend what might happen and how our lives were about to change. Looking to our faith, but not knowing what we should pray for, finally we put it in God's hand...whatever his plan...that is what would happen.

She is Here:
Before Grace arrived we spent some time talking to the Genetics doctor, my doctors, the NICU team and I am not sure who else. We came up with a plan, it was the hardest decision Beau and I had ever made in our lives. If Grace was born and needed resuscitation, and had to be on a breathing tube...we just wanted to let her go and comfort her and hold her and enjoy the short amount of time we had. To even say these words crushed me...I felt like a terrible mother and just hoped Grace couldn't hear all that Beau and I had talked about in the past weeks! Otherwise we would just take a day at a time and see what happened. The day came on September 7th. We went into the hospital at around 3pm and Grace made her entrance at 9:21pm. There were so many mixed feelings waiting for her to come. I was excited and terrified. I had her and she came out butt first! She was very pale and not making a sound so they took her right away to do an assessment. I was praying the whole time for her to be ok. I couldn't see what was going on but Beau was with her. It took a second and then I heard a cry. I remember Beau's smile saying, "her eyes are wide open". I was relived. I got to hold her for a shot time before they took her to the NICU. Later the doctors came in to tell us that so far she was doing fine. She was on a very little bit of nasal oxygen and that was it. He told us that she had a very small jaw and a cleft palate, also called Pierre Robin ...they would do more tests in the morning to see what other problems there may be. We got to go down to the NICU to see her and spend a little time with her. It was so sad to leave her there...I just wanted her to come back to the hospital room with us.

The Day of Tests:
The following day Grace was so busy. She had many tests done and to tell you the truth I can't recall them all. The information that we got after the tests were all over was that for the most part all of her organs were fine. She had some heart abnormalities including an ASD, VSD, left Superior Vena Cava. We couldn't believe the good news, FINALLY! Another problem was that Grace was not able to take much for food from her bottle. They ended up putting a NG-Tube in her nose to help her take more. We continued to try and bottle/breast feed her, but it wasn't working. She would also make choking sounds while eating and get very upset. We decided with the doctor's advice to have a G-Tube placed in Grace's stomach. This way we could take her home and continue working on her bottle feeding. The same day we had decided on this surgery, a plastic surgeon came to see Grace's palate and small jaw. At first she wasn't too concerned because she wasn't having any "blue" spells and seemed to be breathing just fine. Then she watched her struggle to take a bottle and a very concerned look came over her face. She told us that she thought Grace should be transferred to the American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, WI right away to have her jaw lengthened.

Grace's Jaw Surgery:
The surgery was called "Mandibular Distraction". During the surgery the doctor would make two small fractures on both sides of Grace's jaw. Then she would put in the distractors (screws that turn to lengthen the jaw). Twice or three times a day for about a week they would turn the screws and Grace's body would make more and more bone...lengthening her jaw. During this time Grace would be in the hospital (about 10 days) and she would be on a ventilator most of the time. It all sounded so awful, she was only 2 weeks old. When she explained what could happen to Grace if she didn't have the surgery, we knew we had to have it done right away. The G-Tube surgery was canceled for now. After two weeks in the NICU Grace was transferred to the PICU at the Children's Hospital and the surgery was scheduled for the next day. The surgery was on September 24, 2008. The surgery did not go as planned! Grace came up from surgery, she was so pale and swollen. We felt so bad. Then the doctor told us what happened. Near the end of the surgery something (we have heard two different stories) happened in the operating room and Grace's heart rate dropped. They had to to CPR to get her heart to beat normally again. When they told us about this the first question was what will be the result from her lack of oxygen during this time? The told us that it was such a short amount of time that they didn't believe there would be any complications. Boy were they wrong!

Grace's Kidneys Shut Down:
In the next few days the doctors realized that Grace was not producing any urine. They told us that during the complication in surgery her kidneys took a hit and were not working. We just had to wait and hope they would come back. It was a long wait. Each day standing by her bed staring at her catheter hoping for pee. A little came but it wasn't enough. Grace's little body was swelling up with fluid due to the toxins that her kidneys could not get rid of. It was horrible. They couldn't wait any longer and hoped that putting her on dialysis would help her kidneys. She went back down to surgery on September 26, 2008 and the doctor put in a catheter that was too big for her...because they didn't have any small enough to fit Grace...babies usually don't need dialysis! We were crushed, scarred. We didn't want her to have to go through all of this and the thought went through our minds of how much is too much for Grace to handle. We couldn't imagine her having to be a dialysis the rest of her life. Luckily Grace only had to be on dialysis for 10 days and they they turned it off and Grace was able to stay stable on her own. Her kidneys are still not healed, but stable for now.

Seizures Start:
As if this wasn't enough, Grace also started having seizures. She had two seizures that we could see, but the others were going on and we didn't even know it. Seizures can be a part of Emanuel Syndrome, but in Grace's case, this too was all due to the surgery and lack of oxygen to her brain. Doctors started seizure meds which seemed to take care of Grace's seizures. Grace had a continuous EEG for about a week. I couldn't wait to get all of the glue out of her hair! When they felt the seizures were under control the took the leads off and did an MRI to look at Grace's brain. We met with the neurologists about her MRI, they found that she has a small cerebellum, which is related to Emanuel Syndrome. He told us that it may or may not cause some motor difficulties...but this is not any new news to us. They also noticed some areas that were injured due to her surgery...they may get better with time and he just wants to watch these. A second MRI would show that Grace had some severe brain damage from surgery and the neurologist was not sure what the outlook would be for her developmentally. So she had two strikes against her; brain damage and Emanuel Syndrome.

The Ventilator Comes out,Then Goes Back In:
After two weeks of a machine breathing for her, the doctors felt Grace was ready to try on her own. The ventilator was scheduled to come out at 11am. It would be the first time in 2 weeks that Beau and I would get to hold her. I couldn't wait. After it was finally out we held her all day, but something didn't seem quite right. She seemed very uncomfortable, but the nurse assured us that it was just because she was not used to breathing on her own. When the doctor came in, he immediately had a concerned look on his face. He had blood drawn and the results were not good. Her oxygen levels in her blood were so bad that the room filled with doctors and nurses to quickly put Grace back on a ventilator. We were standing in the corner of the room. Suddenly alarms were going off and we could see Grace's oxygen dropping. It was the scariest moment...which seemed like forever. We found out that she had a collapsed lung. Finally they got the tube in and she was breathing much easier! We felt lucky we got to hold her for a short time, but now had to wait until she was strong enough to breathe on her own. It was another week and they tried to take the tube out again. This time it was successful, but the doctors put her on C-Pap just to help her out a little. Grace hated it. It wasn't long until I took matters into my own hands and tore that thing right off! She was fine and didn't need any more help! HA, sometimes mother knows best!

Getting Better:
Once Grace was able to breathe on her own things slowly got better. She had one last surgery to place her G-Tube and take out her dialysis catheter. After spending her first 2 months in the hospital, Grace finally got to go home. It was an exciting, but scary day. Grace came home with her G-Tube and used a feeding pump, which we just needed to get used to. She also had a lot of medicine that we had to give her twice a day, including a shot that we still give her once a week. It only took a few days and we had the hang of it!