Saturday, March 14, 2009

6 Months Old & State of the Union


1 month

2 months

3 months

4 months

5 months

6 months

Cute sister pic

This past month Ella turned 6 months old! Crazy. It really is unbelievable to me in many ways. I don't feel that time has flown by because it has been the hardest 6 months of our life and a day feels like a week for us but it is unbelievable how far we have come. We are so thankful for our sweet Ella and that the Lord has chosen us to be her family. She is a joy and Ella, the meaning of her name being "a bright light" truly fits her. As you know things with Ella have been very hard but we have been and continue to be immensely blessed by amazing family and friends. We are blown away every week as we continue to receive encouraging cards, emails, phone calls, gift cards and checks in the mail for needs we haven't even expressed publicly but the Lord is using the generosity of others to provide for us. It is incredible! We stand in awe of our God and of how he is using our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us as we continue this journey. Thank you friends and family, we are so blessed by each of you.

This has definitely been a bumpy ride so far and we still have a long way to go. I know I for one am still trying to process all that has happened. We are still in survival mode so there is not much time for reflection but the times I do have I completely break down because I have a combination of feelings ranging from overwhelmed, sad, and heartbroken to feeling closer to the Lord than ever before and blessed beyond measure. I think this goes to show that you can have dreams shattered but still have a faith in Jesus that is not shattered. Obviously the way things have played out are not the way I want it to be and it is extremely hard on a daily basis but the Lord is never taken by surprise. He knows exactly what my heart feels and knows all about little Ella and He is hurting right beside us even during the times that I feel He is silent and I'm wondering if He forgot that we are struggling. The truth is He has not forgotten and He uses situations like this for His glory. I like what it says in Isaiah 48:10-11, "See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another." So I look at all of this as the Lord using these struggles with Ella to refine our family so that He will be glorified. This is not about us, it's about Him.

We have the hope of Heaven which makes all of this easier to deal with. Without that, I don't know how people make it through tough situations. Another verse that keeps popping into my head is the one in Joel 2:25 where He says, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten..." I feel like the dreams that have not turned out the way I had hoped, the sleepless nights, the pain and crying over having a child that is not "normal", the time spent in waiting rooms, hospitals and therapy, all of that will be repayed. I know the Lord doesn't owe me anything but I do know that He promises that if we believe in Him we will have hope for the future, joy in our trials and a light for our path. I believe there are going to be better days ahead on this earth and I know for sure there will be in Heaven. Until then, hold fast my friends.

Okay, sorry to get all preachy on you. I really meant to update you on Ella so I'll get back to the task at hand and updating on the state of affairs. Ella has made some good progress in the past 6 weeks since all of her procedures (scope, upper GI, etc.). She has been on a medication called Zegerid for the past 6 weeks to treat her esophagitis and reflux and we have seen a big improvement in her feedings. They are still a big challenge but are better than they were so we are thankful for that. Ella is taking in more volume-wise from the bottle which is great but we are still continuing to put whatever she doesn't finish through her g-button with every feeding. If you remember before Ella would only eat if she was asleep and even then it was a battle but now she eats when she is awake which is a huge step. It's kind of funny because we went from her having to be completely asleep and no one making a sound for her to eat to now her being awake and practically having to put on a circus act for her to take a bottle. Even though I'm home alone during the day I'm a little embarrassed for myself for all the ridiculous noises I make, silly songs I sing and doing everything short of standing on my head at times to get her to eat. However, she is continuing to gain weight so that is a praise. She weighs a little over 10 pounds now so yes, she is very small but she is gaining and that's all we care about. We are still feeding her every 3 hours around the clock but at night instead of bottle feeding she is fed completely through her feeding tube every 3 hours. I assume it will be this way for quite a while longer since she is so small and we are anticipating surgery in the coming months.

So as you can see her habit of always having to be distracted to eat is not ideal either so we are working on that. We have a dietician and occupational therapist who both come twice a month to help with feeding issues so that has been good. My prayer right now is for Ella to eat better when I hold her. I know that sounds weird but the past few weeks she will really only eat well if she is sitting in her bouncy seat and is watching a video so we are working on trying to get her to enjoy eating while being held. Because of this we still are not getting out much at all besides going to dr's appts and church since it is still very challenging and we don't have the luxury of being able to skip a feeding at this point. Also, we are going to start introducing some baby food next week so I'm praying that this process goes well. It will not be for nutritional needs but more for oral and speech development down the road and to start getting used to new tastes and textures. Please be praying about both of these things. So that covers feeding I think.

As far as physical development and her shoulder problems go she is making progress with this as well. In the past month we have seen some exciting things. They probably aren't to anyone else but they are exciting for us. If you remember Ella has limited range of motion in her left arm due to her shoulder problems so up until the past month or so she really wasn't using her left arm much but lately she has been moving it a whole lot more. She is reaching for things more and the other day she put her left hand in her mouth which she has never done! I was so excited! So there have been some big improvements with that. She also has rolled over a couple of times as well and loves rolling side to side on her play mat so that is really good. We have physical therapy once a week which is really helping her and us learn how to help strengthen her arm and overall core. The more she strengthens and uses her left arm now the easier it will be to get her to continue using it after surgery. We are not sure when her shoulder surgery will be yet. I would think that it would be sometime this summer but until she has another MRI we will not know much. Tentatively her MRI is scheduled for the beginning of May at Scottish Rite, we should know a date for sure next week, and from there they will determine their plan for surgery. We'll keep you posted.

Our schedule continues to be pretty rigid and busy working on feedings and filled with therapy and doctor's appointments. Most weeks we have appointments 2-3 times a week and some weeks there is something every day. It is difficult and my attitude is not always joyful but through much prayer the Lord is sustaining us. I know it won't be like this forever. If you would, please continue to pray for our family. We are so thankful for all that you do for us, you are a blessing.

Prayer Requests

-eat GREAT while being held
-continue to take more by mouth and rely less on feeding tube
-for feedings not to take as long (right now still taking an hour or more per feed)
-starting baby food goes well and that she enjoys new tastes
-start sleeping really well at night
-overall health and physical development
-that she feel so loved and not overlooked or left out
-that she continue to adjust well with all that is going on with Ella
-that she stays well and doesn't get sick
Rick and Amy:
-endurance and joyful attitude (Amy on the attitude part :))
-take one day at a time
-guard against fear
-protection from sickness

Thank you for praying. Looking forward to many more answered prayers!


Randi Freeby said...

You are amazing. I will pray for these requests. Thank you for sharing them. You are a true testament to God's grace and love for us. Hang in there.

amber dayton said...

She could not be any cuter! That is the smallest (and most stylish!) band I've ever seen. You continue to encourage me with your attitude - you are honest about how extremely hard this is, but at the same time continue to try to glorify God in all things. That is all He asks of us & I know He is so proud of you!

Summer and Jason said...

Amy, you and Rick are warriors. I am amazed at all that you do for Ella on a daily basis, and even though you are struggling, you are still praising God through all of this. That is a true spirit of faith. We love you guys and are here if you need anything!

tine said...

you are never far from my heart and mind, amy...we love you guys so much and i pray that you continue to feel surrounded by that love and that you are granted an extra measure of peace with each new day...
you are walking a long road...and although our roads are very different, i know that each day is a battle and that can be hard for people to understand, and hard to even expect people to understand unless they have gone through it personally...even the good days are far from what most would call "normal"...but you continue to praise the Lord...
i hope you know that you are continually taken to the Lord...I pray that He will grant you the mercy and grace every single day to get through and that you can find joy in every tiny victory...isn't it amazing how, in the midst of great trials, you can come to know the Lord in such an intimate way as your peace, your provider, your healer!
i encourage you to continue to be real about what you are going through...God doesn't ask us to sugar-coat things...and the road you are on is so hard...but praise God that He does not make us walk alone! We want to know your specific requests so that we can take them to the throne room for you...God has already used your faith in this battle to encourage others...continue to find your joy in HIM...He will not leave you...
both of your girls are such have truly witnessed God's power in the flesh in both of your sweet babies...and no doubt, the journey you are walking is long and hard...but preparing you for great blessing!
i love you, sweet friend!

Anonymous said...

Dear Amy, from down here in the south, we are all praying for all of you and look forward to the blog udpates. I personally want to thank you for this specific blog. So many times, in the middle of a long crisis, we tend to forget the mountains, valleys and the many miles that God has not only been with us but carried us. While it doesn't make the situation go away, it is so encouraging to look back and see His faithfulness and the strength and perseverance that only He could provide. Thank you for the blessing of this message. We love and miss ya'll. His Peace, Joy, and Comfort,

Kelly said...

Hi Amy, I'm not sure if we've ever met or not, but we go to RH and my husband (Wade) knows Rick. I've been following your blog and continue to pray for you and your family. It's not the same struggle, I know, but we went through a period of time crying out and not understanding why our child wasn't "normal." We had a combination of PT, OT, and speech and are slowly cutting those back. The silver lining in it is that you do get to truly celebrate the accomplishments that seem small to others, but you know how huge they are...not only for the child but for you and all of the hard work that has gone into getting to that point.

I'm sure you will bless others and continue to be blessed for sharing your journey!

Bogle said...

You guys are amazing parents who have endured so much more than anyone deserves. We love you guys.

Nancy Giurlanda said...

Eva and Ella are just so beautiful and look so sweet and it's no wonder with such a sweet, sweet mom. You are so amazing honey and you are a constant encouragement and inspiration to me. What lucky girls Eva and Ella are. You are going to be rewarded in so many ways for all of the struggles you have made it through. We will be praying for all of your requests and hoping that your life gets just a little easier every single day. I am so proud of you and love you all very much. Kiss those sweet girls for me.

Ann Reese said...

Happy Six Months El1a! She has changed so much, and just when you think she can't possibly be any cuter or any more beautiful, the next picture comes up--oh how I love that little girl!
Amy, I don't tell you enough how proud I am of you and of how you love your family so steadfastly and how remarkable your perseverance is. I love you and Rick and those two girls so much it hurts. May God bless you all with continued strength and renewed energy. Thank you for sharing your words of faith. We'll think of a time to come see yall soon! Love you so much.

Jen said...

I just love your updates. I cannot imagine living your every day life but I'm so glad you have so many people helping from near and far.

By the way, when Grace had her surgery at 10 months, she weighed about 12 pounds. The good thing about buying clothes for these petite kids is there are adjustable waistbands aplenty now! I'd send hand-me-downs if they weren't so worn out. (G wears clothes for, I kid you not, several years...especially shorts and such.)

Keep on truckin' Eva and Ella! Love you guys!

LYN said...

Thanks for that great report. I feel like I'm sitting in your den listening to you share...wonderful. It's a fabulous answer to prayer to see how God is answering prayers in his own way. We continue to pray for all you, Ron and Lyn

mindy said...

Such a great post and thanks for specific things we can pray for. Please know that prayers continue to go up daily and that God is doing a mighty work through sweet Ella Hope. We walk through fire on this earth, and it is so difficult. There is NO understanding for what we must endure, but rather a promise from the Father that He will endure with us. I am thankful that Ella has you and Rick for parents...because in the years to come, she will never doubt your love for her and your commitment to give her the very best life possible. Eva will be a stronger person for all that she is learning to endure, also. Please know that you are in my heart and in my prayers. Hugs!

Shanta said...

Amy, thanks for the specific prayer requests. We will be honored to pray for you. We're thrilled to hear your improvements! I appreciate the scriptures. Please know that you are encouraging to so many. We cannot imagine all that you have been through and deal with on a daily basis. Can I come over a watch your circus act sometime? We've been looking for a new routine.... Blessings and hugs to all of you!

Sweets said...

Sweet Father,
We could not worship a greater God! We give You praise and honor because You deserve it so!
I boldy ask you to answer every request Amy, Rick & thousands more are making for their sweet family! Since we are your children, we can and do honestly beg this with our whole hearts!
We're in Your hands and there's no other place we'd rather be! We trust You completely! All the glory for answers both big and small we give to You!

Kelly Vaughn said...

Just read your post tonight and I am praying right now for the things that you have and prayers surround you precious one.

Jennifer said...

I totally missed this blog entry - I was in the hospital having Jasper...
Amy, I'm just amazed by your strength and endurance. I'm sure day to day there are times when you don't feel strong and you don't feel like you can endure, but good gracious, what a powerful testimony you are to all who come in contact with you. And you ARE doing these things in the power of the Spirit and with the Lord's hand of help. Good for you for not believing the lies of Satan, and for asking for continued prayers after all this time. And good for you for standing in the truth of the Lord and knowing that "this too shall pass." It will. I'm still praying for your precious family, and especially for both of your girls. Love you. Looking forward to the day when "normal" returns and I get to see your sweet face more often! It's gonna happen!

Jamie Atchley said...

Thank you for the update, Amy! I don't know how you have the energy or the time, but it helps us to know how to pray! God bless you all.