“We Got To Love One Another”

 photo Day013_zps9833d53d.jpg

During lunch the other day Lydia and I were discussing Easter.

We learned that Good Friday is when we remember “Jesus died” (imagine an adorable two-year-old voice saying that part). Easter is when we remember “Jesus alive!”. I went on to inform Lydia that on Sunday a lot of people will be saying “He is risen” and the proper response would be “He is risen indeed!”. Suddenly Lydia beamed a smile and said, “Plam bracks!”.

“Plam bracks!”…

“Plum bracks!”…

“Plan tree?”…

She was so excited but I didn’t know what she was talking about. We puzzled together for a few moments before I figured it out: “Palm branches!”.

“Yes, we got to wave palm branches on Sunday because it was Palm Sunday.”

I have always enjoyed the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. I set aside my current Bible reading to slowly read through the last week of Jesus’ life in Luke, starting with Palm Sunday. It’s a time to remember, reflect, and be thankful.

I have always enjoyed the Good Friday service. When I lived in Arkansas for two years I was disappointed to learn that the churches in the area didn’t do anything for Good Friday. Here in Michigan I enjoy Good Friday: the hymns, the communion, the story of the cross, and the quiet way everyone leaves knowing that the next time we see each other will be in joyful celebration.

This year I’m remembering and celebrating Good Friday and Easter with a new joy: the joy of teaching the wonderful story to Lydia. We picked up The Very First Easter from the library on Saturday and each day I read a couple of pages to Lydia. There’s a lot of writing for a two-year-old, so we’re spreading the book out to last until Easter Sunday. After our two-pages, we look at the rest of the pictures in the book and I tell her the story.

We’re learning a new memory verse this week too:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ lay down His life for us. And we ought to lay down out lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

I tried to put it to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and it sort of evolved into it’s own song. The only problem is that Lydia sings, “And we got to lay down our lives…”

I don’t know how much she gets just yet. But she can remember that Good Friday is when “Jesus died”, she can remember waving the “plam tree” on Palm Sunday, and she can say with enthusiasm “Jesus alive!”. And she’s learning that “We got to love one another”. It does this Mommy’s heart good to teach my girl some truth and celebrate together.

Happy early Easter. He is risen indeed!

Abby Update: 37 Days Old

 photo Abbybareface_zps8a19e0d0.jpg

Weight: 4 pounds, 3 ounces
Feedings: 36 milliliters fortified to 24 cal every 3 hours by gravity

One of the most exciting things to track as NICU babies get closer and closer to discharge is how much milk they’re able to take in on their own, either by bottles or nursing. Abby hasn’t started on bottles yet, but here’s her success nursing from the past few attempts:

Wednesday night: 14 milliliters
Thursday morning: 28 milliliters
Thursday night: 26 milliliters
Friday morning: 2 milliliters

Wednesday night our nurse was skeptical about weighing Abby before she ate. “It’s still early. We don’t want to set parents up for disappointment”, she told us. Then, after Abby ate for a short amount of time, and fell asleep, we weighed her again. I couldn’t see the weight but I heard the nurse say, “Well, look at that!” when she saw that Abby had taken in 14 milliliters. The next morning was her personal record so far: 28! When doctors came for rounds they were surprised at her progress. Babies aren’t really expected to succeed until about 35 weeks. Abby was only at 33 1/2 at the time.

So the doctor asked us when we’d like to start bottles. However, she also told us that Abby is so young and small that she probably still won’t come home for two, maybe three weeks. Well, we don’t necessarily think it’s going to take her that long to figure out bottles (it took Lydia less than a week) so we haven’t started them quite yet. We will probably give her her first bottle tonight or tomorrow. Often, the bottles are the last step for NICU babies, but because Abby is so small and young, that may not be the case for her.

This morning we were told that Abby has not had a dirty diaper in quite a while, although she did have another solid weight gain (3 ounces). Dan and I suspect that the HMF (human milk fortifier), which is cow’s-milk-based, may be part of the culprit, as it is known to cause gas, pain, and constipation. Tonight we may talk to the doctors to find out if there’s any possibility she could come off of it, since she has been having quite large weight gains.

Our doctor also examined Abby’s foot yesterday and announced that she thinks it looks good. It is still turned in, but she’s getting better and moving it on her own. We probably will not need to do any more to fix it then the exercises we have been doing with her. Abby also gets to come off of the sodium supplements. Yay!

The real disappointment came today when Abby didn’t have any interest in eating. She took in a whopping 2 milliliters. Not at all impressive in light of her 26 ml and 28 ml feedings yesterday. Again, she hasn’t had a dirty diaper in quite a while so she had a very full belly. We suspect that is probably the reason for her lack of appetite.

Over the past couple of days I have been reflecting on what God has been teaching me over the summer. With two moves, three months of being unable to unpack, weeks of morning sickness, Abby’s early birth (right before a third move!), and our time in the NICU, I’ve been realizing a bit of pattern. I’ve mentioned before that I thrive on a schedule. Routine, stability, and familiarity make me feel comfortable and happy. When something happens to disrupt those pillars I freak out and then stable myself by thinking, “Well, as long as …. I’ll be fine.”

As long as we don’t have to move again
As long as I can unpack at the end of the summer
As long as we can get onto a routine
As long as I get to take a nap
As long as I can still have another baby
As long as…

then I’ll be fine.

Over and over again Dan and I have been put in situations that are just beyond our control and over and over again I would pick out one little thing and say, “well, as long as…”. I realized last night that God is teaching me something. We need to trust Him with no “as long as” attached. Even if He took it all away: all the routine, structure, and comfort. All of the hopes, dreams, plans, and expectations. My hope should be in God, not in my “as long as”.

I decided it’d probably be good to learn this before any more crises arise.

After pondering all of that last night for quite a while, I started off today without really thinking about it. After Abby only took in 2 ml this morning I started to get a little down, and a little stressed. On the way home from the hospital I caught myself thinking, “Well, as long as she does better tonight…”

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

God is the only pillar I can stand on that won’t crumble under my feet. He is the only cleft I can hide in that won’t fail me. So I am learning to stand on that rock and not my own little sand castle, to hide in that cleft, and not my own little nook I’ve carved out for myself. Everything else will fail, but God won’t.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I could go on to make some bold statements about how I will choose to trust God “even if _____”, but I won’t do that here. I figure, my future actions and blog posts will reveal enough of that. Hopefully they will reveal that I am learning to stand on Christ, the only solid rock.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Praise the Lord
We are thanking God for:
-Abby’s continued weight gain and nursing success
-no more sodium and no need (it looks like) for further foot treatments
-important lessons in learning to lean on Jesus instead of happy circumstances

Please Pray:
-that she will get back to her successful nursing and have a smooth transition to bottles
-that Abby will be able to come off of the HMF if that, indeed, is causing any problems
-for wisdom as the doctors are allowing us to make more of the (timing) decisions