Monday, March 19, 2007

Sustaining Grace

Here's a quote I've heard many times and have written down on a little piece of paper, occasionally placing it on my counter or kitchen cabinets to remind me just what sustaining grace is and looks like in the midst of trying circumstances. Perhaps it will encourage your heart today, too.

"Sustaining Grace:
Not grace to bar what is not bliss
Nor banish all sorrow, but this:
Grace that orders all our pain
Then in the dark is there to sustain."
John Piper

Many times I wish God's grace would bar what is not bliss and banish all my sorrow, but I am grateful that while this is not true, He does provide the reassurance that all our pain is ordained by His loving Hand and will not remain any longer than He, in His perfect wisdom, determines is best. Admittedly, I have faltered in my faith and trust of God's loving hand in the past week. I have grown weary and at times, dropped my shield of faith and the flaming arrows of the Enemy have pierced my faint heart. Nevertheless, God remains faithful and is amazingly patient with me, consistently providing aid and restoring me when I have fallen. Thank you, Lord.

Bella has improved somewhat with her reflux, but not to the place that I would prefer. Feeding can still be a bit of a challenge with her gagging and arching and still just not eating as much as I think she should be eating. But, after borrowing a friend's baby scale, I saw that Bella seems to be gaining the weight she should be at this stage of her life. So, I'm giving thanks and trying not to worry too much about how little I think she eats.

This week I am taking the boys to their dentist appointment with the help of my Mother-in-law. I have not yet figured out, nor want to try to figure it out at this point, how to handle three children under three at a doctor's appointment. So, I'm grateful my mother-in-law is available to help. I am concerned about Judah's teeth. There is some staining on his teeth that I'm unsure what it is or why it's there. Tucker has no staining and the two of them are on the same medicines, eat the same food, keep the same dental hygeine. So, I'm eager to hear what the dentist has to say about this. Also, the dentist will be assessing again any potential drastic discrepancy in Judah's jaw bone growth as the one side of his face swells up and seems to grow at a faster rate than the other.

Please pray that:
  • Judah's teeth staining will be a non-issue, and we'll be able to simply get them scraped or something like that to remove the stains.
  • Judah's right jaw bone will not have grown disproportionately to his left.
  • Bella's reflux will improve even more on her prescribed medicines and that she will begin to eat better.
  • God would help me guard my heart against unbelief in His goodness
  • Our family would know God's sustaining grace in an experiential way as we continue to make this transition to having three kiddos.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

God's Many Mercies

Bella had some tests done at the Univ. of MD hospital yesterday: a sleep study and an Upper GI/Airway Fluoroscopy. The sleep study entailed many electrodes, 2 belts hooked around her chest and abdomen, and gauze wrapped around her head. We nursed (or tried to) while hooked up to all that, and she was supposed to sleep and be awake for a little bit, too. She did all of this for the technicians, and they were able to make some definitive observations.

Mostly what came of that was a clear indication that Bella has some really bad acid reflux. The two women who administered the test said that it was some of the most significant demonstrations of reflux they had ever seen: lots of arching, gulping, gagging, and very irritable. Even as an "experienced" mom, I did not necessarily see all the signs pointing to reflux. I was noting over the last couple days that she wasn't eating as consistently or very much at a feeding, but I never thought it could be a result of the pain and discomfort she was experiencing from reflux. It didn't occur to me because the way reflux showed up in the boys was through lots of spit up, vomiting, etc. Bella wasn't really spitting up all that much.

Because Bella's reflux is so bad, she was put on another reflux medicine to work in conjunction with the Zantac she's already taking. The doctor told me to watch for signs of dehydration over the next day or several days in case she decides to stop eating because she's in so much pain, and the new medicines may take a couple days to have an impact on her. Last night's feeding was very difficult; it took over an hour to get a 4 oz. bottle down her, and that while gagging, gulping, arching, and just generally not interested in eating. Lawrence and I prayed (several times), and the subsequent feedings have gone much better. I wondered if a bottle might be easier for her to take rather than dealing with my fast let down, but she's actually done better with me *reastfeeding her.

Even with this additional challenge, we have experienced much of God's mercy in the last 24 hours:
  • Bella did relatively well with the testing yesterday.
  • She does not have a rare defect called a vascular ring, something they were looking for in their testing yesterday that would have required surgery.
  • She does have both tracheomalacia and laryngomalacia (if you want to know the difference between the two, let me know and I'll gladly share)...both defects within her airway that she will, God willing, grow out of. Despite the "double whammy", she is protecting her airway sufficiently and her oxygen levels are fine per the testing yesterday. This in itself is an amazing display to me of Ps. 139:14 and God's power to sustain.
  • The Pharmacist was able to make the medicine Bella needed as it comes in tablet form and at an adult dose. Upon first calling in the prescription, the pharmacist was unsure whether or not she'd be able to get it made for us last night. She was, and we see God's mercy in this.
  • Bella began to nurse better this morning and is having wet diapers again. Thank you, Lord!

Please continue to pray for us as Lawrence's work is piled high which means long days for both of us, Judah started with a cold last night and was up ??? times (I lost count) throughout the night, and Bella needs to keep eating well. Please pray her reflux will be well managed with the medicines she's on and that her yeast infection in her mouth will go away. Please pray that God will continue to show us His many mercies and keep us from falling prey to anxiety and mistrust of His goodness.

Thanks so much.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Not What We Expected

We took Bella to the pulmonologist today who is the same doctor the boys saw when they were babies. I expected that, given our history with the boys, the doctor would comfortably be able to diagnose Bella with the same thing, perhaps have to do the Barium swallow, perhaps not, give Bella a couple months and trust that she'd grow out of the tracheomalacia. It seemed the doctor was leaning that way at the beginning of the appointment, even giving us a couple months before we had to schedule the barium swallow.

However, as the appointment went on and the doctor continued to hear Bella breathe, counted her breaths, and noted some other observations we've made at home, Dr. Blaisedell felt it would be a good idea to have Bella undergo a sleep study as well as the barium swallow a.s.a.p. In fact, once we agreed to this course of action, she hopped on the phone and made arrangements for Bella to have these things done at the University of MD hospital on Monday!

And, as a "no charge" assessment, the doctor also noted that Bella looked like she had a yeast infection in her mouth. So, on the way home, I called the pediatrician and was able to get presciptions called in for both Bella and me to try to take care of the yeast. I had a chronic yeast infection while breastfeeding the boys, a chronic yeast infection while pregnant with Bella, both times it being very resistant to treatment. So, I am tempted to be anxious about this, but am seeking to continually cast my cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for me and for Bella.

Lawrence and I are feeling a little "hammered" right now. Circumstances are ripe for mistrusting God's goodness, tension between Lawrence and me, short tempers and inconsistent discipline with the boys, self absorption, self pity, grumbling, and the list could go on. But, as I read from Morning and Evening today, "good people must never expect to escape troubles...".

I also read this in that same devotional and am seeking to find hope and comfort in its truth:

"It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King's vessels of honor are distinguished. But although hardship is thus the path of God's children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach "the kingdom", it will more than make amends for the "many hardships" through which they passed to enter it."

Please pray that:
  • God will continue to strengthen me in my physical body, enabling me to carry out my responsibilities as a wife and mother.
  • God would continue to protect our family from the illnesses that are currently "going around", colds/sinus infections and the dreaded stomach virus.
  • God would provide all that's need for Bella to undergo the tests on Monday: a sitter for the boys, company for me at the hospital, a cooperative baby for the testing, and stamina for me to keep up with the pace.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cute Things

Nursing a newborn infront of toddler boys is bound to provide some comic relief, and it has. So, I'm passing onto you some of the cute interpretations my boys have had regarding nursing and all things related.

Judah picked up my nursing pad and tried to put it on Bella's head, calling it her "hat".

Tucker looked at me nursing Bella and said, "Bella's eating an orange". :)

They both refer to my *reasts (spelled like that for spamming purposes) as my belly. Not sure whether to correct them on that and if I do, what do I tell them?!

Here's My Girlie!

Her hair is all nice and fuzzy from having just been given a bath.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Week Behind and Ahead

Well, I made it an entire week on my own, sort of. I did have some friends pick up groceries for me, one who came a morning to watch the boys while Bella and I went to Target, and meals were provided for us all week, too. Other than that, I was here at home with three kids under three. And, we all survived to tell about it. :)

Good news: I can put off Bella's hearing test until I'm through some of the more urgent dr's appointments (per our pediatrician's office), and they gave us their recommendation for another hearing assessment place so that I won't have to go back to the first place we tried. Thank you, Lord. Have I said how much I love our pediatrician's office?

Bella seems to be doing well; although she drives me to my knees often. She is still taking the Zantac well and seems to be eating well, sleeping well, etc. But, she's had eye crusties/boogies for the last week or so which her ped. thought might just be a blocked tear duct. I'd be satisfied with that assessment, too, except that the boys have both had a little bit of the same thing, and Bella has had some nose boogies in the last couple days as well. I don't want to make too much of it unnecessarily, but can't remember the boys having boogies this young. I haven't yet called the pediatrician; I'm trying to give it time to see if it goes away on its own. And, I'm praying if it is any kind of virus/cold, that it will stay up in her head and not slide down into her chest where it really could cause her some serious trouble. Would you please pray with me that it would all clear up in the next day or so?

We will take Bella to see a pulmonologist this Thursday at 3:30. Dr. Blaisedell saw the boys in their first year and so, we have some history with her. We're confident she'll do what's best for Bella, but want to be sure to make helpful and accurate observations here at home in order to help Dr. Blaisedell make the most informed decisions re: Bella's care. Would you please pray that God will make me and Lawrence observe what we need to with Bella?

I am daily gaining strength and trying to add in more of my usual responsibilities. I seem to be able to keep up (sort of) with our laundry and dishes, but am still running out of energy quickly when we try to go out or have company in for more than a couple hours at a time. I'm prayerful every day that God would help me to be humble about my limitations but discerning about what I can and should be trying to do again to serve my family and our home.

I am going to try to post again either today or soon with some cute things the boys have said/done regarding Bella along with some pictures of the girlie! Stay tuned. :)