May 27, 2015

State of the Baby Address

Doctor's Office
We've had so many friends and family that have been thinking of us and praying for our littlest girl that I wanted to sit down and take the time to write out where we're at as a family right now. The last twelve weeks have been wonderful but so very, very challenging as well. We've dealt with pediatricians, chiropractors, reflux, torticullis, medications, pharmacy mistakes, and a whole lot of uncertainty about the health of our daughter. It's been hard, no doubt about it, but as time goes on, we're finally starting to see the bigger picture.

Mary had been in and out of the pediatrician's office for her reflux and neck issues since the first few weeks of her life. Truth be told, we are practically on a first-name basis with the office staff and I'm oh so grateful that we picked this year to get better health insurance. When my little girl's two-month checkup rolled around, we took her in to be seen. That was when we got the news: she wasn't gaining enough weight. Although she was in the 60-70% for height, she was a fraction of that for her weight and the pediatrician was concerned.

In our best attempt to fix the problem without supplementing, we began a different reflux medication (our third to date) and I started feeding Mary every few hours. Whenever I had a break from the action of the older kids, she and I would sit down together on the couch and I would feed her until she fell asleep or started fussing. We did this for about a week and a half and I was optimistic that it was going to make a difference.

Around that time, Mary came down with the cold that was making the rounds through the house and I took her back to the pediatrician just to get checked out. While we were there, we checked her weight and found out that she had only gained half an ounce over the last week and a half… the equivalent of my baby wetting her diaper. The pediatrician was kind, but clearly concerned and asked me to make an appointment with a gastrointestinal specialist for Mary as soon as possible. I was crushed and knew that if something didn't change, we wouldn't be able to continue nursing.

That night when I went home, I opened up my Facebook page, not sure where else to turn. Discouraged, I posted what I had learned at Mary's pediatrician appointment and asked for prayers for my daughter. I went to bed that night after sobbing in the shower and wondering if I was doing the wrong thing for my baby by trying to nurse her. Would she thrive on formula? Was I being selfish by wanting to continue to nurse her?

The next day came and I found myself killing time with a sleeping baby while surfing the web. Out of habit, I opened one of the message boards that I follow and asked for ideas for Mary. One reply stood out; a woman said that she had experienced the same thing with her baby and she had taken her child in to an occupational therapist. The therapist had suggested several things to improve nursing, ideas that she had listed out for me in her response. With nothing to lose, I decided to try it.

Just like that, I started to see the difference. My baby who would only nurse for a few moments on one side started eating more and more. She began nursing on both sides, easily doubling what she had been eating before. At the same time, she wasn't reacting the same way after feeding. She wasn't screaming and crying after she ate; instead, she would fall asleep or at worse, fuss a little, but gone was the hysteria and inconsolable baby.

A few days went by and I didn't say anything, afraid that it was a fluke. I watched and waited, hoping that this was enough to turn things around for my baby. Six days after I began seeing a change in her eating habits, my girl was due to go in to get her first vaccines and to have her weight checked. Going into the appointment, I was a nervous wreck. We were ushered into the exam room and I took off her clothes and diaper, holding my breath as I placed her on the scale.

The scale registered her weight: ten pounds, seven ounces. In six days, my little girl had actually gained weight and the relief was immediate! Our pediatrician came in and spoke with us, looking at her growth chart with cautious optimism. Currently, my baby girl is in the 10% for her weight based on her height which is the lowest she's been yet, but with the change in her eating habits, we finally have solid reason to look for the improvement.

We're not out of the woods yet by any means. Although Mary is eating better and her reflux seems to be more under control, she's still having neck problems and her weight for her height isn't at an acceptable range. We have a GI appointment on the books for later this summer and another weight check in our near future, but even the smallest improvements seem like huge milestones for this little girl and they are what is keeping us bolstered to press on.

So to all of our friends and family who have been and continue to pray for my sweet baby girl, thank you. Your prayers have been heard and I'm deeply grateful. Watching Mary go from a screaming baby who was constantly miserable to a baby who is giving out the occasional smile is like seeing the sun break through the clouds. It gives me hope that things will turn around and that my baby really is going to be okay.

As we continue to watch our littlest one grow, I would ask for your continued prayers. It seems as though we've cleared a few hurdles, but there are more just ahead of us. More than anything, I want my baby to be healthy and it's excruciating as a parent to feel helpless to make that happen. I know that I'm not the one in control of the situation and I've been forced to step back and trust that there is a greater plan, even in this time and amongst these challenges. I'm encouraged that she's shown some improvement and I know that all of the prayers that have been prayed for her are being heard.

This is uncharted territory for us as parents, dealing with health concerns for a child. It's terrifying and uncertain, but in the midst of it all, we believe that God is greater. He is working in Mary's life, even at just a few weeks old, and although I don't understand why she is struggling right now, I have to believe there is a purpose for it.

May 23, 2015

20/52

Dish Baby
Yawns
Bike Progress
So frequently, bloggers don't post photos of our messes and imperfections, but one of my big challenges lately has been finding ways to deal with the messes that occur with living while taking care of Mary. Most days, she won't tolerate being put into her high chair or lying on her play gym for more than a moment or two. From a practical standpoint, this means that finding the time to empty my dishwasher or fold laundry is pretty elusive. Knowing that this little girl definitely has her preferences when it comes to being held or entertained, I've been forced to get creative to get things done and one such solution has been her bath time. Since this little lady isn't mobile yet, she can safely sit in her bath and enjoy the warm water while Mama keeps a close eye out and empties the dishwasher. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's working for us at the present!

I snapped this photo of Evelyn mid-yawn and it pretty much sums up her week perfectly. We've been dealing with a bit of regression on the potty training front at night along with a new habit of getting up every few hours and asking to be tucked back in to her bed. In other words, she's doing her best imitation of a newborn… and it's exhausting.

After watching our kids and their sheer adoration for biking when they tried a friend's Strider recently, Jonathan had the brilliant idea of removing the pedals from Nathaniel's bike. Since his training wheels had broken at the beginning of bike season, this little guy's been avoiding his bike but with the pedals off, he's back at it with a vengeance and his balance is better than ever before! We're all getting very excited for him to be able to ride "for real" very, very soon!

May 21, 2015

19/52

Little Looks
Getting Clean
Playtime
We're a bit overdue for a state of the baby address (it's coming as soon as I have time to type with both hands again), but for now we're doing our best to stay positive with this sweet baby girl. We're starting to get some smiles so that definitely makes it easier, but catching one with the real camera remains a challenge.

This week we also renewed our supply of bath crayons which had all of us singing hallelujah. Evelyn was thrilled because that meant long baths spent coloring on the tub and I was personally overjoyed because it was a solid block of time that Evelyn can be creative and entertain herself so I can hold Mary or have a few minutes to just breathe.

This guy has been busy building Legos like mad. Our latest conundrum is that he is running out of blocks after using nearly all of them to build various guns, phones, cars, etc. Taking them apart is akin to losing a limb so I foresee a trip to the Lego store in our near future.

May 18, 2015

In the Dirt

Summer in the Dirt
Mudplay
Any day it's warm enough, the wee ones venture outside. It's not uncommon for them to come back in looking something like the pictures I snapped. Evelyn had been outside playing hard when she walked through the door covered head to toe in dirt. Likewise, Nathaniel was helping his daddy wash the car and he had a little run-in with the hose and a mud puddle.

Admittedly, it gets a little tiresome giving them baths every time that they come inside dirty, but I know that soon enough I will miss the days when they're running inside with sand embedded in their hair and dirt beneath their fingernails. It's days like this that make me smile at being a mama.

May 13, 2015

Mother's Day

Mother's Day
Mother's Day
This past weekend was Mother's Day and one of the most special days I've had as we had our littlest girl dedicated at church. Bringing her up in front of our friends and family and pledging that we would raise her according to our beliefs was a special moment for us, made even more special as Nathaniel and Evelyn sat there watching and sneaking in a quick wave.

Mother's Day was a wonderful day as I got to spend the day with my family. After Mary's dedication and a brunch, I was treated to a nap with Mary while Jonathan and the older kids made dinner. I woke up to flowers, a handmade card, and one of my very favorite meals.

It seemed almost too good to be true, realizing that it was my first Mother's Day as a mother to three beautiful children. We've had a lot of hard days around here these past few months. Mary is still colicky and unhappy a disproportionate amount of time. I seem to waver between good days and bad days dealing with postpartum anxiety. Topping it off have been the challenges of daily life: parenting the older kids through their sweet obedience and stubborn disobedience, keeping the house from falling apart, and remembering that I have a marriage that needs nurturing even in the midst of all of these life changes. It's been challenging to be sure, but sitting next to my three children on Mother's Day, life was sweet. Sure, Mary was fussing as we ate dinner and there was whining because the older kids didn't want to eat the squash that was served with the pasta, but we were together as a family of five and that was what mattered. Despite all the trials, I'm so deeply grateful for this little family of ours and I can't wait to see what lies ahead for us.