My “summer”.

My 5 week math class finished yesterday and I am proud to say I got an A.  I was sure that I would end up with a B, but apparently I got a 100 on my final, so that bumped my grade up tremendously.  I had a love hate relationship with with that class.  I met some really great people who all thought I was in my mid 20’s which was awesome, and my teacher was amazing, but my nights and “down time” was filled with non stop homework and studying.  I didn’t just want to pass, I needed to pass with an A and more importantly I desperately wanted to understand it.  For the most part I feel like I learned a ton, but the best lesson learned is to NEVER take another math class in the summer.

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Me and my new “bestie” Jaret.  We were basically the original cool kids before we allowed a few more in our club.

I’ve started celebrating my “summer” with a doctors appointment for Eva at the turners syndrome clinic.  She won’t be needing growth hormones yet because she is growing well so thats amazing news!  Next week will be my only week of summer, before my philosophy class starts.   Bet your behind that my week is already booked with doctors appointments and a sleep study for Eva to determine whether or not she has sleep apnea.

On a lighter note, it is absolutely an honor to watch my little ones grow and show me something new that the’ve learned everyday.  Both Eidan and Eva are starting to go pee pee in their potty regularly now, and Eva has taken it a step further going poo poos in the potty twice already!  Eidan is taking up a storm and Eva is not needing to be vented nearly as often as before.  More importantly they are playing with each other more and more everyday,  and they also sneak hand holding once in a while.  They make each other laugh just by a look and they chase each other almost non stop.

The fact that Eidan and Eva have each other is probably the biggest blessing they each have.  To be honest in the beginning I selfishly though to myself how I wish I had them separately so I could give each of them more attention but I can’t help but realize now that what they have is much more than what I could have given to them.  Its times like this when I see how perfect Gods plan is ALL THE TIME.  Its funny how we see things in perspective after the fact, yet when times get tough again (because they always do) we will once again forget that God has everything set up perfectly (just like before).

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Hello blissful, naive me… from only a day ago.

Oh boy… After enrolling in a 5 week math class I couldn’t help but realize that I bit off more than I could chew.  I thought that since I was smart and charming I would be able to make it through with an easy A, but I was wrong… way wrong… too wrong.  I am not sure why I didn’t think back to my past and remember that I didn’t make it past 10th grade…. so past that grade level, I never learned.

So here into my 3rd week of class I am struggling and using every moment of down time, i.e. when the babies sit down to eat, “nap” and sleep at night, to study and do my homework that consists of about 2500 questions, roughly.  Yes, you read that right… 2500 math problems that are due on the last day of class, along with the extra credits, which of course I am doing. So I’ve been forced to say goodbye to my non existent social life… my social media social life of stalking cute babies and watching the world fall apart.

Oh no… it gets better, to make matters worse…. the babies are officially in their terrible twos.  I thought, up until yesterday, that babies were already there but oh no….  Today Eva learned how to take off her diaper and Eidan has figured out how to get out of his crib.  They both have increased tantrums from a few a day to a billion a day, the works, the screaming, kicking, and crying… on command.  The experimenting phase has also begun… Eva with the, I can get on the couch without your help but I refuse to learn to get down and hope mom can get to me before I get down head first… and Eidan with the I am going to get on the slide however I want and let me jump off from every part, because I want to… and I am going to look at you and laugh at your fear face mom.

Oh a happier note, they are communicating more and they both know every letter of the alphabet.  We are now leaning numbers and colors.  I am extremely proud of them because I’ve read that kids don’t learn the alphabet until 3-4, and they are a month shy of 2.  I am working with Eva again on her eating, and Eidan is getting really good at the potty thing.  Man, they are amazing and I wouldn’t change my life for all of the money in the world.  THANK YOU GOD!

Does it ever get easier?

As a mother with a child with special needs, I have to know now, does it ever get easier?  I can handle the medications, I can handle the therapies that come six times a week, I can handle the spoiled behavior that she learned being in the NICU for the first five months of her life, and the same spoiled behavior fifteen months after being discharged… shoot, I can handle both babies having a breakdown at the same time now.  The one thing that I can’t handle is the surgeries… I can’t handle the weeks prior, I can’t handle the week before, I can’t handle the day before, let alone the day of surgery.

I think I’m always fine but my anxiety manifests in ways my mind can’t control.  Physically the stress takes over my body.  All of a sudden theres something sitting on my chest, preventing me from taking a complete breath.  Just as abruptly my eyes fill with tears, I start making an ugly cry face and I can’t stop from sobbing, not to mention to hide that from the twins is a challenge, God forbid they see my ugly cry face.  Thats something you can’t forget.

I try to keep busy to prevent myself from imagining the “what ifs”.  Leaving me in a state of panic every time I think of it because every surgery comes with complications… of course it does, why wouldn’t it?  Your going under anesthesia, your getting cut open, in this case theres going to be a foreign object put inside, theres the hope that the surgery fixed the problem, theres the pain, and the recovery which is the hardest part.  Theres also the fact that all this stress is put on my 20 month old daughter.

Is she used to it by now?  This is her fifth surgery, her fifth in her 20 months here on earth.  Her two heart surgeries, the fundoplication/g-tube surgery, the surgery to remove her cystic hygroma and now the surgery to fix her fundoplication and repair her hiatal hernia.  Every one just as stressful as the last because her syndrome makes things a bit more complicated for the doctor.  Every one leaves me just as brokenhearted as the last because I can’t do anything to take her pain away.  Every single one leaving me more distressed than the last because as I get to know her better and as I watch her grow and learn and persevere despite the odds it gets harder to know life isn’t promised for anyone of us, including my children.

So should I be used to it now?  Could I ever get used to it?  Will we be able to go for longer than a year with out a surgery?  How about five years? ten? twenty?  Will she be able to live a “normal” life with out having another surgery right around the corner?  We won’t ever know ahead of time, but I can say it is an honor to be the mom of a very special set of twins.  I pray that they always strive to give glory to God and are able to see the positive of everything that happens in their lives, despite how difficult it may seem at the time.  I pray they always take care of one another and love each other unconditionally, and I hope with all my heart that they learn to show their affection more kindly.  For example, I hope Eidan learns to hug his sister more gently, instead of pinning her down on the ground and I hope Eva learns to use a softer hand and touch her brothers head, instead of hitting it with all she’s got.  Theres no doubt they are fighters, in every sense of the word.  Amen.

 

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The hardest job in the world.

WHEN PEOPLE SAY IT’S HARD BEING A MOM, THEY AREN’T BEING ENTIRELY TRUTHFUL.  What they should really say is that it’s trying, demanding and lonely.  The “age of the toddler” are always trying you, but it’s what they do, it’s what they are supposed to do.  It is demanding not only on your time, but on your mind and body, so you feel like your going crazy repeating yourself over and over, as well as your whole anatomy is falling apart.  It is lonely because I think after you have kids you realize the number of your friends dwindles down to a surprising number.  Things just change, you change, your friends may change, or they may not and therein lies the problem.  After I had the babies, my everything changed, including my manners, my attention span, and my tolerance for bullshit.

THE HARDEST PART I think is feeling like I am alone even though am married and I have two little ones with me at all times.  I mean at all times… to get a glass of water, to go to the bathroom, I look over and my two little trolls are always there.  My husband on the other hand works really hard, sacrificing his passions at the moment, and that just that fills my heart with love and sadness.  I am grateful I am on this journey with him because I can’t imagine doing it without him, and even though we don’t see each other much he still makes me laugh and angry within a minute of conversation.  Now thats special!

WHEN YOU BECOME A MOM you become invisible to the outside world, unless your blessed enough to have someone who calls YOU a friend and keeps YOU in the front of their mind even though you have nothing to offer at the moment.  Because when your a mom everything you have to give is to your children who gave you the most important gift, your purpose.  If you have a friend that is able to know their place in your new life and still want you around… well, those are the friends you know you will keep in the front of YOUR mind when you are able to offer more.  Thank you God for this eye opener.

 

My sweet Eva.

My sweet Eva.

I can’t promise that this surgery will be your last, as a matter of fact I know it won’t be.  You will need to have another one on your heart sometime when you are a young woman, that is if your heart doesn’t tell us that it needs to be intervened sooner.  Until then we will be focused on staying on top of every doctor/specialist appointments.  Yes my love, other girls that have turners syndrome have no signs or symptoms of it, but don’t forget that some girls won’t be able to take their first breath and you did, but it came with a price.  Some girls fight to have a better body, you fight to keep yours.  Some girls fight to not have their hearts broken, you fight to keep yours beating.  You have had to fight harder than most to live so don’t ever take that for granted.  After this surgery you will have another battle scar so wear it with pride because some girls care more about not having an imperfection but your “imperfections” perfect you.

Don’t loose that fire in your spirit that drives your mommy, daddy and brother crazy.  We know that same fire is the reason we have you today.  Don’t loose that funny laugh that forces you to tuck your chin in because we know you deserve to laugh after everything you have gone through.  Don’t loose that sweet smile because you light up our days knowing you are with us and you didn’t have to be.  God put us all together because He knew we needed each other, and we go through all these hardships because He knows we need Him, we always will.  You are never alone my love.

My sweet love, you were born with turners syndrome, but that is not who you are.  You are not a syndrome, you are not fragile, you are not a sad story.  What you are my sweet love, is a Devereux.  You are a warrior.  You are unbreakable.  You are solid and you are made with the unyielding love of our Father Lord Jesus.

Where did the time go?

As I get older I start to understand that my parents weren’t perfect, aren’t perfect nor will they ever be perfect.  I have accepted that they weren’t perfect already, my childhood and attitude could have told you that.  But I wasn’t prepared to realize that they still aren’t perfect and the mistakes they made when I was a child are still mistakes they continue because this is who they are.  So that leaves me with the question, will they ever be perfect or will they ever try to make right all of their wrongs?  Is it too late?  Probably, but now that I have my own family I want to learn from their wrongdoings and give my children much more than I ever had.

All of these thoughts have come to me now that I am 32 trying to play catch up with school and trying to give my children an example of how important it is to have an education.  I left school in the 10th grade because I had no direction or desire to complete it.   I had no idea that I was able to make only A’s (and one damn B) in college, but this is because the D’s and F’s would follow me through high school because you have to be in class, and study to make anything more.  My kids have to know that if they don’t go to college after high school, life will grab hold of them and make it that much harder to go back.  I will remind them that going to school now as a wife, and a mother is no luxury.  They will know I studied while they napped, and slept at night.  I will let them know that I never studied while they were awake because I enjoyed every single waking second with them.

What do I do now?  Nursing school was my dream but now I feel like my body is falling apart and I question if this is still the path for me?  Now that I have finally found my calling I am having back issues, wrist issues and anxiety.  Who knows what God will put in my life but I do know one thing.  I will not stay stagnate and conform to a life that does not sit well with me.  I will live up to my potential… Yes, I am a decade behind, but better late than never right?

I feel like I have already made so many mistakes.

The babies are 18 months old and I can’t help to feel like I have already let them down, despite my effort to never do so.  This week Eva had to go by ambulance to the ER because of a high fever and because she was so inconsolable her lips were turning blue.  While we were waiting for the ambulance I had both babies in my arms and I started to cry exactly like them.  Eva was in pain, Eidan was scared and I am their mom and it is my job to help them and I couldn’t.

Through an X-ray a hiatal hernia was officially confirmed and now she needs another surgery to correct that as well as to fix the fundoplication that she already has.  The same fundoplication that and has given us problems since day one.  Even though its been rough we have finally found a system that works for us and were going to back to square one right after this next surgery.  We don’t know if this time things will be better, or worse.  I can’t help but feel right back in that dark room I was in months following the birth of the babies.

I am tired of seeing her through pain, I am tired of being away from my son, and I am tired of only seeing my husband when we switch out from the hospital.  I don’t want my daughter to have yet another battle scar, I don’t want to miss out on my nightly rituals with my son, I don’t want to have to update my husband or get updates of our daughter, depending on who’s with her that day/night at the hospital when she has to go in again.

I don’t know how I am going to tell her how incredibly strong and how fucking unbelievable she is despite every one of her imperfections when she becomes a teenager and she starts to notice.  I don’t know how I will tell her that God made her heart the way he made it in perfect timing and for perfect reasons.  That she was born at a time that it could be repaired because he knew the love in her heart was too much a regular heart could handle.  I will tell her that scar on her side from that procedure is beautiful.  The g-tube and fundoplication scar was put there because she had to learn to eat by mouth later in life, because during the crucial period that babies learn to drink out of the bottle, she was too weak and needed to focus on healing and growing to get out of the hospital to be back with her brother.   I will tell her as soon as the g-tube is taken out and after a scar forms that it is beautiful and I couldn’t wait until I saw that one created.  The cystic hygroma was the first thing the doctors saw when they realized there was an issue when she was still in my belly, and it was a reminder of the long hard road for all of us.  When it was removed that reminder that every doctor said she was not going to survive was gone with it.  That scar is my favorite and I will tell her its beautiful.

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I will always tell my son that he is just as special as his sister.  I will tell him she is no more important than him because I know he will feel like that.  I will tell him I recognized at a very early age that he is very perceptive and extraordinary.  I will let him know I tried very hard to give him extra time after Eva goes to bed so he knows he’s important too.  I know he will feel like she gets more attention sometimes because of her health but I will remind him that she is alive because of him and he is alive because of her and that is a bond that is more precious than any person can describe.  I will remind him that he is always her protector and God planned this perfectly for His purpose.  I will forever thank him for his patience, love and sensitivity that reminds me so much of his father, and is reason why I fell in love with his father in the first place.

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Thank you God for every day and every battle.  Don’t let me forget any of it.

Many firsts for our first year together.

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Bonding through biting.
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Bonding with kisses and playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I forgot to mention in my previous posts that everything we went through from July 2014 (two months before I gave birth) until May 2015 (when the twins were 8 months old) we lived at my husbands grandmothers home (his grandmother was awesome to us, she helped us out when we were at our lowest and we are truly indebted to her).  We lived in a small room where I did everything in, and I mean everything in there.  I made it my own home.  If I left the room, I literally ran to the kitchen when the twins were taking a nap.  The first time I actually decided to leave them for more than two minutes, I went for a walk  around the neighborhood while Josh watched them, and that is when Eva decided to do her first roll over.  I think at that moment I realized she was totally daddy’s girl, and still is.

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Our room/home/living room/bedrooms/dining room at grandma’s.
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In our own home… the living room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the time we left to our own home we were able to stretch our legs and Eidan finally got to perfect his crawling.  Eventually Eva figured it out too and this is when things began to get REAL!  They were tag teaming me every chance they had, and they still do.  After a few months of living in our own home Eva’s most amazing nurse moved away.  She was with us for a few months and I trusted her with all my heart.  We tried another nurse but it didn’t work out and something told me I could do it on my own and I have never looked back since.  I get to watch them grow before my very eyes and see them process and learn something new everyday.  Eva does however still have physical therapy and occupational therapy that comes twice a week, and thank God for their help.  I think the gap between Eidan and Eva’s physical achievements would be much bigger if we didn’t have therapists for her.  You need to know the edema she has on her feet is substantial and she’s figuring out how to walk on rounded, instead of flat feet.  It will get better as she grows but until then she has her own way and it is absolutely impressive to watch.  She is unbelievable.  Eidan also it truly something to watch as well.  His strength is remarkable, like a little ant. Im pretty sure by next year he will be able to lift me up with no problem at all.

 

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Eva learning how to crawl.     
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Eidan perfecting his crawl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honestly, I always worried about the babies loosing their twin bond because of how long they were separated but after Eva returning home after her second heart surgery, the look they gave each other eased my worries.  Since then their twin bond has grown exponentially.  For example they both move at the same time, multiple times throughout the night… and they sleep in separate rooms with their own sound machine.  They also have developed their own language that is still growing everyday, leaving me out of the loop.  I sometimes wonder if I had had them separately would they have been better off because I would have been able to give them more one on one attention.  After months of really reflecting on it, I know their bond is more important.  I think Eidan pushes Eva more than I ever could so I set time apart when one is asleep and the other is up to give them the special love and attention I think they need on an individual level.  Thank God for His wonderful plan and intricate tests for us all.  Not only am I thankful for our twins, I also know I could not have gone through this experience with my sanity intact with anyone other than my husband.

 

 

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Our first Christmas together.
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Our first Halloween together.

 

 

 

Eva is home! Then back to the hospital.

January 22, 2015 Eva was discharged from the NICU, but not without a fight.  I didn’t think I was ready to take care of her at that time considering everything that had happened back to back with her health.  I remembered watching her expressions as we left the only place she knew, the hospital, and it was incredible.  She was always a very observant baby there so as soon as we were outside her curiosity was set on super mode.  In the car she looked out the window as we drove and watched the trees and at every stop she would look at me as if I gave her comfort because I was a familiar face but soon after that comfort faded and I became a stranger.

The moment I had been waiting for was right there.  My babies were finally reunited 142 days after their birth and it was such a let down… they ignored each other despite all of our efforts.  Soon after getting her situated I started getting adjusted to the g-tube equipment, medications, preparing her milk for the next 24 hours (which was very complicated), still pumping and the biggest adjustment of all… meeting the needs of two babies at once.  Soon after starting her feeds through her g-tube her crying started.  She was inconsolable multiple times a day from then on.  Because she had been connected to machines in the hospital always, trying to walk around with her to try to calm her would result in fear because she wasn’t familiar with that feeling of being held and walking.  I was sad, overwhelmed and wanted to die.  I was not suicidal but at this point I was running on empty with little to no sleep.  I had to stop pumping soon after she got home but the every few hours of pumping were replaced with adding more milk to her g-tube bag every four hours.  She was being fed 22 hours a day at this point and still connected to a machine but at least it wasn’t 4.

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January 22, 2015, The moment they finally met again after being born.

Then, February 8, 2015, happened.  17 days after being home I had the fright of my life.   This night I got up 30 min before the next time I had to fill up her g-tube bag of milk and I was tempted to hit snooze but something told me to stay up and watch her, so I did.  Probably a minute away from thinking I was crazy I noticed milk started coming out of her mouth… then her nose and she was white and unresponsive.  I knew there was a problem.   I stopped her food and started suctioning her milk from her mouth and nose and had my husband call 911.  Ultimately she ended up aspirating and ended up in the PICU for a few days and she remained in the hospital right up until the night before her next heart surgery.  Unfortunately as soon as we go to the hospital she was herself again.  I hadn’t seen that happy girl ever since we got her home and I knew at this point she thought the hospital was home and I realized there would be a lot of work to do.

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Here’s Eva happy that she was back at the hospital.

Her 2nd heart surgery was on February 17, 2015.  This time they did an aortic coarctation repair with a patch aortoplasty.  She was in the PICU for another few days but she did really well overall.  Following this surgery her heart has been doing good as well, praise God.  She has been able to come off 1 of 2 of of her medications that she was originally discharged with and we now are able to see her cardiologist every 6 months instead  of every month.  They are still monitoring that area along with other valves that are smaller than normal.  We know as she gets older they will have to intervene with surgery again but until then we thank the Lord she was born at a time where medical knowledge is where it is.

October 16, 2015 was THE surgery we knew she would need inevitably from the time she was born.  It was to remove a large cystic hygroma located on the back of her neck.  This anomaly is sometimes part of turners syndrome but in this case it was larger than they had ever seen.  Ironically this was the one surgery I had the most anxiety about because I knew it was going to take the longest but it ended up being the best.  This is because she healed so nicely and her pain was very minimal.  Tylenol did the job when they usually had to use narcotics in all of her previous surgeries.  Since removing it you can tell her neck is very strong and she is fast, ninja fast.  She is a lot happier and we are so blessed.  After all of her obstacles she consistently proves doctors wrong and its such a beautiful feeling.  She now loves being home with her brother and I am now the person she goes to when she is hurt or sad.  In the beginning I questioned if we would ever have that bond because of our very rough start but we do.  Our bond is unbreakable.

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The back of Eva’s cystic hygroma.
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Eva after, cystic hygroma free.

 

 

Eva Kirley Devereux

Eva has had an extremely challenging Journey already in her now, 18 months of living here on this earth.  To best sum up her past and current health issues I will simply type out the list of her most recent clinical summary along with links to help explain what each are… Turners Syndrome,SVT (supraventricular tachycardia), Nissen fundoplication (with gastrostomy tube placement/g-tube), premature infant, PFO (patent foramen ovale), pericardial effusion, mitral valve stenosis, milk protein intolerance, lymphedema, lymphatic malformation (cystic hygroma), IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), hydronephrosis, esophageal reflux, dysphagia, cystic renal dysplasia, congenital stenosis of aortic valve, coarctation of aorta, bicuspid aortic valve.

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Baby Eva.

Little Eva was in the NICU from the day she was born, September 2, 2014 until January 21, 2015.  Before she left she hospital she had her first heart surgery at 8 days old, she had a fundoplication/g-tube surgery at 4 months old and countless X-rays, scans, IV’s and needles.  Before she left the hospital I am pretty sure she thought many of her nurses were her mom instead of me.  Yes, I went every day (not including the week I was sick and unable to see her) but what I failed to mention was I that I was only able to stay a few hours each day (unless she was having surgery where I never left her side), but my time with her in the hospital was not enough.

Her first Heart Surgery was on September 10, 2014 and it was to repair her aortic coarctation with a subclavian flap.  Her h/r Her surgeon took 8 minutes to do the repair, boy was he fantastic… and a bit strange.  As soon as they put her in a PICU room so she could be monitored closely, her nurse gave me a bumblebee pendant with a poem on it.  That was the first time I allowed myself to cry since the babies were born.  I cried for so long when I was left alone in the room with her as she was fighting so hard.  My emotions were held in for so long I could have cried for a for days, or even years.

Her balloon angioplasty in her heart (because of a recoarctation) was November 18th, 2014. This procedure was not supposed to be a stressful procedure but we are a family that doesn’t play by the rules.  She developed a pseudo aneurism and she needed to be monitored in the PICU for a few days.  Because of her syndrome, it effects her tissue and makes her very unpredictable during certain procedures.  She healed nicely but it was mentioned that this was the first time her doctor had seen an aorta need to be intervened so soon after a surgery.  I believe it was at this point that I realized that when any doctor told me not to worry, maybe I should.

The fundoplication/g-tube surgery was mid December, 2014, and it was the one surgery we hesitated on doing.  Nothing about it felt right and looking back we wished we would have looked at other options.  Her healing for this surgery was a nightmare.  She was in pain much longer than they expected and the primary concern for her having this surgery, was her “reflux”, which was still there even after the surgery.  You can imagine our anger and guilt that followed and we still carry with us after this disaster.  There is a small percentage of people that have had a fundoplication, develop a complication called gas bloat syndrome, that prevents them from burping on their own…. well yes, that also happened.  She still struggles with this currently and we have to vent her g-tube often.   That means we have to allow the gas from her stomach escape so she doesn’t feel uncomfortable and start gagging.

Ironically just like her brother, a few days before she was to go home she apparently stopped breathing.  This traumatizing day was December 23, 2014, two days before Christmas.  Nobody was able to tell us exactly what happened, all we know is her nurse was holding her, she started crying and turned blue.  They had to give her air and she started taking breaths again.  After this ordeal I was in absolutely no rush to get her home, but little did I know almost a month later, she would be home with us trying to adapt to a life outside the hospital.

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Eva leaving the hospital, January 21, 2014.