I suppose most birth stories end at the baby’s delivery, but due to the circumstances surrounding Paul’s birth, the story just feels incomplete without including the next couple of days. So I guess this is Part 2 of Paul’s birth story: the hospital stay.
It was close to midnight before we were settled into our room on the mother-baby unit. Dan had run down to the hospital coffee shop and store to find us some dinner (finally!) and, after quickly feeding Paul, we scarfed down some food and got ready for bed.
The nurse gave us a brief explanation of what the next 24 hours would look like for Paul. Babies born at 35 weeks often have problems with their blood sugar. The problem is, the fat stores that get babies through those first milkless days just aren’t there on a 35 weeker. There’s nothing to keep the blood sugar up, and once that drops too low a lot of other problems can follow. So, every three hours Paul was going to have his blood sugar checked. As long as it stayed above 45, everything was fine. If it dropped below 45, he would get one more chance. If it dropped below 45 again, it was off to the NICU to be put on an IV. Paul had to make it 24 hours with good blood sugar levels and the last 12 hours had to be consecutive.
That night went great. Paul’s first blood sugar was 67. For several readings he hovered in the fifties. It wasn’t until his second to last reading that he dropped to 40. Our nurse gave us a bottle of formula and explained that, by taking in about 15 ml of formula with each feeding attempt, Paul’s blood sugar level should stay high enough. So we reluctantly gave him the formula and I started pumping to try to encourage my milk to come in faster.
The formula did the trick and the next 12 hours went smoothly. Well, it was a sleepless nights (aren’t all nights in the hospital?) but as far as blood sugar levels, everything went smoothly. By Wednesday morning our nurse took the last blood sugar level. It was high enough and she declared, “We’re done!”.
Rooming in with your baby is entirely different from having a baby in the NICU. No rushing back and forth to and from the NICU trying to make it for nurse reports and “hands on” times. No trying to squeeze in rest between meals, showers, visitors, and trips to see Baby. I hardly even had to get out of my bed! Every time I looked over to see that little Baby bed next to mine, my heart was just so happy. I kept reliving the whole birth experience over and over, hardly believing things turned out the way they did.
We snuggled Paul almost all the time. Even in the middle of the night it was hard to put him down. After two NICU babies, we just couldn’t fathom leaving him all by himself in that little bed when he could be in our arms.
Wednesday brought it’s own handful of trials. Because Paul was born early, and because he was born quickly with a lot of bruising, and because he had a high blood count at birth, he was bumped up several risk levels for jaundice. Whether or not a baby has to be treated for jaundice depends on their bilirubin levels. However, the level that requires treatment depends on a number of factors including the baby’s age, and the risk factors I just mentioned. In other words, Paul was very likely going to need to spend time under the bilirubin lights.
Sure enough, by Wednesday afternoon a light was brought in and Paul was put under it. Poor little guy was not happy being unswaddled and unheld. He spent the next several hours trying to tear off his face mask, all the time crying and squirming. His little cries were so small and squeaky (like a puppy, many have said), and it was so sad to watch him struggle under there. But he needed it and we were happy to do anything that might keep him healthy and bring him home.
At 6:30 on Wednesday night, Paul was taken to the NICU to have some blood drawn to check both his blood count and bilirubin level. Our nurse suspected we might be able to accompany him and was certain our girls would never be allowed in the NICU. She didn’t know our history. The next half hour or so was a happy reunion. The doctor, nurses, clerks, and techs all enjoyed seeing Lydia and Abby again. We visited and caught up while Paul had his blood taken and everyone rejoiced in Paul having made it so much further than the girls. We were reminded, yet again, of how wonderful the NICU staff is at our hospital and half wished we could have somehow stayed in the NICU instead of the Mother-Baby unit for those two days we had to be in the hospital anyway.
After our little reunion, I went with Paul back to the room and munched on my dinner while Dan took the girls for a walk. We were waiting for the verdict. Most likely, Paul would be transferred to the pediatric unit to stay under the bili light and I would room in with him there (I had already been discharged).
Close to 8:00 the nurse came in and said, “Well, I talked to Paul’s doctor and we got the lab work back. You can go home.”
Dan showed up in the room just a couple of minutes later and the nurse told him the good news. We couldn’t believe it. A take home baby! We packed up our things, and just like the story I thought I would never tell, we headed out to the car. The only differences between that story and this one were that Paul was in his car seat on the cart, Dan was pushing the cart, and the nurse was pushing me (in my other version I was holding the baby, Dan was pushing me, and the nurse was pushing the cart).
I share those details only to emphasize the goodness of God. While I can’t rightly call it a miracle that I made it to 35 weeks (others have done the same), I can declare with confidence that God heard our prayers and graciously, kindly answered them the way we hoped. He gave us a take-home baby, a safe and natural delivery, and let me hold Paul right after he was born. He gave us peace and joy through it all. Even in the days after coming home, He has filled our home with more joy and peace in spite of sleepless nights, fussy toddlers, and illness. God certainly has been kind to us and we will continue to acknowledge the good things He does for us.
I’ve tried a lot of different routines over the past few years. They keep me productive, help the day pass more quickly, and add a happy and welcome structure to each day. Often, I have stumbled through my routines getting stuck on the fun activities and putting off the boring ones until I was rushing around trying to finish everything at the end of the day. However, the girls and I figured out a routine that was working just beautifully for us until last Friday when we rearranged things so I could be off my feet more. We’ve adapted our routine, and it isn’t as ideal now, but I wanted to document this favorite routine of ours while the memories were still fresh.
A Day In Our Lives
7:30 Quiet Time
At 7:30 my alarm goes off. I usually take a while to wake up, then sit up in bed and turn on my handy lamp, pull out my Bible, journal and pen, and start my quiet time. I like to start with about 10 minutes of memorizing or reviewing memorized verses (I’m working through Psalm 37 right now), then have 10 minutes of Bible reading (I’m reading through the Bible now, at least a chapter a day, and recording observations about the characteristics of godly women in the Bible), and end with 10 minutes of prayer (praying through a regular list of needs and people along with whatever else is going on in our lives that day or week).
Usually during this time Lydia comes pitter-pattering into my room to snuggle with me under the covers. She especially likes to hold my Bible case and journal, suck her thumb, and hold my hair. If she doesn’t wake up on her own, I wake her up before I pray, because she’ll be sorely disappointed if she misses out on our Bible time together.
8:00 Morning Routine
Throw laundry in the washing machine, empty the dishwasher, and prepare breakfast. Then get Abby up and get both girls dressed for the day. Say goodbye and send Dan off to work.
8:30 Breakfast and Bible Time, switch laundry to dryer
After breakfast, I read to Abby out of a little Bible story book and to Lydia out of a bigger story Bible. We’re currently reading through this book, which I recommend for little girls. We also pray for something specific (currently for Baby to “not be born today” and for Dan to get into a phd program), and sing a Bible memory song (reviewing Romans 3:23-24 this week).
9:15 Shower, play with Abby, do gymnastics with Lydia
9:45 Cleaning Chore
Monday: Tidy up, put things in their proper places
Tuesday: Change sheets
Wednesday: give baths and clean bathrooms
Thursday: Clean floors
Friday: Do something extra (clean fridge, floors upstairs, dust etc.)
10:15 Read to girls, Put Abby down for a nap
10:45 Computer chores
Write blog posts, update budget, pay bills, plan meals and make grocery lists, put pictures on Facebook.
11:15 School with Lydia
We’re working through this book. It’s just a little every day and we really enjoy it.
11:30 Get Abby up, Correspondance
This is when I try to stay on top of things as far as emailing, writing, and calling family and friends.
1:00 Fold and put away laundry
I used to have the hardest time with laundry. I could get it washed and dried easily enough, but I waited to fold it until the end of the day and then, more often than not, I never got to it. But when I changed things around and started folding laundry after lunch, suddenly it got done every day.
1:30 Rest, read, and naps
This used to be straight up nap time, but the girls would play and giggle for so long that they didn’t fall asleep for at least half an hour (sometimes an hour and a half!). So I started bringing up some tea and spent that first half hour reading with my cup of tea while the girls played in their room. As the half hour ended, the girls would quiet down and when all was quiet I would nap too.
I don’t feel too bad admitting that I take an hour and a half nap because I’m supposed to be taking it easy. (Right?) I’ve read that you should either nap for 15-20 minutes or for a full hour and a half to wake up energized and not groggy. So I take the whole hour and a half, but it is usually interrupted by Lydia needing to go potty. Ah well. After my nap the girls are often still asleep so I take half an hour to work on a project around the house.
4:00 Snacks and Adventures in Odyssey
The girls need a snack after their nap and then Lydia is usually still sleepy enough to want to snuggle. So we snuggle and listen to the day’s episode of Adventure in Odyssey online.
4:30 Make Dinner
6-ish Dinner and Bible Time as a Family
The schedule kind of falls apart from here on. Dan’s not as big into routines as I am, so I let the evening go with his leading. Sometimes we read a book together after dinner. Sometimes the girls need baths. Sometimes we just play.
8ish Bedtime for the girls
You know, the usual bedtime routine, brush teeth, change diaper(s), put on pajamas, wrap up in warm blankets and tell stories and sing songs. Most nights Lydia asks for a “Billy story” (stories that Dan makes up about a fictional boy named Billy who is obsessed with playing baseball) or a “Melissa story” (stories that I tell about a fictional girl named Melissa, but the stories are actually 95% straight out of my own life). On good nights she’ll get both. Then she asks me to sing a certain song (“The Bunny Song” is a favorite but lately she has also enjoyed “Away in a Manger” even though Christmas has passed). While I sing, she insists I lay down with her so she can hold my hair. Afterward she asks me to “Stay and rest for a while”. Then we turn on a music cd, turn off the lights, and head downstairs.
Sadly, now that I’m avoiding the stairs as much as possible, I no longer get to take part in the bedtime routine. Only for a season…
The Rest of the Night
The rest of the night is just for Dan and I. Sometimes we play the game: Go, or read a book together. Sometimes he works on projects and I read.
And so our happy day comes to a close. I miss our routine already, but know it’s for a season and will be worth it if Baby waits longer to be born. I also know this routine won’t be back for a long time. First there will likely be a season in the NICU. Then we’ll have a newborn at home with the usual sleepless nights, fussy times, and adjusting to having another little one. I’m sure there will be other seasons with happy routines, and someday I’ll probably look back on this and laugh at how easy we had it while the kids were so little and our lives so simple!
Abby is 16 months old now and she’s learning new moves! During the past month Abby started pulling herself up on things and now she loves to stand every moment she gets. The race is on to see if Abby will beat Lydia in learning to walk. Lydia didn’t walk until 21 months, but Abby looks like she might just beat her. Only time will tell.
Abby still army crawls using her one armed, one legged method of getting around, I guess because she knows it works. However, she can now push herself up on all fours back into a sitting up position. I’ve also caught her trying out crawling on all fours, but that hasn’t taken off just yet.
Abby has also located the nose. If we ask her, “Abby, where’s my nose?”, she’ll happily point it out for us. She has yet to find her own nose though.
She still love to eat. It’s probably her favorite activity. She likes to eat as soon as she wakes up in the morning or after any naps, and if you put her in her high chair with food on the table, she will not tolerate waiting any length of time for her meal.
Abby still keeps us smiling and laughing. She is far less cautious than her older sister and may even be more independent than Lydia, if that’s possible. She’s happy to play by herself for any length of time as long as she isn’t hungry or tired. She’s as smiley as ever and is always adding joy to our days.
At noon on New Year’s Eve Dan exclaimed, “There are only 12 hours left in the year! What should we do?”.
Justine: Take naps.
Lydia: Run in circles!
Abby (thinking): Eat!
So that’s how we wrapped up the year. 2015 is going to be a good one. Just look at that smile. How could it now be a good one?
Happy New Years Everyone.
Growing up, I always thought it was weird when my classmates would celebrate Christmas on any day other than Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But now that Dan and I live four and a half hours away from most of our family, we’ve joined the club. Dan’s parents came down the weekend before Christmas, in part, to celebrate Dan’s brother’s graduation, and in part, to celebrate Christmas as a family.
Lydia enjoyed new additions to her dress up closet, and Abby loved her new little piano. The gift opening was a lot of fun.
Oh, and the food in Abby’s stocking was also a big hit.
Just a couple of days later, my parents came down for another Christmas celebration. They made one of my favorite Christmas treats with Lydia and we enjoyed the afternoon together before opening presents. Abby got a little ball she loves to chase around and Lydia opened a new baby doll which she now carries with her everywhere.
It was such a blessing to be able to see both sets of parents. We weren’t sure if they would be able to come this year, and we weren’t really able to travel at this point in my pregnancy. So it was exciting when things came together at the last minute and we got to do our family Christmases after all.
And then…Christmas Eve came, and we scrambled (ok, I scrambled) to get last minute preparations done. Between my overdoing it and Abby’s decision to almost choke on some plastic, things sort of fell apart at the end of the night. We threw some spaghetti in a pot and decided to keep things a little simpler next year.
But the girls were finally put to bed, the living room cleaned, and the presents wrapped. The advent calendar was filled. Lydia finally got to put on the sticker of Baby Jesus in the manger. The stockings were stuffed, and the food was prepared. Dan and I headed off to sleep before midnight.
I have an unwritten rule that I don’t take any pictures Christmas morning during the gift opening. We just enjoy our time together, technology set aside. Lydia got a toy doll stroller, perfect for her new baby doll. Abby got a toy train that we all love playing with. And, even though there’s no snow right now, the girls got a sled. It turned out that sleds do work(ish) on grass and carpet.
After gift-opening, everyone enjoyed breakfast and got dressed. Dan read us the Christmas story. Then, we all played inside for a while, then the kids went outside with Dan to play on their new sled while I cleaned up from breakfast and worked on lunch. After a snacky sort of lunch, the Taylor girls got in some nice naps.
Soon enough, it was dinner time. After dinner, we decided to give Lydia real treat and let her watch her very first video: A Charlie Brown Christmas. She also got to eat dessert in the living room. It was epic. Abby was unimpressed.
And then it was time for bed. All day long Dan and I just felt overwhelmingly blessed. Our hearts were full. It was such a happy day. And then we got Dan home for three more days. Needless to day, it was a happy weekend. I hope you all enjoyed Christmases as happy as ours was, celebrating Jesus Birth with the ones you love the most.
Hullo again Friends, it’s Mr. Christmas Moose here, returning for another addition of the Taylor Family Christmas Letter. I must have done a good job last year because they invited me back to write their letter again this year. Can’t say I’m too surprised. English has always been my strong point.
Well I better start off with the most important news. Thanks to your kind and generous comments on my last post, my time out of the box has been extended. I now get to come out of hibernation from the day after Thanksgiving (and yes, I’m pleased to say they actually woke me up on time this year!) through Fur Rendezvous. That’s the third Friday in February, thank you very much. And, in case you missed it, our little Abigail had her movie world premier at Fur Rondy last year. If you didn’t watch it then (or even if you did) check it out here. She’s a cutie.
Now after all of the madness of last year, I wasn’t sure the Taylors would give me much to write about this time around. But I guess they don’t like to be uneventful because this year was just as action-packed as the last.
January started off with the new little munchkin getting settled into our home. It had been a long hospital stay and the joy of bringing her home was not short-lived. Our routine was interrupted, though, when Dan’s work ran out of work for him to do and he spent two months at home looking for a new job. During that time, some inconsiderate neighbors were causing some environmental issues for our littlest munchkin and her doctor told us it would be best to move. Again.
Now, as much as I enjoy being out of my box, I really do need the sleep I get during those other 9 months of the year. So, I wasn’t too happy when I was placed in a bag and hauled off to live under some ping pong table for the next 5 months. I guess it was good that Dan found another job at that point. A moose has got to eat! But the ping pong table wasn’t my favorite. I can’t tell you how many dreams I had about woodpeckers, jackhammers, and balls bouncing over my head. It turns out a very generous family from church had opened up their home to the Taylors and gave them a roof over their heads (and a ping pong table over mine) while they began their hunt for a more permanent home.
I thought the day would never come. It seemed like every evening the Taylors would leave me to go look at houses only to come back and tell me that they hadn’t found the right one yet. If it was me, I would have given up and gone to live in a cave, but, it’s not my family after all. Some exciting things happened that summer, though…
Abby became the smiliest baby in the world. She is so cute and she loves, loves, loves to eat. Lydia remains the cute and animated little munchkin I’ve always known she is. She loves to help her Mommy in any way she can, even though her help sometimes isn’t extremely helpful (if you know what I mean). No offense intended toward the little one, she is a sweet heart. Toward the end of the summer, Dan got another new job. That was good for everyone because he liked it a lot better, it payed more, and they feed him lunch every single day. You can read more about that story here.
And, though they didn’t break the news for months, in August the Taylors found out another little calf…er…baby was on the way. I can hardly wait to find out if it’s a boy or girl, and what they’ll choose for a name. But we’re all hoping this Baby doesn’t come until after Fur Rondy this year. Wouldn’t want to get put back in my box early, you know!
In September, I got pulled out from under the ping pong table and hauled off in a truck to a nice, clean coat closet with the other Christmas decorations, lights, and our beautiful tree. I could hardly wait to come out of the box to see the new home the Taylors had finally chosen. It was quite a story, how they ended up here, and when I finally got the tour I wasn’t at all disappointed.
Now I’m out on my new home, the fireplace mantel. I have a great view of the tree, the front yard, and the area where the biggest munchkin likes to play dress-up. As I write this she’s dancing around in tights, a swimsuit, a scarf, and she’s singing a most beautiful made-up munchkin song. Lovely. The other munchkin is crawling around eating everything she can get her hands on (my kind of kid!), and the smallest one is nestled snuggly right where s/he should be, in Mommy’s belly.
Sometimes they bring me down for the munchkins to play with. Oh how I love the hugs and kisses, the dancing and giggles. But watch out if the little one ever gets a hold of you. She’s sweet, but she likes to nibble on your antlers if your not careful and she’s getting some mean molars back in that mouth of hers.
Well, we plan to lie low this Christmas and spend the day at home as a family opening gifts, eating good food, and celebrating the most important gift: the coming of our Savior, Jesus, as a little Baby. I sure have enjoyed hearing the Christmas story over and over this year as Justine teaches it to Lydia. She’s getting it down pretty well and if you tune in later this week maybe she’ll even share it on here.
Until Christmas, stay warm and well-fed and make sure everyone gets a good nap (that’s what we’re all learning around here these days). Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy the special moments you get to spend with the ones you love most.
Mr. Christmas Moose
Last Thursday Dan’s family traveled to our home for our Thanksgiving celebration. I had been warned by many (including my doctor) not to do too much, so we had to be strategic in our planning. I started the meal preparation on Tuesday and did a little each day leading up to our feast.
Thursday morning we wanted to attend a local church service, so I planned accordingly. Dan and I love being efficient, and this day was definitely a success. By the time we left for the service we had the cranberry sauce and dessert made, potatoes in the crock pot, sweet potatoes ready to throw in the oven, and the turkey stuffed and roasting.
We enjoyed a beautiful service and took our time visiting before heading home. Car troubles changed our plans slightly so we had extra time to get the meal together. After a small lunch, Dan carved the turkey (which was smelling delicious by that point), and I made my first ever successful batch of gravy. We scooped out the stuffing and mashed to potatoes and put those prepped sweet potatoes in the oven. Then I headed upstairs to nap until Dan’s family arrived.
By the way, does our turkey look strange? A friend gave us this tip a while back: if you cook your turkey upside down, the white meat will be much juicier. We tried it once and it turned out great, so now we’re hooked. Although, this year my entire turkey was over cooked so the white meat was dry anyway. Good thing that gravy turned out!
Then the fun part, family arrived. We piled up our plates and enjoyed the food while we visited and were entertained by our food-loving Abigail and ever-social Lydia.
After dessert, we spent the majority of our evening in the living room. Lydia made us laugh until we cried by dressing up and dancing all around the living room. Books were read and stories told. Everyone got the first glimpse of this year’s ornaments made for us by Dan’s Gramma.
It was a wonderful day and a wonderful night. Dan’s parents spent the night (much to the girls’ delight when they woke up the nxt morning!) before making the long trek North.
Our Thanksgiving weekend continued on over the next few days and we set up our Christmas decorations, did some Christmas shopping, and enjoyed having Dan home for four days in a row. It was a perfect weekend to celebrate God’s goodness to us and our many blessings.
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”.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
We’re back! Since I last posted the story of Dan’s new job, life has been a whirlwind. And, while things are still crazy, they are slowing at least enough for me to update you all on the past month and a half.
On September 24 we closed on our new house. Even though we had to wait for wood floors to be put in upstairs, we decided to move in anyway and camp out in the living room until they were done. Dan slept on an air mattress and the girls got a kick out of it every morning when it was time to deflate Daddy’s bed.
That Saturday we got a U-haul and moved all of our stuff into the garage, where it stayed for the next month before we could finally start unpacking.
Every morning we enjoy the sunshine while we breakfast in our new breakfast nook. And Abby has been practicing her crawling skills by exploring every inch of the house (and eating anything she can find on the floor too).
In October, we celebrated the wedding of our friends, Aric and Hannah. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding. They are certainly a beautiful couple and we will miss them as Aric serves in the military out in California.
We have certainly been enjoying the fall weather, and having a yard of our very own. On Saturday we all spent a large chunk of the afternoon raking and playing outside.
And while Abby has been crawling all over the place, Lydia has been working on her memory verses, including the books of the Old Testament and Psalm 23:
Mostly we are just trying to get unpacked and settled so we can spend this winter together keeping cozy in our new home. We are so thankful for this house, for the changes in our lives lately, and for the way God brings everything together to create such a beautiful story.