This is Dawn, not Mike. I have received several emails saying "we hear from Mike, but how are YOU doing?” So I thought it would be a good idea for me to send the update this time around.
First, I am doing well. My recovery is moving along smoothly. I certainly did not plan to be out and about as much as I have been. The biggest challenge has been taking the time to rest and do what I need to do to recover while running back and forth to the hospital to spend time with Emily. That has been a tough balance at times. I want to spend as much time as possible with Emily, but taking care of me is the best gift that I can give her. So please pray for me as I try to find the right balance.
Second, Emily is doing great! She has been such a blessing to us – I cannot even begin to describe it to you. We know that she will have challenges ahead of her, but she has shown us that she is a fighter and we are so thankful. We have not sent an update in about a week, so bear with me while I brag on my little girl for a bit...
She is absolutely adorable (in my completely unbiased opinion)! Each day she does something new. It is SO amazing to watch her. We count it a privilege to be parents to such an amazing little girl. I know in Mike’s last email, he mentioned that she cried for the first time. Well, she has really gotten the hang of crying & does it every single day. She likes to let us know when she is not happy! And that is wonderful. Twice this week, Mike and I were able to give her a sponge bath. And both times she cried and screamed as if we were beating her with sticks. She gets bright red, scrunches her entire face & just screams. It is wonderful to hear her expressing herself (maybe in a few months we may not think the crying is so great, but for now, we are thrilled).
This week she began working with a speech therapist. The therapist works with her on her sucking, swallowing and her gag reflex. The first day she did this, Emily cried for an hour after the therapist left – apparently she does not like to be gagged repeatedly (who would?). But each day has gotten better. She has started to like her pacifier and actually is soothed by sucking on it (at times). Tomorrow she will have a swallow study done. The therapist will give her liquids of varying consistencies and then x-ray her to see where they go (into her lungs or into her esophagus). This is a very important study. If it goes well, she can move to bottle feedings and eventually to nursing. This means she can have her feeding tube removed. Speaking of feedings, each day they have increased the amount she eats. She is currently eating 57 cc’s every 3 hours. By the time we take her home, she is going to be a porker! At her last weigh in that we witnessed she was 9 lbs. 8 oz!
Yesterday and today, Emily made some great progress. Yesterday, she was moved to a crib rather than the bed with a warmer – so she is able to hold her own body temperature now. And she also went off her oxygen. She has given the nurses a couple of scares where her oxygen levels dropped low, but then she brings them back up again. This too, will get better with time. And today, she was taken off one of her seizure medications - the one that makes her really sleepy. So as this gets out of her system, we will be able to see more and more of her personality (she seems to be a feisty one, so that should be interesting!). And the doctor told me that she will be moving tonight to an intermediate section of the NICU – as the doctor said “this is one step closer to the door”. So Mike and I are hopeful that she will get to come home soon.
The nurses allow us to do more and more which has been wonderful. We have been able to change diapers, bathe her and take her temperature and a few other things. It makes us feel like we are doing something to care for our daughter. I cannot begin to describe to you what a blessing Emily has been to us. She amazes us every single day. This experience has been amazing. No, it isn’t the way we expected things to go, but it is exactly the way that God had planned. I have clung to Psalm 139 lately:
13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Emily is perfect in God’s eyes. She is exactly the way that God wants her to be. She was knit together in my womb by God Himself. He knows exactly who she will be and how many days she will have on this earth. And I am thankful that He has counted us worthy of being her parents. We do ask that you continue to pray for her as she grows. And pray that we will be the parents that she needs us to be – that God intended us to be. We have received countless emails from people who are praying for us & I cannot tell you what it means to us. There is incredible power in prayer!
Thank you for the overwhelming love and support that we have received from many of you. It has sustained us in those times when we think we can't go on. And yes we do have those times, but God is faithful. It is only through His strength that we get through each day. We could NOT do it on our own. We trust that He will be with us every step of the way and we take great comfort in that.
In HIS strength,