Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Wednesday


Darling Lily,




Hi baby girl!! I can't believe this Saturday you will be four weeks old. How is that possible?? The time just flies now that you're here. And yet...it's hard to remember "life before Lily." Seems like we've always known you, and that you've always been a part of our family.




Today we had a woman named Kimberly come to the house to meet you. She is from the Early Intervention program, and she came to tell me what services are offered for you, since you have Downs. She had me sign forms granting access to your medical records, etc. Next week the actual therapist who will be working with you in the days ahead will come to write a plan with us. Of course you are too little for any therapy yet, but in as early as three months we can begin.




You have been waking up a little more each day, and you are still both nursing and taking your bottle. I've learned your cues- when you are not in the mood to nurse there is no point in trying because you just turn your head from side to side and grimace and grunt. But when you are in the mood, you act as if you've never had any trouble nursing at all. Meanwhile, Mama is pumping day and night so you can have milk for your bottles. Lots of work for both of us, but you are worth it. The therapist today was very glad to hear we are breastfeeding, as it is so good for your mouth muscles.




You were 5 pounds 9 ounces at your doctor appointment last Friday. That was good..you had dropped to 5 lbs 2 oz. after you were born, and now you are gaining. More slowly than your siblings did, but that is normal for you. You eat every 2-3 hours and you sleep most of the time. Dr. Carr says you look very healthy. Every time we go in to have your weight checked, all the receptionists and nurses want to see you. Everyone agrees you are the cutest baby ever:)





Daddy and I are more in love with you every day. I seriously do not think we have ever been as "in awe" of how wonderful babies are! We loved all your siblings, but the months that led up to your birth were so filled with "what-ifs" that it made us appreciate the miracle of life all the more.



Your siblings all grow more in love with you each day as well! I thought the newness would have worn off by now, but everyone still asks to hold you all the time. If we had a swing or baby bouncer, it would get no use...nobody wants to put you down! So after 3 and a half weeks of this royal treatment, you have decided you WON'T be put down!:) Any time there is a 2 minute lull between when someone puts you down and the next person picks you up, you squirm and grunt and sometimes let out a loud SQUEAK to let us all know- the princess is not being held!! You refuse to sleep alone either...good thing Mama has a co-sleeper, because you need someone touching you at all times to be able to sleep. You never cry- just squeal a few times to make sure I know it is NOT okay to leave you alone. I am getting a baby sling in a day or two- Mama's friend Jamie ordered a very special one for us, and I can't wait to use it...





Well, precious Lily, I need to go attack the mountain of laundry that we have accumulated in less than 24 hours. I think Early Intervention needs to send a maid for the first three months instead of a therapist. HA! :)




Love always,



Your Mama oxox

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Miracles...



Dearest Lily,


I was looking at the pictures of your birth today, since I am putting together a slide show about you, set to music. I saw this photo, and it just made my heart hurt, it is so precious. It is of your sister, Mackenzie, delivering you. I love how you are looking up at her- everyone in the room said you were just WIDE EYED, looking all around when you were born. That moment is one of the happiest moments of my life. Such relief that you were finally safely in our arms- your big sissy's arms! That last week before you were born was so filled with anxiety...counting kicks, making sure you were moving, listening to your heartbeat at home on our doppler when we weren't sure..fetal stress tests, ultrasounds...all just to make sure you were okay.


I keep thinking about your early arrival. The night before you were born I felt an urgency that you arrive quickly. I remember praying, "Lord, please let Lily be born soon, if she is at all in danger, please let me have her soon." And the next morning I was in full-blown labor! I wonder when we get to Heaven if we will find that your tiny life was hanging in the balance. You were getting so sluggish...and when the doctors determined after you were born that your blood was too thick...well, I just don't know how long you could have gone like that. Knowing that babies with downs AND babies of moms over forty have a higher still-birth rate, makes me all the more thankful for you arriving three weeks early.


I am so thankful too, that all of my older children were present for your birth. Jason, Naomi, Josiah and Mackenzie all helped me so much just by being there. They were so supportive, as Mama was extremely emotional prior to delivering you. I don't know why- maybe because all the months of wondering about you were coming to a climax...and I was emotional knowing you would be my last baby. Having your older siblings there in the room with me meant more than words can say.


How can I ever convey to them how much I love them? I wish I had the words to tell them how being there that morning was the greatest gift they could give me. My children and your daddy mean more to me than anything in the world... I am so, so thankful that God has blessed me so abundantly with so many children. I am a RICH woman, and I wouldn't trade my life for all the money in the world.


One more miracle to share...in October our hospital instituted a new policy for the maternity ward. Because of the H1N1 virus, every mom would be allowed only 2 visitors during her entire stay in the hospital. So only 2 people could accompany her in labor and delivery- and only those 2 people would be allowed to visit her and the baby even after delivery. This included fathers! Every doctor visit I would ask if that policy had been lifted, or if they anticipated it being lifted before you were due. Every time I was told the same thing- the policy remained, and would remain until at least April. Everyone anticipated a new wave of the swine flu in January, so nothing would change until the hospital was sure they were past the peak of the flu season.


The Monday before I had you, Lily, I called the hospital to ask if the ban had been lifted. I had not heard much about the flu on the news, so I just called on a whim. And guess what? THAT DAY the ban had been lifted! So when I went into labor on Saturday, everyone was allowed in the room with me!!


I cannot imagine going through all that we went through alone. It was not even certain if Mackenzie would have been allowed in the room, as she is only 17- the ban had restricted anyone under 18 from being in the maternity section.


I am just so amazed and thankful that the ban was lifted, and that I could be surrounded by the people I love. ..and that you could be welcomed into the world by a crowd of fans, dear Lily!!


Time to get you ready for bed, sweet little girl...


Love always,


Your Mama oxox

Monday, February 1, 2010

Signs


Dearest Lily,

You are 5 pounds 7 ounces today!! Almost back up to your birth weight-praise God! It's amazing to me that a little over a week ago we were in the NICU with you, just praying you would learn to eat on your own. And here you are taking Mama's milk like a pro:)

This morning I was reading the story of Gideon in the Bible...where an angel appeared at the threshing floor, and told Gideon he was going to be used to help deliver Israel out of bondage. Gideon asks the angel to "give him a sign" that God is really going to do what He said. I love this story, because Gideon reminds me of...me. A little insecure, maybe not as trusting of the Lord as he should have been, and on top of all that, asking for "a sign".

Lily, I wish I could tell you that Mama is so full of faith, that I just go through life believing God for everything. I wish I had your daddy's cheerful optimism, and that I was more in league with Peter, walking on the water...but I'm more of a doubting Thomas. I don't ever hear a statistic about something -especially in sermons- without thinking, "I'm going to look that up when I get home!" I would probably make a great "fact checker" during national political debates, because I would always be thinking- is that really true??? So this little...big..cynical side of me, is always wanting "a sign". If I'm praying hard about something, count on it- I'm asking for a sign.

I am a skeptic about so many things, that it is hard for me to hear someone say, "God told me such-and-such" without thinking how do you know it was God?? I mean, wouldn't it be easy to just hear words in your head...and think it was God...but it's really just your own thoughts? See what I mean, Lily? Mama struggles with things like this. And because of that, I think God knows that He has to make things REALLY obvious when He's speaking to me...or I'll just keep second-guessing Him.

Sooo, when I had my first ultrasound with you at 20 weeks- the one where the doctor said he was 90% sure you had an av canal heart defect- I had a little crisis of faith. It wasn't on the way home from the ultrasound. It was when my little crises of faith usually come- at 2 or 3 a.m. I remember waking up and being filled with fear, and wondering if you were going to be alright. A large part of that fear was about Down Syndrome. You had lots of markers for it, and the av canal alone gave you a 70% chance of having it. I got out of bed and went into our dining room with the big picture windows in it. I sat on the floor by the windows, staring out at the moon and stars, crying, and pouring out all my fears to God.

Lily, when I say "fears", I don't mean your average- "I'm afraid I might be disappointed" fears. I'm talking about heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, scared-out-of-my-mind, panicking, sick-to-my-stomach fears. Like someone is pushing an accelerator in my heart, and I can't get away from the feeling of panic. I'm ashamed to say it, Lily, but I was so fearful that you would have Downs, and I felt completely helpless. I remember telling God, "I prayed, Lord- before I got pregnant, I PRAYED for a healthy baby, a baby without Down Syndrome." For one thing, I didn't feel I could handle a baby with special needs, with all that we have on our plate. My children are the biggest blessing of my life- but truthfully, lots of kids means lots of work! And I was just scared of the unknown..I wondered if I would feel differently about a child with Downs...would you even seem like my baby? I know all this sounds terribly selfish - and it is. But that is where my heart was at that night.

I cried for so long, and prayed, and poured out my heart to God. And I stared out at the night sky, and all the beautiful stars, and thought once again- God, You are SO ABLE to give me a sign. You made the universe- all these stars I'm looking at, that are light years away...it is nothing for you to give me a sign, please help me to know if my baby is going to be alright.

And suddenly, I had a verse of scripture come to my mind...it wasn't like I was thinking about the Bible, or trying to apply some verse to my situation. But it was as clear as a bell, "If you ask Me for bread, would I give you a stone?"

I really am not one of these people who walks around hearing the voice of God speaking to me on a regular basis. As I said, I am a cynic by nature. But I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God was speaking to me that night.

And when I thought about those words, I really did not know what they meant. I remember wondering- does that mean since I asked God for a baby without special needs, that He won't give me one?

But don't most people - Christians, anyway- pray for healthy babies? And yet sometimes Christians do have babies born with disabilities.

I prayed and asked God to give me wisdom, and to trust Him...and I started to really think about that promise from God. If you ask Me for bread, would I give you a stone?

And you know what came to my mind?

You are not a stone.

My dear, sweet, beautiful, prayed for, sent-from-Heaven baby- you are not a stone.

Maybe in my mind, children with Downs were stones. They were a burden, they were not as lovely, they were something to be a little fearful of, they were not "bread". Otherwise why would I pray for a child without Downs?

I can't say that those words that night wiped away every fear I had about you being born with special needs. Even since I've had you, I've had moments of grief. But it was a reference point for me in the days ahead. Every time that ugly fear began to creep in again, and I felt that wave of panic threaten to engulf me...I would bring my mind back to those words...If you ask Me for bread, would I give you a stone? And the anxiety and fear would give way to the assurance from God, that you are not a stone.

God gives GOOD gifts to His children, and my requests for a healthy child did not slip past Him. He heard my prayers, and He gave me you, dear Lily. That gives me great confidence that He believes you are bread, you are good for me, you are a blessing, you are a wonderful, perfect GIFT from God.

Every day with you has proven that to me. I texted my sweet friend Janet recently and said that every day is like Christmas, waking up with you in my life. I look into your beautiful eyes, and my heart just melts. Daddy and I just cannot wait to see who you will become. I am so looking forward to seeing you grow, and watching you reach all your milestones, and teaching you, and seeing all that you will learn, and all that you will teach us. I feel so, so blessed to be your Mama, and I am SO very thankful that God entrusted me with you.

Well, those are my "true confessions" for the day, sweet Lily :)

I started this off by telling you about Gideon. What I read today helped me so much. Because I am ashamed that after 24 years of being a Christian, I still ask God for "signs" all the time. Yet here was Gideon- asking the angel of the Lord to give him a sign that God would really use him. And God didn't say "Forget it, you skeptic! You had your chance to believe, but since you're only going to trust me if I give you a sign, I'm moving on to someone else!" Instead, He gave him the sign he asked for, and spoke to him, and used him. That gives me hope that God still loves me, in spite of my moments of fear and doubt. He's going to help me through, He is a loving, gracious Father, and He has compassion for this little doubting Mommy.

I am closing for now, but I just want you to know- I will spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love and treasure you, and how thankful I am that God gave me YOU.

All my love forever,

Your Mama oxox