Sunday, January 6, 2013

Vanessa Ogden Recovery

I know I've posted a little on my blog about what's happened to my sister in law, Vanessa, over the past few weeks.  I wanted to fill you all in on the whole story, along with some pictures of Vanessa so you can get to know her better.

I remember before I even met Vanessa, Doug called Phil and me and told me, "And Jenny, you will LOVE her."  I'm always skeptical of declarations like that, but from the second I met Vanessa, I did love her.  We had a great time together and I was super thankful that I had another girl as an ally when I was with the Ogden brothers.  Every year since we've met, we've probably seen each other twice a year.  We usually go up to Portland for a week, and they come to California for a week.

We've always had a lot of fun on our vacations together and the boys absolutely adore their aunt and uncle.

As you can see, they don't take themselves too seriously.

A little over a year ago, Vanessa and Doug had their first baby, and my first niece, Carolina.  We went to see them all last November.  Carolina was born seven weeks premature and gave us all a little scare by arriving so early, but it was so sweet meeting her and holding her for the first time.  

This summer we got to see them all again on a vacation to Morro Bay.  

Vanessa and Doug told us that they were expecting again and due sometime in February.  My main concern was that this baby didn't arrive so early like Carolina did.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time together again, even though Vanessa wasn't feeling so great.

Oh brothers.  At least I know what my two will turn out to be like.

Vanessa works at the Clackamas mall in Portland and was at work when the shooting occurred a few weeks ago.  I was so scared when I heard the news and was frantic to make sure that she and the baby were ok.  I was so relieved when I was finally able to talk to Vanessa the day after the shooting.  Vanessa is always very together, capable, and cool under pressure, and as she told me what happened and how she handled her employees and customers during the shooting, I could tell that she was no different in this terrifying situation.  

A few days passed from that event and I got a phone call from Doug saying that Vanessa was not doing well.  All she would do was sleep.  She wasn't eating or drinking anything and wasn't caring for herself.  He was extremely worried and asked their friends, Geoff and Shanna, to come stay with Vanessa while he had to go to work.  He had taken her back and forth to her doctors and they had thought that she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from the shooting.  Two more days passed of super erratic behavior.  On Saturday, Dec. 22nd, Geoff called and said that he and Doug had taken Vanessa back to the ER after she had gotten worse and that they were running an MRI to help determine what was going on.  It was then that the doctors discovered that Vanessa had suffered 60-70 mini strokes over the course of the past 3-4 days.  The doctors thought that the cause was her blood thickening from her pregnancy and then clotting.  They started a treatment of blood thinners.  Vanessa was 32 or 33 weeks pregnant at this point.  She ended up going into labor that night.  The doctors stopped it, but said that if she went into labor again, they would let her deliver.  

After starting the blood thinners, Vanessa showed signs of improvement.  She starting responding to commands and answering "yes" and "no."  She was also able to write something to Doug on a piece of paper.  She was the best when Doug was in the room.  We were encouraged by the improvement.  On December 28th, her condition worsened and another MRI was ordered.  The doctors had previously thought the strokes had stopped, but when they saw the new MRI, they saw new damage.  Vanessa shortly went into labor again.  The doctors did not want to do a  c-section because of the blood thinners that she was on.  They allowed her body to labor.  When it was time to push, the doctors had planned on using a vacuum and forceps, but somehow, Vanessa was able to push and delivered baby Georgia.  

Georgia James
5lbs., 10 oz.
19 1/2 inches
Dec. 28th 2012

She's beautiful and healthy and after only ten days in the NICU, she was able to go home with Doug.

Tonight is Georgia's first night at home.  Be praying for her and Doug, and big (but still a baby) sister Carolina.  Sadly, Vanessa has not made improvements since delivery like we had hoped.  She is on a feeding tube and is now not speaking.  She is not strong enough to go to skilled nursing and remains in the neurology ward of the hospital.  The doctors have said that they expect a recovery in 6-12 months.  Meanwhile, Doug is trying to care for Vanessa, Carolina, and now baby Georgia.  My heart breaks that I can't be there with them to help in some way.  I know the hospital bills are and will be tremendous.  Doug can't go to work with all the care that he needs to give and I don't know what his work will do for him.  Doug has an amazing hope and faith in Jesus Christ and is relying on Him to get their family through this.  Our family covets your prayers throughout this ordeal.  We are praying for a miracle.  We hope you will join us in this.  

Vanessa also has a recovery page on Facebook for those of you that would like to follow this journey.  Please follow the link to her page and "like" it.

If you wish to donate to Vanessa and Doug to help out with their expenses, there is a link on Vanessa's recovery page to do so.  If you would like to share the link to Vanessa's Facebook page or would like to link this story to your blog and encourage prayers and support, please comment below and let me know.  We are grateful to everyone for their help and prayers.  


  1. I learned about the incredible struggles Vanessa, Doug and all of your family are going through just tonight. I made a small donation, but hopefully my prayers and efforts to increase awareness of this families needs will be of even greater help.

  2. Jenny, my cousins wife is Vanessa's Aunt Annette. I have spoken to Doug a couple of times this past week, but have not met him. Vanessa played with my daughters when her family would travel to Kent to visit. I appreciated your blog, and have been impressed with the way your brother has carried himself and his faith over the past several weeks. I am writing on your blog to let those that read here know that Doug is the real deal. I find him to be humble, grateful and strong in his love and his faith. As his sister, you may know better than most how to encourage and energize him in this difficult time. If you believe there is anything that the general public can offer Doug to encourage him when his strength is most needed, let me know and I will do what I can to garner this support. Thank you, Don H.

  3. I read about Vanessa and Doug in the LA Times today. I can't imagine what they are going through! They will be in my prayers.

  4. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of Vanessa's life with us. She was a beautiful person and I'm so sorry for your family's loss. We are praying for Doug and the children.

  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful soul with other mommies like me. I am so very sorry for your loss, and will be keeping Doug, the babies, and the entire extended family/friends in my prayers.

  6. May her memory be eternal!

  7. Vanessa Ogden is related by marriage to almost all the Ogdens known to exist!