Minnie Mouse, the new puppy

Ella looking tough in her leather jacket, braids and missing tooth while Minnie Mouse looks minnie.
We finally broke Natalie down and got a dog. She's been fighting it and complaining about the 3 cats and 4 turtles, but a family just isn't a family without a dog. When I say we broke her down, it was really Grams dropping her off on the day Ella returned from the hospital...but Minnie Mouse has won over Natalie's heart. The first night we were home from the hospital Minnie Mouse slept on a pillow right next to Ella and watched over her all night. That was it, she was in!

Minnie Mouse is a few years old with really stinky breath! We are adopting her from a neighbor of Michele's aunt who is very sick with cancer. Her original name was Sassy. As soon as we can get her to the vet for her shots we'll be getting her cleaned-up and groomed. She has already had some poop stick to the hair around her butt and then drag her butt across the floor trying to get it off. Poop doesn't come out of the carpet too easily :-(

Although the house smells more like poop, we love Minnie Mouse. She follows us around, sleeps at the end of the bed and is always looking for love.
This is us out at the local Ma & Pa trail for a family walk. Thomas ran 4 miles and the girls walked about a mile and a half!

Ella's hospital stay

Name one of the scariest things you can imagine and any parent will put “hospitalization of a child” in their top 3. Thomas and I experienced this scare over Valentine’s day weekend. On Thursday Feb 14th Ella woke up from her nap with a slight fever. By 3 am Friday morning she started having a hacking cough. By 7 am, her breathing was labored, she had high fever and she was unable to sleep, she was so uncomfortable. I brought her to her pediatrician by 8am and he confirmed she had croup and gave us a prescription for steroids and told us to put her in a steamy shower (which I had already tried). By 10 am the steroids still hadn’t helped and Ella was exerting huge energy to take each breath. I brought her to the ER at our local hospital.

She was seen right away and given a steroid shot and a breathing treatment. Her breathing got slightly better, but she was not responding as well to the treatments as she had when she was an infant with the croup. By 6 pm they decided she needed to be observed overnight. She was moved to her own room, hooked up to an IV and put on oxygen. Around 9 pm her oxygen levels got extremely low and she had a few scares where she stopped breathing due to mucous clogging her airway. We had 3 nurses, 2 respiratory specialists and 2 doctors in her room at one point, all looking nervous. Ella was sweaty, miserable, and exhausted. She sounded like she was trying to breathe out of a straw. After 3 breathing treatments, her O2 levels came back up, but only remained high on a continuous oxygen feed.

The pediatrician on call finally recommended transferring her to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore to receive more frequent breathing treatments and have access to a breathing machine in case her condition worsened. We transferred to the Intermediate Care section of the PICU at UMMC around 11 pm. The staff there diagnosed Ella with croup, influenza and pneumonia. Ella remained in the hospital until Monday night and was sent home on antibiotics. It is now a week later and, Praise God, she is finally her usual happy self, albeit with a bad cough and runny nose.

The silver lining of this entire horrible experience was seeing how much support and love God has placed in our lives. Ella’s grandparents were with us through the entire ordeal. They booked a hotel room a few blocks from the hospital and helped relieve Thomas and I so we could eat, shower, and get some much needed rest. Her Aunt Jenni drove down everyday to bring Ella snacks and toys and bring us fresh clothes. Her uncle Charlie and Aunt Michele came to visit. All of her Ohio relatives called for updates. And of course my entire family provided phone calls and text messages of support. So I guess this is a good example of how God can use obstacles and adversity to reveal his glory and love.
We are so thankful for all the blessings God has given us. We hope the next time we have to go to the hospital, it will be to welcome Ella's new cousin John Robert into the world! He is due in 2 weeks!