Posted (Tina) in All Posts on January-24-2008

Wow, our baby girl is 6 months old today. It is amazing to think how much progress she has made already on this journey.

Ella had another echocardiogram today and the results were better. Her medicine is working wonders and they noted very minimal shunting. This means that there is a chance that her heart will be able to close the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) on its own. She has another follow-up appointment on February 7th.

The occupational therapist worked with Ella today on oral feeding. She gave her a small amount of formula orally through a special bottle that lets you control the flow from the nipple. On the fly, you can change it to have no flow to very minimal amounts while not having to take it from the baby’s mouth. Ella didn’t do that well yesterday when she first tried, but today she did great. That is a great sign of her potential to feed orally.

We are excited to let everyone know that she is being discharged from the hospital tomorrow! This means that Ella is spending her last night in the NICU at Shands! We’re so thrilled. Nurse Michelle is honored to be taking care of her. If you remember, Nurse Michelle is one of the fab four nurses that first made Ella feel at home in the NICU by making a bow and attaching it to her coband (see this post).

Our appointment for home oxygen training is in the morning at 9am. Normally, it is conducted bedside in the NICU, however they will be doing it at our apartment instead. It will be good to have them show us all the equipment in our own environment.

Once we are trained on all aspects of the equipment, we will be loading up a portable oxygen tank, our prescriptions for Ella and the car seat and heading off to the NICU for the remainder of the day. There are lots of discharge procedures to go through and last minute training topics to cover.

Just to clarify for anyone that has missed prior posts, we have been talking about this day coming for a long time. It is hard to believe that it has finally come our way and that Ella is well enough to go home.

When we say that we are excited to go home, we simply mean discharge from the hospital. Back in December, we prayed a lot about the next best steps. Our desire was to go back home to Colorado immediately. After a lot of prayer and several important things falling into place, it became clear that the Lord wanted us to stay in Gainesville close-by to Dr. Kays.

Our plan is to stay local in Gainesville until the end of July and move back to Denver in the summer. Here are some of the reasons that made our decision easier:

  • Since Ella has been so marginal during her recovery, we felt it would be best to remain close to Dr. Kays and staff that is so familiar with her history.
  • There is a great pediatrician local in Gainesville that has first hand experience with CDH babies.
  • When I originally looked in Denver for a pediatrician and other specialists for Ella, I was running into road blocks. Staying here for the first several months allows me to research and set up a good network of doctors for Ella’s future care (this is not going to be easy and will take some time).
  • We want to introduce Ella to the outside world slowly; Florida weather will allow us to do that while the winter conditions in Colorado right now would force us to stay inside most of the time.
  • Driving back across the country in the middle of winter is not a great idea.
  • The altitude in Denver is not going to make breathing easier for Ella. We think it will be better if she has some months at sea level before taking on that challenge.
  • Taking on parenting is daunting enough, yet we feel that we have more support here in Gainesville for us and Ella. All our friends are staff in the NICU! Another added benefit, many of the NICU nurses will miss seeing Ella and may even want to babysit!

So, although we are excited to go back home to Colorado in the summer, we have total peace about staying in Gainesville for the next several months. We think it is critical for a smooth transition back to our real home in Colorado.

Please pray for our day tomorrow during discharge. We praise the Lord for how far he has brought all three of us and thank all of you for your unfailing love and support.

Psalm 57:10
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Kelli Billman on January 24th, 2008 at 9:47 pm #

The pictures at the top of this post have made my heart smile more than any other. What great news!!! I think the decision to stay in FL is a good one, but you’ve got a babysitter in Denver when you come home as well!!!! Rest well tonight and may God be with you tomorrow while you are discharged. YIPEE!!!

Julie on January 24th, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

So very happy for you guys! Yay!

Kristen on January 24th, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

Blessings, blessings, blessings upon each one of you. May you enjoy this transition into being a family at home! Wonderful!

Dana on January 24th, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

Congratulations West family- we are so happy for you. Looking forward to the day you can bring sweet little Ella to California. Tons of hugs and kisses to you all.
Kevin, Dana, Abrianna, and Tyler

Tracy on January 24th, 2008 at 10:22 pm #

This is wonderful news. Wow, it seems like those last few weeks flew by. Oh, we will pray for you guys as you adjust to at-home care for Ella. I look forward to future updates as she progresses. She looks just great! Have a wonderful last-day tomorrow!!

Anne on January 24th, 2008 at 10:28 pm #

Congratulations! What wonderful news… and what a huge milestone for Ella and her parents…!!!

Eusey Family on January 24th, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

I can’t believe the day is finally here. We are all so happy for you.

Lots of love from Newport,


Patrick Brumfield on January 24th, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

How exciting! Such a great milestone for your family. We’re quite happy for you; I’m sure it will be incredible to have Ella outside of the hospital — and all to yourselves! Congrats.

The Laz Fam on January 24th, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

Oh Lord, you have searched Ella and you know her… You discern her going out and her lying down… You are familiar with all her ways… You hem her in, behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon her. Such a knowledge is too wonderful for us, too lofty for us to attain. Where can she go from Your Spirit?…If she rises on the wings of the dawn, if she settles on the far side of the sea, even there will Your right hand guide her, Your right hand will hold her fast… For You created her inmost being; You knit her together in her sweet mother’s womb. We praise You because she is fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, we know that full well. All her days were ordained for her, were written in Your book before one of them came to be… (Psalm 139)
Thank You, Jesus, that You came, that Ella might have life, and have it to the full!
With joy ~ KTJB

Julie Kirk -Saudi Arabia on January 24th, 2008 at 11:06 pm #

I am so glad to hear that you are going to wait before going back to Colorado for the reasons you have mentioned. You guys are awesome parents and have made so many good decisions. As I have said before, your faithfulness has been such a ministry to me. God Bless You and Keep you safe. I will continue this journey with you as I am sure many others will do and I hope to hold all three of you one day.
love Julie

Jean Rich on January 24th, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

Praise the Lord! Have a great weekend with Ella! Love you guys.

The Brittain Family on January 25th, 2008 at 12:50 am #

This is the day that the LORD has made
We will REJOICE and be GLAD in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Praising God for so many answered prayers and may you go with Him always as you continue on your journey together. I can’t imagine the look that’s going to be on her face when she goes outside for the 1st time. Our prayers are with all of you for this BIG transition today! We’re SO excited!

Brendan on January 25th, 2008 at 2:58 am #

“parenting is daunting enough”? Let me tell you something…I’ve (we all have) watched you during this journey and seen you two handle it with incredible patience and grace. You just continue to lean on God and this parenting thing is gonna be a snap! Zip zip end of story.

Welcome to Gator-nation! (Don’t tell anybody I just said that)

Barbara Mullins on January 25th, 2008 at 5:13 am #

Praise God from Whom ALL BLESSINGS FLOW! I can’t wait to see pics of Ella in her new digs. Make sure she gets some good doses of that FL sunshine! (Although if she gets too used to it, she may not want to go back HOME to Denver). You’ll be extra especially in my prayers on Friday. Go Ella go!

Christe Mitchell on January 25th, 2008 at 6:56 am #

Congrats! I am so happy for you all. I will be praying for a smooth transition home. God Bless.

Lesli on January 25th, 2008 at 7:05 am #

Wow! I bet it is going to be the weirdest but greatest feeling to put Ella in a car seat and drive her home. I remember how strange it always seemed with us! I am so excited for today! Praise God!
The entire Richards family is doing the happy dance for you today.

Love, Lesli

Lizotte Family on January 25th, 2008 at 7:10 am #

Oh What joy and excitement! Congratulations to you. Everyone in my family will be so happy to hear the news of Ella’s trip home.
May God bless your beautiful family on your journey home.

Eve Sheridan on January 25th, 2008 at 7:19 am #

This is such incredible news, Josh and Tina. It is clear from these beautiful photos that Ella is feeling great, and you both must be on Cloud 9 about the discharge today. Praying for a smooth day today and for Ella’s first experiences outside the hospital :-). Sending plenty of hugs too!

Joan and Steve Odell on January 25th, 2008 at 7:24 am #

Absolutely marvelous – what a happy day for all three of you. Our prayers will be with you in the coming days – I am going to be ‘out of pocket’ for several days and won’t be able to check up on her. Please know my thoughts and prayers are still going and i’ll talk with you when I am able to. Love, hugs and Lord Bless – Oh Happy Day!!! Steve and Joan

Gloria & Red Jacobsen on January 25th, 2008 at 7:44 am #

How wonderful are His works!! Your darling Ella is a wonder and is so special already to so many people,we could’nt be happier for you. Know are prayers are with all 3 of you. all the best! Gloria & Red

Eli Brown on January 25th, 2008 at 8:34 am #

I wish I could watch that car ride home. I bet Josh will drive 5 miles an hour. Now the real adventure begins. Congratulations.

Melissa on January 25th, 2008 at 8:55 am #

WOW!!! I have been reading your posts and following but I haven’t posted back!!
I can’t stop crying (happy crying, of course)
It has been a long time coming. You have waited soooooo patiently for this day and now it has come.
God’s timing is perfect!! It seems like you finally found the missing piece with Ella’s care and everything is in place now.
I pray that this transition will go smoothly and you will find peace in all that you do.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! Well done good and faithful servants!!!
I know that God is just beaming and so proud of you two. You have been such an example and witness to sooo many. Thank You!!
It has been a true priviledge to be on this journey with you. I hope it doesn’t stop here though. Please keep us posted and I can’t wait until you decide to make the trip back to Colorado. I am waiting for that.
Ella just looks so happy and beautiful. You both look great too.
Lord, we thank you and praise you for this journey that the West family is on. Thank you for bringing them this far. What a special addition you have brought in Ella.
Now in your timing Ella is going home today after a long hard and at times scarey fight for her life. What a little miracle she is.
Lord I lift this family up to you and I pray for rest, peace, wisdom and continued blessings on them.
We thank you for putting everything in place for Ella’s homecoming. It is no accident that Josh and Tina were chosen as Ella’s parents. The love and care that they have so faithfully given and will continue to. Thank you for giving them strength when they felt like they couldn’t go on. Thank you for the perseverance in all of them.
Most of all I thank you for the true blessing that they have been to me through all of this.
As they make their big trip home with Ella, I pray for protection over all of them.
Prepare them for the next piece of their journey.
Thank you Lord for your continued presence. May your will continue to be done in and through this family.
In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.
Love, Melissa

Tim and Tammy Dygert (Autumn's parents) on January 25th, 2008 at 9:22 am #

Josh and Tina – We’re so happy to hear your news. After we left the NICU to come home, we thought we’d have time to check in with you. WRONG! Life as first-time parents keeps you very busy, as you’re about to find out. Please keep in touch.

Cliff, Diane and Sonic Blue on January 25th, 2008 at 9:27 am #

WOW .. the next great step for Ella. We are so happy for you. Our thoughts and wishes will still be with you every day and we will anxiously watch for her next steps forward.
LOVE, Uncle CLiff, Aunt Diane and Cuz’ Sonic Blue

Steven and Terri Trainer on January 25th, 2008 at 9:29 am #

How WONDERFUL!! I hope you know that every person on this blog for the past 6 months would be there for a grand parade to celebrate this homecoming if it were at all possible!! You two are Super Stars in our eyes and our Heavenly Father is so proud of you. Miss Ella has only just begun her journey through life and is so blessed to have had such a faith based start! Enjoy full time parenthood! You’ll do great!!

Teri Z. on January 25th, 2008 at 9:32 am #

I think today is the perfect day to delurk. My children and I have read your journey from close to the beginning. Lately, the question on everyone’s mind is “when is baby Ella going home?” I just made the announcement, and cheers of joy have filled my house!

We have been praying for baby Ella, and are so excited that she is going home. You have been such amazing witnesses of God’s faithfulness through this time. We can not wait to see all that God has in store for Ella and her mommy and daddy.

Heidi Ham on January 25th, 2008 at 9:37 am #

Praise God! What awesome news to hear that you are going home! Josh and Tina I can’t tell you how excited we are for the both of you. The Ham Family just sends you all of our prayers and best wishes! Ella you are a sweet little angel and we are anticipating wonderful exciting news about your new journey – your parents are the best! Love, hugs and kisses to all of you 🙂

JoAnna King and Kids on January 25th, 2008 at 9:47 am #

Oh, we’re so excited for you guys. Enjoy these precious moments.

Fran Jarrett on January 25th, 2008 at 9:53 am #

Praise the Lord! What a wonderful day for the West family!

Karen Wilson on January 25th, 2008 at 10:21 am #

Praise God! I have been following baby Ella since she was born but have never posted. What a miracle God has done in your lives. I am so excited for you guys. Enjoy every day, every moment with your little girl, for she is an angel sent to you. Ella has truly been a blessing to all our lives as we follow her journey and her homecoming brings joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. Surely God has great plans for her and your family. Love and hugs to you all!

Stacey Haygood on January 25th, 2008 at 10:48 am #

I am so happy and excited for you!

Joel Snyder on January 25th, 2008 at 11:06 am #

Ella, Good for you “Gator Girl” those baby steps got you on your way home. I am praying that you and your Mom and Dad have a good discharge day. I will check on you later today. Love,Grandpa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barbara Sandner on January 25th, 2008 at 12:02 pm #

Tina and Josh, I am so thrilled with the news! Hope her sweater fits now that she’ll be needing it! Miss you both. Give my love to Ella.

Adrienne - Melissa's sister on January 25th, 2008 at 1:31 pm #

Wow! WOW! WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO! This is just the best best day! I can’t wait to show the boys the post in the morning! So great! It’s been a long time coming but…. WOW! GOD IS SO GOOD!

Sheila Par's great aunt on January 25th, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

Can’t wait to hear how it feels to finally be home. We praise God for His greatest!!!!

Sue Ramondo on January 25th, 2008 at 3:55 pm #

Congrats! We are so happy that this day is here! Enjoy! We’re thinking of all you! Keep up the great work Miss Ella!
Michael,Sue, Addie and Q & D

Cindy on January 25th, 2008 at 4:03 pm #

I heard about Ella from Par’s blog and have been following her progress for a while now. She is such a cutie, and I’m so glad she finally gets to leave the hospital!

mom to Claire, 6/7/07 LCDH

Char and Jim Jordan on January 25th, 2008 at 5:46 pm #

What more can we say. Everyone has said it all. Blessings to you. Thank God for his mercy. We are so happy for you. LOL Aunt Char and Jim

Tiffani Grow on January 25th, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

I am so excited for you all. I can’t help but cry because I am so happy and I know how you feel right now. Thankfully, in a few months life as you know it (hospital) will become just memories. Not to say that they were all bad but you know what I mean.
God is so good and He is the God that has healed baby Ella. I do hope once you are back in Denver we really can meet. I know Ella and Salem could be great friends. Salem is still on oxygen and she is 15 mo. But we are hoping for her to be off by summer. Thankfully the lungs heal over time!!!
Enjoy tomorrow!!!! Have fun taking care of your baby —- wow what a journey. Sincerely, Tiffani

Carl and Cathie Firestone on January 25th, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

Praise God!

Keith Grow on January 25th, 2008 at 7:52 pm #

Happy, happy, joy, joy. What a incredibly awesome day tomorrow. Certainly expecting to lose a few nights of sleep. I would highly recommend getting a video monitor, certainly gives peace of mind to see her face in the middle of the night when you’re in bed. We could even mail you ours, we’re not using it for now. We used it alot when Salem was first home.

The Chambers' Family on January 25th, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

Looking forward to the homebound update. We are so happy that you get to bring little Ella home! She is going to love all the new things to touch and see!

The Lizotte Family on January 25th, 2008 at 8:46 pm #

The suspense is killing me! Tell me tell me what’s happening.

Laura Marold on January 26th, 2008 at 11:04 am #


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