Sunday, July 31, 2011

Newborn thoughts

It is funny how a teeny, tiny newborn can cause one's house to look like a bomb exploded!!  Poor Eli... it is not his fault, but it sure seems like newborns have lots of paraphernalia.  There are diapers, wipes, creams, bottles, pump parts, clothes, socks, blankets and stuff everywhere.  Last night I decided to take action and worked for hours trying to get our house back under some order, at least for a day or two. 

Eli is doing well.  He is a very easy baby so far.  He eats, opens his eyes a little, and then is back asleep again.  In reality, he still should have about 3 more weeks tucked away in my tummy, so I am expecting him to wake up more in a few weeks.  So far, he is definitely the easiest of the bunch.

We are so thankful for each little leg movement that we see.  The other night my mom cooked dinner for us and we all sat around watching Eli kick his legs.  We are all learning to be thankful for more and more through all of this.  I never sat around and watched Ella or Eliza move their legs.  We have seen a lot more movement in the past two weeks.  He does not appear to have feeling in his feet at this point and his ankles are very week.  We are still thankful for what he does have right now.

We have three appointments for Eli this week.  On Tuesday, we will meet with the pediatric neurosurgeon and also with the orthopedist.  Honestly, I am nervous about those two appointments and what we may learn about Eli.  I am praying that his ventricles will remain stable and that his head circumference will remain in normal limits.  We will continue to pray for no shunt.  I am also praying that the ortho will see his leg movement and that his hips will not be dislocated.  We would covet your prayers for Eli on Tuesday.  On Wednesday he will have an evaluation for babynet, which is our state's early intervention program.  This service will provide in home therapy(PT/OT) for Eli, which will be helpful to our family as well as Eli.  It is already so much harder to imagine him having to go through difficult procedures.  My love for him is growing and growing. 

I also have a whole post roaming in my head about little boys, but I am sure thankful that God knew we needed another one.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coming out of the fog...I think!

Tonight is the first in a while that I am not struggling to keep my eyes open at 6:00.  I am finally starting to feel better and more like myself again.  My terrible swelling is finally subsiding, horrible headaches are better tonight, and my incision is healing nicely now.  I am so glad to have the past two weeks behind us and have little Eli home.

He is doing well and is such a sweet baby!  He is definitely the easiest of the 3 for now.  He has two very doting big sisters and that is the most challenging part of our days. Ella wants to be the mommy and Eliza wants to touch his head, hands and face.  I am sure the new will wear off soon.

A few days after Eli was born we saw very little leg movement.  We are praising the Lord because each day we are seeing a little more.   We are praying that the Lord will continue to heal his little body and we will praise the Lord for each little movement we see. And is out two week old little cutie!

Monday, July 25, 2011

He's Home!!

Whew...I finally have all of my chicka-dees sleeping under the same roof tonight for the first time.  Eli is stretched out on our bed between Kev and I.  It is like we can finally take a deep breath!  I am so thankful to not have to make arrangements for the girls or go down to the hospital tomorrow.  I am so thankful that I get to be his mommy and be his main caregiver.  I sure hope I am ready for the task. 

Ella and Eliza were so cute when we walked in the front door.  I wish we had recorded them but they were super excited.  The excitement went downhill for Eliza when she realized that mommy would be holding Eli.  She has some big time adjusting to do!  Ella wants to be the mommy and thinks she can take care of Eli.  I am sure she will be a good helper, but I also know I will have to watch her at all times.

I do have lots of pictures to post but that will have to wait until tom.  This new mommy is going to have a long night!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coming home soon.

This will be short and sweet because I am flat out exhausted.  I cannot seem to get my energy back.  Eli is doing well and it looks like he will be home really soon...maybe even tom.  I will be so thankful to have my family all under the same roof.  Kev and I will also be so thankful to not make daily or twice a day trips down to the hospital.  I hope I am ready for newborn days again.  It is easy to forget how challenging they can be.  Every night when my alarm goes off every few hours to pump, I remember that things are about to get more complicated.  I think my motto is going to be...slow!  Hopefully we can have some quiet and easy days at home and try to adjust to being a family of 5.

I am most excited at seeing Eliza's reaction to Eli.  She asks me daily to see (E-Li...pronounced with a short e like Ella) and she raises up my shirt to see my incision.  She is going be surprised.  Okay...time for sleep before my first alarm of the night goes off.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Eli Update

This is my sweet little Eli.  He really is the sweetest little thing.  He is doing really well and was moved up to full feeds today.  The NG tube should come out tomorrow if he does well through the night.  He also has his hearing screening tonight.  Tomorrow he has his car seat test.  Preemies have to sit in their car seat for over and hour and make sure their stable.  I guess it is time to get the car seat out of the garage, wash it and load it back into the car.  Hopefully, if all goes well he will be coming home in the next few days.

We were really excited when we heard that news this afternoon.  Going back and forth to the hospital is exhausting...the parking, the walking, the constant hand washing, making sure we have all the pump parts and milk.  Whew...we will be thankful to have our family all under one roof.

My excitement was somewhat shattered when the lady from the spina bifida clinic met with us later this afternoon.  Eli's lesion has always been labeled at L5.  Today we were told that the orthopedist said that it was L4-L5.  Then she said that the report said that his functional level was more like L3.  I think we were both very taken back.  I was devastated and Kev determined that he wouldn't accept one resident's opinion.  I am sure to many this difference means very little but in the spina bifida world it can be huge.  It can be the difference in being in a wheelchair or being a walker.  The most upsetting thing was that he thought his functional level was worse than the higher lesion level.  I am sure I am going to have to learn to not let things like this crush me....but it is so hard when it is your child.

I look at his sweet little face and I want nothing but,...normal for him.  I want him to be a normal little boy without all the struggles and issues of spina bifida.  I want him to run and play soccer and be able to keep up with his two big sisters.  We also learned that the same doctor thought that his hips might be dislocated.  This could mean a lot in the future in terms of surgery, casting, etc. 

I am scared...honestly, scared to death.  I am craving my old normal and trying to embrace this new journey we are on.  I think back to Ella and Eliza's newborn days and honestly they were the most exciting days of my life.  I hate that Eli's newborn days are overshadowed by my fears of the unknown.  Please continue to pray for Eli as well as the rest of our family.  I could really use prayer as I learn to care for 3 kids.  I am also still not feeling back to normal and I am so ready to feel good again.  Please pray for Ella and Eliza.  They have both been very clingy and I am sure having a new baby will be an adjustment for them (esp. Eliza).  Please pray for Kev as he is still looking for a job, a new car, and trying to regain his energy after his car wreck.  Please pray for Eli and his little legs and feet.  I will continue to pray that God will do more than we or his doctors would have imagined.  Thank you so much for keeping up with our family and for praying for us through this very challenging time in our lives.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just for laughs...or I might cry!

I am sitting on the bed with my legs propped up high wearing my lovely white compression stockings.  You see my ankles have departed me since about last Friday and I have yet to find them.  Kev says I have lost my cankles and now have cankle rolls.  We try not to look at them or we might laugh or I might cry...and besides that really hurts my incision.

Yes, today all 18 staples came out.  Some easier than others and I am left with an infection in my incision.  No need to tell me any horror stories.  I read them all last night and by this morning I was for sure they would be sending me back to the hospital to re-open and pack my wound. I can think of nothing worse.  So far it appears that we caught it early and I am praying that the antibiotics will do their job.

Honestly, I have always felt a since a pride in my deliveries.  No, not that I went all naturale, I see nothing wrong with some pain management.  But rather in the fact that I could push my little lovies out in record time.  The doctors and nurses always praised me as a good pusher and were always so pleased with how well I always bounced back.  Kev and I were talking today and two days after having Eliza we went for a walk (slow) mind you, around the neighborhood, to try out our lovely new double stroller.  We did pay a fortune for it and I will be thankful to have it again the first time I attempt to go to Target with 3 kids 3 and under! Back to my thought... I felt great.  I felt ready to get my body back.  I think I even did my FIRM video about a week later.  Life was good.  Things were normal. No major swelling,  I refused to wear maternity clothes,even if that meant squeezing into regular clothes.   My body did what it was supposed to do.

Let's just say...things are bouncing and it isn't my body...or actually maybe it is!  Apparently, the lactation consultant who has been checking on me while visiting Eli has determined that I am milk cow.  In fact she called me that today.  It is evidenced by the fact that I am producing 7 to 8 times the amount of milk I should be right now!  Oh heavens, help me!  I have had this issue before, but it is way worse this go around.  I would elaborate more but I will stop for the sake of tmi.  Kev did suggest I might try setting up a "milk stand" outside the NICU and save some other moms some time.  (I do know that the opposite problem of this is not having enough milk and I in no way want to make anyone feel bad.  They are both issues.)  I do highly recommend humbling oneself and meeting with a lactation consultant.  I have done it with two of my babies and it has been so helpful to me!

Then there are the emotions.  Seriously, I cried the entire time through my doctor's appointment today.  I am sure she thought this lady has really lost it.  This is my fourth delivery and I have never felt so unlike myself.  No need to worry...I am on top of it and realize clearly what is normal for me and not.  I think the past 4 months and all it's events have finally caught up with me. I am just hoping that this will pass soon. 

Now, for what is really important.  Little Eli is doing well.  He is now completely off all oxygen and is breathing only room air.  He is talking both bottles and nursing some.  I do hope to nurse exclusively one day.  Right now, I just need to get him home, so we will have to use bottles for now.  He is wearing clothes now and has a head full of blondish hair.  He really looks like Kev, which I think is so cute.  But, I do want to make it clear that I have had a little to do with him...I mean...A LOT!!   He has physical therapy everyday and I have been there the past two days during that time.  I am learning lots of stretching exercises, that I will be doing multiple times a day with him. 

He is pee-peeping and pooping like crazy and has a really bad diaper rash.  That can be more common in babies with SB, but they also change him like once every 3 hours and I know I will do it more often at home.  He is a peanut and has regained his birth weight and now weighs 4lbs 7oz.  Yesterday morning, I walked into the nursery and immediately heard a baby crying.  I told my mom that I thought it was Eli.  Sure enough, he was screaming his little lungs out.  It is so funny how only after a week and not hearing his little cry that often yet, my mommy ears are already attune to him.  He is so precious and I pray over his little legs and feet a million times a day.

And if you see me out and about and don't recognize me...just realize that this too shall pass!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Look who is wearing clothes!!!

Kev and I just got home from our late night visit with Eli.  I am trying to visit him every morning and every evening so I can nurse and be there with him.  He is doing really well.  He got moved from the Level 3 nicu to the Level 2 nursery.  He was only on 2% oxygen and the plan is to completely wean him from it tonight as long as he does fine.  They are continuing to up his feeds each day and he had his first bottle today and nursed well tonight.  Mommy and Daddy were so proud of him. 

Thank you all for your sweet comments.  I have felt better today.  I am just exhausted and I am so ready for my body to feel more normal again.  I think all the weeks of taking it easy and then hospital bedrest has really zapped my energy level. 

When we arrived tonight he was wearing clothes!  So cute!

I don't know when Eli will be coming home, but mommy and daddy have a lot to do to get ready for his arrival.  I can't wait.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oh, baby blues...

Today has been my hardest day since Eli was born.  This being my fourth pregnancy, I am well acquainted with the baby blues.  I even know how bad it can feel to bury your baby 3 days after delivering him, while facing the onset of a huge change in hormones.  Today I can do nothing but cry.  Generally, I am not a crier.  I have done nothing but cry today.  Some say that pregnancy is a beautiful thing...and I agree that God growing a little human life over 9 short months (or sometimes less) with all it's complexities, is a truly beautiful thing.  But let me make one thing clear....the aftermath of pregnancy is no beautiful thing. 

In fact, I don't know if I have ever felt so physically unattractive. Maybe plain ole ugly is a better word and no I am not looking for any compliments...I am just being honest.   If you are a man, only because I know my dad occasionally reads my blog (when my mom tells him he should :) you might want to just skip this next paragraph.   My body is just plain swollen.  I have never had this happen so bad with my other deliveries.  I guess it has something to do with having a c-section.  My ankles, hands, legs, face....all swollen.  My ankles are the worst.  My toes don't even look like my toes.  Then there are the parts of your body that change so that you can nourish your newborn baby.  I always have a hard time with this part.  When my milk arrives it arrives with a vengeance.  I was prepared....but I HATE this part.  There really is no relief so far.  I have read everything there is to do and I have tried it all over the compresses, frozen ice packs, hot shower, even cabbage leaves.  I think things are different this time since I am exclusively pumping for now.  I can tell that pumping just isn't as effective as nursing.  And yes, I have a great and expensive pump!  Then there is the clothing issue.  I really look about 6 months pregnant still at this point.  I have about 20 staples in my stomach and nothing covers or is comfortable.  I can assure you that one thing I will not do is put back on one of the four outfits I wore in the hospital!!   Sorry for venting ...but I really think that sexually active teenagers should have to experience postpartum at it's best and they might just reconsider.

Okay, enough about the body!  I do think all of those terrible feelings are generally helped when you watch your little one sleep of spend those first days loving on your new little one.  It doesn't make all the uncomfortableness and body issues disappear, but it does make it all seem worth it.  Today I am also really worried about Eli.  Generally, things have been going well so far.  I called this morning and talked to his nurse and he was able to come off the light therapy and his levels are better.  They are also weaning him down from the oxygen. He was only on about 30% to begin with.   I think they are going to give him a bottle and I will try to nurse him when I get there for his afternoon feeding.  It is hard to let someone give him bottle.  I hate to miss any of his first.  I know we have a lot to be thankful for when compared to what others are facing.

I am really worried about his legs and feet. His legs have very low tone and one appears smaller than the other.  He appears to have little feeling below his thighs and knees.  His feet also appear to have little feeling and are not sensitive at all to touch.  They are floppy and they both turn in.  My mommy heart is having a terrible time even writing this.  It is hard when all you can do is love him and rub those sweet little legs and feet.  I do love each little part of him, just as he is...I just hate for him to have struggles ahead.  It breaks my heart more than anything I think I have ever faced. 

I know there is a lot that can be done to help Eli with bracing, casting, walkers, and wheelchairs...I was just hoping we might be one of the lucky ones who didn't have to go down that path.  We continue to appreciate your prayers for our sweet little guy as we begin to adjust.  Thank you all for your sweet and encouraging comments on both my blog and on facebook. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Someone got to meet her baby brother....

We took Ella this morning to meet her brother Eli.  I hated so much leaving Eliza, but she is too young to go into the NICU.  It was a lot of fun watching and listening to Ella interact with Eli for the first time.  She talked to him just like they had been best buds for forever.  She said, "Hey Eli, it's Ella.  We got a Liza too...she is Elizabeth."  It was so funny.  She kept telling him to wake up and get up.  Obviously, she has forgotten that little babies sleep A lot!  I loved how she loved him immediately and treated him no differently.  He was sunbathing for the day when we left him.

Tonight Kev and I went back for a little visit.  It was the first time I could hardly stand leaving him.  It is exhausting right now trying to get there to spend time with him, but I cannot stand to be away for long.  Tonight was also the first time in a few days that I feel scared for his future.  I know why...I love him so much already and I want only the best for him.  We have a lot to be thankful for so far. Yet, I know there are some challenges ahead.  I know eventually we will get some difficult news, it is like I am starting to brace myself.  I keep reminding myself that I would love Ella or Eliza no differently if they faced physical challenges or were in a wheelchair.  They would still be my sweet little girls.  I know the same is true for Eli.  I know we will love him no matter what we face....I just don't want to face it. 

The answer is Yes!!

One surprising day in December,
Three Early ultrasounds at 6, 8, and 12 weeks,
A devastating diagnosis day in March,
Hours upon hours of research on the computer,
An Amnio and days of waiting,
Airline tickets purchased and consult in another state,
Lots and lots of prayers,
10 hour trip with family and friends,
A scary 4 hour surgery,
A week in the hospital far away from home,
A stomach that will never look the same,
A Flight home in a thunderstorm,
Eight weeks on modified bedrest at home,
Weeks of letting others help me,
12 weeks of not driving,
A summer with no pool, beach or vacation,
8 weeks of long Friday afternoon appointments,
4 weeks of hospital bedrest,
8 IV's
30 days away from home,
4 weeks of 5:00 rounds and annoying questions from med students
4 weeks of leaking...sorry TMI
23 ultrasounds,
27 Non-stress tests
A really not fun c-section experience,
Another not pretty incision,
cankles in a major way,
Milk, milk, and do I say more milk....

So, was it worth it?
Tonight while I nursed my little baby boy for the first time and he opened his tiny little baby eyes and really looked at me for the first time ever...the answer is YES!!!  Every minute, every fear, every pain, every inconvenience, every tear...he is so worth it!  I love you Eli Matthew!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2 days old

First of all I hope my last post about my c-section doesn't scare anyone.  After having 3 normal deliveries, it was just a super different experience for me.  I also was super scared and had some  uncommon side effects.  I do know lots of people that have had several c-sections and they have had great experiences.  It was also so different from my fetal surgery because I was completely out.

Today has been a much better day so far.  I was able to take a shower and I feel like a new person.  We got up to the NICU early enough to be there for rounds.  The doctors were very nice in accentuating the positive.  So far Eli's bladder ultrasound looked good and he is not being cathed at this point.  It can always change quickly, but so far he is voiding on his own. The urologist will continue to follow him in the next few weeks and he will have a urodynamics test done around 3 months....I think.  Neurology also did a head ultrasound and at this point they aren't going to do an MRI.  We were unable to get an exact measurement of his ventricles, but the doctors are going to get it for us tomorrow.  They will continue to measure his head daily and monitor it.  So far that is good news.  PT and OT should be by today or tom. to evaluate him and get services started.  Everyone is concerned over his loss of tone in his lower extremities, but they have seen some movement in his hips and a little in his legs.  I know enough to know it is not normal, but we are thankful that there is a little.

This morning we got to spend a lot of time holding and bonding with little Eli.  We are pretty taken with him and we love him just as he is.  He pulled his nasal cannula out today as well as his ng tube.  He was not happy when the nurse had to put it back.  I even got to try breastfeeding him a little.  For now I am pumping around the clock and the nurses carefully give him each milliliter I bring.  I am glad to do this for him.

We are getting ready to head back and spend the afternoon with him.  We are both so exhausted.  Every time I pump I fall asleep, but we want to spend as much time with him before we go home tomorrow.   Did you hear that....I am going home tom!!  I now feel strangely attached to this place and will miss my little Eli.  I knew I was going to feel this way!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eli's Birth Story

I want to write down the events surrounding Eli's birth while it is still fresh in my mind.  Yesterday my c-section was originally scheduled for 11am.  We were told from the start that it might get delayed and so we weren't surprised when hour after hour passed.  It was a long morning of waiting.  I'd have moments when I'd forget what was ahead and relax for a bit and then all of a sudden I would get so anxious. 

Finally, at 2:20 they came and got me.  It was a surreal feeling knowing what was getting ready to happen.  I also had my lovely glasses on and I hate wearing them.  I don't see so great in them so it always makes me feel like I am in a blurry dream.  If you have bad eyes you probably know what I am talking about.  I was a nervous mess.

Kev remained in the hall while I went in and they quickly began prepping me.  I have had 4 epidurals in my life and so I know what that entails.  Yesterday I was to get a spinal instead.  The anesthesiologist resident used me as a pin cushion.  He just couldn't get it into the right spot.  I felt sorry for him because he was trying but to be honest, I was not happy.  I sat trying to stay curled with my shoulders down while he tried over and over.  Finally, I said, why is it taking so long.  The attending asked if she could take over and before I knew it my legs were finally going numb. 

They laid me back and were getting everything prepped.  I felt so anxious.  They kept testing me to make sure I was getting numb.  Those kind of questions always make me nervous because what if I think I am numb, but I am not really numb enough.  I was all strapped down and they did their little time out thing and I heard the doctor call for the scalpel.

They finally brought Kev into the OR just as they began, and he sat rubbing my head and telling me that I was doing great.  I got a major case of the shakes as I always do with anesthesia and my lovely blood pressure began bottoming out.  The lowest it got was 50/27.  I really felt terrible and like I was going to pass out.  Apparently I had some scar tissue from my fetal surgery and so things began taking a little longer.  At 3:29 they told me we were about one minute from baby.  I got so anxious and before I knew it there was the tiniest little thing raised up above the curtain.

I remember him crying and I remember being immediately concerned about his legs and feet.  I could tell something was wrong.  He has also been in the pike position for about 14 weeks.  They both looked clubbed to me and I was sad. He was so precious, but I felt so scared.

The C-section took longer than expected and laying strapped to that table awake for over two hours about did me in.  I kept asking for some drugs to help me relax or go to sleep, but they couldn't give them to me until they could get my blood pressure up.  By the time they were closing up all of a sudden I started to feel them stitching.  Of course I immediately let them know and they gave me local anesthesia, so they could finish. 

Once I got to the recovery room I was really feeling a lot of pain.  I don't think I've ever been in that much pain.  They gave me several different things and nothing was helping.  My blood pressure was down again and my ears were clogging up.  I knew I was close to passing out again.  Thankfully, I started to feel a little better after a little while.  I was in recovery for over 4 hours.  While I was in there they wheeled Eli through so I could see him.  He was so sweet and they said he was breathing on his own and going to the level 2 nursery.  I was so glad, but really I just felt pretty rough.  All I knew was that I was thankful to no longer be pregnant, thankful that Eli was doing well, and thankful that I will never ever have to do that again. 

Today I have been trying to rest, busy pumping for Eli every 3 hours, and visiting the NICU.  We have made 4-5 trips to see him today and tonight I finally got to hold him for the first time.  This morning he was showing signs of respiratory distress he was moved to the NICU.  They did have to incubate him for about 5-10 minutes to give him surfactant.  We were there while they were working on him and he was not happy about it.  It was not fun to watch.  They put him on a c-pap for a short period of time, but again he didn't like it at all.  Then they just put him on oxygen through a nasal cannula.  He has been doing good throughout the day.  Tomorrow morning we will be at rounds and hopefully will find out more about his head ultrasound, kidney ultrasound and other test that have been done.

To be honest, I am really not feeling so well tonight.  I know it is to be expected, but I am so ready to feel good.  I am praying that tomorrow I will begin to feel better.  Thanks for checking in on us and for all of your prayers. 

Hopefully tomorrow we will have some new pictures.  We were told we couldn't take a camera into the NICU last night and then tonight we were told we could. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

He is here!

Eli Matthew Giordano
 4lbs. 5 oz.
3:30 pm

It has been a terribly long day.  I am exhausted and thankful to be feeling some better tonight.  He is precious and I can't wait to really get to see him tomorrow.  I will post more tom.   He is in the Level 2 nursery and is breathing on his own so far.  His back looks great and he is having a head ultrasound tonight.  Please pray for his little legs and his sweet little feet.  Thank you for praying the Lord has answered!

And we wait a little longer...

My 11:00 c-section will hopefully be more like 2-2:30.  I am ready to get this show on the road!  Thanks for the prayers!!


I am trying to pass time.  My c-section got pushed back a little due to the two before me running long.  My doctor also got called back to the office and I have a different doctor...that is okay!  I know the Lord will have the right people in place for Eli's arrival.  The new doctor came by and she seemed really sweet.  Only a little while longer and my pregnancy journey will be over and Eli's journey will begin!  Thank you all for your prayers.  I read something yesterday on a blog that said instead of worrying you should worship.  That is what I am trying to do today!  Thanks again for being so faithful to pray for us and Eli today!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Letters to my kids...

I have always in the past written a letter to my kids the night before we welcome a new family member.  You can read the ones I wrote to Ella and Eliza in 2009 here.

Dear Eli Matthew,
       Tonight is the last night I will ever go to sleep with you tucked sweetly inside of me.   I can't imagine coming back to this room tomorrow with you not inside of me anymore.   I remember looking at my calendar the day I was admitted and thinking there was no way I could mentally make it until July 12th.  Thankfully, the Lord has sustained us each day and provided friends, encouragement and just what we needed to get through. I cannot believe that tomorrow is your birthday!

      If you are anything like your pregnancy has been, I imagine you will be a little boy who teaches us a lot and keeps us on our toes.   I will never forget the day I found out that I was expecting you.  I was so surprised.  I had no idea what the next few months of growing and nurturing you would require of me physically, mentally and spiritually.  It has been the hardest journey of my life so far.  I will never forget March 8th, because that is the day we learned that you were a little boy and a few minutes later that you had spina bifida.  I will never forget the feelings I had on April 19th, when we were both facing a risky and scary surgery to repair your back in utero.  I have never been more scared in my entire life.  I will never forget each move of your legs that we anxiously looked for each week on the ultrasound or the day we watched you put your toes in your mouth.  These past few months have required more of me than I ever knew I handle.  It has required more faith in Christ, more dependence on those we love, and more praying on my part. 

Eli, I don't know what tomorrow and the weeks to follow will be like for you, but I promise that God has a great plan for you.   I promise that you have a mommy and a daddy that will move heaven and earth to provide all that you need.  I promise we will love you no matter what you are capable of and no matter what the doctors may tell us about you.  We believe with all our hearts that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving and kind heavenly father and we are trusting him with your care and your future.  We promise that you will not be the little boy with spina bifida, but you will be our son, Eli.

There are so many people praying for you tomorrow and who already love you so much!  Your daddy and I cannot wait to see you, and I promise to get to the NICU the minute they will let me up!
Your Mommy

Dear Ella Kate,
      Tomorrow is Eli's birthday.  When I reminded you of this on the phone tonight you asked me if he was having a spiderman birthday!  I sure wish that was all we were doing tomorrow.  You are such a funny girl and such a great big sister.  I love to watch how much Eliza loves you and how she wants to do exactly what you are doing.  You have a very big job as the oldest child.  I can see that God is making you into a great leader with a strong personality.  I pray you will continue to grow to be a good helper to both Eliza and Eli.  I have no doubt that Eli will love you.  I can't wait to take you to the NICU for a visit in a few days.  You are lucky because you are old enough to get to visit him there.  Get a good rest and be a good girl tomorrow.  I can't wait to see you!

Dear Eliza Anne,
     I think Mommy is having the hardest time writing to you tonight.  I think it is always hardest on the youngest when a new baby arrives or maybe it is just hardest for mommy.   It seems like just yesterday I was shedding tears writing to to Ella the night before we had you.  I couldn't imagine how much I would love you!  I felt so sad that she would no longer be the baby and I was scared.  Mommy is feeling the same things again tonight.  You are such a sweet little girl and I cannot believe that you are almost two.  You are so different than your sister and I think you will make a great middle child.  I know you will make a great big sister and I look forward to watching you grow into your new role.  I hope you and Eli will be good friends and that you can teach him your mad climbing skills (that might even be okay by mommy and daddy)!  I love you!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

1 more day!

Last night, a few seconds after I hit publish on my post, my cell phone rang.  It was Kevin and he had called to tell me that Ella had just thrown up!  She had left the hospital about an hour earlier. We shared a kiss and hug and she bee bopped down the hall with her usual spunkiness!  She had been fine all day!  During her naptime at the hospital she had snuggled right up beside me nose to nose.  As soon as he called, all I could think about was all of us getting a stomach virus this week. 

I also hated not being at home to care for her, even though it takes everything in me to clean up throw-up without throwing up myself.  She was so sad and called me and said, "Mommy, I am throwing up and can never go to church."  I think she had overheard Kev saying that they wouldn't be able to make it to church today.  I must just insert here that Kev did awesome on Daddy duty today.  He didn't even get frustrated with me when I called a million times to check on them and to remind him to Lysol and wash hands constantly.

So far she has been okay today...just laying around more than normal.  And thankfully, so far everyone else is okay.  I talked to my doctor this morning and told her I had been exposed and she said if I start to feel sick at all they will go ahead and deliver me asap.  I can't think of much worse than having my stomach cut open (my incision is quite large from my fetal surgery and they will use the same one again on Tues.) and having a stomach virus.  I might just ask to be put to sleep for a day or two. I can also not think of much worse than for Kev to be sick as a dog on the birth day of our last child.  It is kind of a day you can't redo.  So, needless to say I am praying and praying that we will stay well as well as our friends and family who have been around us recently. 

I cannot believe that tomorrow is my final full day as a pregnant person.  I got my 8th and final IV today.  My nurse got an L&D nurse to come and do it because I didn't have a lot of vein options left in my arms and apparently you have to have a bigger IV for surgery.  She did awesome.  I couldn't believe how painless it was.  This has been such a long journey even though it has been a shorter pregnancy.  I am so ready and so nervous all at the same time. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Counting down!

Today was a good day at the ole hospital.  Kev went home this morning to spend some time with the girls and get some things done at washing my four outfits!  He brought the girls up this afternoon and we played in the room and then they took nice long naps.  They are definitely warming up to hospital life and have made friends with nurses, cafeteria staff, and housekeeping staff. One nurse even brings them a surprise each day after they take their nap.  It is so sweet.  Eliza has also finally warmed up to the hospital bed and more to her mommy again.  Poor thing, I am sure she really has no clue why mommy is living at the hospital. 

I forgot to mention yesterday that I had what I would like to say was my VERY LAST ULTRASOUND EVER!!!  The tech was asking me how many I thought I'd had since I started having babies and I really think it is too many to count.  I am sure it is close to at least a hundred and I am not even exaggerating.  I really hope I don't one day find out that they are really harmful or something!

Yesterday on my ultrasound my fluid measured a 6.  That is pretty good considering I have been ruptured for almost 4 weeks now.  Eli's right ventricle, which is the smaller of the two measured 8mm.   That is down a bit from the previous week and down is always good.  They couldn't measure the larger left one due to the fact that his head is so low.  We did see some movement in his hips and he was practicing his breathing like crazy!  They didn't do a growth scan again this week, but he should be weighing around 4lbs 5oz or so.  I hope he is at least that big by Tuesday. 

The countdown is really almost over...two more days.  I have one more IV to get in the 8th, and that should be my last!  I am so thankful to the Lord that he has sustained me through these weeks.  When I was admitted I really didn't think I could handle being here until 34 weeks, even though I knew I needed to for Eli.  I am also so thankful to so many who have prayed and shown love to our family.  We have been so blessed by your kindness. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's Friday

I cannot believe we have made through an entire work week.  Last week at this time it seemed like such a daunting task, but here we are.  Next week at this time, I should be back at my house for the first time in 4 weeks and also no longer preggo.  I know I will hate leaving Eli here and will feel so weird once he is no longer tucked safely inside. I am sure I will be back bright and early Saturday morning to check on him. 

Today got off to a bit of a hectic start.  Each morning they do a Non-Stress Test.  It monitors Eli's heartrate and my contractions.  I am usually on the monitor for 30-45 minutes, and if things look good they take me off and then just check his heartrate every 4 hours.  This morning I was alone and all hooked up to the monitor.  You really can't move too much because it kinda messes things up.  About 10 minutes into the monitoring Eli had a deceleration.  That means that his heartrate dipped too low below the baseline and stayed there a little bit.  I always get anxious watching the monitor when that happens.  He generally does great but he has had a few decels over the past 3 days.  This is also not too uncommon when your fluid is low because the baby can move onto the cord.

When a decel last for a little bit an alarm starts sounding...loudly...BEE...BONG...BEE...BONG...and it does not stop until someone turns it off.  Normally, I would just get kev to silence it until they come to check on me, but since he wasn't around I just tried to deal with it. After a while I decided to call for a nurse to come look at the strip and turn it off.  Thirty minutes later no one had come.  So I called again....BEE...BONG...BEE...BONG...constantly!  I was also dying to go to the bathroom at this point and I was contracting every so often.  I waited and waited and tried to occupy my time with the Internet.  Around this time another thirty minutes had passed and so I called a third time.  At that point I was ready to get up and silence the thing myself, but I was also a little concerned about Eli.  The monitor was also now out of paper and had quit recording and I really needed to use the bathroom.  The constant monitor alarm combined with a few decels, a full bladder and some little contractions for almost an hour an half made me quite exasperated!!

Finally, my nurse and another nurse she was training arrived.  I told them that I had called 3 times needing them to come check and cut off the alarm.  They were nice but kinda acted like people often call needing ice or towels and so it is hard to know when they are really needed.  Makes me a little nervous if I was really having an emergency!  It was a bit frustrating because I am not one to call unless I need something I cannot do myself.  I have even mastered wrapping up my own IV each day prior to my shower, just so I don't have to call and wait for someone else to do it for me. 

The nurse thought everything looked okay and I asked if the attending could look over the strip.  Of course she said yes.  I also let her know that while I am not an overly anxious person, I am not beyond thinking that something unforeseen could still go wrong and I would rather them be overly cautious than not.  The doctor wanted to put me back on the monitor after lunch.  After lunch things appeared to be much more normal and my contractions definitely slowed down.  I am thankful that things are okay and I am ready to get Eli safely here.

Today actually went really fast.  We had some sweet visitors and due to the fact that it was a long morning it was dinner time before I knew it.  So glad to get to the weekend.  THREE more days!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

3 week Hospital update

Not much going on in hospital land today. I had a slow morning.  It appeared that my next door neighbor was having some major difficulty this morning.  The nurses were obviously very occupied and it was about 10:30am before they finally got me on the monitor.  I am on it each morning for 30 minutes to an hour, so I felt like I'd never be able to take a shower. 

Our associate pastor and his wife, Louise, stopped in to visit me today while they were doing hospital visitation.  It was good to chat with them for a while.  I also had a sweet new friend stop in.  She brought us doughnuts and even offered to paint my toes for me.  I think that was the sweetest thing ever!  They look a lot better!

Kev and the girls arrived and he brought their toenail clippers and we finally got that taken care of.  Kev is still scared to trim their nails so it has always been my job. Eliza wanted her toes painted too and I must say it is hard to paint those tiny little toenails. 

I feel like we are really getting closer to Tuesday!  I will be glad to get there except I am getting really scared.  I am not looking forward to having my stomach cut back open and it having to re-heal.  It hasn't been long enough for me to forget yet.  I am also a little weirded out about being awake while they are cutting me open.  I think I will be claustrophobic lying on that table. It is probably time to stop watching A Baby Story!  The only time I care to watch it is when I am pregnant. 

I am so thankful to be in my final 4 days!  I am not counting Tuesday!  Oh, and the same doctor who delivered our first son, Samuel will also be delivering our last child, Eli.  He is a great doctor and I was glad to learn that he would be here on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

God works for the Good

I have been blessed with so many sweet friends who have stopped in to help me pass time.  I can not tell you how much it has meant to me.  I really think that someone in the hospital for an extended stay without friends and loved ones could very easily become depressed.  I am generally a pretty even keeled person by nature, but some days I really feel like jumping out of my window!!

Today my sweet friend, Toots, (and no that isn't her real name, but rather the one that she is known by everyone by) came to help me pass some time.  Toots is the most creative and craftiest person I know. She brought about 6 bags packed full of scrapbooking and card making supplies.  I had plans for being crafty, but I mostly sat on the bed and chatted while watching the girls have fun!  You can tell by the pictures that they think Mrs. Toots is pretty great too!  The nurse walked in and looked like what in the world is going on in here!  She actually said she thought it was great! 

 Romans 8:28 is one of those verses that I learned as a child.  It was one I memorized and one that I hid deep within my heart.  It is a promise from God that I believe and that I have continued to see play out in my life throughout the years.  Kev and I have see this promise work in a very real way in our lives throughout the past few weeks.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Most of you know that my husband was involved in a major head on collision after leaving the hospital the day after I was admitted.  He was heading home to see the girls, take a shower and to pack some clothes.  By the grace of God he survived and not only survived he didn't break any bones.  The driver in the car who hit him did not make it.  Thankfully, we have since learned that he was a believer.  Kev was seriously banged up!  He was so bruised...I mean I have never seen bruises like that.  His doctor said he had the worst chest contusions she had ever seen.  He has been sore, tired and trying to heal. 

He was taken to the ER at the hospital I was at following the accident and also seen by our family doctor.  His doctor would not clear him to return to work until after she sees him again this Friday.   I can really tell that he is starting to feel better this week and I am so thankful that he has had time to rest and heal.  When he called me moments after getting in this terrible accident, I really was wondering what in the world was going on.  I mean I am waving the white flag of surrender!!!  It has been one thing after another!  I really didn't understand what God was up to or why he was allowing another difficultly in our lives.  I was mostly just thankful that Kev was alive.  When he called me telling me he had been hit and was really hurt, I think I said over and over that I loved him and that I could not do this without him.  I really need him and just for the record...I am so thankful for him. 

So, back to my point.  Kev has not been allowed to work since the day after I was admitted.  It has meant that he has been able to spend lots of hours keeping me company at the hospital.  He has been making daily runs down to the food court for ice cream and such.  He has been able to go and get the girls and bring them to the hospital to spend the day with mommy.  He has been here to help me give them naps here at the hospital and keep them entertained.  We have spent more time together in the past few weeks than we normally would.  He has also had time to make many trips to the chiropractor and doctor.  Thankfully, he is feeling better with each day and should good to go for Eli's arrival day.

Who but God can take the horrible tragedies of this life....the things that make you question His goodness and sovereignty, and work them for our good and our benefit.  Who would have thought that Kev being in an accident would actually work for our benefit in that he would have more time to spend with me...and help me to not lose my mind. As I sit here in my quiet and empty little hospital room tonight, I cannot help but praise my heavenly father for His goodness to us.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

33 Weeks!

We are finally in the one week countdown until Eli's arrival.  Most certainly this will be the last pregnant week of my life and that is a good thing.  If someone could guarantee me a normal and easy know the get pregnancy, you see your doctor normally, you do all the normal pregnancy stuff, and in 38-40 weeks you bring home healthy baby...yea, I'd do that again.  But, seeing that our track record hasn't been so normal, we are worn out....completely!  I think this pregnancy has about done both Kevin and I in.  I feel sure next Tues. I will say that it was absolutely worth it all, but it hasn't been easy.
33 Weeks with Eli

There are many things that I am looking forward to once I am not pregnant.  Of course the biggest thing is just getting to go home for a bit.  I am also desperately ready for a hair trim.  My hair is needing some help in a big way!  It is growing out kinda crazy and could use some big time thinning out.  I also have a gift certificate that Kev gave me for Christmas last year to get a Keratin Hair straightener.  I found out the day after he bought it that I was pregnant so needless to say I have been saving it since December.

Ella gives Eli kisses about 10 times a day.  She is going to be a great big sister to him.
I am also ready to lose these pregnancy pounds.  I know it takes me a while..sometimes a long while, but I am ready to start my way back down.  After each pregnancy it is a huge challenge and I hope I can do it one more time.  Oh, and I can't wait to wear some different clothes.  I have 4 outfits that I packed quickly the morning before my last appt... just in case. I had no clue that they'd be my exclusive selection for the next 4 weeks!  I do have more options at home, but it is often hard for Kevin to find exactly what I am needing. I may burn these when I am done!

I have a few things on the agenda this week to keep me busy.  I have tons of thank you's I need to write.  I also have 3 small canvases' I'd like to paint for Eli's room.  Now is a good time to do things like that since I don't have many other options.  I know once Eli gets here I will be occupied with being at the hospital with him and being at home with our girls.  Oh, and I have plans to paint my toes one last time with this big belly in the way....if I still can. 

Hopefully, next Tuesday evening I will have some cute little Eli pics to post and an update on his delivery day.  I am so glad to be in the final countdown...6 more days to go!

And just for comparison sake...
28 Weeks
33 weeks

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fireworks on the Fourth!

Today was definitely a different fourth for our family!  Our girls spent the day with family and Kev spent the day sitting with me at the hospital.  It was a long day.  Perhaps it was because I knew that it was a holiday and it just wasn't much fun being bound to the hospital or maybe it was because we saved my 30 min. wheelchair ride until 9pm so we could try to watch the fireworks.  Either way it seemed like a lot of time in this room.

A sweet family from our church brought us some delicious ribs, potatoes, corn and and cookies.  It was very sweet and it was so much better than hospital food!!  Kev's parents also stopped by and visited.  Around 9pm Kev and our friend Wes, who works here at the hospital, took me to the 10th floor to watch the fireworks.  We actually had a pretty good view.  I really did miss watching our girl's faces as they watched them.  Next year hopefully we will be in a much better place and able to celebrate the fun of the fourth as a family.

We are almost at one week until Eli arrives.  My c-section is scheduled for next Tues., July 12th at 11:00am.  I am sure we will get pushed back some since we are scheduled for later in the day.  I am getting very nervous about meeting Eli.  I am so ready for some normalcy I could almost scream, and yet I know our lives are about to change forever.  I am scared to watch and see if he can moves his legs or has feeling in his feet.  I am nervous to see if he does in fact have clubbed foot.  That honestly breaks my heart.  You never want anything to be wrong with your baby!  I am scared about what we will learn as the what ifs turn into reality.  I am scared about all that "could" be wrong. Even then so much will be a wait and see!  I am not faithless, but I do know that real struggles are a reality in life.  We would appreciate your continued prayers as we meet this new addition to our family.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Passing the style!

Happy 4th from my little firecrackers!!