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Monday, July 4, 2011

A Ray of Sunshine

So many times over the last 5 1/2 weeks, I've remarked that Ava's journey has been a strange kind of deja vu. So many moments have felt exactly like the hard things we faced during Elizabeth's ICU stay, and yet the difference has been, Ava is perfectly healthy...just small. So while I have felt the same sorrow over leaving her alone at the hospital each day, this time around, my little one is not in pain. And I don't have the same gut level fear of what lies ahead for her...both because she doesn't have a scary diagnosis and because I've seen what our God has brought us through already, and it feels like we're miles ahead of where we started from last time around.

Back when Elizabeth was in the throws of complications and seemingly endless bumps in the road, we mused that it sure would be nice if for once, Elizabeth could avoid a complication, and we could give God the glory for his protection and favor. To be perfectly honest, sometimes we still feel that way regarding our sweet E-joy. And now we've found ourselves precisely in that position with Ava.

So far Ava has avoided EVERY health complication known to preemies. Every. Single. One. She'll be 6 weeks old tomorrow (she would have been 34 weeks gestation on Thursday). She's up to 4 lbs. 1 oz., eating an ounce at every feed, starting to hold her body temperature more reliably and keeping all of her "sats" stable! There really isn't anything on which she could improve. Every day on rounds they refer to her as "the perfect baby" and when I came in to see Ava on Wednesday, her nurse said, "You know your daughter is a ray of sunshine, don't you???" I do.

What a difference. What a miracle. What a kind and merciful God we have.

So we are living in that tension. It's super complicated to have a baby in the NICU, but it would be so much more difficult if Ava weren't doing so well. I don't love pumping, but it's pretty darn efficient, and I have every reason to believe Ava will nurse someday...and it'll probably be sooner than later since she's already demonstrating her readiness! We're pretty darn tired, but what parent of four kids isn't tired?!

The same song we sang in the dessert, we sing from the mountaintops...God is faithful. He is daily providing for us and showing us favor...all for His glory.

At the same time, the rest of the family is doing pretty day at a time.

Hannah Mae is finally really walking, she's still super easy going and if anything is wrong, (teething, tummy ache, just feeling off) she still let's us know by simply throwing up. Silly girl. She has been so flexible trough this roller coaster of multiple caregivers. I know she misses me and I feel guilty about missing out on so much of her life while on bed rest and now at the hospital...there is no way around it since she's too young to be allowed up in the NICU and we pray regularly that God will protect her heart when she doesn't understand my absence.

Ruby's growing up, asking a zillion questions a day (where are my lungs? What's a uvula? And two days ago to our babysitter: "I'm bored, and I don't even know what bored is!") when I take the time to incorporate her she's quite helpful and responsible and already demonstrates such a sensitive and protective heart toward her sisters. I'm so thankful for her. She is the one who bursts into tears every time I leave and needs lots of snuggles, hugs and kisses before and after the transition. Pray for discernment for us as we parent her sensitive heart. She's so bright and mature, I often forget she's only three and sometimes just needs her mama.

Elizabeth is doing well health-wise, but her behavior continues to reflect the chaos of this season. She spends most of her time in her own world and need real wisdom to know how to best structure her days so we can better engage her and she has better rhythms and routines...even while things change day to day. When she's not having difficulties, She is mostly cheerful and affectionate and is pretty calm about my departure every day. She's clearly had the most "coping practice" and I'm sad to have to draw on that experience, but grateful she's so understanding. She's reading lots of words now and continues to amaze us with her sharp memory.

Matt and I are doing as well as possible under the circumstances. We enjoyed a wonderful visit from the Harms family a few weeks ago and though we were torn about where to be when, we were so thankful for some special family moments and that Grandma & Grandpa and all the aunties and uncles got to meet Ava for the first time. Now we're back on our own and juggling family life, work and the NICU and managing to see one another quite a bit, even if it's mostly in transition times when one of us is coming or going. We spent some good days as a family this weekend and I've spent evenings with Ava. Aside from feeling guilty for enjoying life while Ava isn't with us, it's been nice to have moments of normal these past few days.

Thanks to some amazingly generous friends, we've been able to hire folks to help us keep all the balls in the air so I can be in the NICU and Matt can work. Thanks so much for all your emails, calls, texts and practical packages, activities for the girls, gift cards & meals. I've said a million times we wouldn't be surviving without our strong base of support.

I'm snuggling with the little bean now, so I'm going to go focus...she's kinda like a happy drug. :)

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