Monday, August 30, 2010

Joy Filled Days

I never knew I could feel such joy for my family until now! I used to pray that God would give me an overwhelming amount of joy in what I do. My prayers have been answered above and beyond what I've ever asked for or dreamed of.

Olivia still asks me each night, "Mommy, who is staying the night tonight?" She used to ask me this same question every single night before I would tuck her in while Natalie was in the NICU. She knew that once she went to bed mommy and daddy would leave for the hospital and someone would be here to watch her and Grant while we were gone. I can now happily tell her that her mommy and daddy are! She sweetly replies, "Thank you mommy!" We don't realize just how hard this journey is for our children. I prayed every single day that God would give them resilience as we took one day at a time not knowing how long this road would be. We asked a lot of them over 3 1/2 months and they were amazingly strong and patient. I'm thankful we are all under one roof at last.

We often walk into our bedroom to see Grant and Olivia just sitting by Natalie's bed starring at her, not touching or talking, just looking at her.

They love helping with feeding her, making sure she has her pacifier, throwing away her diapers and covering her with hugs and kisses.

Leaving the NICU was hard and wonderful. How do you say goodbye to people who have become your family and who have saved your child's life? To a staff that was strong when we were weak and to friends that we looked forward to seeing every single day? Thank goodness for visits! The NICU experience was the best thing that has ever happened to our family because it taught us how lucky we are and gave us a glimpse at how big God is and how mighty His hands are. We were able to see and continue to see miracles every day. Life is sweet and precious and this has given us a whole new attitude about changing diapers (even dirty ones), waking up in the middle of night, seeing life sprinkled around every inch of our house just after I've spent the day cleaning, being exhausted often and realizing that it's been five days since I've taken a shower! :) We can do all of this with smiles on our faces and hearts filled with joy. I wasn't always able to say this, I'm thankful that God has opened my eyes and heart to how wonderful this is. They say don't ever pray for patience... I have been praying for patience for several years and God has shown me how to have patience in His plan and that I really don't control anything. If I can just take a deep breath, remember His truth (His plan is perfect) I will find that life is sweet even in the darkest hour and when you don't know what tomorrow looks like I can have faith in knowing that as long as I trust in God I will find comfort, strength, peace and joy. I laugh as I look over these past five years and think I must be pretty dang stubborn because God continues to test my faith and I'm thankful because through each test I am humbled.

Nurse Cheryl getting Natalie ready for her car seat study.

Saying good bye to some of the day nurses. Wish that they were all there!

Saying good bye to Yvette, the director of the NICU.

Sweet Melanie was our discharge nurse! The first time she was Natalie's nurse was on our discharge day!

Exiting the NICU for the last time!!

Saying goodbye to Brittanie.

Getting my hospital tag removed.

Saying goodbye to Dr. Wong! We wish that we were able to say goodbye to all of them.

All buckled up and ready to go home, it's a little bright outside.

Since being home we have seen two of the three specialists for Natalie so far, there is no concern with her vision, her blood pressure is still under control and we will see the cardiologist on 9/24. She's an amazing eater both by bottle and with nursing, she's a good sleeper (can sleep through anything, thank you NICU), loves to be held, loves to smile and rolled over for the first time last week. Grant has his first day of Kindergarten and Olivia her first day of Pre-K last week. Watching them both go off to school was hard. While holding tiny Natalie I was thinking about when they were born and it's amazing how fast this time has gone by.

Grant lost his first tooth. 8/26/10.

Olivia's First Day of Preschool!

Grant's First Day of Kindergarten!

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