Today was a banner day for Clara, and therefore for us. We had heard some rumblings early this morning that they may want to extubate today, but then the respiratory therapist said her chest x-ray looked a little wet and that we might have to postpone. I was of course hopeful and excited that it was a possibility, but also understanding that it may not happen and willing to be patient and wait for the right timing. But when I went to rounds this morning, they were ready to give it a shot. Things moved quickly. It was about 11:30 at that point and I had an hour or so to eat lunch and pump before they wanted to extubate. Extubation went well. Clara is now breathing all on her own, and only receiving some oxygen through her nasal cannulas. Other than that, her lungs are doing all the work and they are doing it well. I was expecting to hear a cry right away, but it took a few hours before Clara really found her voice. She was so unhappy the hour or so before extubation... they had turned the pressures off on her ventilator and I think she was just really, really, really ready to be done with that tube. As soon as it was out, she settled down quickly and all her numbers began to return to normal. In fact, her post-extubation blood gas was one of the best she's had! She likes being free.
After the excitement of mid-day, Robert and I stepped out for a late celebratory lunch and gave Clara some time to sleep and adjust to her new nasal cannulas (through which she is receiving oxygen). When we got back to the hospital, we held her for the first time. She cried her new hoarse cry for just a moment as we lifted her out of her bed and into my arms. Then, she stopped crying and our eyes just locked on each others' for a few moments. After a little bit of rocking, she soon fell asleep. Words cannot describe the fullness of my heart. I have loved deeply, but never have I experienced the kind of love I have for Clara. A parent's love is really something special and after a long 37 day wait, having her in my arms made my heart feel like it would truly explode. There is nothing better. Nothing.
I held her for a few minutes and then handed her off to Robert for his turn. (I had to go pump, of course.) When I came back, I took her back again and Mom and Robert left the hospital. I held her for almost two hours this evening, all alone, while she slept. What precious, sacred moments those were. We are so thankful that she was happy, peaceful and healthy in our arms and are looking forward to the many, many more hours that she will spend there.
I could write more, but pictures speak louder than words, right? So here are the first images of Clara in her parents' arms. I know I'm posting way too many, but I'm not feeling very discerning (and if you can believe it, this is really just a fraction of what we took....)
|Clara after extubation. No more breathing tube!|
|Check out my new nasal cannula!|
|Melissa hands a crying baby over...|
|First moment in Mama's arms|
|Fussy at first....|
|But not interested in that paci in my left hand....|
|And settled and happy at last. Both of us.|
|Wrapping up in her special hand-knitted prayer blanket|
|Sometimes you get to open a birthday present early..|
|Good things come in small packages|
|In Daddy's arms|
Here are a few of the wonderful staff in the NICU who have loved Clara well and helped give her the support she needed to make it to today!
|Dr. Welch, this week's neonatalogist attending who has helped Clara make the big steps this week to get here today!|
Here's a video of her sweet new cry. It is the most beautiful sound:
I think before today I have known in my head that she would overcome this and that we would get to bring her home. I have certainly believed it in my heart. But I have not known it in my heart until today. There was something about actually having her in my arms that gave me a deeper peace than I have had the past 37 days and a truer sense of certainty about her fight. She will win. This story is going to have a happy ending.
I don’t know why. I believe that it is because of the thousands (millions?) of prayers that are being said on her behalf. I truly do believe that it is those prayers that have saved her life. But I also know that is not the way that prayer works. We don’t just ask for things from God and then get them. He can (and does) say no to things that people ask for all the time. Good, faithful, deserving people. People with much more trust and faith and goodness than we have. So, I struggle with trying to understand why God is answering these prayers in the affirmative. I remain grateful and humbled. We have seen God answer specific prayers over and over and over again in Clara’s life. Day after day, the things we ask for you to pray for are coming true. Right down to the chance to hold her today, which I know so many of you have been praying fervently for. I can’t say enough how thankful I am to you for praying those prayers and to God for answering them. But I still don’t understand: “why us?” There are lots of other people out there suffering who are not getting the answers they are praying for. I don’t understand why we are. But all I know to do is continue praying with hopeful expectation and continuing praising God and making sure that you all continue to hear us say:
TO GOD BE THE GLORY.Today, forever and always. No matter the circumstances. To God be the glory.