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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

23 Weeks and 2 days

Today I am 23 weeks and 2 days pregnant with Asher's baby brother. That is a VERY significant milestone for us! We decided to take some pictures to celebrate. And who better to take them with than my little 23 week and 2 day miracle himself?!

This milestone is significant because I delivered Asher and his brother Titus at 23 weeks and 2 days. The "2 days" may not seem like it would matter…but it does. For a micro-preemie, every day, every hour and minute the baby spends still inside mom, matters.  A day or so can mean the difference between life and death. Our next big milestone we were hoping to make it to with Asher and Titus was 24 weeks. We never saw that milestone, not with both of them anyway. Asher was 1lb 2oz at birth, and Titus was 1lb 7oz.

Asher right after birth 

Sweet Titus 

Baby brother 3 weeks ago 

This baby boy is already bigger than Asher was at birth. That was very surreal to hear last week. Because I don't compare him to the vegetable and fruits that Babycenter does when I think of his size now. No, I know what anything past 1lb 2oz looks like. Because I've seen it. I've changed it's diaper. I've held it's tiny, red hand. It's extremely surreal to see these pictures of 2 of my baby boys and realize there is another baby boy inside me right now, who is the same size now they were when they were born, who has similar features, and who is currently kicking me as he tumbles about in his safe little space inside my womb. I haven't found a much better word for this lately than surreal. 

Most days I am really consumed with Asher….running after him with his water sippy cup, coming up with ideas of things to entertain him for feeding times, or thinking about how much food he did or didn't get that day that I don't think often enough about how thankful I am for this this baby brother and an uneventful pregnancy so far. If I really stop and think about it, it's pretty overwhelming. 

I know it's pretty "normal" for most women to be 23 weeks pregnant. That's probably not a significant week for most. But it is for us. From here on out, every week is a new week we have never experienced before in pregnancy. Every week from here on out is one to celebrate. And we really will be celebrating if we get well into the 30's! That is truly hard to imagine. I would love to know the side of pregnancy that is "so uncomfortable"-- in fact, I'm praying for that. Because that would mean this baby boy would be on his way to entering into this world with only the initial shock of being a little cold for moment, and the lights being a little too bright. Instead of experiencing the shock of having an extremely immature sensory system that literally can't handle a bright light, or temperatures that are too cold ---those things can mean a drop in breathing and heart rate and babies born this soon don't always recover from that. Then there are wires stuck with tape all over this delicate, thin skin that was never meant to be touched at this point in time. And let's not forget iv's, a breathing tube, and a feeding tube put down a very tiny throat. And then there's surviving and recovering from procedures and surgeries... including needing a chest tube at 1 day old and heart surgery at 5 weeks old, weighing just 1lb 9oz at the time of surgery. Those things were lifesavers, but they were traumatizing to Asher's fragile body. He had to deal with being outside of me way too early, and all those extra things he was never meant to experience.  

By the grace of God, this baby brother will not know those things when he's born. He'll know warmth, his parents touch and voices, being fed and being cuddled. Period. Please Lord. Let that be your will. Amen. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You are Faithful, You are Gracious...Always

Wow! It's been a while! A lot has happened since February. Our little boy has truly turned into a 2 year old! His corrected birthday was this past Thursday. (That means his due date, when he would have originally turned 2.)  It's hard to believe sometimes that he really has come as far as he has, and that time actually moved. Time seemed to stand really still with Asher for a long time….in the Nicu, once at home but isolated, and through his long and often feeding sessions. And people always say that time flies with their kids growing up. I would not say the last 2 years flew by, but at the same time I am surprised we are in his 3rd summer already!

A big milestone happened this May! This was Asher's first time going to the 2 year old classroom at church! (Prior to this a volunteer watched him in the hallway away from kids, or at our house.) 

We are incredibly thankful for all the Lord has healed in Asher and for all He protected him from. I am amazed every time he copies a word I say now. I am amazed at the things he connects and remembers. Because I know that is not a given for every child. I know how delicate the inter workings of a premature brain are. I know that it is all God's grace that so far that Asher has the ability to make connections in his brain. Everyday he is communicating with us more and more. That's a gift. It's not a given.

Then there's his coordination. That's also a gift. He can climb, run, scoot and steer his bike, hit a baseball off a tee, dunk a basketball, hit a golf ball, and he can throw EVERYTHING in sight over the fence and into our pool. Those skills are gifts. And sometimes I am overwhelmed by the number of gifts we have been given through him.

  Climbed up by himself! (I stood MUCH closer after snapping the pic!) 

Throwing the ball into the sink, and making it in several times! 

And then there's his personality. Another extravagant gift. He raises his eyebrows and gets a playful twinkle in his eye when he understands you are doing something silly to make him laugh. He is funny, he is feisty, and he is sweet too.

And the BIGGEST accomplishment for him so far in being a 2 year old is that he has been OFF his feeding tube for over a MONTH now! We checked him into a month long feeding program in April in an attempt to get him to drink so we would not need his feeding tube, and our 2nd goal was that he would eat more table food. Well, through the program he did start drinking by mouth, and he maintained eating by mouth as well…only just blended puree texture-like foods. However, it is NOT easy. He does not WANT to eat or drink. But we are getting it done, using a strict system and lots of reinforcement/rewards with toys, watching shows, and using iPad apps. When he refuses a bite or drink, those things are taken away until he takes it, or we present something different to encourage him to take the bite. The meal is timed, when the timer goes off it's over, regardless of what he ate/drank. Now, that we are at home, we do extend the time sometimes because we know how much we really need to get in to keep him from needing his g-button. For now, he's just eating blended table foods in meals, so we blend up lasagna, soups, etc and feed him those. We are hoping the next big step will be including table foods in meals. He is not super interested in them and his skills with chewing still aren't great. We are praying this is the year that he becomes and eater who LIKES eating and initiates it himself. I can't explain how amazing this would be. And we also pray his throwing up would stop or become a lot less frequent. The last few weeks have been rough with him throwing up once or twice a day. It's part of having feedings issues and a sensitive gag reflex, and reflux discomfort, but this has been more frequent than usual. And now that he's 2, he can voluntarily do it too, where as when he was a baby he didn't have any control over it. This means, he sometimes initiates it himself when he doesn't want to take a bite. So….he's got his gag/GI reasons for it happening, and then the 2 year old "I want to be in control" thing going for him too. Not fun ya'll. Just not fun. We've had times where it's been more like 1x a week, and I would be totally FINE with being back to that.

Drawing on the tray because that what got the bites in that time! We constantly have to try new and random things! 

Our other BIG news is that Asher will be a big brother in a few months! And in the redeeming nature of the Lord, God has chosen that we will have a boy. He is going to give Asher another chance at having a brother to walk through life with! That was a sweet gift as well. We were really convinced God was writing a whole new story for our family, and that we would have a girl. But, He had other plans, plans we know are perfect. I wasn't sure if I was ready to deal with the idea of having two boys again. Seeing two boys running around together-- like I thought I would originally. But God knows best. And He decided now is the time to redeem that story of brothers for our family. We are amazed that He created life in me. Regardless of the method, He is the author of life. We did a frozen embryo transfer this time. I have been sensitive about the question if this was "natural" or not. Well, a baby growing in my uterus is pretty natural! Was it a 100% organic experience? No, but to me that really isn't the point. The point is, God says where life begins and ends. It doesn't matter what we do. He decides.  And besides, that is a very personal question to ask. I don't recommend it, just in case you were wondering. :) However, the Lord is slowly healing my hurt over infertility and reminding me my confidence is in Him, and not in how my body does or doesn't perform in the area of making babies.


20 wks- 4D ultrasound 

This was a big step for me. To even get a "counting" banner, to take these pictures…not knowing how many I would get to take or if it would become painful to look at them after a loss. But, this is faith. Stepping forward, finding joy in the moment right in front of us! 

We are immensely thankful the Lord has sustained this baby boy's life so far. I am almost 23 weeks. A few days away from when I delivered Asher and Titus. I'm not in a hospital bed like I was last time at 23 weeks. It has not escaped me how thankful I am that I am walking around doing normal things. I longed for that when I was on bed rest for a month in the hospital, only getting up once a day for a 15 min shower.  We are praying we have many more weeks of "normal" in the pregnancy. And that this little boy will not have to deal with fighting for his life when he is born. We know, though, at the end of the day, God will be glorified no matter what. We have experienced that. He is faithful, and He is gracious all the time. In all of our circumstances He has showed us that. We sang these words this week in church…"You are faithful, You are gracious" and my first thought was, yes, He is so faithful and gracious right now. Gracious to allow Asher to not need his tube. Gracious to allow me to carry a baby. But He isn't any more gracious now than on the day He took our baby boy Titus to heaven. Or on the days Asher almost lost his life. Or the days he had surgeries or procedures when he should have been at home being cuddled and played with. Or these days that are difficult now with feeding and throwing up. God was and is faithful and gracious in all those moments. I'm thankful we have the experience of Him being faithful through extreme trials, AND through common blessings. It has given me a different perspective than I would have otherwise. 

We aren't sure what this next season holds for us. With Asher's eating, or with his baby brother. But we are praying for God's favor. We are praying for a healthy brother for Asher to play with one day, and for Asher to be able to eat like his friends do, without being uncomfortable or throwing up. We are praying God chooses to be glorified in those things. But we know, He'll be glorified no matter what. We know He will offer us peace and comfort and hope no matter what. We are putting the future of our family in His hands. Sometimes that his hard. Sometimes we wonder. Sometimes we stink at really "giving" over control to Him. But His grace covers that, and each day we try again, sometimes several times a day to trust Him with the future. It is a continual lesson for us to find joy in the moments we are in, not just in the moments we hope are coming! Thank you for reading, praying, and following our family's journey.