Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-31-2008

Wow, I can’t believe that we made it.

We left Kansas City a bit later than we wanted at 9:45am, but we did not have a restful night sleep. Ella didn’t either. So the drive started with Venti coffees as we knew that there was about 600 miles of driving ahead of us.

God took care of us during this drive. We skirted every single storm. Even on the Kansas City weather report this morning, there was hail that was strong enough to take out windshields in Wichita, KS. Literally, we only experienced the three drops of rain between St. Louis and Kansas City from the other day. There were even storms in Colorado as we were driving into the Denver Metro Area. We passed all of them, but noted that the promise of a rainbow was present to greet us.

Ella did amazing. She had her fussy moments, but the way I look at it, she could have cried the entire time. We took breaks to stretch her from her chair, change her and feed her. But still, she could have been a lot worse. I thought she handled it the best we could expect.

We were monitoring her saturations. While she was in the car, it seemed that we had to increase her oxygen to 700ccs, then 800ccs. By the time we were home in Lone Tree (6,000 feet above sea level), she needed 1 liter of oxygen to maintain her heart rate and saturations. As she is asleep right now, she has stabilized on 1 liter of oxygen. At sea level in Gainesville, she was stable on 400ccs of oxygen, so this is more than double. It will be interesting to see how that changes in the coming days, weeks and months.

We crossed the Colorado state line around 5pm and made it to the house around 8pm. Josh and I were both overwhelmed with emotion as we drove into the state and pulled up to our front door. You can see a video of us arriving in Colorado below:

I think the part that makes it even more heart wrenching is that we can see the hospital from our front door, Sky Ridge Medical Center. This is the hospital just a few blocks from our house, where we anticipated Ella’s birth place, before we found out that she had CDH.

It is also hard to believe that we are starting a new chapter. That felt like an eternity – – going to Gainesville to have a baby. Looking around the house, we have not been here together in almost a year. That is crazy. As a matter of fact one year ago today, we had arrived in Gainesville for the first time to interview Dr. Kays. So much has happened since that time.

One other surprise to note: when we opened our front door, we were greeted with decorations including a customized banner and balloons to welcome us home. From there, we found a note and all kinds of meals. Our refrigerator and freezer were filled with foods, things to satisfy at every meal. Our lovely friends, the Williams, or better known in this forum as “Williamsburg” had arranged with my Dad to come to our house and pull off this wonderful gesture.

Ahh, it is so good to be home…that is, our home in Colorado.

Thank you Lord for bringing us home safely with Ella. We praise you and are in awe of the works of your hands.

We do not know what to expect as we continue on this journey and seek your will. We just know that it has been amazing to be obedient to you – – what a miracle baby girl that you have entrusted to us.

May we seek you daily and have Ella Renae serve as a clear reminder of your love. Nothing is impossible with you.

And as you taught us first hand…there are no accidents, only God ordained moments.

Posted (jooosh) in All Posts on May-30-2008

The Bun started her day with some great bed head. I can honestly say I don’t have this issue.

We made it to Kansas City, and our room number in the hotel is 1313. I thought having a 13th floor in a building was bad luck. I also just noticed that it is day 311. Lots of 1’s and 3’s…hmm…go figure. The heavy storms were to the north and south of us during the drive. We only saw 3 drops of rain…yeah…I counted ’em (thank God).

You can see how much leg room Tina has in the back seat.

She did figure out how to make herself a cup holder though :).

Half way through the drive, we got Ella out for a diaper change and food break. She’s not a big fan of the car seat, but she perks right up when you take her out.

Once we arrive at the hotel, the Bun enjoyed doing some stretching out…

and Tina and I enjoyed some Kansas City BBQ =).

We’re going to try and hit the road earlier tomorrow because we’re pushing all the way to Denver and it’s going to be about a 9 hour drive.

We expect to be turning up Ella’s oxygen as the elevation increases. The pulse-oximeter will be hooked up to confirm her saturations. We’re praying that she transitions well into the altitude and that she can tolerate the longer drive. Also praying for the good weather to continue.


Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-29-2008

After 5 hours of driving, we made it to St. Louis. In the process, we went through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. The weather was perfect – – sunny and dry.

Once again, the Bun was good on the drive and started to lose it right when we arrived. Thank goodness that she perks up immediately upon getting out of that car seat!

Our hotel in St. Louis is the Hyatt Regency at Union Station. It used to be a train station in the late 1800’s. The architecture is very cool, so we had to do a bit of exploring this afternoon. Ella liked the scenery, especially the outdoor garden area. I couldn’t help but tell her secrets.

Tomorrow is a 4 hour drive to Kansas City, Missouri. We hope to arrive earlier so we can relax before the LONG drive across Kansas and Colorado on Saturday.

Thank you Lord for keeping us safe on our drive. We pray for protection on the remainder of our trip home. We praise you and thank you for our miracle baby girl. Each day we look at her is a reminder of your love in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-28-2008

The drive was not bad today. We left Atlanta around 12 noon and stopped twice. We used those opportunities to fuel the car, ourselves and Ella as well as have potty breaks.

Honestly, Ella has been doing a great job. Sure, she fusses now and then because she’s a baby! But overall, she has been doing fantastic! And thanks again to Grandma West – – that DVD player is amazing! Ella sure loves to watch her signing videos and Baby Einstein. Now and again, we did catch her sleeping too.

We did pick the right itinerary for our journey home. Just as we arrived at our hotel today, Ella started to fuss. She had been in the car for about 6 hours total and she was done.

The meltdown started, but as soon as I started pushing the stroller, she paused. The lobby lights and sounds made her stop and check out the surroundings. Even the elevator ride to our room on the top floor made for something more interesting than the car. As soon as I got her out of the car seat and laid her on a blanket in the room, she was SO happy!

I think that was a simple and subtle way of letting us know that she had reached her travel limit for the day.

We are at the Sheraton at Music City in Nashville. Once again, we ended up with a great room. The highlight of Nashville trip was having Keith, Tracy and Christie Mitchell visit us (we met them in the NICU the first week that Ella was born last July). They drove an hour from Dickson, TN to come and see us. And of course, everything was good because they brought BBQ for dinner in our hotel room. We had a great time hanging out.

Sitting on the patio of the hotel room was surreal. Wait a minute…we are in Nashville, TN with Ella Renae?!?! We just love her so much and can’t believe that it has been 10 months and we are finally on our way back home.

Tomorrow, we are headed to St. Louis, MO, a 5 hour drive. Please continue to pray for safe travels and good weather.

Thanks for all the love and support.

Posted (jooosh) in All Posts on May-27-2008

EXHAUSTED!!! Yeah…to say the least.

It was a mad scramble to get packed and load the mini-van before 12:30pm, and that was with Doug and Jeanie helping! They were nice enough to stay over at our apartment last night and help us today.

Hind site is 20-20 and having a wife that plans well can even be better, as long as you listen to her =). A couple weeks ago, Tina thought we should ship some items home before we packed the mini-van because she didn’t think we had enough room. Oh…but I was confident that my mad packing skillz would prove her wrong. Yeah…not so much. When you have trouble finding room to put a pair of shoes in a mini-van, you might as well give up on the 5+ remaining boxes…DOH!

So we gave away a bunch of stuff to our friends, and my Brother-in-Christ (Mr. Matt) offered to ship the remaining boxes for us (Thanks again bro!). Well, it did work out in the end, just probably not exactly how the wife wanted, which isn’t a good way to score points with her. Hoping that giving her a foot rub tonight will make up for it a little!

Ella behaved herself all day. One surprise: her g-tube fell out unexpectedly while we were in the midst of packing! That was a first. Fortunately, we were able to locate what we needed to fix it. Going through this drill made us realize that we did not have a spare g-tube, so we stopped by Shands on the way out of Gainesville, just to make sure that we had an extra.

Ella did well during the drive, although it did look like she was battling some gas so she definitely had her fussy moments.

By the time we finished everything, we were not on the highway leaving Gainesville until 5pm. Originally, we had planned on meeting the Richards and Dirriams for dinner in Atlanta. When we called to break the news that we would not make it, we discovered that both houses had kids that were sick and they were planning to cancel too (they did not want to risk possibly getting Ella sick – – thank you). It was a bummer not to be able to see them, but it seems like it was not in the cards for us to this trip.

We arrived in downtown Atlanta at 10pm, exactly a 5 hour drive. I think Ella scored us an upgraded room too because once the bell hop saw how much stuff we were hauling, he upgraded our room for us to a corner suite with a nice view. Way to go Bun!

At this moment, Ella is sleeping soundly and Tina and I are about to do the same.

Please continue to pray for our safe travels. It looks like we may get a little rain tomorrow, but we don’t expect to see anything like Doug and I saw a couple days ago (Thank God).


P.S. Our friends haven’t shared any of the pictures that they took of us today leaving our Gainesville apartment, but once they do, we’ll share with you too.

Thank you Lord for bringing us safely into Atlanta. Father we ask for your continue protection during this trip and for the weather to cooperate. We praise you Jesus for our beautiful girl. Amen.

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-26-2008

Let the day begin…Our friend Kerri came to pick up Josh and Doug this morning to transport them for a much-needed cup of java and to take them to the airport.

Josh and Doug should be landing in Orlando around 3:30pm EST. We are praying for a safe and uneventful flight.

Here in Gainesville, we are trying to entertain the Bun and pack the rest of our stuff!

UPDATE 2:30pm EST: Well, the sweet lady came to pick up the crib…and she brought Ella a small gift. She gave her these cute John Deere socks, so we won’t forget Florida!

It was really nice of her. She also opted to purchase Ella’s swing. This was great for us because there will be limited room in the mini-van driving back to Colorado.

Ella has been watching videos today and hanging out with Jeanie while Mom continues to pack. One of her favorites is “Baby Signing Time” – – she gets really excited! Here are some photos that capture the moment:

UPDATE 4:30pm EST: Josh and Doug landed safely and have started driving back towards Gainesville, a 2 hour drive. Before they left Orlando, Doug had to stop and kiss his wife and girls. Josh didn’t mind the hugs either!

UPDATE 7:15pm EST: The boys made it to our apartment in Gainesville and we have celebrated by eating a pizza for dinner! Now, we are off to do more packing…

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-25-2008

The boys woke up and decided to start their trip around 8:20CST. They are headed on I-70 straight through Kansas City, the rest of Kansas and into Colorado. There is supposed to be rain and thunderstorms throughout Kansas today, so we’re praying for safety. The drive lasts for about 13 hours, similar to yesterday.

UPDATE 2pm EST: Josh and Doug are 20 miles east of Topeka, KS. Only 8 hours left till they reach our Colorado home! Ella is having a good day too!

UPDATE 6pm EST: Continue to pray for safety – – Josh and Doug are in Ellis, KS and there is a tornado warning until 6:30pm EST! We think that they are past it, but there is hail, thunderstorms and a tornado warning. They stopped off the highway and are listening to the local radio. Based on what we can tell, they are better off to keep driving and getting out of Kansas since the tornado activity seems to be behind them. After just talking to them at 6:15pm EST, they have decided to continue driving towards Colorado.

UPDATE 8pm EST: Josh and Doug are almost in Colorado – – 15 miles away. They started driving away from the storms (thank goodness for cell phones and Internet), once they confirmed the exact location of the storms. Many nearby were taking shelter and instead, they hit the road and started driving. That was a wise decision as the tornado ended up going directly through Ellis, KS. They are only 3 hours from our house in Colorado!!!

And back here in Gainesville, Ella is having a great day hanging out with me and Jeanie.

UPDATE 11:15pm EST: Josh is going a route that is 20 minutes longer because he wants to show his buddy the lights of downtown Denver. They just drove past Invesco Field at Mile High. This means that they are about 15 minutes away from our house. It is getting close!

UPDATE 11:38pm EST: Home sweet home for Josh & the cats!!! Now, the boys will sleep good and wake up to catch a 9:45am flight from Denver to Orlando, so they can come all the way back to Gainesville by tomorrow night.

Thank you Lord for keeping Josh, Doug and the cats safe on the trip out to Colorado. We praise you and thank you for this new chapter of our journey. May you continue to watch over us and guide us as we finish our pilgrimage back to our home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

So, instead of sleeping last night we opted for a party. I think we were just so excited to have friends visit; it was too much fun.
That meant that getting up and starting to drive at 5am quickly went out the door for Doug and Josh!

Instead, the boys left with the cats from Gainesville at 10am this morning. It is a 13 hour drive to St. Louis. Throughout the day, I will update with pictures from their journey. So far, so good.

UPDATE 2pm EST: The boys are stopping for a quick bite to eat at Sonic in Macon, GA. So far, the cats are relaxing and everyone is still smiling!

UPDATE 5pm EST: They’ve switched seats and are now in Tennessee.

UPDATE 7:40pm EST: They are in Nashville and opted for White Castle to fill their bellies. Yeah, they ate those burgers in one bite! As far as the felines, the cats have been resting pretty much the last several hours. It is reported that Pumps is sleeping on top of Macy.

UPDATE 8:40pm EST: Doug & Josh have crossed over into Kentucky. They have about 4 hours of driving until they reach their hotel in St. Louis, MO.

UPDATE 1am EST: The boys and cats arrived in St. Louis safely! They are heading off to bed.

And let’s not forget…Happy 10 months Ella!

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-23-2008

Wow, I can’t believe it is here.

Ella had her last occupational therapy and physical therapy appointments today. The next time will be new therapists in the Denver area.

The OT gave a great discharge summary and made note of Ella’s progress since he started seeing her in late February. It is a amazing to see how much progress she has made since the hospital.

The PT was cute and brought Ella a few books over the past couple of sessions. It was neat to see her “tune in” to Ella, especially over the last week. We liked her from the beginning because she is very perceptive and works well with infants. But she just got to the point where she was picking up on Ella’s cues. So likewise, Ella was starting to enjoy her too. The last session was good, complete with the Bun smiling and being playful with her.

As I type this, Josh is cooking a later dinner. He still has lots of work to do tonight to prepare for the trip early tomorrow morning.

Doug is coming up shortly to spend the night, so he is ready for the early drive. Along with him, Jeanie is in the car too. I’m not sure that if I mentioned that she was so sweet to offer to come up and spend the entire weekend with me. If you remember, she is the one that gave the Bun the Forget-Me-Not bracelet. And I know it was quite the sacrifice considering that she has a husband & 5 kids along with the fact that I have a nearly empty apartment with no furniture! So, the Bun and I will have a girls Memorial Day weekend with Jeanie!

I will plan on keeping everyone updated on the blog as far as Josh’s drive and his safety. Please pray that he and Doug will remain safe while driving and flying across the country.

We’re so excited…it is finally here. The Bun has no idea what she is in for…

Posted (Tina) in All Posts on May-22-2008

Ella had a good day. It was fairly typical for her except that she went back to the NICU…this time, it was for a celebration.

We hung out on the conference room for about 2.5 hours. During that time, we were able to connect and visit with many of the nurses and respiratory therapists that cared for Ella. We even had a chance to see our two favorite NICU receptionists. Although they did not take care of Ella directly, they greeted us every day at the front desk of the NICU.

It was nice to see familiar faces. Honestly, it is strange to think that the most familiar faces for us in Gainesville are those from the NICU.

We bought a tasty cake to celebrate and thank the NICU staff. I’m so glad that we were able to stop by one last time for a visit. It confirmed what we already know: Ella is a miracle girl. We know it each day by looking at her priceless smile, but it was confirmed by many of the staff. Although it has only been a few months, they confirmed that Ella is looking good and on the right track.

Josh has one more day in Gainesville before heading out to Colorado early Saturday morning. Ella and I are going to miss him so much!

Please pray for safe travels with good weather during his trip with Doug and the cats. I will be updating the blog when I hear from him throughout the day. Also, we still have quite a bit of work to do to get ready to move. Pray that we get it all finished!