Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Air She Breathes

Our little Alicia continues to breathe very well. Praise the Lord.

This morning when we saw her, her breathing machine was helping her to take about 20 breaths a minute. This evening the machine was adjusted down to 17 breaths a minute. Go, Alicia, Go! Problem is sometimes our little one gets a little to comfortable and forgets to breath. Setting off the beeps of the monitors alerting the nurses that there is a problem. But it's all right, all the nurses need to do is kind of pat her gently and she'll wake up and remember to breathe again.

While we were there, Linda and I were singing to her, and I guess she must have fallen asleep to our singing cause suddenly the machines started beeping, but the doctor and nurse came over and took care of it, and she was fine.

A little bit of clarification on the heart and the heart medicine. Apparently, if I didn't misunderstand the nurse this evening, each child gets up to two rounds of medicine that is intended to close the hole in the heart. Each round consists of three shots. Today, Alicia got her third shot finishing off her first round of injections. Pray with us for a miracle, that tomorrow morning when the doctors check Alicia's heart, they will find a beautifully crafted, whole and complete heart.

We shared earlier that we've been able to get a bit of milk out of Linda. God is amazing. We were told by a doula friend of ours that Linda's milk is different than the milk that moms of full-term babies have. Linda's milk is especially formulated for a preemie. Seriously, God thinks of everything. Since this was only the second day after labor, we weren't able to get a whole lot of milk from Linda. But when we talked to the nurse during our evening visit we were happy to hear that even the little bit that we were able to squeeze out, is making a difference. Every day, they give Alicia a "lollipop" to help her practice sucking. The lollipop is the cotton-swab thing that you see sticking out of Alicia's mouth in some pictures. Today after we delivered Linda's milk, they were able to dip the swab into the milk and let Alicia suck on it to get some of the nutrients and antibodies that she so needs.

Linda continues to do better and better. Please pray for us to have some good nurses. We're really learning that a good bedside manner makes a huge difference. We had a grumpy nurse today, and she was just a bit unpleasant. Unfortunately this nurse was tasked with the charge of removing Linda's last IV, which is a praise, but also to draw some blood for a blood test. I say unfortunately cause not only was she miss sourpuss, but she also missed twice when she was trying to get Linda's blood. In the end, she had to ask another nurse to come in to draw the blood. Sigh. Poor Linda. She's been so strong through all of this poking and prodding, but today after the nurse missed twice, she just broke down in tears. There's only so much poking and prodding a person can take. When the second nurse came in, I just wanted to smack her. She saw Linda crying and she was like, "Are you afraid of pain?" I so wanted to say, "How would you feel if you've had 20 needles in and out of your body over the last three days, you stupid woman!" But I controlled myself. I'm sorry. I don't want to be mean. But sometimes these people really annoy me. Perhaps I'm just getting tired.

Well, I should go get some rest. Tomorrow is another day. By the way it's almost 72 hours. And things seem to be all right. No news is good news at this point. I think the first 2 weeks are the most critical. But as the doctors told us today, we just take it one day at a time. Each day that passes without incident is another day closer to victory.

Alicia, you best out live Mommy and Daddy! =)

Speed Bumps

Dearly beloved,

Wait... that sounds kind of morbid.

Let me try again.

Dear loved ones,

Thank you for your continued prayers and concern, and I ask that you keep the prayers coming. Today's been a mixed day so far.

First, the great news. Linda is able to get on and off her bed more and more smoothly and has even walked to the bathroom several times already today. This is a huge praise. Yesterday, the two times she tried to get on and off the bed took her about 5 minutes each way. Today, she's able to get on and off within a minute and able to walk around and stand for minutes at a time. So we're so thankful that Linda is improving rapidly. She is also down to only one IV now, after having three IVs in her body for the past few days. Originally, we were told that Linda's last IV might be able to be removed today. However, after doing blood tests they discovered that her white blood cell count was still rather high. So the doctor decided that she still needs one more day of antibiotics before they take out the IV. And because there was a slight problem with the old IV, the nurse, as I type this, is in the midst of putting a new IV into Linda's arm and taking out her old one. Sigh.

As for Alicia, her condition continues to be unstable. But we believe that these struggles are merely speed bumps along the road to recovery and not dead ends. This morning when we went to see her, the doctor rattled off a bunch of things in Chinese about the problems that she was having and while I understood everything that she said while she was saying it, my mind wasn't quite able to retain it all, so I had to ask the nurse to go over again everything that the doctor said.

Basically, in a nutshell. Alicia has a hole in her heart. This is something that all preemies have. Well, actually all babies of Alicia's age have this whether they are inside or outside the womb. I'm not a biologist, but I guess as the heart develops there is a hole that gradually closes as the heart matures. Unfortunately, since Alicia's heart isn't completely mature, the hole hasn't closed yet. They've given her two shots of medicine already that is intended to close the hole in her heart, however, Alicia hasn't responded well to that medicine, so the hole hasn't grown any smaller. The doctors are planning to give Alicia a third shot today. If the hole still remains in her heart, surgery may be required. I know many, many children have gone through this surgery before. And I've heard stories before of kids going through heart surgery and doing well afterwards, but it's so hard when it's your own kid.

So prayer number one. Pray for Alicia's heart that it would close and be healthy and strong.

Alicia continues to breathe well, though she still needs the machine. But I have faith that she'll continue to improve in this area as well as others. Problem is though that she's still rather small, so everything including her air tubes are really small, so any time she turns her head, she has the possibility of constricting her air passage.

Also her other organs still haven't made any progress which is natural in one sense because she's only 2 days old, but in other senses we really pray that they would develop quickly so that she can get stronger and stronger. Especially in the area of digestion so that she can start drinking some of Linda's milk.

Speaking of Linda's milk, we were able to get a few drops today to pass on to the nurses in the ICU. Even though it was really only a sliver, it was still quite an accomplishment. So we continue to pray that Linda's milk would continue to come in and that we can get Alicia some of the nutrients that she needs.

After writing and saying that Alicia was like all other preemies, I thought I'd better confirm that with the doctors. Unfortunately her answer was not quite what I wanted to hear.

I think I had written that Alicia needed to be resuscitated after birth. This, unfortunately, is not something that most preemies need. Actually, the doctor said that most preemies out of the womb are still breathing and alive. But actually, Alicia's heart had stopped. And not for a few seconds but for several minutes. In fact, according to the doctor, it had taken them about seven minutes to get Alicia's heart beating again. Not a great start.

Also, Alicia continues to have bleeding in the brain, which is again common, but still something that definitely needs to be monitored.

Right now, it's been about 60 hours since Alicia's birth. As I said earlier the first 72 hours are very telling.

Some positive news is that while I was in the ICU I got to witness the nurse do some work on Alicia. While she was doing the procedure, Alicia writhed and looked like she was in pain. And the nurse spoke to her which I thought was precious. She told Alicia not to cry and to be patient and that things would be all right. The nurse told me that Alicia had quite a personality, which made me smile. She's fiesty, I guess. =)

Linda and I continue to have faith and believe in miracles. We believe that Alicia's case is not one that is beyond the reaches of modern medicine, and therefore well, well, within the reaches of our Heavenly Father. She's in the best hands possible, the hands of our Loving Heavenly Father.

Sometimes I don't like talking to doctors. While I understand their need to be real and honest, it is really hard to deal with such doomsayers. But I just take it as a reminder to continue to pray. Allow me to mix metaphors a bit and say that the storm isn't over, and that Alicia is definitely not out of the water yet. But as I said yesterday, I believe that she and we are walking on the water with Jesus and not drowning within it.

Thinking about the lyrics I posted yesterday, I realized that the name of the group, "Destiny's Child" was also an appropriate description of our precious daughter. She is indeed a child of destiny -- a destiny that God wrote and planned out for her before she was even born. I believe that she has something mighty to do in this world, and therefore, you will know our Alicia Charis one day, and you will hear about the things she's doing and you'll say, "I knew her when..." =)

Our dear little one continues to struggle and fight for her life. But I believe that she's not fighting alone. She's got hundreds of uncles and aunties, grandparents, brothers and sisters all fighting and praying for her. Most of all, Jesus is with her and the angels are guarding over her.
I believe our master physician Jesus is working on her even as we speak.

We got an encouraging phone call from a dear Auntie of ours today reminding us to stay positive. She said something that really boosted Linda and I. She told us to remember that God has his perfect plan in motion. Yes, Alicia is outside of Linda's womb right now, and maybe that's not what we would have wanted, but she's still growing and that God in his wisdom has chosen to allow Alicia to finish growing outside of Linda rather than inside. Perhaps God felt that it was better for Linda and Alicia's health to allow this to happen, or perhaps he had his other reasons. But fact is, he allowed it. And the beauty of this situation is that now we get to watch her grow and get stronger each day. We get to touch her and speak to her and see with our eyes as God performs the delicate work of growing our precious daughter. We just trust and walk ahead in faith, believing in our Father's tender love, mercy and grace over us.

And thank you all for your many, many stories of preemie babies growing up healthy and strong. Each of these stories just reminds us that it has been done before and God will do it again.

I definitely look forward to introducing many of you to our precious daughter sooner rather than later.

Here's looking forward to some great news on Alicia in about 5 hours when we go and visit her again.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Good Day

I am so, so proud of my two girls.

Today, while thinking of what to write as an update the song "Survivor" by Destiny's Child came to mind. Well, mainly the chorus. The verses don't really fit this situation. But the chorus definitely does.

I'm a survivor (what),
I'm not gonna give up (what),
I'm not gon' stop (what),
I'm gonna work harder (what),
I'm a survivor (what),
I'm gonna make it (what),
I will survive (what),
Keep on survivin' (what),
I'm a survivor (what),
I'm not gonna give up (what),
I'm not gon' stop (what),
I'm gonna work harder (what),
I'm a survivor (what),
I'm gonna make it (what),
I will survive (what),
Keep on survivin' (what).

My girls are survivors. They don't give up. And they're getting stronger by the day!

Today was a good day. It started with Linda and I waking up after both of us were able to get our first full night's rest in three days. It's been a trying three days as you can imagine, so being able to sleep was definitely a gift.

Next, you guys need to know that Linda has been amazing through this whole ordeal. Sitting with her every day and chatting, you'd never ever know that she had just gone through an emergency C-Section and delivered a micro-preemie. I mean the woman is just all smiles and joy.

And I have to take this time to thank all of you that are praying for us. I believe that there hundreds of you out there all over the world praying for us and let me tell you, your prayers are really sustaining us and carrying us through. Throughout this whole ordeal, we've just sensed and overwhelming peace and confidence in the Lord, Our God, our Daddy, our Jehovah Jireh Provider and Jehovah Rapha Healer.

Back to today. In the morning about 9:30 or so, our dear sister and friend, Heather arrived and it was really good to see her. She was the first of our friends to visit us, and it was a comfort to have her to spend the day with us.

She was a great help in just chatting with us, and most of all helping to raise and lower Linda's bed as the need arose. And let me tell you, this was no small job.

About 10:30 or so, I was able to go in and see Alicia again. And she looked even better than she did yesterday. More color and some of her swelling had gone down. This time, while I was visiting Alicia, the head doctor -- Dr. Hsu came over and greeted us. He told us that he had received a call from my great-uncle asking him to take special care of our little Alicia and he promised that he would do his best. When I asked how she was doing, he said, she's doing better, but she's definitely not out of the water yet. But he said he would keep doing his best. He told me again of the problems that Alicia was facing, but said that all of those things, they would take care of as the need arose. The main concern right now was sustaining Alicia's life.

After spending a good half an hour with Alicia, I went back to our room to find Linda getting a special treat that she'd been longing for since she started to be alert again after delivery -- a hairwash! It was fun to watch the lady put down a plastic sheet and then an inflatable innertube thing with a drain under Linda's head so she could wash it all while Linda stayed in her hospital bed. Amazing! =) Linda was so happy and grateful to finally have clean hair. It was definitely a good thing.

Following the hairwash, my dear girl was able to perform a feat that any woman who's ever had a C-Section would tell you was excruciating. Linda sat up for the first time. It took her about 5 minutes to do this action that normally takes us but a few seconds, but she did it! It was amazing. I was so proud of her, I took a picture! =) I mean, normally sitting up isn't something we think too much about, but with a staple wound across her abs combined with the dizziness from shifting positions after so long being prone, it was definitely quite an accomplishment.

Later in the day, Linda was able to get her second round of blood transfusion, which we were a little nervous about. Linda got her first round of blood last night and she did not react well to it. About 1/3 of the way down the bag, Linda's body started to react to the foreign blood. She started shivering uncontrollably all over and got chills. So I immediately called the nurse over who stopped the transfusion and gave her a second blanket on top of the one she was already under, and t a heat lamp to help Linda warm up. She also told Linda to drink a lot of warm water. After what seemed like forever, Linda was still not doing well, so they had to give her a dose of medicine to stop the reaction. That helped Linda to settle down a bit, except the chills quickly turned into a high fever and more discomfort. Thankfully, after second shot of medicine Linda started to feel better and was able to finish off the bag of blood. (Haha. Sounds funny. But that's what happened.)

Anyway, so back to day, Linda got through the second bag of blood with no shivers and no fever so we were very thankful about that. By then Heather had said her goodbyes and was headed back to Taipei. Just in time for me to get a call from our friend Kevin saying that he was going to come down and pay us a visit as well. Towards the end of Heather's visit and prior to Kevin's visit, I started to feel a headache coming on and got really dizzy. I was familiar with these headaches as I often got them when I was dehydrated or too tired. So I immediately tried to get some water in me. But it wasn't helping. So I decided I needed to lie down and try to take a nap. After sleeping for about 10 min. The headache still wasn't gone so I headed to the bathroom, and while I was in there, I threw up and felt much better after that. Definitely understand now, about taking care of myself so I can take care of my wife and kid. Duh.

Anyway, so by now Kevin found his way to our room and it was really great to see him. He was such a servant, giving me a shoulder massage and offering to help Linda find a mirror from random strangers so that Linda would be able to get something out that she felt in her eye. It's such a comfort to have brothers like Kevin in our life.

By now it was time for my evening visit to Alicia and this time around we got some great news! Alicia was breathing more on her own and she was getting more and more oxygen into her blood stream so they were able to lower her dependency on the respirator! Also, the nurses said that she was pretty active and moved around a lot. So much so that they had to strap her arms down for fear that she would pull out the tubes and wires attached to her. Like I said, survivor! I was able to sing to her and hold her hand for a bit and that was super special. She actually gripped onto my finger with her little hand, and for such a tiny one, she had a pretty strong grip! I was proud of her. Doctor Hsu also said that she had a really good day and was doing better than she had been. Of course, he was cautious to warn us that just one day of progress wasn't enough. It's a long journey to full health, so we need her to continue to improve every day. But I have confidence. My girl is a strong one. But beyond that, My God is a mighty God.

As always it was hard to say goodbye to her. But I was comforted knowing that most likely I would be going back to see her in an hour or so for Linda's first visit with her.

Later in the evening, after dinner and an evening snack, Linda made her second attempt to sit up and this time she was able to actually get out of bed and stand up enough to transfer to a wheel chair so we could wheel her down to see Alicia.

Oh, man, friends, the reunion of Linda and Alicia was one that will forever be soldered in my mind. Before heading down to the ICU, Linda's sister and I both warned her to prepare her heart. But I don't think anything could prepare you to see your daughter strapped to monitors and having wires sticking out of her every which way. Linda had seen pictures that I had taken, but it was nothing compared to seeing Alicia live and in person. I wheeled Linda into the ICU and got her over close to Alicia's incubator. Then the nurse and I helped her to slowly stand up and transfer to a high chair, which was quite painful for Linda actually. Then she saw Alicia and broke down sobbing. Much the same way that I did when I first saw her. At first, the nurse and I thought that Linda was crying cause of her wound, but then I knew. She was crying for her daughter. You need to understand that Linda and I firmly believe that Alicia is going to make it, and that she is going to be healthy and strong. But seeing your little daughter so helpless is hard to bare.

Linda began to speak to Alicia and I'm sure that it was a comfort for Alicia to be able to hear her mother's voice, one that she'd gotten so familiar with over the past few months. Oh, gosh, I'm tearing even as I write this. Linda told Alicia that she was so proud of her, and she said, "Hi, honey! This is Mommy! Do you remember when we used to spend every morning together. We would worship God together, and we would talk? I'm so proud of you, honey! You keep fighting." A mother's heart, I tell you.

We spent as much time as we could with Alicia, and asked the nurse to take special, special care of our little girl and reluctantly said our goodbyes.

Then we went back to our room for the evening to rest.

Friends, this journey is far from over. But as I said earlier, we fully believe and have faith that Alicia is going to make a full recovery and be with us sooner rather than later. Linda and I, because of your prayers, go about our days in peace. We are not anxious over Alicia or her health. We have peace and trust that the Lord is taking care of her in our absence. We go through our day as if our daughter is completely healthy and stable. Because we have faith that Daddy God has got it.

Also, over and over and over these past few days we hear stories of people who've had 25-weekers and 24-weekers who were way smaller than Alicia and they're all healthy and strong now, to which we say, "Do it again, Lord! Do it again!"

Also, thinking back on the journey we've had over the past few days, and how God really provided and paved each step of the way, we have no doubt that the Lord would not have done all that simply to have Alicia die.

Also, I forgot to mention that the doctor who did Linda's C-section and delivered Alicia came and visited to check up on Linda and she just really put our hearts at ease. I told her all of the problems that Alicia had, and she was like, "Oh, that's normal. Oh, that's normal. Don't worry." So from that I gather that Alicia is very "normal" for a child who was born in such a way. Nothing that she has is abnormal for a preemie, so that's good.

And the doctor also said something that was very encouraging she said, "Most children in our hospital who are born above 500 grams usually end up being fine." So since Alicia was born at 654, I think she's going to be more than fine.

Of course, of course, she's definitely NOT out of the water yet. But you know what? We're not IN the water, we're walking ON the water! And as long as we keep our eyes on the Lord. We believe he's going to carry us through.

So friends, THANKS for your prayers, please, please keep them coming! Your prayers are like the lifelines for our spirits. We are so grateful for each and every one of you.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Charis Life

A charis life. A life of grace. Sounds beautiful and all, until you realize for grace to really be evident there needs to be some sort of circumstance that highlights one's need for it.

Our sweet baby girl, Alicia Charis Chang made her entrance into the world this morning, May 29, 2011 at 2:30 a.m. weighing only 654 grams (1 lb. 7 oz.). This is her story.

Two days ago, I got a call from my wife around 8:00 on a Friday morning. When I got her call, I thought it was odd, because since she'd been pregnant it was rare for her to be up before 9:00. Then I heard her voice and knew that something was up. She had the, "I'm a little scared, but trying to stay calm voice" as she told me the news that she was having contractions. Normally an expecting family would be ecstatic about this revelation, but being that Linda was 3 months from her due date and I was away on business, this was not welcome news.

I spent the rest of my day in a daze, trying to not be too anxious about my wife and child and to trust God. As soon as my work day was over at 5:00 I caught the next train I could to where my wife was in Taichung. My wife's sister, Gloria, met me at the train station and drove me over to the hospital where my wife was at.

Let me interject a moment here and just say that Gloria has been a godsend through this entire ordeal. She was the one that drove Linda to the hospital and stayed with her during the first few hours that she was there. She was also the one that stood by us as the doctors told us everything that was going on with our precious little girl.

So back to the story. I got to the hospital and I was never more happy to see my wife. She was restricted to bed rest and not allowed out of the bed for anything, not even to go to the bathroom for fear that she would go into labor. She also had an IV drip feeding anti-abortion medicine into her body meant to still the contractions.

That night was a pretty sleepless night for both Linda and I. First, the contractions weren't stopping so Linda couldn't really sleep. Also, the medication had a side effect of making Linda's heart race really fast, so that made it doubly hard to get any sleep.

In the morning, the doctor returned and told Linda that the first medication wasn't working as well as he had hoped, so he wanted to add a second medication that was stronger in order to still the contractions. So in came the nurses with needles and a second IV drip. Ugh. Seeing my wife getting prodded like that was hard. Linda was a real trooper.

After a few hours of the two medications, the contractions still were coming pretty consistently, so the doctor informed us that we would need to prepare ourselves, our baby would probably not make it full-term. It was then that he also told us that he suspected that Linda had an infection that was causing the contractions. Linda had a high white blood cell count and also a slight fever, so he suspected that she might have a virus. But he wanted to do some more tests to be sure. This was also a scary prognosis because he wasn't sure where the infection was coming from. If it was in the womb, then that would spell trouble for baby.

Before he left, Linda asked on my behalf if we could do a sonogram so that I could see the baby. I had mentioned to her earlier that I was hoping we could do a sonogram cause I hadn't seen the baby in over a month. The doctor was hesitant at first, but relented and asked the nurses to bring over the sonogram machine. Boy were we glad that he relented. Halfway through the sonogram, the doctor exclaimed, "Oh, no." Definitely not something you ever want a doctor to say. He explained that Linda's cervix was dilated and that some fluid was already leaking out. He said that once this happens, the chances of maintaining the pregnancy were slim. So he recommended an immediate transfer to another hospital with better facilities and neonatal specialists and who would be better able to handle premature babies. The closest hospital to us was China Medical University Hospital, which also happened to be the hospital in Taichung with the top facilities and pediatric specialists. And it was also had a new kind of anti-abortion drug that was supposed to be more effective with less side effects. So once the decision was made we packed up and transferred hospitals within the hour.

Once we got to the other hospital, the nurses and doctors immediately started to do checkups and tests on Linda. More poking and prodding. My heart hurt. The decision was made to use the new drug, even though it was a self-pay medication that would cost us $16000 NT (about $550 US) a bag. But we wanted to give our girl as much of a fighting chance as possible, so we didn't even think about the cost and just accepted. Again, have to thank Gloria for helping out with that cause there is no way we could have afforded that at this point. Also, the doctor told Linda that they were going to put her on a round (2 shots) of steroids to help stimulate the development of our baby's lungs. The 2 shots would take two days to administer. They'd give her one shot, and then wait 24 hours and give her the second.

Unfortunately, Linda never made it to the second shot. Despite the medicine Linda's contractions continued to get stronger and more consistent, so it seemed that our little girl's birth was eminent. Also, the doctors confirmed that Linda indeed had an infection, but they still weren't sure where it was or what kind of infection she was had. So it came down to do we let the baby stay inside and develop or do we take her out for fear that she may be bathing in viral-infected waters.

The final straw came literally at the 11th hour when Linda started to bleed fresh blood. Upon examination, the doctor discovered that Linda's placenta had started bleeding which was a sign that labor was coming soon. Problem was, our little girl wasn't in position for delivery. She was horizontal, so a C-section was necessary for delivery. To complicate matters, the placenta was in such a position that the doctors would have to cut through it to get to the baby, and that made surgery all the more risky. Because of all the added risks the doctor recommended that we do the C-section sooner rather than later. Apparently it's better to do a C-Section before the water breaks. The water acts as a cushion while the surgery is going on.

Linda and I prayed and we decided, it was time. So we told the doctors and they notified the anesthesiologist and got everything ready for our little girl's delivery. It was at this time that we also found out that I wouldn't be able to go into the operating room with Linda, which was hard for both of us to hear. Linda said, "God is really making it so that I can only depend on him, he's taking away my final rock - you." By now, my tears were flowing. Linda was so brave and so beautiful.

While we waited for them to prepare everything, I looked down at Linda and said her name shall be Alicia Charis Chang. We had decided her first name a long time ago. Alicia means "of noble kin, exalted, and oath of God." But we were debating about the middle name. Several months ago out of nowhere I thought of the name, "Charis" which means grace. At this point in this ordeal, I felt it was a strong confirmation that she was to have this name, and grace was to be the center of her life.

With a final prayer, the nurses wheeled Linda into the operating room. And so began the waiting. For the first 15 minutes or so, I was in our room alone, wanting to pray, but not knowing what to say, and just crying. I wanted so badly to have my daddy or someone there to hold me and tell me that it was going to be all right. I felt like a little kid who was about to have a kid of his own.

It was then that God sent an angel. I forgot to mention that we were staying in a double room with another woman who was also on bed rest because she also had a threat of preterm labor. But the amazing thing is this woman and her husband were also Christians. So as I was sitting there kind of crying to myself, the husband walked around the curtain and said, "Hey are you, OK? Can I pray for you?" And I just nodded. So he put his hand on my shoulder and said a simple prayer. I can't remember everything he prayed, but one part touched me. He said, he didn't know why God had put us brothers together, but he was thankful that he did so that we could support one another.

By this point, Linda's sister, brother-in-law and cousin had returned to the hospital. The three of them were such pillars for us during this whole process. At that point, I got the call that Linda was out of surgery and that the baby was being rushed to the ICU. I left the room and caught a glimpse of a pink bundle in a plastic box being rushed away. The family and I rushed after the box asking quickly, "Is she OK? Is she alive?" We were able to get a "Yes. She's alive. But we need to get her to the ICU quick!" out before they disappeared with our baby girl.

Next. More waiting. An hour passed by of me sitting with the family. Just waiting. By then I was so emotionally drained and exhausted but really didn't want to sleep. Then I got the call that Linda was out of surgery and in the recovery room. So I rushed over to see her, and it was so good to see her. I was so so proud of Linda. She was exhausted and dazed from the medication. After making sure Linda was OK, I went back to see if they were letting people into the ICU yet.

I got back to the ICU and still had to wait for a while before they let us in to see the baby. When I finally got to go in, I was amazed at her size. So tiny. They had her splayed out like a specimen on display with tubes and wires extending out from her every which way. First thing I noticed, her hair. It was black. Black black. Like her mom's. And curly! Just like I had asked God for. The next thing I noticed? Her nose. Linda and I had often talked about what our daughter would look like. I had always hoped that our girl would have Linda's nose, because I really like Linda's nose. =) But when I looked down, she had my nose. =) It was adorable.

The tears began to flow again as I talked to her and touched my little girl for the first time. She flinched a bit at my touch because she I guess wasn't used to human contact yet. She was pretty pale from lack of oxygen and was on a respirator, but her heart was beating strong. This brought me some comfort.

After a few minutes the doctor came over and explained about Alicia's condition. They said she had to be resuscitated after birth because her heart and lungs had stopped functioning. But they were able to bring her back to life. But right now her organs were all very underdeveloped so the would really need to monitor her carefully to make sure that everything would develop well.

My little brave girl. After saying goodbye to her for the night, I went back to find Linda who by that time had been moved to a intermittent recovery room while they prepared her patient room. The nurses told me to just rest in that room until the other room was ready and then they'd transfer us. By then it was close to 4:00 in the morning. I was exhausted but couldn't sleep. Finally I was able to get some sleep and was awoken at 7:00 when they moved Linda to her patient room.

It's now been about 16 hours since Alicia was born. The first 72 hours are the most critical.

But I believe our little girl is going to be fine. God knew she was coming, and looking back on our journey over the past 72 hours, I saw that God really provided the best of care for all of us every step of the way. From the sonogram, to the transfer to China Medical University Hospital, to Linda's sister and cousin.

Also, another amazing thing, the hospital we are at partners with a preemie babies foundation that helps to support parents of preterm babies. And I got a call this morning from my aunt who told me that her father who is very close to our family, used to be the chairman of the board of this foundation, and now serves as an adviser for the board. And knows the current chairperson well. And it turns out that the current chairperson had just met with the department head of the NICU a day or two prior. And this head doctor is also the supervising physician for our little girl. So God is working the connections for us!

Anyway, it's time to go see little girl again. Thank you all for your prayers and support through all of this! Our little one really is and has been surrounded by a cloud of witnesses! And I can't wait for you to meet this special one!