28 days old (4 weeks)
710 grams (1 pound, 9 ounces)
*yup, the same as before…she’s not real great at packing on the pounds!
Thank you for praying for Anamaria. She is continuing to do quite well. She just received her second blood transfusion yesterday, and tolerated it very well. She is now looking much more pink and acting much more feisty too! Ana has been breathing MUCH better today than she has in a while. Over the past few days, she had been having more significant spells, which was part of what brought about the blood transfusion. They also decided to bring her back up to 7 on the CPAP (see previous post). We really don’t want her to go back on the ventilator and be intubated, so we are happy with 7 on CPAP. And today she has been breathing consistently all day! Her oxygen is only around 25% and her blood oxygen levels are in the 90’s! Ana is eating well and digesting her milk like a champ. She continues to struggle a bit to gain weight, which has resulted in her weight going up and down over the past week. We covet your prayers for her little body to grow, grow, grow! Hopefully as she gets bigger, breathing will be easier for her as well.
Over the past week Ana has also decided that she has quite the personality and wants to share it with anyone who will listen. She cries frequently and likes to express her opinion. When her nurse took a band aid off of her arm last night, that little girl screamed like your regular full term baby. As much as I hate to see her sad, I love love love hearing her little voice and seeing her feisty personality. Already today she has pulled out her feeding tube 3 times. Her nurse is threatening to not put it back in one of these times, but Ana’s cute little face keeps her from following through. 🙂
This experience has easily been the most difficult thing we have had to go through, and sometimes it is easy to forget about other people’s struggles and other people’s pain. We had dinner with some other NICU families and NICU “graduates” the other night at a Meet and Greet night that one of the NICU social workers had put on. It was great to have the chance to connect with other people who are going through or have gone through the very same thing we are going through. In fact, one of the graduate families was there with their young son, who was born at 23 weeks, 5 days gestation–exactly the same as Ana. And he currently is a happy, healthy 3 year old–a beautiful and hopeful thing to see.
At one point during the night I started to say something about, “You know, when you have a full term baby…” and I realized that I was met with blank stares from every person in the room. “I mean, have any of you…” I looked at the social worker, “Have you had a full term baby?” She shook her head. Not one of the women in that room had carried and delivered a baby at full term. They had delivered at 23, 26, 28 weeks at best. As I tried to make up for my awkward and seemingly inconsiderate comment about full term babies eating all the time (or something like that) I was reminded once again how blessed we truly have been.
Despite the fact that this experience is impossibly painful and heartbreaking; despite the fact that we are just not able to be in the NICU as often as other parents because we have to make sure we are also caring well for our 3 year old; despite the fact that our days are so full that sometimes we don’t get to eat dinner until 10 or 11 at night–I have to choose to be thankful. Because unlike many NICU moms that I have met over the past few weeks, I have had the incredible blessing of delivering a healthy full term baby. I have labored naturally, without monitors, without doctors in the room, with a midwife to offer support and guidance. I have delivered a crying baby girl and been able to hold her skin-to-skin in her first few moments of life. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this gift–a gift that I did not quite realize the magnitude of until this experience.
Before this, I would have advocated for the all-natural approach to life. But let me tell you, there is nothing “all natural” about what is going on with Ana. She is literally being sustained by machines–first by our God–but then by machines. She is growing because of extra calories added to my milk. Lots of people have asked, “Why can’t you just give her more breast milk?” Because she was born 4 months early. Her stomach is not supposed to be eating, digesting. She is not supposed to survive outside of my uterus. Were it not for God’s provision through modern medicine and technology, our little girl would not be alive. And so I’m thankful for all things not-so-natural, because they were what we needed to keep Ana in as long as she was, and they are what she needs to stay alive right now.
I know that I will never have an “all natural” birth experience again. When God chooses to make our family grow once again (something that completely terrifies us at this point), we know that we will be surrounded by every high risk specialist in the Boston area. Part of what I am grieving is the loss of a normal, natural birth experience again. And while that breaks my heart, I am beyond thankful and blessed to have had that experience at least once.
It’s easy to forget, but so important to remember, that other people have suffered more than we have. Other people have pain that is greater and deeper than ours. We have to choose to be thankful and choose to have soft hearts to hear and appreciate the hurt of those around us. Because we never know what the person next to us has been through and endured and what they are suffering in the moment.