Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A New Approach


With continuing feeding/appetite problems and a feeding tube looming in Eli's near future, Eric and I have become determined to exhaust all options before giving in to the GI doctor placing a feeding tube through Eli's nose into his tummy. As we were laying in bed talking the other night we thought of a naturopathic doctor that several people we know have been to. His approach is decidedly "off the beaten path," to put it euphemistically, but from everything we've heard he knows what he's doing and always meets with success. We figured we'd give it a try. It can't hurt, and it might just help.

I called yesterday morning just to ask a few questions, and they happened to have a cancellation for that very afternoon. I really loved the office staff, and the doctor was very kind and very knowledgeable. I won't even go into his methods, because they're too hard to describe and I have no idea what I'm talking about, but at the end of the visit he knew what was wrong and knew how to fix it. He handed us these two bottles of therapeutic supplements, gave us instructions on mixing and dosing, and sent us on our merry way. And supposedly in a few days we'll begin to see improvement in Eli's growth, appetite, and reflux.

I am very hopeful, although I'm trying to take it all with a grain of salt, because I honestly don't know the best approach with Eli's health. I do know, however, that traditional medicine has left us with a feeding aversion and little to no growth, so trying out alternative medicine can't hurt anything, for sure! I also know that we have prayed so diligently for wisdom and guidance as to the best way to treat Eli, and the Lord will choose to bring him through this is His time. We'll just keep on trying our best and waiting on the Lord, who is loving, good, and wise.

We are definitely praying that this new approach works, because we still don't feel at peace about a feeding tube. However, we do know that it is crucial that Eli start eating and growing soon, so if this approach does not work, the feeding tube is the way to go. And we're okay with that- we just want what is best for our little boy! Still... I'll say one more time that we're praying that this new approach works! Please join us!

Tomorrow we're going to have a "modified barium swallow" done for Eli to make sure that he's not aspirating anything into his lungs when he eats, which could potentially contribute to his feeding aversion. I am eager to rule this out, but I'm also eager to keep my son healthy during cold/RSV season, so we're praying so hard that Eli doesn't catch any germs during our time in the outpatient radiology department at the hospital tomorrow! He's already fighting a cold, so we don't want to compound the problem at all.

Friday we're going back to see the oral therapist, who will continue to help Eli overcome his aversion. Ah, the journeys I make with this kid. I've got the layout to every hospital building in Dallas memorized by now! But he is so worth it!

Thank you for your prayers for our little guy! I can't wait until he's old enough to understand when I tell him about the power of prayer carrying him through. He will thank you someday, I know. And until then, please accept the heartfelt gratitude of his mommy, who treasures the prayers of her dear family and friends on behalf of her precious son.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Not-So-Fun Way to Spend a Saturday


On Saturday I came down with the stomach bug that has been plaguing our family and friends for a week now. I thought I used enough hand sanitizer to ward off the plague, but I was wrong. I was brought down by a little germ.

Fortunately it hit over the weekend, so Eric was here to take care of Eli. I spent the entirety of Saturday in our bedroom (and much of it in the bathroom, unfortunately!), forbidden to come near Eli. We are so afraid of him catching any kind of stomach bug- he eats so little as it is; he can't afford to lose any fluid at all or he'll quickly become dehydrated and land himself in the ER, which carries it's own host of problems.

Anyway, while I endured the joys of a stomach bug, Eric played with Eli and was Mr. Mom for the day. It brought a smile to my [green] face every time I heard Eli's squeals of laughter from the next room. He loves his Daddy! But NOT as much as he loves Mommy, I must add! :) I walked into the living room one time during the day, just to look at Eli because I missed him so much. Eli quickly became very excited, then quickly started fussing because I wasn't picking him up, and then started screaming for me with tears streaming down his face. Eric swiftly shooed me back to the bedroom so that he could calm Eli down. :)

It was heart-breaking but also very rewarding. I love that I am my son's favorite person! Selfish, probably, but I'm going to take it while I can get it! :) Soon enough he'll be running after Daddy, fishing, camping, riding bikes, building forts, playing frisbee golf... all of which I want for him so deeply. But for now, while he's a baby, let him be his mommy's boy.

We're just praying (please join us!) that Eli doesn't catch this stomach bug, and that he continues to increase his feedings and gain weight!!! Thank you so much for all your prayers!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby's First Christmas


Christmas is definitely more fun with a baby. It was such a joy for Eric and I to experience this Christmas with Eli.

On Christmas Eve both Eli and I caught the cold that Eric was just recovering from, but fortunately Eli didn't seem too phased by it. Eli and I spent the day here at home, listening to Christmas music and baking and taking naps (him, not me!).

After Eric got home we let Eli open his Christmas Eve gift- pajamas. This is our tradition- one gift on Christmas Eve, and it's always pjs. Predictable, yes, but still fun! After Eli's bath, Eric read him the Christmas story and rocked him to sleep.

Kelly and Phil (sister and brother-in-law) came over for dinner- New York strip steaks, mashed potatoes, fancy salad, cranberry prosecco cocktails, and chocolate cheesecake for dessert. We had a really nice time! Before the babies were born we would spend Christmas Eve at Houston's steakhouse, which we missed, but I must say that I enjoyed this just as much. It was great to be with people we love in the coziness of our own home and eat awesome food.

After they left Eric and I made mojitos, ate cake, and watched It's a Wonderful Life (best Christmas movie ever!). We opened the pjs we gave each other, read the Christmas story, and went to bed so happy and thankful for our warm little house, our wonderful marriage, our precious son sleeping in the next room, and, most of all, for the gift of our Savior Jesus Christ.

On Christmas morning we brought Eli to bed with us and were just so happy to think of all the Christmases in our future with Eli running to wake us up early in the morning to open presents. It is so fun to have a kid at Christmas! We opened presents here at home, Eli took a little nap, and then we headed to my parents' house for our big family Christmas. It was wonderful as always- so many presents, so much joy, such precious little babies lying in the midst of all the wrapping paper! My mom served us brunch, and then we headed out to the White family Christmas (Eric's mom's side of the family).

This was big and loud and so perfect- kids everywhere, presents piled floor to ceiling, all the food you can imagine... Eli did great, laughing and talking with everyone, not showing a single sign of being sick, which I was so happy about!

After we came home and put Eli to bed (which was s piece of cake, as he was exhausted after the busy day!) we watched the Nativity and ate dinner with my parents and Kelly and Phil. It was the perfect Christmas, and I look forward to so many more with my dear little family.

Sorry for the boring post! :) I hope you guys had a merry Christmas as well, celebrating the birth of our precious Savior.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Adam


Any guesses what the title means? I think perhaps only people with the last name (or maiden name) "Bergstrom" will get it right. :)

A few things...

1. Thank you so much for praying for Eli! Please continue to pray. We have good days and bad days. The good days fill us with hope that we can avoid a feeding tube and make it through this oral aversion. The bad days (like Monday) leave me frazzled and exhausted and ready to give in and get a feeding tube. What's the best thing? Only God knows, so we're praying and praying for wisdom. It will be clearer once we see if Eli has continued to gain weight. Anyway, all that to say that we really need your prayers still! Thank you so much!

2. How do you prevent your child getting sick when you and your husband are sick? Really- I need to know! :) Eric came home with a cold that he caught at work last week, and now I have it, and we are just praying that Eli doesn't get it. Nearly impossible, considering that I kiss him about 9 million times a day and take care of his every need. Oh well- such is life! I just hope he doesn't have it over Christmas!

3. I made a huge mess in the kitchen today preparing my elaborate Christmas Eve dessert... a chocolate cheesecake layer cake. Sounds good, no? We shall see- the layers are in my fridge, awaiting assembly. The true test of whether or not it is good is if Eric says it was worth it to clean the fine layer or powdered sugar off of every surface in our kitchen once I finished. :)

4. Pleeeeease comment! I hear from so many of you that you read our updates on the blog, but I don't ever know that until I happen to talk to you! Throw me a bone! :)

Love to you all!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

News


Eli's latest...

1. Thumb-sucking! He's been a hand-chewer forever, but in the past week he has been resorting more and more to just his thumb. It is precious- I am so partial to thumb-sucking babies. Who cares if it's a bad habit to have to break? I'll worry about that in a couple years. :) It's also a treat for me because he uses his thumb to comfort himself now, which I'm super-happy about, because he's never been a paci fan.

2. Waving. I haven't been sure about this one and haven't even mentioned it to anyone because I thought his little "waves" were just coincidences. But this weekend Eric said, "Is he waving at us?" as we stood across the room and Eli held up his hand, opening and closing his fingers, while smiling at us. Confirmed. The baby is a waver. It's so cute! (I'm a little biased.)

3. Sitting. He discovered the use of his stomach muscles weeks ago, which makes getting him to lie back in my arms, on a pillow, etc., very difficult, because he immediately just sits right up. I've been working on getting him to sit on his own, but he usually just falls right over. But this week he sat up on his own for several 10-second increments! I know, not that amazing, but hey, what can I say? I'm his mom, and I'm proud!

4. Church-ing. Eli has been in "hibernation" since October. Because he is a premie and had lung issues, he's at super-high-risk for RSV and other lung infections. We keep him home and away from crowds pretty much all the time, which means that Eric and I alternate weeks when it comes to church so that one of us can stay home with Eli. I hate that we have to do this, but it is worth it to keep Eli healthy through the winter. Today we made an exception for the Christmas service at church. It is the best service of the year, and we really, really wanted to go as a family. So we came late (on purpose) and left early to avoid anyone touching or breathing on him, but we got to enjoy the service all together, and it was really special.

Wow, what an invigorating post, right? Ah, the life of a mom. :) Truth be told, though, I LOVE IT!!!

And in other news, Eric took me out for my birthday on Friday night while my parents kept Eli. He took me to this little French bistro called "St. Martin's," which was super romantic. You know, the kind of place where all the light is from candles, there is a piano player, the waiter puts your napkin on your lap, you eat a 3-course-meal... it was so perfect! Then we went to the Meyerson to see the Dallas symphony orchestra and chorus do their annual Christmas performance. We go every year, and every year I am blown away. It was a perfect date!

Happy almost Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Therapy


Today we went to see the occupational therapist. (My uncle said, "Eli is just a baby- how will the therapist know what his occupation should be?" The corny sense of humor is in the Bergstrom genes, for sure.) It was a slightly annoying waiting period- we had to register in the hospital system and meet with an insurance guy and then spend quite some time waiting for the therapist, who was running really late. I was told to bring Eli "hungry" so that the therapist could watch him eat, and the appointment fell right in the middle of Eli's nap time. So, needless to say, I had a very fussy baby on my hands! It was frustrating, but I'm glad we waited through it. I just felt bad for the therapist having to talk over his whining the whole time. :)

Anyway, the therapist's name is Lisa, and she's great! She's an Aggie, class of '02 (a year ahead of me), and she was really friendly and helpful and gave me a lot of hope about Eli overcoming this oral aversion. She watched Eli refuse to eat and labeled him as "moderately to severely aversive"- I could have told her that! :) She ordered a test to make sure Eli isn't aspirating anything he's eating, which we'll have done in the next week or two, and she gave us a few "toys" to play with at home, along with a plan for how to work with him until we see her again. Basically, it took him 7 months to learn this aversion, and it will take almost as long to un-learn it! But eventually he'll be eating just like a normal kid! And all of this will be worth it. I'm really thankful for such a kind, sweet, understanding therapist to help us through it.

She recommended, if Eli does end up needing a feeding tube, that he not have an NG-tube but rather a G-tube (surgically inserted in the belly) so that his aversion doesn't increase. This just confirmed to me that I need to keep praying for and working on Eli's weight gain so a tube can be avoided altogether!

Please continue to pray that Eli eats well, in increasing amounts, and gains plenty of weight for the next visit! I would love to see him weigh 13 pounds!

On a side note, I discovered the thing that amuses Eli the most of all things so far: my cell phone camera. Go figure, right? :) We were in a car dealership for hours yesterday (we were able to trade in our old breaking-down car for a newer, more reliable one! Praise God!), and I was searching for anything to keep him entertained. Out came the phone, and, to my surprise, every time I clicked the button to snap a picture, he laughed so hard! It was really echo-y in the dealership, and everyone who walked by commented on how happy he was. It was adorable. I now have about 60 blurry, unidentifiable pictures on my phone. :) I loved hearing him laugh so hard.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouragement. All the comments here and on Facebook, all the e-mails, all the phone calls, all the acts of service toward us- all of it has been so instrumental in helping me through this somewhat trying time. Thank you for investing in our lives and for caring about us and for understanding my heart. I can't tell you how grateful I am. A simple comment on a blog is enough to bring tears to my eyes, not to mention the calls and e-mails and everything else. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Love to you all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Amazed


After we talked to Eli's doctor last week, I felt relieved and just a little sad. But as I thought more and researched more about a possible naso-gastric (NG) feeding tube for Eli, I became increasingly concerned about it. It just didn't sound to me like the best option for Eli. Though I was willing to do whatever the doctor said he needed, my mother's instinct was telling me that a feeding tube was something we needed to avoid, at least until we had some time to work with the therapist to help him overcome his aversion.

Anyway, at the same time as these concerns came up, my Grandmom sent me a chapter she copied out of a book on prayer. The chapter discussed the "prayer of relinquishment," and it really hit home. I could go on and on, but I'll just summarize by saying that I hadn't been relinquishing this desire so close to my heart (that Eli eat and gain weight) to the Lord. Rather, I had been making demands of Him that He fix the situation, and this was only serving to put up a wall between me and the Lord. When I read this chapter and truly "relinquished" this situation to God, I immediately felt so much peace and freedom. I felt the presence of God with me in this like I hadn't felt for so long. I felt calm and assured that God knows me and Eli, loves me and Eli, and will do what is truly best for me and Eli. My heart was truly "guarded" with the peace of God (Philippians 4).

Also, I figured out that if I feed Eli while he sleeps, he will eat without a fight. So instead of battling him on the every-2-hour schedule like I had been, I simply waited until it was time for his naps, rocked him to sleep, and then fed him easily and quickly. It was such a relief to not have to fight him! And I was able to slowly increase his feedings each day so that he was eating more per day than he was last week.

I spent this week working on Eli's feedings and really praying that God would allow Eli to gain enough weight that the doctor would postpone putting a feeding tube in him, which would give us enough time to work with the therapist and to continue to pray.

We went to the doctor today and I felt so nervous. I still felt uneasy about a feeding tube, and I was scared to see the numbers on the scale. I was praying for unwavering faith- the kind that believes that God answers specific prayers and, more than that, believes that He will do what is best. But still- I was nervous!

We got there and got Eli all undressed and plopped him on the little length-measuring board thing, and he grew 1/4 inch in one week! Good news so far. And then for the moment of truth- onto the scale Eli went. I closed my eyes, praying to see a 3-ounce gain from last week's 11 pounds, 10.5 ounces. The nurse happily exclaimed, "Hey, he gained some weight!" I looked down, and there it was- TWELVE POUNDS AND HALF AN OUNCE! Eli gained SIX OUNCES in one week! My eyes filled with tears- Eric and I were beaming.

I know it sounds silly for me to be excited about a 6-ounce weight gain, when that is really pretty normal for a baby, but to me that is HUGE! Eli has never, ever gained that much in one week, and he only gained 4 ounces total last month! So 6 ounces in a week was enough to amaze me. Not only did God answer my prayers- He doubled the number I'd been praying for! There is no way Eli could have gained 6 ounces apart from the Lord- God truly accomplished this for us, and I am amazed.

The doctor was equally amazed! :) She came in expecting to place a feeding tube and instead said, "Well, this throws me for a loop!" She was so impressed with the weight gain that she decided to just let us go to therapy this week and in the following weeks, continue to feed him like we are, and come back for a follow-up in 3 weeks. Just exactly like I prayed!

We will go back to see the doctor in a few weeks to re-evaluate Eli's feeding/weight gain situation. If he continues to gain weight steadily (even if it's slowly), we can avoid a feeding tube. Our prayers are...

1. That our time with the oral therapist is fruitful: That she can help Eli overcome his feeding aversion quickly so that he can increase the amount he eats and eat without a fight.
2. That we can continue to make progress on our own with Eli's feedings: That we can continue to patiently feed him and slowly increase his intake.
3. That Eli continues to quickly gain weight so that when we go back in 3 weeks he'll be almost 13 pounds.
4. That we can completely avoid the feeding tube.

Will you join us in praying for these things? It is truly prayer that has carried us through this situation thus far. We are so grateful.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Extreme Blog Makeover

My friend Tyne is starting up her own blog design biz! How cool is that? Want a blog makeover? You're just one click away.

CoutureBlogs

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Results


We went to see Eli's GI doctor (Dr. Whitney) today. Thank you all so much for praying! We had a really good talk with her.

Eli has only gained 4 ounces this month, which, of course, is concerning to the doctor. She said, "Slow growth I'm okay with; no growth means we have to do something." So the first order of business is to make sure that there is nothing mechanically/structurally wrong with Eli's digestive system. This is done with an upper GI test, which Eli already had done when we were in the hospital with pneumonia a few months back. So Dr. Whitney will look at those results, which will hopefully confirm that everything is fine inside Eli.

Then we move on to making sure that Eli's throat and mouth feel okay. Dr. Whitney started him on a medicine that will coat his stomach and throat and, if it's a sore throat that's the problem, the medicine will "act like a band-aid" so that eating won't be painful any more. We started the medicine today and will know in a few days if his throat is the problem, based on whether or not he starts eating more on his own after the medicine kicks in.

After we rule out a structural problem and a throat problem, we come to the issue that all of us are convinced that Eli has- oral aversion. This is a common problem with both premies and reflux babies, both of which Eli is. Basically eating becomes so unpleasant and uncomfortable for the baby that he/she just makes up his/her mind not to eat. Any amount of forcing won't help- it will only make the problem worse. To deal with this problem (which is more than likely the issue we're dealing with), we do two things...

1. Feeding tube. Dr. Whitney only uses naso-gastric (NG) tubes, which is a tiny tube inserted through the nose into the belly. This is such a relief to me, because I was convinced Eli was going to need surgery to get a feeding tube placed directly in his belly. The NG tube is much simpler, not painful at all, and can be removed and replaced anywhere, including by me here at home. We'll continue to feed Eli however much he wants to eat by mouth, and then the minute he refuses to eat more, we'll just stop and give him the rest through the tube. This will be in place for several months, until Eli bulks up a little and learns that eating by mouth isn't bad after all.

2. Occupational therapy. We'll go see a feeding/oral specialist who will help Eli overcome the aversion he has to eating by mouth. Apparently this is a slow process which will take several months to overcome, but it is crucial that we work with a professional and not just try to conquer the problem on our own.

Hopefully, after a few months of a feeding tube and therapy, Eli will have gained some substantial weight and will have learned to happily eat plenty of food by mouth. We won't go ahead with this plan until we know for sure that Eli's GI system and throat are okay, so we go back in a week to confirm these things. If, like we all suspect, he's completely fine physically and just orally aversive, we'll go ahead with the feeding tube/therapy plan.

I want to say first that I am so very thankful for such a wonderful doctor who listens so caringly to what we have to say and works so hard to make it better. She is also really calm and cool- she doesn't freak out like I tend to. I really appreciate this about her, along with her positive attitude. She said as we were leaving, "I've never not conquered this!" She says she deals with this often with babies, and it always resolves.

That said, I feel a strange mix of relief and sadness. Relief because we'll know exactly what's going on with Eli- confirmation that he's physically fine. Relief because we'll have a plan of action that will help him gain weight and learn to eat without a fight. Relief because I now no longer have to worry about feedings- they will be calm and pleasant because I don't have to force him to eat any more. Relief because the pressure of forcing Eli to eat and gain weight is now removed from my shoulders, eased by a feeding tube and a therapist.

But sadness because I don't want my baby to be "abnormal." Sadness because when people see him they'll think he's sick because he'll have a tube coming out of his nose. Sadness because he'll have to have tape on his face all the time to hold the tube in place, and I don't want him to be uncomfortable. Sadness because I just want a normal experience for my baby, nothing uncomfortable or unpleasant. All of this is selfish, in a sense, and I know that a feeding tube will be the best thing for Eli, for sure. But still. I'm a little sad.

Please pray that the tests are conclusive and that both the doctor and Eric and I will feel 100% positive about going ahead with the feeding tube/therapy plan. Pray that I'll be able to rest and relax, because now we know what's happening and what exactly Eli needs.

Thanks so much- you guys have carried Eli through his many "issues" with your prayers- from the NICU until now. I treasure your care for our little family!

P.S. LEAVE COMMENTS ON OUR BLOG!!! :)

This One's for You, Grandma and Grandpa Wilson

I have never posted a video before. I am not a big video fan, actually. This dates back to my childhood when, at certain large gatherings of friends and family, some happy parent would pull out his beloved video camera. And follow every one around. And ask for comments. Something witty, perhaps. Some new talent that you'd like to share on camera.

All of this left me staring blankly into the camera lens, getting all red in the face, saying stupid things like "Hi, Mom," and having it all documented on stacks and stacks of video tapes from family/friend holiday gatherings over the years.

All that to say that I typically shy away from taking videos of Eli. But, alas, the boy is just too cute not to video tape! So I try to capture a few moments here and there of him doing his favorite things- talking loudly, rolling over, and, of course, jumping in his jumparoo. So, without further pause, I present to you this video of Eli's jumping skills.



And here I must insert a few comments about things that you should ignore in this video:

1. Ignore the fact that he is jumping in the bathroom doorway. This handy little jumper is the way that I get my shower every morning. Baby happy, mommy clean!

2. Ignore the fact that Eli is wearing a hat in the house. I am not a cold-weather fan, and I take all precautions to make sure that Eli rarely has to experience coldness, even inside. :)

3. Ignore the fact that Eli is wearing pajamas tucked into slippers. Again, the cold-weather thing. And due to the fact that we have to be somewhere later today, I am waiting as long as possible to actually put cute clothes on him, thus saving myself the time it would take to change him again before we leave.

4. Ignore the silly, high-pitched voice of the person behind the camera. Apparently (according to my sisters), I talk fairly silly-ly to babies. There have been worse parenting mistakes.

5. Ignore the fact that this is an incredibly boring video if you are not, in fact, a grandparent or parent of Eli. Good thing most of my readers fall into this category. :)

6. Ignore the fact that Eli is wearing (how do I say this?) Longhorn slippers. I can feel the icey stares of my fellow Aggies now. These slippers are actually a gift from Grandma and Grandpa Wilson, who heckle me endlessly (lovingly, of course) about why I chose A&M over UT, who buy presents such as these lovely slippers for my son in an effort to sway him to the dark side (impossible). These slippers are also the warmest ones we have around here, and I can't let them go to waste. And I wanted you guys (Larry and Cheryl) to see how cute he looks in them, even if they do have the wrong school's logo on them. :) And, I must say, with the way that A&M has been playing lately, Eli might be a little more comfortable in Longhorn slippers! :)

We're off to get Eli's monthly RSV shot and then to the GI doctor. I'm nervous about what she's going to say. Pray for us!

***Please leave comments!***

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

7 Months


My sweet Eli,

Today you are seven months old! It seems like the time has flown by. I am trying hard to treasure every moment of you as a little baby- rocking you as you snuggle against my chest, carrying you around the house, singing to you as you eat your bottle, watching you sleep all warm in your crib… because I know that in the blink of an eye you'll be a rough and tumble little boy with no time to sit and rock with your mommy! Eli, you are a joy to my heart!

Here are some things that are true of you at seven months of age:

-You have found the volume control on your voice! :) You've always been a "talker," but just in the past few weeks you've discovered that you can be extremely loud, and you love this fact! When you wake up from your nap, you immediately begin testing the limits of your voice- shrieks, yells, laughs, etc., all at the top of your lungs. It cracks me up!

-You love to "bounce." Whether in your jumparoo or just standing in my lap, you bounce up and down almost non-stop. Everyone who sees me holding you asks if I'm making you bounce like that, but nope- it's all you, buddy! It's the cutest thing.

-You now love to bend completely in half so that your head is upside down. You'll be standing up on my lap and all of the sudden bend over completely and look at your shoes, your legs, etc. Then you'll stand up again and continue bouncing. Then down again you go… it's really funny to watch you. I wonder what you're thinking as you go through this routine!

-You are not a big fan of eating. Eli, we battle you with every bottle to get you to eat! You've always been a little adverse to feeding because of all the tubes down your throat in the NICU and because of your reflux, but we keep hoping you'll grow out of it. Not so much! :) This wears on us, and I'm sure on you too. You need to eat so you can gain weight, but this seems to be of very low priority to you!

-You're as happy as a clam almost 24/7 (barring feeding time). Needless to say, I love this about you!

-You can almost roll over from back to front! You mastered the other direction last month, but now you are working hard on getting from your back to your tummy. It is really funny to watch you try. It will be any day now, I think.

-You love grab at people's faces. Sometimes this is gentle and sweet, like when I rock you and sing to you and you softly touch my face, and sometimes this is rough and painful! :) You've learned that grabbing someone's lip and pulling gets quite a reaction, and this is highly amusing to you! :)

-You're bright, active, and very healthy. Despite your small size, you are in perfect health. The doctors are all so pleased about this, as are your mommy and daddy!

I love you so much, Eli Dane! I am so happy to share every day with you, to watch you learn and grow and discover the world around you. Happy birthday, Pumpkin!

***Note to readers: I want comments! :) I love hearing from you guys that you are reading our blog and praying for us, and I love all the Facebook messages about this. But please leave comments here too! It's really fun for me (and motivating to keep blogging) to read your comments. I don't mean to be selfish, but give me those comments! (Please.) :)***

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bumps in the Road


When we found out that I had preeclampsia and that Eli would be born prematurely, every doctor that we saw made it known that his first couple of years would have some "bumps in the road." The whole "two steps forward, one step back" philosophy. A baby born so early has so much that is underdeveloped and that takes so much time to become "normal." We know these facts, but it is still incredibly hard to deal with the bumps in the road that come up with our sweet son.

The latest "bump" has been a dramatic increase in spit-up/vomitting. We thought we had conquered this problem, because it had gotten so much better for a few weeks. But then this past week it has become increasingly bad. Today, for example, he has kept down a total of 6 ounces out of the more than 15 we have tried to feed him. He gags and vomits and we feel so terrible for him. And we worry about him, because we don't want him to become dehydrated, and we are a little scared that there is something more wrong than just "acid reflux," even though previous tests showed no problems.

We got so scared today that we were on the verge of taking him to the ER at Children's Hospital. But then we managed to get him to eat a couple ounces and keep it down, and he is sleeping peacefully now. We would have taken him to the ER, but Eli is at such high risk for respiratory infections like RSV, which could be deadly for a premie, and we just can't risk putting him in an ER at the peak of RSV season. If we can just keep him hydrated until our GI appointment on Wednesday, then we'll stay away from the ER. On Wednesday we'll pick the doctor's brain until she is sick of us, making sure that what we are dealing with is just a bad case of reflux, feeding aversion due to prematurity, and slow growth due to a high metabolism. We'll ask for tests to confirm this, and we'll ask for a plan of action to move forward from here. Do we continue what we're doing and just allow him to grow at his own slow pace, or do we take more drastic action with something like a feeding tube to help him grow more quickly? All of this we'll find out on Wednesday, and we are very eager for this appointment! We just need to keep Eli hydrated until then.

This has been an incredibly difficult time for me. I feel so worn down by all of this. Every feeding is a battle because Eli does not like to eat (due to all the tubes down his throat while he was in the NICU). Every feeding results in several ounces of spit-up on the carpet, on his clothes, on me. Every feeding must be repeated so that he gets enough in him to stay hydrated. And I feed him every two hours. On top of all this, I feel this huge pressure to make him grow. He is tiny- only 12 pounds at 7 months of age. Most doctors are unconcerned because he is growing steadily, if slowly, and is alert, bright, and very active. But one doctor in particular is very concerned and keeps threatening a barage of tests, feeding tubes, etc. if we can't get him to gain weight. I feel like I have 100 pounds on my shoulders, carrying around this weight and burden that I can never put down. I can't relax. I can't rest. My heart is worn out and heavy, and I don't know how to escape from this pressure.

I want to ask for prayer for our son. Please pray that he will be able to eat well and keep it all down. Please pray that he will gain weight quickly. And please pray for his worn out mommy, that I will be able to relax and trust the Lord and have the strength and patience to continue with this feeding/reflux battle.

In the grand scheme of things, what we are dealing with is nothing. We know people who have lost their children. We have seen infants in the hospital with terrible, fatal diseases. I am in no way comparing what we are dealing with to any of these situations. I will clean up spit-up until the day I die if it means that Eli is here with us. But I need to stop pretending that I am super-woman, that this is not taking an emotional and physical toll on me, because the reality is that I am so worn down by this. I love that God cares about all of our problems, from the very biggest to the very least.

And, for a dose of thankfulness, I have the greatest husband in the world. I called him in tears on Friday morning and he left work immediately to come home and help me care for Eli and my sisters' two kids, who were with me that day. He is a rock for me, strong and patient and free of worry. He trusts in the Lord and never wavers. He cares for me and encourages me and sacrifices all of himself to love me and Eli. I could not be more thankful. Eric is the best husband in the world- God's perfect provision for me.

And I have Eli! Aside from feeding times, he is the happiest, brightest, most active little thing you've ever seen. He "talks" and laughs non-stop, and he is a constant source of joy to my heart. I wish you could all meet him, because he is truly a joy. And he's not sick! In no way does he act or look sick. He just spits up a lot, but his countenance is somehow unaffected by this! :) He is a joy to our hearts, and I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world.

But still. Please pray for us! Love to you all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Timber!

Last Saturday we went with friends to the Wall Family Farm in Terrell to saw down our very first family Christmas tree! We did this every year growing up, and it was a tradition that I was very excited to start with our little family!


Eric with Eli, Nick with Rye and Titus, Phil with Timothy

Eli did great. It was pretty cold and windy, which he doesn't particularly like, but he was pretty content snuggled in the baby Bjorn on Eric's chest. We walked around forever and finally chose a tree, and Eric cut it down with Eli in the carrier on his chest- quite a feat, I think. :)


Eric with Eli, post-tree-felling.

We all had a great time- it was the perfect start to the Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Something Fun


Remember all those e-mail quizzes that used to get sent around when we were in high school? I was a big fan. Still am, actually, though I haven't gotten one in years... until this week! The e-mail had about a million questions, but here are a few (or 25) of my favorite. Copy and paste it to your blog with your own answers. Let the fun ensue!

1. What is your favorite TV show? I'm not a big TV-watcher, honestly. The one show we can't miss is "Amazing Race" on Sunday nights.

2. Diamonds or pearls? I love both! My wedding rings are diamonds, but Eric has given me pearls too. There is something so old-fashioned and classy about pearls, I think. My "happy birth of our first child" necklace from Eric has pearls in it.

3. What do you usually have for breakfast? Coffee, followed by another cup of coffee, followed by jitters all morning because all I ate was coffee.

4. What food do you dislike? I'm not really picky, and I love food. Individual foods are all yummy- it's when they're mixed together that I start disliking things. The one combo that makes me literally feel like throwing up is anything fruit-y with anything cream-y, i.e., strawberry ice cream. Just thinking about it makes me queasy. I know I'm wierd.

5. What is your favorite CD at the moment? A Christmas CD, of course! We just bought the Third Day "Christmas Offerings" CD, and it's really good.

6. Favorite sandwich? LOVE sandwiches, all kinds. My favorite would probably be a really good chicken salad on hearty wheat bread with mayo, sprouts, spinach, and really ripe tomatoes.

7. What characteristic do you despise? Rudeness. There is just no reason for it. No one likes someone being rude to them, so why be rude to someone else? Everyone responds well to kindness.

8. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Greece. I got to go with a group a few years back, but I am dying to go back with Eric!

9. Where would you retire to? Texas. :) I love Texas. I can't imagine living elsewhere! I guess I'd pick Washington State if I had to choose, but it is so cold that I would "winter" in Texas, for sure.

10. What was your most recent memorable birthday? My last birthday- 27th. Eric woke me up in bed with a bunch of presents that he wasn't supposed to get me, because my present was symphony tickets. We spent the whole day doing fun things, then went to my favorite fancy restaraunt for dinner and then to the Christmas concert at the Meyerson. It was perfect!

11. Favorite sport to watch? FOOTBALL.

12. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning!

13. Pets? I married into two dogs and two cats, all of whom are strictly outside animals with whom I have zero interaction. I'm a great pet-owner. :)

14. What is your favorite candy? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

15. What is your favorite flower? Hydrangeas, and white lilies.

16. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? December 19- my birthday celebration with Eric, complete with the symphony Christmas concert!

17. What was the last thing you ate? Turkey noodle soup with pumpkin and cranberry bread.

18. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Cerulean blue.

19. Favorite restaurant? Cheesecake Factory.

20. What was your favorite toy as a child? A baby-doll named Susie.

21. Hugs or kisses? Both! I especially like it when I kiss Eli and he opens his mouth and slobbers all over me in his attempt at a kiss. It's precious!

22. When was the last time you cried? Listening to "Merry Christmas" on the Third Day album the other day- it's the most heart-melting song ever.

23. What are you afraid of? The death of someone I love- having to live through that painful experience.

24. How many towns/cities have you lived in? 5- West Grove, PA, Dallas, TX, Mesquite, TX, Bryan/College Station, TX, and Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

25. Do you make friends easily? Not that easily- I'm a little shy, and it takes me a while to fully trust someone. But once I'm your friend, I promise I'll be loyal to you forever.

Play along, won't you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful

Here are 10 of the many things for which I am thankful. Forgive me for posting about thankfulness in honor of Thanksgiving- is it a bit too cliche? :) But I definitely need plenty of reminders to stop getting bogged down by difficult things in life and to enjoy the blessings God has given, for they are many. So here it is...

My Thanksgiving Top 10 List

1. My God. The God who loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son to provide me with a way to Him. The God who runs to meet me, even when I've been off "squandering my inheritance." The God who never gives up on me, even when I feel like giving up myself. The God who guards me with His peace. The God who calls me His, who I can call mine. If I was never given one more blessing in my entire life, a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ would always be blessing enough. More than enough.

2. My husband. You can't beat him. I'm sorry- you just can't! :) He loves me like Christ loves the church, cherishes me, cares for me, encourages me, prays for me, senses my needs and meets them before I even say a thing, loves our son with incredible tenderness and joy, makes me laugh until I cry. He is my favorite person in the world, my very best friend, the man with more integrity and godly character than any man I've ever known.

3. My son. Even though it is a slightly annoying trait, I love that Eli has separation anxiety! I love it because it means that he loves me best! :) How selfish is that? Seriously, though, I love that I get to be the one to rock him when he wakes up in the night, the first one to see his smile in the morning, the lips that kiss him a thousand times a day, the arms that carry him around the house as we go about our daily routine, the smile that makes him giggle, the fingers that tickle him to make him laugh. He is our miracle, our precious, sweet, content little Eli.

4. My sisters, who are my best friends.

5. My parents, who love each other more today than the day they married almost 30 years ago, who are models of faith and godliness and laughter and fun.

6. Dear friends, both near and far, who encourage me and challenge me, who make me want to be more like Christ.

7. A wonderful church home that feels like a family, teaches the Word, and provides so many opportunities to serve.

8. A warm, cozy little house.

9. A job that allows me to work only one day a week so that I can be home with Eli all the rest of the time. And it's fun and interesting to boot!

10. My Grandmom, who, along with my Granddad, is on her knees for me and my family every single morning of every single day, who is my role model in so many ways.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Catchy-Title-Less


Not a lot has been going on at the Wilson house, which is how I like it! :) I am such a creature of habit, and a home-body, and a big believer in routine, especially for kids... all of which makes for wonderful days spent at home or outside with my sweet little Eli! I love motherhood, being the one to take care of this precious little guy. When we got pregnant I thought I wasn't ready to give up my career, my independence, my life without kids, but God knew that I was ready! There isn't anything I would rather be doing now than being Eli's mom.

Anyway, not a lot has been going on here besides sickness! :) I came down with a really bad cold on Tuesday, and I had to work on Wednesday whilst feeling miserable. I could barely walk out of there after hours standing in the lab finishing the project I've been working on. But I came home to my sweet husband, who had taken the day off of work to take care of Eli while I worked, who rented and watched without complaining "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2" just because I was sick and wanted to watch a girlie movie, who gave me the world's greatest massage... What a guy!

I'm feeling so much better today, thankfully, but now Eli is sick! :( We went to his 6-month well-child check-up yesterday, where he was proclaimed perfectly healthy, and he got his vaccines. But then last night he woke up every single hour crying and would only calm down if we held him and rocked him for a long time. It was a rough night! I was assuming that he was just feeling poorly because of the shots, but then this morning he had a temperature of 101.2 degrees and these little "sores" on his tongue. I freaked out and called the pediatrician, who said simply, "Oh, he has the mouth ulcer virus." Duh. :) Apparently there is a virus going around that kids and babies are prone to get that results in fever and mouth sores. Check, check. It will just run it's course in a couple of days and he'll be as good as new soon. Until then- tylenol, fluids, and plenty of cuddling. Can do.

The weather is COOOOOOLD! I always long for cold weather by the time that it reaches November and is still 80 degrees, but then once that first good cold front hits I start complaining. :) I miss the warmth! :) But I am super-glad that it is cold now, because it definitely feels like the holidays! And I couldn't be happier about that! We have our turkey, which we'll cook the day after Thanksgiving so that, even though we'll be with family on Thanksgiving, we'll still have leftovers afterwards for lots of turkey sandwiches. :) We have all our decorations ready to go, to be put up on Friday. We're cutting down our tree at the tree farm on Saturday. And the Christmas music made its debut last night, despite my resolution to not listen to it until Thanksgiving. I'm so bad. :)

Here's to a good weekend for all of us! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Teething? HELP!


So I think that Eli is teething, because I can't pin his symptoms on anything else. But I can't feel or see a tooth in his mouth anywhere, which is the perplexing thing. Anwyay, he has, in the past week, begun to drool excessively, bite on anything he can get into his mouth, refuse to eat more than an ounce or two at a time, chew on the nipple of the bottle instead of sucking on it, wake up several times in the middle of the night (very unlike him), and fuss like crazy during the day (very, VERY unlike him). He doesn't have a fever, and he otherwise seems fine.

To all you moms out there... Do you think Eli is teething? Are these the symtoms? Why can't I feel or see any teeth in his mouth? Any advice you can give would be much appreciated! I feel bad for him because he seems like he's hurting, and I'm getting a little worn out by all this fussing and waking up at night. Good thing he's so darn cute! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Miracle


I forget all too easily all the amazing things God has done for me over the course of my life. There are several times in my life that I look back on regularly to remind me of God's timing, God's wisdom, and God's provision. Times that had me broken, wondering, "Why is this happening?" And then God stepped in, taught me, picked me up, provided for me, and showed me in big ways that He is the Only One I can count on, that in any situation, good or bad, He is the reward.

All that to say that, of course, Eli's birth makes this list. But for some reason it is easy for me to forget, as I go about the day-to-day tasks of changing diapers, feeding bottles, cleaning up toys, etc., about the miracle that God performed in His life. Today I was reminded.

Our memory card on our camera filled up today after I took a video of Eli rolling over. (He has gotten the hang of this feat so well that he will not stay on his stomach for anything! I had to hold him in place while I pressed the record button on the camera, lest I miss it!) We bought a huge memory card so that we wouldn't have to worry about cleaning it off very frequently, and it contained all the pictures that we have taken since Eli's birth, which is, needless to say, a whole lot. So before I deleted all the pictures and videos of Eli's birth from the memory card, I wanted to check to make sure that we had them saved onto the computer. And I came across the videos Eric took of Eli's birth.

I was majorly out of it then- after 14 hours of labor, several doses of something that made me really sleepy, an epidural, magnesium to control the blood pressure, and a whole bunch of medicines to keep my kidneys and liver functioning long enough to deliver Eli, I could barely hold my hand up, much less pay attention during the c-section. I remember the nurse showing Eli to me. I remember giving him a kiss before they took him away, and that's it. So these videos were amazing for me to watch.

They show our tiny little 2 1/2 pound son lying on the table as the doctors gave him oxygen and got him hooked up to the monitors. He is crying this tiny, quiet little cry. The doctors are all commenting on how small he is for his age, on how growth-restricted he was. He is skin and bones, little more than a foot long, born way too early. His tiny arms and legs are waving in the air, and he just keeps on crying that tiny little cry.

And despite the fact that he was born prematurely, despite the fact that he is tiny and will need much medical intervention to get him through the first months of his life, he is perfect.

In Eli, we got a glimpse of the miracle of God knitting a child together in the mother's womb. We're not supposed to see a baby so young, so small- they have far to go before they are "ready." But God gave us a window to look through, to see the perfection that is a baby being formed. The fingers are all there. The toes are all there. The eye lashes, the fingernails, the peach fuzz hair. Not to mention the beating heart, the inflating lungs, the vast network of blood vessels... Perfect.

As I watched those videos I cried. I cried for the miracle that God performs in knitting each child together in his mother's womb, for allowing us to glimpse that sooner than most people get to see it. And I cried for the fact that, as I watched those videos, I held my 11 1/2 pound son who was babbling and chewing on his hands and kicking his legs. He is our miracle, and I praise God for allowing us to be his parents, for allowing me to have this time in my life when, in the most dire of circumstances, He stepped in and worked mightily. I am in awe.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

6 Months



My dear, sweet Eli,

Tomorrow you will be 6 months old! Daddy and I can't believe that you have been part of our lives for so long- the time has flown by. There were times at the beginning of your life when we would sit for hours in the NICU looking at you, so tiny in your incubator, that we thought we would never have "normal" days. It seemed impossible that you would ever make it out of the hospital, much less be free of the wires, tubes, and medicines that sustained your life for so long.

And look at you now, son! You're as healthy as they come- active, talkative, happy, and strong. And even though you're still small, you amaze us every day with the way that you've grown and how you learn something new every day. We LOVE our tiny guy!

Do you know that your smile melts my heart? Do you know that the very best moment of my day is looking over the rail of your crib in the morning to see you squirming and squealing with delight that I'm there? Do you know that I go into your room to watch you sleep at least 5 times every night? Do you know that the feel of your little body snuggled against mine is the most peaceful, wonderful feeling in the world? Do you know that your laugh brings gladness to my heart? Do you know that I cry tears of joy almost every day as I rock you in my arms, praising the Lord for the MIRACLE that He has given to us in you?

Eli, you are everything we prayed for. Before you were born, your Daddy and I would pray every night for your heart. We cared deeply for your physical health, but more than anything we wanted the Lord to give you a heart after His own. We prayed for a gentle, sweet spirit that was evident from the very beginning, and this is exactly what the Lord gave to us in you. Even strangers who meet you comment on how sweet you are, and Daddy and I daily marvel at the beautiful personality God has given to you. We still pray for you every day and every night, begging God to call your sweet heart to Himself and to use you mightily all the days of your life.

Here are a few of your "things" at 6 months of age...
-You smile all the time! You're a very happy, content little guy that very rarely cries or fusses. (Except at feeding time- you've never been a big fan of eating!)
-You can push up on your arms and roll over from your belly to your back.
-You just developed "tickle-ish-ness." Even the simple act of changing your diaper tickles you! Your little laugh is adorable.
-You "bounce" all the time. Your jumparoo is your favorite place to be, and even when you're not in it you bounce up and down in our laps constantly!
-Separation anxiety! Though this can be somewhat disconcerting when I need to leave you with your grandparents or aunts for a little while, it makes me smile that I am the one you want at all times! I am so happy to be that person in your life.

We are so thankful for you, our little Pumpkin. We love our little family and look forward eagerly to all that the Lord has in store for us. We promise to parent you to the very best of our abilities, always relying on the Lord for wisdom and guidance as we raise you. We will strive to make our family the safest, happiest, most fun, most secure place you can be.

"I'll love you forever; I'll like you for always. As long as you're living, my baby you'll be."

Happy 6 months birthday, Eli!
Mommy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Simple Things


Last weekend the whole Bergstrom side of the family went camping... Eric and Eli and me, my sisters and their husbands and kids, and my parents. We have done this twice a year for as long as I can remember. As little girls we would look forward all summer to the fall camp-out and all winter to the spring camp-out. We would pack up the car and drive 2 1/2 hours to Daingerfield State Park, asking every 3 minutes, "Are we there yet?" We longed to finally climb out of the car and run down to see the lake. We wanted to swim out to the dock and rate each other's dives on a scale of 1-10. We couldn't wait to feed bread to the ducks and use our Snoopy fishing poles to reel in perch from the fishing pier. We loved to hop on the back of the paddle boat as my parents paddled us all around the lake, looking at the banks for turtles and stopping at the deepest part in the middle of the lake to jump off and swim. We somewhat dreaded the long walk around the lake, but my parents made it fun by playing games the whole way and bribing us with snow cones from the camp store if we made it all the way around without complaining. At night we counted the minutes until it was dark enough to build the campfire, and we would sit for hours around it, listening to funny stories from my dad and eating the S'mores my mom made for us. And we'd climb into the little bed at night, all snuggled close together, and drift off to sleep as we listened to my parents play Scrabble together in the candlelight. And we'd dream all night of all the fun things that awaited us the next morning.

These are simple things. Things that kids today may think boring and silly. They might rather be playing video games or watching tv. But I can't think of anything more healthy for a child, for anyone, really, than to enjoy the simple things in life. I am deeply thankful for my parents, who taught us to love looking for bugs and lizards beneath fallen trees, who chased us around a field in a game of tag, who made tossing bread to ducks an exciting activity, who showed us that a weekend spent outside with no communication with anyone or anything besides our family and nature was the very best way to spend our time.

And I love that we're still doing it to this day! Daingerfield is still my favorite place in Texas. Our bi-yearly trips are the weekends I look forward to most the whole year. It is a joy to bring my husband to this place where I spent so many days of my childhood and to watch as he and my brothers-in-law fall in love with these weekends too. It was an even greater joy to bring our little son to this place, to put him in the carrier and walk with him around the lake, to lay on a blanket with him in the shade as the breeze blew leaves all around us, to see him interact with his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, to put him to bed at night in a little cabin and let him fall asleep to the sounds of his family talking and laughing around the campfire outside.

I want Eli and any other children we may have to realize that the simple things are the best things. I want him to look forward all year to looking for turtles from the back of his Grandpa's paddle boat, to running around in the field chasing his cousins, to finding a lizard under a log on the walk around the lake. I want him to know, even as the world changes and bad things happen all around us, that family is safe and fun and the very best place to be. I want to give him the simple things just as my parents gave them to me, and I want him to love them just as much as his parents do. And I want us to praise God together as a family for the many beautifully simple things that He has given us to enjoy, for they are so many.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So They all Rolled Over and One Fell Out...


No, no one fell out of anything this week, but someone did ROLL OVER! That's right, our tiny little Eli finally figured out how to roll over! I am so proud of him! Every doctor we ever see (which is a lot for our preemie guy) gently reminds me that Eli will be developmentally behind until he is two years old because of his prematurity. (At two he'll be completely caught up.) So I try not to read any of the books that talk about milestones for his age, etc. because I just want to enjoy Eli for who he is and were he's at. But I get so excited when he reaches each milestone AHEAD of when the doctors say a premature baby should reach them! Our little Eli has been a fighter since day one, and he continues to prove his strength to us every day.

Yesterday morning I had him on the floor playing with toys on his belly, and he all of the sudden just rolled over to his back! I was really surprised because he's never even attempted this before, so I put him back on his belly to see if it was just an accident or if he'd do it again. And over he went yet again! His look of surprise was so adorable- "Hey, how did I get to be on my back?" And then when I went nuts with praise for him he looked even more surprised, "Why is mom going bonkers about this?" Of course, when I tried to capture his new feat on video, he just got mad and wanted to be held. But I'll remember this first roll-over forever in my head! Way to go, little Eli!

In other news, I am finally getting over this stomach bug that has had me down for five days now. That's right, five days. Five miserable days. Five saltines-and-chicken-broth days. Five 100-degree-fever days. Five I-think-I'll-just-lay-here-and-moan days (reference When Harry Met Sally). Fortunately Eric was home over the weekend and took care of Eli 100% so that I could just lay in bed. But yesterday he had to go back to work and it almost killed me! I never realized how bad being sick can be until I had a baby! To be dragged out of bed in the morning by a happy, talkative baby and have to be smiley and upbeat and care-taking all day when you feel like you just got ran over by a truck is no easy thing! But I did it. And today is so much better. I'm really thankful to be sitting here drinking a cup of coffee and keeping it down! :) Hooray for health.

Eli has been so incredibly talkative lately! From the moment he wakes up to the moment he closes his eyes he is babbling. I love it! It is hard to feed him, though, because he just wants to talk, not eat his bottle. :)

We're going camping this weekend! Twice a year our whole [Bergstrom side of the] family goes to Daingerfield State Park in East Texas for a long weekend. It's the most perfect place in Texas, and we've been going there since we were little girls. And now that we're all grown up and married with kids, we're still going strong. Eric and I had to miss the last trip because I was on strict bed rest with the pregnancy, so we are even more looking forward to this one. Daingerfield is the place where Eric told me that he loved me for the first time (sappy sound effects allowed here) and the place where he proposed (in the most romantic, amazing way any guy could ever come up with) and the place we went just days after finding out we were expecting Eli. And now it is the place that we'll bring Eli twice a year for years and years to come. I can't wait!

And, now that I am hearing Eli's talking through the baby monitor, I will go get him up from his nap! Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This Week


Not a lot has been going on this week- it has been really calm and normal, which is just how I like it! Here are a few tidbits...

-At Awana on Tuesday I was talking to the kids about whether or not they like their school teachers. One boy said, "I like my Awana teacher!" Because I am in fact their Awana teacher, I wanted to know the wonderful reasons why he likes me so much. He answered, "Because she brings us snacks every week!" Yeah, I was humbled. :)

-Eli is as cute and happy as ever! His new thing is to talk incessantly every moment that he is awake. So instead of hearing him fussing in his crib when he wakes up for his 4am feeding, we hear baby talk. It's adorable. We have a mobile above his crib that he loves. It is a blessing beacause it keeps him occupied in his crib long enough for me to fix him a bottle or finish what I was doing before going in to get him. It is a curse because if I lay him down to sleep and he so much as cracks an eye open to see it, he gets so excited that he just lays there and talks to it instead of sleeping. :)

-Eli and I went to the Arboretum again this week, this time with my friend Sarah and her two kiddos. We had a blast, despite spending a whopping $14 on a sandwich and a cup of coffee. (Note to self: PACK A PICNIC LUNCH NEXT TIME!) Eric and I are going to buy a family membership to the Arboretum as a present for Eli for Christmas. It will be something that we can all enjoy throughout the year.

-I ruined our weekend plans by catching some sort of stomach bug! I haven't been sick like this since college, and it hit me so hard. We had planned on taking Eli to the zoo, but all I could manage on Saturday was to lie in bed and moan! :) I am really thankful that Eric was around to take care of Eli! I am feeling much better today, just kind of "blah." Hopefully tomorrow I'll be 100%, because I have Heather's kids along with Eli.

And that's about it! Have a great week!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Shepherd


This weekend I went on the Women's Retreat with our church. It was so very refreshing. Do you ever think that God chooses speakers/teachers/pastors sometimes for just one person in an audience? Sure, everyone enjoys the teaching and gets encouraged by the Word of God, but maybe God chose the speaker to touch the heart of one particular person in the room, one person who really needed to hear a specific something that they wouldn't have heard otherwise? This is probably a really naive view of things, because God is so big and His Word so deep that He can use a speaker to touch the hearts of every single person in a room in a multiplicity of ways. But it makes me feel special to very occasionally feel like God chose a speaker especially for me. Anyway, the point of that ramble is that I feel like this weekend's speaker was just for me, if even for the few minutes that she shared one particular verse.

Please forgive the lengthiness, and let me share with you how my heart was touched...

The speaker (Shirley Bryan) was talking about the 'pictures' God gives us that can sustain us through difficult times, i.e., a child and her Father, the indwelling Word, putting on spiritual clothing, etc. And the picture that touched me most was the picture of the Shepherd. This is why God had me go on this retreat. He reached down and spoke directly into my heart, and I am changed.

"Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." (Isaiah 40:11)

The past year and a half has contained both the greatest joys and the deepest sorrow of my life. In the past year and a half I got engaged and married. My first child was born. These are joys that will forever stand out as the happiest moments of my life. But the darkest days of my life are also contained in the past year and a half. They are recent, actually- just five and a half short months ago my precious Eli was born two months premature and spent six weeks in the NICU fighting for His life.

I was very sick with Eli's birth. My blood pressure had sky-rocketed to 200/150. My kidneys were shutting down. My liver was swelling and causing unbearable pain. I was on magnesium sulfate and was unable to move my legs or get out of bed for 52 hours. I was swollen so much that I didn't even look like myself. I had an emergency c-section and was incredibly sore.

But all of this discomfort pales in comparison to the fact that my little baby boy was taken out of my body and placed not onto my chest but into an incubator and rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit. I kissed his little head, but then I didn't get to see my son for 48 hours. I didn't get to hold him for 52 hours. He was on a ventilator, under UV lamps, attached to an IV, heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, respiration monitor, and feeding tube. He weighed little more than 2.5 pounds. His lungs were immature and unable to work on their own. His heart had a valve open that was supposed to be closed at birth. He cried out in pain, but no sound came out because of the tube in his lungs. He had tape covering most of his face, holding in the vent tube, and his eyes were shielded with "sunglasses" so that they would not burn under the UV lamp. His skin was transparent. You could see his ribs and his heaving chest with every breath. Sitting there in a wheelchair, looking at my son in this condition, I felt the most intense pain I have ever felt in my entire life. And when they placed him in my arms hours later, along with all his tubing and little monitors, I sobbed. Part of my tears were joyful- I was holding my son!- and part were tears of intense pain.

Three days later Eric and I drove away from the hospital without our baby. We left him in the NICU. I walked into the house and unpacked my things and went to bed, and the nursery was dark and quiet. Every day I drove to the hospital and sat for hours on end staring into Eli's incubator, stretching my arms through the little windows so that I could touch his head, singing quiet lullabyes so that he would know my voice, rejoicing in every opportunity given to me to take his temperature or change his diaper and even hold him for an hour or two every few days. Some days we received good news and some days we received bad news. Every day I walked out of the hospital with tears in my eyes because I was leaving my baby, going home to an empty nursery. Every day I ached to have him in my arms, and most days of those first few weeks the most that I was allowed was to hold his hand.

The upshot is that right now as I write this I am listening to the sound of my little Eli's breathing through the baby monitor. He is sleeping in his warm crib, listening to his sound machine, snuggled in his soft blankets and waiting to wake up with a smile so that I can feed him and rock him back to sleep. And while I rejoice daily in the miracle of my son, my little Eli, the pain of those first months is still so fresh in my heart. I am crying even as I write this.

And the verse above touched me this weekend right in that painful place. I had memorized it years ago, but I forgot all about it until the speaker read it again. In speaking of her own experience with her premature and sick son, she said that she didn't need to worry that she couldn't hold her tiny baby, because the Shepherd was holding him close. And just as He was holding her baby, He was holding the baby's mommy too, with gentleness and love. And my heart broke under the power of God's word.

I couldn't hold Eli. I couldn't help him. I couldn't take him home with me and put him to bed and give him a bath and get him dressed. I couldn't even nurse him. I couldn't even get out of bed for those first days, could do little more than lie in pain. But my Shepherd was with me, because I am of His flock. He was holding my baby in His bosom. And He was gently leading this tired, sick, grieving mommy. All the way. Through the bad news and the good news. Through every labored breath Eli took. Through every tear that ran down my face. Through every night that we spent away from each other. Through every silent cry that escaped his lips and every sob that came through mine. Through every ounce Eli gained and every test he endured. Through every moment I longed to hold my baby and every moment when I could do little more than look at him through the incubator wall. Through it all, my Shepherd was there, carrying my little lamb in His bosom and gently leading this nursing mommy. And feeling our pain. And seeing my sin, and the days when I didn't even feel like I could pray. And loving me anyway. So faithfully.

I have been meaning to write a "tribute" to the Lord for all that He has done for us in the miracle of Eli. But I feel that this verse is tribute enough. And there is nothing more perfect than His Word. What more can I say but that He is my Shepherd. And I never knew what that meant or how it felt until this darkest time of my life. But I will forever have a deeper understanding because of this time. I am deeply thankful. God is my Shepherd. He is good all the time. I will teach my son this truth and will pray that each member of our family walks faithfully with the Shepherd who tends to each member of His flock with exactly the kind of care they need, from the lambs to the ewes, and everyone in between.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happenings


Here is a little glimpse into the Wilson household this past week...

-Eli had his first cold last week. :( We always freak out about the littlest things with him because of his lowered immunity (due to prematurity), but he weathered the storm just fine. He was really sleepy and lost much of his appetite, but after several days of me holding him non-stop (and watching Gilmore Girls to keep myself occupied), he came out of it. Yay! One cold virus down, 299 to go!

-Eli made his last trip to church for several months. Because of RSV season, we have been strongly urged by Eli's doctors to keep him inside our house and away from crowds so that he is protected from the RSV virus. Again, because of his prematurity and lung problems, he's really susceptible to RSV and to major complications because of it. So on Sunday we made our last trip to church for the fall/winter. When we re-emerge from hibernation he'll shock 'em all with his enormous size. :)

-We went to the Arboretum on Saturday. It was beautiful! They have so many pumpkins out, and every mother in the Dallas metroplex was there taking pictures of her children. It was comical- every mom was yelling some version of "STOP THAT! SIT DOWN! SMILE! YOU WILL HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!" and every child was climbing recklessly over the pumpkins and hay, refusing to sit or smile for the pictures. It made me laugh.

-Eric and I got to have a really fun date on Friday night. The days of going on a date every Friday night, though fondly remembered, are long gone now that we have a baby. So we treasure the couple Fridays a month that we get to go out and leave Eli with my parents. We ate dinner on the lake and got ice cream afterwards and just talked and laughed. Perfect!

-Eli had his first RSV shot. I hate seeing him get shots, but this is one that I am behind 100%. It's an immunoglobin shot that boosts Eli's ability to fight RSV if he does get it. We go every month until March to get a shot. We're paying a $15 copay for each shot, thanks to insurance, but the shots actually cost $1000 a pop! It must be some good medicine!

And that's about it. Sorry for the not-so-exciting post. Happy fall!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

5 Months!


Five months ago today, at exactly 5:19am, Eli came into our world! It is so hard to believe that 5 whole months have passed. The Lord has truly had His hands around our little guy every step of the way.

Eli, born almost two months early, was severely growth-restricted in utero, and was born weighing only a little more than 2 1/2 pounds. He was TINY- his knee was the size of the joint in my thumb. He now weighs almost 11 pounds, and, though he is still so small in comparison with other babies his age, we are so thankful for our big boy.

Here are a few things I love about my Eli:

-He rarely fusses or cries! (Unless, of course, I am sucking his nose with a nasal aspirator, but who wouldn't cry about that?)
-He loves to stand up and does it at every opportunity. And because he's so skinny, you can see the muscles in his thighs. It's so cute!
-He is really verbal and interactive. If I put him down for a minute to go into the next room, he starts talking up a storm, LOUDLY, as if he is calling me back in so that we can have a chat.
-He loves to read books. Fox in Sox is his favorite. He talks and laughs the whole time.
-He loves to be outside. Eric and I both love this about him, because we're big fans of the great outdoors ourselves.
-He's a cuddler. How I always wanted a baby who would just snuggle into my chest and fall contentedly asleep... and that's what I got!
-He's SWEET. I can't explain it, but that's just what he is. There is a sweet gentleness about him that reminds me so much of Eric and of the Lord.

I could go on and on. What can I say? I love my baby! Happy 5-month birthday, Eli! We're so proud to be your parents!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pretty Old-Fashioned

Eric and I volunteer at the Awana club at our church. If you're not familiar with Awana, it's a Bible club for kids focused on games and Scripture memory. Kelly and Heather and I did Awana when we were kids and LOVED it, and many of the verses I know now are ones that I learned in club! Anyway, it's been a blast to get to spend time with these precious kids on Tuesday nights, and I am learning more than ever that "kids say the darndest things." :) I'll give you one example. (I'm not going to put the kid's name in here because I didn't ask his parents' permission.)

Boy: Have you ever heard of backyard baseball?
Me: Yes, I have.
Boy: We have it. It's pretty old-fashioned, though.
Me: Old-fashioned? What do you mean?
Boy: Well, it was made back in 2003 or something. Maybe even 2002. It's really old.
Me: I don't think that's old at all.
Boy: Yes it is! I was born in 2001 and it is only one year older than me!
Me: Oh yeah, well guess how old I am?
Boy: Ummm.... 15!
Me: (laughing) I'm a little older than 15.
Boy: Ooo, I know- 46!
Me: 46?!? I'm not 46!
Boy: Oh, um, thirty-something?
Me: Less than that.
Boy: Twenty-something?
Me: Yeah, somewhere in the twenties.
Boy: (goes through all the numbers until he hits on 27) 27! You're 27.
Me: Yup. 27. You hurt my feelings with that 46 comment. (said jokingly, of course)
Boy: (smiles apologetically) I was just kidding. (pauses and thinks) You're 20 years older than me!

I'm so old-fasioned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thoughts


First a little venting, and then a little confession...

Monday's Doctor's Appointment: On Monday I took Eli to the pulmonologist for his monthly check-up. Everything was great with Eli. He is approaching the growth curve for his real age, which is amazing. Ten whole pounds! He's on the premature growth curve, but it will be quite a day when we can actually say, "He's in the xth percentile!" :) Anyway, the point is that I think they should make a new system for waiting in doctor's offices with infants. All moms know how difficult it can be to get out of the house with a baby who is fed, clothed, dry, and sleepy enough to not scream in the waiting room. I had accomplished just that, much to my pleasure and surprise! I drove to Presbyterian Hospital and Eli was sleeping. When we got to the waiting room he was happy. I knew I had about an hour and a half left of happiness, which should have been plenty for a quick doctor's visit.

Not so. I sat in the waiting room for AN HOUR. When we finally got called back, we sat in the exam room waiting for the doctor for THIRTY MINUTES. By this time Eli was starving and sleepy. I decided to go ahead and feed him in the room, but the sink didn't work to fill up Eli's bottle. The SINK. You know, where the doctors are supposed to wash their hands.

Anyway, I couldn't feed Eli, so we just paced the tiny room. He was an angel, not fussy at all and so sweet, even when the doctor finally came in and poked around on him. This lasted for all of seven minutes. An hour and a half of waiting for a 7-minute visit! To his credit, we really like this doctor and will continue to see him for all of Eli's respiratory issues, but still. So he leaves and says that the nurse will be "right back" with our treatment sheet, which we are not supposed to leave without. We wait for TWENTY MORE MINUTES for this nurse who is supposed to be "right back." AAAARRRG! And the treatment sheet? Basically a print-out of Eli's weight, height, and the instructions to "continue as we are doing." SO NOT WORTH A TWENTY MINUTE WAIT! And to make matters worse, I had just gotten my poor starving baby to sleep in his stroller when the nurse came back and gave us instructions in the loudest possible voice. Could she not see that Eli was asleep? Is she not a pediatric nurse that is supposed to be aware of the habits of little babies? Needless to say, Eli woke up. We managed to make it home without a major meltdown, but it was quite the afternoon.

So frustrating. It's one thing if you make an adult wait for two hours at a doctor's appointment. It's quite another to make an infant wait that long. I understand running late; I really do. But some sort of system should be devised where they at least call the patients and tell them to come an hour later to avoid all the waiting nonsense. Geez.

Growth Spurt: Eli is going through a growth spurt, apparently, because he is hungry much more often and wants to eat several times during the night. This, of course, is no fun for me, getting up with him at midnight, 2am, and 5am. I was all complain-y this week about it, but then I read this verse this morning in Proverbs 31...

"She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens." (15)

I was so convicted. I know that this is somewhat symbolic, but it is also probably quite literal for the time in which it was written. And it is still applicable today. (Don't you love the Word?) The verse doesn't say, "She begrudgingly drags herself out of bed and whines in her head while feeding her infant," which is what I've been doing. It doesn't say, "She complains about having little sleep because of rising while it is still night," which is what I've been doing. It does say that she willingly chooses to get out of bed before the sun even comes up to feed those that depend on her. And the Lord reminded me that it is my assignment, my mission right now to care for Eli. And that means doing all the fun stuff during the day, but it also means meeting all his needs at all hours of the night.

I can do this begrudgingly and with complaints, but how sinful that is, how much glory that robs of the Lord who designed motherhood to reflect, in part, the way that He cares for us as His children. How beautiful it would be if I would joyfully, gladly, willingly rise to care for the needs of my tiny son because I want to be faithful to the task set before me by the Lord who cares for all of my needs. I am praying for this kind of attitude and heart today, and for forgiveness for my bad attitude this week. I want to honor God in the way I care for Eli and to display to him and to others the heart of the Father in sacrificially tending to all that he needs, with a joyful heart, even at 2am.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

[Insert attention-grabbing title here]


Life has been pretty "normal" around here lately, which I like. I am such a routine person (or 'anal person,' as some may say). :) Here are a few things that have been going on around here this week..

-I officially went back to work on Thursday! Yipes! I am SO THANKFUL for a job that is allowing me to go in to the office only one day a week. I have a few hours of work that I'll need to do from home each week, and then I am just supposed to be "available" for tech support as needed. I really enjoy what I do, and it is such a blessing to be able to be at home with Eli for 6 out of 7 days each week. And when I'm at work Eli is with Heather, who takes such good care of him. It was sad to leave him, and I thought about him all day long, but he did great, and this is how it needs to be until we win the lottery and have the financial luxury of me not having to work at all.

-I am becoming more adept at caring for multiple children. For several weeks now I've been keeping Heather's kids (Jacey, 2 yrs., and Cooper, 3 months) on Friday mornings. It's certainly a challenge, but I'm learning. And though there is a lot of crying (90% babies, 6% toddler, 4% Erica), I think everyone gets what they need (excepting a shower for me). I have newfound appreciation for mothers of multiple young children. And I'm thankful for this time that I have to bond with my niece and nephew!

-My grandparents are visiting from Pennsylvania. They're such wonderful people- my role models when it comes to prayer and a lifetime of faithfulness to the Lord. We've all been enjoying lots of family time, and my grandparents are loving their three new great-grandchildren.

And that's about all from our neck of the woods! The picture was taken at church today. Yes, I know we're all wearing blue and white- I'm corny like that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Refreshed


Last Friday morning as my nephew was screaming, my neice was calling for my help, and my son was soaking all of us in spit-up, I said to Eli, "Mommy needs a break!" Thankfully, a break was coming right up!

This past weekend Eric took me to Austin for a long weekend to celebrate our first anniversary. My parents kept Eli for us. I missed him some (I cried when James Taylor's "Sweet Baby James" came up on the playlist because I always sing that lullabye to him), but not too much, because I knew he was in very good hands.

Eric and I stayed on Town Lake and went kayaking and swimming and took lots of long walks along the lake and around town and ate at some awesome restaraunts and slept A LOT. It was just so nice to be FREE for three whole days. We really enjoyed just being together and being outside, our favorite things.

And even though it's only been a year of marriage, it's been quite the year! :) From finding out three weeks after our wedding that we were pregnant to me being put on bed rest for almost two months to having Eli 7 weeks early and spending 6 weeks driving back and forth daily to the hospital to see him in the NICU to all the little health issues that he's had because of his prematurity... yeah, it's been some 12 months! :) But we wouldn't trade it for anything, and we are proud to say that we are more in love today than the day we got married.

Eric is my favorite person in the whole world- I can't imagine a better husband. I thank God every single day for the privilege of being his wife, and I pray that I can make him as happy as he makes me every single day. I am so thankful for the weekend that we got to spend celebrating our marriage.

And it was so wonderful to get to hug Eli again, to see his smiles, to hold that little tiny baby that has brought us so much joy this year. And after we put him to bed we ate the top of our wedding cake (still yummy, surprisingly) and opened a bottle of wine that we bought at the vineyard we stayed at outside of Seattle last year. It was a perfect first anniversary! We are very refreshed.