Gabriella Duffett

When we found out that Gabriella had Trisomy 18 we had a choice to make. We were told we could terminate the pregnancy. We both looked at each other and the same thought entered our mind. That is not our choice to make. We will continue and leave it in God’s hands. The first thing we did was gather as much information as we could about Trisomy 18. We, as well as many of you, had no clue what Trisomy 18 was. What will she look like, how long will she live, what can be done to help her, what can we do? Millions of questions popped into our heads. There are no answers to any of the questions.

We received a lot of help along the way. Alexandra’s House was the first place that helped us. Patti from Alexandra’s house steered us in the right direction. At first I was offended by some of the things she said. The statement that stands out the most is “God chose you for this child for a reason.” What does she mean by that? Why does God choose to punish us, why does he want to put us through this? What did we do so wrong to be punished like this? Now I fully understand what she meant with that statement. God knew where he was sending this girl. God knew we would do the best we could. Gabriella was here to teach us and to teach others.

We knew from the start that the path we chose to follow was not the easy path, but we knew it was the right path. Looking back on the whole experience I still believe it was the right path. We definitely could not have done this alone. We found the Caring Bridge Web site and started it up. Wow. We first thought this would be a good site to keep people informed to the goings on with Gabriella, Mom and the rest of us. We had no idea what it would turn into.

Gabriella was born on July 5 at 10:26 in the morning. We knew the odds were stacked against her. We hoped she would be born alive and we could see her, if only for a moment. We never made any plans to take her home. We had no crib, no clothes, nothing for a baby at home. The Caring Bridge web site started out as my way of expressing myself, and to keep everyone informed about Gabriella. It was a way of letting me open up my normally suppressed feelings. When Gabriella was born, we had 500 visits to the site. I mentioned that we were coming home after two days in the hospital and needed a few things. Immediately people were jumping at the opportunity to help us. Within several hours of coming home we had everything we would need for Gabriella’s stay at home.

Apnea started, we were told that Gabriella is trying to let go, trying to move on. We almost gave up on her. Apparently Gabriella had other intentions. Several days later the apnea was gone. She was nearly two weeks old. She got to be as small as 2.98 lbs. before she decided that her mission was not complete. She started gaining weight, looking good. She got a double chin and fat cheeks. We are back up on top of a hill on this roller coaster. We continued to update her website daily, not knowing the impact Gabriella is having on the world around her. We would update the web site and read all of the guest book entries. It was amazing how many people were signing on daily, how many prayers were being lifted for her. Many prayed for a miracle. We knew that the day she was born was a miracle, the next day was a miracle, every day was a miracle. We had 55 days of miracles.

On August 29th 4:10 in the morning. I was sleeping soundly in my bed when Susie woke me up. Gabriella had been having apnea episodes about every 40 minutes. We didn’t panic because she had gone through hundreds of these. This one was different. It never ended. She stopped breathing like normal. Her heart slowed as usual. This time it slowed and it stopped. She never came back. I could do nothing but stare at her. I couldn’t help her, I couldn’t bring her back. I couldn’t think of anything to say and do, I just sat there in silence.

We knew this day would come and always told ourselves it would. We just always thought it would be tomorrow and not today. Tomorrow showed up and now its three days ago. That morning I thought to myself I don’t remember what it was like before she arrived. I don’t remember what it was like not holding her and feeding her and waiting for her apnea to stop and fearing her next episode. Now I can’t remember what it was like to hold her. We loved her as best we could, and we watched her do God’s work without a word. We are proud to say she was and will always be our precious angel Gabriella.

Where do you begin to thank all of the people who helped us along the journey? I can’t express the gratitude with words for what everyone has done for us along the way. I know everyone here was impacted by her short life. What a great job she did. What a great mission she accomplished in just 55 days. 47000 visits to the website. I know with each visit a smile was had or a tear was shed. The statement that says it best is “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”