Monday, July 18, 2011

Bigger and Better

Alicia is getting bigger! Yesterday, she was at 856 grams, today she's up to 872 grams. That's the kind of good news that makes a daddy happy. We pray for more and more growth! If she keeps this up, she'll be up to 1000 grams in about a week. Yahoo! One thousand grams is about 2.2 pounds. Still tiny, but drastic improvement over where she began. She's also eating more now, she's up to 16cc per feeding, and the good news is that she's been doing well with the digestion, so they stopped using the machine to regulate the speed of ingestion. You'll remember she was having trouble with her air intake when she was eating. Her stomach would bloat and press on her lungs. So to keep it so her stomach wouldn't get too bloated, they started to use a machine to control how much milk would go in at one time. Well, she's been doing really well with the eating and breathing, so they decided to try and feed her without the machine, and she's been holding pretty steady! That is great.

Also, since the incident with the tube going down the wrong pipe, they've been able to use lower vent settings for her. Before she was averaging about 40% oxygen and when she had trouble, they'd raise it to about 60% oxygen. But now her average is about 30% oxygen or lower, and when they raise it, if at all, they go up to about 40%. This is great progress! Remember room air is about 21% oxygen, so once she can get efficient at pulling air from 21% oxygen saturation, then she can come off the vent. So we are making progress friends!

One thing to begin to pray about is for her to be able to develop the sucking and swallowing muscles and coordination. Right now, she's got a tube that deposits the milk directly into her stomach. When she's older and more stable, they'll want to do some breast feeding and see if she can start sucking and swallowing on her own. So we pray that she can develop those muscles well.

She's definitely a strong little girl. One of the nurses told us that one time when Alicia was lying prone, she actually pressed her palms into her bed and pushed her upper body up and turned her head to face the opposite direction. Quite the feat for such a little one. =) We pray for more strength and more growth. Of course, without any tubes and wires being pulled out.

I definitely look forward to the day when we won't have to worry about tubes or wires and we can just focus on loving our little girl. And I believe that day is getting closer and closer each day.

Thank you for all of your prayers, support and encouragement, it's been a huge blessing to us. In the midst of God growing Alicia and developing her body. He's also been growing Linda and I and developing us as well.

One huge lesson for me is to learn to let go. To drop all expectations that others and myself have placed on me. And just take it one day at a time. I've had to learn and still am learning about giving myself grace to not have it all together and to even risk disappointing others and myself.

I think I've always been one to perform. I thrive on the praises of others and am crushed when I get even the hint of dissatisfaction or disappointment from someone. I hate letting people down, so sometimes I kill myself and go out of my way to do what's expected of me. There's something in me that desires to be the model student, Christian, brother, husband, son, friend, father, co-worker, partner, employee, teacher, actor, dancer... you fill in the blank.

And I definitely believe this is one of my strengths. People have said, "Campbell, you're reliable. You're on time. You're hardworking. I can always depend on you." And definitely, that is a great thing. However, I think there comes a point when I can overdo it. And definitely, I'm learning, that there are times when I need to just drop the ball, and that it's OK.

I don't have to have it all together. What an epiphany.

And amazingly, when I don't have it all together and I can be open about that, I believe that people respond to that.

You see the lie is that in order to be an effective witness, in order to be respected, I need to appear all put together.

Like the day after Alicia's tube mishap, we were waiting outside the NICU and one of the mom's asked how Alicia was doing. We told her what happened with the tube. And added the comment, "It really scared us." Another woman, who is a grandma of one of the other kids, chimed in and said, "Oh, don't worrry! Just keep praying. I'm a Buddhist and I pray and it really works." When I heard that, I had a moment of feeling disappointment with myself. I felt like, I was being a bad witness for Christ, and that I hadn't been faithful to show the strength and confidence that our Heavenly had been given to us. I felt embarrassed cause as a believer, I felt like I should have been the one to encourage her and to bear witness to the power of our Heavenly Father. But the more I thought about it, I felt like, it was OK. I was being real. And I feel like our witness isn't in pretending like nothing ever affects us and we are drones with no emotions. Our witness is by being who God has created us to be and demonstrating his love through our words and actions. And in our weakness, he is strong.

Many of the parents like to talk about "believing in your child." You need to have faith in your children that they are strong and that they can make it. And while, yes, we do believe Alicia is going to make it, we know that the power comes from above. That the power Alicia has to grow comes from our Heavenly Father. We believe that her getting healthier and healthier is not a result of us believing in her, but a miracle of God's grace and mercy.

So maybe our greater witness is to show that when we are weak he is strong! So maybe I need to learn to be like Paul and boast about my weaknesses instead of trying to hide them and appear perfect.

This isn't to say that I just completely let go and just say, "Well, that's just the way I am." No, I think God never desires for us to stay stagnant. No, we continue to improve and to grow in the areas that God reveals to us. But I think there's a balance. We walk with God and let him show us where we can improve. And then we ask him to give us the power to improve. For true change can only come from a relationship with him as he molds us and changes us into more of the person he desires for us to be.

Prayer requests:

1. As usual pray for Alicia's breathing. She's doing better and better. We pray that she can be off the ventilator by the end of the week! That would be fantastic.

2. Pray for her digestion. Now that she no longer has the machine to regulate the speed of ingestion, her feeding times are shorter and faster. Pray that her stomach can continue to take in the food, process it and use the nutrition to build up her body.

3. Soon I will need to be going back to work. Unfortunately, this will probably need to happen before Alicia is out of the hospital. Pray for the transition time and for Linda and I as we adjust to the new schedule. Also, my workplace is quite a ways from Alicia's hospital and where Linda is staying. So I will only be able to see them on the weekends, unless the situation changes. So pray for God's direction and grace to work out the logistics. Pray for Linda and my relationship as we will be separated physically for awhile and that we can continue to support each other even over the distance.

4. Pray for God's presence and peace to rest and reside in and about our family. Pray that his Spirit would encamp about Alicia's incubator and also that he would send angels to guard over her. She's getting older and more aware, so we pray that God would instill in her a sense of confidence and strength. That she would know that she is loved and adored. Also, the NICU has been quite busy lately. We've had two new neighbors move in just in these past two days. So with new neighbors brings more activity, more alarms, more noise. So pray for Alicia to find peace and quiet in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

5. Pray for Alicia's muscle development. As I mentioned before, pray for her sucking and swallowing. Pray for her arms and legs, which apparantly are pretty strong already, but we pray for more. We pray for coordination and grace. We pray for healthy and timely development of all motor skills.

6. Pray that God would give us wisdom and prepare us for when Alicia does get to come home with us. Pray that God would give us patience as we wait for that beautiful day. Also, pray that we would have peace as we wait for the important milestones in between. Pray that God would lead us to great resources and just give us his supernatural wisdom on how to provide a great environment for Alicia to grow up. We definitely want to be careful with where we bring her, what we do with her, etc... but we don't want to coddle her and be overprotective. That won't be helpful for her development.

Thanks, everyone!

I hope you're all well!

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