Friday, November 19, 2010

A Different Purple Heart

Bella asked me to do this post. She wanted me to let y'all know...this is gonna be a long one. In fact, it may even be a series. We got a lot to say and don't want to lose you before we even get started. I know y'alls world doesn't stop with her, but mine did March 12, 2008. Because of the circumstances leading up to her birth, I feel she has an important message to share and I'm the designated typist. If you see any misspelled words or dangling participles...blame Bella..'kay?Most of y'all who read my blog know the circumstances surrounding Bella's birth. Jenn developed Preeclampsia in February and after three weeks in the hospital, buying Bella more time, complications set in. Her OB/GYN made the decision to deliver Bella by C-section at 23 weeks, 4 days. Bella came into the world (with her tiny legs kicking) measuring 10" in length and weighing 15 oz. Prior to the delivery, Jenn and Roby had been advised her chances of survival were slim if any. She hadn't reached the point of viability which meant a decision had to made as to whether to place Bella on the ventilator and it had to be made by Roby and Jenn. At 24 weeks, preemies are automatically placed on one. They were advised that if they chose not to, it might be their only chance to hold her. (The survival rate for babies born under 23 weeks is less than 10%) Jennifer as a child of God, believed that she would hold her baby one day and they chose to intubate Bella. I'm about to get technical on y'all, so don't stop reading please....these numbers are important.

The number of premature births in America are on the rise. A normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. Anything less than 37 weeks is considered preterm. 70% are delivered between 34 and 36 weeks; 12% at 32 and 33; 10% at 28 and 31; 6% at less than 28. Even at 37 weeks, there can be complications and the babies are placed in NICU. The survival rate is even more staggering....40% chance at 24 weeks increasing with each week until 90% at 28 weeks. The medical advances over the last 40 years has been phenomenal, but the numbers demonstrate why every precious day that can be bought for these babies is critical.

Bella was born a micro-preemie which is a baby born under 26 weeks and weighing less than 1 3/4 pounds. The complications that can arise for these babies are a mile long beginning with lung problems, eye surgery and the list goes on and on. These babies haven't had time, as Jenn put it, to finish cooking.

Delivering these micro-preemies even by C-Section is a risk with possible brain damage as a result...through no fault of the doctor. Imagine if you will how tiny they are...then picture in your mind how tiny the lines are that are inserted into them and the risks to the lungs. It takes a skillful hand and a lot of prayer. The odds are not in their favor, but God is.

Here's the gist of it y'all. November is National Premature Awareness month and purple designated as the official color. Bella is asking y'all to help. If you visit the March of Dimes web page, you can read all the statistics, advancements, and ways to help.
I'm showing y'all these photos of Bella while she was in her glass castle to make a point. For five months, Jenn and Roby called Baylor Hospital NICU home. They traveled back and forth daily to be with her and to learn how to care for her.
The constant tug on their hearts would sometimes be more than they could handle, but they did it. Think of those who are out there right now with their babies in hospitals close to where you live. Not only are they watching their baby fight to live, but they share a bond with the other parents there whose baby may or may not live. There is the constant noise of alarms, monitors, doctors, nurses, but very little crying. These babies do not cry early on. The reason maybe the intubators or that their lungs aren't developed enough. The only crying heard is usually that of the families.
Bella was blessed with God's favor. Her only major complication was a heart defect, PDA, which required surgery. She'll have the scar to remind her of how much God loves her always.
Imagine the heart ache of going to the hospital day in and day out and never getting to touch, much less hold, your baby. These tiny babies are so fragile with absolutely no fat under their skin, they bruise from the slightest touch.
Jenn and Roby were fortunate. They brought Bella home in August with just an oxygen tank. I say just...she had to be on oxygen all the time as well as an apnea monitor.

I'm digressing here for just a moment to mention again...these babies have virtually no fat. I'm going to ask you again to picture changing a diaper and not being sure if it's a girl or a boy. The hospital staff sometimes forgets that things like this are important for the new parents to know. Without that layer of fat, things don't look exactly right. The babies literally have no bottom....just a back. If that is confusing, I'll try to explain it in a future post.
Jenn knows she has been blessed and has constantly prayed to God about what she can do to repay this blessing. He has placed in her heart the need to help those parents who are in those NICUs. After much more praying and soul searching, she has decided to try and start a special program that she has named Pennies For Preemies. With the donations she receives, she plans on using the money to help parents who will be spending Christmas at Baylor Hospital with their premature babies.
We plan on the kickoff to be at Winnie & Tulula's Angels in America Christmas Open House next Friday, November 26th. She'll have a can that pennies can be dropped into or you can contact her for more information about donating. I'm going to be doing more posts on this because I truly believe it is a worthy cause and also because I love my daughter with all my heart.

She is walking a path I don't know that I would be able to with grace, fierce determination and a grateful heart.

I always end my prayers with the request that I be allowed to live until I see my children grown. Watching her and her faithfulness to God while walking through fire tells me, He heard my cry.
I am thankful for my God whose eye is always on the sparrow.

I am linking this to Debra's VIF and Lynn's A "Give Thanks" Party.


Lynn @The Vintage Nest said...

And some dare to say miracles don't exist. xoxo

Debra@CommonGround said...

Deb, this post is just priceless. God is soooo good. I was so blessed as I followed you and your precious family through this miracle. Today Bella is an amazing little girl, and I know that God has a wonderful plan for her sweet little life. Thank you so much for allowing us to be there too.
much love dear friend,

Rebecca said...

Hi Deb
Where do I sign up???? Just let me know!
A beautiful post,it brought back a lot of memories. We also lived in the neonatal unit... two steps forward 4 steps back. With boys the fatality rate is much higher. And brain damage also. We did not dodge that bullet but God has it all under control. What a blessing He has given us. I can't imagine going through life without knowing His eye is on the sparrow...

the old white house said...

Oh my goodness, she is such a precious gift. I didn't know all of this, but what an amazing little girl and story of love. You must be so proud of Jenn, what a beautiful mother. Thank you for sharing this Deb, this is what I was talking about when I said, this is not trivial. Theresa xoxo

Kate said...


I know what a blessing and gift this child is!!! how precious your words are about her life and how it touches our hearts. Thank you for such a BIG reminder of the faithful and loving God that we serve.


amy~ the gypsy chick said...

you know that you can count on me...
this post reminds me so much of the first time that God brought you, danny, jen & bella into my life. i have watched as God's good grace continues to grow with miss bella everyday,& truly believe that God has special plans for that girl!

jen i am so proud of you for sharing your journey with other parents, you are truly amazing!

debbie i wish you & your family many thanksgiving blessings,



Auntie Joy said...

Thanks for sharing this, she really is a miracle. Our Sam had to come 5 weeks early and in NICU for 17 of the longest days of my life.. Can't imagine what your family went through. Course didn't help that I had 3 teenagers at home unattended for all that time!! Talk about stress! We certainly have a lot to be thankful for.
Hope you and your have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Unknown said...

Ms Deb, I have follow Bella and baby Witt's miraculous lives from the get go. Both Bella's and Witt's lives have enrich my life and have strengthen my belief that God is all good even thru the hardest of circumstances. I do rejoice and thank God for this two little angels and what they mean for so many. Blessings, Marta.

Anne Lorys said...

As someone who works with these sorts of preemies, I can attest to the fact that everything Debbie says is so is such a hard road for the parents of these precious newborns, and babies such as Bella truly are walking, breathing miracles.

Debbie, y'all have all my love, support, best wishes and prayers, and I look forward to the day I can finally meet this angel in person and give her a long awaited hug. :-)


Sue said...

Bella really touches my heart, because her and my Morgan are very close in age. I will never understand "why" one baby is healthy and another has to stuggle. But there is a reason that I think only God understands. The strength of Jenn is amazing to me and you can see what is truly important in her life. You did good with your daughter, and she in turn is going to do good for your granddaughter. Thank you for this post tonight, it was truly heartfelt.

Take care, Sue

The Green Pea said...

Debbie, your little Bella is so beautiful. Love the photo of her. May God Bless all of you. Blessings to Jenn for her efforts in serving the Lord. Thank you for sharing your post with us. Best of wishes and blessings to all. Love ya, sandi

Laura @ 52 FLEA said...

May God bless your little Bella! Our Dan was 8 weeks premature 26 years ago...and just passed the NY BAR exam. That makes 2 miracles! :)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post and beautiful Bella!!! God is so faithful, isn't he? Anyone who doesn't believe in in the power of prayer doesn't know God! He has a a purpose for your little Bella....because of the circumstances of her birth, she will in turn help many others.


Cheryl ~ ZanyMayd said...

Such a Beautiful Post ~ I have followed all about Bella for a Long Time, She is a Beautiful, Precious Miracle, When We Hear the Words "Gift from God" You could put Her Sweet Face there.... God has Plans, This We Know~ Thank You for Sharing


Oh my goodness darling, that last picture of the beautiful little Bella is heart melting. She is so lucky to have a wonderful family like yours to be a part of. Your daughter is amazing. Her determination is so inspiring. You have a great weekend sweet Deb.

Take care,

Daphne Nicole & Lynda Cade said...

Deb, what a beautiful post and what a beautiful precious gift Bella is! I think it's wonderful what Jenn is wanting to do, and so glad it will be started at our Christmas open house at Winnie & Tululas! Can't wait to see everyone... hugs~~~ Daphne

Olive said...

Debbie, what an adorable gift from God she is. My premie is now in college and one never forgets those times spent in the NICU. BTW she is still petite but her mouth is six foot tall...God empowered her voice for sure. May God continue to bless your lovely daughter as she gives back to those who are in the NICU now. ♥O

One Gal's Trash said...

Making a donation today. You York gals are something special!

Maison Douce said...

Bella sure is a fighter.... What an amazing story of survival and perseverance!!!! Thanks for sharing it with us, we all should remember how fragile life is, and give thanks for every extra day we have with our loved ones!

Sissie's Shabby Cottage said...

After reading your post about Bella and all the other babies that are born the same, I am sure that miracles occur everyday! Just look at your little Bella now. She is one strong little girl with a beautiful and loving family.

Blessings to you and your daughter and sweet Bella.


VS said...

My Sweetest Friend Deb...
Your Miss Bella is truly an angel here on earth, she is absolutely adorable & if I could, I would wrap her up in my hugs & blow bubbles under her chin!!
What a wonderful story of magic & miracles at such a perfect time...a time when we are all reminded of what we have to be thankful for.
I am thankful to be able to call you friend & so very thankful that your beautiful baby girl is here to remind us that miracles DO happen!!!
Big Hugs,

time worn interiors said...

Little Angel!

Simple Home said...

Bella is indeed beautiful. I loved reading this story. Having had twin preemies, I know it is such a scary thing. Nothing like Jenn and Roby went through though. Thank you for sharing the story of Bella :-)

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

What a beautiful and touching story about Bella. God must have special plans for this little miracle child. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
xo, Sherry

Sandi~A Cottage Muse said...

What a precious little angel! Thanks so much for sharing. What a strong, loving family you shines right through her twinkling eyes!

Unknown said...

I can't begin to tell you how amazing I think your family is. Did you know, while she was growing up, what a warrior Jenn was going to be? You all are such inspiration for all the families that are going through this. I have several friends that have endured premature birth...some with less than favorable results.

Being far, far away...I'm not able to attend your sale, but would appreciate a paypal address for Jenn so that I can send a donation! :-)

Love to your family at THANKS-GIVING...**Tami

Preemie Donna said...

Thank you all so much for all the support, I know more than anything I can always count on all the bloggers to support us. I have added a donation button to my blog and mom will be adding it to hers soon too.
Hope to see some of you at W&T christmas open house. This will be Bella first christmas Open house! Not her first trip to W&T. :)

Jena Williams, Not So Shabby Interiors said...

And what a truly amazing story this is and what a truly amazing God we have...I just love Bella's picture at the end with those beautiful bright eyes, she is just a beautiful little girl, such a fighter!! What a great post, makes me smile! Hope you and your beautiful family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

clustres said...

Amazing! I knew some of these facts because I used to help out with the March of Dimes, but I didn't know them all. Bella is a beautiful little miracle!

WhisperWood Cottage said...

Such a special family you have, Deb! We just made a donation to the worthy cause! :)


Laura said...

Dear Friend-
Your precious granddaughter is strong because she comes from such good stock.
How rightfully proud you must be of your daughter.
I am so proud to know YOU.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

How incredible that she survived. She looks absolutely beautiful. Soooooo tiny and vulnerable.

This was such a lovely and moving post to read. Thank you.


Malisa said...

You are aware that the Good Lord hand-picked the most special people in the world to be Bella's parents and grandparents, right? Now God has put the spark in Jen to do his work. And you are just the designated typist? I think not! Think you have a little more to do with it than that! You and Jen are the Dynamic Duo!

I have a jar full of pennies and will get them to you next time I see you!

Hugs and kisses to sweet Bella!

Aunt Malisa

sweetpea said...

my friend, that last picture speaks a thousand words, all designed by none other than God himself. a miracle. nothing else can describe it. all praise to you for raising such a strong and compassionate daughter who weathered the storm.

when our grandson was three weeks old he was admitted to the hospital in severe respiratory distress and was found to have group b strep which can be fatal. after much poking and prodding they also discovered a mass in his chest. He and mommy and daddy spent a month in a hospital room the size of a closet, mommy and daddy sleeping on a twin size pull~out as hard as a sidewalk and Jax hooked up to monitors and tubes. Now he gets yearly MRI's to monitor the mass, which has all but disappeared but still is not 100% gone.

Long story short, you and I have received a miracle. We get to hug these boobalahs. There's that word I like to use... We are fighting the good fight. Your daughter and son~in~law and my son and daughter~in~law surely deserve a purple heart for bravery.

Love and Thanksgiving blessings to your home.


Jill said...

Beautiful post. May God continue to bless Bella and all of her loving family! I pray also that your daughter's endeavor is fruitful!!

blessings said...

One of the very best things to express thanks for!! She's gorgeous and so lucky that God gave her you. ((hugs))

Blessings... Polly

Zita - Mlle Magpie said...

Jenn and Bella's story is simply amazing, Deb. So inspirational. You must be just so proud of your daughter.


Oh, what a touching post. I had to hold back the tears. Bella is a beautiful blessing. Thanks for sharing.
~ Julie

Unknown said...

Debra~I have a Niece that has a little Bella (Arabella) who is in the NICU right now. I have sent you a message on facebook.

Quiltpiecer said...

Thank you for sharing this. Almost 37 years ago in 1974, my daughter was born a micro-premie. She was 12" long and weighed in at 12 oz. I know all too well what your family went through. 37 years ago the technology was not what it is today, but my daughter survived and those doctors and nurses are true angels from heavan. She did not have the PDA and came home at 5 lbs ... no apnea machine no oxygen tank. It was a miracle! My 2 boys were also premies, weighing in at 3 lbs. there was no question about their survival so it was not as traumatic. But the older son did have the PDA and both came home with an apnea machine. They are now young men in college, tall and strong! We are blessed.