Journey to Parenthood

I want to be purposeful about journaling during this time in our lives as we watch our miracle micro preemie, Asher, continue to grow and thrive. I began this blog during my month of bed rest at the hospital while I was pregnant with Asher and his brother Titus. We continue to hope and trust the Lord for Asher's future. This blog begins with the story of how both of our boys came to be. They came about after many tears, many prayers, and many months of crushed hopes. On February 2, 2012, our boys Titus Bauer and Asher Mark were born at just 23 weeks and 2 days gestation. My water around Titus broke at 19 weeks, so his lungs were very underdeveloped. Titus lived 45 minutes and is now living a perfect life in heaven as he watches over his little brother Asher. Two and a half years later God redeemed our story of hurt with a precious full term baby brother for Asher. We are humbled by how the Lord has loved on us in our journey through parenthood.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Asher is Home!!

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" (Psalm 30:11, 12 ESV)

We are beginning a new phase in our life with Asher today! Because of the Lords great mercy, our miracle boy born at 1 lb 2 oz and 17 weeks early is on his way HOME after 147 days in the nicu!! Your prayers have played a HUGE role in Asher's healing. We do not have words to express our thankfulness! We have been told again and again how amazing it is that he has done so well. We know that's all the healing power of our loving God! Please pray for him to continue to grow and stay healthy! Please pray for us as we continue to trust the Lord with Asher. We are used to knowing his heart rate, breathing rate, and how he's oxygenating and he won't be hooked up to any of that at home!

Asher will return to children's a few more times to get his esophagus stretched, so please also pray that continues to go well. He's going home with a feeding tube just in case he isn't able to eat all his food by bottle, or in case his esophagus begins to close up again. We were excited to be tube free last week, but after this weekend and the frustration of him not getting to eat- we are happy to keep that tube in for now!

Thank you again for ALL the love and prayers we've received over the last 6 months! We are forever changed, and blessed by them and by this entire journey. We will never forget the many nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, respiratory therapists, physical and speech therapists at Baylor and Children's who watched over Asher day after day. We will never forget nurse practitioners who stayed up at night worrying about Asher. You all loved on Asher like he was your own, and you were and always will be a part of Asher's family. The passion you have for your job is a tremendous blessing to the patients you serve!

We are hoping for calmer days ahead, and sweet days of loving on our baby boy at home. And we couldn't be more blessed by God's timing, today is our 4 year wedding anniversary!! Couldn't ask for a better man to be by my side in these past 6 months!

Getting in the car! 

On the way out the door! We unhooked the monitors just before this! 

Car seat..good thing I have my paci, I'm not sure about this. 

Praise the Lord, I'm home! 

My sweet friends decorated! So fun! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

7lbs and NO TUBES!

Asher is now a little over 7lbs!! He also got his feeding tube out again yesterday and they decided not to put it back in and see how he would do with his feeds. He's been taking MOST of his bottles at every feeding!! We are praying he can keep it out, as it causes some irritation and probably makes eating a little more challenging with that back there. We are so excited and just in a constant state of "can you believe he's this or that??" We are beyond thankful for all the Lord has done and healed in this sweet boy! We KNOW the many prayers said for Asher have been a HUGE part of his healing and growing so well. We again, thank you and everyone who you know who asks you about Asher and tells you they are praying as well. We continue to hear those stories and they continue to overwhelm us! We will hopefully have our miracle boy home before July! We will see..NICU life is very unpredictable. Thank you again for prayers for Asher... he will have another dilation this coming Monday. Please pray it goes as smoothly as the others, (risk of tearing the esophagus) and that he is able to wake up quickly, get off the ventilator, and get back to eating and feeling good. Thank you so much!!

Enjoying a big boy swing the NICU let him borrow. 

Showing off his tube-free, tape-free face! 

Really posing now...this is ALL dad! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day- "And these Words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. " Deuteronomy 6:6-7

   We celebrated Bryan's first Father's Day today! What a blessing it is to have a son, and especially our miracle boy Asher. We are beyond thankful. Bryan is such an amazing daddy. He EVEN changes DIRTY diapers! (Something he swore he wouldn't be able to do!) More than that..he's an amazing provider for us, and loves us both so well. He is so sweet with Asher and gentle, and I just can't wait to see them together in the future! Asher already looks so much like his daddy and if he acts like him too...well, I'll have my hands full!! I'm also so thankful for how Bryan took care of Titus. I'm so proud of all he did for him when I couldn't be there. He's the only family member Titus was with before he passed away, and I was blown away with how his daddy proclaimed, and still does proclaim God's goodness through all of this- even in the moments immediately after watching Titus pass away. His strength is rock solid and I know that's all the Lord, and I'm just so thankful that Jesus got a hold of my husband's heart when he did!  I know I am a better woman, wife, and mother because of Bryan. I know my son will be a better son, and hopefully one day a better husband and father because of the example he grew up with. I look forward to all the joys and challenges of raising Asher together with my Godly, loving husband.

ALSO- Asher has been a CHAMP with the bottle the past 4 days! On Thursday the Dr's decided he could start trying to take a bottle since he had one dilation to stretch his esophagus. He blew us all away! He's been taking anywhere from half to his entire feed from a bottle on every feeding! We are so proud! He has another procedure tomorrow to stretch it again. Hopefully it happens in the morning so he can get back to eating sooner than later! He's becoming very very aware of eating, and is READY to eat pretty much exactly 3 hours from the last feeding. Guess he's liking his momma. :) And his love for eating has helped him gain weight too! He's up to 6 lbs 11 oz!! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Update after Surgery...

(Yesterday) Asher just got out of surgery and he did great! His esophagus dilation went really well and the stricture is a lot smaller than expected so we hope that means that he will be able to have less dilations than we thought. He also had 2 hernias repaired while he was under and they went well too! The doctor planned on leaving him on a ventilator for 12-24 hours after surgery, but he woke up quickly and pulled out his ventilator tube which was a great sign that he's doing well and able to breath on his own!

We plan on having the next dilation procedure next Monday. It's hard to imagine having to go through all of this again in 6 days, so please pray that he continues to do well with no side effects and that this heals his esophagus! Thank you again for all the kind messages and continued thoughts and prayers for our sweet Asher!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Asher's Surgery Tomorrow!

Asher will have 3 procedures tomorrow! He will have his esophagus dilated, a hernia repaired, and a circumcision. Please pray for no side effects from the anesthesia, and no complications from any of these procedures! There is a risk that the esophagus could be torn during a dilation--this would be an emergency situation. We are not sure if he will need 5 dilations or just depends on how his esophagus responds. We are praying he will not need many procedures and and can be on his way to eating by mouth soon- he hasn't gotten a chance to learn that, so we hope he can soon. Our big boy is also 6lbs now and we are so thankful!!! Thank you SO much for your prayers for Asher!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Few More Pictures...

I love doing these comparisons! It's SO neat to see God's faithfulness in pictures. Seeing Asher everyday..we don't notice as much how much bigger he is until we really look back. I was so excited  back when my friend bought these month stickers for me, and I had NO idea just how special these monthly pictures would be. 

It makes my heart full to see how he is starting to fill up my arms! 

It's so fun wearing pants and tops and ACTUALLY fitting into newborn size clothes! 

Love this sleepy's like I want to keep my eye on you, but I'm so tired! 

Holding mom's finger while snoozing :)

My Aunt KK (one of mommy's best friends) got to hold me for the first time today! Finally! I loved looking at her face and learning what she looks like! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Asher's 4 Month Birthday and Update

"...everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Isaiah 51:11

Asher is a growing boy! He's up to 5lbs and 4oz! We are so thankful he finally started to put on some weight after the week of not eating when we first got back to Children's...that was tough week. So, yesterday we spoke with the GI doctor who will be on Asher's case and he believes that dilating his esophagus is the best option for now. The only other option would be doing a surgery to cut out the stricture (narrow part) of his esophagus and then sew the esophagus back together. That is a much more invasive option with it's own set of risks. Dialating is where they would insert a balloon down the esophagus and slowly inflate it in order to stretch that part back out. This procedure also comes with risks, but it is less invasive and probably better long term. They have no idea how long he will need to be dilated. It will be a once a week thing for however many weeks he needs it. The dr said it could take 5 times, or 20 times. He just has no way of predicting that. Some kids have to come back several times in their life to be dilated again, others are good after being stretched as a baby. They still do not understand why Asher has this. It's pretty remarkable to be at a Children's hospital...the people who see everything..and they tell us they only see about 2 babies a year with a stricture without there being an obvious cause. Most babies that have this are born with an esophagus that is not connected, doctors do surgery and connect it, and then scar tissue can develop and block the esophagus. 
So, we are set to have his first dilation (stretching) done on June 11th. By then, he should be 6 or 6 1/2 lbs. And we will see how it goes from there. 

Asher also needs a hernia surgery before he leaves the NICU. We are trying to coordinate this being done at the same time as one of his dilations. That way he doesn't have to go under anesthesia an additional time. 
Please pray Asher continues to grow, and that when they start these procedures, God protects the delicate tissue in his esophagus. There is a risk of tearing that tissue during dilation, which would then be an emergency to repair. We are praying that God heals his esophagus either miraculously or with medical intervention. Please pray his esophagus stays open and the less times we have to do it the better! He will have to be ventilated and given anesthesia each time. That's hard on an adult, let alone a 6 lb baby who has just recently been able to breathe without any support! Please also pray for endurance for Bryan and I. NICU life can be exhausting!
Thank you so much for your continued support and love for Asher. It's been a long road for him... and he's come SO far in 4 months. All 3 of us have felt so loved during this journey, and it's been an amazing blessing. He's our little hero. He is so good and patient with all the pokes and prods and things that have to be checked on him all the time. He is such a sweet boy, and has the love of many nurses already now on our 2nd stay at Children's. We joke that we have the NICU extended stay pass. It's an elite few that get that-- we are going to do the best we can to continue to glorify God in this journey.

Tonight at church we sang "With Everything" and I was thinking while I was singing the words:

"..with everything, with EVERYTHING I will shout for your glory, with everything, with EVERYTHING, I will shout for your praise..."

And I couldn't help but think, with everything...with a baby boy who passed away, with a baby who can't breathe well, with a baby who can't eat..with enduring and choosing procedures with risks..with the loss of normalcy...with EVERYTHING I will praise You and glorify You. It was as though I needed that "pep" talk in that song. I needed to sing those words loudly and remind myself that I am called to - with everything that happens in life, to point to God in it all. Every hardship, every good thing, and everything that falls in the middle are not meant to end on us...ALL parts of our lives should shout His name. Not just the easy, the beautiful, and the joyous moments. 

And then we sang "How He Loves Us" and this line stuck out to me...

"All of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory..and I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me.."

So, the afflictions we've faced have been and continue to be eclipsed by glory, or blocked out and covered by His glory. And that HAS made us see and feel the love of God in ways we had not fully felt before all of this! All the love we have received..all the love Asher has received.. it is all a TINY fraction of God's love for us. Hard to fathom. And we are so thankful that He continues to teach us, and we are praying for hearts that continue to embrace His methods of teaching- knowing those methods were divinely planned.