Saturday, August 23, 2008

Your Birthday


This is from your father. Your mom is preparing your meals for you. I’m sitting in the waiting room of the NICU at the University of Virginia. It’s a light green color, like my office. They say light green is a calming color. That’s probably why they picked it. There’s a beautiful painting of Charlottesville on the wall. It is quiet for now. This afternoon the Davis and Torrance clans will fill the waiting room.

Right now you are on ECMO, a machine that serves as your lungs. It takes your blood, puts oxygen in it, warms it, and then sends it back into your body. You are on a blood thinner that keeps you from clotting, but this procedure has risks because if you were to start bleeding, particularly in your brain, there would be little the doctors could do to help you stop. You are stable, a lovely pink color. The plan is to let you build strength. We want you to be able to sustain yourself. Then the doctors will rebuild your diaphragm. After you recover some from this surgery, the doctors need to repair your heart (this is actually why we brought you to UVA). Your aortic arch is too narrow in one spot. So, my dear, you have a long road ahead. So, what do you say we take things one day at a time. Really all you need to do is keep doing your thang. I have also noticed that your nurses like to work with you. You were a little high maintenance at first, but you are very beautiful and beauty does warm people’s hearts.

Your mom may want to fill in the details, but I figured I’d tell you about your birthday. On Tuesday, your mom started experiencing stronger contractions. They were not consistently strong and seemed to vary in frequency. However, she did not sleep much Monday night. We wondered if you were ready to go. I don’t think she was quite ready to turn you loose on the world. It is a scary thing for a Mom to let her child go from a safe place to a unknown territory. I’ve seen the phenomena at other transitions, but had never really thought about birth in this way. We bought her a giant, polka dotted body pillow. For the remainder of the afternoon, we watched movies. Actually, I was trying to finish up my list of things to do before everyone came into town. The contractions were less frequent, but more painful, so we decided to go to the hospital to check in with Dr. Lucas. We also hoped he would give something to help your momma sleep.

When your mom and I (and you too) got to the hospital, it was bustling. Dr. Lucas was busy with something else, so we waited. Then we waited. Then we waited a little more. After an hour, he came to check your mom’s cervix. Although generally a cool cat, he did show a little shock on his face over the next few seconds. This part was bit of a blur, but among other things, he said resolutely “you are 8 and ½ cm dilated.” That means you were coming soon.

Your mom was shocked at this news. As much as we planned everything, you had a different plan. She cried and became very anxious for a minute or two, but Dr. Lucas was good and talked her down. Originally, your mom wanted to have you without medication for pain, but the day's events (what she thought were pre-labor contractions) changed her mind. However, at this point, much of the work of labor was done. You and your mother are currently tied for the most courageous women I have ever met (well, I can think of one other). She brought you into the world without a drop of pain medication. I’ll let you ask your mom about labor. I just stood beside her and told her I loved her. I let her squeeze my hand if she wanted. I was excited the whole time to see you. I was nervous, wondering if you would be able to stay alive. Sure enough, about an hour later (at 10:18 pm) you arrived. The other doctors worked on you. They let mom hold you for a moment and then swept you off to the NICU to see how you were doing.

Of all the guests planning to come, only Shelly was here to see zero hour. However, not long after, my family (Kelly, Misty, Keith, Elaine, Nikki, and Dad), Katie’s parents, Katie’s other best friends, and some of my friends from school arrived. We waited around with them for several hours to hear from Dr. Farhi, your neonatologist. You needed a lot of help from the ventilator, but you were stable. The plan was to wait to see how you would respond to the next few hours and days. When everyone left, around 2:00am, your mom and I were both exhausted. So, we went to bed. That was your birthday my dear daughter. We’ll tell more of your story later.



Heather said...

I have been reading your story and praying for your family everyday. We will keep praying for you and your family. I am so glad that your little girl is still with us. Congrats!

God Bless

Abby & Pete said...

amazing. all of it. we will not stop praying and telling everyone else we know to as well. even our 1 yr old is praying.

Erin said...

She looks like a beautiful little girl! She looks like a good size, which I'm sure will help her stay strong. We will continue to pray for your family! Congratulations!

Abby & Pete said...

and p.s. she is beautiful!!! but I'm not surprised.

Courtney said...

Happy Birthday to sweet catherine. Congrats to you both for becoming such wonderful loving parents. I love you guys and am praying for a speedy recovery.

Nikki said...

Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Girl! You are such a champ! I love the way you flare your nose in and out. And your little fingers and toes are so cute. I am so thankful for every moment that you are here. I like to be at the hospital even when I can't see you because I love knowing that you are close by. Your Mom and Dad are SOOO in love with you - i hope you get to see pictures of how their faces light up when they see you. I have to leave tomorrow morning, but I will still be thinking about you and praying for you. I am so proud of you sweet Catherine.
Love unbound,
Aunt Nikki

Debbie said...

What a beautiful family you are - the pictures are precious. Little Catherine is so beautiful and you both definately look like the "proud parents". God bless you.
Love to you,
Erin's Aunt Debbie in Decatur,IL
Debbie Campbell

PT said...

sweet katie,
i found your blog through beth perkins the other day and have been praying so hard for you, donnie and sweet baby catherine! she is a beautiful girl, just like her momma.
i know it's been sooo long since we've seen each other, but in reading your letters, i can tell you haven't changed a bit and you're just as precious as ever.
may God wrap His arms around your family during this trial and strengthen you as only He can.

lots of love and prayers,

kristy said...

Happy Birthday Catherine. Mom has been keeping me posted. I am so glad that robyn and all are there to see you come into this world. You have so many people that love you and have been praying for you. You definately have more love in the beginning in your life than most people could ever hope for. You are one of Gods precious angels. Katie and Donnie I am so glad that all is working out well I will continue praying that you will keep getting stronger.
Kristy Rayside-Grissom

kristy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
johnson said...

Happy Birthday, Sweet Catherine!! God is an AWESOME God!! I am so glad that you are still with us. I will continue to pray for you and your family. You are one lucky little girl to have such great, Christian parents.

Anonymous said...

Catherine and Katie both look so beautiful! She looks like a strong fighter. We are praying for y'all.

-Tara and David Dorsey

Midlife Mommy said...

Praise His mighty name! Your daughter is beautiful.

Kristy said...

She's beautiful! I'm so happy for you! I pray for all of you daily. I love you!

A Southern Wedding Belle said...

What beautiful pictures, what a beautiful baby, what a beautiful mama and daddy, what a gracious and wonderful GOD!! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I love you all, Mama Debbie

Gigi said...

You guys are amazing. Thank you for sharing so much of your journey. Sweet Catherine is just beautiful. I send my love to all three of you.

MelissaR86 said...

Happy Birthday Catherine! She is beauiful guys! Your little girl has so much strength and is a fighter! I'm praying for you guys constantly, as is my mom, dad, brother, and church. Aunt Margaret has kept us updated some and we got a little more from when she called Murmur and Dad. Catherine is so beautiful! We love you guys! ~Melissa Raburn~

Chavonne said...

She's beautiful! Congratulations.

Erin said...

Donnie, what a great tribute to Katie and Catherine. I just adore your wife. She is such an amazing woman of God. I love what God has done for your family. Please know we are praying, and we won't stop! Please give Katie my love.

Krissy Wilkins said...

Praying for you a lot. The pictures are so good. I admit that I cried through them, remembering the weeks Hannah was on ECMO. To feel the mercies of God and how fragile everyone of our lives really are, is humbling and how easily I still forget in the day to day grind. Surely He keeps our hearts beating moment by moment.
I will pray for you in the day to day waiting, anticipating, that God would sustain you in Him. Love,
Krissy Wilkins (Sarah Torrance's sister)

Patti said...

Happy Birthday Catherine!! Welcome to the family! Katie and Donnie, she absolutely gorgeous. We are still praying for you. Just remember God has a plan and it is a wondrous plan!

Love you all,

Patti Raburn

Brenda said...

Praying for you guys. Wow, she's gorgeous! What a beautiful family.

AtlantaMama said...

AMAZING!!!! We are so blessed by Catherine 's life and her story already. God is so good. We will continue to pray over everything ahead.
Peace, Joy, and Blessings of LIFE!!!

Pinks and Blues said...

Catherine is beauty. She is joy. She is courage and hope and faith. How can I be so in love with a total stranger? Catherine's light and grace has opened a divine flow that has reached more people and opened more hearts than even seems possible. I pray for all of you. The photos are exquisite... I am just in love!

Scott and Katie said...

Katie, (Katie Torn Pants)
I found your blog through face book, and just wanted to let you know that you/your family and your precious baby girl are in our thoughts and prayers. God can work miracles. We'll be watching for more updates! So good to find you on the blog world.

Katie (Maynard) Raftelis (Katie Moon Yard)

Katie said...

I just came upon your blog and I'm praying for your precious little girl.

Katie Schultz
Aunt to baby Colt (CDH)
Independence, KY

hannah and tony said...

Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow! Continuing to lift up so many prayers for ya'll and your beautiful miracle. Our God is so amazing!

Kellie said...

Katie & Donnie,

Congratulations, first and foremost! Baby Catherine, Happy Birthday sweet little angel.

Wow, she is as beautiful as her mommy!! We continue to pray for her strength and endurance as she continues these mini battles in the near future.

Keep your head held high! Stay strong!! God's work is AMAZING!!

God Bless,

Kellie Faulkner

elaine davis said...


I miss being down the hall from you already! But I am so encouraged now that Uncle Keith and I are home, to see so many friends who have been praying so much for you! You are covered sweet girl! And I am praying too, that God would mend your little body and sustain your life! You are beautiful and my heart is full of love for you.

Aunt Elaine

Anonymous said...

She's so beautiful you guys! Ah, my heart just breaks looking at her! God bless you all! We love y'all.

LaDu said...

I am so glad you posted pictures! Catherine is beautiful! (Not surprised at all, of course) I'm so happy she has come this far. A miracle in itself! It is so incredible how many people are pulling for you; hopefully that gives you strength and comfort knowing that you are such special people! Your story has already made a remarkable impact on all of us. Thank you for keeping us updated! I am always thinking of you and your wonderful family. Good luck and stay strong!

Love always,
Lauren Dufort

Aep said...

I just came upon your blog. This post is absolutely beautiful. I will be praying for your sweet baby girl and your family.
God bless,
Mamma to Marco LCDH 3.2.07

My Wonderful Men said...

Happy Birthday to baby Catherine. She is beautiful and what a wonderful letter for her to read one day.
You all are in my prayers.

Mimi's Toes said...

Happy Birthday Princess Catherine. You are one blessed little girl to have such loving and caring parents. I can feel your daddy's love in this letter and I am praying for your quick recovery. I know you are already a daddy's girl.

Reid & Ronda Torrance said...

Amazing! I know your hearts are full. Please know that we are praying for you all everyday. May God bless the hands that tend baby Catherine and lead her to a quick recovery. You two are going to make wonderful parents who will enjoy and treasure every step of the way.

Hang tuff and lean on the Lord to carry you through the rough spots. We love you, Reid, Ronda, Reena and Ty ;)

seantk said...

Congrats and we are praying for you. Thanks for the slideshow, it was quite moving. You are blessed with this little one. Parenthood is a whole 'nother realm of experience. I pray God continues to sustain, heal, and nurture this little one. May His hand be on you two, as well.

Sean Kirkland

parentsofcole said...

Hi, my name is PENNY CAMPSEY, my son COLE is now 5 and is a CDH survivor from UVA !!
Please know that I am praying for you and if you need anything or just someone to talk with who has been through cdh (although all are different) I would love to help. My home is 434-432-2166 .. cell is 434-489-2166 .
Please call day or night if you need to.

parentsofcole said...

Our website, is also a wealth of information and support for CDH families.