Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Alicia's First Christmas

Here's a video our friend put together of Alicia's first Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Are You?

Hi, friends. It's Linda.

Campbell just went to sleep. Alicia is sound asleep in her Moses' basket. It's just me up again. And somehow I found my way to Alicia's blog and trying to write down some coherent thoughts. Being coherent is kind of fleeting for me these days. Is that natural part of being a mom now? Just kidding. .. I think.

But truly, there are so many times I want to write to you all and thank you personally and communicate with you my heart and thoughts. Back when I was still living to see Alicia twice a day at the NICU, I would ramble off to Campbell my heart. He would encourage me to blog about it, saying that people would want to hear "how I am doing" and "what's going on with me" and these revelations I'm having. He said it would encourage people. I want to encourage people. I like encouraging people.

Yet when I get in front of the computer, and go to our blog and click on a "new post"... and when I see that blank page of all that whiteness... my mind does exactly that... blank. White. Nothing. So then I just sign off because I can't just sit there trying to think of something to say. One, because I don't want to force it. Second, I'm tired and I don't want to do anything that is draining. Thirdly, I'd probably need to eat, sleep or pump. So many excuses, eh? :)

Funny when inspiration would hit me though. Usually it was in the car on the way to see Alicia at the hospital. I would get a light blub moment in the quietness of the car ride. I would think and ponder and go OH God, that's good! Thank you for that. I should blog about that. And then... I didn't. Truthfully, I'd rather watch a good episode of the current Korean drama I was watching.

So now after Alicia is home with us for a good two plus months, I find myself wondering... yeah, how am I doing? I am not sure.

Since I turned 30 last week, I had such good times hanging out with some dear friends. All of them would ask me in different ways the same question: "How are you?" It's a question I've asked people for years. And it's a question I take seriously. When I ask people that question, I do mean it. I want to know how they truly are. (Can you tell I don't small talk...) I love that question and I (used to) enjoy answering that question myself. I believe that I am pretty self aware. Yet, this week when my friends kept asking me that question, I found myself evading it until I just realized. I have no idea how I am doing. I feel very numb inside.

On the most part, I am so uttttterly thankful. I am so completely in awe of the Lord. He alone carries us through and continues to hold us in His love. I see Him in every moment of discovery with Alicia. I praise Him at each growth in her. Overall, I am happy. Thrilled. Content. Tired, but truly happy to be home with my husband and daughter. Yet, there is a slight discord in my spirit.

What is it?

I realized that I am finding myself again. I am rediscovering who I am and what I've become through the (early) arrival of our precious Alicia. Since she came on the scene, I've let go of all thoughts of "how am I" and lived only on survivor mode. I did what I had to do. I ate, slept and pumped and visited her. I prayed and trusted the Lord. I watched (A LOT) of Korean dramas. I loved on other preemies and parents at the hospital because it came naturally since I've been through what they are experiencing. Now at home, I am very much preoccupied with taking care of Alicia. And I so am enjoying it. Still in my heart and spirit, there was this numbness that I can't explain. This disconnect between my mind and heart.

I think it's only now that I'm slowly thawing out and processing. So hopefully, I'll be blogging a bit more now. I hope to share with you. More. In time. Because there are some jewels in this journey. I'm getting all the spoils of this battle, my friends. Oh yeah. Praise the Lord. He knows how to position us for victory. We definitely did not go through this fiery furnace for nothing.

I know Daddy is walking with me through this and expanding the tents of my heart. I am forever changed. Just like every woman and man who becomes a parent. Isn't God amazing to write an unique tale for each one of us?

There is more to come!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 years and 6 months

It's been quite awhile since I've had time or the energy to sit down and blog. Finally, all the business is on a hiatus and well, here I am.

Over the past few weeks, I've definitely had moments of, "Oh, I need to write that on the blog." or "That would make a good entry." Unfortunately, I didn't write any of it down, so now I've forgotten what those things were. =)

No matter. There is still plenty to write about and plenty to be thankful for.

Yesterday, November 29, 2011, was my dear wife's 30th birthday. Being that it was such a milestone of a birthday, my brain started to kick into gear about two months before her birthday, trying to figure out the best way to celebrate. First, I was worried because I was involved in a musical at the time, and that coupled with my full-time job and also being the parent of a newborn, I had very, very little mental capacity to do any sort of planning or masterminding for a big celebration.

Second, having a very young child who we needed to keep away from large crowds, it became an issue of how do we have a party, but limit the number of people who come. Also, there was thquestion of how to celebrate, do we have dinner, dessert, stay home or go out? So many different things to consider.

Thankfully, God gave me the inspiration to do a week of pampering for Linda, which in a way is easier to plan because it helps with the crowd control, but also allows for the extension of the celebration for a whole week. =)

Since I'm trying to keep each day a surprise, I won't go into many details about what all of it entails. But thus far, she's gotten a hairwash, dinner with yours truly, and right now she's away getting a facial. There are still five more days of pampering left for Linda to look forward to.

I think more than anything Linda has enjoyed having time to herself, without needing to worry about feeding Alicia, or changing her diaper, or making sure that she's taken care of. We have been blessed with wonderful friends and family who have taken Alicia under their wings for a few hours so that Linda can get out. I think that's been good for Linda. I think one of the hardest things about having Alicia home for the past two months is that she hasn't had a break. As any full-time parent knows, taking care of a newborn is a 24-hour job.

Speaking of our baby girl. She is an absolute doll. What a testament to the power of prayer and faith and the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.

Seriously, looking at her now, one could almost forget that she was ever in any medical danger. All vitals are functioning 100% normal, and she is as active as all get out. I feel like when this little girl is awake, and happy, she is constantly on the move kicking her legs, waving her arms. And she is truly one happy, happy baby. She has started to respond to our smiles and cooing, with her own smiles and coos which I absolutely love.

From a young age, she would often smile, but over the past month, she's begun to smile in response to things that we do, and seriously, every time her little face lights up with a grin, I just want to envelop her with my love.

It seems that I'm not alone. There is just something about Alicia that people are just enamored by. I'm not saying this to be proud, because honestly, I had very little to do with how she is. But there is just something about her that people are just captivated by and attracted to. People are drawn to her in a very odd and inexplicable reason. =) Which I have to say, makes this Poppa's heart proud.

So what are some of the most common things that we hear about Alicia when they see or meet her for the first time?

Usually, the first thing people mention are the size of her eyes. She has these really large doe eyes with the biggest pupils I've ever seen. I could stare into her eyes for days. More than one person has mentioned how it looks like she's wearing those contacts that make your pupils look bigger. Her eyes are pretty amazing.

Next most common thing we hear is that she looks mixed or white. I can't quite place my finger on what it is that makes her appear that way, but since we hear that from practically every person that meets her for the first time, there must be some truth to it.

People also often comment on how quiet and peaceful she is. Which is really, really true. I think I mentioned in a previous post, that the only time I ever really hear Alicia cry is when she's hungry. When she's well-fed, she's usually pretty quiet and smiley. She doesn't even cry when she's got a dirty diaper. This is definitely, definitely God's gift to us. I don't know how I would handle it if we had an inconsolable, colicky child. I mean we'd definitely deal with it for sure. But to have Alicia be so happy and content makes me happy.

One thing that I've observed is that Alicia really is secure. She doesn't seem to have any sense of trauma or abandonment issues. She really seems to be very confident and secure. She knows that she is loved and that she is cherished, and I think that that is a great gift.

So I guess what I'm trying to say through all this "boasting" is THANK YOU! Your prayers and thoughts and well wishes have made the biggest difference in our family, and especially in the life of the little miracle we call, Alicia.

Now if we could just get her to sleep 8 or more hours at night, we'd be set! =)

Friday, November 18, 2011


It's been several weeks since I've updated. So sorry about that. It's in part due to the exhaustion of having a newborn around the house, and also in part due to the fact that there really hasn't been that much to report.

Life with Alicia has been fantastically, exhaustingly normal. Looking at her now, other than the fact that she's a bit smaller than other kids of her adjusted age, you really wouldn't know that she was ever a preemie. In fact, it almost takes a conscious effort to remember those first few months when our little girl was in the hospital.

Our little girl. Such a precious, precious gift.

I have to say though, there were several moments over the past few weeks, when I really nearly lost it on her. For the most part, Alicia only cries when she's hungry. Which is a huge blessing. The problem was that there were a few days when though she was hungry, she wouldn't eat, and she just kept crying and throwing a tantrum. It was so frustrating.

I couldn't help but think back to one of my earlier entries where I was ranting about wanting Alicia home with me. I think I even said, "Wake me up in the middle of the night. Cry! I don't care." Haha. Yeah... well, I had no idea what I was talking about.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I cherish each and every moment I have with my darling little girl. In fact, right now, she's sleeping soundly on my chest as I type. I treasure these moments. But there are definitely those moments that just drive you crazy.

Thankfully, the biggest blessing came last week when she started sleeping "through the night". For the longest time, I was starting to wonder if we were ever going to sleep for more than three hours at a time. But by God's grace and amazing providence, if we feed her at 12:00, Alicia has been able to stave off the hunger pains and let us "sleep in" until 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. We've been trying to keep her on the "eat, wake, sleep" schedule and so far, it seems to work pretty well. I think the key is consistency and putting in an extra bit of effort to keep her on schedule.

Speaking of which, I have to say that my wife has been doing an amazing, amazing job being the sole caretaker of our baby girl. Linda's life is pretty much 100% wrapped up in taking care of Alicia now. These days, she doesn't step out of the house but one day a week to take Alicia to the hospital. I mean, I don't know how she does it, but she literally doesn't go out 6 out of 7 days. I would go stir crazy, I mean seriously. But she does it, and I barely ever hear a peep of complaint out of her.

God's grace is amazing. AMAZING. I tell you. God told me before Alicia was born that the word over this next generation of our family would be grace, and he confirmed it, when my father on his own accord chose "恩" (grace) to be the recurring character in the name of all the kids in Alicia's generation.

It has been an amazing privilege and satisfaction to watch my little girl get bigger and bigger each day. She's even started to out grow some of her preemie clothes which at once gives me a sense of pride and also comfort knowing that we must be doing something right.

At this point, she is still growing a bit slow, but we believe that she will catch up soon. She's doing so well all other areas, we have no doubt that she'll continue to thrive in all aspects.

Her eyes are stable and ROP hasn't gotten worse, so that's a praise. She's continuing to go through her rounds of vaccinations and she takes each shot like a pro. She is also absolutely social and loves to interact with people. She's even started to smile in response to our voices or faces, which just absolutely melts my heart. She's also so, absolutely smart and full of life.

I couldn't be prouder of my little girl! =) She is a miracle and a testament to the power of our great and MIGHTY GOD! =)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Provider

Some of you know, and some of you don't, that I have been in a sort of a funk lately. I can't remember exactly when it started, but I think a lot of it is centered around trying to find my purpose, direction and destiny in life.

I mean this is something that I've been trying to figure out for quite a few years now, but I think since becoming a father, a lot of the struggle has been intesified.

There is so much that I want to do an so much that I want to accomplish, yet in many ways I feel stuck and lost as to how to move forward. I feel paralyzed in a way because there are so many different roads to choose from.

Also, it feels like in some ways that there is this giant wall blocking my way to my destiny and I've been struggling and struggling trying to find a way over it, but to no avail.

Many of you know that one of my big dreams has always been to be an actor and to make it big on both stage and screen. And I've been able to reach that goal to a certain degree but I want more.

For as long as I can remember, I've also wanted to be a father. I've loved kids since, well since I was a kid. I don't know why. God has just put this heart in me to love on the little ones. Thankfully, this past year, this goal has been fulfilled.

I also, as "ungodly" to some as it may sound, want to be rich. I'd like to live in financial freedom and not necessarily need to work just to make money. I'd like to be able to provide a life for my family and not ever need to worry about paying bills. I want to work out of pleasure and not out of necessisty.

For me, a lot of the struggle these past few months is that I feel like I don't know how to marry these three main goals in my life. I feel like if I focus on one or the other without the other two suffering. If I work on my entertainment career, that takes away time from family and work. If I work on work, then entertainment and family suffer. And if I give my time to the family then I feel like I'm neglecting the other two.

My wife, wise woman that she is, sensing my struggles invited several of our close friends over to our house to encourage me. Man, it was good.

I was reminded that God has a design and purpose for me in this world that no one else can fulfill, and that in the right time he will lead me to finding my way through that brick wall that I've been sensing looming over me. Also, one of the friends spoke something, that I took deeply to heart, and it felt like water to my thirsty soul.

He said that as he was listening to me share, he felt God saying that for right now in this time of our lives, I should focus on being the father and the husband, and to not worry about being the provider. God is the provider. Oh, man. That was good to hear.

I think a lot of my struggle was wanting to pursue my dream, but also wanting to be a good husband and dad, and also wanting to provide a good life for my family. I felt like I was being pulled at the seems and I was coming apart. I felt guilty when I was pursuing my dreams because I felt like I was neglecting my family and other resonsibilities. However, if I was with my family, I'd feel guilty because I felt like I wasn't providing.

But I really like the reminder that God is the provider. He is Jehovah Jireh. The GREAT provider. And honestly, I've seen this truth evidenced so muh more clearly lately than any other time in my life.

Over and over during the past few months, in preparation to bring Alicia home, we'll talk about needing this or that, and miraculously within a few days, someone on their own accord will talk to us and offer us the very thing that we had just talked about needing without us mentioning a word to them.

For example, we knew that we needed a stroller, and after looking at various ones, we felt that it might be good to get a stroller that had a detachable carseat. Lo and behold, not a week after talking about it a friend of ours called telling us that they'd like to give us their stroller/carseat because their own bundle of joy had outgrown it.

Then we talked about needing a sterilizer for Alicia's bottles and pacifiers, and not long afterwards, my brother calls me from the states asking if I needed a sterilizer since they had been gifted with two of them.

The same goes for preemie clothes, books, diaper changing pads, carriers, a bathtub, a breastfeeding cover, a mosquito net, curtains, lotion, soap, safety gate, bottles, and the list goes on and on.

Did we do anything to deserve this? Definitely not. It was all the grace of God and the love and kindness of our friends and family. THANK YOU to many, many of you for your kindness, love and generosity. You have been an amazing blessing.

So, yes, I will continue to focus on being a good father and husband, and leave the rest in God's more than capable hands. =)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


There is something about our little girl that just draws people to her and attracts attention.

Linda kind of gets a little annoyed by it, but for some reason, whenever we're out with Alicia, people will always come over and want to look at her and then they'll ask Linda questions about her, or they'll make comments about her.

Nearly every day this past week, a complete stranger will stop in front of Alicia's window, and out of all the babies in the room, they'll pick her out and comment about how her skin is so white, or her eyes are so big, or she's so active. And then they'll proceed to ask us all sorts of questions about her.

It sounds like I'm boasting, but what is there for me to boast about? Her skin tone, her eyes, her being active, none of this is by my doing. I've barely had her for a month, so it's not by my great parenting skills that any of this has happened. It's all by God's grace, to him be the glory.

I tell you, our daughter is meant to do some great things in this world. She's already got a natural charisma about her, and all she does is eat, poop and sleep.

The other day, I was at a friend's party, and my friend, Kaylah, introduced me to one of her best friends from home. Usually when people introduce me to their friends or family members, they'll say, "This is my friend, Campbell." or "This is my coworker, Campbell." Instead, Kaylah said, "This is Campbell. He's Alicia's dad." That was the first time, I've ever been introduced as "Alicia's dad." It caught me a little off guard, because no one's ever introduced me that way before, but I kind of liked it. I was like, "Cool! My daughter is more well known than me! Love it!" =)

We've prayed from before she was born that Alicia would impact nations, and it looks like God is already answering that prayer in a major way.

What I love is that Alicia is impacting the world simply by being alive. It's not because she's particularly skilled at anything or especially talented in any way yet. It's just because she is a miracle of God, and she is just doing what she knows how to do best - LIVE.

I wonder if that's all we really need to do to impact the world around us. LIVE. So often, I think we complicate things. We think we need to do this and that, but do you know why Alicia is special? Because she's Alicia. There is no one else in the world like her.

As my friend, Jeff, reminded me last night, there's no one in the world better than me, and no one in the world better than you, because there is only ONE me, and only ONE you. You are an original masterpiece. No one else can be you better than you.

So we just need to live our lives as originals, and stop living as copies. Stop trying to be someone else, when that's not who you're created to be.

Alicia doesn't know how to be anyone else but herself. And just by living and being herself, she's impacting lives.

Let's not muddle up who God's created us to be by trying to be someone we're not.

I guess the question lies, "Who are we supposed to be?" Well, that's something only God can answer for you! But the question is, will you take the time to seek him and figure it out?

I will. Will you join me?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


After a few negative posts, I feel that perhaps I should write a bit of positive stuff. =)

I am very grateful for the hospital and for professional staff that can watch over Alicia during these few days. I do miss her terribly, and I do wish that I could see her, hear her, touch her, but I know right now the hospital stay is good for her, and it's good for us too. We get to rest.

If you noticed in the past few entries, I didn't mention too much about Alicia's condition, that's because for me her condition isn't too much of a concern.

When they first admitted her, they took an X-ray of her lungs and did find some stuff in there that shouldn't be in there. So their guess is that some milk probably got in there, and her body is working hard on getting it out. Over the next few days, they took a blood sample and a urine sample and had them tested. They found that her white blood cell count and a certain protein count were high which indicates that her body is fighting something. Thankfully, when they checked her urine they found no indication of bacteria or virus, which means that she didn't contract anything and that more than likely the infection is just from the milk going down the wrong way.

We've been really careful with feeding her, but we'll just need to be even more careful in the future.

Alicia continues to be a delight and a joy for all who meet her and come in contact with her. The nurses say that she's really smart and a sprightly. She interacts well with her environment and is really aware of her surroundings.

People have always told us that her skin is really fair, and I thought I knew what they were talking about, but for some reason this time at the hospital Linda and I became more acutely aware of this fact. Maybe it has to do with the fact that she's not in an incubator this time, and babies are a lot closer to her, so we can do a more ready comparison. =) Looks like we've got a little Snow White on our hands.

Linda and I have been enjoying the gift of having extra time on our hands. We've been resting a lot. Last Saturday, I slept for three hours in the afternoon and could have slept more, if I didn't have to get up to go back to the hospital. Linda and I have also been enjoying having time to ourselves and just enjoying being with each other. I really love my wife. She is an amazing woman. The strength that the Lord has given to her is amazing.

Thank you for all of your prayers friends. I believe they are truly truly sustaining us through this time.

It's funny this time around, my main concern hasn't been for Alicia's health. In fact, in my mind, she's perfectly healthy, which she is, I think my main concern these past few days has been, "Why won't they let me in to see her?!" =) Anyway, she'll be out before we know it, and then we'll have her all to ourselves again.

Oh, one thing you can pray for is for protection over us and our family. My sense is that we are in an intense spiritual battle at this point. Now you need to know that I'm not one of those that sees a demon under every rock. But you also need to know that I'm acutely aware of patterns and seeming coincidences. When things happen in sequence, that are quite out of the ordinary, something is usually up in the spiritual realm.

So, Alicia's black out experience happened early Friday morning. Friday night, Linda and I were in a cab on the way home from the hospital, when suddenly the car in front of us stopped short, causing our driver to stop short as well. This actually happens a lot in Taiwan, so Linda and I have gotten used to freaking out for a second, and then sighing with relief knowing that we stopped just shy of hitting the other car. Except, this time, our sighs of relief were immediately followed by whiplash and a jammed finger as the truck behind us rammed into our cab. Thankfully, we were physically fine, and nothing of ours was damaged. The cab and the truck on the other hand were a different story. The truck's front headlights were smashed, the cabs rear bumper was detached, it was not a pretty sight.

Like I said, we're fine, so it's nothing to worry about, but I can't help but note the timing of it all.

So life goes on, we continue to wait for our daughter to come home . . . again. =) We continue to rejoice in her life, health and progress. God is good!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


It is so hard right now not to have a complaining spirit. Once again I am outside the NBC denied access to my daughter.

Visiting hours just ended and once again I rely had to fight the frustration as we stood outside a window seeing my daughter but not being able to touch her. All the other family members were crowding the window and jostling for the attention of the one nurse that was assigned to our children. We're learning that if you're not aggressive, you can easily get overlooked.

As I stood there looking in the window watching my daughter, and observing her surroundings, I couldn't help but feel like I was at a zoo and my daughter and her new roommates were the animals on display.

My one solace was that thanks to special favor and connections we would soon be able to go in and visit with our daughter without all these people crowding us. I kept teling myslef just be patit for a few more minutes and then you can hold her. That is until it came time to actually go in.

The nurse came to the door and called Alicia's name. I jumped up from my seat and walked over to her. The nurse looked at me like I was some deranged fool, "Where's Mom?" she asked me. I turned around and pointed to where Linda was sitting.

"Mommy, don't you want to feed your daughter?"

"It's OK. Let Daddy feed her."

"Oh, I'm sorry, but we've got another mother in there right now breastfeeding. Daddy can't go in."

Linda gave me an apologetic look as she stood up and walked into the NBC. I sat down, defeated.

Once again I'm pushed to the sidelines.

I am pissed off. Why in the world do so many women complain that men don't do their part and then when a man wants to do his part they won't let him! She is my daughter darn it!

I know people will read this and tell me that it's OK, to calm down, to not worry. Well, I'm not worried. I am frustrated. I want to hold my daughter!!! I am not a father who is content taking a passive role in the care of my daughter. I want to feed her, I want to hold her. She's mine!

I am really fighting here and I am tired of it. I'm tired of fighting for time with my daughter, I'm tired of fightqing for her health, I'm tired of fighting traffic to get to the hospital, I'm tired of fighting for space by a window. I just want life to be easy, is that too much to ask?

Through it all though, I have to say that God has been really good to us. Wherever we've gone we have had special favor with the medical staff and 've often been granted some special privileges. Even though I can't go in, at least Linda can go in. As Linda pointed out, so many families don't have the opportunity to go in and spend extra time with their kiddies. All they have is the 30 min./ 15 min. outside the window, looking but not touching their children, and that's it. At least God has provided the chance for at least one of us to go in and spend time with Alicia.

It's at times like this that I want to figure out a way to change hospital policy, but what can I do? God give us wisdom.

Our baby is in God's hand. She is ultimately his daughter and in his hands. He knows the care that would be best for her, so we just trust.

By the way, I know that it sounds like I am bashing the hospital, but really the hospital is just doing what they think is best for the children. Just because I don't agree with the way they do things, doesn't mean that they give bad care or that it's a bad hospital. They do take good care of the kids, and it seems like Alicia is resting well here. She's definitely looking bigger and bigger and heard skin is looking a lot clearer than it does at home, so this time is good for her. And honestly, I wouldn't mind it so much, if I could just go in and be with her.

He makes all things beautiful in his time.

My Daughter!

So when I left off on my last post, I was waiting outside the NBC, well, before I could finish typing my last sentence, the head nurse came out of the NBC and told me that I could go in and see Alicia. I quickly stuffed my computer into my bag and followed the nurse into the NBC, and then proceeded to do the all too familiar rituals of hand-washing and putting on the hospital gown.

Once I was ready, the nurse led me into the room where Linda and Alicia already were. When Alicia was placed into my arms, the tears just started to stream. I so missed my little girl. Alicia squirmed and started to cry a bit as I held her. I don't know if she was uncomfortable with the way I was holding her, or if she was crying because she really missed me too, maybe it was both, but it took awhile for her to settle down. But once she did, she promptly fell asleep and Linda and I just sat there for a precious 15 minutes with our little girl.

The time ended all too quickly, and before I knew it it was time to put her back into her plastic bassinet and Linda and I needed to leave.

Linda told me later that the reason I was able to go in at all was because she was really talking me up to the nurse. She told her that we share child care duties equally between the two of us, and that I feed Alicia as much as she does. I have a great wife. She really pushed to get me in to see our daughter.

While I have to admit part of me does enjoy having the freedom of just Linda and I once again. It just doesn't feel the same as it did before Alicia. Now even when it is just the two of us, part of our minds and hearts are always with her.

The doctor said that she wants to keep Alicia in the hospital for a week. And while, as I mentioned, I am thankful for the chance to rest, it just kills me that my contact with Alicia is so restricted and so limited. My heart tells me that she needs her Mom and Dad. It frustrates me that we can't be there with her but for certain times.

But as a friend of ours reminded us, visiting hours do not apply God. He is there with her all the time and ultimately she is his child, and he is and will continue to take care of her and be her comfort. =)

This is just temporary, we shall have our little girl back with us soon and very soon.

Pray for us as we continue on this journey.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Here We Go Again

Right now I'm sitting outside of the NBC with a whole smorgasbord of emotions floating inside-Frustration, annoyance, sadness, dissappointment, gratitude, peace - I'm a walking (well in this case a sitting) conundrum.

There's a kid around the corner screaming his/her head off out of anger, or pain, or something terribly upsetting and I really want to join him/her.

So Alicia's back in the hospital. And if you read my last post, you'll know that our new hospital is a bit clinical with how they deal with parents and family members. Now clinical isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it protects the kids, but if I'm to be honest, I don't like it.

Last night as I was writing the latest post I was able to joke about our current situation, but this morning coming back to the hospital and walking back into that corridor, my funny bone quickly left my body to be quickly replaced by prickly spines of annoyance.

We were a little late getting to the hospital, so by the time we got to the NBC, visiting hours were in full swing. When we got to Alicia's window another family was already there loosing at their precious bundle of joy. So we had to wait patiently for our turn at the window. The feeling of needing to vie for time at a window really did not sit well with me. And then to see my daughter lying in her plastic bed, all wrapped up and sleeping, I ached to reach through the window and pull her into my arms, to squeeze her tight and kiss her and tell her that everything was going to be all right. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it. Instead all I could do was just stick my head in and call out to her and just try to use my voice as best as I could to comfort her.

My first inkling that Alicia's two-day hospital stay might need to be extended came when I asked the nurse how she was doing. Instead of giving me a straight answer, she looked at Alicia's chart nd then said, "The doctor will be over in a bit to explain things to you." Ok.....

Well a few minutes later, Alicia's pediatrician did come over and explained that after taking an X-ray and doing some blood tests it looks like Alicia has a slight infection. Apparently her white blood cell counts and certain protein levels are higher than normal which is an indication that her body is fighting something. In a way, I am thankful for what happened the other night, because I think this condition has been in development for a few days now. Alicia has no fever, so there's no way we would have known about any infection if Alicia hadn't been sent to the hospital.

From what I've gathered from what the doctor has said, Alicia has been having some feeding troubles and the milk probably ended up where it wasn't supposed to go, resulting in her blacking out and now having the infection. They've got her on some antibiotics and want to keep her here for a week for observation. Linda's in there right now feeding her with the nurses so they can give her some pointers on how to feed Alicia better.

One thing you can pray about is for Alicia to eat better. The doctor told us today, and we kind of knew this already from our own experience, that Alicia takes a long time to eat. Instead of drinking her milk all at once, she has to stop quite often and take breaks so she can catch up with her breathing.

Also apparently over the past few days Alicia's oxygen levels haven't been ideal. She's still within the normal range, but not as high as healthy people's levels should be. She's been at 90-95% when ideally she should be at 95-100%. But doctor doesn't seem too concerned? She believes things will stabilize in a few days.

One other struggle I'm having is with feeling like a second class citizen. I mean I know that there are fathers who don't really give a darn about their kids, and the mothers are the primary caretakers. But does that mean that all fathers should be relegated to the sidelines?

Today after visiting hours, the head nurse came over to talk to us. A friend of ours knows the nurse really well, so she asked her to look out for us during visiting hours today. When the nurse came over, she was really sweet and told us that if we liked, we could stay behind and actually go into the NBC to hold and feed Alicia. She said that she could watch as we fed Alicia and give us some pointers if needed. My heart started to swell with excitement, but then promptly burst with defeat as the nurse said, "But I'm sorry, I can only let one of you come in at one time. So Mommy why don't you come in, we'll show you how to feed her, and maybe Daddy can wait outside." Linda told the nurse, "But Dad needs to learn how to feed her too, because he feeds her sometimes." The nurse responded by saying sure that maybe in the future I could go in, but they would still give priority to Linda.

Now I definitely understand the logic but I want to go in and see my little girl too! As we walked to the waiting area, half out of exhaustion, half out I'd frustration, I just started to tear up. I wonder if this is how God feels being separated from his children.

So here I wait . . . again. Alicia, Daddy misses you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blessings in Disguise

Just when I thought our journey was plateauing, we arrive at another twist in the road. How fun. =)

When I last left off, Linda and Alicia were at home, and I was waiting for news about whether or not anyone would be able to come replace me on my job assignment.

Well, unfortunately, the one person who would have been able to take my place had recording today, so she wasn't able to come down and I wasn't able to get back up to Linda as soon as I had hoped. Thankfully, God gave me an incredible peace and joy as I went through my day, knowing that he was taking care of them.

Thinking back on my day, I can't help but note the contrast from the last time I was in the exact same predicament. Last time I was away on business and Linda called me, I also couldn't get away as soon as I had hoped. The difference was, last time, I spent my entire day wracked with anxiety and worry. This time, I just received God's promise to be with us and his promise that he would take care of Linda and Alicia, and I went through my day without too much worry at all. I just knew in my heart that things would be OK.

Even now as I sit here typing this, in an empty house with just me and my wife, I'm at peace. I know everything is going to be fine and actually, I'm kind of amused. More on that later.

But first, let me address the "empty house" section of my previous paragraph. Yes. Right now, our house is quiet. My wife is downstairs taking a shower. I'm upstairs writing on my computer. And our daughter. Well, she's back at the hospital.

Don't freak out.

Here's what happened.

Last night, after getting home from the hospital, Linda called the NICU back at the hospital where Alicia was born. It just so happened that Alicia's primary physician was on call last night. Linda explained the situation to her, and the doctor assured her that things would turn out OK. But if Linda wanted more peace of mind, she recommended that Linda take Alicia to see her current pediatrician for a checkup just to make sure everything was all right.

Well, Linda took the advice and quickly made an appointment to see our pediatrician during her hours. Our doctor, Dr. Chang, looked Alicia over and confirmed what the doctor in the ER had said that Alicia had probably asphyxiated on some milk last night. After looking her over, she told Linda that everything checked out and that Alicia was probably OK, but just to be on the safe side she wanted to admit Alicia to the hospital for observation for a couple of days.

So around 1:00 this afternoon, Linda brought Alicia up to the NBC of our new hospital. Sounds like a TV network in the states, but, NBC stands for Newborn Center. It's the equivalent of the SBR in our old hospital.

So once again we need to adjust to a new environment with new nurses and new policies. I think that's the hardest part of it all. Every time we are admitted to a new facility, I feel like we have to start over again warming the nurses up, getting used to the new ways of doing things.

Today after work, I took the High Speed Rail back up to Taipei and got there in time for visiting hours at 7:00. Thinking that they ran things similar to our old hospital I was expecting to have half an hour to visit with my daughter, to sing to her, to hold her and talk to her. Yeah. Not really. So before I got to the hospital, Linda broke the first bit of news to me. We didn't have half an hour with Alicia, we only had 15 min. Fifteen minutes! OK. Well, fine. I'll take what I can get. At least I'll get to hold her.

Wrong again.

I get to the hospital, and as it's getting closer to visiting hours, I notice some odd behavior happening around me with the family members. At our old hospital when it got to be about 6:45, 6:50 family members would start congregating at the door waiting to file in as soon as they opened the doors.

At our new hospital, the family members didn't crowd the door, instead I noticed they were all moving toward some large windows and that's when I got my first hint that I may not be able to hold my daughter as I had been longing to do all week.

My suspicions were confirmed at 7:00 when instead of the main doors of the SBR opened, a side door opened, leading to a hallway with another set of windows and family members started filing down that corridor.

As we were walking down the corridor looking for the window that was marked with our daughter's bed number, I couldn't help but feel once again like my daughter was in prison and Linda and I were going to see her during limited visiting hours. This feeling was compounded when we finally found Alicia's window, and I saw her lying in a plastic bassinet wrapped up in a green hospital towel and wearing blue pinstripe pajamas. I mean seriously, it was almost comedic. Add on the fact that when we got to the window a nurse greeted us by sliding a 1 foot x 2 foot opening in the window to talk to us and that there was no way for us to touch our daughter because there was a thick concrete wall separating her and us, and you could seriously almost half expect Tim Robbins or Morgan Freeman to walk down the hallway in full Shawshank Redemption prison garb.

Now please don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing this hospital by any means. Each hospital does things differently. And this hospital is really doing it's best to keep any germs and infections from getting near the kids, so I respect that. I just couldn't help but note the odd similarities between incarceration and hospitalization. =)

So I titled this post "blessings in disguise" and there's a good reason for that. While it's kind of sucky that my daughter is back in the hospital and I'm not able to hold her and kiss her even though I've been so wanting to do that for nearly a week now, I do believe that it's a big blessing. In a way, it's a good chance for Linda and I, well particularly Linda, to get some much needed rest while Alicia gets some good care. Also, while I don't like the feeling of being segregated from my daughter, and I don't like the fact that we can't hold her, at least if there are guests, we aren't limited to two visitors at a time. We can all look but not touch together! Yay!

Please continue to pray for us. Everything is fine with Alicia, I really believe so. She'll be back with us soon and very soon. In the meantime, Linda and I are going to do our best to rest and get recuperated so we can get right back to taking good care of Alicia.

Pray that Alicia will also be able to rest. She's quite aware and sensitive to her surroundings, so I have no doubt that she knows that she's in a different place. Pray that she can sleep and not be anxious or worried in anyway. Pray for favor with the nurses and hospital staff, that they would fall in love with Alicia and take good care of her.

Pray the Linda and I can once again be salt and light in this new place and that we can be a blessing to everyone we come in contact with. Also pray that we'll have patience with the various personalities of the hospital staff. As much as we are thankful for everyone, and as much as we want to love and respect people, sometimes the way people talk about our daughter just rubs me the wrong way. I know people don't mean to offend, but sometimes I just wish some of the nurses wouldn't be so cold and clinical. Anyway, I'm sure they'll warm up as they often have in the past.

Well, I keep talking about rest, I think it's about time that I go and get some.

Thanks for continuing to walk with us friends.

Much love,

5:55 a.m.

When you get woken up at 5:00 in the morning by the sound of your cellphone ringing, rarely is that a good thing. Either it's someone calling you from the other side of the world and completely forgetting about the time difference, or there's some sort of emergency.

This morning, I got the latter.

At about 5:55 this morning, I was fast asleep in my hotel room. I remember I was dreaming about something. I don't remember anything about my dream, but I do distinctly remember hearing the word, "cellphone" in my dream, at which point I woke up and heard my phone ringing.

I bolted out of bed immediately knowing that it was Linda. In my groggy state I had a hard time coordinating turning on the lights and finding my cellphone and all that I needed to do to connect with my wife. By the time the I got the light on, my phone had stopped ringing, which kind of sucked, cause I couldn't remember where I had put my phone.

After a few minutes of searching, I found my phone and as I had guessed, there was a missed call from Linda.

Fearing the worst, I called her back and when Linda got on the phone I knew right away something was up. And I don't know whether it's out of fear, or exhaustion or not wanting to shock me too badly, my wife didn't get to the point right away. It was like she was trying to break the news to me gently, but this morning, I just couldn't take it. I was like, "You woke me up at 5:00 in the morning, what's wrong, please just tell me!"

So she did. Apparently last night, around midnight, Linda went to get Alicia for a bath, she noticed Alicia's skin color was off, and that she was kind of stiff. So as per our hospital training, Linda picked Alicia up and started talking to her and calling her name. No response. So Linda called 119 (our emergency number) right away and got an ambulance to our house. While she was talking to the emergency personnel, at the same time she was working on reviving Alicia. After a few pats on the back some milk came out of Alicia's mouth and nose and thankfully she started breathing again and her color came back. As a precaution they still went to the hospital for the doctor to look Alicia over.

I'm a little hazy on the details since I wasn't there, but the doctors are guessing that some milk had gotten caught in Alicia's throat causing her to stop breathing. The doctor said that this happens sometimes to even full-term babies, so it has nothing to do with prematurity. They said that things look OK now and so they sent Linda and Alicia home. They told Linda to just make sure to keep a close watch on Alicia and make sure she doesn't have any fever over the next few days. A fever would be a sign of infection, which could mean that some milk has gotten into Alicia's lungs.

Anyway, things are OK now. Alicia and Linda are at home. It's just so hard for me to be away at a time like this. I just want to rush home and be with them, but I can't. Right now we're working on trying to see if someone can take my place on this job assignment I'm on, but we'll see.

My wife has been an amazing trouper this week taking care of Alicia on her own 24 hours a day. She did get a little help this week during the day, but for the most part it was just her. And it hasn't been easy. And then to add a trip to the emergency room as an icing on the cake, needless to say, my wife is ready for me to go home.

I'm thankful our friend Heather was able to go with Linda and Alicia to the hospital and just to be by my wife's side while I couldn't.

In case you've been following my story closely and noticed that there was a five-hour gap between the time the incident happened and when Linda called me, that's not a typo. My sweet darling wife, not wanting to wake me up waited until a "decent" hour to call me. I practically lost it on her. I'm like, "You call me! Who cares what time it is! 1:00 in the morning 2:00 in the morning, you wake me up for something like this."

She says, well, there's nothing you could have done. Sigh. Why is it that these things only happen when I'm away?

Last time I was on a trip like this and I got a phone call at 5:00 in the morning, it was Linda at the hospital telling me that she was having contractions.

Amazingly, I feel rather calm. I was sitting there after hanging up with Linda this morning, and my first thoughts weren't, "Oh, I hope Alicia's OK. I hope she's going to make it." My thoughts were, "How can I get home to my wife as soon as possible?" "Is there anyway we can get a replacement?" "What do we do?"

Anyway, God is good. Not sure why this happened at this time in this way. But God is in control. Please pray for Linda, she's exhausted and hasn't slept all night. And she doesn't want to sleep without anyone watching Alicia, in case Alicia has another episode. Thankfully, my aunt will come over soon and watch Alicia for awhile so Linda can sleep.

Later, Linda's going to take Alicia over to see our pediatrician just to get a checkup and make sure everything is all right.

Please pray for strength and renewed energy for my wife. And pray that God would get me home soon!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Since entering this new phase of our parenthood, we've been getting a whole lot of advice from all over the globe. And while sometimes I get a little annoyed at some of the well-meaning but unwelcome advice, for the most part I've enjoyed hearing how other parents have done it and gleaning from their insight.

Tonight at Bible Study, one of our students - an elderly lady in her 80s gave me one piece of advice while extremely adorable, I felt held a huge morsel of truth.

This lady, Rose is her name, came over before Bible Study began and asked me how life as a new father was going. I looked at her an in one word responded, "exhausting." She looked at me in with a grandmotherly smile and said, "Just remember. You are the parent. You need to lead and guide your child. Don't let her make you into her slave. You are not her slave."

I kind of had to chuckle at that bit of sage wisdom. I am not my child's slave.

Alicia, you remember that! Mommy and Daddy are not your slaves. We do not come at your every beck and call. =)

Speaking of which. Things are going really a lot better than the last time I wrote. Linda and I are starting to understand our daughter's rhythms a bit more, and we're getting more and more comfortable being her caretakers.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and advice on how to calm her down and how to get her on a regulated schedule. It's been helpful. =)

The encouraging this is that when Linda took Alicia for a followup appointment yesterday we learned that Alicia had actually gained 200 grams over the past week. Phew! It's good to know that Linda and I have been doing something right. =)

Doh! Just now as I was trying to get comfortable with this computer on my lap, I accidentally kicked Alicia's chair that she's sleeping in and startled her out of a nap that she had just ONLY settled into after crying for about 10 min. Wait... let's see what she does.

OK. Phew. She's settled back down, and now she's got this adorable pose going on. Right hand on her head, left hand extended like a Hollywood starlet who just received a devastating piece of news. HAHA.

Our little girl. She definitely has her range of expressions and gestures. =)

Overall, I must say that we really do have a great one. While she does have her tantrums, for the most part they are not without reason. And once we get that need taken care of, she usually settles down pretty quickly.

And can I just take a moment right now to praise my beautiful, amazing wife.

I mentioned earlier that Alicia had a followup appointment at the hospital yesterday. Well, with needing to get vaccinations, an eye exam, and physical therapy, Linda and Alicia ended up spending nearly nine hours at the hospital yesterday. Talk about exhausting. By the time Linda and Alicia got home they were both pretty wiped.

My wife has been doing an amazing job as the primary caretaker of Alicia. She stays in the house literally for days at a time, never stepping outside our front door, and is completely devoted to taking care of our precious daughter. Never once have I heard her complain, never once has she ever griped about not being able to go outside and see friends. It's truly an amazing thing to witness. And not only does she take care of our precious daughter, but she also takes care of me. She listens to me as I recount my days, and she lets me unload my burdens from my workday, and she encourages me, even though she herself has had a full day of diapers, crying, feeding and pumping.

I have two fantastic, amazing girls. I truly am a very, very blessed man.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Praise the Lord?

So somewhere in the back of my mind I thought surely God would have mercy on us after all that we've been through and give us an angel of a baby who sleeps through the night, never cries, eats well, and doesn't cause too much trouble. Sure he owes us that much.

Ha. Ha.

Think again.

God apparently doesn't think we deserve anything of the sort.

Alicia's first few days at home have been hectic. I thought that since Alicia's been out of the womb for four months and the hospital had her on a regulated schedule, all we needed to do was to follow that schedule and all would be good. Oh, the naivete.

I forget that my little girl is a person, with a mind of her own, and emotions. Oh, SO MANY EMOTIONS. She is not some robot that we can program by plugging in some numbers and then she just does what we tell her to do.

Oh, no.

The books always make it sound so easy. Do this, and this, and this, and you'll have a happy, healthy baby that coos when she wakes up. Huh. Are we missing something? =) Well, I know it's just the first few days and things will get better. =)

Thankfully, things are already better. The trio of us are adjusting and we're are making progress as a little family of three. Linda and I are learning how to care for and meet our little girl's needs in the way that she likes and Alicia is adjusting to her parents and our funny quirks as well.

Since my last post, we've had a couple of tough days and nights. There was one night when she wouldn't eat, though I knew she was hungry, she wouldn't sleep, though I knew she was tired, and it seemed like nothing we did made her happy. Talk about feeling like a failure.

It was quite an interesting experience, holding on tightly to a squirming, fussy baby with one hand while frantically flipping through our baby book trying to find something, anything that might give me a clue as to what might be wrong with her.

Eventually, we did figure out that she probably had some indigestion and probably had some gas and once that passed she was a lot happier and calmer.

Lesson learned, don't rush the feeding process and burp frequently.

The odd comfort in all of this is that it's all so NORMAL! While yes, I am sleep deprived and sometimes I just want to shake my little girl out of frustration, the lovely thing is that it means that she's healthy. She is JUST LIKE any other newborn. No longer am I describing things that people can only sympathize with. Every time I post something on Facebook, or talk to anyone who has ever had a newborn, I get empathy . . . or apathy. Which is actually, fantastic! It actually feels really nice to be able to join the world of average parents. It's nice to hear from people, "Oh I'm sorry. We went through that too. But it'll get better." Or "Yeah. You don't get to sleep? Well, what do you expect having a newborn in your house." Haha.

A friend of ours recently told Linda and I that he felt we'd be going through another period of difficulty soon and that the key to combatting it would be thanksgiving. When I heard that, I knew immediately that those words for the time that we're going through right now. And it's true, that as we continue to give thanks for Alicia's health and for her being home with us it takes away a lot of the sting of the inconsolable crying.

The great thing is that as people have told us over and over things are getting better. Last night, after Alicia's midnight feeding, I put her down and she slept deeply. She didn't stir, she didn't make a sound, she slept. And for the first time since Linda and I brought Alicia home, so did we.

Linda still had to wake up at 3:00 to feed Alicia, but at least she had tot wake up. It wasn't like she had been up already cause Alicia was crying the whole night. So we're making progress.

Thank you for your prayers. They continue to be very valuable and precious to us. =)

We continue to move onwards and upwards. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The First 48 Hours - Homesick?

It's been over 48 hours since we brought Alicia home. Things have been, in a word . . . exhausting. As a friend of mine put it, I don't think anything could ever prepare you for the first few nights with a newborn. One way I thought of describing it is that it's everything I'd hope it would be - the sweet cuddles, the adorable smiles, the angelic look of our princess napping, the nearness of her- and it's also everything that others warned me about that I had always wished would somehow pass us over - the inconsolable crying, the day/night mixup, the sleepless nights, the constant diaper changes and feedings. Those of you who are parents know exactly what I'm talking about.

A bible verse that God has been bringing up over and over again to me is Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." After these first two days, I think one possible revision for this verse might be, "In their hearts PARENTS plan their course, but the BABY(IES) determine(s) their steps." Haha.

Before we were pregnant and all through these past 10 months since, Linda and I have read all sorts of books and websites on how to deal with newborns and set them on a schedule. When we found out we were going to bring Alicia home for good, Linda and I devised a plan of attack.

We knew that Alicia would need to eat every three hours. And we knew that we wanted to follow a eat, wake, sleep pattern for our day. We tried it out at the hospital and it seemed to work the one or two times that we did it there. Yeah, when we brought the idea home. Alicia had other plans.

First of all she would take an hour to feed, and then during the feedings she'd fall asleep. We tried pinching her, tickling her, squeezing her toes, a cold cloth. The little girl just would not stay awake long enough to feed.

The first night at home with her, I got so frustrated. Linda and I decided that I would take care of the 12:00 a.m. late night feeding so that she could go to bed early and then wake up for the 3:00 a.m. feeding. I started feeding Alicia right at about 12:00, and as is her pattern, she started off sucking super eagerly to the point of nearly choking on her milk. As time went on however, she just got more and more tired and sleepy. By about 1:15, I really wanted to yell at and shake Alicia and say, "ALICIA! WAKE UP! I KNOW YOU'RE TIRED BUT SO AM I! IF YOU FINISH YOUR MILK THEN WE COULD BOTH GO TO SLEEP AND BE HAPPY." But I controlled myself. Eventually, after about 50 min. of feeding, I just gave up. I decided, I'd just let her sleep.

Yeah. About 10 min. after I put her down in her bed, she woke up and decided that she didn't want to sleep anymore and she started crying and moving around for the rest of the night. Problem is that we've got her on a monitor that measures her heart rate and oxygen levels. Whens he moves around too much the monitor can't get accurate readings and starts beeping like crazy. Yeah. Not too conducive to Mommy and Daddy's sleep.

Thankfully, God has granted me an incredible ability to sleep through almost anything, so I didn't actually get too disturbed by the noise until about 5:30 in the morning. Linda on the other hand being the loving mother that she was, couldn't stop worrying about our little girl who was sound oh so miserable. And so she didn't sleep very much at all.

The next morning, feeling like failures we called the SBR and also one of our nursing friends and told them about what had happened. When they heard about our evening, they didn't sound too surprised. In fact, it seemed like it was actually something quite common for kids that have come home after such a long hospitalization. They said that Alicia was probably not used to living in the new environment and that she'd need need a few days to adjust to being at home. In other words, ironically, Alicia, though she was home, was homesick for her little incubator at the hospital.

I think that makes a lot of sense. The hospital is actually quite an active place. The lights are bright, there are people talking, babies crying, and machines beeping. Alicia probably got used to being in such a loud environment that she just was not used the dark and quiet of our house.

When speaking to other parents of preemies, they confirmed my suspicions and suggested playing some music or having some white noise in the background for Alicia. They also suggested swaddling her nice and tight for a sense of security.

Last night, the second night, I tried a few of these things. I swaddled Alicia nice and tight and laid her down in her basket with an iPod playing her playlist from the hospital. I didn't want the music too loud for fear that Mommy couldn't sleep. Problem is that the songs all had different volume levels, so what was soft for one song, became silent for another song. So when the "silent" songs played, that's when Alicia started stirring. Add on to the fact that I didn't put on Alicia's sensor correctly, so halfway through the night with all her moving around, the sensor came off her foot. Once that happened the machine read ZERO and started blaring loudly warning us that our daughter was no longer breathing and her heart had stopped. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to a beeping machine reading ZERO for both heart beat and oxygen that's supposedly attached to your daughter. The first thing I did was to see if Alicia was still alive. And to my relief, she was fine.

We're hoping and praying that tonight will be better. I have to say that the second full day with her has been a lot better. I learned how to feed her and kind of go with her rhythm so now feeding doesn't exhaust her as much, and it doesn't take her as long. =) Hopefully we'll figure out this sleeping thing soon.

She sleeps fantastically during the through all sorts of things. Talking, phone ringing, bright lights, etc... but at night she just doesn't get that it's sleep time. =) I'm sure that will just come with time.

Thanks for praying for us friends! Keep the prayers coming.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Home At Last

I sit here writing for the first time with my precious daughter just inches away from me. I keep looking over at her to make sure that she's really, truly there . . . and she is!

Thank you all for praying and sending us your well wishes. It has been a packed day and I'm tuckered, but so so thankful.

As I said earlier, our day started with us visiting the first hospital Linda went to when she started having contractions in order to take care of some paperwork. Afterwards, we went home and finished packing up. Then we headed over to the hospital about 11:30.

As I walked into the SBR this morning, the first thing I noticed was that there seemed to be a buzz of activity around Alicia's area of the ward. The second thing I noticed was that our daughter was gone. Well, OK, she wasn't gone, but her incubator was gone. In it's place was a pink open-air bassinet with our sleeping soundly inside. They switched her over about an hour or two prior to our arrival so that she could adjust to maintaining her body heat without the aid of the incubator.

When we got to the SBR, it was a mad rush of activity, Linda had to pump and we had to feed Alicia, but before that we needed to change Alicia into her first outfit ever, courtesy of her Auntie Ems and Uncle Jens. She looked absolutely adorable in the outfit and all the nurses cooed and awwed over her. After her feeding, Linda's sister and brother-in-law arrived with Linda's cousin and her husband. They were there the first night that Alicia was born, so it seemed fitting to have them with us as we finally brought Alicia home.

About 30 min before leaving the SBR, the head nurse from the NICU came up to check up on us. Apparently all the nurses in the NICU were wondering what was taking us so long and when we would be down to see them. =) The head nurse, had her own camera in her hands, which I thought was cute. =) She was really sweet to watch Alicia as I finished taking care of some last minute paper work, collected our things, (I had no idea we had accumulated so many odds and ends over the 4 months), got instructions on Alicia's supplements and medicine, and paid our hospital bill.

After saying goodbye to the nurses in the SBR it was time to head down to the NICU to say goodbye to our dear friends down there. These "aunties" as we call them, were the ones who took care of Alicia for the most critical time of her life. They really all fell in love with Alicia, and it felt like a homecoming to bring her down, even though we were leaving. The head nurse carried Alicia out the SBR snugly as if she were her own child, and escorted us down to the NICU. As soon as we entered the NICU, one of the nurses rushed out to greet us, and swept Alicia out of the head nurse's arms. Alicia's primary physician also met us at the door and gave us some last minute instructions about which doctors to see when we move up to Taipei. As we were talking to the doctor, the other nurses noticed we were there, and started looking around for Alicia. That's when we noticed that our daughter had somehow disappeared. We found her a few minutes later in a corner of the nurses's break room with the nurse who had taken her when we got to the door. What ensued was a cooing photofest with all the nurses vying for their chance to take pictures with Alicia. Alicia was quite accommodating and even woke up for a bit so that they could take pictures with her with her beautiful eyes open.

After about 30 min. in the NICU, we finally got on our way. I transferred all of our belongings from my sister-in-law's car to the car Heather was driving. We took some quick pictures of us leaving the hospital, and then we were off!

Our little girl was a born traveler. In our two-and-a-half-hour car ride home, she barely made a peep. She slept nearly the whole way up with the exception of a 30 min. break to eat. Amazing.

I kept taking pictures and videos the whole way up wanting to capture as much of the momentous occasion as possible. Don't know how the videos turned out, but Heather and Linda had fun teasing me about my over eagerness to capture everything on digital.

I can't help it. My family was coming home, FINALLY! =)

Things have been so amazing so far. As I said earlier, I'm a bit tuckered. But I'm so thankful. My daughter is home. I no longer need to drive 10-15 min. to see her. I just look up from the computer screen and she's there. =)

It's been an interesting time so far, but I'll tell you guys about that tomorrow. For now, I've got to go and get Alicia's milk ready. It's almost time for her midnight feeding. =)

Papa Cam

Big Day

Today is the day! I sit here with a mix of excitement, joy and nervousness.

I have no idea what this day will hold nor do I know what life with our little Alicia will be like.

It's already been a full morning as we had to go back to the first hospital Linda checked into the day before Alicia was born to get some paperwork. In a few minutes, we'll be heading off to the hospital to check our daughter out and bring her home.

My head is swirling with a hundred thoughts. Do we have everything? Did we forget anything? What do we need to do at the hospital? How do I coordinate everyone who's coming to see us off? How do we transfer all of our stuff from one car to the other? Where will we eat lunch? How's the weather? Did I prepare the right clothes for Alicia? Oh, my gosh, is this really happening? Who do we need to say goodbye to?

I'm so thankful that one of our best friends, Heather, is coming down from Taipei to drive us back up. It is such a blessing to have such a rich community of people who are all jumping at the opportunity to do something, anything to help us out. Our cup truly overflows. I think having someone we're so comfortable with and familiar with to journey with us on this last leg before we transition into our new life will be a huge blessing.

Praying for peace for all of us as we prepare and finally make the move back home. Linda's been away from our house for almost 4 months now, so she's eager to see the condition that I've left it in. =) Alicia's never been outside the hospital before. Her whole life has been confined to two floors of a hospital. So I'm sure everything is going to be quite new for her. Pray that she'll find it exciting and not overwhelming. We'll finally be able to take her blindfold off for good, so she'll be able to see and experience things in a new way. Pray for me as I adjust to having my wife and daughter back in my daily life again. Pray that I will have wisdom on how to balance everything that needs to be taken care of.

As we leave I also think of the precious people that we've met here and will need to say goodbye to for now. I think of Fish - KaiGe's mom who has been on her journey much longer than we have. KaiGe, you'll remember, was Alicia's neighbor in the NICU. He was born over 6 months ago, and is actually quite a bit bigger than Alicia. But because of various medical problems, his stay has been extended. About a week ago, Kai-Ge was finally moved up to the SBR from the NICU, something that all of us have been hoping and praying for for awhile. Today, however, Kai-Ge is getting transferred back to the NICU because he needs more laser surgery for his eyes. Without the surgery, the chances are that he will go blind. But with the surgery he has a good chance for good vision. Pray that the surgery will go successfully and that he will be able to recover quickly and well. Pray that he'll be able to go home soon and that his family will have peace. Pray also that God would use this situation to draw them closer to him as they aren't believers yet.

I also think of all the nurses and doctors that we've gotten to know these past four months. Those of you who know Linda know that she's got an infectious personality that really easily wins people's hearts. The doctors and nurses have really grown an affinity for our family, especially Linda and little Alicia. Pray for them as we've noticed that they often work really hard. One observation I've made is that these health professionals often trade their own health to take care of and provide health for their patients. Pray that God would protect them and keep them strong so they can continue to do the vital work that they do.

I also think of my dear sister-in-law, her husband, her kids, and her in-laws. All of whom have been God-sends. As I mentioned in my last post, they've let us live in their house for four months with no complaint. Gloria, my sister-in-law was so vital those first few days before and after Alicia was born. There is no way that we could ever repay this family for their kindness, but we do pray that God would remember what they have done for us and bless them richly for it.

God has been so, so faithful to us these past four months. And while I can't say that I didn't struggle, I know that through it all he has carried us through. During those moments when I was exhausted, and just wanted to go into a cave and hide, he held me. During those days when I couldn't hold it together anymore, he brought comfort through people and circumstances.

Life is so, so much more precious to me than it was before. And we will never take our precious daughter for granted, for she is a true gift and treasure. The fact that she is alive today is by no means a small miracle.

To God be the glory!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


It's the last night before we bring Alicia home. I know I've said this before, but I can really hardly believe we're at this point. We've been praying for and longing for so long, it's unreal that it's finally here! I've pictured this day and believed for this day for so long. It feels so strange that it's finally a reality. For so long it was some far off distant event. One that started off as something that may or may not happen, then developed into a potential possibility, then into a strong probability, and now it's happening tomorrow!

The thing is that this is not just an event that I've been waiting for for four months. It's something that I've dreamed about for years! I've wanted to be a father since . . . forever. And now, we're truly bringing our baby home. We get to dress her up in pretty clothes, teach her things, play with her, sing to her and watch her grow. Thank you, Lord!

Walking out of the hospital tonight after our last and final visit with Alicia at the hospital before discharge, I was almost sad, as if I was saying goodbye to my daughter for the last time, rather than getting ready to take her home with us. I felt sentimental and lingered at her incubator as long as I could after visiting hours, and even turned back to say a quick, "We'll be back tomorrow to pick you and bring you home, Sweetheart," as if it were the last time that I was going to see her for awhile. I don't know why I was sentimental, we'll be bringing her home tomorrow. And I'll get to see her whenever I want to.

No more, restricted visiting hours. No more needing to share time with guests because we're only allowed two visitors at a time. No more wearing hospital gowns to see her. No more touching her through an incubator, or asking permission to take her out and hold her. No more checking with the nurses each and every time I wanted to do anything with her. She's going to be home!

The doctors and nurses have been so very sweet to us. We've really made some wonderful connections here at the hospital. Many nurses have come over to us these past few days and have told us that we need to make sure to stop by and see them before we leave. They're sad to see us go, but also excited for us as we start our new life as a family.

Linda and I have been talking about this transition a lot these past few days, and one thing that we've said is that we'll definitely miss these past four months. As hard as it was, we'll definitely miss the times we've had in Taichung. It was a trying time, but a sweet time of growth and development. It's really interesting how no one really ever hopes and wishes for wilderness times. Times when it's just you and God, and life seems dry and barren, and things are hard. But, at least in the two times I've experienced extended wilderness periods, I seem to always look back on those days with fondness.

I can't even imagine what life will be like at home with this little one. What will it be like living having our empty house be filled with the sounds of lullabies, coos and cries? What will it be like to add diaper changes, routine feedings and naps into our schedules. How will we orchestrate our schedules with this new addition into our lives. It's as if we're bringing home a newborn, even though she's already 4 months old.

Please pray, pray for Linda and I, especially Linda. She's going to be the primary caretaker for Alicia. And unlike other moms and dads that we've met these past few months at the hospital, Linda will be mostly on her own. There are no grandparents to come over and lend a helping hand. So pray that God would give Linda extra grace and that the transition would be very, very smooth.

We've never done this 24 hour thing before. There is a lot to do for this little one. Other than the requisite diaper changes, nap, feeding and bath times, we've got to give her medicine and vitamins, massages and therapies. Lots to keep track of. Linda has been amazing these past couple of weeks, learning and practicing the home care techniques that the nurses have been teaching her. In a way, it's nice, I feel like we've had a lot more time to prepare for our daughter to come home than others have. And we've had time to adjust to parenthood, before bringing our daughter home, so that's a good thing.

At least these past 4 months at the hospital, Alicia has already been on a routine, so the nice thing is we won't need to work too hard to establish a schedule with her. Also, with all the noise in the hospital, Alicia can practically sleep through anything. Today, one of the NICU nurses came by to see Alicia. She was napping peacefully on my chest. The nurse started cooing and pinching her cheeks, and speaking to her. Alicia just slept through the whole thing and didn't even stir. Amazing.

Pray for our car ride back to Taipei tomorrow. It's a three-hour ride. Alicia's never been outside the hospital, let alone in a car. Great thing is that she's big enough now to fit into a car seat, so at least she'll be safe without needing us to hold her the whole time. Pray that we'll have a smooth trip, no accidents, no traffic, no getting lost. Pray that everyone will be comfortable and that we'll get back safely. Pray that we'll all be comfortable through the ride and Alicia will adjust quickly to the car ride.

Pray for all of us, especially Alicia to adjust to life in her new home. Ask the Lord for protection over all of us as this is cold and flu season and we're praying that none of us will get sick. Also, pray that Alicia will get comfortable quickly in our house and that she will adjust to life with us as we adjust to life with her.

Pray that God would give us wisdom on how to care for her, protect her and train her up without going overboard and being overprotective.

For all of the big and small ways that all of you have done to reach out and bless us and help us, thank you! So many of you have offered to cook meals, supported us financially, helped us to prepare our house, given us rides, visited us, laughed with us, prayed for us, cheered us on. Thank you for offering to drive us up, for helping to stock our house with baby stuff, for clothes, and advice and everything! It's been amazing.

We really need to say a big THANK YOU to my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and their family for their love and support these past few months. They put us up for free for three months, let us borrow their car, and just basically took care of every one of our needs. God has really blessed us through you guys. THANK YOU THANK YOU!

I can't believe we've reached the end of this leg of our journey! FINALLY!! PRAISE THE LORD!

Tomorrow, we start a new chapter in this Charis Life! Stay tuned!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Four Months and 2200 Grams

It is so late right now, and I should really get to bed, seeing as my days of getting a full night's rest are numbered, but my mind has been running all day of things I need to write out so here I am.

First of all, September 29, 2011 marks Alicia's 4 month birthday. To think back where we were four months ago to where we are now, it is nothing but astounding.

Four months ago, Linda and I were in our hospital room adjusting to the fact that we were thrust into parenthood in quite the abrupt and unexpected fashion. Four months ago, we were clinging on to every fiber of faith that we had hoping just to get through the first week, counting the days until Alicia was considered out of the "danger zone." Four months ago, Linda hadn't even seen Alicia yet except in photos. Four months ago we were still trying to gain our footing as new parents in the NICU trying to make sense of all the foreign things that our doctors were telling us about our very special daughter. Four months ago Alicia was less than a pound and all skin and bones. Four months ago . . .

Today, we've got a vibrant, thriving 2230-gram bouncing baby girl who by the looks of things is going to live a fantastically extraordinary life. She's got the power to win people's hearts and if all the reports are true, has quite the personality. =) We're so, so very thankful.

By reaching 2230 grams, Alicia has now fully met all the qualifications for discharge - she's breathing beautifully on her own, she's eating on her own, and she weighs over 2200 grams. So the past week has been all about getting the house ready. And for the most part things are all set for Alicia to come home. I've been cleaning and cleaning and cleaning, organizing and cleaning some more. Thankfully, I haven't needed to do it on my own, some really great friends of ours have been helping me to get the house ready for my queen and princess's grand homecoming.

I will be heading down tomorrow evening to meet up with Linda and Alicia. We'll spend the weekend together, and then on Monday, Alicia will be discharged and take her first excursion out into the real world.

It's crazy to think that this little girl is 4 months old yet she's never seen the sun, never breathed "fresh" air, never seen a tree or a bird. She's never been in a car or any other kind of transportation. Her whole life has been confined to two floors of the hospital. Amazing. I can't wait to take Alicia outside and introduce her to the world as we know it. =)

Some of you may be wondering why I wrote, "Monday" earlier and not "Friday." Well, for various reasons, which I won't go into here, after talking to Alicia's attending physician, the decision was made that it would be best if Alicia left on a Monday rather than a Friday. So that's what we're going to do.

There's more to share and write, but it's getting really late, so I'll end it for now. =)

More soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Last Minute Scramble

Why do I always put things off until the last minute?

My night was spent shopping for some last minute items for Alicia's nursery, towels, a changing pad, a mosquito net, a nail clipper, random things for my princess. =) Things are coming together nicely in the house. We're truly preparing for the grand homecoming of Princess Alicia and Queen Linda.

One thing to pray about is for continued protection over Alicia's health. There is a virus going around right now, and many of the kiddies in the SBR are sick because of it. In order to protect Alicia, they've kept her in the incubator, even though at this point, she technically can be out. Today, however, they noticed that she had a bit of a stuffy nose. It isn't confirmed yet if she has a cold, but they did do a mouth culture and a chest X-ray to double check. The X-ray looked normal, so that's a good sign. We'll need to wait until tomorrow to find out the results of the swab. Praying for an all-clear and a for a smooth discharge on Friday.

Crazy thing is that originally the hospital had talked about discharging Alicia today, Monday, September 26. But because Linda is living on her own right now, she asked them if they could delay it a few days until her sister was back so that she could have some help at home.

The plan as of now is to get Alicia out of the hospital, then Linda and Alicia will stay an extra week with her sister before we move them both back to our house. This gives Linda time to adjust to being Alicia's full-time caregiver, and also let's her have some help during that first crucial week while I'm at work. Also, Linda's sister's house is closer to the hospital so in case anything happens, it'll be easier to get back to the hospital from there.

I think I mentioned in a previous entry awhile ago about feeling gipped of the excitement and anticipation of a normal delivery. The beautiful thing is that I think it's being redeemed. I find myself eager with anticipation of bringing our daughter home. I'm eagerly preparing the house, I'm wondering what our life will be like together. It's good!

One request I do have for you loved ones is please be patient with us as we adjust to life with Alicia. We'll need some time to figure out a schedule and also to just get used to being parents before we are ready for any visitors. Also, as much as I would LOVE, LOVE to throw a HUGE lavish celebration and party welcoming Alicia and Linda home. I think that may need to wait for a few months while Alicia gets bigger and stronger and her immune system gets more solid. We've been told several times from doctors and nurses and also other resources that we need to keep Alicia away from enclosed public spaces for awhile to reduce the risk of contracting anything. So, please be patient. We will celebrate, it'll just need to be a little later. So if we aren't sending out invitations right away telling people to come over and meet Alicia, please understand that it's not that we're trying to be rude, but that we're trying to protect her and do what's best for her. The last thing we want is to come this far, get her out of the hospital only to land right back.

We really do want people to meet her, especially since you guys have all been praying for her for so long. But we will need time. So please be patient just for a bit longer!

Thanks friends.

Lots and lots of love.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And the Countdown Begins

The past few days have been quite eventful.

First of all, my beautiful niece, Hope Chang, made her entrance into the world on September 24, 2011 at 10:40 a.m. I went to bed last night with the news that my brother and sister-in-law had checked into the hospital. And I woke up and received the news of her arrival. How may you ask did I receive this news? Facebook, of course! Another example of how Facebook has changed the face of relationships and interactions. =)

I couldn't be prouder to be an uncle. My Chinese name is 愷伯 (Kai Bo). The second character in my name means an uncle of one's father. My parents gave me the second character in my name because as the oldest male in my generation, I would be "大伯" to all of my brother's and cousin's children. Now with Hope's arrival, I have am now officially living up to my name. =)

Hope is the completion of the double portion of blessing the Lord has poured out upon my family. My parents and grandparents have waited a long time to be grandparents and great grandparents respectively. And in one year, they get double the blessing.

You'll remember that actually Alicia was originally due only a couple of weeks before her cousin. Had Alicia been a few weeks late, rather than three months early she and Hope could have been practically twins. =) I love that Alicia and Hope are so close in age. I can only imagine the kind of stuff they're going to get into as they get older. Look out world, the Chang Girls have arrived!

In other news, Alicia got her hearing test done a few days ago. This is a hearing test that all children get right before they're discharged from the hospital. Today we were told that her hearing is normal! Praise the Lord! Another huge sigh of relief. I was reading the preemie book, and for all the things that Alicia went through at birth, the chances of her having hearing problems were actually quite high. But God was gracious. =) Great thing, cause Alicia is going to need her hearing if she's going to be the great musician that she's supposed to be. =) (Says Daddy.) haha.

Well, we realized today during our evening visit that it would be the last time that I would see Alicia before she gets discharged on Friday! So absolutely crazy. I can't believe we've finally reached the end of this journey. And we are now about to step into the crazy, fun, hectic, exciting, nerve-wracking but absolutely rewarding world of full-time parenting! Our lives definitely changed when Alicia was born, but I can only imagine what our lives will become once we actually get her home!

Part of me can't wait to get her home so that I can cuddle her, hold her and play with her whenever I want to. Now that she is more stable, and we are preparing to take her home, Linda and I have been spending more time with her at the hospital, and I am just loving the extra parent-daughter time. Our little girl is truly a darling.

However, I have to admit, that I am a bit wary. I mean, there's so much to learn! I want my girl to thrive, but there are so many facets to that. For years, I've observed parents around me and taken notes on the things that I like and don't like, things that I want to do and things I don't want to do. And now, now, it's all coming to a point. I feel like I only get one chance at this and I don't want to mess it up. =)

Just realizing that a lot of parents must feel the same way, and actually the fact that I'm thinking about these things is a great sign. It means we have a healthy, bouncing baby girl!

I'll keep y'all posted on how things go! I'm sure I'll be contacting many of you for advice soon and very soon.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Moment We've All Been Waiting For

So I got the sweetest, most fantastic bit of news yesterday.

That's right, friends. Alicia, she's a coming home!!! =)

We finally, finally have a date for Alicia's discharge. If all goes smoothly and as planned, Alicia will be out of the hospital on next Friday, September 30 - the day after she turns 4 months old.

It is actually a bit hard to believe that we're finally at this point! For four months, we've patiently waited and endured, hoping and ancitipating this day's arrival. And it's finally here! Of course, this means that we're about to transition into a whole new phase of life, and a whole other journey. Am I excited? You better believe it! But in some odd way, it's like I've been waiting and pushing for this news for so long, it feels more like, it's about time! =)

It's like the many long road trips I've been on in my life - 5 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours. You leave and you drive, and you drive. After hours of nothing but highway, finally you take an exit, and you know your destination is approaching. Then, especially if you're returning to a place you know well, you start to recognize familiar surroundings and your spirit starts to breathe a sigh of relief, we're almost there. Then you finally arrive and it's like all the stuff you've endured for the past several hours - the uncomfortable seats, the lack of facilities, the cramped spaces, the broken AC, etc... - all of it just fades into a distant memory.

We're circling around the block friends! Soon we'll be pulling up to our driveway and starting our new life as a family of three. So exciting, but definitely daunting. It's not someone else's kid we're messing around with anymore. =)

The past few days have been all about preparations. Linda's been spending most of her mornings at the SBR now learning how to care for Alicia. This weekend when I go down, I'll be getting my own training. We'll need to learn basic things like how to change her diaper, how to bathe her, when to give her medicine, how to feed her, how to tell if she's breathing, etc... =) OK, maybe that last one isn't so basic. =) haha. But you get the idea.

The funny thing is that there's been a shift in the way the medical staff talk about Alicia's condition. In the beginning, if you'll remember, it was all about, she's unstable. We need to keep her here. Don't move her. She needs help. Now it's like, she needs to go home. Even if she isn't 2200 grams yet. She needs to go home. It's similar to how many expectant moms at about 37 or 38 weeks switch over from, please stay in, please stay in, to let's get this thing out of me!

Some of you, like we did, might have some concerns about whether or not this is too rushed or too soon. But Alicia's primary doctor has said that Alicia is old enough, big enough and stable enough to do well on her own without a lot of medical care. And also lately there is a virus going around. So she feels that in the long run it will actually be better for us to take Alicia home so she doesn't catch something from the other kids.

In fact, they're most likely going to keep Alicia in her incubator until discharge as a precautionary measure. =)

So the next week will be all about preparations and getting ourselves and our house ready for Alicia's grand homecoming. Lots and lots to prepare, but it'll get done.

I really can't believe we're here. Like I said, we've been on this journey for almost 4 months now. It's kind of crazy to wrap my head around the idea of having her home with us. Seriously? Are we really, really at this point? Can we really have her for our own? It's almost too good to be true.

God is amazing, isn't he? This journey has been insane. I'm a bit overwhelmed at God giving us the opportunity to care for such a precious, precious life. This girl has an powerful destiny here on this Earth, and to be entrusted with raising her is an incredible privilege.

Of course we have our trepidations. Can we really take care of this baby all on our own? I mean, we've never done this 24 hour thing before with any baby, let alone one that was born under such special circumstances. But in the end I'm reminded, God isn't going to bring Alicia this far just to let things fall apart when we take her home. She is going to thrive, and we are going to thrive as a family.

And also, we've got you guys, our cloud of witnesses, our faithful friends, family and prayer warriors. God has used your corporate prayers, love and encouragement to sustain us over this journey. We'd appreciate the continued prayers as we transition into life with our precious daughter.

I look forward to introducing her to many of you very, very soon!