Monday, February 26, 2007

Our Monday

I wanted to provide a little update on Bella. Her breathing continues to be faster than is normal, but she seems to be fine with that. She sleeps well, eats well, poops, etc...all the things a newborn is supposed to do. And, she's so stinkin' beautiful while doing it all, except maybe the pooping part. :)

Our pediatrician called today after consulting with the pulminologist who wants Bella to have a Barrium (sp?) swallow. The boys both had this test done, and it is not fun at all. There is a pediatric radiologist in Harford County who hopefully is comfortable and experienced doing this test on such a little baby. If not, we'll have to go to the city, to the Univ. of MD hospital in order to have it done. This test, apparently will show things that the other tests Bella's had done did not show. What they're looking for exactly, I don't know. But, the pulminologist expressed to our pediatrician that she doesn't want to put Bella through anything more invasive than necessary. Since we've dealt with this specialist before, I feel pretty comfortable with her recommendations even though it is exhausting me mentally just thinking about all the dr.'s appointments coming up.

Today, I had to take Bella for her hearing assessment since it wasn't given to her while she was in the hospital. We ended up waiting for 45 minutes only to be seen and told after another 40 minutes that the testing instruments they had in their office were not going to work on Bella. The first testing instrument the Dr. used requires the baby to be quiet. When you meet Bella, you will realize it's impossible for her to be quiet as her tracheomalacia causes her to have rather noisy breathing. The second instrument the Dr. tried to use on Bella was picking up to much 'static' (my own word, not the technical word) to get a reading. The one instrument that may work for Bella was not in the office today. So, we were given the choice to come back another day when that would be available. I am not terribly thrilled about having to make another appointment, and may try to find a way to put this assessment off as long as I can.

We are not scheduled for another dr's appointment this week, but may end up having to squeeze one in if the Barrium swallow is something that needs to be done promptly. Bella continues to take her Zantac well, and I give thanks each time remembering how awful it was with the boys.

I am still trying to recover from delivery, but feel better with each day as long as I pace myself and try not to do too much. With that, I'm heading off to bed.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our Pets' Heads Are Falling Off

No, we do not have pets, and their heads are not falling off.
This is a phrase we have adopted into our language here at home from the movie, "Dumb and Dumber". We say it when it seems one unpreferable thing happens after another. It can be as silly as getting behind a slow car when we're already running late and we've forgotten something we needed at home. Or, it can be as serious as what we're going through now. My husband is always the one who says it, and typically it can put a smile on my face.

Today was one of those days. It started last night. I began to grow increasingly concerned with the rate of Bella's respirations. We counted, waited, counted again, burped her, fed her, counted again, let her sleep, counted, and finally called the pediatrician. We belabored the decision to call because in the past with the boys, typically those calls also accompany a trip the ER in the middle of the night. And, of course, we did not want to unecessarily take our baby girl,who we just got home days ago, back to the hospital.

Thankfully, we did not have to go to the ER, but her respirations remained rapid into this morning. We called our pediatrician again who happened to be having Saturday hours. We were surprised and gave thanks to God for this provision, making a trip to the hospital much less likely. I took Bella in to see the head of the practice we go to, and he took our observations very seriously. He spent a lot of time with us and was very patient, having to wait so that I could nurse Bella (she wouldn't take a bottle) and change her diaper so that she would calm down enough for him to get a good listen of her lungs.

He said her lungs sounded good. Thank you, Lord! But, he was nevertheless concerned about her respiration rate. He suspects she may be what he refers to as a "closet refluxer" since I haven't noticed the typical signs of reflux yet. He put her on Zantac and said that if she didn't improve by early next week, we would need to see the Pulmonologist a.s.a.p. He told me to watch for signs of infection as well: fever, not eating well, goobly gop coming out of her nose or throat, etc. If it turns out to be a cold or something along those lines, he said she'd have to be hospitalized again.

So, I left with prescription in hand, very overwhelmed by this turn of events. We had been down this road with the boys, and they did not do well with the Zantac at all. It's a medicine the baby is to receive a half hour before she eats. I remember this being a difficult way to administer with the boys as they would want to eat as soon as they woke up from their sleep. I could never let the medicine sit in their system for a half hour, let alone 10 minutes because they were so eager to eat. So, I'd feed them and they'd throw everything up. I feared going through the same routine with Bella.

And, admittedly I was faithless for how I would make time to give Bella this medicine three times a day, have her wait to eat and then, potentially be cleaning up throw up to boot. I was pretty discouraged as I headed to the Pharmacy. And, I remained so for most of the afternoon.
I got home with Bella just in time for Lawrence to head off to the office to put in some much needed time there and was left having to get the boys down for a nap and give Bella her first dose of the Zantac.

She did much better than I expected with the Zantac and even went back to sleep for a half hour! She nursed and did well. Her breathing seemed to be improved today, but tonight is up again. She took her 2nd dose of Zantac well, too, and I am grateful that it seems it will work for her.

Lawrence and I will be waiting and watching over the next couple days. Our pediatrician called tonight to see how she was doing and will check in with us again tomorrow. He even gave us his cell phone number so that we could get right in touch with him should anything change with her status. We see this as God's kindness to us and are grateful our baby is receiving such good care!

Please pray that Bella will continue to take the Zantac well, and that it will help improve her respirations to a more normal pace. Please pray that we will continue to be anxious for nothing. With sleep deprivation, this is becoming increasingly more difficult. Please pray that God will renew our strength with each day and throughout our days. They feel long and hard right now, but we have seen God be faithful to us through times like this time and time again.

We know that each morning brings new mercies. And, we know that we can approach the throne of grace to find mercy and help in our time of need. We know God will provide for our every need according to His riches in Christ. We do believe these things; we're just really tired and face the temptation to grow weary rather easily in the last couple days.

Thanks for your continued prayers. We will be sure to let you know how things go for Bella over the next couple days.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Our First Outing

I did it...but barely and with help.
I ventured out of the house with all three of the kiddos. Granted, it was only to the pediatrician, and it was necessary for me to take all three of them with me, but I did it. My mom was here to help, and good thing because I'm sure at 9 p.m. tonight (as I am writing this), I would still be trying to get out of the house. I will take any advice from any of you who have or had three or more under three on how to get them all out of the house on time for appointments.

We met our new pediatrician today, Dr. Hartwig. She interacted great with the boys. They loved being able to touch all her instruments. Everything seems to be going well with Bella. She's back up to her birth weight minus an ounce, which I think is rather impressive given she didn't eat the first four days of her life! She hasn't shown any signs of reflux yet which is such a blessing. She seems fine in every other regard and is proving to be quite a good baby. She and I are on track with the nursing (thank you, Lord); I feel more regulated with my supply than I ever got in the six months I nursed the boys. I have to guard my heart and watch my thoughts as I can be tempted to wonder when everything is going to start going poorly, as it did with the boys. Instead, I want to be able to receive this blessing from the Lord and not have expectations or demands for tomorrow.

Judah was also examined today for his growth. He jumped up on his weight curve but sank on his height curve, the opposite from just a month ago. Because we're dealing with a new pediatrician who is unfamiliar both with Judah's personal history and with Sturge Weber Syndrome, this may take some time for her to figure out how she wants to advise us. For now, she will contact Judah's neurologist to consult with her about what might be called for as far as follow up with this growth issue.

We'd appreciate your continued prayers for Judah's growth. The pediatrician didn't feel it was an urgent matter that needed immediate attention, and I'm grateful for that. From the last two weeks in March until the end of April, we will be averaging 1-2 dr's appointments a week.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers for our family. It is a time of transition for sure, and we feel the stress of our season daily. Lawrence is beginning to get what we have learned is a "stress" cold; we are both tired and feel stretched to our limits. But, we are also both aware of how much God is sustaining us, our kids and providing for all our needs. We know we are abundantly blessed with constant offers for help of all kinds.

If you have called in the last couple days and I haven't gotten your call or called you back, please know we appreciate your call, your persistance in expressing your care for us and your understanding when we don't get back to you promptly. The boys are requiring a lot of my attention in regards to discipline, and I am trying to rest as much as possible during the day, too, making phone calls difficult to get to. Soon enough, I imagine, we will figure this all out and have a bit more of a routine. But, for now, it's about daily survival.

And, to survive tomorrow, I must now go to bed. :)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bella is Home!!

I'm sorry I haven't been able to give the "play by play" over the last 2 days and have left some of you hanging. Thank you to my good friend, Laurie, who has been a bit more on top of providing updates for some of you. For those of you who have not yet heard, we did bring Bella home tonight. The blood in her spit up the other night was most likely due to the trama from the bronchoscopy and other tubing threaded down her throat over the course of time she spent in the hospital. It took her a while, but she eventually began to eat sufficient amounts to satisfy the doctors, and they decided to discharge her today.

We will need to take her for some follow up visits with our pediatrician and the ENT docs just to make sure the tracheomalacia is improving as is expected with time. She is expected to have reflux, a condition that seems to go hand in hand with the tracheomalacia, but we are going to pray and ask God to spare us all of that. The boys did have it and were treated medicinally until they were about 9 months old. It does make for very messy eating, clothing and carpets, but we'll do what we have to do in order to get the girl fed.

Please pray for wisdom, patience and much grace re: breastfeeding Bella. I had a nightmare experience with the boys, and I'm hoping not to repeat that with Bella. I want to be able to throw my anxieties on the Lord and look to Him in faith that He will supply all that I need to both serve Bella and help her fit into the dynamics of our family.

With Hopkins NICU behind us, I get to now rely on the Lord for strength and grace for the more "normal" transitions to mothering a newborn, which at times can test me even more sorely than the "big" stuff. Thank you for all the prayers you've prayed on behalf of me and my family. We are most definitely experiencing God's grace through them. We will continue to need your prayers as Lawrence goes back to a very demanding work schedule and I figure out how to do life all over again with three kiddos under three.

I will try to post some new pictures of my beautiful baby girl soon!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Emotional Roller Coaster

I was all over the map emotionally today as was Bella's condition.
We made it into the hospital today around 2, walked into the NICU to see Bella laying in her bed without the CPAP and very contented. Her nurse approached us and told me I could breastfeed her whenever I was ready. We were in disbelief. In fact, I was sure the nurse had the wrong baby or the wrong parents. After questioning her, she informed us that indeed the doctor wanted Bella to try to eat on her own and that I could nurse her. I was thrilled!!

The doctor came in to see us just before I set up to nurse in order to explain the change of course. She showed us Bella's x-rays and talked with us about the bronchoscopy (endoscopy) that was performed earlier today, which was done right at her bedside without any anesthesia!!! The bronchoscopy showed that Bella does indeed have the Tracheomalatia (sp?) which is what the boys and I were all born with as well. It's a flap in one's airway that is "floppy" and can cause noisy breathing known as strider as well as eating/breathing difficulty.

There was one other very rare syndrome the doctor wanted to rule out, the spelling and explanation of which I am not even going to attempt at this late hour. The first step in doing that was to feed Bella and see how she handled the food. So, on that note, I went back into Bella to feed her. She did rather well for not having nursed thus far. Lawrence and I and her nurse were all very encouraged by what we saw.

However, later in the evening when we came back from dinner, we sat down again to feed her, this time from a bottle so that the volume could be measured. Bella had one other feeding in between this one and me nursing her but it was very little volume. Because she handled it well, though (meaning she did not choke on the food), the nurse was able to take her IV out which was supplying fluids. Lawrence and I sat down and took turns feeding her, trying to get into her the volume that was needed to show true progress. She was taking a long time, but got really close to finishing the bottle and then threw up a good bit. The spitting up was not alarming, but the blood that came with it was. It was scant, but nevertheless present and this was discouraging. After the doctor was informed, it was decided Bella would have to go back on the IV for the night and have no more feedings until they could figure out why she threw up the blood. The nurse suspects that it could be irritation in her throat from the bronchoscopy earlier today along with several other tubes that have been threaded down her throat. But, the doctor ordered an x-ray of her stomach to check if there's anything concerning there along with some more bloodwork.

SO, Lawrence and I anxiously waited outside the NICU while they stuck my poor baby again for the IV and bloodwork. It took an eternity, but they eventually found a vein that wasn't blown. When we came back in, the nurse who put the IV in mentioned something about her veins being blown from so many lines having gone in the past several days and that if she had to find another spot for an IV, she may have to shave her hair to place one in her head! NOT really the most sensitive thing to say, but we're trying to get used to the fact that some medical staff have just been in that environment way too long and have forgotten what it must be like to be on the other side of their care. (No offense to the good ones out there...because there are many good nurses and doctors, and we have been well cared for by these amazing people!)

We left tonight realizing how much we need to continue to throw ourselves upon God's mercy no matter what news we hear. We are both very tired tonight and our emotions have not always served us well today. But, we are continuing to pray and wait on the Lord, seeking to cooperate with His plan and His timing for all of us in this. Please pray for grace to persevere and flexibility as we bend with whatever twists and turns God throws our way.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Update on Bella

Since her move to Hopkins, Bella seems to be resting a lot more comfortably, at least the two times we've been able to see her. She did need to have the CPAP (Continual Positive Air Pressure) placed again in order to keep her respirations normal, but we are just grateful that she is able to rest and not have to labor so hard to breathe.

She still has not been able to receive food nourishment via IV and is scheduled to have a bronchoscopy (a scope placed down her throat to check things out there) tomorrow sometime. The boys both had this procedure done when they were 4 1/2 months old. It was very hard to see them go through this, and it is proving to be as difficult if not moreso to think about putting my brand new baby girl through this, too.

She will be put under anasthesia and intubated for the procedure. She may come out of the procedure with a ventilator still in place if she needs it. This news hit me a bit hard tonight along with the clarification of what our expectations should be re: her stay in the NICU. After speaking with Bella's nurse tonight, she led us to believe Bella could be in the NICU for at least another week if not longer.

If you want more of the medical side of things, let me know and I'll try to explain what I know. Otherwise, here are the ways you can be praying for our family:

  • Bella will fare well with anasthesia and no complications will arise before, during or after the bronchoscopy.
  • the bronchoscopy will prove helpful in diagnosing and treating Bella for her respiratory distress, taking us one step closer to bringing her home.
  • continued strength for Lawrence and me to respond to all the competing demands and needs of our family right now.
  • continued restoration of health for me (I am still healing from my delivery with Bella as well as trying to fight either a cold or allergies/sinus stuffiness).
  • Pumping my milk for Bella will continue to go well and my supply will be regulated soon.
  • the boys will continue to receive much grace to remain flexible during this time of upset in their schedule, absense of mommy and daddy and being passed around from one sitter/play buddy to another.

We have been experiencing God's grace and mercy in abundance, and God willing, I will get an opportunity soon to post some of the specific ways this has been true. Your prayers are in no small measure playing a major role in the way Lawrence and I and the boys have been able to respond to this trial in a way that glorifies God. Thank you so much and please keep praying!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Longing Fulfilled

Our longing to see our baby has been fulfilled!!
SHE was born Monday, February 12 at 12:23 p.m. after a long but highly satisfying labor and delivery. Her name is Isabela Claire Almengor, and she weighed 8 lbs. 5 oz. at birth, and is 20 inches long. She has a full head of black hair and is absolutely beautiful. We can't wait to show her off.

I know this is so strange to some, but I longed for a natural/vaginal birth with Bella. I desired this for my labor/delivery with the boys as well, but God had other plans, and they were for my ultimate good. It was the Lord's kindness to allow me to have the labor and delivery that I desired this time. Not that labor is desirable really, but it was such an amazing experience that I have already and will continue to draw upon for other difficult trials and temptations life brings my way.

I saw the first signs of labor Sunday morning before church, but having been induced with the boys was uncertain whether I was really beginning the labor process or not. After confirming with a couple of the girlfriends and my mom, I was sure that the baby would most likely be arriving some time this past week. As Lawrence and I settled down for the night around 10 p.m., it quickly became obvious I would not be settling down for the night as contractions heightened, and I became a bit consumed and even anxious at times about going through labor and delivery. Around 2 a.m., we called our dear friend and labor coach, Karen Coleman, to come and help me labor at home. By 3 a.m., I was convinced I needed to go to the hospital. It was 5 a.m. by the time we arrived there.

I was convinced that I did not want to continue without the help of some pain medication, but my coach, who knows me well, kept giving me opportunities and motivation to put it off for just one more contraction. One contraction at a time took me to 10 a.m. when I was checked for the first time. I had made it to 8 cm and was thrilled to be that far. Within a half hour, I began to feel the urge to push even though I was completely dilated. My midwife and nurse were amazing, encouraging me to cooperate with what my body was telling me to do yet not push too hard as I needed a little bit more dilation yet.

I pushed for close to two hours, but it only took one push, the last one, to see Bella fully emerge into our world...head and body all at once!! She was plopped onto my belly, and I couldn't believe I had gotten her out in one push after all that time trying. As a result, however, Bella most likely swallowed some of the amniotic fluid that came behind her in that rush out of my body. Soon after delivery, it was determined by the nurses and pediatrician assessing her that she was experiencing respiratory distress. After a brief time holding her, she was whisked away to the nursery where she has been ever since.

My good friend, Laurie, offered to post some pictures and details about Bella's situation on her blog since I was having a difficult time getting to updating my blog. Please click on her name to go to her blog for further details and pictures of my beautiful baby girl.

I have been able to hold Bella only once and have not been able to nurse her at all yet. It is for her best that I not nurse her right now as that would most likely exasperate her already very difficult breathing. Lawrence and I are soon heading out to the hospital to see her and get some update on her condition. I will try to post updates on our little girl as often as I can as we are very desirious to receive your prayers on her behalf.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Straightened Out

Since the last post, God, in a most gracious way, brought heartfelt conviction over my complaining and impatient, irritable spirit regarding the "delayed" arrival of Baby Almengor #3. He reminded me that it is a privilege and a gift from Him that I am even able to bear children and then, also to carry them to term (and past if necessary). He reminded me that His timing is perfect timing, and when I complain about going past my due date, I am really being foolish, thinking that I know better than Him regarding what's best for me and my family.

I read this excerpt from a book we have entitled "On This Day" by Robert J. Morgan. It is a book of 365 stories about saints, martyrs, and heroes, one story for each day of the calendar year. This was the story on Feb. 8th, my "official" due date:

Squalls and Stalls
Just when the apostle Paul intended a Spain-ward thrust of the gospel to evangelize Western Europe, he was detained in Jerusalem, then imprisoned two years in Caesarea. Finally appealing to the imperial court, he was hustled aboard ship for Rome. But a typhoon besieged the vessel; it sunk and Paul swam ashore--only to be bitten by a viper. Thus he found himself stranded on the island of Malta for three months.

But careful readers of Acts 27 and 28 are always impressed with Paul's self-possession. He kept his head above water even when his ship was going down. He knew how to remain even-tempered, though all the elements of frustration were at hand. Paul's missionary dreams were thwarted. He was imprisoned when he craved freedom and forced into inactivity when he desired action. He was eager to reach Rome, but the winds blew against him. He was a man of progress, making no headway. Wanting to redeem the time, he was beached on an obscure island.

He was stalled.

In due time the sea lanes reopened for the spring, and on February 8, 60, Paul boarded ship for the remainder of the trip to Rome. As for being frustrated, there's no sign of it. Paul's life and ministry were so entrusted to the Lord that he took everything that befell him, both squalls and stalls, as from God. Experience had taught him to trust in the Lord's providence and to lean on the Lord's promises. During the height of the earlier tempests, he had summarized his philosophy for the terrified sailors: "I belong to God, and I worship him...Cheer up ! I am sure that God will do exactly what he proimsed" (Acts 27:23-25).

It was not in due time--but in divine time--that Paul reached Rome. His nerves held steady in the storm. His spirit remained patient in delay.
He knew how to wait on his God.

And so is my prayer..that I would learn to hold steady in the storm, remain patient in delay and learn how to wait upon an all-wise, gracious God whose timing is always perfect.

Thank you all, as always, for your gracious, encouraging words and even moreso, your prayers on our behalf!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Change the Date

I learned at last night's OB appointment that the due date they have for me is not until tomorrow, Feb. 8th. So, here's the new ticker:
Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

While that might seem like it should help my psyche in this waiting game, it hasn't. In fact, last night's appointment particularly discouraged me as the baby's head is not close to being engaged, nor is my cervix doing squat. Now, logically, I know all that can change in a very short amount of time. But, today I'm not wanting to be all that logical. I'm a bit tired of wrestling with my emotions over the arrival of this little one and all the factors that play into that. I would like to forget I'm pregnant for a little while, but that's a bit difficult to do with my daily increasing weight and waist line.

My midwife's best suggestion was to try to forget about the due date and immerse myself in some activity. The one I would like to immerse myself in today is self pity. Not to sound too boastful, but I'm pretty good at this activity.

There's a beautiful coat of snow on the ground this morning, but we will most likely opt to stay inside. The boys can really have a hard time with asthma, and I'm fearful of the cold air precipitating an attack. Plus, the last time we had to walk outside on snow, Judah freaked out for some reason, not liking the feel of it beneath his feet. (Sometimes my geniuses are also a bit odd, but I guess geniuses are known to be odd, aren't they?) :)

That leaves us rather cooped up for several days now. You all know how cabin fever can really mess with one's mind, let alone one who is 9 months pregnant. Have I won the award for today's biggest whiner yet?

Feel no need to encourage me with your words, but your prayers would be much appreciated. I'm not even going to ask for you to pray that the baby comes any day in particular. I'm hanging up those prayers. I just would like to get through the day without complaining my way through it. I know I need a change of perspective and a change of attitude. I'm trusting God to be faithful once again.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Just Catching You Up

The boys amaze me with what might seem the simplest things. Perhaps, it's because they're my children or perhaps it's because I'm easily amazed. Who knows?! But, this morning, Judah was looking through some of his puzzle alphabet letters and came across the "Y". He said, "Y for Yuck" twice before I realized what he was saying. What a smart, little buddy!

Here's the ticker for the baby's arrival:

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

As you can see, I'm "overdue", whatever that means. Of course, it means a whole lot when you are the one who's overdue. It's so easy to say the due date is relative and not exact until you become the one who is past that nebulous due date!! I am having to confess everyday that goes by my lack of patience and my struggle to lean on my own understanding. And, I am having to reaffirm everyday that goes by my dependence and ultimate trust in God's perfect timing and wisdom for both how and when this baby will emerge into our world.

I have an OB appointment tomorrow evening and will post if there's anything post-worthy. Otherwise, just assume that we're still at home waiting, trying to get and maintain an orderly, clean home and continuing to make plans for bringing this baby home with us.

Still to be done:
  • strap infant seat into van.
  • pack a bag for baby and me for our time in the hospital.
  • buy italian ices for the potential of laboring at home.

In our human wisdom, Lawrence and I would say this week, preferably the earlier part of this week, would be best for the baby to come in regards to his work schedule. This week, Lawrence is in the office either tying up loose ends of jobs he's almost finished or preparing for jobs he has yet to begin audits for. From next week until the end of March, he is scheduled to be out in the field on actual engagments which means much less flexibility for him in terms of taking off time for the baby. So, we would pray that the baby would come this week: like today or tomorrow would be GREAT!