Grace and Hope

Grace and Hope
Wait for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Pslam 131:3

Friday, November 25, 2011

We Have SO Much To Be Thankful For...

This year Jason and I celebrated Thanksgiving as a family of four. We thank God for our precious, beautiful and healthy girls, Avery Grace and Aubrey Hope. Our hearts are full of joy as we were able to hold the answer to our prayers in our arms on this holiday when we are reminded to give thanks. Thank you, thank you, thank you God for all of your blessings, and most especially for our girls this year.

While we wish that we could report that the girls have made a lot of progress in their bottle feeds (now at 38 weeks or 6 weeks old), we are happy to report that the girls are healthy, growing, and making us smile every day! Avery is offered a bottle four times a day and one nursing time, and Aubrey is offered a bottle three times a day and one nursing time. We know that bottle feeding is just a matter of time, and while we might not wait patiently, we know that one day they will come home able to take all their feeds by bottle or nursing. I feel very fortunate to be able to nurse each baby once a day--it most definitely is the most special time of the day for me. Avery now takes over an ounce and Aubrey is just under an ounce for their nursing attempts.

This week, I tried tandem nursing for the first time, or nursing both girls at the same time. Talk about an experience you will never forget. During this first tandem nursing attempt, Aubrey was doing everything she could to try and socialize with Avery. She filled her pants with a stinky poo, she was groaning like a motor and she was batting her beautiful eyes at Avery (talk about a multi-tasker)...and well Avery was very focused and wasn't too much into dividing her attention, but the one thing she was doing (nursing), she did very these personalities remind you of anyone you know?!

In the NICU, we are always very concerned about infection and we wash our hands very well between patient contact, even siblings. This opportunity to have both girls in my arms was most definitely bending the rules, and I think I'm learning that I like to break the rules!!!  Behind the nursing screens my friend, who is a lactation consultant, positioned the girls in my arms after nursing, to give me an opportunity to hold and love on both of the girls for the first time. We captured this special moment in a picture, which is at the end of the blog. What a special time to gaze at God's beautiful and amazing creation (P.S. The girls are definitely fraternal! Haha).

Jay and I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with special friends Todd and Amanda this year. While we missed being with our families on this holiday, we were thankful to enjoy this day with good friends and be fed some amazingly delicious food! After a very tasty meal, we visited the girls together and we were able to get our very first family photos. In these photos, we were able to bend the rules and not wear ugly yellow gowns (that act as a barrier between your clothes and the babies) to get memorable shots that we will always cherish, as they are our first family photos. Unfortunately, we were not able to both hold the babies, or switch them back and forth, but we were appreciative to be able to sit together as a family of four for the first time. We can't help but marvel at how blessed we truly are. We hope you will enjoy some of our family photos too.

Avery Grace: 5 pounds 14 oz (2 pounds above birthweight) and 18 1/8 inches long

Baby Avery stretching...once again!

Yes, believe it or not, the girls do have more than this outfit and a few others, but it must be a favorite among the nurses because we see the girls in these outfits frequently. Thanks Kelly for keeping us fashionable!

Aubrey Hope: 5 pounds 5 oz (2 pounds above birth weight) and 17 3/4 inches long

If you look close enough, it is almost as if Aubrey is trying to suck her thumb--it is actually positioned in the pacifier like she is going to be a thumb sucker--watch out!!

Dad says I look like I'm in my PJs, but every girl loves a day in her jammies!

Our Family

Avery is in a "I'm thankful for my daddy" Thanksgiving outfit. We didn't have two Thanksgiving outfits (this one was a hand-me-down) so we had to be fair and put Aubrey in a "Mommy loves me" outfit. The girls are also sporting a VT hat in some photos as well--Thank you Nancy!
Avery was wide awake and loving the paparazzi photos while Aubrey had quite a good snooze during the first family photo session!

We have so much, so much, so much to be thankful for this year.

My first time holding both girls together:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ready for Take-Off!

Aubrey and Avery are now 5 weeks old (37 weeks gestation). Aubrey weighs 4 pounds 15.9oz (missed the 5 pound mark by 0.1oz!!) and Avery weighs 5 pounds 8oz (exactly 5 1/2 pounds).
The past few posts have relayed the message that babies usually are able to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing, which is necessary for successful oral feeding,typically between 34-36 weeks. We are learning a valuable lesson that this isn’t necessary about “our” timing, but the girls have landed and are on their own timing. While we had high hopes that our babies would be ready for take-off this week and really progress in their bottle feeding, we are still waiting for that “light to turn on,” as we say in NICU lingo. While we are still not on full oral feeds, both girls have advanced on their oral feeds this week, now at 3 bottles and one nursing time per day (total of 4 oral feeds). We hope that they will advance quickly so that they can come home.  Both girls are learning how to nurse, which is an awesome experience for me and an opportunity that I had been really looking forward to as a mother.   
November 17, 2011 was World Prematurity Day to raise awareness for preventing premature births. It will always be a memorable day for me as a nurse and as a mother of premature infants. The hospital celebrated in numerous ways to recognize the families of premature babies, including giving each patient a purple onesie with our hospital emblem—the face of a Woman (representing the Woman’s Hospital of Texas). Below are a series of photos of the girls sporting their World Prematurity Day outfits.
Since there is not a lot to report (we honestly are really waiting for the girls to take-off with bottle feeding), I thought I would make-up the short blog with a few more pictures (seriously, that is the best part anyway)! I also included a picture of our new helicopter, painted with the Woman’s Hospital emblem—this “bird” will be waiting for me when I get back to work…isn’t she pretty?! While she is ready for take-off, my girls are still on the L-Z!

Here is our typical Avery--legs all stretched out and relaxed.

Sweetly sleeping--once again, not bundled up in her bed!

My favorite picture of the week--Avery giving me a great smile!

Such a sweet baby!

Big yawn for baby Avery.

Sleeping peacefully--this is her before bottle feeding--hmmm, no wonder why it is going so slow!

Avery in her purple World Prematurity Day outfit. She actually looks like her sister in this picture (one of the few pictures where they look similar).
Avery sneaking a peek!
Another sweet picture of Avery.

Aubrey showing off her purple World Prematurity Day onesie.

What a precious, sweet face. Her chin and lips have always been some of my favorite features on her.

Hi momma!!!

I'd rather be sleeping than smiling for a picture!

My favorite Aubrey photo of the week.

Pretty in pink. 

 This photo and the next one capture part of Aubrey's personality. This has not been a "one occassion" type event--this sometimes happens more than once a day! She is so busy all the time, she wriggles right out of her boundaries, bean bags, positioning aids and does her own thing. I love her personality!

This is what I look forward to when I return to work after my maternity leave. Notice the Woman's emblem painted on the side of the aircraft. Can't wait to have the best of both worlds--be a momma to our girls and make a difference in the lives of other babies and their families so they can have their sweet success stories like we do.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pokey, But Oh So Cute!!

Avery and Aubrey are now 4 weeks old (wow, where does the time go?!) and are 36 weeks gestation today. While we were hoping to share with you that our girls have made progress in the bottle feeding department, it appears that our girls are a little pokey....but they are so darn cute you can hardly blame them for not hurrying up to get home! They both now are offered two bottles a day and they definitely are learning that eating from the bottle is much more tiring than getting fed by the tube. Although they are pretty content being fed by the tube, we are hopeful every day that the "light might turn on" and they will start taking the bottles one after another. Avery is a little more pokey when it comes to bottle feeding...she has only taken two full bottles all together, but we know that it is all just a matter of time. Aubrey has completed a few more bottles than Avery and has had several chances to nurse this week, although once again, a little pokey with that type of feeding experience too!! However, rest assured, if these babies are anything like their parents, they will learn to love to eat! Once again, we really hope that this coming week is the big week that they start to make progress with bottle feeding--an important part to be discharged to home!!

Both the girls are doing very well and we are so thankful for every day that they are healthy. Both Avery and Aubrey are treated for reflux, which is commonly seen in premature infants. Aubrey continues to be treated with caffiene for her spells with holding her breath. She will be coming home on a monitor and we hope that Avery is able to get away without one. I wish we knew when they were coming home--but it is all up to them. As I have learned through the pregnancy and this bottle feeding experience--it is not on my time and they already rule the roost when it comes to their own schedules! They better get it out of their system now, because we are huge supporters of a schedule--Baby Wise here we come!!

This week the girls have really taken off in the growth department. Both girls have double chins and Avery is pushing a triple chin!!! Avery is now 4 pounds and 15.5 ounces (just shy of 5 pounds!) and Aubrey is now 4 pounds and 7.6 ounces (just shy of 4 1/2 pounds!). They have really packed on the weight and and it is amazing to see how much bigger they seem this week. Avery is actually even starting to feel "heavy!" Both girls are still sporting their beautiful "preemie clothes" and probably will remain in these clothes for a few more weeks until they can move into newborn size clothes.

Both girls are getting quite a reputation in the NICU. Despite being careful not to eat offensive foods, they have some serious stinky diapers, and many of them!!! It is pretty much a daily event to quarantine the trash can that the girls diapers go into...they might be small, but their smell is mighty!!! Aubrey especially has been known to have several explosions, both on nurses and doctors--she better get that out of her system now!!

We have a few pictures to share this week and hope you will enjoy them. 

Thank you Jodi for these beautiful boppy covers with the monogramed names. What a special gift that I love!

The next few pictures are new decorations in the nursery, which is coming together piece by piece:)

Check out my double chin! 

 This is what I think of bottle feeding--simply exhausting!

 Avery loving her time in daddy's arms.

 We catch a glimpse of her eyes open--a rare occasion after a bottle feeding attempt!

Oh so pretty. Seeing if we like a side part in our hair. Sure beats the crazy bed head that is her norm!

So precious is all that comes to mind.


I'm getting a double chin too, but just everything about me is a bit smaller. I'm small but mighty-don't you worry!

Checking us out while she enjoys her time being held.

She is starting to get some crazy bed head like her sister. Look how much her face has filled out in this picture.

 This picture and the following picture show Aubrey sacked out after her nursing attempts. She looks like she just ran a marathon!