Gathering the Edelweiss of God

Abby Update: 7 Weeks Old

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Gestation: 35 weeks, 4 days
Weight: 4 pounds, 9 ounces
Feedings: 42 milliliters every 3 hours by gravity or bottle

Abby has been taking about half of her feeds by mouth lately. After our last nurse had a day off, we were greeted by a new nurse who was quite the opposite. She was determined to give Abby every chance she could to eat out of a bottle (which we appreciated). She agreed with us that Abby always looks sleepy but seems to do just fine at eating while she either is asleep or looks very much so. (I wanted to correct my previous post just a little and let everyone know that Dan didn’t actually snap and bite our nurse’s head off when she last tubed Abigail, as it may have sounded. We were disappointed at all the “tubing” but Dan was very calm and kind in his discussion with the nurse.)

Abby had her hearing test yesterday and passed. One step closer to discharge.

Abigail’s blood count for this week was a little low, 24.5. As I mentioned once before, if Abby’s blood count gets too low, she will need a transfusion. It’s pretty standard for the count to continue to decrease until around six weeks and then head back up. However, at seven weeks, Abby’s went down again (from 27 to 26.5, to 24.5 over the past three weeks). However, no one is too concerned at this point and she is already taking a multivitamin with iron.

The rest of us are doing ok. We sure miss Abby though. I was reading a book recently that introduced me to the helpful concept of “gathering edelweiss”. (You’ll have to forgive me for referencing a book that is referencing another book, but I don’t have any way of obtaining the original at the moment) The book I read is called Isobel Kuhn In the Arena and is part of an autobiography of the missionary, Isobel Kuhn. As she discusses her struggle with cancer, she says:

Another thing that has helped me to keep a sound mind is the gathering of the edelweiss of God. I owe this thought to Amy Carmichael. In her book Gold by Moonlight, she has a whole chapter on it. Edelweiss grows on barren mountain heights, and its soft beauty is a cheery surprise to the toiling climber. So Amy Carmichael likens it to the little things of joy which can always be found in any painful experience, if only we will gather them as we go along.

So I have been gathering edelweiss over the past few days and thought I would share some of my little flowers.

Last Thursday Dan, tired of being cooped up inside all the time, declared that we were going to the playground. Together we spent about 15 minutes playing on the slide, swings, and merry-go-round (before Mommy got too cold). It was 15 minutes full of fresh air and laughter that we all found to be a refreshing change from our usual routine.

On Monday evening I decided to take a few minutes to play with Lydia instead of tidy our living room before our babysitter came over. In the end, I didn’t even have time to clean up the dinner dishes before we left for the hospital (much less tidy the living room). Later that night I came home to find the dishes all washed and put away, the living room tidy, and the floor vacuumed. I was so relieved and grateful that I could have cried.

Last night and this morning I found myself with a few minutes to spare. I took the time to clear off the kitchen counter of all its clutter for the first time since we moved into this apartment. Now it looks so shiny and clean!

With our crazy schedule visiting Abby, it is sometimes difficult to find the time to cook and eat. So, Dan and I started getting Qdoba every Tuesday night for dinner. Once the Qdoba manager started recognizing Dan and successfully guessing our order, Dan told him that we have a baby in the hospital and that we’ll probably continue to come on Tuesdays until she is home. This week the manager got a quick update and more workers heard about little Abby while we ordered our burritos. When we neared the cash register to pay, the manager swiped his card and said he wanted to buy our meal this time. He handed the receipt to Dan out of habit, and down at the bottom was the total: $0.00.

Fifteen minutes at the playground. An uncluttered kitchen. A late night free from chores. A delicious free meal. These are my little flowers that I have been gathering into a bouquet, now on display for you all to enjoy.

Praise the Lord
We are thanking God for:
-Abby’s hearing test results
-Abby seems to be digesting the Nutramigen well
-the edelweiss of God

Please Pray:
-that Abby would eat more
-that Abby’s blood count would start to increase soon

The Birth Story I’ll Never Tell

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As our due date approached, Dan and I felt very prepared for labor and delivery. I had studied up on childbirth and knew what to expect and different methods for coping with the contractions. I had written up a “cheat sheet” for Dan, telling him what I wanted him to know and what I wanted him to do to help me during labor, without getting into too much of the medical jargon or graphic details (he doesn’t do so well with anything medical). We were hoping for a natural birth, but were surrendered to whatever course God had for us. When my water broke, I called Dan at work and let him know. Soon enough we were at the hospital, and Lydia was being watched by a family from our church. Labor progressed steadily and just when I didn’t think I could take it anymore, our sweet baby was born. She let out a cry and the doctor handed her to me to hold right away, just like I had wanted. The next couple of days were filled with happy phone calls, lots of pictures, and some welcome visitors. Lydia came to the hospital to visit and we let her hold her new baby sister. She was so proud, and she even started learning to say her name! Two days after delivery, Dan wheeled me down to the hospital entrance and our nurse followed wheeling a cart with some flowers, a balloon, and the rest of our stuff. I got to hold the baby. Dan went to get the car and we loaded everything up and drove home. It felt good to sleep in my own bed in the apartment we had just moved in to a couple of months before our due date. Dan’s mom came down for a week to watch Lydia and I mostly rested with the baby as generous ladies from church provided us with two weeks worth of meals…

If you have been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that this was not our story. Lydia, our first little munchkin, was born 9 weeks early. Abigail, our second, was born 11 ½ weeks early. The births were eerily similar: my water broke when I was sleeping at around midnight, contractions started within an hour, the doctors were unable to stop or slow labor, and we found ourselves in the NICU with a preemie. This time, however, we had to have a c-section.

While the doctor was “putting me back together” and I was laying paralyzed on an operating table, she told me that she thought she knew the reason I was having early babies. Then Dan and I both thought she said I had a unicorn inside of me. Finally we got things cleared up a little bit and learned, as the doctor and nurses looked inside of me like some sort of weird science project, that I have a unicornuate uterus.

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Photo Credit: loveandmarriageblog.com

Basically that means that, half of my uterus is just solid muscle with no cavity, and the other half is normal. That also means that, when I’m pregnant, my babies only have half of the amount of room to grow, so when Baby reaches about 3 pounds, she runs out of room. My water breaks, labor starts, and we have another preemie.

I had a long talk with my OB a couple of days after Abby was born. Yes, I am still able to have more children. However, I will probably never make it past 32 weeks gestation. And, I have an increased chance of having breech babies.

The night after Abigail was born, I woke up in the middle of the night and was awake for a couple of hours trying to process this new information. I had a few difficult realizations:

I will never get to nurse my newborn.
I will never get to hold my newborn baby.
I will never get to bring my babies home with me when I’m discharged from the hospital.
My deliveries will always have to take place in the operating room adjacent to the NICU so my babies can be rushed out of my sight to the waiting team of doctors and nurses.
My babies will always have to spend weeks or months in the NICU.

There have been so many thoughts swirling around in my head since this discovery. This is perhaps the most significant event in my life so far that has made me mourn the affects of sin, the curse, and the brokenness in this world. It makes me long for heaven.

This morning, as I was thinking about all of this once again, I pulled out one of my favorite missionary biographies on Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. There is one chapter in particular that describes a year in Amy’s life when two of her spiritual mentors died and then one of the children that she had rescued as a baby also died. Many people began to console Amy by saying “It is very hard to see how this can be for the best”. Amy responded,

“We are not asked to SEE. Why need we when we KNOW? We know – not the answer to the inevitable Why, but the incontestable fact that is is for the best. “It is an irreparable loss, but is it faith at all if it is ‘hard to trust’ when things are entirely bewildering?”

So, as Dan and I continue our NICU visits, and eventually bring Abby home, we’ll keep processing this news and its implications for our family. And we will continue to cry out to God for grace to trust that all of this is for the best. I know there are plenty who have suffered far greater losses than this, and I don’t mean to minimize their trials. I’m just trying to be a little transparent about the trials God has allowed into our lives, hoping that some will be comforted or encouraged.

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But, no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire –
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging –
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.

And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-Beloved’s leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.

Amy Carmichael