Happy Thanksgiving

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Hello Loved Ones. You’ve probably seen the pictures on Facebook, but I wanted to share a photo from our recent photo shoot with the beautiful and talented Monika Bliss Morris.

We had a lovely day today with gorgeous weather and a fun dinner with Robby, Meredith, Isaac, and Avery. Of course Juliana is thrilled any time that Isaac is here to play, and they had a good time together, mostly. Their visit may have included some kissing. The meal was standard veggie fare: Christmas casserole (old family recipe), green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, 5-cup salad, bread, pumpkin pie. Delicious. Maybe not so nutritious.

Although this year has had its share of tragedy and trials, we remain incredibly blessed. God is watching over us every day, and I am grateful that we have each other (nearly to the 15-year anniversary!), our precious Juliana who brings us amazing joy every day, a baby soon to arrive, dear family members in Tennessee and Michigan and Florida and Switzerland, and wonderful friends all over this country. Thanks to each of you for the ways you bless our lives.

I hope your Thanksgiving was special and meaningful.

Now, for more food . . .

Juliana’s Third Birthday

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It has been a long time since we posted, but things are going well. And today, Juliana turns 3! She is a wonder and source of daily hilarity and amazement for us. Here are some of her most recent activities:

Things she loves to do:
–play kitchen and cook food (especially in her new kitchen from Grammy, MeMe, Auntie and Uncle Justin, and Cousin Ellis)

–clutch an extraordinary number of small items in her hands, while attempting to do other things (small, round balls–especially the sparkly one–a mirror, shovel, tiny green owl, and her ever-present puppy named Raisin Bran)

–play catch with said balls

–“color outside” on the sidewalk with chalk

–swing at the park

–read books and more books: current favorites include The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Prayer for a Child, Kitten’s First Full Moon

–dance to music, preferably while you are holding her

–climb onto things and jump off: she is still enjoying our weekly Little Gym class and has recently become very unafraid of jumping off of anything

–snuggle with her blankey (thanks Jacqueline Erwin!) and Raisin Bran (thanks Rachel Sherwood!)

–go outside and play in the dirt and leaves

–sing at the top of her lungs, nonsensical songs that occasionally have real words inserted into them. She makes up songs as she goes and her go-to song title is “The Carolai Song.” I have no idea what that word means or where it came from.

–play all kinds of musical instruments: violin, guitar, recorder, drums, shakers, xylophone, piano, whistles, etc. She basically is either singing or playing music all day long.

–go to the farm and pet the animals, especially feeding the calves

–dig in the sand. She would do this for hours! I think we need a sandbox.

–swimming. Although swimming season is over, she asks nearly every day if she can go swimming. And yesterday while we were at the park, it was all we could do to keep her from jumping in the water because she wanted it so desperately.

Things she loves to eat:
–grilled cheese sandwiches
–mac and cheese
–apples, pears, plums, bananas, grapes, cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches (with no red parts on them)
–sometimes peas and broccoli
–milk and orange juice
–she has newly discovered that she loves cake
–hummus and “different crackers” (Ritz)

People she loves:
–Mommy and Daddy
–all of her wonderful extended family of grandparents and aunts and uncles, whom she asks to video chat with nearly every day
–Cousins Ellis and Baby Olivia (she released some of her birthday balloons into the sky and said that she was sending them to Ellis far, far away)
–her best friend: Isaac, whom she “needs” to see every single day
–her many other friends whom she talks about all the time: Zach, Daniel, Fenannah (Savannah), Brooklyn, Odessa, Henry, Enoch
–Robby, Moses (Meredith), Lala (Leslie), KeeKee (Keelin), and Avery who are always mentioned in the same breath
–Marci: “Is Marci coming to play with me?” Is an almost daily question
–Ted, Beth, Evan, Jenny, Alban, and Ansley all of whom she uses as her personal readers

Hilarious things she says and does:
–she stands in front of the fireplace, where she can see her reflection and says: “Hi, my name is Juliana, and I am taking pictures of Mommy.” Or, other random things to the little girl in the reflection.

–“I’m going to school, to teach. And check on my baby, and the other baby. Bye bye!”

–When she is about to start singing something, or if she has started and we are not singing too: “Sing, friends!” or “Wanna sing, guys?”

–when I said about Jason, “I’ll go get ‘im,” she said: “No, Mommy, you will go get HIM, not THEM.” Yes, she is already correcting my grammar.

–inserting words into songs: “I have crayons, I have crayons, Heigh-ho the derry-o, I have crayons.” Or: “The itsy bitsy mommy went up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the mommy out. Out came the sun and dried up all the mommy, and the itsy bitsy mommy went up the spout again.” Or: “Twinkle, twinkle little circle…” Or: “Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full. One for the mommy, one for the dad, one for the weasel, one for the Sophie (our cat)…”

–We were at the doctor having an ultrasound (early on), and she said: “I was a little baby like that! I was in there (the womb). Inside there, you don’t get dirty!” I have no idea where she came up with that. We had never talked about her being inside there (at the time), and certainly not about not getting dirty!

–to her own hand: “No, no hand! Let go, hand! My hand not obey!”

Although Juliana remains quite small, she has done phenomenally well in her developmental growth. She has caught up to and surpassed the 3-year-old expectations, and does quite a few things at a 4-year-old level. She is in the early stages of pre-reading, and recognizes many sight words. Her language and cognitive skills have skyrocketed, and we are so thankful that she is doing well. Many of you have followed her progress and prayed for her: thank you! We are happy to report that she does not show any lingering effects of her prematurity, except her glasses, which she will always need.

Juliana is a very happy and typically very obedient, joyful girl. She makes every day so delightful, and we are so blessed to have spent another year with her. We can’t wait to see what her next year of life holds, especially as we are adding BABY BROTHER to the mix, sometime in December. Juliana is very excited to meet him, and wanted him to “come out for my birthday.” Fortunately, this baby seems to be staying inside into a more safe time to come out.

Stay tuned for more upcoming pictures. We just finished a fall photo shoot with the fantastic Monika Morris, and Juliana’s 3rd birthday portraits will be done soon. Thanks for visiting the blog!

Juliana’s 1st Birthday

Juliana is one year old today. She was born at 4:22 p.m. at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Her sisters were born at 4:23 and 4:24. All four of our lives were in extreme danger that day, and the danger continued for the precious babies. Although much tragedy ensued in the following days, Juliana showed her amazing strength and ability to fight for her life. She has survived to be a beautiful, healthy, determined, opinionated, smart, music-loving, book-reading, active, happy little baby. Every second of every day is better because she is in the world. She is our pride and constant joy.

She is starting to eat more solid foods, really enjoying her squash today. She is on the verge of either crawling or walking, or both. Her days are filled with reading books, playing with toys, going for walks, trying to chase the kitty, smiles, drools, and saying “ba-ba” for nothing in particular. She loves animals, playing the piano, looking at herself in the mirror, walking in the Baby Bjorn, and most of all: her mommy and daddy.

We got settled in our new house just in time to host some friends and family to celebrate her birthday on Sabbath. We will post pictures shortly.

This day will always be bittersweet for us. But the sweet grows sweeter every day that we spend with Juliana. God has given us such a gift in the blessing that is her life. We will never take that for granted. Juliana, we love you.

02/10/10 40 Weeks and Home!

Images of the first days at home:

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How can we possibly express how good it is to be home? Here are some highlights:

–holding her and cuddling with her WHENEVER we want!
–24-hour quality time
–no tubes, alarms, or other people around (although we loved our NICU nurses!)
–a lovely banner from the wonderful Class of 2012 on our garage, welcoming Juliana home
–4 feet of snow
–eating and cooking in our own kitchen
–sleeping in our own bed
–internet access

As the days go by and we get established into more of a routine, you can expect more pictures and updates. For now, we are learning how to sleep while constantly watching over her and enjoying just being together. Thanks to everyone for your many prayers and well wishes. We’ll keep you posted!

12/31/09 Fifteen hundred

Today was a fun day with Juliana. I got to hold her for about 2 hours this afternoon. She did really well on the nasal canula and was very comfortable. She peeked her eyes open a few times, but was content to sleep most of the time or occasionally suck on her pacifier. After we put her back in the isolette, Jen got to give her a “sponge bath” in the isolette. We then dressed her up in a new outfit and Rachel, her nurse, swaddled her. She gets to have 3-hour trials on the nasal canula twice a day now. They also increased her feeds to 10 ml per hour. We weighed her today and she has hit 1500 grams! She is gaining weight rapidly. We left her to go home for two nights. We are celebrating New Years with friends and running some errands tomorrow. We’re looking forward to a better new year.

12/28/09 ROP

Juliana had another eye exam this morning and the opthamologist found evidence of Stage 3 ROP. We have decided to go ahead with laser surgery to correct her eyes. She will get it done 7:30 tomorrow morning. This evening we will kangaroo with her nasal canula on her face. She is getting brief trials off of her CPAP. She is 2 lb 15 oz as of last night.

12/25/09

We visited Juliana this Christmas evening with grandparents and aunt and uncle in tow. She has stayed steady with her CPAP at +5 but her feeds have increased to 8.5 ml per hour. We dressed her up in a Christmas outfit and took a family photo. We will post it tomorrow. Juliana also received some Christmas presents! She got a “Daddy loves me” preemie onesy in pink and brown with matching pantsm She got a similar “Mommy loves me” onesy that is a little bit bigger. She got a 3-6 month size Baltimore Ravens onesy with matching hat and booties that she can wear next fall. Pictures of all her gifts will be posted tomorrow.

12/11/09

Juliana’s leg looks less swollen today. The orthopedist examined her and readjusted her splint. The team is working on pain management to make sure it doesn’t bother her much. Her periods of bradying are over and she has a good heart rate, breathing rate, and pulse-ox. They turned her rate down to 10, and expect she will be on the continuous “CPAP” starting tomorrow. Her feeds were also ramped up to 2 ml per hour and it is all going down for now. That may seem like a large jump, but remember there are 33.6 ml per ounce! It takes her almost all day to drink one ounce. They will probably increase by 1 ml an hour each day until she goes on normal feeds. Jen and I are picking up the Herrs from the airport shortlyand heading home for the weekend. We will make some day trips down to Baltimore while they are here.

12/09/09 Extubate

Sometimes matters are taken into one’s own hand, like Juliana’s for instance. She extubated herself at 7 AM, right at shift change. Instead of reintubating her one day before the planned extubation, they went ahead and put her on the bi-PAP. She is doing very well on it 8 hours into it. We will see at about 3 whether Jen can hold her today.

12/06/09

Juliana’s rate is down to 22 today. She is just a few days out from getting to try Bi-PAP again. We arrived just in time to see her diaper get changed. The suppository did its work and she had a nice mess. Never was a dirty diaper more excitedly celebrated! They have started her on continuous feeds now, 0.3 ml per hour to start. Jen is holding her right now and is enjoying herself. I think we will go down to the Inner Harbor for dinner tonight.