Isabella Danielle, born at 24 weeks and 1 day, 1lb 11oz, 12.5in

Zachary Michael, born at 36 weeks, 5lb 13oz, 18.5in

Alexander Charles, FULL TERM, 7lb 1oz, 20in

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lazy Sunday

As Miss Bella packs on the pounds, her personality speaks up more and more. We are getting looks and waving of the arms indicating those non-verbal ques are popping into her little head by the second. For instance, when the suction ball goes towards her nose to clear the boogies, she promptly flings those tiny hands and pushes it out of the way...from both directions. So we have taken it as an indication that she is really ready for some interaction. Meaning that Chris gets to be the big kid he is and play with toys...oh sorry, BELLA'S TOYS!!! We have gotten some great interactive, talking/singing toys in the last few days from friends, which Bella has taken a liking to. She also got a pretty awesome swing last week; it swings, vibrates, plays music, and has a mobile. She really enjoys swinging, except when she absolutely wants to be held. Have we mentioned lately that she LOVES attention and being in someones arms. Bella also got to go on her first walk this past week. I took her by myself one day, but yesterday we took her and the dogs to the back pond to play fetch...the puppies had a blast chasing the toy and each other.

As Chris mentioned Friday, overall the doctors appointment went great. When I talked to Dr. Feist, he did mention that some of her blood work other than the bilirubin was elevated and will be reviewed further. Two numbers indicated that there were some elevated enzyme levels. They had taken some extra blood just in case there was a need more tests for chronic problems; the test results should be back in a week. Other than that we are supposed to go see the surgeon at the end of May to observe her hernia(s). We knew they were there when we left Virginia, as she has grown so have they...we aren't quite sure if it is one or two. Dr. Feist seemed to think they looked pretty good even though he felt a surgeon should give the definitive opinion.

Here are some pictures for the week. Peace & God Bless!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Big Girl Bella

Yesterday I took the baby girl to Lubbock. We have to drive to Lubbock so that she can see specialists, she had an appointment with the GI specialist and the opthamologist. We were testing her Bilirubin levels and looking at her eyes to see how the progression of the ROP surgery is going. Well, I arrived 10 minutes late to the GI appointment (its a 2 hour drive from Midland to Lubbock and the baby girl woke up and was crying the last 15 miles to the doctor's) So we arrive and I sign her in and immediately take out her formula and start to feed the hungry little girl. The mom in the waiting room was staring at me (I got a lot of this, I figured it out at the opthamologist, I was the only dad there the whole day, all mom's and kids!!) Anyway, I held the baby and she was hungry!! She ate and ate and then we were called back to see Dr. Feist. The nurse was very nice and sweet to the baby girl and did a quick exam. I continued to feed the chunky monkey. Then we went to weigh her. The scale read 8lb 1oz!! I couldn't believe it!! She gained almost a whole pound in 9 days!!! What a little chunkster!! I was so excited!! So I went back to the room and finished feeding her when Dr. Feist came in. He was awesome!! Young, smart and very interested in Bella. Asked a lot of great questions, I called Machel and she talked to him too (she gave him some of the background and results from all of the March 30th visits when Machel was with Bella and I was loading us up for the drive home). He asked some more questions and he proceeded to explain that she looked great, her liver did not feel or seem inflammed and everything looked really good. He wanted to run a battery of tests to check her Bili levels and to rule out some enzyme and more serious liver issues. He briefly looked at her incision on her tummy and referred us to a surgeon. We will have the surgeon look at it next month when we go back to Lubbock for her next appointments. It appears that she has developed a hernia that will probably require follow up surgery, but hopefully she won't need that until she's bigger. So everything went well and I was ready to go to the opthamologist. At the opthamolgist Baby chunky monkey ate again and left daddy a really big present! (it was 3 hours later) So the doctor did the dreaded eye test again and Bella was not happy! But the doctor came back and said that her eyes look great, the surgery seems to have worked very well and she is showing no ill effects. We don't have to go back to the eye doctor for almost 6 months, YEAH no more eye exams all summer! So after the eye exam she was zonked and slept the entire drive back to Midland. When we got home, mommy was so excited to see the baby and she put together her new swing that night. Bella likes it, but not nearly as much as she likes laying in Machel's arms. Well, the chunky monkey is doing great, Dr. Feist's office called today and her bili levels are down to 2.9!! She was at 7.3 a month ago!! So she is doing so well!! Well here are some pictures of the big girl!! Thank you for the love and prayers!!
(Lord, please watch over and help the families that I met in Lubbock. You have blessed us with such a wonderful little miracle, please continue to watch over the other families who have babies with difficulties. I realize how truly wonderful you are every day, when I see the strength and love that so many other parents have for their own little miracles. Thank you for all of your miracles, both big and small, seen and unseen, appreciated and those we take for granted.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

All the Expressions

Here is our week in pictures! The princess continues to be photogenic as well as her parents being camera happy. Of course, it is a little harder to snap constant photos these days, but we still capture as many moments as we can.

Bella is doing well. Growing and becoming more expressive, and we know this is only the beginning. All the faces she makes are just so darn cute. She seems to be tracking a little better each day and responding to interaction more fluidly. We continue to ogle at how pretty she is and be thankful to hold her in our arms. Even when she potties on us or keeps us up all night, we still count our blessings and tell her thank you for those things (it might be a bad habit, but it is just so hard not to). And we are so guilty about letting her sleep in our bed with us. She just seems to like it so much more than that uncomfortable bassinet...good justification, right!?!

We have started mixing formula into her daily eating schedule. The breast milk supply has greatly dwindled with her massive appetite. Bella seems to really like the formula too. Maybe this is a good sign that she is going to have mommy and daddy's appetite and not be a picky eater (we just love food).

Her skin and eyes are carrying a much lower yellow tint. She has a GI appointment this week. So we are crossing our fingers that the CBili level is way down compared to when we left VA. We also hope to get some insight to her hernias. The one on her right side seems to have gotten slightly bigger.

Early Childhood Intervention came last week to do a basic assessment. They are the group that looks over a child's development during infancy. With additional observation they will determine whether Bella qualifies for physical therapy, vision teaching, speech therapy, etc. We just filled out paper work and hope to get the actual initial exams out of the way in the next few weeks. Based on the fact that she was so premature, she already qualifies for certain risk factors.

We will give you another medical update after her GI and eye appointments this next week.

Romans 8:31-32
...If God is with us, no one can defeat us. He did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things.

Peace & God Bless

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!!!

Here is the little princess all dressed up for Easter. We had a great day with our little miracle. Thank you Lord for this angel and for everything that you give us.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday

Grandmommy came Thursday and has been such a big help!! She even kept Bella all night last night and Machel and I got almost 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep!! She has been so happy holding Bella and feeding her and hugging on her and kissing her. It has allowed Machel and I to go out together to Lowe's and run some errands together!! We have been doing those things separate so that one of us could stay with the Baby Girl. With Grandmommy came a plethora of gifts from New Braunfels. We have included some pictures of the presents, thank you all so much for the beautiful clothes, stuffed animals, books and love. Bella will enjoy her gifts and hopefully you will all enjoy the pictures of her in the outfits!

The little girl is growing, she's eating a lot and is up to almost 20" long and almost 7lbs!! She is so precious and cute and becoming so expressive!! Lots of faces and grunts and cries, she is so fantastic! Here are a bunch of pictures, but first some thoughts on this weekend.

We have been blessed with such a wonderful miracle. Look around you and you will see the beauty and majesty all around you. The Lord is with us, answers our prayers and watches over us. Both Machel and I prayed yesterday with Bella, thanking the Lord for our little miracle and all of the miracles that are present on this Earth. Thank you Lord for the hardship that was the last 4 months, the tears, the long nights, the return to faith, the miracles that you performed before us. Thank you for our Bella, our family, our friends, our wonderful lives, thank you for all that you give us and all that you do for all of your people. Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are a wonderful weekend of reflection and love for our Lord and his son. Look at the miracles around you and be thankful for all that you are given.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Update #1

We want to give you an update from all of Bella's appointments prior to leaving Virginia as well as a synopsis of our trip home. She has more appointments in the coming weeks, so we will tell you more then as well.

Last Monday we started out at the Pediatrician. They were happy with the way she looked for the most part. She was up to 6lb 10oz and 18.75 inches. I thought she sounded a little gurggly, but they seemed to think it was a preemie thing. There is a small hernia along her incision from the bowel reconnection, but they thought Dr. McGahren should be the one to look at that more closely. Blood was also drawn to check her bilirubin level, but we would have to wait half the day to get the result of that blood work. As long as it didn't increase from the prior test, she would be clear.

Next was Surgery. The resident was 45 minutes late and that made me a little edgy since the day was jam packed. Once he came in, I stressed that our next appointment was soon and I wanted to speak with Dr. McGahren. Luckily he popped in about 5 minutes after the resident made he assessment. Overall he was pleased with the way Bella looked...except the hernia. Yep, that's for sure what it is. He said that it wasn't anything that he would fix right now anyway; just have our pediatrician in Texas keep an eye on it and he would recommend someone in Lubbock to correct it in the future. I think parting ways with Dr. McGahren was the hardest considering everything he did for Bella.

And not to forget the Ophthalmologist. I made it there just 5 minutes late and Dr. Carter got us right in. He was so great tending to our situation. He was also pleased with how Bella's eyes are progressing, saying that everything was heading in the direction he wanted. Yet she is still at risk for crossed eyes and/or needing glasses for severe near-sightedness. Now she has an Ophthalmologist in Texas and a follow-up 2 weeks from today.

We thought the last one would be the Urologist, who gave her a clean bill of health and stopped the amoxicyllin, but pediatrics called back...her bili was 7.3. They were concerned that there was more going on and wanted to do more labs.

So, instead of going to pack and head was back to the Pediatrician for more blood work. They put a "stat" mark on the labs so that results could be obtained quickly. The pediatrician would not clear her until these results were back and the GI doctors were okay with her progression. In other words...the return home was put on hold.

Thank goodness the results came back before 5pm. The pediatrician called to let us know that her PT and GGT were actually down from the last review in late January. Indicating that there was nothing severe going on from a GI stand point and we could start back to Texas. We just have to be sure to see the GI specialists soon.

Well, now the real adventure begins. To put it simply...I mailed 9 boxes home via UPS, we bought a waterproof canvas roof carrier, a 100qt ice chest for breast milk, and we could barely see out of our blind spots when driving. The car was perfectly arranged for a driver, a baby, and a back seat babysitter. Needless to say, all of that STUFF took extra long to pack. Luckily Nurse Kam spent the day with Chris getting the car ready, after picking him up from the airport. That was a life saver considering we spent more time at the hospital than originally expected. We started the day thinking we would be able to head out of town by 3pm; that turned into 7:30pm. Our first destination was Knoxville, TN to stay with one of my dearest girlfriends, LaSaundra. WISHFUL THINKING! We stopped at Wendy's around 10pm for a pick-me-up meal...3 hours later we were stopping because Chris got food poisoning...and we were still an hour away from LaSaundra's place. I made him pull into a Hampton Inn and we got a room for the night...which turned into 2 nights. He was so sick and weak that we spent Tuesday hanging out in the hotel room, actually he slept all day. Fortunately I was still able to meet up with LaSaundra for an hour or so. It was so great to visit with her and watch her hold Bella. Wednesday was a prosperous day. We made it to Memphis in great time and were able to spend about 30 minutes with Fred, Erin, Avery, and Gabe (it was nice to finally meet them). Chris drove the second leg of the day to Little Rock, we found another Hampton Inn and the whole family was down for the count and a much needed good nights sleep. But oh Thursday, rain for several hours in the morning, several stops for the baby, and an over turned RV on I-30 in Dallas. A 5 hour trip turned to 7.5. We made it to Mansfield and spent a good hour and a half with my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Tim. We all ate a quick bite (yummy tacos!), that included Bella...Aunt Debbie got the feed the chunky monkey and was so surprised at how she packed away the juice. Instead of spending the night, we decided to get back on the road, figuring that it would only take 3.5-4 hours to get home. We were anxious considering this was the day we were supposed to arrive home before the "food poisoning". NO...try 5 hours. We pulled up to the house in Midland about 1am Friday morning. Can someone say EXHAUSTED for me...I'm too tired to do it!!!

Regardless of a heavy, tiring pursuit was all so worth it. Having Isabella in this house, with Cooder and Juno, with her room, and our bed...oh, nice comfy bed...was so splendid and rewarding.

So Isabella gets to see her new Pediatrician tomorrow, Dr. Singh-Johnson. I am excited to meet and work with her. So, until our next update...may peace be with you and love find an overwhelming place in your heart...God Bless!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009


I think I thank God more than anything during the day when reaching out to Him. I am thankful for being tired. I am thankful for a baby that fights going to sleep. I am thankful for a crying baby. I am thankful for endless dirty diapers. I am thankful for an understanding, dedicated husband. I am thankful for two puppies that make me laugh. And I am surely thankful to great friends, so many of you have shown effortless compassion towards our family. I wanted to express this because I have spent the last hour updating myself on NICU blogs, and tears just swelled up in my eyes. Tears of sadness, having gone through that pain, not knowing what current NICU parents are really going through with varying illnesses, guilt for the baby that lays in my lap, but tears of joy for getting to look down at the smile on her face. Most importantly, I am thankful for the life that God has graced Chris and I with raising. I hope that we can make Him proud.

Being home has been amazing. It is so peaceful and nice to feel like life is somewhat back to normal. We are still getting settled in and unpacking after our week long journey across half the country. I worked on Bella's room first, even though her furniture is still at my moms. Here are a few pics (oh, of her too!):

Love & God Bless

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pictures of baby Bella at home

We are really tired and trying to get some sleep and get back on a normal routine, but we did manage to take all of these pictures of our princess, please enjoy!!