Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome Gabriella's Grace!

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Project Sweet Peas would like to officially welcome a new local project in Gabriella's Grace, which joined us in May! Gwen Weber is Gabriella's mom and the project leader of Gabriella's Grace, which donates care packages to a local hospital in Ohio.

For more information on Gabriella's Grace, please email Gwen at

Here is Gabriella's story ...

My husband Jake and I got married in July and quickly set about starting a family. That November we were overjoyed when we found out that we were expecting a baby in August. I was ecstatic when I found out I was having a baby girl and spent most of my days off shopping, decorating, and planning for her arrival and dreaming of the moment she would be in my arms. My pregnancy was not what I would call pleasant; I battled morning sickness all day long, Gabriella kept me up all night doing acrobatics, and by the end of May I was ordered to work half days because my feet and legs were so swollen. Around the end of June I started to feel better and decided to go to some garage sales with a close friend who was expecting a baby in the beginning of July. When I woke up that morning I did not feel quite right. I was not in pain; I just didn’t feel right. When we got the first sale, I told my friend that my stomach was hard and I couldn’t fell Gabriella move as much. She felt my stomach and suggested I call my doctor. When I arrived at the doctor’s office she did a non stress test and exam. There were no signs of contractions and Gabriella was moving just fine however I was dilated a centimeter so the doctor felt I must be having some type of contractions. She gave me some medications to stop the contractions and told me to rest for the remainder of the weekend and go immediately to the hospital if anything did not feel right. Well the next morning I woke up around 9 am and my water broke on my way to take a shower. My husband and I quickly threw a few items into a bag and headed to the hospital. The hours that followed are all blur to me still. We arrived to the hospital and the nurses started to fill out the paperwork but my contractions got closer and closer. I went from 4 centimeters to 9.5 centimeters within a matter of ten minutes and can vaguely remember being wheeled in to the delivery room. After pushing for a short time, our baby girl Gabriella Grace arrived at 12:54 pm weighing 4lbs 7 ounces. This moment of arrival was not the one I had dreamed of, I had a few seconds to kiss my baby girl and stoke her head as she had to go straight to the NICU. My husband was able to go with her and talk to the doctors. I had to stay in recovery and finish my admittance paperwork. When I finally had the chance to see my baby girl I was not prepared for how she would look. She was hooked up to so many wires and tubes I could hardly see her tiny face. I just remember feeling so scared and helpless. The doctors and nurses were very kind to us and explained all the details regarding Gabriella’s health and care. They explained that her body needed to begin to regulate its own temperature, breathe, and eat without any help before she could come home. Probably the hardest part was the first night home without our daughter. It felt so empty and sad; I just wanted to hold my baby in my arms and take care of her. There would be many painful and tearful moments over the next few weeks but Jake and I continued to pray and put our faith in God that Gabriella would be okay. Over the next three weeks, we were regulars at the NICU spending all day there and only taking breaks to eat and sleep. We learned how to take part in all of our daughter’s care and I began pumping milk and working with the lactation consultant to teach Gabriella to breastfeed. We also attended parent groups at the NICU where we learned how to care for our preemie. At these parent’s groups we met other families and it helped us to realize how blessed we were that our daughter was as healthy as she was and that we had such wonderful resources and support systems. We had friends and family, who prayed for us, sent us uplifting emails and text messages, brought flowers and cards, made usmeals, bought and washed preemie clothes, let our dogs out, and came to visit. We found that so many other families had to travel far distances, care for older children, worry about cooking meals, and had to find a way to balance work and hospital time. Some families had not even had baby showers yet, so they had to worry about purchasing basic baby care items for when their little one returned home. We can only imagine how much harder this would have been if we had all of these other stressors in our lives. Today Gabriella or “Ella Grace” as we call her is a feisty, playful, and happy soon to be one year old. She is meeting all of her developmental milestones and is very social baby. We are so thankful for all of the support we received and grateful to all of the wonderful staff at the NICU who cared for her and taught us so much. It is our hope that through Project Sweet Peas, local project Gabriella’s Grace we can help make other families time in the NICU a little more comfortable. We would like to provide families with items that they can use while in the NICU and when they get home. We know that we cannot take away all of the stress and pain that can be occur when your baby is in the NICU but we would like to help make this experience a little bit easier.


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