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.

video

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?