Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy 1 Month Ella!

Ella is 1 month old! It's hard to believe that a month has gone by already. At times the days crawl by and other times they are flying. Ella has had a big month and we are so proud of how far she has come. She is so sweet and we are so thankful that she is our little girl!
We talked to the surgeon last night and the news is that she is not going to have surgery at this time. He thinks that her tummy is healing well and will continue to come together on it's own. If he were to go back in now he would have to disrupt some of the work that has already been done and he doesn't see a benefit in doing that so he is going to leave it alone for now. Time will tell how everything all comes together. In a couple of years it's highly possible Ella will have another surgery once they can see how this has grown with her but for now they are going to let her grow and heal on her own. We are happy with this decision and a little relieved. Her wound is about half the size it was a month ago so it is making good progress. We were there yesterday when the wound care team changed her dressing so Rick and I got to see what it really looks like and it looks good. She still has a significant opening but you can see where new skin tissue is growing and coming together so that is exciting. I think the plan now is to keep her on the wound vac for another week or so and then re-evaluate whether to keep her on the wound vac or change to a different type of dressing.

So the big challenge now is her feedings. If anything is going to keep us in the hospital it's going to be this so PLEASE pray for her to start feeding better with her bottles. She still weighs a little over 5 pounds. They are still alternating her feedings through the bottle and her feeding tube and trying to increase the amount. It is just a battle at times to get her to take an ounce through her bottle and she needs to be getting more. I know it is going to take time and feedings are always a big challenge for babies like Ella so we are really praying that in the next week or so she will really step it up. We would appreciate all of your prayers on this.

Love, Rick, Amy, Eva and Ella

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update on Ella

Ella has had a good week this week. Not a whole lot has changed since my last post. We are still working on her feedings. She has been on and off the feeding tube this week. They tried her on all bottles again yesterday and she took them well but was taking the minimum amount and sometimes less than they wanted her to have so as of last night she was put back on the feeding tube. She really needs to be taking more but she just tires out in the middle of her feedings so it has been really hard to get her to take a full feeding from her bottle. She also is still spitting up some so they have put her on a reflux medication to hopefully help keep everything down. She still weighs just a little over 5 pounds which is good but she just needs to start gaining weight consistently and taking more at each feeding. It's going to take time so we will just keep working on it. Please keep praying that Ella will be able to take more and get back to all bottle feedings.

They checked her wound vac on Thursday and said that it looks good. Her surgeon came by and said that he thinks her wound has come together enough where he can go in and surgically close it. We don't have a definite plan yet but it looks like sometime next week she will have surgery to close her wound instead of waiting on the wound vac to do it. They will check it again on Monday so hopefully by then we will have more details about when the surgery will be and what the plan of action is.

We'll keep everyone updated as we find out more. Thank you for your continued prayers for our family. The main prayer request right now would be for her to be able to increase the amount she takes at her feedings (without spitting up too much!) and be able to take it in her bottle. This could be set back a little with her facing surgery again next week so please pray for that.

Love, Rick, Amy, Eva and Ella

I love my passy and swing!

Quality time with Mimi, Dee and CC

Sunday, September 21, 2008

3 Weeks Old

Raise your hand if you're ready to go home?

I pulled my feeding tube out and I feel so much better!

The old tube is back but how about this hat? My nurses like to dress me up in cute hats!

Ella is 3 weeks old today! It's hard to believe that it's been three weeks already since she was born. She is making progress everyday and we are so thankful that she is continuing to do well. Not a whole lot has changed since the last update. Ella still is feeding through her tube and getting a bottle at every other feeding. On friday they took her tube out and gave her all bottle feedings which was exciting but she spit up quite a bit after each feeding so they decided to put her tube back in and continue alternating feedings for a while longer. She is getting tired of the old feeding tube because she has pulled it out several times. Poor Ella! Hopefully later this week they will take the tube out and try all bottles again, we'll just have to see how she does in the next few days. The doctors seemed pleased with her progress and are saying it's just going to take time for her body to handle everything considering the surgery she had.

As far as her incision goes it is making progress as well. Each time they check it they are seeing some changes. On Thursday it looked like some new skin tissue was starting to grow so that is great news. They will check it again tomorrow so hopefully we will continue to see that it is growing together. The surgeon said he would like for her to have the wound vac for another two weeks to let the incision continue to grow together on it's own so I think that is the plan for now. Things change so quickly in the NICU so we never know what they are going to tell us when we go see Ella everyday!

Overall she is right on target for where she should be. Thank you all for your continued prayers for Ella's healing. Please keep praying that she is able to tolerate her feedings as they increase the amount and go to all bottles and that her incision heals quickly. We are so ready for her to come home. We know she is in the best care right now but it is hard not having her with us. Thank you for the encouragement you continue to give our family, we are so humbled by your love and support.
Love, Rick, Amy, Eva and Ella

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taking a Bottle

Drinking her bottle

Trying to burp!

Worn out after eating!

The big news for the past two days is that Ella is taking a bottle! We are very excited and proud of our girl. She is still taking half of her feedings through her feeding tube but they are alternating every other feeding with giving her a bottle. She is taking 25 cc's which is a little less than an ounce every three hours through her tube and by bottle. It takes her about 30 minutes to take her bottle so it is slow going but she is getting the hang of it! She has some good spit ups every day but the doctors seem pleased that she is tolerating the feedings as well as she is. So, as Ella does well and takes these feedings they will gradually increase the amount until she is on full feeds. It's going to take some time but so far she is really working hard at taking her bottles so we know she will have it down in no time. The doctor looked at her wound vac on Monday and said that he is seeing some progress as far as her incision coming together a little so that is good news. More than likely she will have the wound vac on for awhile but they are checking it twice a week to see what changes are occurring. So far so good! They did tell us yesterday that Ella has a hernia caused by trying to get everything back in her abdomen from her omphalocele surgery. Apparently this is common and is to be expected but we did not know about it until yesterday so it was a little bit of a surprise. It's not necessarily a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it just means another surgery later down the road to repair it. Even though it's not a big deal, anything extra like that right now feels like a big deal to her mommy and daddy. We are just trying to take one day at a time and focus on the fact that she is doing so great considering all she has been through.

Ella weighs 5 pounds now so she is a big girl! She is so sweet and the nurses all say that she is very laid back. She loves to suck on her passy and listen to her little rainforest mobile. It puts her right to sleep. We are so thankful that she is content and doesn't seem to be in pain. We know it is because of all the prayers being prayed over her for peace and healing. Thank you for your continued faithfulness in praying for little Ella. She is doing so well but still has a long road ahead so keep the prayers coming. You all are such a blessing to our family!

Love, Rick, Amy, Eva and Ella

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2 Weeks Old

Ella with Dee (Rick's Mom)

Ella with Mimi (Amy's Mom)
Ella with Pawpaw (Amy's Dad)

Big sister Eva in her favorite shirt...the glasses and necklaces are a good look don't you think?

We can't believe little Ella is two weeks old today! She has come so far these past two weeks and we are so proud of her. Thank you for your continued prayers, emails, cards and phone calls. We feel so blessed by the love and support that everyone is showering on us and we are so thankful for each of you. We believe we are all witnessing God's hand and the power of prayer as we continue to see Ella heal and grow. Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for our sweet daughter, God is answering your prayers everyday.

Amy here, I figured it was time for me to take over posting on the blog before my sister Ann shares any more embarrassing stories about me. I feel like I should address the All My Children look-alike comment made and explain that I wouldn't exactly take it as a compliment being that it was made to me by a 60 year old man. Really? Does anyone else think it is strange that middle-aged men are watching All My Children or is it just me?

Anyway, back to Ella. She is doing so well. They increased her feedings today from 6 cc.'s to 10cc's and are working towards 15 which is about half an ounce. This afternoon she seemed to be tolerating them well and only spitting up a little bit so that is great. The wound care team will check her wound vac out tomorrow to see if there is any change with her incision. The wound vac is supposed to suction out any fluid as well as hopefully speed up the process of helping her skin grow together over the patch they put in at surgery over the area that they couldn't get completely closed. So we will see how things progress with that. The nurses are saying Ella is their little trailblazer with the wound vac! Apparently they use it a lot on older patients at Harris but have never really used it on babies. Go Ella!

She is so sweet and we can't wait for everyone to meet our girl. We'll continue to keep everyone updated as things progress. Please keep praying for her to take her feedings well as they increase and for her incision to heal quickly. So far there have not been any major setbacks and we know it is because of all the prayers being lifted up for Ella. Thank you for loving our family, we love each of you.
Love, Rick, Amy, Eva and Ella

Friday, September 12, 2008

Go Ella Go!

Ann writing again. I've just returned from seeing my little niece Ella and I just don't have the words to tell you how great she is!! She is absolutely the most precious little girl. She has these beautiful eyes that seem to spot you a mile away and draw you in. She was very alert today when we got there and busy staring at her little aquarium that the nurses gave her the other day (they said she looked bored :) Her wonderful nurses change her into a new outfit everyday and many days she has a little bow in her hair. So she is definitely lookin' good in the NICU. I got to hold her for the first time and she snuggled up next to me and sucked on her giant pacifier and went to sleep. It was such a blessing to finally hold that little girl that has been prayed for so much by so many. God continues to answer our prayers for her healing every single day and night. She is so little, but full of such strength. You can just see it when you look at her! We are all so proud of her and so thankful for how well she is doing. Her bed is covered in pink these days and she looks content in her little area of the room.

Okay, now for the medical details. She is continuing to progress well with her feedings. She is up to 6 cc. of milk right now and as of last night she is starting to digest it all. They will probably keep her at 6 cc for the weekend and then move it up. The doctor seems pleased with how the feeding is going (Ella is on a feeding tube through her nose now). Please keep praying for her feeding and digestion to increase and get better and better. So far so good though. On another good note, her wound vac seems to be working well. She looks very comfortable and content every time they see her. So hopefully it is speeding up the healing.

Amy is healing well too. She is very tired but her blood pressure is much better. It looks like she will be on the strong medication for another few weeks. She looks great though. And she won't tell you this but I will....a man at the hospital told her that she looked like an actress on "All My Children"! Pretty high compliment don't you think? I mean, not many people are told that a week after having a baby! :) Sorry Amy, couldn't resist.

Eva is doing great. Today I watched as she wrapped the blood pressure thing around her arm and pushed the right button to check her own blood pressure. Amazing. She is hilarious as usual and ready to meet her little sis.

And ol' Rick is taking great care of all of the Carder women. He is a wonderful and attentive husband and father. Thank you Rick for taking such good care of my sister. You are doing a great job!

Prayer requests:
Ella's feedings and continued healing for her incision
Amy's blood pressure and healing
Strength and energy for Amy and Rick as they care for their family

Just had to post a picture of me holding Ella, forgive me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From the Carders

First of all, we want to thank Ann for keeping this blog updated. She has been doing a great job and we really appreciate it. She’ll probably continue doing it for a while as things remain busy around here.

We want to write more and we’ll never be able to thank everyone enough for all the support you have been throughout this entire pregnancy but especially during these past several days. Your prayers are being felt and God is filling us with peace. We have a long road ahead of us so please keep praying. Thank you for all the calls, visits, food, gift baskets, letters. We are overwhelmed at how God is taking care of us. I believe God looks down on His children and just loves watching them take care of each other. Everyone is just scurrying around and taking care of whatever we need. It is very humbling being on the receiving end of all the generosity. But we want you to know your generosity is resulting in thanksgiving to God and glory to Him.

We had a great day today. Ella started feeding through a feeding tube. We won’t know how her organs react to it for a day or so. Feeding is a very big hurdle for babies that have this surgery so be praying that everything works the way it is supposed to work.

The surgeon met with the “wound care team” this morning (a team of doctors and nurses who specialize in wound care – “wound care team”- fitting name). They will begin using a new type of dressing (ranch instead of thousand island – thanks Ann for that joke). Seriously, they will be using a new type of dressing that hopefully will help her incision heal quicker. It will provide negative pressure that will continuously suck out any unnecessary fluid in her abdomen. They will put this dressing on tomorrow and try it for a couple weeks. Pray that her incision heals quickly.

Again, thank you for all the prayers. We love all of you and we’ll continue to keep you updated as things progress.

Amy, Rick, Eva and Ella

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Big day for Little Ella!

I am so excited to report another great day for Ella. She is now off of the ventilator and doing very well. Amy finally got to hold her little girl yesterday and she said it was wonderful! Ella cuddled up next to her and held her finger and they loved every minute of their time together. She was very alert yesterday. She is still on a little oxygen and has her feeding tube still. The nurses will start her bottle feedings sometime in the next day or so, so please be praying that Ella will continue her progress and that her little digestive tract will work perfectly. She had two poopy diapers which thrilled everyone. (One day I'll apologize to Ella for broadcasting her bowel movements! She'll learn quickly that her Aunt Ann frequently says too much! :) So, praise God for another good day and may He continue to bless her healing.

Amy had a good day yesterday as well. Her blood pressure is staying much lower and she sounded good. They are enjoying being in the comfort of home and back to the play-time and bed-time routines with sweet Eva. They got to see Ella twice yesterday so that is good and hard I know, but they are handling it as best as they can. Thank you for your words of encouragement, love, and prayers. I know it does their hearts good to know that you are all standing with them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday--One week old!

Ella Hope is one week old at 7:30 p.m. What a week it has been! Praise God for a successful surgery and for the many answered prayers this week. Amy said when she and Rick went in this morning the nurses had given Ella a sedative a little before they got there and so she was sleeping. As soon as she heard them talking she opened her eyes and looked at them the whole time they were there. She also just held on to Amy's finger as they talked. She sure loves her Mommy and Daddy. What great parents they are! They are prepping her to take her off the ventilator sometime soon, tonight or tomorrow, and they moved her into another NICU room. So Ella has had a good day today.

Please pray this evening. As I type this Amy is being released from the hospital. This means her BP is stable and has stayed down enough for her to go home, so that is a praise. However, tonight should be tough for them. So please pray for the "new normal" they are beginning this week. Hopefully Ella will be home in one month, which seems so long right now.

Prayer requests:
Amy--that she will continue to rest at home and take it easy. She will be on the BP medicine for at least the next six weeks. And for her emotionally as she adjusts to life back at home and the daily visits to Ella.

Ella--that she will continue to take steps forward as this is a big week for her with the plans to take her off the ventilator and for her to possibly start her feedings sometime this week.

Rick and Eva--as they care for Amy and Ella. They are the best encouragers right now!

I'll keep you posted. Thank you again for all of your prayers every day. It is carrying them through every minute.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday Night

Just wanted to finish the day with an update. Not much new to report. It was a good day. Amy got to change her first Ella diaper, so that was fun for her. Amy said the nurses all think that Ella is doing so great and say she is so alert. They say they just love seeing her eyes looking at them and following them as they work. The nurses also said she seems like a laid back baby. So she is getting great care from some great nurses. Amy's blood pressure is still high but getting a little lower. She said most of the day she had good blood pressure, but it started getting higher at the end of the day. So we'll see how she does tomorrow, the second day of her new medicine. Please pray for a good day tomorrow and for strength to face a new day, and possibly going home tomorrow evening.

Saturday Morning

Just a quick update for now. Rick said Amy's blood pressure stayed up last night and so they are starting her stronger medicine this morning. He said she really has to rest today and is hoping she will take lots of naps.

Ella had another good night. Rick got to change her little diaper last night and take her temperature. I also stand corrected....I said she weighed 5 lbs 8 oz which is just a little (or a lot) off...she weighs 5 lbs .8 oz. Forgot the point! Sorry. She is almost 5 pounds 1 oz. These old ears!

I'll keep you posted when I hear more. Pray for rest and that this medicine will do the job today for Amy. And that little Ella will keep up the good work.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday night update

Eva, the big sister, keeps us all on our toes!

I just talked to Amy and she had a good day. Her blood pressure was still high, but she said it was more consistent today than yesterday and it is slowly getting a little lower. She said it didn't spike as high as it has been doing the last few days. Her doctor gave her different medicine and it is seeming to help. However, her doctor did decide to keep Amy in the hospital until at least Sunday to make sure that she is doing better. That is a huge relief to both Amy and Rick, so they both sounded happy with that decision.

Ella's surgeon, Dr. Black, came by and changed the dressing on the incision and again was very pleased with how it is healing. Her NICU doctor, Dr. Simmons, also seems pleased with Ella's progress. The goal is to have her off of the ventilator by Monday and for her to start her feedings around then too. She pooped today and that is a good sign that things are working! Her swelling is going down too. Amy said she weighed in at 5 lbs. 8 oz. yesterday, some of that is the swelling, but they are pleased with how she's doing. So all in all, today was a good day for both Amy and Ella. Praise the Lord!

Thank you for your prayers today, I know they were felt. Amy loves reading the comments. Pray that the next couple of days will be filled with more good reports and healing all around. Eva is doing well and having fun with her various grandparents and other family. Now when they pull up to the hospital she just starts saying "Mommy! Daddy!". She is so great and just can't wait to get to know her little sis. They are going to get into all kinds of trouble together I just know it. :)

Enjoy the pictures. I wish you could tell how spunky she is (like her momma and her sis!).


I don't have too much to report, because things have pretty much remained the same. Which is good, and bad. Good because Ella Hope Carder is doing so well! She is still being weened off of the ventilator and is responding very well to that. And I'm not just saying this because she is my niece, (well...maybe I'm biased :) , but she is absolutely the most beautiful baby ever! She has a little turned up nose like her sister, she has a little round head covered in dark blond hair, and little alert eyes that just bring such joy every time they open. It is so amazing to watch as Amy and Rick talk to her and she immediately knows when they are there! She starts moving and opens her eyes--she knows her Mommy and Daddy and it is one of the most precious things I've seen.

The bad I mentioned is that Amy's blood pressure is still unstable. She has been resting yesterday and today, but it continues to spike throughout the night and day. So please please please pray for Amy's healing. She is on medication and the Dr. is watching it closely. The nurses have said that some of this is normal because Amy got so sick so fast over the weekend so it is just going to take awhile for her body to get back to normal. She is in excellent care with an amazing Dr. (who also delivered Eva) and great nurses. Please pray that today will bring a change as they don't want to go home until they know this is under control (and they were originally thinking they would be released this evening).

Specifics for prayer:
AMY'S BLOOD PRESSURE--that was Rick's main request this morning for me to put on the blog ( He is taking excellent care of all of his girls this week. You all would be so proud to see him in action. He is caring for his family with such strength which God is renewing daily. Continue to pray for him too.)

Ella's continued healing and recovery--that it would continue to go well and progress. They love getting to go down to see her and hearing about how great she is doing.

I will post more as soon as I know more. They were going to go down and see Ella here after a while this morning, so I'll post again as I hear from Rick. Love you all. Rick said again that they are just so overwhelmed by the love you all are showing them. They are amazed at the family of God and how God provides such comfort and support through His children for His children. They read the blog and the comments and it means so much. God bless you all today and may more prayers be answered today.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday Morning

I just got off the phone with Rick this morning and I have an update for all of you. Ella had a great night last night. This morning they have already started weening her off of the ventilator! He said the Dr. came by this morning and said he was "pleasantly surprised" at the size of the hole he had to cover with artificial skin. If you remember, it was a little bigger than quarter size the day of, and now it is about nickel size! So everyone is thrilled and you can praise the Lord this morning for more answered prayers on behalf of Ella Hope. They are now waiting for all the swelling to go down, and it is gradually going down already Rick said. He got to see her last night and she opened her eyes and looked at him for a long time as he talked to her. He also said she started to move a little bit. So he sounded very pleased this morning giving all praise to God for these good reports.

The one not-so-good report has to do with Amy. Her blood pressure remained high all through the night which is concerning. I don't know much more than that. So please pray that today will mark a day of healing for sweet Amy. She wants so badly to just be better so she can focus on little Ella, and it is frustrating to not be able to do anything about the blood pressure.

I'll keep you all posted throughout the day. Keep up your prayers because the Lord is answering them every minute.

I posted late last night about yesterday, so scroll down to "Wednesday" for that update.

Thank you all again for loving Rick and Amy and lifting them up to the Lord, it means the world to them and is providing their strength day to day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Ella is doing well in recovery today and tonight. She is absolutely the most precious little girl in the world. She has a flat little tummy now and it is so amazing to see her. She is just under 4 pounds now--so tiny and beautiful. She is still on the ventilator, but doing great with her oxygen and the nurses said she is doing well. Little Ella is so strong, and pink, and sweet. She looks a lot like her sister Eva!

Amy is doing well too. She is still having some high blood pressure so she is taking meds for that and trying to rest. Looks like she will be released on Friday to go home. Every day she is getting stronger and feeling a little better physically, so please pray that her blood pressure will return to normal and that they will feel at peace about going home without the fear of blood pressure issues after they leave the hospital.

Please continue to pray for these things specifically:
-Ella's healing and recovery
-Amy's blood pressure to calm down and recovery
-That Thursday and Friday will be good days in the hospital with Ella and that the good reports keep coming!
-Amy and Rick's weekend as they begin this next phase of the journey when they return home and Ella stays at the hospital--neither one of them is looking forward to that obviously and prayers are needed for their strength and peace emotionally in the coming days especially. The doctor said Ella will probably be there about a month.

**Thank you to all of you who have prayed, called, come by, texted, posted comments, written notes of encouragement, brought flowers and food and gifts, mowed the lawn, cared for Eva, and a thousand other things during the last few days. Amy and Rick are so overwhelmed by the love and support of all of you and it has touched them deeply. Thank you for being Christ in so many ways. Amy and Rick feel so blessed and thankful for each and every one of you.**

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Successful Surgery

Ella is out of surgery and it was very successful. The Dr. said that they were able to get all of the sac inside and just had to use a small quarter-size patch of synthetic skin to cover everything (which I think Rick said that real skin will eventually cover). Praise the Lord for a smooth surgery! The Dr. said he was pleased with everything. Thank you for your prayers. Amy is doing well with her recovery too. Ella will be on a ventilator for the next couple of days at least, so please continue to pray for her healing and recovery. God is so good and all of our prayers are being answered on Ella's behalf. We'll have more details from the Dr. on what is to follow and will keep you updated as we learn more.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Surgery Update

Ella will have surgery at 8:00 in the morning, Tuesday, September 2, which we just found out a little bit ago. I will keep you posted as I have information. Amy did get to hold Ella tonight and see her, so that was a special time. Thank you all for your prayers and support. Ella and Amy had good days today and the doctors have given them both good reports. Big Sister Eva and Rick are taking great care of their family. I will update more tomorrow as soon as I know anything. At this point they don't know where the surgery will be or any other details. Please pray for their peace, for their surgeon Dr. Black and his team, for a successful surgery, and for sweet little Ella's strength and healing tomorrow.

Ella's Early Arrival

Ella Hope Carder was born last night around 7:30 p.m. She weighed in at 4 lbs. 3 oz and is absolutely beautiful. She has gotten good reports from her doctors so far and Amy is doing well.

Now for the details. It was pretty scary yesterday when Amy called and said that they were going to the hospital to get checked because she was having terrible headaches. She started having them early Saturday morning and when it continued to get worse the Dr. told her to go ahead and come in. Once they got to the hospital they monitored her blood pressure and it was extremely high. They decided under the circumstances to go ahead and do the c-section. It all happened so fast and now Ella is here and healthy. Her daddy even got to hold her last night! So we are all thankful that both mom and baby are doing well.

Please continue to pray for Amy as she recovers from a rough day yesterday and as the doctors continue to monitor Ella and determine when her surgery will be. It could be as early as today. We will keep you posted.