It’s a Boy!

I am pleased to introduce the newest member of the Taylor family:

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Paul Kerry Taylor
Born Monday, March 16, 2015 at 8:39 PM
5 pounds and 14 ounces
19 inches long

Paul is the most handsome little baby boy with already-brownish eyes, his Daddy’s facial features, and more hair than his 18-month-old sister. We were so blessed to be able to bring him home on Wednesday evening at just two days old and he has been busy making all of us so happy.

I am eager to share more about the details surrounding Paul’s birth and first days, but I’ll have to ask you all to be patient while we rest, recover, and adjust to a very new experience for us: life at home with a newborn.

Preparing for a NICU Baby

This Monday I reached 20 weeks in my pregnancy, halfway for most people. However, as we have a history of preemies, Dan and I wanted to be well-prepared for another long NICU stay, if that’s what ends up happening. By the time I reached 20 weeks, I was told I would need to limit my activity a little bit, so those preparations all had to be done by Monday, and I’m happy to say that they were. The last few weeks have been crazy with all the things we’ve been trying to get done, but now I get to rest and I’m sure in a few months, the preparations will pay off.

So what kind of preparations did we do? The first task was to unpack. What a relief it is to finally be unpacked and moved in. The closets may be messy, and I have piles and piles of the girls’ clothing to sort through (someday), but the bulk of the work is done and everything else can wait or be done when we have spare time. I’ll try to post pictures of our unpacked home soon.

The second major task was freezing meals. Life with a NICU baby is very busy, so cooking is always an issue. Sure, you can eat out, but that gets expensive and unhealthy. Since we’re expecting some amount of a NICU stay this time around, I made a meal plan that would last 12 weeks (that’s how long Abby was in the hospital). As things became overwhelming I cut back, cancelled meals, and recalculated. As of today we have three freezers full or half-full of food ready-to-eat when Baby comes. Once I reach 23 weeks, Dan will go on a mega shopping trip to stock up on all sorts of nonperishables to complement our meals along with some more items to freeze. For now we have 34 breakfasts, and 88 lunches/dinners frozen and waiting to be enjoyed.

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The final task was to get our Christmas decorations up. This was so fun. It really didn’t take very long, and the girls stayed up to help with the tree. Then they headed off to bed while we finished with the lights, ornaments, and a few other festive items. I am loving the decorations every night as I curl up by our fire place, work on Christmas presents, and sip some tea.

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As far as the pregnancy goes, things have continued on as expected, for the most part. Last Wednesday I had some concerning contractions, but we’ve sorted out the root of the problem and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. The “big” ultrasound screening is Friday morning and we’ll find out how Baby’s doing as well as how much I will be allowed to continue to do. Any signs that Baby is on the way and I’ll probably be stuck in bed. For now we’re just taking it easy, soaking up this season, and enjoying our cozy Christmas lights.

The Story of Our House

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Back in August I shared the story of our housing hunt.  Today I’d like to share the story of our house.

It had been a long hunt so far when I started praying that we just wouldn’t even look at anymore until it was the “right one”. I was weary of getting my hopes up and then the crushing disappointment that usually followed: the house or neighborhood was no good, or someone else made a better offer.

There was a two-story home in a neighborhood that we liked so we went to go see it. The owners had kept it immaculate. Every inch was decorated to their style but, as they showed us around, it was hard to picture is as ours and not theirs. The price was within our range, but seemed high for the area. We prayed and talked about it. And we waited. We prayed more, talked more, asked our parents for advice. We walked around the neighborhood, talked to neighbors, and even went to look at it again.

It seemed like a good match. Everything in our minds said to go for it. I was desperate to finally end the hunt. But whenever we prayed, we felt unsure. It was confusing. Over and over we had prayed that when we found the right house we would know right away, and with this one we just weren’t sure. Again and again we tried to figure it out, but it just felt like God was giving us an unclear, “Maybe not.”

After a couple weeks with no changes and no new prospects, I started apartment hunting online. It just felt like we’d never find the right house. We still didn’t know if we should offer on the two-story, and we were waiting to see if maybe the price would come down. Then, one weekend, our Realtor took us to look at three more houses.

One was on a busy road. One was moldy-smelling and old. One was huge, but with a small yard. All were out of our price range. We prayed and again felt like God was saying, “Wait.”

At the end of the three viewings our Realtor asked me again what was wrong with the houses so far, what did I want that they didn’t have. I attempted to explain the things I wanted in a home, the most important things. Suddenly her face lit up as she said she had the home for us. We knew the owners, she told us, but she had to get their permission before telling us which house it was because it wasn’t even on the market yet.

Dan and I spent the ride home trying to guess who it could be. The next day he found out and emailed me. My first thought was, “I love that house, but Dan probably won’t want it.” To my surprise, he told me he had prayed and felt this might be our new house.

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The next day we went for a visit and our friends showed us around. We loved it and had no question we wanted it to be our new home. The next weeks were so happy. We had found a house that we loved. It was bigger and more beautiful than anything we had expected to afford. It had a huge yard and was just down the road from a park. It was better than anything we had looked at so far and anything we had hoped or planned for.

Because the house wasn’t on the market yet, we were able to offer the asking price without any competition. The inspections and appraisals went forward and, after what seemed like a very long time to us, we closed on our own house.

Dan and I truly believe that, by praying about every home and trusting the Lord’s leading, God kept us from offering on the other houses because He had something better for us. And now we are enjoying the fruit of the waiting, the prayers, and the obedience, by getting settled in a house that really feels like a home. It’s not the starter house we had in mind. It’s a home we can imagine living in for a very long time.

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I waited patiently for the Lord and He inclined to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1

Anniversary Fun

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Last Thursday, Dan and I celebrated our fourth anniversary by going to a Tiger game. We unintentionally bought tickets for the game that happened to be Derek Jeter’s last game in Detroit, which made everything even cooler. The view was great (I thought, Dan would have liked to sit closer), and we had a really good time. It was an exciting game too, tied in the bottom of the ninth. The Tigers won, which made a perfect ending to the afternoon.

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This was our view:
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Some important moments in the game:

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Here’s the win!

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Afterward, Dan treated us all to dinner at a local Ann Arbor restaurant.

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The next day we packed up and headed down to Ohio to visit some good friends, Rob and Crystal and their two-year-old, Joy.

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We had so much fun hanging out in their house, going for walks, and visiting nearby parks with the girls.

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On Friday night we stayed up a little late, sitting on the porch and catching up while we munched on Rob’s homemade bread. Lydia shared a bed with me, and it turned out she is quite the bed-hog!

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Saturday morning we all got up early to go running with the local running club. Well, we all ran and met up at the end. Some of those runners ran 18 miles that morning! So we just took it easy and went off on our own. Dan and I enjoyed touring the beautiful downtown area and jogging near the river. Afterward we browsed the local farmer’s market before heading back to the house.

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We had so much fun and all too soon it was time to say goodbye. We made our way back home by Saturday night, but Sunday I came down with some sort of bug that left me helpless in bed for the whole next week. This week things are finally starting to get back to normal, just in time for Dan to begin teaching a college class for the semester and start a new job! Yes we tend to clump our major life changes all together at once!

Not Home Yet

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Last Thursday Dan called at around 6:00 in the evening to let me know that we’d be moving that night. I had nothing packed except for a bag of the girls’ clothes. Sometimes life feels to crazy to be for real.

Yes, this is our fourth move in a year. And, no, we don’t particularly enjoy the moving process. That’s not why we do it. Each and every one of our moves was for a perfectly good and logical reason, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. This time we had to move because our apartment building was filled with lots of smokers and the various forms of smoke were filling our apartment and making us sick. The real concern, though, was for little Abby. As an early preemie, Abby is already considered high-risk to have chronic lung problems and second-hand smoke was only adding to her risk factors. After seeking some advice from our family and doctor, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to stay out our lease.

It took a while, but eventually our apartment management released us. We thought we had another place lined up for the move, but once we got out of our lease and gave the landlord a call we realized it wasn’t going to work out after all. With two weeks left to be out of our apartment we still didn’t have a place to go.

Sometimes I look back at the things that have happened to us in the past year and I can’t believe it. There have been so many unexpected emergencies, changes, and a lot of waiting too. I can’t help but wonder what will happen next.

So, with two weeks to homelessness, a generous family from church welcomed us into their basement for as long as we need to stay. In a flurry of an evening we packed up everything we thought we might need for the next couple of days and drove off through the night to our new temporary home.

I never did get to that laundry room.

As we’ve adjusted to our new situation and discussed where to go from here, it has struck me over and over again how not in control we are. It doesn’t matter how much planning we do, what security nets we lay out, what advice we seek, God can change our lives in an instant. It would be scary, except that we are His children.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
Romans 8:14

In church this Sunday we sang a lot of songs that were quite fitting to our current situation. One that I especially liked is called “Behold Our God”.  It makes me think of the last chapters of Job.  Job’s life had completely fallen apart but God came in and reminded Job of how small Job was and how big God is.  God is on the throne.  God created the world.  He is above all things.  Again, it would be scary if Job wasn’t God’s child too.  So, this song reminded me of those chapters in Job and the message they contain:  God is the one seated on the throne, making decisions, leading His children, doing the impossible.

Dan and I had a lot of plans last year. I think God changed all of them. And, by His grace, I’m ok with that. I know His plans our better. So now we’re pressing on, seeking His guidance again, and letting Him lead.

Who has held the oceans in His hand?
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

Who has given counsel to the Lord?
Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things?
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Who has felt the nails upon His hands
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man?
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

A Letter from Abby

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Dear Everybody,

I heard my Mommy and Daddy talking about a blog where Mommy writes things about our life and people read them. I had something to say, so I thought that maybe this would be the best way to do it.

My name is Abigail. Since Mommy writes about our family, maybe you’ve heard of me before. I was born a long time ago, but I just got to come home last week. I love being home! Mom and Dad snuggle me almost all the time. Even Lydia holds me. And I love it when they sing to me. I get to lay in my toy jungle, take baths in my whale bathtub from Nana, and I even get to lay on the floor and stare at the lights on the tree that grew in our living room just in time for Christmas. Except for the snuggling, that’s my favorite.

Well, I wanted to write a little bit on here to say thank you to some people. You see, Mommy and Daddy must always be late for things, because they weren’t ready for me when I was born. While I was all snug and warm in my isolette, Mommy and Daddy were running around like crazy trying to do a zillion things. And they told Mommy not to run around like crazy trying to do things because on top of having me she just had surgery too! Well anyway, Grandma and Grandpa and Nana and Papa all came down and helped watch Lydia and take care of Mommy so she wouldn’t cry as much and so she and Daddy could come see me.

Then my family finally got into a routine, but sometimes Lydia wasn’t very good at the hospital. She liked to push buttons and pull out cords and things. I can’t really blame her. Oh, and she was loud too. And me and the other tiny babies don’t like loud noises. So some nice people from church offered to play with Lydia so Mommy and Daddy could come and play with me. I liked that a lot.

I don’t know what stress is yet, but Mommy and Daddy said they had a lot of it. One night Mommy had so much that she didn’t want to go home and clean everything. I guess she makes a lot of messes or something. But later I found out that the nice lady who was watching Lydia sleep had cleaned up all of Mommy’s messes! Mommy was so happy she almost started crying again (which I don’t understand at all). She said there were two nice ladies who would clean up her messes every time they watched Lydia sleep. Cleaning must be really not fun because Mommy sure liked not doing it.

Sometimes I heard Mommy and Daddy say they were really hungry but they didn’t have time to eat. They must love me a lot because I can’t imagine anything more important than eating. Well some other nice people gave Mommy and Daddy food. It was all cooked and everything. And some other people gave them little plastic cards that turned into food when they took them into a special building called a Qdoba. Well I don’t understand all that, but I know how important it is to eat so I sure am glad other people fed my parents so they could come and feed me.

Most of the things I’m thankful for I only heard about, but there’s one thing I did get to see. A few different times people came to see me! They talked about me and sat with me and even prayed for me. I sure liked that a lot. Mommy and Daddy said lots of people were praying for me. I must be pretty special to have so many friends already.

Well, I don’t know how long these letters are supposed to be but there was just one more person I wanted to thank.

You see, Mommy and Daddy sacrificed a whole lot to come see me every day. But even with all their sacrifices, they were still gone a lot. I wasn’t afraid when they left though. Do you know why? They told me that even when they left me I wasn’t going to be alone because someone named Jesus was staying with me all the time. He sent His angels to watch Lydia when Mommy and Daddy couldn’t be with her and He and His angels took care of me too! Sometimes those really smart doctors made mistakes but Jesus would tell Mommy and Daddy what to do so I was never in trouble. Jesus stayed with me every night. He even came with me when I had to have surgery, and he helped those doctors do a really good job.

Now that I’m home, a lot of those really great people I mentioned aren’t around any more. Nobody comes to watch Lydia and no one cleans up Mommy’s messes anymore. But when I came home, Jesus stayed with me even then. I don’t know if anyone else out there has to stay in the hospital all the time, or doesn’t get to eat because they’re so busy, or has any other problems that make life less fun, but I sure hope they know Jesus too. He can take care of you like no one else ever could.

Well, Mommy’s naptime is almost over, so I better go. Thanks for reading my letter. And thanks to all those people who helped Mommy and Daddy take good care of me.

Love,
Abigail Faith

Abby Update: 12 Weeks Old

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Weight: 5 pounds, 11 ounces

Well, as you all know, Abby is now home at last. After so many days in the NICU (82 to be exact) and updates all along the way, it is only proper that I share how the last days in the hospital turned out.

Lydia did turn out to be sick and continued throwing up until Sunday morning. Since she wasn’t allowed to see Abby, Dan stayed home with her and I spent Thursday through Saturday in the NICU. Within 24 hours of surgery, Abby was eating well and keeping everything down. It must have been pretty comical to anyone watching us feed her after so many weeks of constant spit up, because Dan and I continued to “brace ourselves” at each feeding, but now everything stayed in!

Our rough transition to the UofM NICU also changed on Thursday, right around the time we started giving our nurses chocolate. 😛 I got to be with Abby for every single feeding from immediately following surgery up until late Saturday night. Our nurse played advocate for us and talked to the surgery team to find out details about how soon Abby could come home. By Friday afternoon they were all saying it would probably be Saturday morning, and we were thrilled.

On Saturday I waited and waited for the final verdict, but the team didn’t show up. After two nights away from Dan and Lydia, I was more than ready to go home and sleep in my own bed and have Abby right there with us. We were sorely disappointed around noon when the doctors came in and said, “She looks great. We’ll weight her tomorrow and if she gains well she can go home.” I know, it was just one more day, but our hopes were up and we were (like I said) more than ready.

However, the day passed (although slowly) and I went home Saturday night to snuggle Lydia and get a little more sleep. Sleeping with a baby in the NICU means only getting a few hours, but sleeping at home didn’t turn out to be much better because Lydia was sick and kept us up during the night.

Sunday morning finally came and we got the call from the NICU telling us that Abby could come home at last. But Lydia had just thrown up and we couldn’t bring her in. For 11 1/2 weeks I had dreamed about that day when Dan and I would bring Abby home, but it looked like one of us would have to go while the other stayed with Lydia. As it was a Sunday and Lydia was sick, we just didn’t think it would be right to ask someone to watch her.

I was sitting on the couch, trying not to mope, when I started praying. I remember specifically praying, “God, I know this is pretty much impossible, but could You have someone call and ask if they can watch Lydia for us?”. I went on praying for my own attitude and preparing to stay home while Dan went to get Abby. A few minutes later, Dan’s brother Bob called and asked if we would like him and his wife to come over and watch Lydia. It was the only time anyone has ever called offering to come right over and watch Lydia. Out of our entire NICU experience, this was possibly the most obvious direct answer to prayer, from my perspective at least.

Dan and I went and picked up Abby. On our way out we were about to have our nurse take a picture of the three of us when the surgeon who “fixed” Abby’s pylorus and hernia jumped in between us:

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By noon, Abby was home and Lydia hasn’t thrown up since.

We enjoyed an afternoon visiting with Bob and Leslie and began our adjustment to having a “newborn” baby at home. All day Abby refused to be put down. We enjoyed holding her but were a little leery of how the night would go. But, as it turned out, Abby knew when it was time for bed because at night she willingly slept in her bassinet.

The first few days have been a little crazy. Our house was a mess from my weekend away and Dan’s weekend taking care of a sick toddler. We were already sleep-deprived. And we had to figure out our feeding routine with Abby. Monday we were out all day at doctor appointments. But by Tuesday we were starting to settle in and even enjoyed a surprise visit from Dan’s dad.

And so, our second NICU journey has come to an end. No, it did not go by fast. No, it was not “over before we knew it”. But, yes, God carried us through. Yes, Abby did come home safe and healthy. And, yes, it is unspeakably better having a baby at home than in the NICU, even with the night time feedings!