Friday, December 31, 2010

Gloriana’s Heart

After a long hiatus from updates, I’m back… with extremely good news!

On Tuesday afternoon, Lisa traveled with our girls to the University of Chicago hospital to see their cardiologist.  We wanted to find out what was happening with Gloriana’s heart – how the hole in her heart was and how much longer she needed the monitor.

First, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the hole is nearly completely closed up!  Amazing, incredible, astounding!  This didn’t seem possible – especially considering that she had a moderate-plus sized hole and that we were told multiple times that surgery was virtually unavoidable.  So we praise God!  From many angles, the doctor was unable to even see the hole.  He believes that the hole should be completely closed up by the next doctor appointment, and we should be able to avoid surgery.  Wow!

Second, we found out that the heart monitor will (Lord willing!) soon be something of Gloriana’s past!  She is currently off the Prevacid for her reflux, and we’re making sure that her body responds well to that change… that’s why she still has the monitor.  After a couple weeks characterized (we pray) by no alarms going off, she’ll be able to be free from the monitor!  Another HUGE answer to prayer.  Again, praise God!

Gloriana continues to do amazingly well.  She is gaining weight – now over 10 pounds.  Bella continues to hold just over a 3 pound weight advantage over Gloriana, which will likely even out at around their second birthdays.  The doctors and nurses are impressed with how good Gloriana looks… each time we go in, they can’t get over it.

We’re blessed.  We’re SO thankful for your prayers, for the love you’ve shown, for how faithful God has been through the rockiest yet most-growth-inducing year of our lives.  May God’s richest blessings fall on you in this new year!

PS - Check out the girls' belated six-month pictures!


Belladia Faith - from Dec 28, 2010

Gloriana Joy - from Dec 28, 2010
Bella & Gloriana... so adorable!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Praise God - good news!

The title is a bit of a spoiler for the rest of the this update, but I couldn't resist!  We are SO thankful for the way that God answered our prayers for Gloriana's heart. =)

First things first, the cardiologist was explicitly surprised at how good Gloriana looked.  He was further surprised to hear how well she has been since the last appointment: good apetite, putting on consistent weight (up to 7 lbs, 4 oz today!), no difficulty breathing, and no bouts of sweating.  He said any or all of those characteristics would have been warning flags that something is wrong.  Not having any of the above problems shows that things are going quite well.

The doctor listened to Gloriana's heart and said that her heart murmur was significantly quieter than 3 weeks ago, which indicates that her VSD (hole in her heart) is reducing in size.  Praise God!  The rest of his exam left him impressed, too - her respiratory and heart rate were both right where they should be, which are even more good signs.

I asked what the prognosis/possibilities/probabilities are from here on out.  He said that there is a 30-40% chance the hole in her heart will continue to close and won't have any problems.  There is a 50% chance that the hole will close more, but not completely - and then surgery would be necessary sometime after her first birthday to make sure everything is fine.  There is a 10% chance that the hole would close incorrectly, causing problems in the tissue around the hole and resulting in surgery to correct that.  Overall, we were encouraged with the set of news that he gave us about the VSD.

I reminded him that 3 weeks ago there were concerns with the mitral valve.  "What's the status of that concern?"  He said that it's likely NOT a valve issue at all - in fact, if it were, we would be seeing difficulties in the areas I mentioned above.  "What, then, caused the enlarged chamber three weeks ago?"  Most likely, he said, it was the change in bloodflow because of the VSD healing, along with the increased volume of blood in that area of her heart from the VSD - "an artifact from the VSD" were his exact words.  "So what about the valve, then?  Any need for treatment?"  He said that valve problems are best avoided and said that they were quite certain we could rule out that problem.  Instead, the chamber has likely already reduced in size due to the VSD reducing in size... and both that chamber and her entire heart should eventually go back to their normal size on their own.

"On their own" is a funny phrase because we know that nothing ever happens "on its own."  "In him [Jesus] we live and move and have our being."  So does Gloriana.  We'll never know whether there actually was a valve problem 3 weeks ago... whether it was merely an artifact from the VSD... or whether - seen through the eyes of faith - that the valve didn't require surgery because the Great Physician Himself healed Gloriana.  Amazing.

We are moved beyond words.  This day - along with so many through the journey of the pregnancy, surgery, bedrest, NICU stay, and the rest of the roller coaster ride since - is one of those "immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine" kind of days.  We were cautioned that we're "not out of the woods yet" by the cardiologist, but this is still very good news.  If all continues to go well - and we don't see any of the abovementioned concerns - we'll see the cardiologist again in about a month.  Incredible. =)

Thank you again for your unwavering prayer support.  I think of the old African-American spiritual song: "If it had not been for the Lord on my side... where would I be?  Where would I be?"  This journey has been - and continues to be - unceasingly marked with grace.  We're reminded today of what Gloriana Joy's first and middle names mean: "God's glorious grace brings JOY."  Praise God!  God is good, all the time.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Midweek Pause

We’ve had an incredible stretch of a week or so, and I thought – if you’ll promise to pray for all three families involved – that I would share a bit of what’s on my heart.

First, my best friend and his wife had a healthy (very) little girl who was born at 28 weeks last Tuesday.  It’s ironic that they’re in the same NICU where we (felt like we) lived for several weeks, but it’s a blessing that little Emily is doing well and that they know the ropes a bit because of our experience.  Please pray for the Darlings – you can follow their progress and hear a story of God’s faithfulness in the delivery here.

Second, tragedy struck our church on Sunday morning.  During the service, news came that a 25-year-old member of our church – Devin Dorn – passed away suddenly that morning.  It came completely out of nowhere, and no one knows how/why it happened.  Devin had graduated from Purdue University last year and left behind a loving extended family along with the love of his life and longtime girlfriend, Jamie.  I saw his heartbroken loved ones at the visitation tonight and saw how loved he was by the number of people there to visit.  Pray for them as they’ll face another long day tomorrow with the funeral.  They’ll need God’s sustaining grace everyday as they mourn his loss for a long time.

Third, our family needs your prayers for three big reasons:
  1. Munster CRC has extended a call for me to be their Senior Pastor.  We hope to respond to the call this Sunday and would appreciate your prayers for discernment in the days to come.
  2. We had mixed results at our urologist’s appointment on Monday.  At one time Gloriana had a slightly enlarged kidney, but now it appears to be normal in size – praise God!  Belladia, however, still has an enlarged left kidney – something that’s been watched since here.  At this point, they think that it’s a Ureteropelvic Junction (UPJ) obstruction.  This simply means that the tube that is connected to her kidney and brings the urine to her bladder is narrow and/or obstructed.  When the urine doesn’t totally leave the kidney, the kidney becomes enlarged (strangely, it’s parallel to the reason why one chamber of Gloriana’s heart is enlarged – the narrowing of the valve prevents blood to flow properly).  The risk for Bella’s kidney is that an infection will develop – and, if left untreated, the infection could cause the kidney to quit functioning at all.  Now what?  We’ll go back on November 15 to see how the kidney is looking, with prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infections from forming.  There’s an 80-90% chance that she will need surgery, which entails a 2 inch incision at the site and inserting a synthetic tube to bypass the UPJ.  The urologist assured us that there is a 98% success rate with the surgery, and an unsuccessful surgery (meaning an infection starts in the synthetic tube or scar tissue forms on the tube and becomes an obstruction) would simply mean doing the surgery again.  Of course, we’re praying the UPJ heals itself (more properly, that God would heal her UPJ) or, if need be, a successful surgery.
  3. Gloriana has a big cardiologist appointment on Friday morning at 9:15.  We’ll be following up on our appointment from 3 weeks ago (seen here), and we’re still hoping and praying that her heart will be healed.  If not, we’re praying for wisdom for the doctors as they determine how best to treat her.

Needless to say, our plates are full this week.  Lots to pray about.  We’re SO indescribably thankful that God hears our prayers and that you’re praying alongside us.  Please pray this week for the Darlings, the Dorns (and Jamie), and our family as we each have our struggles.  Thanks.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

A quick update and prayer request

First, our girls are continuing to grow.  Bella is up to 9 lbs 8.5 ounces, while Gloriana is up to  6 lbs 4 oz.  Every little bit helps… they’re still on the every-three-hour schedule, so it’s been a little tiring for all of us.

Many of you know that we had a cardiologist appointment at the University of Chicago on Friday.  We received mixed results.  We’ll go with the good news first.  They couldn’t really hear Bella’s VSD (hole in her heart), and they had trouble being able to see it on the echocardiogram!   Woo-hoo – great news!  She pretty much has a clean bill of health in terms of her health; it looks like the hole in her heart has closed up!  Praise God!

More good news: it looks like Gloriana’s hole in her heart is getting smaller, too!  Very encouraging news – and reason to give thanks!

However, we got some not-so-good news, too.  The echocardiogram showed that one of the four chambers of Gloriana’s heart looks enlarged.  Although the doctor couldn’t make any definite diagnosis, an enlarged chamber of the heart is typically associated with a problem with the mitral valve in the heart – that valve is most likely reducing in size.  Of course, we wanted to ask a million questions – “What’s the prognosis?” “What kind of treatments are there?” “Will this be tough to treat?” – but they wanted to follow up in 3 weeks before doing anything else.  What we do know is that trying to fix a valve is quite a bit more complicated than the one-time-surgery-fix of a hole in the heart.  That’s a little tough to hear.

But our hope is in God.  We trust that He will bring good out of this.  We are praying boldly that things will look a lot better in three weeks and that the chamber is back to normal size.  Please join us in calling on our mighty God during this new challenge.  God is good, all the time.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baptism Video

Today we rejoiced at the baptism of our two girls.  We are so very thankful for the way that God blessed this day - we had hearts full of joy to see God's faithfulness in such a powerful way throughout the last year.  Church was full and so was our home... and, of course, we wouldn't want it any other way. =)

One of the special parts of the service was a video we put together this week.  It includes a song that's very significant to us - my sister Laura put it on a CD to encourage us during our week in Cincinnati for the laser surgery.  The name of the song is That's What Faith Can Do, and it's by a band called Kutless.  (If you'd like to see the video a bit larger, you should be able to double-click on it and see it on its youtube page.)


Saturday, August 7, 2010

An Overdue Update

First, an apology: I am very sorry for neglecting my responsibility to update everyone who has faithfully prayed for us throughout this journey.  You – both near and far, both close friends and folks we haven’t met – are vital components to the health and well-being of our girls.  Your prayers have been effective, but I have not with regard to keeping you updated.  My sincere apologies.

Second, an excuse: for years I’ve said how busy our family has been, but it truly doesn’t compare to the pace of life right now.  On a typical day, I get up and help with breakfast for the “big” kids, go to work until noon, come home, eat lunch, clean up lunch while Lisa feeds the twins, put the big kids down for nap, go back to work until 5:30, come home for supper, clean up dinner/do dishes, go outside (sometimes) with Lisa and the kids, bathe the big kids, give them snacks, put them to bed, feed the twins with Lisa, soothe Bella between the 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. feeding (that’s her most awake/irritable time), feed the twins one after the other, and get to bed between 12:30 and 1 a.m.  Repeat. =)  Oh, and sometimes church meetings get mixed into the evenings.  So it hasn’t been a lack of desire to keep you informed, it has been a lack of time.  Nevertheless, I’m sorry and will do better in the future.

Third, an update: (this feels like a sermon with three points!) the girls are doing really well.  Gloriana’s weight gains have been up and down at times – from losing 6 ounces over 6 days to gaining 2 ounces per day.  Our doctors and nurses see this as normal – as long as she’s gaining over sustained periods of time, then everything is fine.  And she has been.  She’s up to 6 pounds even, as of yesterday morning.  Just like the last update, I can honestly say that she’s looking more and more healthy.  She still has occasional Brady’s – it seems like when she gets into a really deep sleep her body forgets to breathe… it makes us thankful that we have the monitor because it usually startles her enough to get her breathing back on track.  Belladia continues to do extremely well.  She weighed in at 8 pounds and 14 ounces yesterday.  She doesn’t seem to have any major health concerns, so we’re very thankful for that.

Our next big doctor appointments come at the end of the month – on August 29, we’ll be seeing the cardiologist at the University of Chicago again.  That could be the time when we figure out what – if anything – to do about Gloriana and Belladia’s VSDs (holes in their hearts).  We’re already praying for clarity and discernment as that date approaches.

It’s a celebratory week here at our home… Daylia turned 2 on Thursday, our marriage turns 6 today (Saturday), I get to baptize the twins tomorrow morning (one of the things we prayed about here), we’re having 60 (!) of our closest friends/relatives to our home for lunch to celebrate tomorrow, and Kruesie turns 4 on Wednesday.  Did I mentioned our lives are busy? =)

We truly thank you for your prayers.  If you happen to be around DeMotte tomorrow morning, the worship service at First CRC starts at 9:30 central time.  We’d love to have you celebrate God’s faithfulness with us.  If not, continue to rejoice with us wherever you are.  God is good, all the time.


PS – Enjoy these (long overdue) pictures, too! =)

This was the night we took Gloriana home!
Gloriana on the left, Belladia on the right.
A very happy and thankful Daddy
Bella on the left, Gloriana on the right

Daylia is showing her personality in this picture!

Yes, they do cry on occasion... and sometimes at the same time!

Here's our whole family - we are so blessed!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our Growing Gloriana

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 days already since Gloriana came home.  Even harder to believe: our girls will be 2 months old on Saturday!  Where has the time gone?

In church on Sunday, some of you heard good news about Gloriana.  More came today.  But before I get to that, I’d like to get everyone caught up to speed.

On Friday, July 2, Gloriana was discharged from the hospital and weighed 4 lbs, 9 oz.  As we mentioned in an earlier post, the doctors really want her to gain (roughly) an ounce a day; continued failure to do so results in the eventual diagnosis of “failure to thrive.”

Last Monday, July 5, we heard discouraging news from her pediatrician – in the 3 days she was home, she didn’t gain any weight.  At all.  The doctor scheduled a follow-up appointment for three days later – the Thursday of that week.  We called Gloriana’s primary nurse from the NICU – Sue – that night to see if she had any tips so that she would eat better and start gaining.  She gave some very helpful advice, and we began to see Gloriana eat much more consistently.

Last Thursday, July 8, we had the follow-up appointment and were extremely pleased with the results: Gloriana was up to 4 lbs, 15 oz – she had gained a whopping 6 oz in three days!  We could look at it in two ways: she either was making up for those days when she didn’t gain anything or she was putting on 2 oz per day.  Either way, that was really great news!

Gloriana continued her great eating habits over the next few days.  For the last couple days, Lisa and I have been noticing how much healthier – and even bigger – Gloriana is starting to look.  She’s beginning to look less like a preemie and more like a newborn (even though she’s almost 2 months old!).

This morning a home nurse (Loreen, who we liked right away) visited.  She checked Gloriana’s vitals and her weight… and the scale showed 5 lbs, 8.5 oz!  She gained another 9.5 oz in the last 5 days – again, a near 2-oz-per-day rate!  Thanks be to God – we are SO thankful!

Gloriana continues to have occasional (every other day or so) Brady’s or apnea episodes, but it’s really hard to tell whether they really happen or whether the belt/contact is loose.  Overall, she seems very stable and continues to look more and more healthy.

Belladia looks great. =) On July 5, she weighed 7 lbs, 1 oz… and I would guess that she’s past the 7.5 pound mark by now.  She’s starting to get some substance to her.

Lisa and I are doing well… Lisa’s mom helped us from the time we came home from the hospital until this past Sunday.  We were wary of how it would go when she left, but the night’s have been okay and during the day we’ve had help from friends.  It’s incredible how God’s strength – directly from Him and indirectly through others – continues to carry us through.

We thank you again for your continued prayers; we feel so blessed.  It’s one of those days when it’s easy to say, “God is good, all the time.” =)


Saturday, July 3, 2010

A very long – yet joyful – day

Here’s what happened yesterday.  Spoiler alert: there’s happy ending. =)

10:45 a.m. – We arrived at the hospital for the 11 a.m. scheduled training session with the monitor.  Lisa went upstairs for the training/discharge while I took the kids to the playroom.

Noon – while giving the kids their lunch in the lobby, the cell phone rang.  I naturally thought it would be Lisa letting me know that they were on their way down.  Instead, it was the nurse, telling me that the person from the monitor company hadn’t arrived yet.  Hmm.  It turns out that the fax to that company hadn’t gone through on Wednesday, so they didn’t know that we needed a monitor.  With the holiday weekend, we were told that the company was really busy and would – at the latest – have someone there by 4.

12:45 p.m. – Lisa and our nurse came down to the lobby to see how things were going.  We chatted for a while…  it turned out that our primary nurse, Sue, wasn’t scheduled to work that day, but she came in on her day off to see us go home.  It was awesome to see her go above and beyond what her job required!  Thanks, Sue!

1-4 p.m. – Lisa, Kruesie, Daylia, (Bella in the carseat) and I played together in the playroom to help the time pass.  We kept waiting for a call, but none came.  The kids did surprisingly well, with only a few meltdowns during their normal rest/nap time.

4:15 p.m. – I went up to the floor to find out where the monitor was/what was happening.  I asked if the nurse who was in charge of discharging would be able to talk to me in person.  I overheard that they paged her as she was walking to her car, and she came back to the floor.  She said that she had talked to the company, and they told her that it would be by 5 at the latest.  By this time, the waiting was getting a little old, and I was a bit frustrated to not hear that we’d been delayed again.  I asked if she could call to find out how close they were to the hospital because it was 4:30 by this time.  I overheard the phone call from the hall, and it included these words, “Oh no, that can’t be.  Isn’t anyone closer?”  She got off the phone and told me that it would be 6 at the latest.  I sighed and explained that this was really rough because we had about 40 bottles of breastmilk that were thawing/being ruined in our van during this longer-than-expected day.

We made several runs back and forth between the floor and the kids in the lobby – sometimes Lisa would get the update and tell me, and sometimes I’d be on the floor while she was with the kids downstairs.  During that time, Lisa gave the kids a snack from the little café.  The hospital had given us $15 in gift cards there – along with a parking sticker for the day – so we enjoyed that.

5:30 p.m. – I asked the nurses in we could have more gift cards so that we could have dinner at the café, too.  They agreed that that would be the least that they could do.  They made some phone calls, and it turned out that the social workers who could provide those were already gone for the day.  Hmm.  Lisa ordered extra food for herself from the hospital food service, and we made do.

6:00 p.m. – No monitor.  A little after 6, the phone rang and it was the person who brings the monitor.  He said he was on the way to the hospital and asked if we’d still be there when he arrived.  I asked how long it would be.  He said he would be there within 30 minutes.  “Yep, we’ll still be here,” I said.

7:00 p.m. – The monitor and trainer arrive.  While he worked on paperwork, the day shift nurse said good-bye and wished us well.  I learned the basics of using the monitor and we finished up around 7:45.

Lisa went upstairs and I went down to watch the kids.  She wanted to make sure that she had everything from the room.  While there, Gloriana was crying a bit because it was time for her to eat.  Lisa fed her and brought Gloriana down to the lobby at 8:40.  After a couple pictures, we loaded up the van.

9:00 p.m. – Time for Bella to eat.  Better do that before leaving…

9:40 p.m. – We finally left.  [Happy sigh]

11 something – We’re home.  [Happier sigh]

Soon after getting home, it was time for the midnight feeding.

And so it begins. =)

We’re thankful.  It was one of the longer, more frustrating days of our lives, yet it bloomed into one of the more joyful days of our lives.  We thank you for all your prayers.  Our little Gloriana was in the hospital for 46 days, which came after 77 days of bed rest.  It’s been a long journey, and we know that we couldn’t have gotten through this time without your frequent prayers.  Every one counts, and for every one we’re thankful.

We’ll try to post some pictures and more updates in the near future.  God is good, all the time.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Exhaustedly Excited

Friday.  That’s the plan for when Gloriana comes home.  Lord willing.

What came between feeling frustrated Sunday and feeling exhaustedly excited today?  Lots.

On Monday we began seriously talking about what it would take for Gloriana to come home with us by the end of the week.  We wanted to figure that out because we’ve heard that little ones gain weight better at home.  And we’re also simply eager to have everyone together again.

On Monday we also saw the cardiologist.  He encouraged us to see whether going home with a monitor might be an option.  From his review of the case, he was quite confident that her stable health made her a good candidate to go home soon.  He also said that he wasn’t very impressed with her chest x-ray, meaning that he wasn’t 100% sure that she did, in fact, have fluid on her lungs.  Nevertheless, it’s a good idea for Gloriana to be on the Lasix.  He also told us that she was being given Captopril, which will help with her circulation.  He was also very positive about how Bella was doing.  She weighed in at 6 lbs, 14 oz, which is great!  He thought she looked so good (and had done so well with gaining weight) that he decided she didn’t need the echocardiogram.  Woo-hoo!

On Tuesday I talked with one of the nurse practitioners about Gloriana coming home.  She told us that we would need to take a monitor home with us to make sure that Gloriana isn’t having any difficulties with Brady’s, and we would have to learn how to administer her medications/vitamins.  We will also need to have her weighed every 2-3 days – we’re waiting to see whether a home care nurse would be available.

Today the nurses increased the dosage on the Captopril, so they want to watch Gloriana for 48 hours to see how well her body responds to it.  We’re figuring that all should be okay – and of course praying that that will be the case. =)

The next couple days will include getting the car seat test done, getting training for using the monitor at home, filling the prescriptions for Gloriana when she gets home, and trying to sleep despite our excitement.  I guess we shouldn’t have any trouble with that last item – we both tend to fall asleep before our heads hit the pillow! =)

Thank you.  We’re feeling like the end is in sight in terms of the hospitalization, and we know how effective all your prayers have been.  We know, too, that this is the end of one phase and the beginning of another, but we’re eager for the change.

We’ll be overjoyed to share pictures of us all celebrating Friday’s homecoming.  God is good, all the time.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Due Date Discouragement

Today is June 27, the day that our girls were due to be born.  Belladia continues to do very well – she looks like a full-term baby and is feeding and growing well.  We’re thankful for how well she is.

Gloriana continues in the hospital.  At last check, she was 4 lbs, 5.5 ounces.  Sadly, she continues to have Brady’s – she had them on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Yesterday I heard a bit more discouraging news.  Although her recent echocardiogram looked good, her chest x-ray wasn’t as positive; the doctors saw some fluid on her lungs.  They figure that this is a result of the VSD (hole in her heart), so they are trying to remedy the fluid with medication.  The hospital is giving her Lasix, which is a diuretic.  They hope that the medication will clear up that fluid and also prevent fluid from building up on her lungs in the future.  The nurse practitioner said that we should figure on her staying on the medication until either the hole in her heart closes on its own or she has surgery to repair the hole in her heart.  I asked if having fluid on her lungs was reason enough to think about having surgery soon, and the nurse practitioner said no.

However, the fact that she’s not putting on as much weight as she should might be cause for surgery.

Gloriana should be putting on about 25-30 grams per day; she’s not.  Until she puts on 25-30 grams per day for 3-4 days in a row, she’s not allowed to come home.  So even if she outgrows the Brady’s and is doing well on that front, she won’t come home unless she’s also putting on weight.

While I don’t want surgery per se, I DO want whatever’s best for Gloriana to really thrive.  So I asked – again – whether not putting on weight was reason to think about surgery soon.  She said that if this continues – if she continues to struggle putting on the weight that she should – then they would have to consider whether Gloriana is showing signs of “failure to thrive.”  If that were the case (and it’s NOT right now), then they would have to think seriously about surgery to repair the VSD.  The only trouble?  The surgery is much more safe when a baby is bigger; the doctors would prefer to do the surgery when a baby weighs more.

You probably see where this is going: on the one hand, she may need surgery because she’s not putting on weight; on the other hand, she may not be able to have surgery because she’s not putting on weight.  [Sigh]  You can see after six weeks (tomorrow) of hospitalization why we’re starting to feel discouraged.  I asked yesterday if we were still on track (after the recent Brady’s) to have Gloriana come home on Wednesday; the nurse practitioner looked at the nurse, then looked at me, then said, “Well, she needs to put on gobs of weight before then if that were to happen.”  She didn’t sound hopeful.

So we wait and pray.  We pray the Brady’s will stop.  We pray the increased weight gain will start.  We pray that Bella’s check-up with the cardiologist tomorrow will go well.  We pray that we’ll have patience to get through this season.  On the one hand, we want to cry our eyes out, yet we have to be strong for the girls, our two other kids, and each other.

It’ll be good to have everyone home.  In the meantime – and all the time – God is good.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another setback

It’s been a good day overall; I preached this morning to a full sanctuary that was packed with visitors in town for graduation open houses, Father’s Day celebrations, and the five (!) professions of faith today.  It was a joyous day, filled with heartfelt song… thanks be to God!  Now onto an update about our Glory girl…

On Friday, Gloriana had another Brady.  So that set her back a couple more days, moving her estimated home arrival date back to Wednesday.  Just a few minutes ago, we received a phone call from the hospital; this morning, while taking a bottle, Gloriana spit up quite a bit and had a rather strong Brady.  Her heart rate dropped quite a bit and her blood oxygen saturation levels dropped, too.  It took about 30 seconds for her to return to her normal levels.  The nurse said they would be moving her from the transitional care unit back down to the NICU so that they can keep a closer eye on her.  The move downstairs shows that she’s farther from coming home.  At the very earliest, she would come this Friday.

We’re a bit discouraged.  Tomorrow marks five weeks since birth, and we were really hoping Gloriana would have been able to come home this past Friday.  This has been a trying time for us, and our patience is wearing a little thin.

And yet we know that God’s still in control.  We’re thankful that our little one will have a bit more attention in the NICU, and maybe they will figure out why she continues to have Brady’s as she nears her due date (next Sunday, the 27th).  We’re glad, too, that the medical staff isn’t sending Gloriana home before she’s ready; we would be heartbroken if anything happened to her because we pushed for her to come home too early.

So we continue to hold on and cling to the faithfulness of God.  God is good, all the time.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

One month – and one still in the hospital

It’s incredible to think that a month ago at this time, we were watching a flurry of doctors and nurses prepare for Lisa’s c-section.  We’re SO thankful to have two healthy girls – our little miracles. =)

Sadly, our little Gloriana had another Brady on Tuesday and two more yesterday… so she will come home next Tuesday at the earliest. =(  That means both girls won’t be home for Father’s Day, but we still can’t complain.  The only thing keeping Gloriana in right now is waiting for five days to pass after her last Brady.  She’s been eating about 50-55 cc’s each feeding, which is great for her size.  We can be patient until she comes home.

Bella continues to do really well.  She’s eating just about 3 ounces each feeding (90 cc’s) and is as cute as can be.  (Her little sister is adorable, too.)  Because of her size, we’re setting the alarm and waking Bella every 3 hours to eat.  It would be nice to have longer stretches of sleep at night, but (again) we can be patient because we know it’s a only for a season.

Thanks SO much for all your prayers.  We’re convinced that things wouldn’t have gone so well – and that we wouldn’t have been able to handle it all so well – without all your prayers.  We are blessed.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Very Brief Update

It’s been a busy few days, but I wanted to give a quick update.

First, Gloriana did NOT need a blood transfusion. =) Her blood counts were good enough that she didn’t need it, and she is producing the amount of blood that she should back into her system.  Thanks for your prayers, and praise God that that’s all working out well!

Second, Gloriana has been struggling with Bradycardias every day – I explained what those are here.  They seem to only happen once a day and while she’s eating; this makes the doctors think that it’s a problem that has to do with coordinating her sucking, swallowing, and breathing.  This simply means that when she eats, she forgets to breathe, which causes a drop in her heart rate.  It hasn’t happened since Sunday; if she can go five days without one, they believe she will have outgrown them.  So our new prayer request is that she won’t have any more Bradys, so that she will be able to come home this Friday.

Thanks for your prayers – we can’t wait for all of us to be home!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

More progress and a prayer request

It’s hard to believe that a week from today will mark one month since our girls were born.  What a whirlwind!

Belladia is doing quite well at home.  She was released from the hospital a week ago today, and the biggest difficulty she has is being protected from her (overly) loving big sister. =) We’re just happy that Daylia doesn’t show any signs of resentment or jealousy – more than anything, she absolutely LOVES having a baby sister. 

Bella and I had a good time watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last night… for a moment (just a moment) this thought cross my mind, “Wouldn’t it have been memorable to be with a group of people, at a restaurant with lots of TVs, so that it would have been unforgettable?”  But then I came back to my senses and thought, “THIS is as unforgettable as it gets – no one has an experience like mine: an incredible pregnancy/delivery/several weeks and now holding this precious gift from God.”  That’s all to say, I think she’ll always like the Blackhawks. =)

Gloriana has had a very memorable week, too.  She started bottle feeding earlier this week; to this point, she has virtually exclusively received nourishment from the nasal feeding tube.  Yesterday she did particularly well; she took an ounce (30cc) every three hours!  She did so well that they decided to take out her feeding tube!  Also in the last week, she was moved from a warming bed to an open air crib, meaning that she’s been maintaining her body temperature by herself.  She also had the central line taken out because she’s getting enough nourishment to her tummy without supplement through the IV.  And less attachments (tubes, machines, lines, etc.) mean more progress.

Things looked so good yesterday that our nurse hinted that Gloriana may even be able to come home before the end of this week!

But we hit a little snag this morning.  When I visited, the nurse asked if I thought she looked a little pale.  I thought that she did.  Also, there were a couple times when her blood oxygen levels dropped a bit.  Our nurse (Sue) said that those could be symptoms of low blood counts, so she’ll have a sample taken first thing tomorrow to test those levels.  If they’re rather low, then Gloriana may need a blood transfusion to get the levels where they should be.  Sue said that it may be due to the fact that she’s having so many blood tests, and her little body may be unable to keep up with the blood that’s taken.

So that’s where the prayer request is: could you please join us in praying that Gloriana’s tests will come back positive so that she won’t need a blood transfusion?  Thanks.

When I asked again today about when Gloriana might come home, Sue asked when Father’s Day is.  I told her that it’s a week from Sunday – June 20.  “Maybe she’ll be home for that,” she said.  Wouldn’t that be great? =) Then she can watch some sports with her daddy, too. =)


Friday, June 4, 2010

One home, one to go

This week brought another surprise: we had been told earlier in the week that Belladia would come home on Friday, but she was allowed to actually come home on Thursday!  We have been unbelievably busy since she was released from the hospital, so this is the first chance to update. =)

Bella was up to 5 lbs, 7.5 oz when she was released; Gloriana at the time was 3 lbs, 8 oz.  The kids were SO happy to have one of their sisters home – I’m not sure they really knew that they had sisters.  Seeing Bella in person helped them realize that we’ve been telling the truth. =) 

Here’s a picture from when they first saw her in the hospital lobby.

Daylia has been a very (overly?) committed little mommy to Bella – at every little squeak or whimper, Daylia says, “Ohhh, baby…” in an extremely sympathetic voice.  She was also very upset anytime that she had to stop holding her baby sister. 

Here are a few pictures of them holding their new sister.

 Kruesie is a proud (and happy) big brother.

Daylia did a great job holding her little sister (and holding her hand!).

The big kids got a little giddy and were laughing uncontrollably. =)

We’re eager to have Gloriana home, too, yet we are thankful that we have a little time to adjust to having just one out of the hospital first. =)  Thanks SO much for your prayers – it’s awesome to see how beautifully God has provided for us in allowing for Bella to come home.  We’ll continue to keep you updated… and may even add some videos for your to enjoy.  God is good, all the time.


Monday, May 31, 2010

A Weekend to Remember

First, a shameless plug: have you been to one?  They’re incredible and well worth every dollar, hour, and effort you invest.

Second, it’s (as I write this) still Memorial Day.  Our women and men who have served our country deserve more recognition than we give them – and deserve to be remembered every time that we enjoy a freedom they protect(ed).  That’s all to say… thanks!!!

Third, this was a memorable weekend, so there are lots of things that we wanted to update with regard to the girls’ progress:

  • On Friday night, Bella and Gloriana were moved from the NICU to the TCU (transitional care unit).  This is the place where preemies are moved before they head home – thus the name “transitional.”  An added bonus is that these rooms are a bit more private, so they’re more accommodating for pumping… they also have the perk of a bathroom in each room.
  • When I visited on Saturday I was delighted to find that Bella was out of an isolette and into a crib!  Woo-hoo!  This is big progress, as she looks more and more like a full-term baby. =)
  • When we visited on Sunday we saw that Bella had had her feeding tube removed from her nose.  The nurses did this because she has been taking her feedings from a bottle so well that they didn’t need to feed her through the tube anymore.  Additionally, her little system has been working so well that they don’t need to check her tummy for leftover (residual) food from previous feedings.  This is – like being moved to the crib – one of those things that is more significant as an emotionally satisfying milestone than a mere medical milestone. =)
  • Gloriana continues to increase her continuous feeds – she is now fed 3.5 cc per hour on a continuous feed.  The plan is to eventually try her back on a bottle, but they don’t want to push her (very) little system too quickly – we don’t want it to be a matter of two steps forward and one step back.  So we’re patient.
  • And now for the BIG NEWS – the plan is for Belladia to COME HOME FRIDAY!  We are ecstatic to have our (and your) prayers answered that she’s healthy enough to be released from the hospital.  Because she is maintaining her body temperature, eating so well from a bottle (up to 40 cc per 3 hour feeding), and gaining weight (we believe she’s over 5 lbs now), the medical staff is confident that she’ll continue to do well under our care.
  • That news is rather bittersweet – it will still be a while before our little Gloriana will be able to come home.  The nurse practitioner today guessed that it could be another 3-4 weeks.  They want to make sure that she passes the same three tests that are mentioned in the above bullet.  On the one hand, we’re glad that the staff won’t send her home before she’s ready; yet on the other hand, it’s sad that we can’t take both girls home at the same time.  The nurse practitioner conceded that she "could be surprised" if Gloriana makes really fast, major progress, so that’s what we’re hoping and praying for.  Of course, our biggest prayer – as it has been all along – would be that everything would happen “in God’s perfect timing” (which, of course, was so beautifully seen in the delivery process!).

Overall, we’re extremely pleased with how well things are going.  We know that the excitement of bringing Belladia home at the end of this week will also come with new challenges – how to continue to visit Gloriana daily while caring for a newborn who’s not allowed on that floor anymore, adjusting from a family of four to a family of five (with the prospect of becoming a family of six in the near future), and continuing to figure out other logistics (like nursing, pumping, deciding where the best place is to live during this season, and continuing to care for our other two kids who are under 4 years old).

But those are all things that we’ll deal with when we get there.  For now, we rejoice with you over this good news.  And we continue on this journey that we’ll never forget.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good Kidney News

A few good things to share with you:
  1. Weight gain continues.  Both girls have put on (at least) a few ounces more than their original birth weight.  This is especially good news considering that babies typically lose about 10% of their birth weight in the first week or so.  Gloriana is up to 3 lbs 2 oz; Belladia is up to 4 lbs 13 oz.
  2. Clothing has been on Bella since Tuesday!  Since she’s been consistently off the Bili blanket, she’s been allowed to wear clothes.  I have to tell you, it makes her even more adorable than she was!  Gloriana still has the Bili blanket to deal with jaundice, so she’s still sporting only a diaper. =)
  3. Bella’s enlarged kidney does not have any blockage around it!  Fantastic news!  We found out the results of the kidney scan today, and the doctor said that it will most likely resolve itself.  (He also mentioned that – years ago – all the ultrasounds wouldn’t have been done, the enlarged kidney wouldn’t have been seen, and it would have gone back to normal size on its own.)  We are very relieved that there won’t be any procedure needed to fix her kidney.

Overall, things still continue to go really well.  On Tuesday I was sitting in the NICU and heard an alarm go off a few beds away from our girls.  It was a much louder, urgent sounding alarm than the typical ones, and about 10-12 nurses/doctors rushed to the baby, suiting up in gowns and masks as they came over.  The mom was visibly upset as she walked away from the area.  I offered – and she accepted – a hug.  I asked what had happened and she said that her baby hadn’t been doing very well.  After the doctor made his rounds, he met individually with the mom in the conference room.  The next day (yesterday morning) that baby’s bed was empty.  It reminded us that there aren’t any guarantees of wellness just because a baby has made it to the NICU… and it also reminded us how much God has blessed us in the first ten days of these girls’ lives. 

We – as always – appreciate your prayers.  Our whole family continues to feel SO sustained by God through this whole season.  God is good, all the time.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Quick Monday Update

Can you believe our girls are a week old?  We’re still just glowing about their safe arrival. =)

A few updates (including some things I should have shared earlier) –

1.     Lisa is back home.  She was discharged from the hospital on Friday, as planned.  She’s a bit sore – and I’m making sure that she’s getting plenty of rest.  We’re thankful she’s doing so well.
2.     Gloriana has had a bit of a setback in her feeding; I think she was up to 8 cc of milk/formula per feeding, but she was having quite a bit of residue.  “What’s that?”  Basically, the nurses check (by using a syringe connected to the stomach tube) how much food is in her stomach two hours after her feeding.  For some reason, she was having nearly the same amount of residue (food in her stomach) as what she was being fed, though it looked somewhat digested.  They cut her feeding down to 5 cc, and then again down to 2 cc.  It could be that her stomach is working a little slowly; they will keep an eye on it, and we’ll keep you updated.  We’re reassured that this is a normal setback for preemies – the nurse practitioner said it isn’t anything to be real concerned about; easy for her to say, right? ;)  She has also been having “Brady’s” (I’m sure it’s named after a doctor who named the condition) – basically, preemies tend to forget that they’re supposed to breathe, and their heartrates drop from 160 bpm down to 40-50 bpm.  It happened a couple times when I was holding Gloriana yesterday; the nurse had me pat her back a bit, and then her heartrate went back where it should.  The nurses are giving her a bit of caffeine in her IV to help her deal with the Brady’s; we were reassured that these are also a normal part of a preemie’s development.  Gloriana also continues to have a Billy blanket to help her deal with very minor jaundice.
3.     Belladia is doing really well.  She doesn’t have any oxygen hooked up to her anymore, which is GREAT news!  She is doing a fantastic job with feedings, and is up to 25 cc per feeding.  She was able to maintain her body temperature for about 4 hours when she was being held yesterday, so we’re very thankful for that, too.  She’s been having some Brady’s, too, so she has caffeine in her IV, just like her sister.  We haven’t heard anything with regard to her kidneys; we’ll let you know when we do.  She still have very minor jaundice and is on a Billy blanket as well.

Overall, things are going quite well.  We appreciate your prayers about Gloriana’s digestive system; her tummy working well will help her put on more weight and also help clear up the jaundice.  We really appreciate all your kind words (and hugs at church yesterday!) – what a joy this all has been!  It still doesn’t seem real sometimes when I think about all that God has done in these girls’ lives. =)  It’s incredible.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brief update and some pictures

I just wanted to let you all know about some of the questions you’ve been having, then I’ll post some pictures below.

Kidneys – it turns out both our girls have enlarged kidneys.  We were told that kidney enlargement is on a scale of level 1 to level 4; 1 is lowest and 4 is highest.  Gloriana’s kidneys are both level 1 and aren’t anything to be concerned about.  Belladia has one that is level 1 and her left (which we’ve tracked throughout the pregnancy) is a level 3.  The NICU doctor said that he wasn’t too concerned about it – they are going to test to see whether the urine from her bladder is backing up to that kidney and whether there is a blockage.  If there is some blockage, they would have to do a procedure to correct it.

Feeding – Bella took some breastmilk by the feeding tube around lunchtime, so we’ll have to see how that went for her.  UPDATE: She ended up taking some from a bottle, too – woo-hoo!  Gloriana took 3 cc of breastmilk by bottle (!) and took another 2 cc via feeding tube.  We’re impressed with both of their progress.

This is Gloriana with my hand in front of her.  She's in a preemie diaper and looks like she's swimming in it. =)  This is just a few hours after she was born...
This is Belladia just a few minutes after the above picture was taken.  You can see (just like you saw from the first picture of them) that she's noticeably bigger than her sister.
Lisa was able to hold Gloriana for the first time on Tuesday.  Beautiful girls, aren't they?
My parents visited Tuesday afternoon and held Gloriana for a while...
Here is our little glowworm Gloriana (that's Lisa's finger on the bottom right side of the picture to show how little this peanut is).
This is Belladia sporting her shades as she's under the spotlight to help her deal with some jaundice.  The c-pap that you see under her nose has since been removed.
There are Lisa and I, standing by Belladia's bed; you can see Gloriana's bed in the background.
Aunt Laura is holding Gloriana, who has her shades pulled up and is snoozing away.
This little doll that Aunt Laura brought will likely be used in future updates to show how much our girls are growing - the doll is next to Gloriana here...
...and next to Bella here.
Bella meets her Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Boss.  Notice her dark hair here!
Lisa feeds Gloriana from a bottle.
Lisa holding Belladia, who fell asleep on her chest.
Bella spent this afternoon sleeping on her tummy; the band is holding her shades in place.
Lisa is happy to be holding Gloriana here...
...and the feeling is mutual - does that count as a newborn smile? =)

One last story: lately, we had been praying before every meal (as we always do), but Kruesie has been participating a bit.  In very non-Reformed/Presbyterian fashion (wink, wink), he would jump in with a little prayer of his own.  For example, I might say, "Thank you for the food we're about to eat," and Kruesie would say, "And thank you for the babies."  At the time, they weren't yet born, but Lisa or I would affirm him, "Yes, we thank you for the babies, too."  It's so incredible now to see what we've been thanking God for and to share those images with you. =)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Little Miracles

First, THANKS!  We’ve been overwhelmed by your flood of comments/wall posts/messages in the last 36 hours.  This morning I read aloud everything that you all have written so that Lisa could hear all the encouraging things you were sending along – it’s been an incredible celebration!

Second, you want more pictures, right?  I wish that I had some to post, but they’re at the hospital and I’m not.  I left Lisa at the hospital this afternoon so I could sneak home and see the kiddos; we didn’t want them to think we had left them forever. =) I left the camera so that Lisa could take some more pictures and left the computer so that the kids could see her tonight via Skype.  And those were good ideas, except no more pics to post. =( Sorry.  Maybe the next couple updates will have more pictures than words.

Third, I need to explain the title.  In some sense, it’s pretty obvious – it’s what the majority of you have recognized these little girls to be: little miracles.  But there’s more to the story from Monday’s delivery that I haven’t yet shared… and it requires a bit of last week’s story, too.

Many of you know that we started out in Crown Point with our fantastic nurse midwife, Sheryl Behnke.  She was very helpful during the pregnancy with Daylia and coached Lisa through delivery.  We’ve raved to others about her before, and I’m doing it again right now. =)

But when we had the surgery in Cincinnati, we were told that we couldn’t have a nurse midwife; instead, we had to “move up to an MD,” according to the surgeon.  We went a step further and doctored with an MFM – an MD who specializes in maternal fetal medicine (“MFM”).  We had 10 or so weekly ultrasounds/meetings with him in the time between surgery and delivery.

In addition to those weekly ultrasounds, we were also instructed to have a non-stress test (NST) twice every week, beginning at 28 weeks.  Rather than make the long commute to the University of Chicago on Thursdays and Mondays, we merely went to the nurse midwife’s office in Crown Point on Mondays.

And that’s where we had a 9:00 a.m. appointment this past Monday.

We’re glad we didn’t go.  Let me explain.

Last Thursday (the 13th) we had our regular NST, ultrasound, and doctor appointment in Chicago.  Since we knew that we would likely be checked into the hospital the following Thursday (the 20th), I asked if we should just come to Chicago for our Monday appointment – I figured it would be worth the drive since we were getting closer to the due date and it would be the only time that we’d have to drive to Chicago twice in one week for appointments.  The advantage to coming to Chicago meant having a higher level of care and being onsite in case we needed to deliver – we’ve heard that high risk babies who are delivered at the hospital where they will stay (as opposed to being airlifted after delivery) do statistically-significantly better than those who are transferred.  Dr. Ismail agreed to have us come to Chicago on Monday, then discussed the possibility of giving Lisa a second set of steroid shots.  He finally decided that he would give the first one Monday (the 17th) and the second on the next day.  He wanted to keep Lisa overnight after the first one to monitor her blood sugar, because it could spike (because of her gestational diabetes) and cause Lisa to go into labor.  He even talked about doing the set of shots last Thursday/Friday.  We’re thankful he didn’t on those days, because had he done so (and had there been a spike in her blood sugar and ensuing labor) her water could have broken and the vasa previa could have torn, immediately causing the babies to bleed to death.  A big little miracle.

Between this past Friday and Monday, quite a few things happened.  Lisa prepared for two weeks in the hospital and (we can’t lie about it) she probably overdid it.  Making preparations for the hospital stay, maternal nesting (it would be the last time at home before the babies were born), and spending more time with (and taking more care of) the kids were a perfect storm for overdoing it.  We’re thankful that overdoing it didn’t cause her to go into labor, which could have caused the vasa previa to tear and would have immediately caused the babies to bleed to death.  Another big little miracle.

Also between this past Friday and Monday, quite a few phone calls were made.  We were unsure about the wisdom of a second set of steroid shots – call it parental instinct.  We called contacts in Cincinnati (thanks, Dr. Paul!), contacts in Crown Point (thanks, Sheryl!), and anyone else we could think of for advice (thanks, everyone else!) and concluded that we’d be willing to exercise our patient’s option to not have the second set of steroids – lungs are pretty well developed by 34 weeks and there seemed to be little benefit (perhaps even a little harm could be done) with having shots after 34 weeks.  Thankfully, our doctor didn’t push the issue and the residents at the hospital didn’t either – had they done so, we could lost both babies due to a torn vasa previa.

The vasa previa ended up being very severe – I’m not sure how many of you would want to see pictures (our doctor – who is also a professor – made sure I took pictures just to document the severity of it), but let me attempt to describe it: there were two vessels growing into the amniotic sac on A’s (Gloriana’s) side of the placenta, and each one was thicker than a pencil in diameter.  There was another (that hadn’t been seen on ultrasounds) vessel on B’s (Belladia’s) side of the placenta that was just a bit thinner than a pencil in diameter.  Each of those three vessels were about three inches in length.  I can’t remember whether I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but our doctor told us that if one of the vessels tore, it would only take about two tablespoons of blood loss in each twin for them to lose half of their bodies’ blood volume.  As I said, had Lisa gone into labor, both twins could have bled to death immediately.  A HUGE miracle.

But there’s more.  When we were initially checked into the hospital, we had the attitude of wanting to prolong the pregnancy as much as possible.  I think it was so engrained in our minds that “every week counts, every day counts” that we really believed it.  Plus, Lisa wasn’t showing any signs of labor (not many (any?) contractions), so we figured, “What are the odds that her water would break without showing signs of labor?”  But we thought more about it… and one little interjection may have made a doubly vital difference.  At about 8 p.m., our doctor seemed pretty comfortable about coming back in the morning to perform the c-section.  I used a phrase that he used often in the past few weeks with regard to prolonging the pregnancy; often, he would say, “You could convince me to wait until 36 weeks before delivering the babies.”  I said, “You could convince us to have the surgery tonight if that’s an option.”  “Okay,” he said, “we’ll have the surgery in an hour, I’ll tell the anesthesiologist.” 

What difference could 12 hours have made?  It may have been the difference between life and death for our girls.  In the middle of the surgery, our doctor said, “Lisa, it’s very good that we decided to have the surgery tonight – there’s some blood in the amniotic fluid, which indicates the beginning of placental abruption.”  A quick webMD search shows that a placental abruption is the breaking away of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, and it causes – you guessed it – premature birth.  The blood in the amniotic fluid indicated it could have been very little time – perhaps the hours when Lisa would have sleeping and waiting for the c-section in the morning – just a very little time until the onset of labor and ensuing breaking of her water.  You know what the result would have been; we’d be on the very opposite end of the emotional spectrum right now.  A shake-your-head-in-wonder-and-amazement-of-our-great-God miracle.

Now you know why I ended up sleeping twelve hours on Tuesday night. =) All that emotion and stress and elation adds up.

So, how are these miracles doing now?  Really well.  Bella (baby B – B is for Bella) continues to have a very small amount of oxygen given to her, along with the standard feeding tube, vitals monitors, and IV.  She had an IV into her umbilical cord to start, but now that’s been taken out – that means that we can finally hold her! =) She spent today and yesterday under a spotlight to deal with a little bit of jaundice, which is very normal for preemies.  She’s been sucking on a pacifier, which is a good developmental sign.  She had a bit of Mom’s milk and formula put into her feeding tube for nourishment, but she wasn’t a big fan of the bottle today.  They’ll likely try again tomorrow and may even try a bit of nursing, too.

Glori (or it is “Glory” – hmm, y or an i for the abbreviation?) is a little fireball.  She is still holding her own without any help with oxygen.  She began sucking on a pacifier soon after birth; again, very good news.  They’re deciding still how soon it will be until she tries to nurse.  She’s wearing a blanket to help deal with slight jaundice and looks remarkably like a glowworm – remember those? =) She’s been held quite a bit since yesterday afternoon, and that’s a huge blessing from such a little girl.

Some of you asked about the VSD in Gloriana… it turns our that both girls have a small hole in each of their hearts.  I understand that Gloriana’s is a little bit bigger than Belladia’s, but it sounds like no immediate action is needed; they’ll likely keep an eye on them and see whether surgery is necessary in 3-6 months.  Surgery wouldn’t be a big deal, as it’s rather routine.

The ultrasound of the kidneys (renal ultrasound) was scheduled for later this afternoon, and it will probably be read in the next day or so.  In the meantime, we know that both girls are having wet diapers, so the kidneys (if nothing else) are functioning quite well. =)

How about Lisa?  She’s incredible.  Sometimes guys talk about marrying out of their league, but it’s not an exaggeration for me.  Seriously.  I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Yesterday morning she felt very ill – we figure that the medicine from the c-section affected her quite adversely.  And understandably so – Lisa doesn’t ever take Tylenol at home, and even caffeine makes her a little shaky.  Imagine, then, what happens when you put the strong narcotics of an epidural and the post-surgery morphine into her system.  Of course, she wanted to go see the girls first thing yesterday morning, but the room was spinning so much that she couldn’t get on her feet.  Poor thing.  But she got back to her regular self yesterday afternoon and doted on the girls the rest of the afternoon. =)  (Yes, she “dotes, devoutly dotes,” to quote Shakespeare.)  My parents joined her in that yesterday afternoon, with my sister and grandparents doing so today.  Despite a bit of soreness, Lisa is doing quite well – needless to say, the kids LOVED seeing her on Skype tonight.

As you can tell, we’re cherishing it all.  The plan is for me to rejoin Lisa in the hospital tomorrow, and then I’ll take Lisa home on Friday.  We’ll likely take Lisa’s parents to see the girls on Saturday and figure out a plan to see these girls as often as we can.  As I mentioned earlier, we’re on the extreme end of the emotional spectrum – as our little one’s name implies, God’s glorious grace brings joy.  Thanks for reading (and praying and perpetually smiling and passing on the amazing news) and rejoicing with us.  The over 2000 words in this post just scratch the surface of how great our God is.  Miraculous, isn’t it?