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.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Overwhelmed

Asher started taking steps at the end of June. And now he's taken off! He's gotten so fast! It's been amazing to watch. At just 13 1/2 months corrected our little 1lb miracle boy was walking. We are so thankful for the mercy the Lord continues to pour out on him. And just this week, he finally figured out clapping! For us, many of the milestones we've been hearing about or have been aware of for what seems like forever. That is part of going to therapy so often. We were hyper aware of what kids his corrected age are supposed to be doing. This can be good and bad, but I think mostly bad. ;) I'd like to be a little more naive in that area!  So, every milestone is a big one. We love, love, LOVE seeing him achieve things, and I think we would be just as excited even if he was born on time. But, it's all especially sweet since he spent the first 5 months of his life trying to breathe, and then trying to eat and grow, and all with several set backs along the way. And of course because we really had no idea how his extreme prematurity would affect him. We still don't fully know that. I do have to remind myself from time to time of some of the many lessons we learned in the NICU. One big lesson we learned was to be thankful for where Asher was at that moment, and to not get overwhelmed with what he still needed to accomplish. So, that used to look like thinking about when he would get off O2 support, and when would he get more than 5-10ml at a feeding. Now, it's looking ahead to him talking, drinking more, eating solid foods, etc. But, I know God wants my mind to stay right here, in this moment and just to drink it all in for all it is.  And there is so much beauty to drink in! I was looking back at videos from last summer and I just can't believe my little baby has turned into a big baby. He was so cute and little back then! But, he was also having an awful time with eating/throwing up a ton of his tube feedings. So, when I think of that too, I'm just even more grateful for the time that has passed and all the progress he has made.

He actually graduated from PT (physical therapy) this summer, so that is awesome! And OT still checks in from time to time, but all of our focus really goes to speech (eating) therapy. There he's working on table foods, meats in particular are very hard for him to chew and swallow. He's liking and getting the hang of crackers, and cookies. As he should-- they are GOOD! Fruits, breads, and cheese he does okay with too. It just takes him a while to chew those things, and he doesn't eat very many bites. He usually throws a few, eats a few, throws a few...etc. :) But he IS trying them, and often on his own, so that is GREAT. He's still eating a lot of purees- about 20oz per day! We never would have thought that was possible. We just pray that continues. He drinks anywhere from 1 oz- 4 oz of milk per day from his straw sippy cup and sips on water throughout the day too but it's not much. Maybe 2oz? I just depends. I track so much, I don't always remember how much water he had in a day!

That's about it for Asher- he's just a crazy joy to be around. He makes a mess everywhere he goes, and tries to get into anything he can, ESPECIALLY if it is NOT at toy. Of course! Toys are just made to distract kids from tearing apart the house I think! He's in a wedding in a few weeks and we are so excited about that! I remember the bride asking me last summer if he could and I just couldn't even picture it. I wouldn't have pictured it this good. We are overwhelmed by the Lord's goodness. I pray I can sit in that kind of overwhelmed, and not the kind of overwhelmed that stresses about the future. We got to go to church Sunday (yay for babysitters...we are not ready to expose him to a nursery yet), and we sang these words in one of the songs:

 "You are more, You are more than my words will ever say....You are here, You are here, in Your presence I'm made whole, You are God, You are God,  of all else I'm letting go."

I remember singing that when Asher was in the NICU and what it meant to me to sing those words. I remember the hope in those words, and the peace I found in that moment of singing of letting go of all that we worried about for him.  Those words mean so much more now. The Lord is more than my words can say. I tear up every time I sing it now.

And, one of my favorite songs right now is Bethany Dillion's "Your the Best Song". It's amazing if you haven't heard it. My favorite part is:

"I remember when you were just a heartbeat that I heard..and now our eyes meet, forever.... I'm learning that in the long hard days, there is beauty... Do you know my favorite place to see it? It's when I look at you."

If you haven't heard it, you should download it! It's one of the sweetest mother songs I've heard. And I had a very specific time when I heard Asher's heartbeat everyday...for one month, twice a day I heard his and Titus'. It was sweet reassurance that all was well with them. Our baby boys were just incredible miracles.  I think it's an amazing gift and a miracle experience to have a child.  Do we really stop and think about that? A beating heart inside of you....a whole person the Lord is allowing you to grow and nourish until that perfect day (or not so perfect in our case but still divinely planned) when he or she will come out and begin to shape and mold you more than you imagined. Amazing.

And, Asher's precious face...is my favorite place to see His beauty. Amen!


Ps. I've noticed these videos won't play if you are trying to view them on a phone. 

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First steps video....
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Then about a month later....


He tried on these boots for the first time, and they are too big, but he still took off! I thought for sure he'd trip over them. It was so funny! 


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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Update!

Wow! A lot has happened since Mother's Day! This little miracle boy has been keeping me busy. It's much harder to blog these days! So, Asher turned 12mo corrected (16 mo actual) at the end of May, and then Bryan had his first Father's Day at home with Asher. It was a nice day! And then last weekend we had a party for Asher. We celebrated him being home a year from the NICU! Since his birthday is in February, we didn't have a large party then because of the flu/RSV season. So, this was our party to invite everyone that we couldn't invite in February. My heart has been so full these last few months! It's been SO wonderful to be able to take Asher to play with friends, go to the store, and really just about anything normal we missed for the first 14months of his life! What a breath of fresh air that has been. I love getting comments from strangers about him at the store... about how blue his eyes are, how cute he is, or how observant he is. I never got that experience because he didn't go ANYWHERE with me until April/May. So, it's been sweet. A checker at the grocery store the other day asked if he bumped his head and pointed to his IV scar. I told her it was a scar from an IV he had as a baby. She said, "Wow he's a survivor." And then I told her how early he was born and she said,  "Ok, he's really a survivor then!" I love how God doesn't let me quickly forget where we've been, and I love how it doesn't hurt so much to remember that anymore. It still does sometimes, but most of the time I'm just so thankful those days are behind us. And we are BEYOND thankful that Asher is WALKING! He's been cruising on furniture since the beginning of May. Then, he started getting faster and faster with walking along furniture and in the last few weeks, he started taking steps away from things. Then, just in a week, he went from taking some wobbly steps without support to taking off and going "long" distances not holding on to anything! He still looks a bit like a drunken sailor, but I'm sure it won't be long before he's more sturdy! Praise the Lord! He gets all the credit for giving this miracle boy the skills to walk at 13mo corrected. I really didn't expect it to happen until 17-18 mo corrected since he's met most of his milestones on the late end of "normal".

I just can't explain what a breath of fresh air spring/summer has been to us! With all the physical milestones, and getting to be with friends more, having his party...it's been so sweet, and healing.

AND, over a month ago I started letting the amount of puree he was eating "count" towards his calories/volume for the day. At first it was just about 2oz here and there. We started adding oil to beef up the calories in what he ate. Then after seeing what he ate, we then took off some of the volume of the tube feed of formula that always follows what he does orally. He slowly started eating more. In a few days, he was eating 4 oz of puree 3x a day! That's was a HUGE improvement. We then decided to see if he would be consistent with that. He did it consistently for another week. And then another. He's now eating about 15-17oz day of puree! Before we started "counting" it, he would eat about 3-6oz per day total. So, now he's getting a lot less formula through the tube. He's also drinking some whole milk from his sippy cup with a straw! Some days he drinks about 3oz of milk which is BIG for him. We are going to keep working on that! We are working on changing the texture/consistency of the puree's and challenging him with that. We are also trying to give him opportunities to practice his chewing skills with soft crackers, cookies, puffs, cheerios, dried fruit, etc. He's done pretty well with those things also! The challenge with those, is sometimes he struggles to swallow them without triggering his gag reflex, so he then throws up whatever is in his stomach. So, we have to be strategic with when we try that so he doesn't loose the calories he just ate. The more practice he has with different textures, the easier it should get for him to swallow them without gagging.

It has been incredibly encouraging to see him eat so well. His eating has been the most emotional, taxing thing we've had to deal with post-nicu. It's been a roller coaster ride. And it's been hard to remember not to put all my joy in how he does with it, or in anything he does or doesn't do.  That's a lesson I keep learning over and over again! It's tough! Especially when one of the biggest dreams I have for him is for him to ENJOY eating like we do....for him to not throw up frequently (this has been a lot better too actually), and just for him to understand how much he needs. I can't wait for meals/eating to be just a normal part of our day, like it is for anyone else. It will be very refreshing when his feeding schedule and calorie intake doesn't consume so much of my brain, and there isn't so much focus/emphasis on it. But for now, we are thankful for all he's eating. We will see if he keeps it up!

So, we've pretty much just been busy breathing in all the blessings God has graciously given us in Asher. It's been....very nice. He amazes me all the time. I tear up all the time thinking of how I wondered about these moments a year ago. I tear up when I pray with him and thank God for all he's allowing him to do and learn. Thank you for your continued prayers for his eating, development, and protection from respiratory illness.

Climbing, push toy, and drinking from a straw. 

Father's Day 

LOVE this smile! Yes, he has a lot of teeth! I can see/count 12!


Climbing...

More climbing...


Using his new snack cup

Loves it! 

Found him IN the fireplace- TWICE

Swimming for the first time!

Taking a bath like a big boy! 

One Year Home From the Nicu Party 


Walkin shoes...


Fountains at his party- loved them!

Friends!

Former Nicu buddy, loved seeing them together like this.

On the go...


He's getting very hard to hold these days! 


Asher got to meet many of his prayer warriors. 


It was a great day! 



***I can't get the walking video to upload but it is on Facebook! I will keep trying :)