Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

We are sitting here in the quiet of a Sunday afternoon in the back corner of the NICU. Sundays are slow here until the evenings usually... and they have been some of our favorite times to be here. Avery just took her afternoon bottle...which has apparently exhausted both her and her mom. They are both rocking each other to sleep next to me. These are moments you try to really just breathe in deeply...
We found a little note in her crib this morning when we came in, reporting that she had passed her first hearing test. This is very good news...because that means that she has been benefitting from all of the time I have been whispering "da-da" in her ear when Steph isn't looking. Hey- it's never too early to get started on trying to influence what her first word will be...come on!!! Don't tell Steph, I've already got about 6 weeks on her... but moms have an unfair advantage of spending more intimate bonding time with the kids right off....so you can't really blame me!


I feel like I need to be honest with everyone... you hear a lot of cutesy fun stuff about these babies and all...but we've got to give a fair and balanced story from the front lines. There is more to the story than pint-sized pink onesies and sleep-overs with stuffed animals. There is a darker side to this growth and development process... one that we just don't really talk much about, because of how unpleasant it is. But, it's a reality...and it's one you should be aware of: even very small, very cute little pink baby girls can cause industrial strength diaper blow-outs that in my mind would warrent a small team from FEMA to be on call to help with changings! I mean, you look at this little girl, and you think that you'd open up her diaper and find nothing more than some of those colored mini-marshmallows or something... oh no...no no no... Someone could probably win a nobel prize if they figured out the process her body uses to take harmless, normal breast milk...and turn it into nuclear waste. (If they could reverse that process...we'd solve the nuclear waste problem, and we'd have enough breast-milk to feed all the starving babies in the world!) Oh..and there is that fiendish element of suprise!! She lays there, swaddled up wearing her beanie...looking like a burrito about to go skiing....and you unwrap her...and she's there in this cute little pink outfit...and she opens a tired eye...stretches her miniature arms....(all distractions, of course...)...you unbutton her....undo the velcro on her teeny diaper...and WHAM!!!!!!! Absolutely disgusting. If her tiny little bum weren't so cute...she'd be in some serious trouble. So, yeah...I felt like I really needed to bring that to light...I am sure that there were way too many of you out there living in ignorance...and since I had to go through that...you do too!! (at least I didn't post pictures!! ;) )

She's gaining weight still. She's been pretty consistent lately, which is a really good sign. She hit a little plateau the past few days, but is up to 4 lbs. 7 oz., which is about what Stephanie weighed when her mom took her home as a baby! Everyone keeps asking if there is a weight that we're aiming for to take her home... and they don't really look at a specific weight, rather...they look for consistent gains...over a week or two...and she's doing pretty well on that front...


Her last real hurdle is bottle feeding. It's a real learning process that takes her getting the sucking, swallowing and breathing all at the same time. Some days are better than others. At first, she'd just power it down if she were hungry...but if she wasn't, she'd just purse her lips and go to sleep! She's now up to every other feeding by bottle....and is actually taking it really well. She'll fall asleep in the middle of the bottle still...but that happens less and less. That's another step towards going home...taking every feeding by bottle. And, for those of you who asked... the breastfeeding comes next...but we can introduce that once she gets home, or shortly before she leaves... they'll just substitute one bottle feeding for a breast feed...and work up from there...

We are excited and overwhelmed at the prospect of finally having her home. It's something we've talked about non-stop since she arrived nearly two months ago. Normally, parents don't have this time span to contemplate actually having a baby in the house...after already having met the baby! It's normally a sink-or-swim situation: they send you home with your new baby...and good luck!! Avery's due date is the 12th of October... that's so soon!! Some night, in the near future...we'll actually be woken up by our own little baby's cry.... she'll really be ours...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Avery's First Slumber Party...


So, Steph pushed herself a little too hard yesterday...and needed to rest more today, so I went up to see Avery on my own...


Admittedly, I do take an excessive number of pictures given the opportunity... and Stephanie is able to rein me in to keep it reasonable...but I can't help myself with Avery :)


Well... since Steph wasn't around to keep me from disturbing our sleeping babe... I got to playing around...and got some cute pics...


Her sleepover partners are gifts from each of her Grandmas...

It's all relative...

The other day it rained. We don't get much rain here in Utah...so when it does rain, you notice it. It's funny the conversation that ensues after someone makes a comment like that. The people from Arizona tell you about how dry and hot it is there. The people from Seattle tell you not to get them started on rain. The Californians just start talking about how great California is ;)... etc, etc, etc. You talk about this rain storm, and how the rain is here in Utah...and people's minds begin to search their personal databases of experience, and relate to you through the extremes in their past. We humans....we want to connect with each other.

So yea... you might come from somewhere where a 5 minute storm was considered a downpour...or it might not be a storm in your mind if it doesn't last a few hours. I remember our first spring in Oklahoma... it rained for a week straight. The road in front of our house turned into a stream...and I learned that "rolling thunder" wasn't just an expression. I saw it all through my 12 year old, Utah-desert boy eyes...and I was fascinated. What a thrill it was whenever they turned on the tornado sirens in town...and the skies turned an eerie shade of green.... Yet, with all the drama, and the excitement of the Oklahoma storms... I missed how it smelled back in Utah after each 5 minute shower and how the dry thunder echoes off the mountains.

So, when my Oklahoma friends would talk about the wild weather...I would tell them about the smell of a mountain rain. And when my friends here comment on how bad a storm was...or how long the rain lasted ... I tell them about tornado season in Tornado Alley. While that seems to be what we all tend to do... somehow, there's something we're missing...

The past two months have brought out many different reactions about our "adventure"...from people around us and from ourselves. A common thread to most of them is the need to somehow quantify and qualify the situation...and usually to measure it against some other experience. People who have gone through something similar can easily get their footing by asking some basic questions, and measuring it against their own experience. Those who haven't gone through it, usually end up with something like "I can't even imagine how it is for you"... But then, I just want to shake them... Yes, you can!!

You see... we all have our bad days! Just like the rainstorms in Oklahoma aren't the mountain showers in Utah... I'm pretty sure people in both states know what it feels like to be frightened by a storm! You might not have a baby in the NICU... or yours might not be as little as ours...there are many who we know whose babies have been through much more...who have spent more time in the NICU... But I don't think that's the point... we all still relate to each other... I'm sure you know what it's like to be shocked... to be on pins and needles... to be exhausted... to have the smallest things brighten your day...to feel like time could not pass any slower, while it still flies by... That's just a small idea of how it feels... and you've been there. Some way, somehow...you've had your dark days... you've had your storms...and because of that, you know how it feels...

This next Friday will be our 8 week mark in the NICU. Countless times, we've come into the NICU, only to see a car-seat sitting next to the crib of another couple we've seen just come in... in the beginning, we thought to ourselves "Boy...if they ONLY knew!!"... But that's not right. They DO know... they had their shock...their scare...they know what it's like to worry. Time is relative, isn't it?? That couple went through the scariest, hardest thing they've ever been through...and that's just it. And what a blessed day it is when the clouds part on anyone's storm...Who are we to qualify the difficulty of someone else's trials, just because of the difficulty of our own?? We have found some of our best friends in the NICU...and they have been at this a month longer than we have... and now here we are, weathering the storm together....


I guess my point in writing this is to try to get my head around what I've felt lately. There is no such thing as a "worst bad-day"...and if there were, the person who had it wouldn't be happy to be able to "one-up" everyone else's bad-day stories! I'll forever be grateful for those of you who have reached out to us during our "rainstorm"...and have been able to relate...not because they have had our exact experience (though surprisingly...some have come pretty close, I've found out !)...but because they are living life too... There are easier things than having a micro-preemie baby...and there are harder things... but a storm is a storm...

Some of my favorite days...are right after the storm ends...the rains fade...and you can see more clearly then, than at any other time... I swear sometimes I can see the individual leaves on the trees in the moutains. The storm actually clears the air...and gives you a vision like at no other time...It's a limited time thing... things will get murky again...but thank heaven for storms... for great friends and family to weather them.... and especially for the perspective they bring...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

And Now For the Good News!!

Okay, okay... so mom and dad had a rough week.... enough with the snivelling from us... I know the real reason anyone reads this blog is for the Avery news :)

Apparently, Avery didn't get the Memo that we were going to have a bad week this week, and ended up having a great one! She has not only done well on the human milk fortifier this time around...she's been doing great! The past week, she's gained anywhere from 1- 2.2 oz per day!! That's a lot for someone who only weighs a few ounces to begin with! As of her weighing last night, she weighs 4 lbs 2.2 oz... which more than doubles her dainty birth-weight of 1 lb. 15 oz.!! Steph attributes the great weight gain to all the skin-to-skin holding time she's been getting in...which I'll totally buy in to. There is nothing more right than the sight of that little girl nuzzled up to Stephanie's chest. We're pretty sure that we can actually watch her put on the grams when she's skin-to-skin! So, I think that I know what sport I am going to enroll her in first...
(this is a picture we took of her the night she hit 4 lbs...)

Another huge step is that she's been moved from an isolet into an open crib. To do that, she had to be able to keep her own body temp. regulated without the isolet...and she passed the little trial period, during which they kept the isolet on hand, just in case. So, she's a big kid now, in a normal open crib like you see in the well-baby nursuries (or what we like to call "fat baby nursuries")!! It's nice, because when we first came into the NICU, all the "older" babies were in open-cribs, and then, they went home. Back then, it seemed so far away...but now, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.


I just saw online that the Emmys were tonight...which totally gave us some perspective- because Steph NEVER misses an awards show! We have been a little caught up with life lately (and we actually don't even have cable in our apartment at all...)Of course, someday, life will come back to some semblance of normal (I know...all of you with kids are itching to correct me when I say things like that ;) ).. but life tends to bring you to points where only one or two things CAN even matter to you... and though it seems even more draining than when you're focusing on the normal hundred things in life... it's nice. So, instead of watching the red-carpet tonight...listening to the reporters ask all the stars "Who are you wearing???"... we got to actually dress our little star up in her first outfit!
("Avery...who are you wearing??? - Carters, of course!)

Another big step is that at her last eye exam, the doctor said that she was in the clear when it comes to worrying about ROP, and that she had mature eyes- her retinas are attached. So, that's awesome. So, her eyes are not only super cute... they are as functional as they would be normally at this point. No worries, though...she still does the cross-eyed thing, which still freaks Steph out!

So... other stats, she's 7 weeks old, as of Friday. She's just about 16.5 inches long. She's completely on room air. She bottle feeds 3 times a day...or she's allowed to anyway. Half the time, she does well...half the time, she takes about 10 ccs, and then falls asleep or starts spitting it out. So...it's a slower go on that front...but that's really her next big hurdle before she can come home.

All in all...we are still so grateful at how blessed we are. She's such a pleasant little sweetheart, and she's doing so well. Despite all the things that keep coming our way outside the NICU...as long as things keep going well in there...it's more than we could ever ask for...





Enjoy this week's slideshow!

We don't bite!!

Okay....so we've had some of the nicest people just come and find our blog...leave the greatest little notes of encouragement, or stories and comments... then just run off, never to be heard from again!!!

Unless you're scared that we'll come hunt you down and cuddle on your cute babies... you should be sure to leave some way for us to get in contact with you! Sign up for a blogger account and comment when logged in, or leave an email address....or something! You guys are great, and we want to stay in touch or at least hear more of your stories, or thank you for the nice things you've said!!

So...if you haven't already, comment on this post and let us know how to get in touch with you...

love...your new friends,
Ryan, Steph and Avery

Friday, September 19, 2008

Help Steph Win!!! Vote for Steph! #26


Okay... so you all have to help me out here. I entered Steph into a radio contest and we need as many votes as we can for her to win. I sent in a picture of her pregnant, and she's one of 200 finalists. Her picture is #26.

So, everyone, go to this link Click here for the contest!... you can look at the pictures (like I said, she's #26)... then click on the link that says "vote now"...and vote for #26... they'll send you an email to confirm the vote.

It says that there is only one vote per computer... but then also one per email...so, I'm not sure how it works exactly...but pass this on to everyone...i mean EVERYONE you know :) and get them to vote. If you're on campus in a lab...or at a place with a bunch of computers...go on and invite them to vote too!! (If you have more than one person using the same computer, you'll need to empty your browser's history/cache..thenit will let you vote multiple times on the same computer...so if you have more than one person around, you don't actually have to switch computers, if you can't find another one...just try again the next day or two...??)

With the tonsillectomy and everything Steph's gone through lately, winning this would be a fun little bright spot!

I'll keep you posted on the results...it's on until Sept. 26th

Click here to vote for Steph!

Our Week...

Okay... so, after only about 500 people gave me a hard time about not posting on the blog this week...I'll give a quick update...

So, Monday evening, we came up to see Avery. We stayed a while, chatted, saw our sweet girl and headed home during the nurses shift change. It's always annoying trying to get to the freeway from here at that time, because there is somehow always slow and go traffic, and you are driving right in to the sunset. So, we're always really annoyed with the traffic up here anyway. I'm not sure if you're aware of this...and if you're not, it's okay-we had no idea either...but once you get north of about 5300 S., wheather you know it or not, you actually cross a boundary from reality and you actually pass into the video game world. Most days, you're in Frogger, but some days it's Grand-Theft Auto...and, as we found out, some days, it's Mario Kart.
(this was an actual live shot of the traffic cam around 4500 S. at the time of the crash)

So, we slow down, because traffic starts that accordion thing, and it comes to a complete stop in front of us. I stopped, but watched my rear-view, and said to Steph "It's one thing to stop your own car..but you have to watch the people behind you too..."... I had barely finished that sentence, when I saw the car behind us come to a stop...but watched the car behind them plow into them, and slammed their car into ours, and ours into the car in front of us. So, we spend the next hour and a half filling out police reports and getting some big old headaches... only about 2 blocks away from the hospital! We both looked at each other, and said...we're NEVER driving around with Avery in the car. I think we're going to just walk her home from here! ;)
(This was a picture of the at-fault driver 3 seconds before the accident)

Not to be out-done, and never to settle for a quiet moment... Stephanie went in on Thursday morning for her 3rd surgery since we have been married!! She's had tonsil issues for a long time. Her voice went deep and crackly during pregnancy, so she went to see an ENT for that a few weeks ago (she finally got tired of all the hilarious "maybe you're just going through puberty" jokes ...none of which were given, but all of which were enjoyed by me!)...and the doctor told her that she could get on some prilosec for her voice, and he could have her in to get her tonsils taken out the next week. Considering that she would have more time to recover now than she probably will once the baby comes home, she elected to have that done. The doctor said that when he went in to take them out...they just kept going...and going...and then he told me what came out every time he ...okay...I'll sensor it! (MY mental image, is kinda when, on the Little Mermaid, Ursela squeezes that weird clam thing out and uses it for lipstick...but that's pretty graphic and sick ...so I won't mention it ;) )

Anyway... Steph has been a real trooper...makes me feel like a real wimp! Other than a pretty sore throat and swollen glands, she's doing well so far. I think a surgery like that would put me out of comission for about a month. Steph's pain tolerance is a paradox... she'll nearly pass out when she stubs her toe...but doesn't need much more than a motrin after major surgery... go figure!

So... between playing real-life Mario Kart, dealing with the insurance folks, visiting our little babe, being Steph's personal ambulance... and now making jello, pudding, and soup, and switching DVDs.... I haven't had a ton of free time to blog!! :) We'll try to stay in better touch!!


Thanks for all the love and continued support!! Pictures and Avery updates will follow soon...

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Picture for my Mom :)

This is especially for my mom who requested to be able to see thie pic a little closer :)



Thursday, September 11, 2008

She's Taking Over!!!

Small as she is, miss priss is already making a strong bid at taking over our lives. She may think that she's pulling one over on her old man already...but I'm on to her schemes! During our visit few days before Labor Day, a nurse slipped Stephanie a small piece of paper, that I know Avery was responsible for! Upon the small piece of paper... is evidence that I will have my work cut out for me from here on out: Labor Day Sale! 20% off!!

EXHIBIT A:

Oh yes... a few days shy of her first month out of the womb...and she's in cahoots with her nurse to get her parents out shopping for her!! Yep...those innocent little eyes, the lost look on her face... it's all part of the plan. While the nurses change her, feed her, take her vital signs...Avery is plotting, planning and scheeming.

EXHIBIT B:

Well... it worked. Labor Day 2008, where do we find ourselves? Carter's Outlet Store...and the stack of miniature outfits I am holding in my arms weigh more than 3 or 4 Averys. This little girl was a smart one...somehow, she coordinated a 50% off sale...while slipping the nurse an additional 20% off coupon to beguile her parents with!! I would like to say that we were strong...that we saw right through her plans, and stood our ground... but come on!!! Have you ever actually looked at preemie clothes??? Plus, I have an innate weakness to anything with a hood that has animal ears on it... Does anyone know where we can rent extra closet space?

EXHIBIT C:

Not only has she taken over our closets...but this little girl is taking over the kitchen too!! Her mother and I have no problem shoveling food in when we're hungry, so it would make sense for our food supply to take up a good deal of space in the kitchen. That being said, even when this little gal is starving, they still measure her pint-size binges in cubic centimeters! And yet...her single-item food supply is threatening to take up more space in our fridge than ours!!

EXHIBIT D:

Something tells me that these are just hints of things to come. Avery Ann shows up with a bang...and takes over our lives!! Truth be told...that's not all she's taken over... she's taken over most of our conversations... taken over most of our thoughts... taken over our plans for the future.... and taken over our hearts :)

EXHIBIT E:

Caption Contest #2

Okay...so there were some great captions that were submitted the last time around. We're probably going to be putting this blog together as a scrapbook someday...and I think that these caption contest pages will be great to look back on.

If you still don't know how... scroll down to the bottom of the post, where it says "comments"...click on it...and add your comments... and on this post, add your numbered captions!

#1


#2


#3


#4

Look out...she means business!!

Hold on to your hats for this folks...she's found the bottom of her lungs :)

video

Monday, September 8, 2008

Timing is Everything...

Never in our craziest dreams would we have expected for September to roll around...and already have a baby here! You all might get tired of hearing this from us...but, we still look at each other and just say "holy cow...WE HAVE A BABY?!?!??!?!".... I have heard from many of our friends that this is a normal occurrence with your first baby anyway... It takes a long time for things like this to sink in.

Timing is so crazy. It would be easy to really get caught up in wishing that our baby would have come closer to her due date. Anyone who has studied the development of a baby from conception, to embryo, to fetus...to birth, knows how crucial and critical every day is. To me...it's an absolute miracle that ANY of us come out functional!!

Instead of wishing that we would have had those extra 10 weeks for our baby to grow like normal...when we really think about it... we could never be grateful enough that she came right when she did... though, of course, in a perfect world...we would definitely have been grateful for every extra second we could have gotten...and know it's absolutely the best for babies to go as close to full term as possible... we couldn't be more grateful that she held on as long as she did before coming:

-If we would have gone through any of this a century ago... I would easily have started back over a bachelor...having lost a wife and a baby.
-If this would have happened earlier than 1898... and they somehow delivered the baby....we would have most likely been sent home with a tiny bundle, and an eyedropper to feed her... and been told to keep her warm in the kitchen stove, but not to expect her to survive the night. The first incubator station for premature babies was put in to use around the turn of the century in Chicago...
-If she were born earlier than 1922...we would have had to deal with a premature baby without the aid of a doctor who had studied anything formally about neonatology. The first textbook on this subject was written in that year...
-If she had been born even 50 years ago...chances would have been slim for her to get any of the special treatment she would have needed. The first NICU in America was opened in 1965...and that was all the way out in New Haven Connecticut! And it was about that time that they began to use ventilators on premature babies
-It was only in 1975 that neonatologist were beginning to be certified as such by the American Board of Pediatrics
-Realistically...it would be hard to imagine that she would have survived had she been born before the 1980s, which is when they started to develop pulmonary surfactant therapy, which really makes all the difference in whether the baby's lungs can function that early on...and the use of the Betamethasone, the steriod shot that prepares the little baby to come prematurely...(Steph got two of these before Avery came the next day...)
-If she had come 3 or 5 weeks earlier...many of her organ systems would still be under-developed, and would have had a much higher chance of developing brain-bleeds, or any of a number of common complications for babies younger than 29 weeks...
-If she would have come even a week earlier...we would have been stuck out of state, with all the worries of insurance, being away from home indefintely, eventually transporting her once she became stable or relocating...(I'm getting heartburn just imagining that!)
-If she would have come a day earlier...she wouldn't have gotten the benefit of the 2 rounds of the Betamethasone steriod shots that most likely helped her tremendously...
-If she would have come even a few hours earlier...Stephanie's platelet count would have been too low for me to have been with her during the c-section, and she would have been put completely out for the surgery...
-On a selfish note...if she would have come a day earlier (or a month later, for that matter...) I wouldn't have an August birthday buddy!! ;)

I could probably go on and on ad nauseum...but it will never cease to amaze me how perfectly the stars aligned for our baby to come... it's hard to believe how lucky we are...and hard to feel like we deserve to be so blessed... We are VERY aware that this is not always the case...and our hearts go out to every parent who has gone through any difficulty relating to bringing a child into this life. There is nothing for us all, but to count our blessings...mourn with those who mourn...reach out to hold each other AND reach out to be held when needed...

Avery hits 3 lbs!!

Well...we always knew it would happen...but we had to have a little celebration tonight! It's official, at the weigh-in tonight, our little Avery Ann broke the 3 lb. barrier!! To keep perspective, you've got to go pick something up thats about 3 lbs...and you'll just have a little laugh!! But, we're so happy. Since going back on the fortifier, she's been gaining about an ounce a day. Keep those prayers coming...we have no doubt that that is one of the major factors in her success.

As a note of comic relief... we got a call this week from a number we didn't recognize, so Steph let it go to voice-mail. When she checked it, she started laughing so hard, I couldn't imagine who it was or what was so funny about the message. She let me listen to it...and we both had a good laugh. Here's pretty much what the message said:
"Hi Stephanie, this is Dr. ______'s office (her OB/GYN) calling. It looks like the last time you were in our office was July 31st, so we haven't seen you for your most recent appointment. Please give us a call so that we can have you in for your next check up as soon as possible."
Haha... apparently no one noted in Steph's chart that we left that July 31st appointment and went straight to the hospital, and were rushed up to another hospital to have the baby the next day. We should just schedule that appointment, and show up for it as usual... can you imagine the looks on the nurses faces when a "36 week" Steph comes in for one of her final pre-natal visits!!
Thanks for the comic relief ladies :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

See any resemblance...??

Remember those crazy Glow-Worm dolls from when we were little??




Fortified Milk: take two!



I know, I need to be better about posting more often with little updates here and there...it's been one of those weeks.

They started adding fortifier to her milk again this week. That is something that they normally do for the preemies pretty soon after they are born, in order to get them growing closer to the rate they would inside mom's belly. When they tried that with Avery about a month ago, she ended up with bloody stool and a bloated belly... not such good signs. After having taken all the normal precations to rule out NEC, the doctors gave her digestive tract another few weeks to mature, and they began to add the fortifier to her milk a few days ago. Normal breast milk has about 20 calories/cc...and they bumped her up to 24 calories, with the hope of being at 27 by tomorrow morning. They measure her belly regularly, check her feeding tube for any leftover, undigested milk, and watch her diapers... and so far, so good! We're really hopeful, because the doctors have told us that they were just getting worried that she was falling behind on her growth curve. She is currently up to 2 lbs 13 oz... so, hopefully, this will help her start to pack on the pounds :)

We get to hold her every other day and have gotten to feed her with a bottle a few times now. Some of the times, she does well. Some of the times, it's a little much for her to take more than a few ccs. Some feedings, she needs to be on a little oxygen...some of the times, she's okay without it...

She's had her feeding tube switched from her mouth to her nose..which is easier overall for the babies, but they have to get big enough first. This just frees up more of her face...and it's so nice for us to get to see more and more of her. She stays awake for longer periods of time, and just wiggles around and stares up at us...we could watch her for hours!

She passed another eye exam and head scan...both showing no signs of abnormalities. A friend of ours who has had a preemie of her own in the NICU asked me the other day "Do you ever feel like you have dodged a bullet"... I replied "Every day"...

Thanks again for all your great support....your posts, texts, calls...and prayers...not one goes unnoticed...we wouldn't make it without you...

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's not that hard...

(*I am adding this note a few days after posting this entry... I thought about just taking this post off completely to avoid confusion...but it was how I was feeling at the time. I don't know how clearly I was coming across... this post was written on what was probably the hardest day so far for me... the title "it's not that hard" is meant to be very ironic... it's kind of the whole argument that goes on inside of you, telling yourself to look on the bright side of things, when sometimes, the bad DOES outweigh the good...and that's okay! Anyway...most of the "positives" I mention in this entry come from things that people have told us as encouragement, and things that we tell ourselves...which are normally enough to keep our eyes on the prize and stay grateful...but it's my way of portraying the very human side of things...the side that does get discouraged and frustrated...temporary as it is...I tried to start off each paragraph like most of my thoughts that day...with a small positive thought, some silly...some more serious...but then end off each paragraph kind of how most of my thoughts ended up... more of a negative, wistful thought...it's how my brain was working that day...For those of you who know me, you can understand that most of this post was written tongue-in-cheek, while I was emotionally exhausted and on the verge of tears!! But, it's good...not every day is like that... we're so blessed and taken care of! Anyway...enough blabbering ... just disregard this whole post if it doesn't make sense... :) )


You know... everyone keeps saying that how strong we must be, going through all of this. Every time they do, Steph and I just look at each other, and a million emotions run through our heads. Honestly...it's just one of those things that you just do; not because we chose the hard route, and stuck through it...but because for some reason, each morning we look down, and this is the road under our feet.

But you know... it's not that hard. I mean, Avery wasn't even due until October...mid October at that! So, yeah...since it's just the beginnning of September right now, we have a good 4-6 weeks before we even start longing to have her with us... right? In my head...thoughts go back and forth...almost arguing with each other... it's harder this way...no, it's easier... (I will apologize in advance...this post is going to seem a little disjointed...mostly tongue in cheek...but it's late...and you'll get more of a feel of what's really going on inside my head without further editing!)

Steph already looks as beautiful...no...even more beautiful than she ever has! It's only been a month and people come up to us all the time and say in disbelief that she doesn't even look like she's had a baby! And like everyone has reminded her: no stretch marks!! And with the added "enhancement" that comes with breast feeding...come on...who's really complaining!It's really those last few weeks that are the hardest on the mom physically...but then again, only a mother can understand what a treasure each day is...carrying her child...the last few weeks: roughest on the mom's body, so good for the baby's...

And as I've mentioned before, what father really gets to be a part of their child's life at this point anyway? My sister-in-law joked that an isolet is just a "womb with a view"!...What a way to spend the last few weeks of gestation! When other guys are giving lower back and foot massages to their wives with bellies 5 times bigger than anything you could expect to be humanly possible... We still get to go out on dates without trying to find a babysitter! Man, I always felt bad for that poor expectant mother we saw at church, due anytime and just SUPER uncomfortable-never got to that point!... or that dad who has to bring his screaming baby to the foyer-not there yet!... or that couple that just can't pay much attention to the meeting, cuddling their sweet little newborn...It's hard not to get jealous...

Oh yeah...and we don't have to worry about having that overnight bag carefully packed with anticipation... and waiting, endless conversations as the due date approaches,wondering exactly when our lives will be interrupted and changed forever. Will it be the middle of the night?? Or maybe randomly during the day?? Having a plan on how to meet up...or who to call first... Whew...we've got our surprise over with...not really how we expected it. As you get closer to the due date...I've heard someone say, it starts to seem like Christmas Eve...that sounded kinda cool...

For 3 bonus months, we get to sleep through the night, not having to wake up every few hours to a baby crying...everyone says to really count our blessings, because we'll never get another good nights rest. They don't understand how nice it will be to wake up to her little cries, instead of our own tears... that sweet little cry...I don't think I'll mind washing bottles so much then...

She's so little...so really, we wouldn't even know how to begin to take care of such a small baby! Now, we've got nurses doing all the hard stuff for us...monitoring her breathing, heart-rate, oxygen levels...preparing her mixture of milk and fortifyer to the right amounts and filling the feeding tube...giving her little back rubs when she needs stimulation... holding her little frog legs up with one hand and changing those smelly diapers...giving her her first little baths, calming her little cries with a comforting touch...picking out the cutest bows to match her tenderly made bed...tucking her in each night...sounds like fun to me :)

And let's be honest...how much can you miss someone who has never really been around?? I can understand, if we were already used to having her around all the time that it would be hard to have her away from us. We've never even had a baby in our home...so it's not like there's anything missing...in the nursery, with the crib covered in baby stuff, and I mean...all those carefully folded miniature outfits can wait in the little dresser...and we can already use the rocking chair when Steph pumps...actually... I can't wait to have her home...

I've only held her a few times really...Steph's only felt her little cheek on her chest a couple of times. We can count on a few of our big fingers, the number of times her little fingers have wrapped around ours so tightly, as if to say: Mom, Dad...it's going to be fine!! She's still hooked up to a feeding tube and monitors... stuck to her with little stickers that have little blue and pink rocking horses, teddy bears and trains on them that will always remind me of these special days. I have probably seen some of the same people at the grocery store more times in my life than I've seen my own sweet little daughter...and yet, this little stranger occupies most of our thoughts...

So yeah... for so many reasons...these past few weeks have gone by so quickly...and she'll be home before we know it...and we'll look back on these times with fondness...and we are so so so lucky and blessed...and closer than we've ever been...and sometimes, just sometimes... like this afternoon (and, in all honesty, many, many other times)standing over her little isolet, and those big little eyes look up to me and she almost seems to be reaching up to me...and I picture the day she's jumping on me...the three of us finally at home, squeeling and giggling ... though I might tell you that for so many reasons,it's not that hard...it does get pretty tough
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Avery: a month and a week...