Monday, December 28, 2009

Ready for Little Sister to Come Home

Behind us in the grocery check out line today were a mother and her two little girls. Mary Lawrence is sometimes painfully shy and so just stared intently at them as they both asked her a million questions. "What's your name? Is that your mommy? How old are you?" But she didn't say respond and just sucked her thumb as they continued with their questions. I was busy swiping my credit card when I overheard them ask one final question, "Do you have a sister ?" And I heard Mary Lawrence say quietly, "Yes, her name is Maggie." Such a precious moment. I wasn't 100% sure until today that she really understood that she had a real sister. But she definitely does and that day when they first meet will be so special...who knows, maybe it will be sooner than we think.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It's snowing in Dallas! Too fun. Well, we are thankful that Maggie did not end up having an infection as first thought. But she does have a virus and that's why she has been acting lethargic and not eating. She's been about the same for the past few days. She's just wiped out, poor thing. But thankfully she has not gotten worse. So we are just praying for a fast recovery and hoping that we can start planning her homecoming soon...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dec 22

They started Maggie on antibiotics last night and this morning the blood work came back about the same so I guess it's good that her infection has gotten worse. We will know more tomorrow when more extensive test results come back. I have to admit I was really scared last night because it just all happened so quickly. At 4:45 the nurse said she was peppy and then a half hour later she was lethargic and pale and wouldn't eat (which she's never done). I know how fast things can spiral downhill in the NICU so I am thankful that it's not worse today. The doctor said if it was really bad she would have to be put back on the ventilator and she hasn't had to do that yet. She's still strong enough to breathe on her own which is great, but not strong enough to eat on her own.

I remember when she first was born a nurse told us it's not a matter of if she will get an infection in the NICU but when. So I guess we can be thankful that she has gone 7 weeks (really 26 if you count the time in utero) that she has gone without getting one. Babies usually develop lots of antibodies in the third trimester and since she didn't get that third trimester she doesn't have as much immunity to bacteria. Thankfully the breast milk helps as well. But good news is that she is 4.5 pounds now, which is much better than 2.5 when fighting infections!

We were hoping she would maybe come home next week but now it doesn't look like it. We'll see ...we're just praying that she recovers quickly from this and that it won't affect her progress too much. It's interesting that the more time that goes by the more confident I am that bringing her home - even if she's on oxygen and a monitor - is better than staying in the hospital. She needs to be away from all those germs and she needs to be in my arms more. I know that our holding her a lot - and kangaroo care - has made a big difference in her progress. And Justin and I haven't been able to be up there because we've both had colds recently and therefore haven't gotten that good quality time holding her. I think coming home and being with her family will be the best medicine for her!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Prayer request

We ask for prayer for Maggie. She stopped eating at 5 pm and the drs think she may have an infection. Please pray for her little body to be able to fight off whatever is ailing her. And for God to protect her and keep her strong. Please pray for the doctors to best know how to care for her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

6 week checkup

Had my 6 week check up today with my OB. We both marveled at what has transpired over the past 6 months. It's funny, I got so used to seeing him everyday at the hospital that I found myself missing our daily chats. He would come sit on the edge of my hospital bed and talk me through my worries. No doubt God led me to him for a reason. He had a way of always softening the constant bad news we received. Even though he knew that the odds were so slim that this would all turn out okay he still managed to encourage me and give me hope. That is truly a gift, I think.

I started crying today when he told me that I have given a gift to Maggie that not many could give by staying in the bed for so long. I told him that it was only because of the grace of God who strenghtned me. I told him that I can't believe it myself when I think about what I went through. I remember at 14 weeks thinking that 28 weeks just seemed impossible and so long. But I told him it was like something just washed over me - a peace from God - that protected my mind from going to the dark places and allowed me to make it through each day. I felt God's presence more than I ever in my entire life. I know that our omnipresent God was not more present in my life than he was before - because he is always equally present - but during this time I felt it even more. And I am so thankful to Him for that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dec 16

Maggie is doing better today. She probably will come home on oxygen unless she improves dramatically over the next few weeks. I am a little discouraged that she has backtracked. Last week she was doing so great and they were thinking maybe a Christmas homecoming- which, honestly, made me nervous it seemed so fast. But now it will be at least a few weeks longer and I am so disappointed- I wish I had appreciated her good days a lot more!

But someone reminded me again today how truly amazing she is doing compared to what's she been through and that I shouldn't lose sight of that. And I definitely needed to hear that. I just don't want her to have to be on oxygen for long or have any long-term lung problems. I guess I was getting too overconfident when she was doing so well and have been reminded that she is still so tiny and so fragile and still 5 weeks from her due date! Poor little thing- her Type A mother is putting too much pressure on her and just needs to let her take her sweet time growing and getting strong!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dec 15

Maggie has had a rough few days and she is not as steady in her breathing as she has been and they can't really figure out why. It's been four or five days of ups and downs and I still don't feel like we have a lot of answers as to why. We are reminded once again that our precious baby is still so fragile and we must not cease to pray for her health and continue to trust the Lord. We are praying also that God will give her doctors and nurses wisdom and guidance in how to best care for her.

They told us today that she definitely won't come home before Christmas. Even though I was so nervous about possibly bringing her home sooner, I was still disappointed to hear this. I just want her to be safely in our arms at home! Hopefully she will start improving and be able to come home in a few weeks.

Poor justin has had a cold and hasn't been able to see Maggie since Friday. Please pray that we can both stay healthy so we can be up there with our daughter. Also that Maggie would be protected from all these flu season germs and viruses and not get sick.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

4 pounds

Someone is becoming a little chubby! Okay, not really. But she is looking more and more like a healthy newborn. After the whole feeding fiasco Maggie is doing just fine. And I have calmed down. I hated to see her uncomfortable and constipated but she is back to normal today. And as long as she is doing okay then so am I!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Meltdown

Yesterday was the first day I wasn't here for a good chunk of the day (trying to get all my "appointments" in before Maggie comes home) and of course that's when a mistake was made with her feeding. A nurse that she's ne er had before started giving her formula when she's been only on breastmilk. And when I found out I just lost it. It had already been a terrible morning with other stuff and when I arrived at the hospital she was having trouble with her oxygen saturation. That's when I noticed the formula bottles and was told they ran out of breastmilk so they started formula. I was so upset. We were never told they were low on my milk nor did they tell us when they started formula. I just happened to notice, though it was 20 hours after they started. It's a big deal to switch any baby to formula- Mary Lawrence had a terrible time with it- but it can be much worse for a preemie who's never had it in her system. So all day she's been extremely constipated and unhappy and I think her breathing issues could be related to it all.

I know, I know- It's not the end of the world, I realize that, but when you are trying so hard to breastfeed and pump every few hours to be able to keep it up, to have this happen is so frustrating. The poor nurses here think I am crazy but tears just were streaming down my face for hours. And when I did try to breastfeed she didn't do well and that made my tears pour again!

I know it's not my fault that this happened but I blame myself. I just wasn't physically able to be here,but I am now. But I've been here for a while now just to make sure her stomach is ok. I am down in the cafeteria now because they make parents leave during shift change. Here I am just sitting here people watching. It's just a sad place, that's all there is to it. People in the hospital cafeteria on Friday night are probably going through much worse than I am. An older woman asked me for directions in the hospital garage the other day and ended up telling me all about her daughter who has a life-altering brain tumor and has small children at home. It was just so sad. I'm sure the garage ticket taker thought I had suffered much worse today because I was bawling as I handed her my money. I'm about to go back up now and hopefully Maggie is doing much better. I'm not sure I can say that for myself!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9

Maggie is still doing great. She is feeding with bottles (or nursing) four out of 8 times each day. Once she is eating completely with the bottle she can come home! I keep telling the doctor that I am so nervous about bringing her home too early as Maggie is progressing so quickly - much faster than anyone ever thought. But he reassures me that they will not send her home until she is absolutely ready. But it could be before Christmas! So when I am not up at the hospital I am trying to get organized at home. I think the "nesting" that pregnant women experience later in their pregnancies is happening to me now since I technically should be pregnant right now. I have been cleaning out every closet in the house and labeling everything and making huge piles for the goodwill. I love knowing where everything is again! Slowly but surely our lives are getting back in order. And it feels good.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dressing and Feeding


First time being dressed in clothes (in a cute outfit given to her by her sweet primary nurse). She's only 3 pounds, 8 ounces but she's still got big cheeks!)



Very alert that day



First week of feeding with a bottle - you are suppoesd to feed her while she is laying on her side like that.



And she moved out of her incubator yesterday!




Thursday, December 3, 2009

Freedom!

There is something to be said for buying a large fountain drink at Target and then wandering aimlessly through all the many product-filled aisles. It is one of those great things about suburbia that I once took for granted. Same with driving around to do errands in my car. A task I once thought mundane is now so much more exciting. I got behind the wheel on Saturday for the first time and it was like I was 16 again! On Tuesday I took Mary Lawrence to school and, minus the three meltdowns she had before we left the house, it was a pretty good second day on my own (Justin's parents left this weekend and Justin started back to work). I guess going back to being "Mom" again was not as tough as I feared.  I keep telling myself I really need to enjoy my ability to go about life somewhat normally before Maggie comes home because we won't be able to go out much. And her homecoming may be sooner than we think. Yesterday I fed her my first bottle and tomorrow I will try to nurse. And I can bring her clothes to start wearing as she will move out of her incubator soon!

Here are some photos:


Mimi holding Maggie for the first time



Daddy and Maggie



You can see how tiny she is still is next to my hand.



Yes, it snowed here yesterday as I was about to leave for the hospital. We threw on our coats and enjoyed the short-lived treat.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Maggie is doing much better today. They haven't had to put her back on the CPAP, for which we are so thankful. She has not had as many "episodes" and we think it is because they are giving her new medications and have adjusted her oxygen settings. It is a little strange that they can't give us clear reasons why she had such a setback but I guess knowing it's pretty common for preemies is reassuring. A few good things: she is now 3 pounds, 4ounces; they are trying to let her regulate her own body temperature by turning down the temp of the incubator (in preparation for moving to her a crib); and they fed her with a bottle today for the first time to see how she would do with a nipple and she gulped the whole thing down in 22 minutes! So that's all good progress for such a tiny person!

Looking at her today I can tell she is getting a little bigger and starting to look more like a healthy baby. It is such a blessing to have her here with us. This weekend we put up our Christmas decorations. Throughout my time on bed rest I thought about how sad it would be to put up our stockings if Maggie didn't survive, not knowing if it was the right thing to put up a stocking for her or not. What an awful thing that I know several of my friends are going through for the first time this year - trying to figure out how to celebrate our the birth of baby Jesus all while mourning the loss of their own babies. I really thought that was going to be us this year. And it's kind of thrown me off that it's not. It just doesn't seem fair. That's why I burst out sobbing when we actually hung Maggie's stocking - something I had hoped and prayed for - because I know while we celebrate there are so many others who are suffering.

I just hope that I never forget what an emptiness and sadness I felt last year after losing a child through miscarriage and this year with just the mere thought of losing Maggie.  It is those experiences that have given me such a compassion for others going through similar circumstances.  And hopefully God will use that compassion for His good purposes. This year I pray that He will bless our friends who mourn and comfort them in a way that no human can. And give them a joy that can only be experienced by knowing our Savior who was born in a manger 2,000 years ago.


Seeing our four stockings made me cry...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nov 29

The past few days have been kind of scary but thankfully Maggie is doing much better right now. We were told from the beginning that the NICU is all about two steps forward, one step back but because Maggie has only been getting better since her birth it took us both by surprise when she declined so rapidly before our eyes. The blood transfusion helped, but only temporarily. Yesterday morning while I was visiting she started having too many episodes of apnea. she was also very lethargic and not her usual fiesty self, which they suspected was due to an infection. They did tests all day but nothing hinted at infection. So they are trying some other treatments to see if they will help. They can't say for sure why she declined sp fast - it's sort of a process of elimination. Right now they are just glad she is stable but if this starts up again she will have to go back on the CPAP machine. Of course I don't want that but I also want them to do whatever is necessary to make her strong again. I learned first hand yesterday how quickly things can go south and I don't want that to happen again.

It's funny how when everything was going so great with Maggie, I noticed I was praying less and less. And then as soon as it looked like she was in danger I was praying fervently again. How as humans we so easily forget our daily need for God! I don't want to lose the faith that has been strengthened by this experience and I don't ever want to forget, no matter how good things may seem, how God helped me in my weakest hour and how He immensely blessed us by giving us Maggie.

Friday, November 27, 2009

First Setback

The doctors aren't sure what's going on with Maggie. She is having too many episodes of heart slowing/stopping breathing. They are giving her a blood transfusion to see if perhaps she is not getting enough oxygen to her heart. If that doesn't work then they will do a lot more tests and X rays as she might have an infection. We are praying that the transfusion solves this problem and it's not something more serious.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

O Praise Him!

There are not enough words to describe how thankful I am for what God has done for me, not only for saving Maggie's life but also mine.  I did nothing to deserve either gift. Both were due to His goodness and mercy and grace.  My cup truly overflows.

All day I have been humming this hymn to myself -the words written eight centuries ago are so much more perfect and more beautiful than any prose I could write to glorify our great God. It makes me think of eternity, when all of us will sing in unison to praise our King in heaven:

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Importance of Family

"Children's children are a crown to the aged." Proverbs 17:6

After practically four months of living with us and tending to our every needs, my sweet mom flew home tonight. And, yes, I sobbed the whole way back from the airport! I don't know if every mom would give up her life and her job, move into a small house with her daughter and son-in-law, and take the role as "mom" for their two year old and "nurse" for her bedridden daughter. I'm sure a lot of people would probably bail after a few weeks, but my mom stood by us the whole time. She always was encouraging, and never once complained. And she did it all with a joyful heart.

My grandmother calls her the "Rock of Gibraltar" for that's surely what she has been to us. And now that she's gone I feel so sad. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach? Well that's what I have right now.  I know that we will be okay - after this long weekend I should be able to start driving and caring for Mary Lawrence on my own, but I just haven't had "mom" duties in so long I'm not sure I'm 100% ready for it. Mary Lawrence is so used to her "Lolly" doing everything for her - getting up with her at 6 am everyday, making her meals, changing her diaper, feeding her, driving her to school, picking her up when she cries. I am sure Mary Lawrence won't know what to do when I pick her up for the first time in 5 months:).

It's funny, I always thought it was strange that in some cultures it's totally normal for grandparents to move in with the younger families. But I can totally see why now! It really was a good thing for us. Mary Lawrence and my mom formed such a special and strong bond that will last a lifetime.I know it's time for our little family to start getting back to normal, but it just doesn't feel right not having her here right now. Thankfully I can cope knowing that she will come back to help when Maggie comes home!

Through this whole experience I have really learned to appreciate my sweet family even more. My grandparents have always taught us that when someone in our family is in need, we go and we support and we love them unconditionally. And that's exactly what they have done for us. Not only my mom, but my sister, aunt, grandmother and mother-in-law have all come to help at one point or another. And my dad has sacrificed a lot by not having my mom around for all these months. Justin and I feel so blessed to have a close-knit family that loves each other so much and would do anything for one another. No matter what we have done in the past, or hurt that we may have caused each other, we always forgive and continue to love one another. It's just the way we do things in our family, and it is such a gift that my grandparents have given us by creating a family like that passes their values on down to each generation. I don't think there is a greater legacy to leave than to build a godly and loving family. And I hope that Justin and I are able to do the same for our family.

So I go to bed tonight a little sad and a little scared, but also incredibly thankful that slowly but surely our little family is getting back to being normal once again.

Lolly and Maggie

Monday, November 23, 2009

Graduation Day

Maggie has officially "graduated" to the other part of the NICU- the division that cares for the stable babies who are simply "feeders and growers." it's much quieter in her new room and the parents are given more responsibility in their child's care. They are all about preparing you to take her home. I know that's still a long way off but one nurse mentioned to me that it could be as soon as Christmas, although we are not going to get our hopes up. We are just so thankful to be able to bring her home that we don't care when.

Maggie weighs about 2 pounds 13 ounces now, and is eating a lot more. Today her heart rate dropped a few times which sent us in a panic, but the nurses said that is to be expected in preemies. And if the doctors become concerned about it they will send us home with a monitor. Other than that Maggie is doing great. And one funny thing, her "roommate," who weighed 1.5 pounds when she was born is named "Miracle." I'd love to know her background but because of privacy issues the nurses can't tell us. But I bet she has a story, too!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nov 21

We are so blessed that we have Maggie and that she is doing so well. Yesterday she was taken off the CPAP machine (which was like a little oxygen mask held in place by a Velcro straps around her head). Now she just has a nasal cannula, which is just a thin, clear tube in her nose. It's really the first time since birth we've gotten a good look at her beautiful face. Today I talked and sang to her while she looked at me. She is wearing a pink cap my mom bought for her and is looking more healthy every day that passes.

Today they took out her IV (or picc line) through her foot so she is getting all her nutrition from milk now, which is great. With a lot of this wires and tubes removed we hope she is more comfortable. I am longing to hold her but haven't in a few days cause Mary Lawrence has had a bad cold and I kind of felt like I was getting it. They keep telling me kangaroo care is so good for her but surely risking giving her a virus outweighs that! Thankfully I am feeling fine again, except for feeling tired, so maybe I can hold her tomorrow.

We are reminded daily by nurses and doctors how blessed we are and how different the situation could have been. A lot of them praise me for staying in the bed and keeping her in me so long, but that makes me uncomfortable as I know I could never have done it on my own accord. I always try (most of the time in a bumbling sort of way) to give the credit back to God, but a lot of times my statements to that effect go unnoticed. I hope we keep having these opportunities to praise God, though. And I pray that our story will be one of hope for others going through this and other trials like it.

Thanks for all the continued prayers for Maggie. Going to post more photos soon...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nov 19

Maggie is doing great tonight. Tomorrow they will take her completely off IV fluids and will only be taking milk through her feeding tube. She is slowly but surely gaining weight and we pray that she continues to do so. Yesterday she opened her eyes for about 10 minutes- the longest time yet. She was looking all around at the sound of our voices. Her eyes are so tiny, like little beads, but yet they are darting all around looking at the gigantic faces peering at her through the plastic (which might actually be kind of scary if you think about it!)

I received so many good tips and encouragement after my last posting. It's amazing how breastfeeding and pumping can draw up such emotion! With Mary Lawrence I put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed for a full year and to not use any formula (can we say obnoxious type A personality!). But sometimes it was more stressful than it should have been. I told myself that I wouldn't put so much pressure on myself the next time around, but yet here I am doing the exact same thing! But it's only because I want her to be as healthy as possible. At the same time, though, I definitely understand from my first experience that you have to consider your mental and physical well-being when weighing your choices. If those two things are suffering there is no way you can be at your best mothering potential. i know that first- hand. So thanks for the encouragement and good tips from all former NICU moms and other moms. Nice to know I am not the only one who has gone through this:).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wiped out

The adrenalin that comes after giving birth has officially worn off. I don't want to complain because I am so thankful, of course. Just wanted to explain to friends why I may not have called you back or responded to your email just yet. Or why i am WAY behind on thank you notes!

Right now I feel like every ounce of energy is going to my two girls right now. Mary Lawrence needs me to be home as much as possible and I am trying to spend good quality time with her. Every time I leave her now she has a huge meltdown cause she doesn't know if I am leaving for an hour or for two months. Poor thing, I would cry too if I was her. And I am so torn because if Maggie was my only child I'd be at the hospital 24/7. I just want to sit by her all day, but that's just not fair to Mary Lawrence. And poor Justin so badly needs his wife back to normal, but I am afraid that is a ways off. How can one just flip a switch and go back to "normal" after all of this?

Anyways by about 5 pm everyday I am wiped out and would love to go to bed right then. But a full night of sleep is still ages away for me as I have to pump every few hours throughout the night. Again, I am so glad to do it, I'm just so tired - not only in a physical sense but also in an emotional sense. As I told a friend who drove me to the hospital last week (still can't drive for 2 weeks!), all I want to do is have a good sob. And not because I am sad because I am overflowing with joy, but because I've had so much built up emotion over the past four months that Ive been unable to express. I didn't want to cry while on bed rest because I was afraid of leaking amniotic fluid, and ever since I had my C-section it's been too painful to cry. I'll have my good cry one of these days, I guess!

After a section they tell you to rest and take it easy for a month but, I'm sorry, that's just not feasible in my case. My mom is good about reminding me to rest and sit down a lot, but it's really hard to relax when you have a 2 year old clamoring for much needed attention and a baby fighting hard in the NICU. Oh well, God has always given me just the right amount of strength when I needed it. And we still need His strength and daily guidance just as much as before. I just hope we never lose sight of this important truth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nov 17

Well Maggie officially takes after her big sister in the tantrum department. I held her for about an hour yesterday and today and both times when they took her from me and put her back in her incubator she pitched a huge fit. Nurses passing by were stunned at how loud her cry has become over just a few days. Ever since she has been in the NICU her nurses described her as "feisty." Now I know what they mean! And it was very obvious it was not a cry of pain but a cry of anger. She did not want to be moved from her mama!

I love our time together each day. I sing to her the same songs I sang to her when I was on bed rest. "Jesus loves me," "You are my sunshine," and "He's got the whole world in his hands" I love to look at her up close. Her little hands are about the size of the end of my thumb. Her toes are so small, yet so perfect. I swear her head is smaller than an orange. After months of being told that there was so much that could be wrong with our baby, I am still amazed at God's perfect creation before me. My mom was able to see her for the first time  this week (they had a ban on visitors because of swine flu) and her first comment after we left was how she was just like any other newborn (just smaller of course!). After so much uncertainty about Maggie, here she is before us, strong and healthy and precious as ever.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nov 15

Just saw Maggie and was pretty bummed out that I couldn't hold her today. Both times I went up there weren't good times and so I really feel like I missed out. After getting to hold her once I just long to hold her again.

They only let you do kangaroo care once a day and the nurses like to do it when they are already doing other stuff to her (like changing her diaper, feeding her, etc). They call it "cluster care." Hopefully I will be able to tomorrow. It's really neat- they tell you to wear a button down shirt and they literally button her up inside your shirt!

We have a few specific prayer requests:
1. Babies in our NICU often get "primary nurses." This means that every time your baby's primary nurse is working she takes care of your baby. And a nurse can only be a primary nurse for one baby. We have a great weekday primary nurse but have yet to get a weeknight or weekend primary nurse. We have loved all the nurses we've had on the weenights and weekends but they all already are primary nurses for someone else. There's no consistency and it makes me nervous that she is getting a different nurse almost every day. We are praying that God will provide the perfect primary nurses for Maggie during these times so she will have the best care possible.

2. The second prayer we have tonight is for her feedings. Maggie is doing great so far but she is only about halfway where she needs to be. There are serious complications that can arise in preemies from digestive problems so we are praying that Maggie does not develop any of these complications. And also that she continues to increase the amount she eats with no problems so she can keep growing.

3. Pray against infection.

Thank you to all for continuing to pray. She has done so amazingly well that it's easy to forget that she is still so small and so fragile and still has a long way to go before she can come home. We continue to lift her up in prayer as we thank God for how far we have come.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A good day

Justin walked into the NICU this afternoon and they were taking Maggie off the ventilator! We couldn't believe it. She did well initially and right now is on something called a C-PAP. She is breathing on her own but the C-PAP just helps her along with oxygen. They warned us that little preemies sometimes get too exhausted using their lungs so much when they aren't used to it, so we shouldn't be surprised if she backtracks and has to go back on the ventilator again at some point. That's okay with us. We are just so happy that after only 8 days her lungs are functioning so well. What a blessing!

As soon as Justin got home, I went up to see her for myself. The good news is that the air tube is out of throat so she only has a teeny feeding tube. But the C-PAP is not a small contraption either - it basically is a tiny little plastic covering over her nose. But to get it to stay in place she has to wear this awful looking head strap. But it has to be so much more comfortable than the ventilator.

And another amazing thing is that now that she is not intubated, we can hear her cry! It is so faint you have to get super close to her to even hear it. Of course I am rejoicing that she can cry, but as all mothers know, you can't bear to see your child uncomfortable, upset or in pain. I don't think she is in pain but was just tired of people messing with her. She just wants to be cozy and snug in her little cocoon of blankets and be left alone!

At the sound of my voice she did open her eyes again (poor Justin has still not experienced this). It was so sweet. And another piece of good news is that they took her off the light; her jaundice is so much better. So that means we can hold her! I can hardly wait. Although I am already nervous about it. You've probably heard of it before, but the holding time is called "kangaroo care." The mother holds the baby on her chest , skin to skin, and it is really supposed to help her health and our bonding.

Anyways, good news all around tonight. Again, we are so thankful. Throughout the day I remind myself that things could have been, were supposed to have been, so different than how they turned out. It's quite a strange thing to be told day in and day out for months that your baby is probably not going to live,but then the complete opposite happens.  You just feel like at any moment something is going to happen and she will be taken away from you after all. Like someone is playing a cruel trick on you after getting your hopes up. It's more fear than anything else. And I am not going to fall into that pattern. I want to focus on the positive news that God has given us and on the miracle we have seen in Maggie. I have learned to trust that God has numbered all of our days, and there is nothing I can do to change that for Maggie or for anyone else, so I don't need to burden myself with anxious thoughts and useless fears. God is good. He has led us through the hardest time of our lives and I know He is not going to stop now.

Okay, now that I have given myself a little pep talk I am off to bed! I am exhausted and sore all over. Just walking around the house more than usual today has left me feeling like a I ran a marathon. Pathetic! Oh well, slowly but surely I will get back to my old self.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Praise

The brain scan came back normal. No brain bleeds. We are praising God for this great news. Maggie is doing great tonight, just visited her and she opened her eyes at me for the first time. They took off her eye mask and at the sound of my voice she struggled so hard but finally got them open. It was the first eye-to-eye contact we have had. One of the most special moments we've had by far. I am so excited to be able to hold her, whenever that time comes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nov. 10

Maggie is doing great on the conventional ventilator. They have turned her settings down to the lowest the machine will go which means she will be coming off of that soon (Amazing!) Her feedings are going better and she is having 2cc's every 6 hours (still a tiny amount!)

Tomorrow is her brain scan, which will show if she has had any brain bleeds. Trauma at birth and the first few days of life can cause the brain to bleed- which can range from mild to severe. We are praying that she doesn't have any bleeding and that we are able to cross this last big hurdle her first week of life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home

So nice to be home. Mary Lawrence was so happy to see me walk through the front door for the first time in nearly 7 weeks. She just start giggling and then later said, "Hospital all gone."

It was hard leaving Maggie at the hospital but we keep telling ourselves how grateful we are that we have a baby to even leave in the NICU. Justin and I stayed a long time yesterday and we catch ourselves just staring at her little incubator. We are still in shock, I think, that she is here. We are in awe of what God has done. Every time we walk in her room and peer through the plastic sides, we know we are looking at a miracle.

I didn't know it until later (probably because I was still feeling effects of the epidural), but her first day of life was really scary, according to the doctors. We were so happy she was even being worked on that we didn't focus on how severe the situation was. But at first she did not do well on the ventilator and her first ecchocardiogram showed she had a condition called pulmonary hypertension, which is a very, very serious in premies. They asked us permission to use a drug not approved by the FDA- that's how bad it was. But bu the second day, she was completely stabilized on a different high frequency ventiliator and her second ecchocardiogram revealed the pulmonary hypertension had completely disappeared. The doctors were stunned.

Yesterday morning we walked in and the nurse was thrilled to tell us that Maggie had been completely taken off the high frequency ventilator. We were speechless as before we were told she would be on that for weeks. They stepped her down to a conventional ventilator so now she is on par with other premies her age. A doctor who wasn't even ours yesterday came over and told us what a blessing it was that she was doing so well. And last night Justin was telling her nurse how ge couldn't believe she was off the first ventiliator. Her response was, "I can't believe she is even here."

We feel so blessed and so undeserving of this gift. I know we still have battles ahead but to be where we are is amazing. It was hard to leave her but as my mom reminded me, just like she was in God's hands while I was carrying her while pregnant so is she still in His hands today.

Right now Maggie is stable but the feedings aren't going great. Please pray that her digestive system will develop enough to be able to digest milk properly.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leaving a wonderful place

I feel like I am leaving my second home today. I've been here over 6 weeks and have become quite attached. I have been blessed with amazing care at this hospital. The hospital bed rest could have been a lot worse but it wasn't because of the kindness of the wonderful nurses on the antepartum floor.

Justin and I have been discussing how we would love to figure out how to do something for the antepatrum floor here. It's crazy because the postpartum floor where moms stay for 2-3 days after delivery have been totally redone and are big and wonderful. But the antepartum floor where moms stays for weeks and months on end is old and needs to be modernized. The rooms are small and, I have to say, not that pleasant. It's not a warm place and it should be because moms sometimes travel long distances to be here and often don't have any family or visitors throughout their stay. So it leaves a lot of pressure on the nurses to fill the void many moms are feeling while here.

With the incredible help of the doctors and nurses, most of the outcomes on the floor are good but others are not. It is a place of joy and sorrow and hope all at the same time. It is such a vital place and it is a shame that not many people know about it. It's made up of women who are fighting with every drop in them to save their babies lives. Many can't get out of bed at all. Some are constantly hooked up to monitors knowing that at any minute they could deliver. It's moms who value their babies' lives so much that they are willing to give up their own lives in order to give their babies a shot at a better, healthier life. Moms who are torn because they've often left older children at home while they are here. I have heard many incredible stories here of hopeless situations turning out ok and of women who, like me, were told to terminate but instead chose a different, more difficult path. The things these mothers go through for their children is unbelievable and yet their sacrifice mostly goes unnoticed except for by their families. That's why I hope one day I can somehow do something for this amazing place. I feel I owe it to them for what they did for us.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nov 7

Maggie is as precious as ever. Today is the first time I was strong enough to stroll (in a wheelchair, of course) down to the NICU by myself. Justin went home to rest so I got to spend some good time with her alone. I was even strong enough to stand up next to her incubator so I could see her better. Before I've been too weak and had to sit in my wheelchair the whole time and just leaning over slightly to talk to her was so painful.

But back to Maggie-I really got to see her tiny arms and legs up close. They are so skinny and wrinkly but so cute. And amazingly strong. She puts up quite a protest when they change her diaper! I watched the nurse do an assessment, which is done every 4 hours. It was kind of hard to watch. They adjust her tubes and I can tell it's uncomfortable for her and she doesn't like it. They also suction out her throat and she squirms like crazy. Of course I started crying seeing her like that. She is so tiny and helpless and has to put up with so much poking and prodding. I sang to her while they did all that and tried to calm her down. But of course, on about the second verse I choke up and couldn't anymore. Babies this young don't like to be overstimulated so I can't stroke her but instead can cup one hand around her head and another around her feet and that tight feeling makes her feel secure. That was really special.

Her first feeding went well but her second feeding did not. It's not a huge deal and they will try again tomorrow. Please pray thar her digestive system is developed enough to digest the milk. It is the best thing that will allow her to gain weight and get rid of her jaundice.

Tomorrow I will go home. You would think after 6 weeks here I would be running out the door but I am sort of dreading it. It's not natural for a mother to be separated from her newborn like this. Of course I will be up here all the time, but it's not the same. She has heard my voice 24 hours a day for the past 30 weeks and now she will not. But I know she is where she needs to be right now and I am praying daily that God will protect her and keep her healthy here. Praying for the doctors and nurses who make crucial decisions about her care every day. And praying that soon we will be bringing her home.

Photos from first few days

on light therapy
going down to visit Maggie
next to bed
our little miracle

in her incubator
a few hours after birth
mama and baby together for first time

Friday, November 6, 2009

First feeding

Maggie had her first blood transfusion today which went well. They have to do it bc they are constantly drawing blood for labs and she can't produce enough to keep up.

We also got to feed her for the first time. Actually it was just putting a syringe of breast milk into her feeding tube but it was neat. We won't know for a while how she will respond.

She did really well again today. They have been able to turn down settings on the ventilator as she is getting a bit stronger. Get ready for another miracle- the dr. told us this morning that her lungs are not hypoplasmic anymore (that is what they call small lungs due to no amniotic fluid). The medicine and ventiliator have stretched out her lungs enough to be normal 29 week lungs! It was truly stunning to hear.

Her blood pressure is a little high tonight and they are doing an x ray to see if her lungs are expanding too much from the ventiliator and compressing her heart. How ironic would that be if her lungs were stretching too much! If so, they will turn down the vent again. But we are praying about that.

And then more good news... When we went in tonight they were giving her caffeine. Why is that good? Because it is the first step of many in taking her off the ventilator. Astounding that after three days she is doing that well. Now I am not sure if that means she will be moved from the high frequency ventilator to a more conventional one, or if it means getting her off all vents. Regardless, it is encouraging.

We are focusing on all the good news today and praising God for it. We keep praying for our Maggie to grow healthy and strong and for all her tests to keep coming back with positive results.

Birth story

I've never been one to want to read peoples birth stories but so many people have asked what transpired early Wednesday morning I will compose a short summary. If you don't like reading stuff like this, stop reading now! I won't be offended.

Well I started bleeding again on Monday and just had a feeling something wasn't right. Tuesday morning they took me down to L&D and I had some contractions and my blood count was low but by the afternoon it was all better. I had contractions on and off but not too bad and they kept saying that they would send me back to antepatrum the next day if things still looked good. Tuesday night I rook an ambien to sleep and did for a few hours but by 4 am her heartbeat started looking worse than it has been. They came in and said they were just watching it and seeing if it would change. I knrw jn my heart something wasnt right because I had seen Maggie on the moniotor everyday for 6 weeks and knew what "normal" was for her. I kept telling the resident that I just wanted to get her out in time if I was going to deliver. He was very noncommittal and just said let's just watch and happen.
About 5 am they did a sonogram and during that time I started having major contractions about 2 minutes apart. They didn't know cause they had unhooked me from the monitor to do the sono. I was in tears and writhing in pain but he still said they were going to watch because they didn't see anything wrong as far as placenta coming off. They thought IV fluids might help stop it. They wouldn't give me an epidural in case the contractions stopped. But by 6 I was contracting about 1 minute apart and was in excruciating pain. I hadn't practiced my "breathing" cause I never thought for a second I would get that far before my c-section. I didn't know this until later but by 6:15 I had a fever and her HB was dropping really bad. They told me the dr was on her way and told Justin to get scrubs on. They never even said "Okay we are delivering" because it happened so fast. The next thing I knew the antestesiologist rushed in literally flipped me over so fast and did the epideral. I was in so much pain and was jumping off the bed practically. Everyone was rushing around like crazy and it was scary. By 6:25 they rushed me into OR and there were teams of drs and nurses rushing around. (By this time Justin got back to our room and my bed was gone and had to go searching to find the right OR room). In the OR, they got me set up so fast and it took them about a minute to get Maggie out. I found out later saw that my placenta was abrupting and so they got her out just in time and it also probably explains the terrible I was having an hour earlier- it was contractions plus my placenta tearing away.

I didn't hear her cry at first so I freaked out - I didn't even get to see her the NICU rushed her off so fast to an adjoining room. So i panicked a little but Justin told me later that she did offer a little cry that my husband heard. They quickly intubated her and took her upstairs. For the next few hours we learned later that the first machine she was on she didn't so well. So a few hours later she was switched to the high frequency ventilator which she has done so much better on. Her blood pressure was too high and she was on 100% oxygen. But by Thursday she was on 21% oxygen (which is human air) and her blood pressure was more normalized. So that is a blessing. She is jaundice so they have the light on her. Her second day was a better day but it is still scary and they keep saying she may be on a honeymoon period and could backtrack. But I am so grateful she is here and alive. I wish I could have made it longer but everyone says to have prom'd at 14 weeks and make it this far is great.

Anyways I just wanted peopleto know that the drs said they literally got her out just in time- that with the abruption it could have ended a lot differently. And the fever probably meant I got an infection in those last hours. And that was dangerous to both of us. We had an amazing team of doctors - including the head of the NICU-work on Maggie. My drs were amazing, too. With my issues they said giving me a hysterectomy in the end was a possibility with all my body had been through but they didn't have to do that. All things that we prayed about, God answered us and protected Maggie. We praise God for the outcome and writing all of this has reminded me again that I shouldn't worry so much about all that's going on with Maggie in the NICU but instead should pray. God has been good to us and has led us through the past 4 months and I know He will through this, too. But I just wanted all to know that not only is Maggie a true miracle from
God but that He was there with us every step of the way. I was definitely scared at times but I felt His presence and His comfort the whole time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nov 5


Maggie is having a relatively good day. They said she could be in a "honeymoon period" where premies do really well the first day or so and then backtrack a lot. Her blood pressure seems to be regulating a lot better, which is good, and they are reducing oxygen levels which is also good. They have her wrapped up real tightly in the fetal position to mock what would be happening in the womb. Justin has been with her a lot and last night got to help change her teeny diaper. They said maybe tomorrow they coukd start feeding her breast milk through her feeding tube.

Some of the things they are concerned about and we are praying for are:

1. Lungs are underdeveloped so pray for them to grow and strengthen
2. There is a good chance she has an infection they say but won't know for a few days. Praying against this and that each day she will get a little stronger and healthier
3.,She is jaundice
4. She is having a scan on Monday to see if she has any brain bleeds, please pray that she doesn't have any.
5. Pray that she continues to do well on the current ventilator.

Sorry I haven't updated more. I am having a rough recovery and actually just got down to visit her for the first time today. It's so hard cause I want to be right by her side nonstop but I physically can't. And it's scary to see your child hooked up to a dozen machines but I know it's the best thing for her. I so badly just want her to recover and grow so I can take her home soon. I talked to her and sang to her today. They have her sedated and she was sleeping peacefully. Her chest is
moving up and down rhythmically from the machine. She is so tiny but so precious. I just pray that she continues to slowly make progress and do better each day and that doesn't backtrack but only moves forward.

Thank you for all your continued prayers. I can't tell you how much it means to Justin and me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Update

Maggie is doing better. Things are always changing so please keep praying. Those first few days are critical. These are things they are concerned about:

1. Oxygen saturation needs to be higher
2. Blood pressure needs to stabilize
3. Overall state of the lungs needs to improve
4. No Brain bleed

We are praying for these things. Justin is with her most of the time and I have been just been in. She looks so healthy for a baby her age. Her coloring is good they have her sedated but she still moves and makes faces. For a baby for what she has been through she has no visuble birth defects or muscle malformations. She truly is a miracle! Her lungs are not where a 29 weeker usually are but a lot better than expected for a baby with little or no fluid. It took them several hours but they finally got her ventilated and stable. She is on a high frequency ventilator and seems to be responding better than the first machine she was on.

It's so hard not to be in there with her nonstop. We've been so attched for months and now I feel so helpless. I held her hand and touched her precious blonde head. She is our precious miracle and I am not ceasing to pray for her to do well in the NICU and come home as soon as possible.

Thank you for praying. Please continue to pray for those specific things and that this first week she will do great.

Pray


Pray that her lungs are able to do what they are supposed to do and that she will do better on the new machine. Pray against infection for Maggie. This first day is critical- pray that she gets through it stronger and better. And pray for the nurses and doctors caring for her.

Please pray

Maggie is having trouble breathing and lee is very upset. We really need your prayer that Maggie can breath and the xray at 10:30 looks better.

Maggie is here!!

Our miracle baby is here! She was born at 6:35 this morning! She weighed 2lbs 9oz and 14.5 inches long. She is stable and actually cried when the doctors were trying to help her breath. That is such a sweet sound! She is getting ready for an xray to see if the tube placment is correct that will help her breath. She is in the NICU right now with wonderful doctors. Mom is doing good and dad is running back and forth between his girls. Please keep praying for Maggie to be able to breath on her own and that she can get adjusted to her new little world. That the doctors and nurses will have all the knowledge and wisdom when Maggie is in there care.

Labor

In active labor, drs arecstill consulting what to do but looks like headed that way. Please pray for our Maggie to come out thriving and for the best possible NICU team to be on hand. Lord help us, thy will by done.

Wednesday 4am

Trying to go to sleep again after having been woken up by contractions. I did get a few hours of sleep but now am
Wide awake, eyes glued to the monitor. I like this calm before the storm. It's dark and Justin is asleep and I feel like just Maggie and me in the room. I know I an supposed to talk to her but I choke up and can't. Justin always talks to her but I can sing and hum to her. It's funny that I keep going back to a lot of the songs we sang in youth group - I guess cause they are so simple:

"God you are my God and I will always praise you. God, you are my God, and I will ever praise you. I will seek you in the morning and I will learn to follow your ways. And step by step you'll lead me. And I will follow you all of my days"

I've also been humming "you are my sunshine" and "Jesus loves you" but can never finish cause I get so tearful. This is a time - here in this dark hospital beingblit only by Maggie's heaerbear monitor-I will never forget for the rest of my life. Maggie 's vibrant heart beating all around me, feeling her little kicks, watching my sweet husband sleep so he can be prepared for whatever lies before us today, and thinking about our future as a family together-I can't wait for it to start.

I'm glad night is almost over, another day is here. The resident said every day we can keep her in me is huge. But my dr. made it clear that if contractions worsened again we would deliver. All night long I have been pleading for Maggie's life, praying that the delivery would be smooth and that right away the NICU team sees that she and her lungs look great. Beyond our expectations. I pray that if today is the day for her arrival
(which I am hoping it's still way off) but if it is, I pray like I have been praying that she gives us a big cry to announce her joyful arrival. Praying for my doctor - my section can be complicated so pray that he does a stellar job with me. And praying that Maggie receives the best possible care from a doctors and nurses who have been hand-selected by God to save her.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

8:30 update

Things are about the same- going to take some ambien and hopefully sleep although it scares me to do so. But I'm
Still hooked up to the monitor so that's reassuring. Praying for a peaceful, uneventful night. "I lay down and sleep in peace for you O Lord make me dwell in safety."

2:30 update

Things are looking more stable. I was really hurting earlier but the IV has helped space contractions so there is a chance they could stop completely.
But if they get bad again they will deliver.i am right next to the OR which is good! Because of my partial abruption they can't give me the normal drugs to stop labor. They are monitoring Maggie and me closely and said they can get her out really fast if they have to. Justin, my mom and I are just waiting and praying and listening to Maggie's beautiful heartbeat. They have all said what a fighter she is and how strong she looks despite all of this going on. She's in great shape; it's my body that may he giving out after 15 weeks of ruptured membranes. Thanks for all the continued prayers. We are trusting Him right now and know that He is with us through all of this. I just pray that whatever happens it is not an emergency, scary situation but calm and controlled and that God will be with the doctors as they care for us.

11:30 update

I was having contractions 2 minutes apart but they started an IV and they have slowed. Please keep praying for Maggie. Pray for the drs and nurses who are caring for us.

Update

Blood work didn't come back great. They think my placenta is partially abrupting. And having contractions. They are continually monitoring Maggie and me. Please pray that God would be with all the doctors as they make decisions about delivery and that He would work in them to save Maggie. My prayer is that whatever happens they can get her out in time and that she will be perfectly healthy for her age. I do have a peace about it all.

Update

They have moved me down to labor and delivery. I have been heavily bleeding all night and they want to monitor Maggie and me closely. I had a bad feeling all night and have been in constant prayer that this bleeding stops so Maggie can stay inside me a few more weeks. But they have made it clear that they have to weigh the benefits and risks of keeping her in me. If it looks like my health is in danger they will take her. Praying that whenever it is time, they are able to get her out in time with no complications. I'm frightened, but know I don't need to be. As Justin said last night, Maggie's number of days is already written in the book of life. I know that but it doesn't mean I can't still plead for her life and pour out my deepest desires for this to all end with joyful news.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November!

I was so estatic to wake up this morning and realize that it's a new month! And it was a good night. I finally took some ambien last night and this morning Justin said I looked so much better. He said yesterday I looked like I was a meth addict coming off a three week bender. Lucky for him, I totally agreed with the assesment. I literally haven't slept more than 3 hours or so a night since I arrived at the hospital. I was hesitant to take sleeping pills because I either leak fluid or bleed all night and it's just not possible to sleep through that, especially when you are constantly checking to see if the baby is moving or if my symptons are getting worse. (And for those who know our honeymoon story, ambien and me just don't mix well.) But after a rough three days and the doctors practically forcing it down me, I took it last night and got a pretty good night sleep.

The past three days have been scary. At times I thought I just couldn't make it much longer. Thursday I was in a lot of pain for no apparent reason. Friday I nearly fainted out of my wheelchair while waiting outside the sonogram room, then the specialist told me there looked like there was another problem with her heart and I had to wait all day to see the cardiologist. After that I got back to my room and had my first panic attack I think. I was uncontrollably sobbing but then trying to stop at the same time because I was afraid the heaving would make me go into labor. But then I couldn't stop and sort of panicked. It wasn't pretty. I think it was the first time since this happened that I really melted down like that. I am sure it was the combination of being exhausted and the baby literally sucking everything out of me but I just couldn't bear to hear any more bad news. But they got me calmed down and we finally saw the cardiologist and everything was not as bad as it seemed. She has some fluid around her heart but it is to be expected for a baby with no amniotic fluid and she said it should go away on it's own. So we were so thankful it wasn't a devastating diagnosis but it is something we still need to pray about.

The days go by so slowly as time marches on. I am thankful that God has given me just the perfect amount of strength to get through each day. I so badly want to keep going and make it a lot longer. And I am praying for just that. And praying for a healthy, strong baby girl to join us in about 6 weeks!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prayer

It's been a rough day. I am physically and emotionally exhausted and don't have the strength to type all that's transpired today but I will ask for prayer. Please pray that I will get more sleep and that my body will be strong enough to keep going. Pray that I don't go into labor for 6 more weeks. And pray for Maggie's lungs to be big and strong!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

28 weeks!

Fourteen weeks ago it just seemed impossible that we would make it this far. But what is impossible for men, is possible with God. He has sustained Maggie and me and has seen us through the ups and downs. We are so thankful to Him for what He has done and are praying that in the end His marvelous works will be evident for all to see in Maggie's health.

I just had a sonogram and they zoomed in on Maggie's face and guess what? She was breathing in fluid! The fact that there has been enough fluid for her to learn that breathing reflex that she will use outside the womb is amazing! I loved seeing her precious face. She looks just like her sister. They also had saw fluid in her bladder- yeah!

We are thankful for the good news. 28 weeks is a huge milestone because in normal pregnancies, babies born at this time have a 90% survival rate and the risk of abnormalities goes down significantly. Now I know our situation is different but still it's huge. Our goal is 6 more weeks. That's a drop in the bucket compared to 14!

We are not ceasing to pray for Maggie. I know she is in God's hands but I just can't imagine my life without her in it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mr. Mom

Just wanted to give a shout out to my sweet husband who's been playing the part of Mr. Mom lately. My mom went home last week so Justin had Mary Lawrence all to himself for the longest period so far. I didn't mind that every time he brought her to visit me her clothes didn't match or her hair was hanging in her face (he doesn't know how to put a bow in). Nor did I get upset when he showed up one afternoon and Mary Lawrence was donning this year's Christmas play outfit (he hadn't noticed there was a large Christmas tree on her t-shirt). Instead I just laughed. I could tell he was trying so hard and that's what mattered.

Every night this past week they picked up dinner and we all ate as a family in this tiny hospital room. Mary Lawrence makes herself right at home and plays with everything she's probably not supposed to in this room. It was a good week although he was relieved to have my mom return. I think all husbands should have a week or so by themselves with their children as last night he said he never before had appreciated what I do every day as a mother. So sweet.

Anyways, I thought this was be a good time to post this video. It's funny if you can hear Justin and me talking in the background (you have to turn the volume up loud). The video is entitled "Bacon" and it is Justin recounting to me what he fed Mary Lawrence for breakfast one morning.

video

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It feels like prison

Last night I awoke to a lot of screaming and commotion. I heard people outside my door yelling and running around. The next thing I knew I heard them roll out a woman and by all the screaming I could tell the situation was not good. I heard someone yell "Whatever you do, don't push" as they waited for the elevator to take them to Labor and Delivery.

About 30 minutes later I heard who I guess was her husband or boyfriend ask where she was and they told him she had her baby and they weren't sure of the condition of either. It was like my worst nightmare coming true right in front of me. ( My biggest fear is having some kind of emergency where they rush me into labor and Justin doesn't make it in time.). I was so shaken by the incident that I stayed awake the rest of the night, fearful the same thing would happen to me. On top of that I was leaking fluid constantly which is so unnerving.

This morning I just want to get out of here. I am tired of this prison. (I call it a prison because I am not allowed to leave my room and they have to watch me swallow my pills to make sure I actually take them- it's crazy I tell you.) I have no privacy and no alone time cause people are always barging in- the nurses, the techs, the resident, the doctor, the occupational therapist, the recreational therapist, the dietician, the nutritionist, the chaplain, the housekeeper- it's never ending. And while they are all nice, I still feel like a science experiment. I am poked and prodded nonstop. And sometimes i just want the room to myself so i can cry in peace. This morning I just went into my bathroom and sobbed. People kept coming into the room but I just Ignored them. I wish I felt better though but I don't.

After last night, I just want to have Maggie and break out of here. The problem is I could be here (hopefully) another 7 weeks. I know I need to keep my attitude positive if I am going to survive much longer. I also need sleep. That's why I am praying Maggie will flip around and plug up that hole again so she keeps all that fluid inside. And that when I do go into labor it will be a calm, beautiful thing and not a frightening emergency when I am all alone.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sonogram Update

Just had a sono and there is half as much fluid as Tuesday. I am trying not to be discouraged but it's hard. I just want everything to be positive all the time!

I have been losing a lot of fluid this week so it makes sense. Maggie is still breech so we need to pray that she flips again and keeps all that fluid in there.

I am thankful that there is some fluid and also that I have stopped bleeding. It's Friday and for some reason I get so nervous as the weekends come. Every time I've had a crisis it's been at night during the weekend when my dr. is not on call. I just pray that the next 4 days are calm and uneventful so I can easily get to 28 weeks!

One more concern: several times this week Maggie has compressed or grabbed her umbilical cord and her heart rate drops. The nurses run in here and turn me on my side and it goes back up but it's very scary. Because of the low fluid it's very easy for her cord to get compressed. And her current position is making it worse. Please pray that more fluid returns and that she doesn't have any problems with her cord.

All week I've been praying for Maggie's little lungs. I just imagine them strong and vibrant and I just picture the day when she is delivered and we hear her beautiful cry. What a moment that will be!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Simple and Specific

"Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8

Last year my sweet Bible Study leader gave our young mother's group a great tip that really stuck with me. She said when she had little ones at home she had to find new and creative ways to pray since she didn't get much alone time.  For example, while sweeping the kitchen floor she would pray, "Lord, please help me sweep out the bad habits in my life." Or when she was ironing she would pray, "Lord, iron out all these wrinkles and problems I'm dealing with right now." And she would expand from there.

I am sure other moms are like me in that sometimes my brain is like mush and my prayers are often generic, so I thought this was a great way to get my mind on specific things to pray about. Well since I have been on bed rest I have tweaked this little tip to pray simple prayers for Maggie.  So whatever I am doing or thinking about I pray with Maggie in mind. Here are some examples:

- When our A/C went out at home for a week in the middle of August I had to move to our guest room (which is to be Maggie's room) where we have a ceiling fan. The whole time I was in there I prayed that one day we would have a healthy sleeping baby in that room.

-When I left our house for the last time to go to the hospital, I prayed that when I returned it would be with Maggie.

-When I checked into the hospital and was admitted to Labor and Delivery, I burst into tears at the sight of the newborn station in the room where they take the baby to clean her off and monitor her vital signs after she is born. I prayed that Maggie would be healthy enough to be treated as a normal newborn in that area.

-When my friend brought her baby girl by to see me, I prayed diligently that Maggie would be able to grow up alongside her.

-I got my first Christmas magazine today (I mean, really, it's October) but it made me think about this Christmas and I prayed that it will be a joyful one because we will be celebrating the birth of Maggie.

-Every time I look at my framed photos of Mary Lawrence I pray that Maggie will be able to run and laugh and play with her older sister.

-As I knitted a baby hat for Maggie, I prayed that a vibrant baby girl would be able to wear it.

I know it might seem a little silly but I find that instead of getting down or discouraged about some of these things - like when I receive a birth announcement in the mail -  it's better to turn them around and pray about them. These prayers for simple things, things I used to take for granted, are what are filling my heart right now. And I don't know what I would do if I didn't have a loving God who wants to hear these simple prayers and promises to answer them according to His sovereign plan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

27 weeks!

Thought this day would never come! Last week seemed like it took forever to go by and now here we are at 27 weeks and, of course, I'll I can think about is making it to 28 weeks!

In all seriousness, though, no one ever thought we would make it this far so all the credit goes to our great God. I don't know why I keep panicking over these mini crises we have each week because every time the Lord has seen us through them. How forgetful we are as humans that "God does not forsake those who seek Him." (Psalm 9:10). No matter what happens He will not leave me or forsake me.

We had another encouraging sonogram today. Still have the good amount of fluid. Yeah! The baby has turned again so is in breech position, which isn't great but at least it means she has enough fluid to move around. It's amazing to me that I still have all that fluid despite her changing positions. The dr. still cannot explain the bleeding. It has slowed down thankfully but if it returns and gets too bad they might have to deliver the baby. So we are praying against that! We have postponed the MRI for various reasons (some of you have asked about that). We were told that it really is not going to help the neonatologist more if we had the MRI, rather it's more for our knowledge. We just don't feel at the moment then that there is any benefit to doing it but that may change depending on what happens in another week.

This is what we are specifically praying for this week:

-that with all if this fluid Maggie is able to master all the breathing, sucking, swallowing reflexes that babies need to survive
-that bleeding will stop
-that God will protect us against infection
-that we can have a smooth week this milestone week. The doctor says if we can make it to 28 weeks it is a huge milestone in babies' development.
-that Maggie will grow strong and safely inside me until 34-35 weeks.

Here's to another week marked off the calendar!

Necklace


Just thought I'd post a photo of the sweet necklace my sister made for me. It's hard to see but it has "Maggie" imprinted on it and a charm that says "believe." I wear it everyday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Prayer Request

We had another rough night last night. It seems to be happening more often and every time I get so scared. Please pray that my bleeding will stop. It seems to be only happening at night when there are only residents here. They come rushing in, wanting to do all these tests, some of which we know pose an infection risk to the baby. So I feel like I have to fight them off (because I know from my dr. that some things they shouldn't do unless absolutely necessary). Then they hook me up to the monitor, do all these blood tests, and I wait for hours - not knowing what is going to happen. I am so tired because I obviously don't sleep at night. If things would stabilize for a while I could sleep and regain some strength, which I know has to be beneficial for Maggie. Pray that my body will heal, stop bleeding, and be able to keep Maggie safe and healthy for a lot longer- our goal is 34-35 weeks. Thank you so much for praying.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Take Heart!

Great sonogram today! Saw the same amount of fluid and said Maggie looks happy! I can't tell you how thankful we are to God for this good news!

I am feeling a lot better today after having a good vent and a good cry yesterday. Our minister came by this week and had some encouraging words. One of the things he said was that I don't have to be a hero. He said it was ok to cry - I am suffering and don't need to try to hide it. So that was good to hear and I definitely took that to heart yesterday!

As we discussed with him the potential outcomes of this situation (and I was crying again, of course, cause it's just too much too think about) he said something else that really stuck. He said "You know, this is not how it is supposed to be." It was so good to hear that. In other words, we were not created to suffer. Maggie, along with everyone else, was created in God's perfect image to live an abundant, eternal, perfect life. But because sin came into this world and all the suffering that came with it ("the wages of sin is death" it says in Romans) things are not perfect, not as they should be.

So many of our young friends are suffering deeply right now. Friends who have lost children or spouses or who are suffering from horrible diseases. And I just want to throw my hands up in the air and say, "Lord, this is just not right!" And you know what His response is? He totally agrees! Just like he wept over the death of Lazarus, He weeps for us, too. That's why in the midst of our suffering we should remember why Jesus came to our messed up Earth 2,000 years ago: to make things right! Jesus tells us, "Take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) With his life, death, and resurrection He overcame the grave so we wouldn't have to stay in ours. He tells Lazarus' sisters, "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John11:25-26).

It's hard for some to think that a loving God would let so much suffering to exist.i questioned that at one point in my life. But it's through my current sufferings that I see and feel His ultimate compassion even more. And I have been reminded that while this suffering is hard and awful, it is only temporary. This life is so short compared to eternity with Him, where there is no death, no suffering, no crying. As Paul says in Romans 8, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us." Amen!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Frustrated

I don't mean to be negative but I am just about at the end of my rope. The bleeding hasn't stopped and everytime I do, this deep fear washes over me because I just don't know what is about to happen. I am exhausted cause I have to get up all through the night and only get about 4 hours a sleep a night. And Maggie's kicking has gotten so strong and with low fluid there is not that usual barrier and so it it just painful at times. I just feel disgusting and lethargic and not like myself. I think I have hit a low point!
I don't want this to be over, I just want things to stabilize for a while. I know I sound like a whiner and I am sorry. I am not forgetting that God has been so good to us and I am still so thankful for our good news on Monday. This week has just been a hard one, both physically and emotionally. Thankfully I have the most patient husband in the world who puts up with all my weaknesses!

I am praying that things are still the same at our sonogram tomorrow. Also praying for strength and patience and calmness!
Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

26 weeks!

WE ARE SO THANKFUL THAT WE HAVE MADE IT ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER WEEK. YESTERDAY WE HAD TO WAIT ALL DAY FOR A SONOGRAM AND FINALLY SAW THE SPECIALIST AROUND 8 O'CLOCK. THIS IS SO EXCITING TO WRITE : THE DR. SAW MORE FLUID THAN HE'S EVER SEEN AROUND MAGGIE! HOW THIS IS POSSIBLE, WELL, SURELY IT IS AN ANSWER TO PRAYER. AND ANOTHER EXCITING THING IS THAT LAST WEEK MAGGIE WAS HORIZONTAL AND I WAS TOLD THAT I MOST LIKELY WOULD HAVE A C SECTION BECAUSE WITH NO FLUID IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR HER TO FLIP AND GET IN THE RIGHT POSITION FOR A NORMAL DELIVERY. I DON'T CARE IF I HAVE A C-SECTION BUT I AM JUST SO AMAZED THAT SHE HAD ENOUGH FLUID TO MOVE AROUND- ONCE AGAIN PROVING EVERYONE WRONG.

SO THAT IS ALL GREAT NEWS. GOD IS SO GOOD ABD HAS GIVEN US MORE HOPE AFTER SUCH A SCARY 24 HOURS . THERE IS STILL A LOT OF CONCERN AS I AM STILL BLEEDING ALTHOUGH IT IS MUCH LESS THAN BEFORE. THE DR. IS HOPING THAT IT IS FROM THE BABY DOING HER GYMNASTICS ROUTINE INSIDE ME, SHE COULD HAVE SCRAPED THE LINING OF THE UTERUS IN TGE PROCESS (SORRY IF TMI!). BUT THE OTHER MORE SCARIER THING IT COULD BE IS THE START OF A PLACENTAL ABRUPTION, WHICH IS ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS THINGS THAT CAN OCCUR IN PREGNANCY.


RIGHT NOW WE ARE PRAYING FOR THE BLEEDING TO STOP AND FOR NO PLACENTAL ABRUPTION. AND FOR MAGGIE TO STAY WHERE SHE IS! IT SEEMS THE POSITION SHE IS IN IS ACTING  AS THAT PLUG WE HAD BEEN PRAYING FOR, KEEPING ALL THAT FLUID AROUND HER. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Update

WE SAW THE DR. AND HE ORDERED A SONOGRAM AND MAY SEND ME DOWN TO LABOR AND DELIVERY FOR MONITORING. I AM TRYING NOT TO BE FEARFUL BUT IT WAS A SCARY NIGHT. SEVERAL TIMES I THOUGHT IT WAS ALL OVER. BUT MAGGIE IS STILL GOING STRONG.  PLEASE PRAY THAT THE BLEEDING WILL STOP AND THAT I WON'T GO INTO LABOR. I DO FEEL GOD'S PEACE SURROUNDING US AND AM CONFIDENT THAT HE HEARS OUR PLEAS FOR MAGGIE'S LIFE.

Rough Night

I just wanted to give a quick update since you haven't heard from us since Friday.  Last night Lee started bleeding around 7pm and has been monitored pretty closely since then.  It appeared that everything was getting better later last night but we realized early this morning that it hadn't stopped.  They have had Maggie on the monitor a lot and keep saying that the baby looks great.  On the plus side also, Lee is not having any pain or contractions so far.  Our nurse told us that this is not abnormal for our situation and that she has seen it many times before with no immediate negative consequences.  We have been praying a lot and reading 1 James to pass the time.  Any recomendations for favorite passages would be much appreciated.  We will keep everyone updated as we learn anything new.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sonogram today

"But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, whose hope is in His unfailing love." Psalm 33:18

Not really a whole lot of change today, which I guess is good. They saw a good pocket of fluid, but it wasn't much more than on Tuesday. But it's better than none, so yeah for that! Maggie is measuring rather small. I feel like I have been stuffing myself with high calorie foods for the past two weeks in hopes that she would get really big, which would be good if she is born premature. But my efforts seemed to be futile. As my doctor says, the baby is going to get what she needs and there is not much you can do to make her gain weight. So I am a little discouraged about that. But one thing that gives me  hope is that he said the sonogram measurements can be a little off because of the lack of fluid. So hopefully that is the case and she is a lot bigger than they think!

Instead of always focusing on the discouraging news I have been trying to think  more of the positive things that God has given us as reasons to hope:

1. I am put on the heartbeat monitor twice a day and all the nurses on the floor agree that Maggie's heart does not look like that of a 25 week old fetus, but rather a full term fetus. They are all amazed at how steady and strong it is, especially since low fluid usually causes more erratic heartbeats.

2. Maggie always has the hiccups, which put me in a good mood because I feel her bounce around in my stomach. But it is encouraging, the doctors say, because it  means her lungs are working overtime. They are being stretched out, and any kind of "stress" like that is good for them.

3. I am 25 weeks 3 days today. Every doctor and resident and nurse that has come to see me cannot believe that I have made it so far without going into labor and without getting an infection. They have never seen someone rupture at 14 weeks and still be pregnant at this point.

4. Maggie moves a lot. Everything you read about PPROM says that with no water it's difficult for the babies to move around and "swim" in the womb, which helps develop the babies muscles. Maggie is constantly moving. She may not be able to flip around but she is constantly stretching and punching and kicking. While doing the sonogram Tuesday, Maggie kept kicking the doctor and he said, "Wow, she is a strong baby."

So those are just a few examples of why we have lots of hope that Maggie is a fighter and has been given such strength, all of it we know from the Lord. Every time I feel her move or kick or jump, I am so encouraged and feel so thankful to be her mother and to be privileged enough to have her in my life.

We will keep praying for her to grow strong, for her lungs to be developed  perfectly and for no infection. Thanks to all who are praying along with us.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Crying Wish


When you have your first baby, you have this picture in your head that after childbirth you will cuddle her tightly on your chest and listen to her cooing or just watch her sleeping. But that's not what happened with Mary Lawrence. Of course we were delighted to hear those first cries come out of her mouth after she was delivered. But after an hour or so we started wondering when she was going to stop. Her cry was so loud and, honestly, quite unnerving. And it didn't stop. For hours. After a while, I started asking the nurses if Mary Lawrence was okay because it just seemed like such a painful shrieking for such a little person (see picture above which was taken two hours after she was born). But the nurse assured me she was just fine; it was just her personality coming through. So even though I didn't think I would, I happily handed her over to the nursery that first night so I could get a few hours of sleep.

Over the next few weeks her crying spells only escalated and often left her inconsolable. Justin would come home from work in the evening and would hold her so I could go in my bedroom and sleep. Our old house had A/C window units that were really loud so I would turn our bedroom unit on high and sleep right next to it - the whooshing sound was the only thing loud enough to drown out Mary Lawrence’s screams. (I am embarrassed to admit this!)

I kept thinking Mary Lawrence would grow out of her frequent crying spells, especially when I learned from other moms that not all babies cried a good part of the day for no apparent reason. But she never did. She cried when I put her in the stroller, in the car seat, in her high chair. She screamed when I changed her diaper and when I gave her a bath. Nothing seemed to make her happy. I would tell my family about it, but they just claimed it up to normal baby behavior. (Well, they did until the first time they actually kept her for an extended period of time - then they understood!) So when she was about six months old I started taking her to the doctor because I was convinced the child was in pain or suffering in some way. No normal baby should cry as much as she did, I thought. But the doctor again told me it was her personality, that she was probably just frustrated  because she wanted to do more than she could. It was so frustrating I have to say. But eventually Mary Lawrence did grow out of her frequent crying spells, but not until she was about 20 months old.

Anyways I write all of this not to complain. I know people have it much worse. I just have been thinking about the ironic fact that throughout Mary Lawrence’s first two years of life I would always say to Justin that I hoped that our next baby would be an "easy baby" and not cry incessantly. Surely God would bless us with a quiet, serene, happy baby after this experience, I would tell him.

But now, as I lay here in this hospital bed, I would give anything for just the opposite - another feisty baby with big, strong lungs like her older sister! I pray every day that when Maggie is born she will let out a giant cry, too. Because one cry can tell us that everything is going to be okay. That she can breathe. That she will live. I don’t care if she cries everyday for the next 18 years. Never again will I take a cry for granted. If she cries, it will be precious music to my ears.