How Trials Have Changed Me

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During the four years that Dan and I have been married, we have gone through more trials than I ever would have imagined. I used to look up to people who went through hard times, thinking that the hard times would somehow instantly make them into patient, gentle, and incredibly godly people. I also used to rank “trials” by my understanding of their difficulty. I’ve learned, in the past years, that everyone goes through trials, and all trials are hard. It’s not up to me (or anyone else) to rank someone’s level of trials, but rather, to encourage and pray each other through them. And just because you are going through something hard doesn’t instantly make you a more godly person, although God can and often does use trials to sanctify us.

This past year has been especially full of various trials for us. As we have made our way through them I have often been discouraged by how ungodly my response has been. Patient? Gentle? Try angry and frustrated. I would desperately pray that God would use the situations for some good, because I certainly couldn’t see the good happening in my life.

I have been sick with about three viruses back-to-back during the past few weeks and have often found myself lying helplessly in bed while others take care of the dishes, laundry, and my girls. During one of those helpless moments, I started to reflect on how I have changed during the past six months, and I was blessed to see that God was indeed using the trials to teach me some good things, and to change me in some good ways.

I’m sure there are some out there reading this who are going through their own difficulties. I hope that you may be encouraged by my sharing some of the ways God has used trials to change me this year.

I have been humbled.

Before Dan and I got married I was convinced that I was better. I was a better wife. I was a better mom. All of these moms that were overwhelmed or frustrated, I would not be one of those. After Lydia was born I started a schedule. I kept things clean and got things done. And I stubbornly held on to my expectation that I would always be in control.

Once Abby was born, all of that fell apart. I have learned that I don’t need to be the best. In fact, it is far better to be humbled because then you can ask others for help, encouragement, advice, and prayer. This summer I have gone to moms asking their advice or just asking for prayer (or a hug!) more often then ever before. There is no reward for those who have it together. Those who are broken and humble will be blessed.

I am at a point now where I try, but know I can’t do it all. I can’t be a perfect wife or mom. I can’t do everything I want to do. I have to sacrifice and prioritize and ask God and Dan what things to let go. Then I have to be ok with messes, ok with unfinished projects, and ok if I never learn to do all the things I want to. And I am at a point where I have no idea how other moms do it with more than two kids! But I’m also at a point where I am open to learn willing to make mistakes as long as I am doing my best to fulfill God’s calling on my life.

I have cried out to God.

I have cried out to God many times in my life, but never quite like I have in the past year. I specifically remember one evening when Abby was still in the hospital. It was dark and raining and we were riding in the car. No one was talking. I was crying, feeling completely hopeless. All I could pray was, “God, help me.” over and over again. I didn’t even know what I needed or how God could help, and I didn’t have the strength to think of anything else to pray. And it seemed like no answer came.

Sometimes in moments like that, things have felt so dark, God has felt so far away, that I haven’t wanted to tell anyone about it. It felt like God was failing. It felt like I had to make God look better than I thought He really was.

Sometimes people have commented on God’s faithfulness or answered prayers with Abby in the hospital and I have smiled and nodded and thought, “I don’t see it.” I would pray, “God, people are watching. Show Yourself strong!”, but He wouldn’t answer, wouldn’t show up in any way that I could see.

So why do I share all of this now? It turns out that I’m not the first person in history to struggle in times of trial. (Read Psalms) By faith, I know that God heard my prayers and was even carrying us along, though I couldn’t see it at the time. But, through it all, through the darkest moments, I have cried out to God. Even when I thought it was hopeless and He wasn’t listening, I cried out to Him because He was all I had to cling to.

And when all hope did seem lost and I felt I was just getting depressed and angry, I would pray, “God, keep me close to You whatever it takes. Even if You have to drag me kicking and screaming, keep me close to You. And make me more like Jesus.”

And do you know what? Through it all, He has.

I have learned to cling to scripture.

There have been plenty of times when doubts and lies have filled my mind.

“I’m suffering and no good is coming from it.”

“This is all ruining our family and making me a worse person.”

During those times I have stubbornly read and re-read various verses and clung to them desperately.

“tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I would cling to those scriptures and others and declare to myself, “It’s true. It says that. It must be true!” And I would declare to God, “You said it God, I’m going to believe it!”

I long for heaven.

A month or so ago I memorized Revelation 21. When I was stuck in bed sick I would find my mind wandering to heaven. I would imagine the wedding banquet. I would imagine a heavenly choir welcoming the saints in with celestial music. I would imagine what the holy city would really look like. I would think about eating the fruit from the tree of life while walking on the new earth and talking to Jesus face-to-face. I know my imagination falls far short of the glory and reality of heaven, but the point is, I actually think about it now.

I actually look forward to heaven. I look forward to an end to sin and suffering. I look forward to when God will wipe away every tear. There will be no more death, no more mourning, no more crying and no more pain.

(And as a small bonus, there will be no more night. This can only lead a sleepy mommy to assume that there will be no more tiredness because there will be no more need for sleep.)

What is coming next?

Sometimes there is a cynical part of me that wonders, “What’s next?”. We are planning to close on our new house in six days and move in shortly after. Then what? What trials will God bring next? I try to correct myself and remember that God works things together for good. He’s not out to get us and make our lives miserable. And even when trial after trial comes our way, God still offers joy for His children. He is good, isn’t He?

Go, then, earthly fame and treasure!
Come, disaster, scorn, and pain!
In Thy service, pain is pleasure;
With Thy favor, loss is gain.
I have called Thee Abba, Father!
I have stayed my heart on Thee.
Storms may howl, and clouds may gather,
All must work for good to me.

Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Christ will bring me sweeter rest.
O ’tis not in grief to harm me,
While Thy love is left to me;
O ’twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

(From the hymn: Jesus I My Cross Have Taken)

Snuffly Quotes

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Last night, after Lydia was all tucked into bed, I heard her crying, “I don’t want to be snuffly. I don’t want to be snuffly!”. This morning she assured me that she was no longer “snuffly” because she was only snuffly when she was sleeping.

In case you don’t speak “Lydia”, allow me to translate. We’re sick. Snuffly-gooby-runny-nose-sick. So, rather than write an Abby update today, I’ll postpone that for when she’s looking a little less…snuffly. But in the meantime, I’ll share some encouraging and though-provoking quotes that I’ve read lately on the topic of difficult circumstances.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
Helen Keller

“If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe Him at all.”
Charles Spurgeon

“God’s ways of answering His people’s prayers is not by removing the pressure, but by increasing their strength to bear it.”
DL Moody

“O Lord, by all thy dealings with us, whether of joy or pain, of light or darkness, let us be brought to thee. Let us value no treatment of thy grace simply because it makes us happy or because it makes us sad, because it gives us or denies us what we want; but may all that thou sendest us bring us to thee, that, knowing thy perfectness, we may be sure in every disappointment that thou art still loving us, and in every darkness that thou are still enlightening us, and in every enforced idleness that thou art still using us; yea, in every death that thou art still giving us life, as in his death thou didst give life to thy Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Phillip Brooks

What to Say to a NICU Parent

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I’ve never been very good at knowing what to say to someone when they’re going through a hard time. After going through some hard times myself, I realize that I have probably very often said the “wrong thing”. Earlier this week I posted a Survival Guide for others who find themselves spending time in the NICU. But the reality is that most of the people reading this never have and never will spend any time in the NICU. However, everyone reading this knows of at least one person who has spent time in the NICU. This post is for all of you. I know my thoughts won’t apply to every NICU parents. So, based on my own experience and conversations with other NICU parent, but these are my best suggestions on what you can say (and do) to help a NICU parent.

As I wrote this, I wondered if I was going too far. Having a baby in the NICU is not the most difficult thing in the world. I know there are plenty who suffer far greater trials. However, I still felt the thoughts may be helpful to some. My husband pointed out that much of this could probably be applied to interactions with anyone who is suffering. If you think all this is a bit overboard, feel free the glean the good and forget the rest. And, keep in mind, not everyone is the same and I can only share from my own experiences and conversations with a few others.

“My heart just broke for you…”

What do you say to someone who just had a baby…months earlier than they were “supposed to”? “Congratulations”? “I’m sorry”? “She’ll be fine”? “She’ll be home before you know it”? Dan and I have found that there is very little you can say and be of any real comfort to a newly arrived NICU parent.

After Abby had spent two and a half months at the hospital, Dan was riding up the elevator one day with a crowd of people. One of the ladies in the elevator was in a wheelchair and it came up in conversation that she had just had a c-section and had been transferred straight to UofM with a baby who was now in the NICU. The others on the elevator started offering their support and encouragement.

“Don’t worry. She’ll be fine.”

“You’ll be home before you know it.”

“This is a great hospital.”

“What did you say?”, I asked Dan.

“Nothing. There’s nothing you can say. It wasn’t the right time.”

However, there was one conversation that stands out in my mind as being especially comforting. Lydia had just been born. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. As we walked into church the following Sunday, I wanted to stay close to Dan and avoid all conversation. I was tired, sad, emotional, and still trying to grasp what was happening. Afterward, of course, people came up to talk to me. One mother at church approached me with tears in her eyes and said, “When I heard, my heart just broke for you…”. It was the most comforting thing anyone had every said to me.

Now, not everyone has the ability to sympathize in this way. Don’t fake it. If you’re able to honestly share in someone else’s suffering, by all means, offer your consolation. However, in many cases the best you can do is give a well-meaning hug.

Be Careful with Your Encouragement

I recently came across Proverbs 25:20. It says, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.”

For the most part, I will let that verse speak for itself. Someone who is separated from their tiny newborn baby will often have a “heavy heart”. Happy words may be just what they need to hear, or they may sting like icy wind on bare skin.

Ask Me about My Baby

It may seem like all I talk about is my baby. Maybe you think I get tired of giving everyone the same updates over and over. Maybe you think you should avoid the topic because it’ll make me sad.

But, please, do ask me about my baby. My baby is my life right now. I don’t have time for anything else. When my baby takes a step backwards, doesn’t have a good day, or isn’t making progress, my whole world feels a little cloudier. When my baby makes progress, gains weight, shows improvement, the sun comes out and I want everyone to know.

I know there is a whole world beyond the hospital and the universe doesn’t revolve around me (or my baby), but I don’t get to see that world right now. I will try hard to talk to you about all the other things, but the only thing on my mind lately, is that little one lying in a hospital room.

Please Be Patient

I may not seem myself. You just might see me cry. Or maybe I look weary. It’s a hard circumstance to be in the NICU for so long, so please be patient with me.

Please be patient with me if you are pregnant, especially once you hit nine months. I rejoice with you, but sometimes seeing a very pregnant mommy might make me tear up a little. Some good friends of ours had a baby when Abby was a month old. Their little boy was in church when he was only two days old and I cried every time I saw him.

I felt terrible. I was happy for them. But I could hardly talk to them because I would break down. It wasn’t until after Abby was home that I could cheerfully visit and hear all about their birth story and the early days with their newborn. I don’t know if they noticed or not, but I am grateful that they are sweet and patient people who weren’t offended by my distance during those first weeks of their own baby’s life.

If you are pregnant or have a newborn while a friend is in the NICU, be patient if they seem awkward or distant.

Ten Practical Helps

If you do know someone who has a baby in the NICU, you may be wondering what practical things you can do to help them beyond just words. So here are a few ideas:

1. Pray for them. No matter where you live, how much time or money you have, this is one way you can help

2. Do their laundry. They don’t have time.

3. Clean their bathroom. They don’t have time.

4. Wash their dishes. They don’t have time.

5. Do any other tidying or cleaning…I think you get the point here.

6. Bring them a hot meal, a frozen meal, a gift card, a snack…

7. Offer to buy and deliver their groceries. You don’t have to pay for them yourself, just picking them up and saving them the trip will go a very long way. You can give them a bagful of random groceries, or you can ask for a list. Either way, they will probably appreciate it more than they can express.

8. Watch their kiddos…although it’s likely that many will offer to babysit, so be creative and choose one of the above suggestions that hasn’t already been taken.

9. Ask if there is anything you can do to help or bless them. Everyone has individual needs.

10. Visit their baby or send a card or gift. Hospital visits can get long and lonely, you are probably a welcome visitor.

Well, I hope those thoughts are helpful and not offensive or out-of-hand. Dan and I were very blessed by many who did and said loving and encouraging things for us throughout our NICU stays, and we are immensely grateful. In fact, I feel we could never repay many for their sacrificial kindness. And Abby agrees.

2013 in Review

One of our favorite things to do at the end of each year is remind ourselves of some of the year’s highlights. Originally I intended to post the “Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013”. However, as I looked at what those posts were, I realized that most of them were the first Abby updates. Rather than include ten Abby updates, I’ve edited the list slightly to give a fair view of some of the favorite posts of the year:

10. Wasted Seasons

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This is one of Dan’s favorite posts of the year.

9. Anniversary Date

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A sweet story of a special date just days before Abby was born.

8. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

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Some thoughts on the lessons I’ve learned this year about suffering.

7. Ten Things I’ve Learned in Three Years of Marriage

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An anniversary post.

6. Abby is Home!

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This was the highlight of our year!

5. A Letter from Abby

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Abby hijacked my blog one day and wrote this sweet letter of thanks.

4. Abigail’s Birth Story

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A detailed account of the day Abby was born.

3. The Birth Story I’ll Never Tell

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In this post, I shared why we will never have the birth story we had always hoped for, and how God helped us to accept the situation.

2. Abby Update: 66 Days Old

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This is the day Abigail was transferred from St. Joe’s over to UofM Mott’s Children’s Hospital due to her excessive spit up and weight loss over the past several weeks.

1. Introducing Abigail Faith

 photo pregnancies_zps233c3fe6.jpgWas anyone surprised? This was the first post published after Abby was born announcing her early birth at just 28 and a half weeks.

Already Worth It

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Before I was ever a Mom, I had a conversation with a mother of four. She was telling me about a friend of hers who had recently had her own baby and “would already do it again”. She was encouraging me because we had recently announced that we were expecting our first baby.

Now anyone who has a baby goes through some period of pain, especially those who choose to have an all-natural birth or who have to have a c-section (I can’t speak for those who take any other route as I’ve not experienced them myself, but I’m assuming they have their fair share of pain too). However, once the baby comes, the pain passes and the new mom enters a new state of euphoria at the joy of welcoming her new baby into the world.

For us, the “labor pains” last much longer, extended through weeks and months in the NICU before we finally get to bring our baby home. But, even with the labor pain, the painful time of separation, and all the difficulties that come along with a NICU baby, I just wanted to let everyone know it has already been worth it. Our long hospital stay is over (sometimes I still can’t believe it!) and it feels like an old dream or a distant memory.

Every long night spent apart from our baby, every frustrating day of weight loss, every minute spent apart from Lydia while we were in the hospital, the messy house, the infrequent sleep and meals, the stress of dealing with a hospital change and new nurses, doctors, and practices…

Having our sweet little blessing at home for the past 17 days has already made it all totally worth it.

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Edit: The sermon mentioned in this post is now online in video and mp3

Sundays are the hardest days for me. It was the same when Lydia was in the NICU. I’m not sure exactly what it is…maybe it’s seeing all the families together at church. Maybe it’s all the babies being held by their mama’s when I don’t get to have mine with me. Partly, I think it is the worship songs. Songs that we sing during church are full of deep truths about God: His lordship, His holiness, His sovereignty. They confess that God is in control, that He is good in all He does, and that we are joyfully, willingly surrendering all and worshiping this God. On a typical Sunday these are all fine and wonderful things. However, when you’re struggling through a trial, those truths hit a little deeper and a little harder. You think a lot more before you sing something out loud. Surrendering to God’s control carries a new weight to it because you know that it might mean going through something hard and still confessing God’s goodness.

Anyway, whatever the full reason is, Sundays are my hardest days. When our kind friends at church ask “How are you doing?”, half the time I start crying. Then I have to reassure them that Abby is doing fine, great, in fact. “So, what’s wrong?”

Dan asks me the same thing when I get down sometimes at night, right before I go to sleep. “What’s wrong?” And he is usually rewarded with a drawn out list:

Our sink won’t drain. The garbage disposal is broken.
The handle just fell off our laundry room door.
My peanut butter spatula** is gone.
I’m tired.
Our house is a mess.
And my baby is in the hospital.

**my peanut butter spatula, which I was thrilled to re-discover when we moved after a summer of being packed away, is a thin “icing spatula” that I use to clean out jars, mainly peanut butter jars which we go through multiple times a week. Since the first time I got to use it in this apartment, it has mysteriously disappeared.

The list varies, depending on what new stressors have come up, but I always end it the same. My baby is in the hospital.

And then, at other times, I feel perfectly fine. Sometimes I can prance into the NICU like it’s “just another normal day” and smile and hear an update on Abby. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a big deal at all. She’s stable, doing well, doctors are pleased, and will be home in a month or two.

Is this suffering?

Prior to our latest discovery during Abigail’s birth, I never really had a reason to grieve. I’m sure I’ve heard loads of sermons, and plenty of Biblical teaching on grief and suffering, but I must never have had enough motivation to really pay attention. Starting the night after Abby was born, I began to wonder what the Bible really says about grief.

Since I know others have suffered far more than me, is it ok for me to be sad?
Do I deserve to be rebuked for being so down?
Is it wrong for me to be hurt when people act like this is all “no big deal” and tell me it will “be over before you know it”?
Am I overreacting?
How much of this really is just postpartum hormones?
Will I offend those people who have suffered greater things?
How do I respond when well-meaning people say things that don’t comfort me at all?
Since our troubles are small to God, is He annoyed that I can’t just “get over it”?

How fitting it was yesterday, when our guest speaker at church preached a sermon on “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”. Not only was it a fitting sermon, our speaker was a pediatric heart surgeon who operates on babies, has operated on preemies at the very hospital where Abby is, and knows all of her doctors and much of the other staff there. And he is one of those people who has suffered greater things than I have.

But at the same time, he was full of compassion. He spoke with gentleness and kindness and wisdom and truth. Early in the sermon, he made the point: we should never trivialize the sufferings of others. And we should never claim to fully know God’s purpose in allowing suffering into someone else’s life.

And so, in perfect timing, God answered many of my questions. No matter what trial I am going through at any given time, it is the trial which God has allowed into my life for a reason. It may not be hard in someone else’s life, but it will be hard in mine. And God, who created me, knows that and has compassion. God, who sees all and knows deeper love, joy, hope, and pain than I ever will, isn’t offending by my suffering. He offers comfort. And He uses suffering to fulfill His purpose in my life.

As far as others are concerned, it isn’t a ranking system of suffering. Just because someone has suffered more than someone else, doesn’t mean they are special, or stronger (or weaker), or godlier than anyone else. As Christians, we aren’t supposed to compare or belittle anyone’s sufferings. God only asks us to enter in to their suffering, to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

I hope that, through this time in the NICU and the disappointment of never being able to have a full-term baby, Dan and I will become more compassionate Christians who are equipped to enter in with others who are suffering.  Even if the suffering seems small in our eyes. Even if the suffering seems like something harder than anything we’ve experienced, something with which we could not honestly relate.

And now, because I know Abby’s fans, followers, and prayer warriors need their update…

Weight: 3 pounds, 6 ounces
Feeding: 30 milliliters fortified to 24 cal every 3 hours given over the course of 1 1/2 hours

Abby had another pleasing weight gain last night. She has been struggling to digest lately, having more leftover milk in her tummy at the following feeding times, and going whole days without a dirty diaper. She has also started spitting up again. For now, we are just waiting it out. She’s still young and small and will, hopefully, outgrow these problems.

Now that Abby is 32+ weeks old, she will start receiving iron in a couple of her feeds. Lydia, when she was in the NICU, hated her iron and it always made her spit up. Preemie’s aren’t able to produce red blood cells on their own without receiving extra iron, because most babies get their iron stores built up from Mom during the last weeks of pregnancy. Abby never got that. So we’ll see how she does with these supplements added to her “salted caramel lattes”.

On a brighter note, the physical therapist stopped by today and took a look at little Abby. She was impressed. Her feet may or may not be improving, it’s hard to tell. However, Abby is “very social”. Most babies favor either their hearing or sight, but apparently Abby is excelling at both. When Dan talks to her, she will turn her head and look at him. At the same time, when she’s awake she is “bright eyed” looking around at everything. Tonight we’re going to bring in some family pictures to put above her in the isolette, so that she can “look at us” even when we’re not there.  (Just a side note: Dan and I recently learned that Lydia’s isolette, her “bed”, costs $45,000.  Yikes!)

Lydia remains the NICU’s favorite toddler. A while ago one of the neonatologists (there are five that rotate) tried to befriend Lydia a little unsuccessfully. Dan informed the doctor that Lydia likes stickers (which are available in ample supply at the reception desk). Yesterday the doctor was back on and brought us two packages of stickers that she had gone out and bought just for Lydia. Originally she bought her some other toy but it was for ages 3 and up, and she didn’t want us to sue her. Lydia happily took the stickers and ignored the doctor. Dan says you just can’t buy her friendship.

Praise the Lord
We are thanking God for:
-Abby’s development: seeing and hearing
-Lydia slept in this morning, which meant Dan got to work a little more and I got to sleep at little more
-answers to my recent questions regarding suffering
-that God is compassionate and gracious to us all

Please Pray:
-that Abby will stop spitting up, start digesting more regularly, and that her feedings will be able to be reduced from 1 1/2 hours long to just 1 hour
-that Abby will tolerate the iron well, and it won’t cause her to spit up more
-that Abby would continue to gain weight and that her exercises would work to straighten out her left foot
-that Dan and I will figure out a better routine now that I am (close to being) able to drive (starting Wednesday)

This is When Things Get Hard

Life in the NICU is really unlike any other place. On one hand, everything is so medical and sterile. Everything is done according to procedure and an official doctor’s order has to be put in for anything to be changed. On the other hand, as the doctors make their rounds they are discussing things like spit up and wet diapers. To be honest, it’s a nice place. The nurses are (mostly) sweet and the doctors are extremely friendly. Everyone offers to answer questions, bring (somewhat) comfy chairs to our baby’s bedside when we arrive, and even get us bottled or ice water.

With Lydia, I noticed a bit of a progresion. The first week in the NICU was a whirlwind, so busy and exciting. The second week, we fell into a routine and it was almost (I did say almost) fun going to the hospital each day to get our updates and hold our baby. But by the third week it wasn’t fun anymore. No matter how sweet the nurses or kind the doctors, all those runs back and forth to the hospital got old.

In the NICU, your whole life is put on hold. Your schedule revolves around Baby’s eating times (every three hours). You go back and forth to and from the hospital, returning home only for meals and sleep. You don’t keep up on anything that isn’t necessary. You boil your activities down to the most important: washing dishes and clothes, cleaning the bathroom frequently enough so that it doesn’t grow mold, and paying bills. Everything gets done efficiently or it won’t get done at all.

Last night I hit the same wall that I did during Week 3 with Lydia. Yes, there were overwhelming moments in those first couple of weeks. This is a different kind of hard, a long sad hard. We miss Abby when we’re home. I’m just a little down most of the time, and really down some of the time. Even when I’m holding her, I’m wishing for “normal”.

Abby is doing well. Yesterday a physical therapist looked at her left foot, which has been turned inward since she was at least 20 weeks gestation. So now during each “hands on” time we or the nurses do some “exercises” rotating her foot. Today Abby had some blood work done which came back mostly normal, but her sodium levels are low. So she’ll be getting a sodium supplement added to her feedings probably for a couple of weeks at least. Her weight last night was 1320 grams, down from 1330, but the nurse was also using a different scale, which probably accounted for the difference. Overall, she’s just eating and growing with no major concerns.

It’s still hard.

I know that God is still good. I know that Abby won’t be in the NICU forever. The time will go by quickly for everyone else. (But it would probably not be best to approach Dan and I in a couple of months and comment on how quickly the time passed) I know that suffering is used for good in our lives. But it’s still suffering. It still hurts. We’re still hoping and trusting and hanging on, but we still miss our baby.

God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.