The Big Guy

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Well, it’s been one happy, peaceful, sleepy, surreal month since our Paul was born and we are loving being a family of five. Paul has been doing his job like a pro: eating, sleeping, and breathing. For the first three weeks he did nothing but eat and sleep all the time. Well, sort of.

Lets talk about that sleeping, shall we? I include sleeping in these updates so I can look back and remember that it is possible to survive on very little sleep for a very long time. Paul is a good baby, but like many babies, he was born with his nights and days flipped. During the day we could lay him down anywhere at any time and he would sleep peacefully. During the night he would eat and go right back to sleep until we tried to put him down. Then he would spit up, or realize his diaper was dirty or wet, or he would just want to be held. So he would cry and we would hold him…all night long. He’s gotten much better in the past couple of weeks. On a good night, he’ll eat every 2 to 2 1/2 hours and sleep in between. On a rough night he’ll eat every hour and a half and he won’t sleep in between except when we’re holding him. (Last night was a rough night.) Dan’s been a champ guarding my nap times and letting me take a nap when the girls go to bed until about midnight.

But there are more fun things to talk about here than sleeping! Paul is up to…maybe 8 pounds by now. (Last week he was 7 and a half and we’re going to weigh him again tonight). And he actually opens his eyes! It took almost three weeks before we got to see much of those eyes, but now he’ll have one or two long stretches a day with his eyes wide open.

He’s so cute. We love holding him and playing with him in his jungle gym. Every day he seems to be able to see a little farther and he makes more little baby grunts and snuffles.

He’s developed quite the personality too. Or maybe we’ve developed a personality for him. Paul is all-business. We call him Stone Face when he’s sleeping because he looks determined not to wake up and to put all his energy into growing. He’s also developed several other nicknames (in order of how frequently we use them): The Big Guy, Little Man, Buddy, P-Kizzle, and PK.

Paul’s main goals right now are learning to lift his head and stand on his feet so he can play baseball with Daddy and on Sundays with our church. He’s already been working on the right form for holding and swinging the bat and he’s almost as big as Dan’s baseball glove. 🙂

It’s been over a month since God blessed us with this little take-home-baby and it’s still hard to believe how it all happened. It’s hard to believe we really have a little boy. And it’s hard to believe how peacefully we’ve been transitioning to having three munchkins at home (Dan helps a ton). We feel so blessed and can’t wait to keep watching our little Paul grow big and strong.

Finding Her Feet: 18 Month Abby Update

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It’s true! This little cutie is finding her feet. Just during the past week we’ve noticed her pulling herself up on things and then tentatively letting go to stand for just a few seconds. Who knows? By next month she could be walking!

Abby loves singing. Her current favorite song is “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. If you’ll sing it for her (and do the motions), she’ll light right up, try to sing and do the motions too, and then make her characteristic little grunt for you to do it again and again. When she’s upset in the car (when we’re not driving and she’s stuck in her car seat) or at meal times (while she’s waiting for food), singing will often break her out of her bad mood.

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Speaking of bad moods…Abby had a rough stretch this month. Dan and I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong but it seemed like she was always crying. Any little thing could set her off and she’d lose it. One evening I asked the ladies at Bible study to pray about it and one of them encouraged us to be more positive around Abby. Something about pointing out their negative tendencies seems to encourage those habits. Since then we’ve stopped telling Abby not to be a “grumpus” and have instead encouraged her sweet characteristics that we love so much. Well, the next morning we left Abby in her crib for half an hour while Lidster and I got dressed and prepared breakfast. Lately, we had been bringing her down with us, but further in the past we always left her upstairs for an extra half hour. Well, apparently our little introvert needs that alone time in the mornings! That day she was as chipper as ever and we have since readopted our routine of leaving her alone for half an hour before she starts her day. She’s back to being our sweet, fun, smiley baby girl.

One of Abby’s latest frustrations is expressing what she wants during meals. And that leaves Dan and I picking up items one at a time guessing, “Is this what you want?” and then trying to read her expression to determine if it is. This is not our favorite activity and when we guess wrong Abby gets very upset. So we’ve set ourselves to emphasizing how to say “yes” and “no” along with appropriate head nods. Last night Abby really wanted salad dressing on her rice (sometimes you’ll do anything to keep the baby happy) so we kept guessing dressing and then emphasizing, “Yes” in response to our “Is this what you want?” question. By the end of the meal Abby was successfully saying her version of “yes”, which sounds more like “ziet”. Although now she might things “ziet” is actually the word for dressing.

The race is still on to see which happens first. Will Abby walk? Or will Baby be born? Either way, we are enjoying the last days with our two little munchkins before welcoming a third.

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False Alarms and Extra Days: 34 Week Pregnancy Update

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After last week’s update I thought to myself, “What will I post next week?” I had no doctor appointments scheduled and nothing eventful seemed to be happening. Then Friday night hit and Baby has kept us on our toes ever since.

I’m going to go ahead and post this tonight instead of waiting until tomorrow just in case Baby does decide to come and everyone is left in the dark. I’ll try to keep posting updates on Facebook as things change.

Friday Night

Most of Friday passed pretty uneventfully. After the kids were in bed I started to have a lot of pain, not contractions, but achy and crampy pain. It reached an intensity that made me drop everything I was doing to just focus on getting through it. I finally found some relief by sitting on the floor on my knees and leaning on Dan’s exercise ball, rocking back and fourth. Once it had passed a little, I hurried to bed.

Saturday

I had two consecutive dreams Saturday morning in which I was at the hospital and in labor. As I started to wake up I realized I really was having a contraction. My other girls came pretty quick once labor started, but labor always started when my water broke, so this was new for me. Still, the contraction felt like labor, so I told myself I should just go back to sleep and get rest for the big “Baby day”.

I only lay in bed for a few minutes before I knew there was no hope of falling asleep. I was too excited. I headed downstairs, whipped out my phone’s stop watch, and started timing the contractions as I read a book. They were about 15 minutes apart and continued for two hours. I got things ready to go to the hospital, made breakfast for Dan and myself, and waited for Dan to wake up. Suddenly I realized the contractions had stopped, so I headed back up to bed at 6:30.

At 7:30 I woke up with another contraction and gave Dan the update. I called our parents and waited but after only 2 contractions, they stopped again.

Now, back at 16 weeks we had a cerclage put in (stitches in the cervix to add support) and my big fear has been waiting too long to get to the hospital and having those stitches tear me apart as I dilate. My pervious labors have been relatively short and I have always been dilated to 1 or 2 cm by the time we get to the hospital (rushing, of course, because our babies were born so early). So I gave our doctor a call Saturday morning to find out if there was anything we should do. He told me not to worry about coming in until contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart and didn’t stop. In fact, the whole conversation left my feeling a little silly as if there was no reason for me to call in the first place.

During the girls’ naps the contractions started again. This time they were 10 minutes apart and soon they were only 5. Dan was washing dishes and I told him to go ahead and take a short nap. I figured we would get ready to go to the hospital as soon as he got up. Eventually I called the doctor again and he told me to wait another hour before coming in. And once again, the contractions lasted about 2 hours and stopped again. And the rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully.

Saturday night I had the same pains as Friday, but I managed to get to bed and fall asleep. At 3 AM I woke up, not with contractions, but that achy, crampy belly that hurt just about as much. I came downstairs again and resumed my favorite exercise ball position wondering how long this would all go on. After about an hour I made it back to bed and back to sleep.

Sunday

Sunday we were in a dilemma. I had missed the last two weeks of church because we’ve been sick. But we were half expecting Baby to come at any moment. I reasoned that I could just sit in the back with my feet up and suffer through any contractions while I would have the sermon and visiting to distract me from the pain. Besides, our church meets down the road from the hospital and all of our babysitters would be at church anyway.

We made it to church and through the service with just a couple contractions. By the time we left I was having that unpleasant crampy, achy business going on again so as soon as we got home I lay down under a soft blanket on the couch. Dan got lunch ready but by that time the warmth of the blanket felt so good I decided to just doze off while everyone else ate. To my surprise, I woke up a few minutes later feeling pretty good. That was the beginning of almost 24 hours of welcome relief. I took a longer nap and we enjoyed our time at home with no contractions. I even slept ok that night.

Monday

Monday I thought things were surely coming to a lull. I had no major pains all morning and no contractions. After lunch the aches and pains started coming back. The girls went down for their naps late and I woke up around 3:00 with an intense contraction. After a few more, I went back to timing them. They started at 7 minutes apart, then 5, then 2. After about an hour they suddenly stopped again. Ten minutes later they started back up, more consistently every 5 minutes. Dan suggested I call the doctor (again!), but this time a nurse answered. She passed my message along to the doctor, who told me to head in to the hospital and he would meet me there. We called the baby sitters, grabbed our hospital bag and were sitting in the car when we decided to call again because my contractions had stopped. He told us we could just stay home and that we should schedule an appointment first thing tomorrow morning so I could stop worrying about that silly cerclage.

Now I’m sitting at home while the girls go for a walk with Dan (to visit our babysitters, because Lydia was devastated when she found out she wouldn’t be going over to their house after all). Part of me wishes my water would just break so I would know it was time to go in. Part of me is grateful for any extra days we can get Baby to stay in there. 35 weeks would be a “take home baby”! That’s only a week away! And part of me also realizes I’ve had more hours of contractions with this Baby then I did with Abigail or Lydia’s labors, and I’m not even in labor yet!

So continues our adventure. I will try to keep the updates coming. Maybe Baby will come tonight. Maybe Baby will wait to 37 weeks. We’ll just have to wait and see. 🙂

Illness: 33 Week Pregnancy Update

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Last Sunday Abby was sick with a cold. Dan bundled up Lydia and took her off to church while I stayed home and comforted our stuffy little one. Sure enough, she passed it along to me. Tuesday I came down with the cold. Wednesday Lydia started showing symptoms. Friday Dan caught it too. It lasts about a week, so even though it feels like we’ve been stuck and home for a long time, Dan is only halfway through his bout.

I was so concerned that I was going to have Baby while we were all sick, tired, and grumpy. Thankfully, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, since Abby and I are recovered by now. Now if we can just make it until Dan is fully well…

Friday we had another prenatal appointment. Every time we have an appointment and schedule the next one for two weeks out, Dan and I walk away shaking our heads thinking, “We’re never going to make it to the next appointment”. But, so far, we have every time.

Things looked great. Now Baby is measuring exactly average for his/her due date. In the ultrasound we heard a happy heartbeat and saw more of Baby’s spiky hair. Once again, there are no signs of impending labor, I haven’t been having any contractions, and everything looks slow and steady, just the way it should be.

Now that we are just past the 33 week mark, it looks like this may be the first time I won’t have to be on magnesium and antibiotics during labor! Because things have been looking so good, Dan and I have been talking more and more about making it all the way to 37 weeks. Wouldn’t that be crazy? It’s so fun to wait and see how and when Baby will come, now that we are past the scary weeks. March 30 would be 37 weeks, full term, so that is an exciting goal. April 2 is my birthday, so, for all we know, Baby could come on Mommy’s birthday. That would be fun too.

Here are my never ending countdowns:

6 days to 34 weeks (because every week is a milestone)
13 days to 35 weeks, a “take home baby”
27 days to 37 weeks, full term
and just for fun…
30 days until my birthday!

New Goals: 32 Week Pregnancy Update

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Several months ago Dan and I began praying that our baby would not be born until after our church’s annual Fur Rondy (more on that later) and after we reached 32 weeks. So, I could hardly believe it on Friday when we sat through Fur Rondy and Baby stayed put. I was even more excited to wake up yesterday morning realizing that we made it to our 32 week goal!

Lessons from the Couch

We have the “ok” from our doctor for me to start doing a little more, but it’s hard to decide just how much to do when we’ve made it so far already. We haven’t changed much, and during my long days laying on the couch, I’ve started learning some lessons.

The biggest lesson is on complaining. In Philippians, Paul instructs Christians to “do all things without grumbling or disputing…”. I’ve realized lately what a temptation it can be to “grumble” to get some attention and sympathy. It’s not just true for pregnant mommies on bed rest, but for everyone going through anything challenging (which is everyone). I’ve also realized that there is often no glory in not complaining. No one fully understands the trials you’re going through so no one gives you the sympathy you long for. It’s easy to talk about the discomforts of pregnancy, stress of having a NICU baby, inconvenience of getting sick at just the wrong time, weariness of caring for toddlers…or a host of other grumble inducers. So lately, I’ve been seeing that I need to keep my mouth shut and not expect praise for doing it. My reward comes from God alone.

I haven’t really succeeded at this lesson yet. I’m just starting to learn and hopefully in time I’ll be able to apply it.

New Goals

So, now that we’ve made it past 32 weeks…now what? Well, I like to have short term goals and long term goals, and Dan is just hoping for a full-term baby. So here’s what we have:

3 days until the next doctor’s appointment
20 days until 35 weeks and the possibility of not spending time in the NICU (my new big goal)
34 days until 37 weeks, and the possibility of a “normal” delivery and a full-term baby

I can’t believe we’ve made it this far and we’re actually talking about NOT spending time in the NICU. I can’t believe I could actually get to hold my baby the day s/he is born. And I can’t believe I might have to actually pack an outfit for Baby in our hospital bag (which has been packed for over 8 weeks!).

On the other hand, we’re just taking things one day at a time, knowing that Baby could surprise us any day. When you’re ready Baby, we’re ready, but as long as you want to stay put, we’re even happier with that!

New Territory: 31 Week Pregnancy Update

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This week we are entering brand new territory. Sunday marked the milestone I have long been waiting for, the age at which Lydia was born. But, no baby yet. Now we’re only six days away from our original goal of 32 weeks, but already our doctor is talking about going beyond that.

Last week our doctor was on vacation and I was anxiously hoping Baby wouldn’t come while he was gone. S/he didn’t. Yesterday we had our appointment to check on Baby and everything looks good.

First we had an ultrasound that shows Baby is growing some hair on the back of his/her head. Then we measured the belly to find that Baby was measuring 5 days big (down from 2 weeks big at the last appointment). It sure seems like this baby is growing in large spurts here and there and then taking it easy for a while. Two weeks ago I felt miserable, struggling to breath and with aches and pains from a growing baby and the past few days I’ve felt perfectly well.

Everything else looked good. There are no signs of impending labor. The occasional pressure I’ve been feeling is likely just because of the positions Baby and I are in, not anything to be concerned about. There is plenty of amniotic fluid, and Baby isn’t even sitting too low in my belly.

Our doctor was talking about what happens in the weeks ahead and mentioned the 37 week mark. 37 weeks. I’m not counting down the days yet, but it sure was nice to hear talk about 37 weeks, which I had never previously considered even possible. I’m trying to just take things one day at a time (still taking it easy and our doctor thinks that’s making a big difference) at least until the next milestone: 32 weeks. If we make it to 32, then we may reevaluate and set new goals. 🙂

Pleasant Surprises: 29 Week Pregnancy Update

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Well, after the last update I wasn’t sure I would make it to this one! But, here we are, two weeks later and Baby is still staying put.

After the last ultrasound and prenatal appointment, Dan took over the household chores and I resigned myself to sitting around all day. By the end of the first week I was getting pretty bored. On Saturday, Dan let me ride along to the library and to Meijer and sit in the car while he picked up books and some groceries. These Saturday outings have since become a highlight in my week. Is that sad?

In fact, last week Dan wasn’t feeling particularly well so we stayed home from Bible study on Wednesday. By the time Saturday rolled around I realized that I hadn’t stepped foot outside the house since Sunday. Yes, I certainly have been taking it easy.

To fill my time I have been clearing out our old computer (it runs much faster now) and reading a lot. Some books I read by myself, some books I read out loud to the girls, and some books I read out loud while the girls play. I’m not sure they’re really listening to the stories but when I stop reading Lydia corrects me, “No, read louder!”. Dan and the girls have also been hearing the stories of all my reading during our meal times.

Every morning Lydia prays that God would “please help Baby not be born today”. Every morning and evening I pray the same. And every night Dan prays that Baby would not come during the night. Someday we’ll be happy to receive Baby, but not yet!

Last Wednesday I had another checkup and we were thrilled to find out that some of the “labor is approaching” signs have actually reversed themselves. We’re doing about 14 different things to try to keep baby in there and at least one of them seems to be working! Baby, for the second consecutive ultrasound, is measuring 2 weeks big.

Here are the pictures from our appointment. The top picture is Baby’s abdomen, which we measure to get a guess on Baby’s size. The bottom picture is Baby’s face (forehead on the right, chin on the left in the shadows) looking right at you. It’s a little hard to tell, but the most prominent part is Baby’s nose. (I’ve found that it’s much easier to decipher Baby’s face if you actually turn your head to the right).

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Friday was a huge milestone, the gestation when Abby was born. Yes, Baby made it successfully past the 28 week, 4 day mark and then yesterday to the 29 week mark. Lydia was born at 30 weeks and 6 days, which is in less than two weeks. If the ultrasounds are correct and Baby really is two weeks big for his/her age, this Baby could be the biggest one yet.

So there have been a lot of exciting developments. Our next appointment isn’t until February 16, when Baby will be 31 weeks. Our doctor will actually be on vacation February 8 – February 14, so we are earnestly hoping Baby does come until after he gets back.

Here are the latest numbers:

2 days until my oldest sister is due with her Baby!
6 days until Baby reaches 30 weeks.
9 days until my other sister is due with her Baby!
12 days until Baby reaches Lydia’s birth age, 30 weeks and 6 days.
13 days until our next appointment.
20 days until our goal, 32 weeks.

(Yes, all three of us sisters are pregnant at the same time and only time will tell what order our babies are born in!)

On one hand, each day is an adventure. My belly is stretching so much more than ever before that it hurts every night and often during the day. Baby hardly has room in there to move around, and when s/he does it’s not at all comfortable for Mommy. All of the aches and pains are good reminders that Baby is making it longer, but also good reminders that Baby could come any day or night.

On the other hand, life it pretty uneventful. We sit, we read, we lay down, we take naps, we go to bed early. And by “we” I really mean me and Baby. Dan is working like a madman trying to do everything he does, everything I used to do, and more. As crazy as things are for him and as exciting or boring as things get for me, we are thankful for each day that Baby is not in the NICU and we are trusting God to keep Baby safe and warm for as long as possible.

Changes: 27 Week Pregnancy Update

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Anyone like me enjoys seeing the numbers, so here are the latest countdowns.

6 days until I reach the 28 week milestone.
10 days until I reach the gestation when Abby was born.
26 days until I reach the gestation when Lydia was born.
34 days until I reach my 32 week goal.

Every day counts.

Friday I had another prenatal appointment, and it was the one we have been expecting and sort of dreading.

First of all, the resident who started my appointment measured my belly at 32 centimeters, which would put me at 32 weeks. As much as I would love to be at 32 weeks, I was only 26 and 4, so she decided to let our doctor remeasure me and she went on with the ultrasound.

While I lay on my back for the ultrasound I started to feel sick, really sick and really fast. I tried to just wait it out, but the resident was having trouble finding what she needed and I eventually had to ask to sit up for fear that I might faint if I waited any longer. (This is a normal part of pregnancy and occurs in about 20% of pregnant women. This is also why pregnant women are told to sleep on their sides, not their backs)

A few minutes later our doctor came in and remeasured the belly, but still measured me at 31 cm. It must have been the way Baby was positioned so he decided to double check with the ultrasound machine and measure Baby’s belly. This time he propped me up on a pillow on my side, which helped a little. He worked quickly and took a rough measurement of Baby’s belly measuring at a whopping 28 weeks. So it looks like Baby is bigger than Lydia and Abigail were (they were both very average). Some more ultrasound images showed that my body is indeed preparing for labor. We observed the same changes with Abigail and she was born five days later. This time, we’ve taken extra precautions, so we just have to wait and see if Baby 3 follows in Abby’s footsteps or gives us a little more time.

Since the appointment, I have been trying to stay off my feet as much as possible. No one really knows if this will make any difference, but it’s all we can do at this point. Dan has taken over washing dishes, putting away laundry, giving baths, cleaning, getting the girls up in the morning and ready for bed at night, and cooking on weekends. He’s considering asking to work from home more so he can help when it’s time to carry Abby upstairs or cook dinner. In fact, we’ve optimized our routine to such an extent that I’m only walking up the stairs once or twice a day.

Every night I go to bed half expecting to wake up at midnight in labor. Every little ache and pain puts us on the alert, paying careful attention to decide, could this be it? Baby could come today. Baby could come in a month. All we can do is wait and pray.

A lot of people have been asking the question: Is it safe yet? My honest answer to that question is this: 37 weeks is considered full term. Even a term baby is born with risks, but anything earlier than 37 weeks is indeed preterm and that’s just not great. Of course, we aren’t expecting to get that far, so maybe these numbers are more helpful: about 90% of babies born at 27 weeks survive the first year. Twenty eight weeks is a significant milestone when babies do remarkably better, spend less time in the NICU, and have a decreased risk for preemie-related problems. About every two weeks mark another similar milestone.

We’d love to make it another week. We’d love to make it past Abigail’s gestation or Lydia’s. And I would be thrilled to make it to 32 weeks. Right now we are just doing the best we can with the knowledge we have, hoping, praying, and trusting that God’s plan and timing are best.

Abby Update: 16 Months Old

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Abby Update: 15 Months Old

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As Christmas approaches, Abigail is as joyful a baby…er…toddler(?) as ever. She’s not toddling yet, but she’s not exactly a baby. So, while I’m not sure how she classifies title-wise, I do know she is the smiliest little person I’ve ever met.

Abby is always happy unless she is very hungry or very tired. She’s always smiling unless she’s very unhappy or sucking her thumb right after a nap. Those cuddly moments are sometimes my favorite.

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Abby’s crawling around pretty efficiently using her one-armed, one-legged army crawling technique. It gets her where she wants to go so she’s happy to keep using it for now. She can crawl up a step and is pretty fearless, so she keeps us busy chasing her around.

Though she hasn’t taken to sign language like Lydia did, Abby is starting to use a few words. She can say “daddy”, “uh-oh!”, and “buh-bye”. When she eats her food and wants some more she makes a certain little grunt. She tries to say “mama” but more often than not it comes out as “baba”.

Abby’s all-time favorite thing to do is eat.

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And she eats a lot! She’s not too picky as long as she has food when she wants it in a nearly unending supply. If you interrupt her during a meal for any reason, she’s give you a harsh rebuke. If someone else is eating something different from her and she thinks it looks tasty, she’ll give you a few grunts until she gets a sample. Once she’s done eating she wants immediately out of her high chair so she can play or, more often, take a nap. After all of our struggles trying to get Lydia to gain weight, it’s nice to have an eager eater.

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Abby is a joy to the whole family. If find it so entertaining to hear the girls (who share a room now) chattering back and forth after we tuck them in for bed or naps. I find it just as heart-warming to hear their synchronized thumb-sucking once they do fall asleep. Lydia loves her little sister and we all have fun playing with her, tickling her, and getting her to laugh and smile in any way we can.

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