Saturday, November 22, 2008

And the winner is.....

 Nicole!  Way to go Nicole!  She got 12 out of 14 right!

So here's some of my favorite answers, some for their creativity and some for their accuracy!

Photo 1 was the husk of dried Indian Corn - nearly everyone got this one right.

Photo 2 was the top of the head of Esther's stuffed elephant -  Auntie Lisa guessed that it was a stuffed toy and that was the closest guess!

Photo 3 was meatloaf -  Deborah was the only one to get that right - it was thought to be casserole, a Costco muffin, a breakfast cookie, a ravioli dish, the inside of a pumpkin, and a apple desert!  Great guesses!

Photo 4 was peanut butter - everyone got that right, but I especially like Gwendi's answer - " Peanut butter jar - almost empty - add to shopping list "  LOL!

Photo 5 was a leaf from our Thansgiving centerpiece -   Leslie was so accurate "Thanksgiving decorations-fabric leaf "

Photo 6 was a bath scrunchy -  everyone got this one right as well - nut again Gwendie's guess was so sweet"Bath puff - scrubby thing (Ruth, make time for those long soaks in the tub - you deserve it!) " - I do try!

Photo 7 was a sock on a counter (and yes, Gwendie, it was a clean sock on the bathroom counter! LOL) Both Roxy and Gwendie got that one correct!

Photo 8 was mustard on a hotdog bun -  Nicole was so accurate with "hotdog bun with a line of musterd (yum!) "

Photo 9 was dried Indian Corn - almost everyone got that one right! I liked Traci's answer - "dark indian corn"

Photo 10 was " Jessica's purse from Berlin" as Nicole got so right - but Roxy also new it was something from Berlin, and Auntie Lisa knew it was from Germany!

Photo 11 was dog food

Photo 12 was a vacuum hose -  Kim was the only one to guess that one!

Photo 13 was Esther's little backpack for her feeding tube pump - Deborah was the closest with "suitcase"

And photo 14 was Esther's eye -  Gwendie was the most accurate guess - "Ester’s baby-sweet eyelashes (right eye) "

You can review the photos here:

And the prize???  A bage of Lind Chocolates - Nicole do you prefer light, dark or white chocolates?  Or do you want a mixed bag?  Yum!!!

Ans lastly - no one guessed correctly as to the mystery photographer - no it wasn't Rueben (although he got two votes) or was Jessica!  The next morning after I posted the contest  Jessica came in and I asked her who had taken the photos, and she said she had as she wanted to make a game for people to guess what they were - great minds think alike eh???

thanks for playing ladies!

That was so much fun, I might just have to have another contest!  Would you like that?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are you done now?

After each of my last few children, I've been asked this question!  When I think about this question, I believe they are asking if I've reached the family size I wanted.

My answer is always, I really don't know!  I have no idea if God will bless us with another child.  At this point, I'm hoping and praying that we are finished with this phase of our life, but I really don't know!  I do know that if it had been up to me, we would have been "done" several children ago!  But when I look at the children God has blessed us with since then, I can't imagine life without them! Even Esther!

This question comes with a new dimension to it now that we have Esther.  It could almost be taken as "Now see what you've done - you've kept having kids until your are over 40 and gotten what you deserved!  Aren't you done yet?  Haven't you learned you lesson?"  Wow - that's harsh isn't it!  This is something I really want to talk about - Esther and God's design for our family.   But that will be another post all by itself!

So, am I done?  Am I done trusting God?  Am I finished with believing that God knows what's best for me and my family?  Do I have all the kids I wanted?  No!

Trusting God...that's what it boils down to for me -am I willing to trust God to work in my life?  This is HUGE!  This isn't just about birth control - it's about everything for me.  Do I trust God to give me the strength for today?  Do I trust God to work everything for my good?  Can I trust God even when things don't make sense and they hurt?  Yes, most definitely yes!  But am I able!  That's the catch!  Trust doesn't come easy, but everytime I get fearful, I remind myself to look back at the tough times in my life and see how God was working through those times to draw me to Him and develop things in me that could not possible be developed or learned through easy times!  Then I know that I can trust God to carry me through and that what is happening in my life has come because God deemed it to be best for me!

Have I reached the family size I wanted?  Not really - I wanted a large family - like 5 kids!  So actually we are way past that!  For me, it's not what I want, but what God has planned for me!

Will I have more children?  I have no idea! My pregnancy with Esther was the most difficult yet, and her birth was downright scary.  I'm now facing the challenges of raising  child with special needs.  Will this change anything?  If I let it, it will - it will make me fearful, worried, and distrustful.  Am I going to let it?  No - I still trust God with my whole life!  Will I pray for more children?  No, I'm not...I'm leaving that in His hands.

Do I think I might be done?  Now that's a good question - yes, we might not have anymore babies - I'm not getting any younger, and I had many signs that my childbearing years will be over soon.  But only time will tell.

All I know and all I can do right now is Trust in God.  For the big things and the little things.  I know I'm in good hands!

But how can you meet all your child's needs.....

if you have to care for so many children?  This is a good question!

First of all, and most importantly, I can not possibly meet all my child's needs, even if I had only one!  That's God's job!  If I could do that, my child wouldn't need God!

Secondly, do our children "need" all the things that the typical American family deems necessary?  Does every child "need" to be involved in organized sports?  Music lessons?  Have their own bedroom?  "Quality Time" with parents?  Lots of toys/music/electronic devices?  New clothes?  A bath every night?  A hot breakfast every morning?

I see childrens' needs as very basic - a roof over their heads, clothes, healthy food, and a loving home.  They need parents who are willing to take the time to answer questions, teach them to be responsible people, teach them about their world, and provide for their social needs.

Social needs....that's a big one!  What are my child's social needs?  My child needs to learn to function in society - this includes our family, friends, and our world.  Will my child learn politeness, compassion, patience and such by spending a majority of the day with other children?  Maybe, but most likely not.  Most children are just as in need of training in social graces as my child.  I believe that children will learn best if they are around those who model the characteristics I desire them to have!  In some cases, that is other children, but in most, it's adults...their father and mother!  Does this have to be done one on one?  No, this is modeled in everyday life - at the table, in the car, during school time, during play time.  Just being home with my children provides ample situations for teaching and instructing them - making use of the situations as they arise!

So, we keep things as simple as possible, and I try to be available as much as possible for my kids - to answer questions, to teach them right and wrong, to comfort them when they are hurting.  I am not perfect, but with God's help, it's very doable!

Also, a biggy in large families, is the concept of training our older children to become good parents and spouses.  Having little ones to care for, under my authority and supervision, is an excellent way to accomplish this!  My older children have watched me parent and care for them, so they are taught to care for their siblings (with in reason of course) likewise!  This also meets the needs of my children, both young and old  Most families with 4 or fewer children, are usually all close in age, so they are all young adults at the same time.  This provides few opportunites to learn to care for babies and toddlers.  But in our family, all the kids learn to change diapers, feed a baby, sooth a crying toddler, potty train children, and so much more!

A really big thing that I see in large families is the concept of sharing the work load!  I for one, wasn't forced to train my children to do chores until I had 5 children!  Through the years we've worked to teach the children to do things around the house that they are capable of.  This starts when they are toddlers - they are big kid helpers - they can also get diapers for momma, carry things, get things, and so forth.  Then when they turn 5 years old they start getting bigger jobs - like making their bed, tidying their bedroom,  setting the table, putting away a specific kind of toy (like wedgits or legos).  When they turn 7 they get "big kid jobs" - like tidying one room everyday with an older sibling, clearing the table, unloading the dishwasher.  When they turn 10 they learn to do their own laundry and begin to lean skills that will make them dependable for childcare once they reach the legal age for baby sitting (12 yo's can care for chidren under the age of 6),  Lastly, when they are 13 they are old enough to be a team leader - we have teams for doing kitchen duties - a counter team, a table team, and a dishwasher team!  We also share meal preparation.  Starting as mom's helperat age 8, they progress to making meals more on their own around age 10 - two meals a week for each child and the mom doesn't have to cook unless she wants too! So when my children get married, all of them will be capable of doing all types of housework and cooking and baking!  This will make the transition to marriage so much easier than it is for most adults!

And finally, providing for their physical needs - food, clothing and shelter.  God is our provider, but He usually doesn't provide well in advance. We've never had a savings account, and usually there's a bit more month than money, but we've always had what we needed.  This might mean baking out own bread or living without some things to make ends meet, but this can be very good for our children - to make due with what you have and learn to be satisfied with it!

So, can I meet all the needs of my children when I have so many?  No!  But I can, with God's help and the help of my family, friends, and church community, provide a loving environment that will, Lord willing, produce an adult well prepared to make a difference in their world!

A Questionaire for you!

This is a quiz for my fellow Christians:

1.  Does God love you?

2. Does God know what's best for you?

3.  Are children a blessing?

4. Is God the giver of life?

If you have the same Bible that I do, and you believe it to be the infallible Word of God, then your answer should be "yes" too all four of those questions - each of these principles I believe are universally understood to be foundational Christian beliefs based on the truth as reveal in scripture.

I could quote scriptures with references to back up these questions/answers, but for now, I'll let you look up the passages (it's good practice) - but quickly:

1 - in John "God is Love"  and also God says "I have loved you with an everlasting love",  and "nothing can separate us from the love of God

2 - "I know the plans I have for you, to bless you and not to harm you"...."all things work together for the good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes"

3 - "children are a gift from the Lord" "children are a heritage" "let the little children come to me"

4 - after the sudden death of all of Job's children (and he had many of them),  he stated "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord" also in Psalms - "For you formed my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb." And in so many places in scripture there are stories about God opening and closing a womb, as well as listing barrennes and firtility as a curse or as a blessing directly from God.

So, if these four things are true, please walk with me where they lead!

In summary, God loves me and works everything for my good, even trials and difficulties (see James 1).  God loves babies and children, and blesses His people with them.  God also is the giver of life, and He plans all our days before even one of them happens!

When taking these four truths, I come to the conclusion that babies are not something to be avoided or feared, but welcomed!  God doesn't curse us with children (and many see children as a burden, inconvenience, financial liability and such), but blesses us with children!  What other blessing (wealth, spiritual gifts, etc) do we avoid or feel the need to "control" - "I have enough money, I can't handle anymore..."  "I've got two cars - I can't even take care of the ones I have" - I already have one spiritual gift, if I have more I won't be able to do the one I have justice"...sounds silly doesn't it??

So why do we as Christians buy into the world's perspective on children?!  Even if you don't come to the place where we are (completely leaving our family planning up to God),  I think all believers need to take a good look at their attitudes towards the children they have and future children God might bless them with, and prayerfully consider what God would have them do!

And here's something to ponder...isn't the heart of the abortion debate a matter of the heart?  Abortions are all about avoiding a difficult situation, not wanting the inconvenience of a baby, fearing the hassle/expense of raising a child?  Do we harbor these same ideas when we choose to use birth control?  All through the Bible, God consistently shows us that He wants our hearts to be right.  Outward appearances and behaviors are secondary to a heart that loves God.  When you choose to use birth control, is it a decision made with a heart for the Lord, or are you making your choice for the same reasons others choose abortion?  Something to think about!

"Do you have family planning?"

 I was asked this today during my visit Friday with the nurse from the health department.  That's a good question.  I can't remember exactly what I told her, but my reply was a negative in some form.  But while trying to go back to sleep early this morning  I realized that I should have truthfully replied that yes, we do have family planning - God!

It's interesting, but when we first considered taking God into the equation when considering "family planning", we got so excited about our "new" outlook that we told people right and left about it.  The responces were varied, including everything from agreement to anger!  Due to our family size, I rarely, if ever, am the one to bring up the subject.   And I'll tell them "We let God plan our family" (or something like that.  Jokingly I'll often add funny comments like "He hasn't made any mistakes so far" or "they're all keepers" - and of course, there's the old "don't you know what causes that?"  This one I have a variety of answers to ranging from sublime "yes - and we now keep out toothbrushes separate" to the audacious "yes- and we are really good at it - if you need any pointers, let me know!"I've only used that one twice - and both times it was with a person who was being insulting in there comments - they both laughed nervously and left it at that!  I've regretted using that one, but I love to joke about that one!

So, why do we have more than four times the national average when it comes to children?  Aren't we concerned about adding to the "population explosion"?  Aren't we worried about not meeting all our children's needs?  Those and others are great questions I've been asked recently and I'd like to take the time to answer those questions and other for you!

But.... this would be a really long blog entry that could potentially take days to write/read, so I've added a new category for my blog entries and I'll break down my thoughts/beliefs into smaller entries for you!

So as I find time, I'll post about why we believe what we believe and answer questions I've been asked, as well as those that might come in response to my posts!

Lastly, please understand that I believe what I believe to be true, but I know that very few will agree with me, and I understand that - God has each of us in His hands and challenges each of us in different ways - my only request is that you prayfully consider your choices when you are "planning your family" - as most families make their choices without even considering what God would have them do!  We did for many years!

I'm looking forward to this, I hope you are too!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today went well...

Esther's appointment this morning went smoothly - she weighed in at 10 lbs 11 oz - so she's gaining nicely!  She's also gained another 1/4 inch in length!  I also got a few errands in, but one didn't go so well.

My laptop started randomly restarting with a blue screen error message last August, but by then it was my only way to stay up with the business while on bedrest, and then once we were staying in the hospital it was my only link with the "real world".  So not I decided it was time to take it in to get fixed.  But, unlike in the past when they would run a quick diagnostic and get back to me later in the day, he said it would sit there for 4 - 5 days before they could get to it.  And no, they couldn't
put me "in line" and have me bring it in when they could get to it.  I can't afford to be without it for that long without major work moving stuff to another computer.  So I brought it back home and I'll try to get myself switched over the Jessica's work computer and then bring in my laptop for repairs on Monday and leave it until they can get to it - hopefully the week of Thanksgiving will be slower in the computer world!  I certainly hope so!

Then I went home, pumped, had lunch and the headed back to Bellingham with Jessica.  Her surgery went well, and was faster than expected because they were not able to put the rod into the bone today - they had warned me that it might take two separate appointments if there wasn't enough bone when the tooth was removed.  So she'll wait 2 months while her body builds in some bone where the tooth was removed, and then she'll have a second procedure to implant the rod.  I'm actuallly relieved as the implant is more painful than the tooth extraction, so at least that will be after the holidays and hopefully things with Esther will have settled down as well by then!

We got home late in the afternoon, and pumped, fed Esther, had dinner, and watched some Christian Music videos with the kids - some were really cool, and others you end up wondering what in the world was Christian about that song???

Then it was time for bed, thus I started putting Esther to bed, getting the kids settled down, going back in twice to quiet the girls, then pumping, and now I'm blogging before giving Esther her meds, preparing her feeds for th erest of the night, and then finally going to bed!  It's now 10:44 and my day started at 6:30 - long day!

I did save the best news for last - Esther took 70 of her 75 ccs of her evening feeding last night, and again tonight she took 65 ccs - both times it took her over an hour, but since I was just sitting around holding her and she was awake, I just kept trying and she kept taking little bits!

Another milestone, she actually breastfed this afternoon - with the help of a breast shield, but she did it!  I was pumping and she was awake and hungry, so I switch the pump to work on just one side and worked with her on the other - it took a little work, but she finally got going and hung in there for about 10 minutes, getting milk from me all the time!  Woohoo!!  There's hope for us!

Good night on that good note  - off to settle Dayton down, as he "can't sleep in my bed"!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prayer requests for Thursday and Friday

I got a great photo of Esther just before we left for church Sunday, but first I thought a few of photos from her birth and first day in the hospital to show how far she came in 8 weeks  today might be great! This is the only photo we have of her at home - just after this photo was taken we started to realize that she wasn't "pinking up" and we just weren't too concerned about photos at that point. She was quite "blue" in this photo, and from there she actually got darker - more of a dusky purple by the time she left for the hospital - that was a really scary time for all of us! This is how she looked when I arrived at the hospital - one very sick little baby. But she was pink - and that surprised me - I thought she'd still be blue for some reason!
And here she is, looking like a princess in her finest! She was only half awake, so she looks a little groggy yet! Today marks the last of my "stay at home and schedule my day as I want to" days for this week. Thursday morning I have an appointment for Esther, and then back home for a couple of hours, and then back to Bellingham to take Jessica to the oral surgion.  Yes, if my year hasn't been hard enough, I also have two kids who need oral surgery! Jessica had a tooth that needed a crown last summer, but when they took off the temporary to put on the new crown, the entire tooth broke off at the roots!  So we were face with a choice of a bridge or an implant - both are about the same money wise, but the implant was recommended since it's her molar and she's so young. So tomorrow she's having the surgery to implant a metal thing into her jaw bone.  Once it has healed (3 - 4 months!  Ack!), then they will put a new crown/fake tooth on the rod and it will look like it's her own tooth and if all goes well, it will be permanent. Please pray that she will not be worried about the outcome, that the procedure will "take" and not have to be repeated or abandoned.  Please also pray that I will be able to get along over the next while (I really have no idea how many days she'll be under the weather from this) as I care for her and also lose her help around here! I also found out today that Jonathan's teeth have moved faster than expected and he is now ready for his surgery - he had a baby tooth that wouldn't fall out on it's own, and that caused the permanent tooth to remain in his "cheek" above his molars.  So he had to get braces to make the opening large enough, and now they need to apply a "brace" to that tooth with a chain attached, and then the chain will be attached to the wire from his braces and it will pull the tooth down and into place!  Ouch!  Great timing - Jessica right before Thanksgiving, and my hunch is that Jonathan's will be just before Christmas!  Happy Holidays anyone??? Also, neither of these procedures (or any of the orthodontist work on my three kids who needed it for medical reasons, and not cosmetic) is covered by any of our insurance, so I'd love it if you could pray that God will provide a way to pay for all this.  We were able to get financing for Jessica's procedure, but I sure hate to borrow money for things like this! Friday, two women are coming over to work with me to set up and access programs for Esther - they are from the health department and the birth to 3 program.  I'm sure they are wonderful women and they are coming to help me, but I just can't help being a little worried.  Anytime I think of someone associated with government coming into my home, I get a little frazzled!  Not the I have anything to hide, it's just that I do have a much larger family than most, and I just don't know what to expect.  In general people are either positive about a large family, or very negative.  Pray that I can have peace about this, and that the kids will be great while they are here!  I'd really appreciate it! Due to scheduling problems, Esther's trip to Children's for her echo-cardiogram won't be until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving - I'm relieved as my schedule between now and thanksgiving is anything but open! Also, on Monday, Dayton is having some major dental work done - under light sedation.  He had this done in September, and he was very upset afterward and had several hours of almost constant crying.  This time it shouldn't be as bad (he had his top 4 front teeth pulled last time), but I am intimidated with the thought of going through this again, this time with Esther to care for, and possibly Jessica as well!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

She's learned to smile!

No pictures yet, they are too fast for that, but she has definitely learned to smile!    She's smiled at my friend, Sally, her daddy, Rachel, and of course me!  Jessica is definitely bummed that Esther hasn't given her a smile yet, and she's been trying so hard to get her to smile!!  And it's such a cute smile - she even has at least 1 dimple!

With Esther having Down Syndrome, I have no idea what her learning curve will be, but I'm so encouraged that she's smiling already!  I was talking with her pediatrician about this just last week, when I asked her when she thinks that Esther might start smiling, and she said that as with  most babies, it can vary a lot.  I commented that "yeah, with my normal kids..." and she just about laughed/coughed or something like that - she said "you can say that about your kids, but I can't!" and we both laughed!  She has to call it "typically developing children" and "special needs".  I was going to say that even with my "other" children, they smiled anywhere from week one, to waiting until 8 weeks to grant me a smile!  So she's right in there with Reuben and Dayton as far as learning to smile!

I do know that Down syndrome children have a different growth chart - they usually have a smaller adult stature than average, and they typically grow slower.  She's doing great so far - I weighed her again this morning and she's gained 3 ounces in 3 days!  Yeah!  She's getting down right chubby in her legs and arms!  And what a budda belly!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Time for some special schooling

Here's a photo of Esther in the shirt that Leslee, one of the EMTs that was at Esther's birth (thanks Leslee for bringing over - it would have taken me forever to stop by to pick it up!) brought over as a gift!  Those EMTs and the paramedic helped our midwife save her life!

This has been a year of stretching for our family. It started off in the middle of building our new home.

Soon afterward, we found out that Esther was on the way, then it was moving time.  Followed soon by getting the old mobile home ready to sell.  All this while introducing the new line of Snap-EZ Eco products.

Then it was trying to sell the mobile home and finish building the house (I was painting trim for what seemed like forever, and it's still not all done!).

Next was summer - busy, busy, busy!  We did find new owners for the mobile home, but finding a place to put it was a challenge for them, and then working out the move, and finishing everything on the house before our bank deadline of September 1!

Then I ended up on bedrest for 5 weeks, then Esther arrived and I spent 5 1/2 weeks with her in the hospital.

So here we are, a year that didn't leave much time for anything but crisis containment, and it's telling on us!

This morning I had a heart to heart talk with the children about how we treat one another.  We have fallen into some bad habits and it's time to reverse this and begin to again treat eachother in love so our home reflects Christ's love.

My friend, Sally, who has 2 daughter with severe special needs, shared an article with me last week from a mother of 11 children (I found out she's expecting her 12th sometime this year - at least she was pregnant when they were on the Family Life Today program last March), whose 11th baby was born with Down Syndrome.  She said a very interesting thing - that all our children are born with special needs - I took this to mean that they are all born with a sinful nature and are in need of our Saviour, Jesus Christ!   How true that is - any Chrstian parent would vouch for the fact that our precious little ones are in need of His saving grace!

So, in light of our "special needs" (mine too, especially as a parent), we are going to be concentrating our studies over the next 6 weeks, and beyond, on the fruits of the spirit and on making our home reflect Christ once again!

Please pray for all of us as we attempt to reign in our sinful natures and begin to find a new "normal" for all of us.  Pray especially for me, as parenting this many children in a godly fashion is not easy, but the rewards are out of this world!

Updates on Esther - everything is going well, but she's still not making much ground as far as increasing how much she takes from a bottle - there is little, if any, improvement that would lead towards removing her feeding tube.  I've tried to use a supplimental nursing system (by Medela) to help teach Esther how to breastfeed , and it would work if I could get her to latch correctly.  But this is very time consuming!, She does well now, at not getting frustrated (the system allows milk to flow when she sucks, even if it's a poor latch and/or she's not drawing any of my milk down) and that's a great improvement - but she just doesn't seem to be able to latch correctly.  Pray that we'll get the hang of this soon, as direct nursing will be so much easier for us both once she gets off the feeding tube - pumping and then feeding her is like having twins as far as time consumption goes - and someone has to care for Esther everytime I have to pump, as it's nearly impossible for me to care for her while pumping!

Thanks in advance for your prayers!

Love those guesses!

So far I've got 4 contest entries - and they did very well, although no one has them all correct!  I'll leave the contest up until Friday, and then I'll pick a winner over the weekend!

So send me your guesses by posting a comment - I won't approve the comments for now - but I might list some of the really creative answers when the contest ends!  Maybe there will be honorable mention and runners up too!

Thanks for playing along - it's nice to do something just for fun, isn't it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Here's what happens when you leave the camera out in our house!

I find all kinds of random photos - some of which I can't even identify!  here's study in using the "really close" setting on our camera - see if you can guess what the photos are of (I think I know all of them, but there's a few I'm still unsure of!):
Photo 1:

Photo 2:

Photo 3:

Photo 4:

Photo 5:

Photo 6:

Photo 7:

Photo 8:

Photo 9:

Photo 10:

Photo 11:

Photo 12:

Photo 13:

Photo 14:

Good thing we have a digital camera! Man this would have really ripped through a lot of film!

So here's a contest - and I'll even pick a winner (but I'm not sure exactly what the prize will be! If you can correctly guess what these photos are of in a comment on this blog post you'll win! If there's more than one person that can get them all right, then I'll draw a winner - if no one gets them all right, then whoever gets the most right wins!
And here's a bonus point - if you can guess who took the photos, that earns you an extra 5 points (each photo guessed correctly gets 1 point)

So send me your guesses in a comment to this post, and I'll pick a winner - and maybe I'll post some of the most unusual guesses too, just for fun! I'm not even sure who took them all, but I have a really good guess!

Life in the Fast Lane!

I'm so sorry for the long delay in updating!  Life has moved into the fast lane, that's for sure!  Here's a long update for you all!

First, here's some photos I wasn't able to put in here before - here are some that were send to me from my first special care nursery bossom friend (yes, that is a pun!), Lindsay - Esther's Grandparents came for a visit and my camera was at home, so she took these photos for me:

And here's a photo of Esther's first friends - they are the cutest twins I've ever known!  And look at those adorable outfits!  Those were Elizabeth's when she was so tiny - but since Esther was so much bigger, she decided that they could use these ones!:

And here are the three of us moms with our special babies - the three of us would laugh as we planned a reality show about moms in special care nursery - I think I blogged about that back then...I still think it would make for a great TV show! And I think you can see why the nurses kept mixing up us moms (you've heard of mixing up babies, but in our case it was the moms they kept getting mixed up!)

Don't we look happy together!  We did have a great time bonding and I we are planning on a reunion once things settle down for us all (all of us are home with our little ones now, praise the Lord!!)  Notice all the babies have cords???  It's so nice to not have cords on Esther all the time now!

Thanks so much Lindsay, for sending me those great photos!  You might notice in the last phot how pale Esther is - this was taken just hours before she left for Children's and was in the early stages of heart failure and it shows in this photo.
Starting the middle of last week, Esther developed some sinus congestion and a low grade fever.  I never take my kids to the doctor for anything but broken bones and severe illnesses, but with Esther and her fragile health, it's all so new and frightening that I called and they wanted to see her.  She was fine, aside from what I had observed, so we went home with "watch and wait".

By Saturday, she was not better, and a bit pale and lethargic, plus she hadn't gained any weight in 5 days as well as battling constipation.  So in we went again - pretty much the same story, with the exception of increasing her volume of milk so help her with gaining weight again.

We were getting pretty low in the food department, so after the Drs appointment, Jessica and I hit Costco and Walmart - man was that ever exhausting!

Sunday, she was still running a low grade temp, so I didn't take her to church - we had a quiet morning at home with Dayton (he was a little under the weather as well, but nothing specific other than really grummpy).

Monday was our first "no movies or computer games" day - I declared that after so much time used on those "hobbies" while I was away, that is was time for a fast!  Jessica and I had picked out some great books at Costco, so that helped ease the adjustment!

Monday was also our check up in Seattle, at Children's Hospital's cardiology clinic.  But, of course, she woke up with a much higher fever - 101 degrees, so down to the Drs office in Bellingham once again - this time she had chest exrays as she had thrown up (not spit up) twice that morning - through her nose and everything, and Dr Monica wanted to see if she had aspirated anything.

She also checked with Children's to see if they still wanted her since she had the fever.  They said, definitely, so we raced back home to get her supplies for the rest of the day, pick up Rebekah (I need someone to sit next to her in the car), and pump quickly and leave again.  then go back to the Drs and pick up the exray CD, drop off the FedEx orders, and then head to Seattle.

The trip to Seattle went smoothly, and the appointment as well, although it took way too long!  We got there at 3:30, filled out paperwork, got her feeding going, then she got weighed - she weighed in at 10 pounds even!  Good gain again now!  Yeah!

Then they did all the usual - blood pressure, temp (still around 100 degrees), and then the EKG (I've never seen one done) - man did she have a ton of wires attached to her - there were 16 wires/clips/stickers on her - her chest, tummy and back (there are at least 5 on her back that you can't see in the photo):

She looks a little worried, don't you think??

Everything looked good, and Dr aggreed with the feed increase, and also increased one of her medications, the heart medication, to allow for her growth.

The we went to the lab for a blood draw, and then to pick up prescriptions. But they weren't going to be ready for 30 minutes (it was 6:30 by now), so we went to ICU to look up her second room mate, little Ruby, but her mom wasn't in.  Bummer, I really wanted to see how Ruby was doing!

Then we went to look up Esther's second room mate, a little baby girl from Pt Angeles, where my mom lives.  She has an unusual name, which escapes me once again!  But I did find her and her mother and was able to sit and chat for a few minutes - she was doing really well, but due to the type of surgery this little one had, they'll be there for at least 1 more month!

I even got a comment here from Esther's last roommate's, (Quincy- great girl's name!), mom, Erica (thanks for letting me know Quincy's doing so well, Erica! )  so it's been a week of reunions of sorts!

After getting dinner at Dick's Drive-In (a land mark in Seattle), we finally got headed for home.  When we were approaching Lynwood, the low oil warning started up!  So I pulled into a gas station, and bought some oil, with the "help" of the attendant, we tried to get the hood open, but to no avail - couldn't get the "in car" latch to work - I even broke off the plastic part!  After a frantic call to Daryl, and several more tries, Daryl suggested having the attendant push down on the hood while I pull on what was left of the lever, that didn't work either - I was about done in by then, when Rebekah got out of the car, and tried pulling the lever and easy as that, the hood popped open!  Daryl had mentioned having the attendant push and release the hood, but by then he was talking to another customer - that was probably what made it work for Rebekah (he wasn't holding the hood down anymore), but we were all very surprised at the fact that Rebekah did in one try, what we had been trying to accomplish for about 15 minutes!  But that was just the beginning - we had the hood popped up, but not open - there was yet another latch to find inside the grill.  This took another 5 or so minutes - we were looking for something to pull to release the hood all the way, but when I finally found it, it was a push up!  Then, finally, I found the dip stick and the oil filling cap, and after 1 quart, we were on our way (it didn't need much oil, probably the darkness of the oil (we were 3000 miles past oil change due to my being in the hospital with Esther) the sensor was probably confused!).

Finally, after one stop for dessert (I was getting drowsy) and a third round of the alphabet game (I couldn't end the night after losing to Rebekah twice!), which I finally won, we made it home around 9:30 pm.  LONG DAY!

Tuesday, was flu shots for all - after working in the attic for a few hours (I needed find some school supplies, and we need to clean out the garage, so the attic needed to be organized to find room for the stuff in the garage!), we packed up half the crew and headed for the Dr's office (our station wagon only has seats for 8, and we had 10 at home) - only to find out the two of the kids hadn't been in to the doctors recently enough to be on their computer system, so they couldn't get shots there!  So on round 2, we finished up those we could, and then I took Rebekah and Jonathan down to Bellingham and met Daryl so all three could get their flu shot at the walk in clinic (we got flu shots so we won't bring it home and give it to Esther).  But I did get the bad news - since none of the kids have ever had the flu shot, they all have to have a second booster in a month, so we'll have to do it again then....ack!

Wednesday was more Drs appointments - this time for Dayton and Esther - Dayton was a well child check up and also trying to get a referal for speech assesments (which we did get) - and for Esther to review the findings at Children's and for her to get the immunizations I decided to get for her (only those prevalent in our community since she'll be more likely to be exposed to them by frequent visits to the doctor's and Children's and for her they would be deadly - this was a tough decision for us, let me tell you!).  Wednesday evening I spent back in the attic finishing my organizing and got it done - Yeah!

Thursday was finally a full day at home!  YEAH! I spent the morning working on laundry, decorating for Thanksgiving:

...and the afternoon was spent with the kids outside, burning the last of the construction/painting/mobile home take down wood/paper and cardboard.  We got it all done, then in the evening the kids put the "good" wood (no paint or glues) on the coals and roasted hot dogs for dinner, and later marshmallows!  The rest of the evening was spent by the kids doing a 3D puzzle of the capital building (Washington DC), while I took a long soak in the tub!

We also talked about inviting a family who doesn't have extended family in the area to our Thanksgiving celebration and decided to invite one of Jessica's friends from Karate - but that doesn't look like it will work out.  So we are looking to invite a family in our area that is lacking family to celebrate with, and who is willing to dress as Indians (just a paper feather head dress and blanket will suffic) and we'll dress as pilgrims, play games, listen to stories about the first Thanksgiving, and give thanks for 5 things just before dinner is served - let us know if you want to be our guests!!

That brings me to probably thought I'd never get here! LOL!  This morning was spent on this blog and getting papers together for my tax appointment this afternoon, training a seamstress on a new technique, pulling our Esther's feeding tube because she had pulled it out halfway already and she needed a new tube placed by early next week, replacing said tubing, and trying to get to said appointment on time (I was 15 minutes late for some strange reason!)- then I got to go visit my dear friend, Sally (she has two special girls that I've come to love through the years), with a White Chocolate Almond Cranberry Mocha (super yummy - you should try it!) for me, and a Eggnog Mocha for her! She and her daughter,Taya, fell in love with Esther - we had a great time!  Then I got home late (Daryl fed all the kids while I was gone), pumped for Esther, caught up on phone messages, returned 5 phone calls, had a quick dinner, got Esther ready for bed, and then started work on this blog!

Oh -and to answer a question from Jennifer - we really don't know how long she'll have her feeding tube - it depends on her.  She has to be able to take all her nutritional needs by bottle, and right now she's only getting about 20% of it by bottle, if even that.  She just gets tired too quickly right now because she swallows so much air due to un-coordinated swallow/suck/breathing.  Her Dr at Children's guessed about 1 - 2 months, but I really have no idea as she hasn't been making much progress in this area - so please pray that she'll get stronger and better coordinated so she can get off the feeding tube!

Here's a photo I took of Esther during her brief, no feeding tube break today:

Can you see why I haven't been blogging much???  And some people think I shoud write a book - "in my spare time" - that's a hoot!  LOL!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

6 1/2 weeks old and doing great!

Esther weighed in at 9 lbs 12 oz on Monday - that's over 1 1/2 pounds since she came home, and 2 pounds above birth weight!  We even passed the test early this morning - she pulled out her feeding tube around 4 am.  I heard her wrestling around in bed and she sounded snuffly, so I looked at her and there was her feeding tube, lying next to her!  With Daryl's help, I got the tube back in - and even in the other nostril that wasn't passable when she was at St Joseph's (I figured I'd give it a try so her cheek could have a break and her nostril should have grown a little - that and I suspect she had some irritation in that nostril from the suctioning that was done at her birth and during the first few days).  Yeah!!!   It was actually pretty easy!

Here's what I call her princess pic - this blanket from her Auntie Lisa is fit for a princess, that's for sure:

Thanks Auntie Lisa for such a nice gift - we'll show off the outfit later! In this photo she's showing off how she fits in a 3 - 6 mo outfit that Sandy gave her (thanks Sandy for all the nice gifts you gave Esther and I!).

She is doing great at taking a bottle too - she;s using a new bottle I found at Target - it mimics breastfeeding - and she's doing good with it.  She's averaging 25 ccs per feeding from the bottle during the day now!

Here she is sporting a Snap-EZ Preemie Newborn Pocket Diaper - I couldn't believe they fit her, but they do so she's been wearing them off and on (most of her stash is smalls):

Today Esther was awake so much - she only took a couple of naps! I think that means that she's doing great - sleepy means working hard just to breath!

During one of her little naps, I had to take this photo - this is my viewpoint when she's cuddled up to me and sleeping....melted my heart!

(notice no tubing or tape on this cheek now (it's hiding on the other side!)

I know many of you are still praying for Esther, and we so appreciate it as she's definitely not out of the woods yet. As we all know, it's flu and cold season and either of those could land Esther right back in the hospital.

We ask for your prayers for protection over Esther that our family won't bring any bugs home to her, and that when she goes to Children's for a cardiology check up on Monday, and to her pediatrician's office on Wednesday, that she won't pick up anything at either place!

And lastly, many of you let me know that Esther's photo of her new dress wasn't showing up. Thanks! I've repaired the link (it was missing a period of all things!), so you'll have to scroll down to see her beautiful dress (which she's been trying to wear every day this week! LOL!).