Saturday, September 27, 2014

A First Birthday

Somehow, Caris has already been 1 year old for 10 days. I like to think we are still celebrating her first year of life. Why not? My girl has earned extra celebration. 

We had a simple birthday day on September 17th. We gave her some gifts from us--I am in love with the fact that she went straight for her birthday card rather than the presents themselves first!

Day after her birthday....being swung through the air by Daddy is the Best Thing Ever!

BUT, hanging upside down in Daddy's arms is a close runner-up. Seeing my favorite two people together makes my heart explode with joy every day.

We had Caris' birthday party on September 20th. Sadly, the flu is going around and most of my family caught it and couldn't join us in celebration. And, my brother's wife went into labor that morning, so of course they were not there either. But, we welcomed Braxton Michael into this world that day!

I love this little girl too much!

Because of Caris' prematurity, she is just now starting to eat foods other than purees, so I decided that we would forgo birthday cake and give her birthday ice cream instead! Vanilla, with caramel apples for the adults. She was in love with her ice cream.

I have had an amazingly blessed year with Caris. She lights up whichever room she is in with her joyful presence. God is good. All the time. I think Caris was singing her praises to Jesus into this microphone.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Birthday Girl Facts


Caris turned ONE yesterday!
Here are some facts about the birthday girl.
*Loves to: play the piano and 'sing'
*Favorite book: Pat the Bunny
*Number of teeth: 0
*Lots of: smiles and giggles
Very: observant
*Looks like: the perfect mix of momma + daddy
*Beginning to: army crawl
*Favorite foods: avocado + butternut squash
*Loves: her walker
*Doesn't like: men
*Enjoys: plucking grass and leaves
*Adores: her two kitties
*Is: a huge snuggler
*Nicknames: Care Bear, Sugar Pie, Caris Love, Bunny
*The only tv she will watch is: Daniel Tiger or her Praise Baby dvds
*Lots of: babbling- dadada, mamama, bababa
*Favorite bathtime toy: Hawaiian rubber ducky
*Despises: peas
*Favorite songs: Jesus Loves Me, If You're Happy and You Know It
*Loves: being held upside down
*Pulls: Mommy's hair and Daddy's ears
*Starting to: wave, eat puffs and melts, pull up to a stand with help, have big opinions
*Is: a major miracle, her mama's biggest blessing, her daddy's biggest joy, LOVED

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Caris Noelle: Birthstory of a Micropreemie

My baby girl was due December 25. Christmas day. I was sure she would be born late, in January.

After experiencing 6 years of infertility, I was aching to hold my little one. I think God felt my ache to become a mother; He gave me my daughter much earlier than I expected.

Around September 10 (2013), I started to have mild contractions and light spotting. I was cautious, but this being my first pregnancy, I was convinced I was having Braxton Hicks contractions--a normal symptom.

As the week progressed, the contractions became more painful, and were about 10 minutes apart. The worry kicked in. I began to feel like this was not normal.

Fast forward to September 17--I was 25 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I did not sleep well the night before due to the pain. I got out of bed at 6 am and began to have heavy bleeding. The fear kicked in.

My husband Colin woke up. My contractions were now just 5 minutes apart, and I was feeling pain in my upper legs as well. Colin was very concerned. Somehow, I was sure I would still be going to work that day. Colin insisted on calling my hospital to see if we needed to go to the ER. He spoke with a triage nurse at 8 am, who told us to go immediately to the ER.

We arrived at 8:45 am. I was crying. The tears would not stop.

Nurses did a check-up and then I was finally able to see my doctor. She said I was not dilated, but was 7 mm effaced. I was started on IV fluids to get hydrated, procardia pills to slow down contractions, and betamethasone steroids to help my baby's lungs strengthen and mature, in case she were to be born.

My contractions began to slow down. This was a relief. I did not want to believe my baby could be born this early.

A belly and a vaginal ultrasound were done. Everything about my baby appeared healthy. She was head down and belly down. I happened to notice on the ultrasound that my baby's head appeared very low, right at my cervix. This frightened me.

My doctor explained that there was a chance my baby could be born within 48 hours, and that the hospital did not have medical equipment/teams to support micropreemies. She told me she wanted me to be transferred to a different hospital that specialized in micropreemies, as a precaution.

At 1:45 pm, I took my very first helicopter ride. This was a little frightening. I was laying on a stretcher in a tight enclosed space. Thankfully I had no contractions on the 15 minute flight.

We arrived to my hospital and I was wheeled on my stretcher to room 369. My contractions returned. I was given more pills and magnesium. A machine was monitoring my contractions and my baby girl's heartrate. She kept swimming around and kicking the probes off. I was thankful she was so active. She made me smile.

The pills worked to reduce my contractions. My nurse told me that if the pills continued working, the goal would be to send me home in about 48 hours with more pills. This was hopeful. I was feeling good with that goal.

At 6 pm, a doctor arrived. She did an ultrasound and confirmed my baby's head was very low. She did an internal exam, and sent for my nurse to get a speculum.

(Unbeknownst to me, my doctor held up 10 fingers to my nurse and mouthed, "She's a 10!")

My doctor used the speculum to examine me further.

Then, the most fearful moment in all of my life happened. My doctor revealed to me that I was fully dilated at 10 centimeters. She told me we would be having our baby.

Instant tears. Uncontrollable sobbing. Panic.

The only thing holding my baby girl in was the water sac. I cried so hard for my baby girl. I was devastated that I could not keep my baby in my belly any longer. I prayed so hard. I feared for both of our lives.

At 6:28 pm, I was wheeled into room 359. Nurses were piling into the room. It was the middle of a shift change, so both shifts of people were there to help. It felt chaotic with people, yet they seemed relaxed and cheerful--this both perplexed and calmed me.

Colin held my hand at the left side of my bed. A nurse asked us if we had a name picked out. I became speechless and looked at Colin. He started crying (and I restarted crying) and he said, "Caris". We hadn't yet solidified a name, but we knew it was the one. Caris means 'love'. Caris Noelle. The nurse wrote in on a whiteboard.

The doctor broke the water sac.

She warned us that we would likely not hear a cry, because our little girl's lungs would not yet be fully developed.

I started pushing in sets of 3. I hadn't prepared for this. I never got to take birthing classes. On the second set, I cried out in pain as Caris arrived. 6:40 pm.

She cried. A tiny little voice that showed her strength.

The nurses immediately took her to the other side of the room to assess her.

I was too frightened to look.

I was told her left eye opened a little bit. She scored 9/9 on the Apgar test.

A nurse held her up to us for a brief second, and then she was whisked away from me to the NICU.

Caris weighed 1 lb 13.6 oz., and was 13 inches long.

To be continued....

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Almost One

Caris will be turning one on September 17. ONE.

It is simply a miracle that we were blessed with our baby girl, and that she is healthy and growing beautifully despite her early arrival. Strangers ask how old she is and think that she should be older because of her size. This is awesome. She is a tall girl!

I am so lucky to have a little girl.

Growing up, I always wanted to have a boy first, and then a girl...perhaps this was because I have an older brother. But, Colin had wanted a little Daddy's girl. Sometime after I met him, my heart began changing for a little girl. And when I got pregnant, I really wanted a girl and just 'knew' the baby would be one.

In the following picture, Caris is wearing my old dress! Almost 30 years old, and still so cute I think. My mother saved so many of my outfits, and now I get to have much fun in dressing my doll!

Caris is learning to have opinions on her daily activities--which toys to play with, which books to read. I love this stage. One of her preferences is to play my piano! I have had this piano since second grade, and it is wonderful that Caris is already taking up an interest in plunking on the keys, and even 'singing' while playing. Sitting her at the piano always calms her and puts a smile on her face.

Caris is becoming increasingly mobile. She has been sitting up and rolling for a long time. She is working so hard at crawling. But, we think she may skip crawling and go straight to walking, as she always prefers to be on her feet, and is just beginning to pull up with help. She is seeing an occupational therapist biweekly to help with all of these things, as she has low muscle tone due to her long NICU stay. We are so proud of her progress!

Her personality is so fun! She has always been a smiley lady. Full of giggles.

Here she is in her bunny pajamas. We decorated her nursery in a bunny theme. I will write about her nursery sometime! Her very favorite book is Pat the Bunny. When given a stack of bedtime books, Caris always, every time, will choose Pat the Bunny!

The little love of my life is also the little love of her daddy's life, too. Colin was home for his dinner break this last week, and as I was doing dishes, he took her outside to swing. I snapped this most perfect picture. Caris loves her daddy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Choosing To Write

Hi Friends!

I have received a few gentle promptings from you requesting an update. I last wrote in this space in April, not knowing if I should continue writing. Not knowing how to continue writing.

Since becoming a mother to Caris last September, I have become more private. More busy. More sleepy, too. Smile.

Through my miracle pregnancy and miracle micropreemie, I have had a year and a half of change. And a year and a half of being overcome with emotions I had never experienced before.

I believe my pause in writing has so much to do with my emotions. I think I have had waves of being both over-emotional and under-emotional. And I have not known what to do with them. Now I know what I must do.

I am choosing to write.

I need to reflect better on this last year and a half. I have a year's worth of daily journal entries to read through for the first time and process. It is going to be difficult, I think.

I gain so much by reading others' writings--spiritual encouragement, learning about being a wife and mother, and being let into the lives of people across the country and the world.

There are many blogs I read that I would be (at least mildy) devastated if the writer decided to discontinue writing.

If I can share my story of mothering a micropreemie and help one mother through her own journey, and if I can tell about my adoption and encourage one woman to pursue adoption, too, then I need to write.

For myself and God willing--for others--I will choose to write.