My Thankful for 2014

When Lydia was not yet one year old,  I started a tradition that I hope to continue with each of our children.  Instead of creating a Baby book by hand (I’ve never been much of a scrapbooker) I designed a photo book online.  A month or so ago, I continued this tradition with Abby.  This is really irrelevant to the rest of my post except to explain the pictures.  The pictures used in this post are taken from Abby’s little book.  Moving on.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, our family has taken time to reminisce on the past year and share some of the things for which we are the most grateful. Lydia’s favorites have been Sandy rides at Meijer, and the color pink. Some of Dan’s top blessings have been God’s provision for us with a new home and job, and Abby’s long awaited homecoming last December. Abby’s only “Thankful” has been food. Although, she is, in general, pretty happy about everything.

Today I thought I’d share one of my “Thankfuls”.

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About a year and a half ago, we were still living on campus at Dan’s college, and I was pregnant with Abigail. Since we didn’t know why Lydia had been born early, we didn’t know whether or not Abby would follow in her footsteps. It was a struggle not to be anxious. Would Abby be born early? Would she be born earlier than Lydia? Would she be born too early to survive?

Frequently I would lay in bed at night praying over these questions and God would bring to mind Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” It felt like a Word from God assuring me good things for Baby, but not answering my questions about when she would be born.

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As it turned out, Abby was born early. She was born earlier than Lydia, and she stayed in the hospital far longer. She had more issues to deal with and was a puzzle to the doctors. There were even nights I wondered if she would ever come home.

Finally, last Thanksgiving Day, Abby had two surgeries that allowed her to come home. Her surgeries were Thursday and we brought her home Sunday morning.

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Shortly after Abby came home, I was holding her one morning as I sat in my glider. She was asleep and I was praying for her and asking God what specific things I should be praying for her future. Among other things, I felt led to pray that Abby would bring joy to others. Abby wasn’t even smiling yet, and the prayer didn’t spring from anything I had observed in her character, only what I thought the Lord had in mind for her future.

Soon Abby learned to smile, and since then she has rarely stopped. Others have observed, and I agree, that she is simply the happiest baby we’ve ever met. A week or so ago, as we were tucking Abby in one night, Dan commented that, “Our family wouldn’t be the same without Abby. We have more joy because she’s here.”

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This year, among a host of other things, I am thankful that God gave us Abby: that He created her and protected her, brought her home, and had a plan for her future. Even while I was laying pregnant in bed anxiously praying for an unknown future, God could already see far beyond the pregnancy, the hospital stay, and even past today. How reassuring it is to know that a good God holds our futures in His hands, and the futures of our most loved ones as well.

Abby Update: 79 Days Old

Gestation: 39 weeks, 6 days
Weight: 5 pounds, 9 ounces
Feedings: Working up to 60 ml of unfortified milk every three hours by bottle

Wednesday afternoon Abby had an upper GI done. There was some disagreement about whether to leave in her post-pyloric feeding tube or if that would mess up the reading, and eventually the neonatologists won against the surgery team and the tube was left in. The test confirmed the suspected diagnosis: pyloric stenosis.

Dan, Lydia and I were about to head out to Bible study when the surgery team came in and told us that the had actually been unclear because the feeding tube had been left in. However, they were able to feel Abby’s pylorus from the outside and confirm that it did seem enlarged and they agreed that she would need surgery. However, only one surgery team works on holidays and, as the next day was Thanksgiving, they said her surgery would take place on Friday (today).

Midway through Bible study Dan got a phone call from the pediatric surgeon. They had gotten Abby in for surgery the next day, despite the holiday. She was scheduled for surgery at 8 AM and would be taken down to anesthesia at 7:30. The surgery team would round at 6 AM to answer any of our questions.

We hurried home early from Bible study and went to sleep. At 3:30 AM we got a call from one of the residents expressing a concern that Abby wasn’t ready for surgery because her blood count was so low. Because they never had us sign any admittance papers when we arrived at the hospital (!) they had never received our permission to do a blood transfusion if it was necessary and so they had to call and get our permission. It was just last week that I spent an entire afternoon trying to convince the doctors that Abby needed to be on iron because she is anemic and they didn’t believe me. Now she was so anemic that they had to give her extra blood just so she could be stable enough for her surgery.

We agreed to the transfusion and headed in for a long day at the hospital. Just before Abby was taken in to the operating room, another baby needed an emergency surgery and we got bumped back a few hours. Finally, at 11:03 AM, Abby was in surgery.

We enjoyed a visit from Dan’s brother and sister-in-law while we waited the two to three hours it would take for Abby’s pylorus and hernia surgeries. After only 1 1/2 hours, the doctor called to say they were finished. He had warned us earlier that if anything went wrong they would quit the surgery early. So I tried not to freak out as we waited for the doctor to come out and talk to us. There was no need to worry though, because the surgery went great. They were able to do the pylorus and hernia laproscopically, which means they only had to make a few tiny incisions instead of one large one across Abby’s whole belly.

After enjoying a turkey dinner donated to the NICU by Zingerman’s, we hurried back to Abby’s room. She was still sleeping and looked like she had just gotten beat up. Her eyes were swollen, she had bandages on her belly and an IV in, and when she finally woke up she moaned like a wounded baby animal.

At 4 PM Abby was awake enough to try to eat. The plan was to gradually increase feeds starting with a small amount of unfortified milk until she could handle 60 ml. Any time Abby finished a feed without spitting up, her amount could be increased for the next feed. If she couldn’t finish or did spit up, we would have to stay at that amount until she could tolerate it. When she reached 60 ml, she would be ready (from a surgery standpoint) to go home. However, because Abby was a preemie, they would probably have to make sure she was gaining weight, introduce a fortifier, slowly wait to see if she could tolerate the fortifier in increasing amounts, and take care of any last “preemie things”.

The fortifier has always been a concern to us. I was concerned that Abby would make it to full feeds and then get stuck not tolerating a fortifier. Who knew how long it could take to figure out what would be best for Abby?

So here are Abby’s numbers. The goal is 60 ml every three hours:

4 PM : 3 ml
7 PM : 15 ml
10 PM : 3 ml
1 AM : 15 ml
4 AM : 25 ml, but she spit up
7 AM : 30 ml
10 AM : 45 ml
1 PM : 49 ml

Around noon the surgery team stopped by to tell me that Abby is doing great. Upon further questioning, our nurse found out that surgery was considering treating Abby like a “term” baby, which means she would not need a fortifier. Instead, she would have regular weight checks to make sure she was gaining weight once home, and add fortifiers only if necessary. Our nurse assured surgery that plan would be “perfect for this family”. So, once Abby pleases the team with her eating,she will be home free…maybe even this weekend!

Lydia, on the other hand, started throwing up last night and is now sick at home with Dan while I stay at the hospital (hence the lack of pictures). We would appreciate prayers that Lydia would recover quickly and that Dan and I would stay healthy.

Praise the Lord
We are thanking God for:
-Abby’s speedy and successful surgeries
-no fortifier!
-that Abby may come home soon

Please Pray:
-that Abby will be able to tolerate 60 ml…and soon!
-that Lydia would recover quickly and the rest of us would stay healthy

Abby Update: 8 Weeks Old

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Gestation: 36 weeks, 4 days
Weight: 4 pounds, 10 ounces
Feedings: However much she wants by bottle

Abby is still not gaining weight. However, she is stooling on her own now. Yesterday we were disappointed to hear that she lost another ounce, but the doctor decided to wait another day and weigh her again to see if she started gaining. Today her weight was exactly the same. She didn’t lose. But she didn’t gain either. Dan and I aren’t able to be at the hospital for rounds today so we’ll find out tonight what the doctor decides to do. Abby is still spitting up a lot. If we could get that under control, she would probably start to gain weight again, fortifier or no.

Abby stools when she’s off of the fortifier. But she gets more calories on the fortifier. Maybe they’ll put her back on the fortifier, or maybe they’ll alternate days when she gets fortified milk. We’ll see.

This morning during her daily exam, the doctor told Dan that Abby has a big hernia. That is, the “gap” through which something is protruding (probably her left ovary) is large so it’s easy to see the bulge. It is good to have a big gap because that means there’s less risk of the gap closing and requiring an emergency surgery. The pediatric surgeon has been on vacation and will see Abby today or tomorrow and decide when she should have the surgery.

Today Abby will have some routine blood work done. We’ll get an updated blood count. She’ll also have her biweekly eye exam. These exams will continue until the blood vessels in her eye finish developing.

Things are pretty quiet in the NICU these days. As of last night there were only 11 babies, so they moved all of the babies back over to the NICU side to keep them all together for now. This is Abby’s fifth move of her life. Maybe the next time she moves it’ll be move home! One of Abby’s preemie friends, who we’ve nicknamed “Belleville Baby” might be going home this Sunday after ten weeks in the NICU. We’re happy for them, and hope that Abby will soon follow in Belleville Baby’s footsteps.

Praise the Lord
We are thanking God for:
-that Abby didn’t loose weight last night
-that Abby has a large gap so it is likely she won’t have trouble with the hernia while we are waiting for surgery

Please Pray:
-that Abby gain weight!
-that Abby will spit up less
-wisdom for all involved in making decisions regarding Abby’s fortifier