\"A baby girl...one of the most beautiful miracles in life, one of the greatest joys we can ever know, and one of the reasons why there is a little extra sunshine, laughter and happiness in the world today\" - Unknown
If one is lucky they find a handful of true friends in their lifetime. I find myself thankful everyday to have Rachel & Nick as a part of my life - they truly are amazing people both individually and as a couple. When I found out in February that they were expecting their first child, I could not have been happier especially to become \"Aunt Kim\" to their first born.
Three months after finding out about their bundle of joy, Rachel & Nick went in for their ultrasound to find out whether their baby was a boy or girl, unfortunately excitement quickly turned to worry when the doctors detected a problem. The exciting news of \"It\'s a Girl\" was followed by an explanation of Omphalocele (a type of abdominal wall defect in which the intestines, liver, and occasionally other organs remain outside of the abdomen in a sac because of a defect in the development of the muscles of the abdominal wall). A day that was supposed to be nothing short of celebratory became the beginning of research, doctors appointments and planning for the future.
Sophia is referred as an \"O-baby\", a term quickly picked up from support groups that Rachel and Nick found on-line. In talking to other families that have experienced delivering and raising babies with Omphaloceles, hope was found in hearing of other children surviving and thriving despite their set back.
With the Omphalocele being identified before birth, Rachel must be closely monitored to make sure Sophia remains healthy. Plans are being made for careful delivery and immediate management of the problem after birth. The most recent doctor\'s visit (at CHOP - Children\'s Hospital of Philadelphia) revealed that Rachel must carry Sophia to at least 38 weeks or she would be put in more jeopardy. Under strict doctor\'s orders, Rachel had to take a leave from work (which required her to be on her feet for hours at a time) and limit all physical activity, making Rachel & Nick\'s plan of preparation for Sophia\'s arrival that much more stressful.
Sophia is scheduled to make her arrival into the world at CHOP. The decision to deliver in Philadelphia was based on the fact that Children\'s Hospital of Philadelphia is ranked in the top spot in U.S. News & World Report\'s ranking of the nation\'s best children\'s hospitals. Since Rachel must be closely monitored by the doctors that will be administering Sophia\'s birth, she and Nick will be making regular visits north for check ups. Doctors predict that Sophia will spend the first 3-6 months of her life in the hospital; mommy will be staying with her (Nick will stay in Virginia Beach to work and will commute there as much as possible). Expenses include medical bills that began in May and will inevidently continue as well as accomodating lifestyles in Virginia Beach and Philadelphia.
This comes to the point where I ask you to help my friends that have become my family. The frequently used statement of \"no amount, is too small\", applies here. Your donation will help ensure that Sophia enters our world in the best way possible and to help her parents take care of her.
Thank you on behalf of Rachel and Nick and their families.
To view the on-line journal that Rachel and Nick have created to update supporters on Sophia\'s progress, please visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sophiagracerhodes.
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