Friday, December 31, 2010

What a year. :)

I can honestly say that this has been the most unbelievable, challenging, rewarding, difficult, exciting, faith-stretching, life-changing year of my life!  Have I loved every minute?  No.  Looking back, am I thankful for every minute? Completely.

There have been SO many changes in my life that I never dreamed would happen, but thankfully, God was right on top of those, and He saw me through those times. 

Seriously, if you would have asked me a year ago today that I would:
begin doubting my career as a teacher
give birth at 27 weeks
not teach for 12 weeks after that (...and not have my sub plans ready, mind you!  Eek!)
watch my baby fight for her life in a hospital
cry more tears than I wish to admit
watch babies lose their lives in the NICU
be heartbroken for those Mommies and Daddies
learn how difficult it can be to be the Mama of a micro-preemie
leave the school that I grew to love
fight what can only be described as a bout with depression during A's hospital stay
...I would have told you that you were absolutely nuts.  Stuff like this just doesn't happen to me, right?  Isn't that so easy to say? ha!  God has a way of rocking your world and making you realize that He is indeed in control of this whole shindig!  Thank Heavens.

On the flip side, some amazing things happened in my life, too!  Here are just a few:

leaned on God and felt His presence in every. single. minute. of this year!

learned that my teensy baby girl is a fighter :)

learned more about a NICU than I ever thought possible... and felt pretty darn smart about it, too!

made friends in the NICU that I will treasure forever

learned that my husband is more amazing than I ever dreamed

learned how supportive our family really is

found out just how true friends can be when times are tough

loved having a baby at HOME! :)

took a gazillion pictures!

fell in love with a blue-eyed girl

helped open a school that I love

started loving my job again (thanks to these sweeties!)

loved every aspect of living my dream of being a Mama :)

got to wake up every day to the happiest baby on the planet!

... the list goes on and on. :)

Now, is every day peachy? No.  But like I said earlier, I have learned to be thankful and content in everything.  If I can show Addie anything from this first year of her life, it is that God is SO faithful to us.  He will stretch you, break you, and bend you... but all the while, He is molding you into the woman He wants you to be.  He puts some people in your life that are there forever... and others that are only there for a season.  Each of those people has a purpose... something He wants you to learn and use to grow closer to Him.  I also want her to know that she was chosen to have an awesome story and that she is to use it to help others and teach them about God and His faithfulness.  It's my prayer that she will be a woman who does this from a young age. :)

It's pretty stinking amazing how He works it all together.
Happy 2011, friends!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What a blessing!

When we were in the NICU, a family donated books to the patients that were there.  We were lucky enough to get one of those books, and on the inside, it had a tag that showed it was in honor of another child who had "graduated" from the NICU earlier that year.  Immediately, I knew I wanted to do this for families one day in honor of our miracle baby, Addie.

Let me back track and say this... the day after Addie was born, my meds had finally started to wear off from the four previous days, and I was coming to grips with what was happening.  I remember contemplating and wondering if my baby would survive.  That is a feeling that no one wants to have.  I had gone from pregnancy heaven to a living hell in a matter of days.  Seriously. As I slowly walked through the NICU to Addie's bedside, I distinctly remember the shadow boxes that were on display on the walls that showed babies who were born at 24 weeks, 26 weeks, 28 weeks... but it also showed them years later.  They were happy, healthy, and beautiful!  Those pictures made me realize that this was not the end.  This was not a tragedy.  This was not time for me to have a pity party.  I remember God showing me that this would indeed be our little family's finest hour.  He had a plan for my sweet baby who was attached to beeping monitors, struggling to learn how to breathe in the little Giraffe (incubator).  It was my job to step up, be strong, and show her that I was her Mama.  Eric and I both had incredibly strong parents, and now it was our turn.

Ok, back to the fun stuff. :) Thankfully, my Mama has a memory like a steel trap, and she helped us put the plans in motion a few months ago. :)  We raised money to buy 61 books for NICU patients!  That is awesome!  We are so thankful to our family and friends who donated so we could use this project to encourage families who are spending their first Christmases with their babies in the NICU.  We wanted to show them exactly what those shadow boxes showed us.  There is hope. :)

Eric, Addie, and I traveled back to Baptist this past Wednesday to play Santa. :)  I must say that the drive was pretty hard... so many memories, sights, and smells flooded us.  The only thing that made it okay was looking in the backseat and seeing my baby there.  In the car.  With us. :)  Anyway, we made sure to go on a day that Carly was working.  We were so happy to see her!

 We love Nurse Carly!

 Daddy and Addie getting ready to deliver!

 Sweet girl and her Mama!  To say I'm enjoying my holiday vacation with this baby is an understatement. :)

 Needless to say, Addie loved the attention she got as we walked through the NICU!  She can work a crowd!  I know it was an encouragement to the Mommies we saw... to see where Addie is today.  I remember seeing babies when we were there and hearing stories and thinking, "Ok.  Addie can do this.  We can do this." :)

 Dr. Rojas!  Now, I know he takes care of a gazillion babies, but he really makes you feel like he remembers you and your story.  We have never felt like Addie was "just another baby."  That is one of our favorite things about him. :)

 Nurse Leanne... she was the day shift Charge Nurse when we were there.  She is a hoot!  We could always count on her to make us smile!

I love this picture! :)  It has been ordered to be framed at our house... and at your house, too, Carly! :)

As you can see, it was a lot of fun for us to do this as a family!  We will go back around her 1st birthday (next month... eek!) and deliver the rest of the books.  This will definitely be an annual tradition, so if you would like to help out next time, let me know! :)  You'd be surprised how such a small gesture can make the day of a parent whose baby is fighting for his or her life. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NICU Mini-Reunion :)

This past Saturday was so much fun for us!  We got to travel to Lebanon for a 1st birthday party that was definitely a celebration of life!  Sweet Johannah was across from Addie in the NICU, and she is such a precious miracle!  We had such a great time visiting with Jojo's family and Cooper's family (he was by us in the NICU, too!) outside of the hospital!  It is hard to believe that a year has passed since we were all sitting by our babies' bedsides talking, praying, and wishing for the days when we would all be home with our children. :)  God is so good.

 Johannah and Addie meet again!

 Pretty birthday girl!

 My favorite little man, Cooper!

 Jojo and her cake... she looks like she's going to blow out the candle!

 Addie reaching for Cooper! :)

 Trying to taste him :) ha

 Addie and Jojo "talking."  They had a special bond in the NICU... they copied each other all the time!  One would scoot to the bottom of the bed... then the other would do the same.  If one had her hands up, so did the other one!  It was so funny to watch them!

 The paparazzi took lots of pictures of these three miracles!

 I just love them all!

 We tried to get a shot of them on their tummies, but Addie was having nothing to do with it!  This picture cracks me up!  She hates... and I mean HATES... tummy time!  Obviously.

 Here's sweet Cooper.  He was born in November of 2009.  He is the oldest of the three and definitely the most handsome. :)  Yes, he is really that cute in person!

 Sweet Johannah was born in December of 2009.  She is just adorable!  Her beautiful eyelashes are amazing!

...and the baby of the bunch, Addie.  I think I can say that she is the loudest. :)  ...and, in my opinion, the cutest! ha

I am SO thankful we had the chance to get together with these families!  They are such a blessing to us!  Can't wait for the next gathering!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Even though I couldn't use this on her Christmas card, it is still--by far--one of my favorite pictures of Addie!  I've taken a gazillion, but this is one of the few that makes me laugh every single time I look at it! :) It captures her personality perfectly!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy 11 months, Addie! :)

To be quite honest, I've been sad today thinking about my baby girl being 11 months old.  Now, I know there are some of you who are like, "My baby is such-and-such years old!  11 months is nothing!" ...and I get that.  I really do... but my heart is happy, emotional, sad, scared, upset today because of this.  Maybe it's hormones.  I don't know.  I also have to tell you that I have "nightmares" the night before each month birthday.  My mind goes right back to room 3107 in the hospital when they told me I was having gas pains because of that stupid red, Colace pill, but deep down, I knew I was having full-blown, non-medicated contractions.  I knew that my teeny-tiny baby girl was going to come waaay sooner than she should and that I would have to completely surrender her to God and let Him do His thing.  Some days it takes me longer to get out of that funk of a nightmare.  Today was one of those days.

I cried just now when I was putting Little Bit to sleep.  I am so overwhelmed at how lucky I am that I get to be her Mama... so overwhelmed that she is now so unbelievably healthy. Why me?  How did I get to be so blessed?  I know of so many others who are just yearning to be parents... so many parents who are sitting in the NICU tonight watching their babies cling to life... so many parents who had to leave the NICU with out their babies... and I pretty much hit the jackpot!  I guess it's the Lord bringing me back to him time and time again... reminding me of how amazing He is and how much He trusts me to raise this little person to know Him and serve Him and love Him.  Anyway, I must have held her for at least 10 minutes after she fell asleep tonight.  I didn't want to put her down.  I just loved listening to her sweet coos and feeling her breath on my cheek.  Her lotion smells so yummy that I may or may not have put some on my arms, too... just so I could smell her after I left her room. :)

Ok, enough with the mush.  On to the fun stuff. :)

We forgot to weigh and measure her tonight, so I'll post that tomorrow.

Clothes size: 3-6 and 6 months clothes.  I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that it's going to take us a little bit longer to get to 9 month or 12 month clothes.  I keep putting them on her like they're magically going to fit...even after they were way too big yesterday. :)  Never in a gajillion years did I think I'd have a petite child... but I love it.
Diapers: size 2.  Again, won't be moving up to size 3 for a month or two more.

 Addie has such a sweet personality!  I know I've said that before, but this month she has really become a little socialite! Anywhere we go, she just bats her long eyelashes and meets a new friend!  As long as Mama or Daddy is in view, she's good to go! :)  ...oh, and I love Christmas clothes. :)

 She still loves bath time!  Now that she's learned to play and splash a little bit, baths are way fun!  We also have bubble baths!  The first time I made her a bubble bath, she was quite confused, but now, she loves it!

 This is as close to crawling as she's come.  This was actually taken tonight.  She'll get up on her hands... and then fall back on her bottom.  She just doesn't see the point. :)  She can scoot over there to get the toy just as fast.  Like I said a few posts ago, totally fine with me.  I love that she stays in (almost) one place. :)

 The girl loves shoes.  Addie is fascinated by them when they're on her feet, and she loves them even more when she pulls them off of her feet and uses them as teething toys.  Don't judge.  I wipe them down on a regular basis. :)

 That laugh...

Oh, that sweet, intoxicating laugh!  I could listen to it all. day. long.  Her Daddy and I are comedians, I tell you!  Once she gets going, there is no stopping that fun, deep-belly laugh that is sure to make anyone smile!

Addie is still a pretty good traveler.  She's not a fan of actually getting in her carseat, but once she's in and we've got some puffs, she's ready!  ...and she loves those yogurt melt things!  Those are a little more expensive, but they are SO worth it when she needs a little something to tide her over until her next meal.  Speaking of food, Addie is still an eating machine!  She eats three meals a day and at least four bottles a day... and a gazillion puffs.  That may not sound like a lot, but for a little 15-ish pound baby, it is a lot!  She still likes pretty much anything we feed her... her faves this month are macaroni and cheese with vegetables, carrots, banana orange medley, vanilla apples with oatmeal, peas, prunes with apples, apples with cherries.. the list goes on and on, folks.  My girl loves her food.
P.S. I'm pretty sure there are two top teeth getting ready to make an appearance in that little mouth of hers.  I honestly can't wait for them to get here already!

 It's a good thing she loves to eat because she is super active.  We have her RSV shots every month through flu season, so we're getting to see how she is gaining weight.  She isn't gaining the usual pound a month obviously because if her eyes are open, she is moving.  She loves to hold your fingers and "walk" around the room, and she still loves her exersaucer and playmat!  Amber brought over some fun toys of Abbie's, and we have had a blast watching her learn how to use them all!  

So there you have it.  I have an almost one-year-old.  I am going to start focusing on how much fun her party will be!  I'm already having a blast planning it. :)

...and I should probably focus on keeping this little daredevil safe. :)

Where do we begin, munchkin?  You are just a breath of fresh air to us and to everyone who sees you.  God definitely gave you a gift, and we love that we can see it even at 11 months!  You have a way of making those around you smile, and we pray that you will continue to use this amazing ability you have.

We love how you love us.  We love how you reach for us when you see us.  We love how your legs just move and move when you're excited.  We love how you want to cuddle with us when we wake you up in the mornings because you just weren't quite ready to get out of bed.  We love how you're becoming more independent during your feeding times... not only do you hold your own bottle, but you now want to hold your own spoon!  We love how you turn to check to make sure we are around when you're playing in the living room. We love your two little teeth... even though they kind of hurt us when you grab our fingers. :)  

We just love you... everything about you.  We hope you know that we always will.
Mama and Daddy