Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finally Home!

Well, today is Father's Day, but for me every day feels like Mother's Day.

Forgive me for not posting since Victoria's birth. All is well, I just haven't had much time to update. I spent most of the past two weeks at our hospital's NICU(neonatal intensive care unit) until they finally let out baby girl come home last Wednesday. Since then I've been living in Eastern Standard Newborn Time and I'm cherishing every exhausting minute having a baby in the house again.

She spent the first 9 days of her life in the NICU until they felt she was ready to come home. They kicked me out of the hospital a week ago Friday, but--being the stalker mommy that I am--I hung out in the NICU from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. so I could feed her myself and not miss too much of these precious newborn days.

A week ago Saturday, they thought she might be ready to come home and let me "room in" with her. I was thrilled to be able to have a sleepover with my tiny girl in this room that they have just off the NICU. Well, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was done in by a person the size of a sub sandwich. This trial run proved she wasn't quite ready and needed a few more days in the hospital.

Her biggest issue has been her inability to get enough in each feeding. For several days she was fed with the assistance of a feeding tube in her nose. She just didn't have the stamina to nurse or take a bottle for more than a few minutes. Her other problem was not being able to maintain a good body temp. Because she is so thin, she burns a lot of calories trying to keep herself warm. We have her dressed for an Arctic blizzard yet sometimes her temp goes dangerously low. Although she was delivered at 36 weeks, she was more like a baby born at 33 to 34 weeks, but we can already tell she's going to catch up quickly.

Since coming home on Wednesday, she has eaten well and her temp has been stable. Wooo hoooo! We took her to the pediatrician Friday and we were thrilled to hear that she's back to her birth weight of 5 pounds. She is certainly the miniature princess of the house and we are so grateful for the precious gift of this special girl.

I've got a little time before the next feeding to finally post some pics.

This is the first time I was able to see my baby girl. I'll never forget feeling her breath on my cheek as Brad held her up to my face. The tears were flowing in Operating Room number 1!

This was a quick photo with me and Brad before they took her to the NICU and while they were sewing me up.

I'm still so grateful for the wisdom of my doctors to go ahead and deliver via c-section. We know now that the reason she wasn't the size she should have been is because of issues with the cord.

The recovery has been a bit harder than with a regular delivery, but it granted me some additional days in the hospital. That extra time in the hospital was a blessing because it was so hard to leave her behind when they sent me home.

Here we are hanging out in the NICU.

This is Olivia meeting her baby sister for the first time. It's hard to believe that I have one daughter starting high school and another just starting out in life, but it's actually a lot of fun having such a range of ages.

Can you tell how excited Ava is to have a baby sister? She's been praying for one for several years and is overjoyed that Victoria is here.

Daniel was so precious the first time he met Victoria. It has been so special to experience this with him and see his pride in having a new little sister.

Brady is perhaps the proudest sibling of them all. He is already very protective of her and instructs all visitors to wash their hands and not touch her head. I know Brady and Victoria will have a very sweet bond that will grow over the years. He still doesn't have the confidence to hold her, but he sits by her bassinet and chats with her. It's very sweet.

Here's Victoria spending some time under the tanning bed while in the NICU because of jaundice. She's fine now and she and Daniel have the best summer tans in the family.

Here are some pics taken with my phone. They didn't appreciate flash photography in the NICU so I had to sneak these when I got a chance.

We were so happy when she was moved from the warming bed to this hospital bassinet. We knew it was one step closer to her coming home.

Who says babies can't smile? This was taken when she was 3 days old. We can't wait till she's able to smile all the time.

Here she is in her fleece Halo sleep sack. Even though the temps are in the 90's outside, our girl almost always has this on to keep her warm.

This was a sweet moment holding her in the NICU. I still have those "pinch me" moments of not believing that this little treasure is mine.

Finally the feeding tube is out! She hated it and was always pulling it out and frustrating the nurses. She didn't like the monitors' wires either. Ava sang the song "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio when they took it all off.

This is her at home dancing in her bed.

Oh, gotta run. Time for a feeding. Here's one more photo with her celebrating her first Father's Day with her dad and siblings.

I'm so grateful for my husband, my father and father-in-law, and my Heavenly Father. It was a special day indeed.

Much Love,


Monday, June 6, 2011

She's Here!!!

This evening God blessed us with the gift of another precious daughter.

Victoria Kate arrived weighing 5 pounds and is 17 and a half inches long.

The c-section went beautifully but as she was being delivered, my doctor and midwife couldn't believe what they found. She had the cord wrapped 4 times around her neck and it was kinked in two places. They said she probably would not have survived a long labor and regular delivery.

She looks absolutely perfect, but we won't know for 48 hours if she will have any long-term medical needs. Victoria gave us a fabulous cry when she was delivered and really nothing else mattered after that. She's in the NICU now but I got a glimpse of her just after delivery and was able to see her a few minutes tonight.

A year ago I would have never believed that we would spent our 19 year wedding anniversary having a baby, but I must admit that it was a pretty special way to celebrate our marriage and God's goodness and mercy in our lives.

So Grateful,


Well, it looks like our tiny baby/anniversary gift is coming tonight!

I think I have two male readers (you are brave), so I'll try not to cross the line of too much information, but . . . read at your own risk.

I had my appointment with my high risk doc at 9:30 this morning fully expecting to be told to wait another week. He was thrilled to see that she was head down but there were still some concerns about her being small for her gestational age (which could indicate a problem with the cord or placenta) and wanted to move quickly to deliver since she was finally in the right position. He consulted with my regular docs and they were in agreement to induce as soon as possible.

So I went straight to Labor and Delivery at the hospital and they immediately started the drugs to induce. Well, a couple hours later my doc came to check on me and, after an external exam, seemed worried. They did another ultrasound and discovered she had turned again. She's now sideways and the cord is again over my cervix which can be fatal for the baby if my water breaks and makes it not possible to deliver her the old fashioned way. When he called my high risk doc and told him she had moved, it was funny. There was a very loud, "You've got to be kidding me" on the other end. Apparently she wins the prize for the most active baby they have seen.

He wanted to do a C-section immediately, but Brad had just brought me a romantic anniversary lunch from Chick-fil-a and they have to wait till the food is out of my system. So we have a scheduled C-section at 8:00 p.m. I have about 4 hours till I get to meet my baby girl! I'm sitting here in my hospital gown with a mix of nerves and excitement.

The most frequently asked question these past few week was, "Are you ready?" It's a simple question and since I haven't been able to cough, laugh, or sneeze without wetting my pants for some time now, my first response is always yes. But to be honest, I haven't been completely ready.

Yes, I'm so ready to hold her, to feed her, to study her sweet face and marvel at her tiny hands. I'm ready to bring her home and love on her and watch her siblings adore her. But as my pregnancy has progressed I've had to ask myself harder questions. Losing a child at 36 weeks
has changed the meaning of the question, "Are you ready?"

I've been asking myself, "Are you ready to deliver a baby who might not make it?" With recent concerns about possible birth defects, I've had to ask myself, "Are you ready to hold her and be told she has physical or developmental needs?"

My nurse just gave me the rundown on what would happen during the C-section and with it a whole new list of concerns. That I might not be able to hold her or see her after she is born. That she may have to spend some time in the NICU because she is 3 and a half weeks premature and may not even be 5 pounds. That this is major surgery and I might have complications of my own.

This kind of reminds me of how many were feeling a couple weeks ago when that man was predicting that the Rapture was going to happen. There were many reasons that kept me from believing it was true, and yet it made me ask myself "Are you ready?"

And again my first answer would be yes. Yes, I'm ready to see my Savior's face; ready to worship at His throne; ready to be reunited with my mother, my grandmother, my children who I will get to meet in heaven, and many other loved ones.

But then I felt conviction that I didn't do more. I spent much of my life surrounded by fellow believers and gave myself few opportunities to share my faith. I've had a lifelong passion to care for orphans, but only gave one a family. I have to admit when that Saturday came and went, I found myself with a renewed commitment to live radically for God.

So I sit here in a hospital room, waiting for the hours to play out with an ending that only my Heavenly Father knows. There's nothing but the sound of her heartbeat on the monitor as I give thanks for this precious little life and ask myself, "Are you ready?"

And you know what? I am.

Thanks for your continued love and prayers.

Surrendered to His Plan,

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Made it through another week. A great week in many ways. A stressful week in many others.

The week before last my doctors appointments went well. The baby looked healthy, no signs of distress, no issues with the cord placement, and my amniotic fluid was within a more normal range.

This week showed some new concerns. The baby is fine but continues to do her Cirque du Soleil performances in utero. She prefers to be sideways or breech which is not popular with my healthcare providers this late in the pregnancy. My fluid is again in excess and, because of where the cord is, now I'm at great risk for cord prolapse and because of her continued movement there is concern about another cord accident.

Last Thursday my regular doctor treated me like I was a walking time bomb--asking me how quickly I could get to the hospital if my water broke and making me promise that if it did I wouldn't take a precious minute to call or even grab my suitcase. He said that if we can catch her head down at any time with the cord in a safe placement, they will go ahead and induce.

My next scheduled appointment is Monday morning with the specialist and then in the afternoon with my regular doctor. Monday is our 19 year wedding anniversary, so having our new baby girl in our arms would sure be a sweet gift. (Brad, you are off the hook on a romantic dinner out. Ice chips and an epidural will be fine.) But I know the docs at my specialist's office really want me to go another full week if there are no signs of her in distress (so I'd be 38 weeks), so I won't be surprised or disappointed if they send me home to let her cook a bit longer.

One thing they track often with my fetal non-stress tests is contractions. I have lots of them and have since I was 28 weeks. Just false labor that is a pain in the abdomen.

I've done this with all my pregnancies. When I was expecting Ava, I started having regular contractions at 30 weeks. They were every 4 minutes apart and strong. My doctors were sure it was the real thing and admitted me to the hospital and put me on all kinds of drugs. When they finally sent me home I was on strict bedrest, lots of meds, and drank enough water on a daily basis to fill a swimming pool. At 37 weeks they took me off the meds fully expecting her to be born within hours and . . . she ended up arriving three weeks later on her due date.

And so with subsequent pregnancies, I've kind of just ignored them. It's just my body crying wolf, every 4 to 5 minutes. (Apparently there's a correlation between my excess of fluid and the frequency/strength of the contractions.) My husband will see me holding my belly in obvious pain and ask if we need to go to the hospital and I will simply answer, "No, but I could use a hot fudge sundae and a foot massage." (Hey, I'm going to milk this for all it's worth.)

As I have these contractions, I can't help but see how much they mirror the contractions of life.

Real contractions can be scary the first time you experience them. I remember the first time I felt those muscles tighten like a boa constrictor around my waist. It was something I'd never felt before and frankly it freaked me out. As my pregnancy progressed I realized that the contractions only got stronger and lasted longer. By the end I realized these early contractions were nothing compared to the ones that left me breathless and speechless and doubled over in pain. And it's these contractions that precede the birth of something amazing.

In the same way, I've had a lifetime of different kinds of emotional and spiritual "contractions." Small trials, disappointments, detours in life. At the time I thought they were the real thing. I thought the pain couldn't get any worse. I thought it was too much to bear. But soon I realized that this was just practice labor. That my broken heart could mend. That the sun would rise the next day. That the world didn't come to an end.

It's hard to watch my children experience "contractions." Last week my kids finished school. Our sweet Christian school only goes through 8th grade and Olivia will be starting over next year in high school. She hurts leaving her dear friends and teachers and school that has been home for so long. She's feeling contractions as she faces the unknowns of what is ahead. While I know these contractions are so small compared to what she will deal with later in life, I know they are very real right now, very uncomfortable, and very scary.

Daniel also experienced contractions last week. He came home on the last day of school and wept all over his lunch. It hit him all of a sudden that his precious teacher wouldn't be going to 3rd grade with him next year. He doesn't think his teacher or group of classmates will ever be as wonderful as it was this year and he is grieving. It was such a sweet year in his life that I wish I could rewind it and play it over for him, especially after him having so many years that I wish I could erase. He has already had to deal with contractions far worse, yet this pain is very real to him as well.

When my children experience these contractions and they tell me how much it hurts and they cry in my arms, all I can do is remind them that God is good and He has a wonderful plan for their lives. This is big talk from a woman who is having contractions--literally and figuratively. I don't like the pain of uncertainty. I have moments of worry that this baby might not be okay. I have doubts as I wonder if I can be a good mom to five children.

In my mind I know that the most painful contractions of all are the ones that strengthened my faith and poured out such blessings in my life. I remember that as horrible as it was to watch my mother battle cancer, because of her faith through that trial she left a legacy that will continue for generations. I remember that as heartbreaking as it was to lose our first son, that tragedy truly changed the course of our lives and such goodness and mercy has come from it that we would not have otherwise experienced.

And yet, I still want to walk through life with an epidural. I want to be exempt from hard times and I want my family to be as well. And that's when I have to remember God's faithfulness and remind myself that "God is good and He has a wonderful plan for my life." I surrender to that truth as I face the uncertainty of the week ahead.

It's almost Sunday here in Georgia, so I'm going to go ahead a post a "Sunday Dinner" for the week. My favorite scripture about contractions is:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. . . .

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. " James 1:2-3, 12, NIV

The "dessert" of song is one of my favorites right now. It's "Blessings" by Laura Story--she's one of my all-time favorite artists and sings at the church that is part of our children's school. Her lyrics so beautifully sum up what God has been trying to teach me for many years.

May you remember God's faithfulness and goodness during your own times of trials and "contractions."

Much Love,


P.S. I'm having trouble posting comments on other blogs! For a couple weeks, when I log in to leave a comment it lists me as anonymous, then when I try to leave the comment it disappears. It seems to be a problem with Blogger. If anyone knows how to fix it let me know. Thanks!