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.
Oh, Chrissy and Robert, no words can do justice. I have tears and joy and so much happiness for you two and for sweet Clara. I will add to your chorus -- Thanks be to God.ReplyDelete
Chrissy, I don't think there are answers to your questions -- at least not ones I am comfortable with. But that you struggle with those questions and can give humble thanks in the midst of the not knowing...that is honorable.
Thank you for sharing Clara with us with such vulnerability each day. We love you all and rejoice with you tonight! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Tears of utter joy for you all! Thanks be to God! Happy birthday, Chrissy!ReplyDelete
With all of my heart, I am completely full of joy, Chrissy and Robert. Words fail me to express how happy I am at this moment. Second only to the birth of my own children, this is up there In the happiest days of my life. Love to both of you and happy birthday Chrissy. It is one you will never forget.ReplyDelete
Chrissy, Robert and Clara - I am overjoyed for you and can not describe how much your love and faithfulness has touched me. I will continue to pray for you and your family and that sweet Clara will make it home soon to see that beautiful nursery you have ready for her! May the Lord continue to hear and answer your prayers. Sincerely, Erika ChoisReplyDelete
Could barely read the post through my tears of joy for you all! Praise God and may the miracles in Clara continue to abound!! ~Stacie JakesReplyDelete
I've looked at every photo that you have posted of beautiful Clara, and I have to say.. there is a contentment to her face today in your arms that I haven't seen before!!! I am overjoyed for you, tears of joy are flowing!! And by the way, I have never heard a sweeter cry than that!!!!!!!! God bless you!ReplyDelete
I found your blog through Brian and Melissa and have been blessed to be a witness. Every night as we pray with our baby before bed we pray for Clara by name. I am so thankful that all of our prayers are being answered.ReplyDelete
As I look at these pictures of you as you hold your sweet girl, I can only imagine what an amazing feeling that is-for both of you.
Congratulations to you and your family. What a day! I remember this one well. Quinn was 38 days before we held her and oh... the relief. It was palpable. It makes everything so worth it. She'll love this time with you, and hold on, because all the good stuff is going to rush up on you like a freight train!ReplyDelete
Chrissy & Robert--ReplyDelete
Bless you for having to wait these 37 days (and then some!) to hold little Clara and hear her precious voice again! I'm so happy for all three of you, and am so thankful there were so many pictures tonight because I was crying so hard I was having a hard time reading your post! Ha!! Happy Birthday Chrissy! You got your birthday wish early, so make a NEW wish tomorrow! So many people have been touched by your story and faith, and I am so blessed to have you all in my life. Love to you all... I KNOW you are sleeping soundly tonight! Tears of joy... tears of joy!
i can not even imagine the joy in your hearts! i had twins in the nicu and they were born at 31weeks and i didnt get to hold them for 7days after they were born and i thought that was horrible and amazing so i can only imagine what it must have been like to hold that sweet baby girl after so long! she is truly a gift. BLESSED your family must be to have such a wonderful present! she is beautiful and you have such a beautiful familyReplyDelete
I was so thrilled to see the pictures of you both holding Clara! I remember the sheer joy, love and wholeness I felt when we held Abel for the first time!!!! Congratulations! I'm so happy for you. Clara and your family will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers:-)ReplyDelete
Mama to Abel Kane
HOME SWEET HOME CLARA MAE........YOU ARE JUST WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.....IN THE ARMS OF YOUR MOMMY AND DADDY! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY YOU THREE ARE!ReplyDelete
Best cry I've had in a long time. Praise God. Happy birthday!ReplyDelete
Praise the Lord!! And I totally agree with Mama, BEAUTIFUL family!!ReplyDelete
I was praying for your birthday present! Motherhood looks good on you, Chrissy. Congratulations to you both.ReplyDelete
Oh oh oh! Chrissy! This is the very best birthday present I can imagine....I am thrilled beyond words. Yes! This is one of the happiest birthdays I'VE ever had too! To God be all the Glory.ReplyDelete
Amazing. Happy birthday Chrissy!!ReplyDelete
Such sweet peace, hope, pure joy, and deepest love are evident on your faces! What a beautiful memory for you to hold onto today to get you through any tough spots ahead. Surely, God is in control and has wonderful plans for Clara's life!!! To not only get to hold Clara a day before your presinal goal of your birthday, Chrissy, but to hear her cry too!!! God of wonders beyond your majesty...you are holy...Amen!!ReplyDelete
p.s. Happy birthday Chrissy. I cannot wait to see you and Clara in person soon...in your home!!
What joy! Chrissy, you can see the beautiful contentment in your face in all the photos (Robert too). I'm so thankful for this day and many more to come with peaceful Clara in your arms. Happy Birthday, friend, and praises to our amazing Creator.ReplyDelete
Happy Birthday, Chrissy,ReplyDelete
What a day for you, Robert & Clara. My heart is so full right now with thanksgiving for all that has happened. It's hard to keep the tears back for sure. What a precious, precious baby. She is such a blessing for sure. Motherhood is indeed the best. A beautiful family.
aww she sounds like a lamb. i love clara love arwynReplyDelete
Love that radiant perma-smile on your face!! And oh does that sweet little cry just break your heart!! My (now very huge looking next to Clara) sweet 15 month old girl heard the cry and said, "See bay?" She and my boys loved watching that sweet movie. So happy for your family!ReplyDelete
"When we come to the end of ourselves and do what Christ demands (trust, pray unceasingly,forego worry -my examples that you and Robert have done so well) amazing things start to happen." Beth Moore quoteReplyDelete
Happy Birthday, Chrissy! It will be your best and most memorable birthday to be sure!
Love, Karen and Jim
What a blessing it has been for us to see the miracle that God has worked in Clara's life. We are so thankful that we have gotten to witness God's work through you all. What hope that gives to us. Happy Birthday Chrissy! We will continue to give thanks to Him and continue to pray that he watches over all of you.ReplyDelete
Marissa, Brandon & Hannah Bruce (friends of Liz and the Hardy family)
Happy Birthday, dear Chrissy. I knew this special present would be given to you .... we all prayed so hard but to GOD goes the glory! May you and Robert celebrate this birthday like no other. You have certainly given us all a gift today!ReplyDelete
What a joy to see her in your arms and hear that sweet cry! That had to be the best birthday ever!!!ReplyDelete
What a thrilling day for all 3 of you! I'm so happy that Clara has come so far, and I continue to pray for all of you. To God be the glory - great things He has done!ReplyDelete
Chrissy and Robert,ReplyDelete
What a beautiful family you are! I, too, could hardly make it through the post with all my tears! We are so abundantly joyful for you ~ there is nothing quite like the simple pleasure of holding your baby. Praise God!
Happy Birthday, Chrissy!
The family picture with your eyes looking down/closed is the best one. It's the one just after" good things come in small packages". It deserves a frame. Happy Birthday, Chrissy. I'm so happy for all of you. I'm praying hard that Clara will be home soon.ReplyDelete
so happy to read this wonderful update. you will never forget that feeling of holding Clara for the first time. My son is 4 and i still remember that fullness in my heart. may her road from this point on be a smooth one. feeding can be a challenge but the hardest part is over and we are so thrilled for you all. God Bless sweet Clara.ReplyDelete
Joanne (John Michael's mom R-CDH 3/11/07)
So excited for you...I know your heart is full! Prayers continue for precious Clara Mae ~ Love, Mary AnnReplyDelete
Shedding tears of happiness while reading this post and looking at all the pictures of sweet Clara in her parent's arms. My heart is smiling and full of joy for you all! I know you've waited far too long to hold her in your arms. Continuing to pray for the day you will take her home and so thankful to God for bringing you this far. Thank you for sharing every step of this journey with us! You have extended your family with the thousands of us you have never met...but will be forever praying for you and your sweet family.ReplyDelete
Chrissy and Robert,ReplyDelete
I don't have children and I don't know you personally, but I FEEL your joy and thanksgiving for this gift from God.
Your faith will make her whole.
Chrissy and Robert,ReplyDelete
To God Be the Glory! Thank you for the pictures of sweet content Clara! She is so at peace right in y'all's arm's...you can see it on her face!! We have been and will continue praying for all of you, but especially for Clara! Happy Birthday Chrissy!! Filled with His joy for both of you and Clara!!
Ladies & Gentle-man;ReplyDelete
We are very Happy for the improvement & Progress made by Clara. Continued progress...
"Happy Birthday" Chrissy!!!!!
With our Love,
Sydonna & Lou...
Wow!!! Won't be long now and Clara will be sleeping in her own bed. Prayers for Clara's continued good progress.ReplyDelete
AMEN!!!!! My prayers and dreams are being fulfilled!ReplyDelete
Praise God from whom all Blessings flow!ReplyDelete
We continue to start and end our days with prayers for the Hardy family...and what a beautiful family you are!
Happy Birthday Chrissy!
Love, love , love to all of you!
Happy Birthday Chrissy!ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your tremendous joy. We are singing praises with you, Robert and all your family and friends to our Great and Awesome God for the gift of Clara.
Lots of Love, Pam and Marvin
Your beautiful photos bring tears to my eyes. God has granted His favor! 1 Sam 1:27-28 was my prayer over my firstborn, and maybe already is yours also. You are a beautiful little mommy and she is absolutely adorable! It's such fun to see what she really looks like! What a lil' sugar1!
Your Aunt Lisa and I will continue to lift her up together on Tuesdays and I will also throughout the week.
Thanks for keeping us posted so thoroughly, and I love your dad's emails through Lisa. You are honoring God well through your suffering. Precious.
Chrissy and Robert,ReplyDelete
I do not know you personally, but after coming across your blog (through my cousin's wife, who is a friend of a friend of yours) I was drawn in by the pure strength and determination you and your beautiful daughter possess. Through your eloquent words I feel as if I have shared in a small part of this journey with you, and I am so happy that God has granted this gift to you. Through Him all blessings flow. I am so happy that you have finally been able to hold this beautiful gift from above in your arms, for the mere act of holding her in and of itself is a gift from God. I will continue to pray for you and Clara as your journey continues to the ultimate gift of going home.
"Sing to the Lord, you saints of His; praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor last a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30: 4-5
I'm so happy for you Chrissy!ReplyDelete
Beautiful pictures!!! So happy this day has finally come for you and your family.ReplyDelete
You are positively glowing! I am so happy for you, Robert, and Clara. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. Your faith and courage are an inspiration.
Tears of joy. Heart full of gratitude. Such a lovely family. KarlaReplyDelete
*tears* of joy for you. Takes me back to the day we held our CHERUB for the first time. Look at how far your daughter has come! Praises and prayers!ReplyDelete
I have tears of joy running down my face - for what treasured moments those are. I can't tell you how happy I am for all of you. Praise God for His love and mercy, and may Clara continue to feel His healing hands upon her everyday! Love to all of you,ReplyDelete
The Ellis Family
God is so good! I am crying now for you all with tears of joy and exuberance for this tiny miracle! Love you all! The Francis family.ReplyDelete