Pictures and Thoughts on Suffering

So lately I have been taking pictures of our every day life (which isn’t terribly exciting to anyone else, I know) but lack the sufficient time to post anything on our blog these days.

Yesterday I took some pictures of our sweet baby Clara, my little moonbeam. She is about seven weeks and is getting really good at giving me really big smiles. I love it. I’d also love a clean house these days, but I’d much rather hold this little babe and revel in her sweetness and innocence. I know I won’t always have both.

But, do you blame me for choosing her over dishes or laundry?

I mean, how could I possibly walk away from this?

Also, these days I’ve been trying to remember to listen to the latest General Conference while I do whatever I’m doing. When I listen, my day runs a little smoother and my mothering skillz are much better (read: I have more patience with my children). From the most recent session, I love the talk entitled, “The Atonement Covers All Pain” by Elder Richards.

In particular, the story he relates of the 13 year-old girl just having gone through surgery and how she saw family members who had passed on makes me cry every time I hear it. He relates:

Thirteen-year-old Sherrie underwent a 14-hour operation for a tumor on her spinal cord. As she regained consciousness in the intensive care unit, she said: “Daddy, Aunt Cheryl is here, … and … Grandpa Norman … and Grandma Brown … are here. And Daddy, who is that standing beside you? … He looks like you, only taller. … He says he’s your brother, Jimmy.” Her uncle Jimmy had died at age 13 of cystic fibrosis. For nearly an hour, Sherrie … described her visitors, all deceased family members. Exhausted, she then fell asleep. Later she told her father, “Daddy, all of the children here in the intensive care unit have angels helping them.”

It makes me think of Clara’s days in the NICU. When she was in the NICU, another baby came in that had just been born 15 weeks early and only weighed 15 oz. The NICU has a special feeling. I believe it is partly from all the new little spirits that are starting their lives here on earth and struggling with their bodies they’ve been given. But I also know that there are angels, and other loved ones there with the babies.

It also makes me think of my Mom and her recent battle with cancer—of which she’s now in REMISSION! Whoo-hoo (fist pump)! I will never know the depth of her suffering, physical and spiritual. But I know that she really learned to lean on the Lord through it. That is why he suffered for all of us. Elder Richards said,

“Opposition is part of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. We all encounter enough to bring us to an awareness of our Father’s love and of our need for the Savior’s help.”

But, we don’t have to go through major surgery to suffer or experience pain, there are varying degrees. Every day I am acutely aware of my shortcomings. I know I can do better and be better. Each night my goal is to try and be better tomorrow than I was today. Some days I make decent progress in achieving that goal, and other days I take a million steps back. This thought of Elder Richards’ is particularly for me:

“Perhaps His most significant work is in the ongoing labor with each of us individually to lift, to bless, to strengthen, to sustain, to guide, and to forgive us.”

Oh, I am so grateful for Him.

So, give the talk a listen. It’s a good one.

All Up In Her Business

I finally got around to taking some decent pictures of Clara, with the hopes that one would be suitable for a baby announcement.

But Big Baby saw it as an opportunity to get in on the action as Clara is usually out of her reach.

We know she is curious about her new baby sister, but no matter how vigilant Dave and I are Big Baby is fast. This nose honking came complete with an accompanying “beeeeeeeeeeeep!”

But don’t be fooled by my experience. Having two babies is totally relaxing.

No More Oxygen!

Actually, no more oxygen assistance would be more accurate. She still needs oxygen (like every other living, breathing thing).

 

Feet, Hair, and Breathing Easier

I love me some sweet baby feet. There is no other time in life when I am so willing to kiss someone else’s feet without thinking twice about it. I would kiss my toddler’s chubby little pads, but not without close inspection first. Who knows where she’s been!?

Also, have I mentioned that Clara has a TON of hair? I’m sure it will fall off and she will end up with a sweet bald spot on the back of her head in a few months. But I’m still in awe of how much hair she has! And, it’s reddish. Crazy, right?

And the best news? Clara is now only on oxygen at night. We are making progress!

 

Twelve Days Old

It’s been hard to figure out who Clara looks like, or if she resembles anyone else for that matter, because of all her “accessories” she’s been sporting since birth.

One thing is certain though, she has that same cute little turned up nose we saw in the ultrasound picture.

 

A Tale of Three Sisters

With three other sisters, Gwen is going to make sure she is not forgotten.

Big Baby is becoming more and more curious about Clara each day.

And our sweet new addition gracefully sleeps through it all.

 

Sweet Baby Clara

Going into childbirth, no one ever expects for their baby to wind up in the NICU. We certainly weren’t expecting anything but the same experience we’d had with our first three girls. And I was really looking forward to being at the hospital with a new baby for two days!

When Clara was born, my midwife immediately laid her down on me and I tried to comprehend the fact that we had another girl. I had been so sure that we would have a boy this time around. Now I know that the minimal-puking pregnancy was just a blessing, not the sign of a boy on the way.

I held Clara for about a minute before the respiratory people took her to check her out. Despite the big cry she initially let out, she quickly started grunting–which, we soon learned, is a sign of respiratory problems. She was struggling to breathe. The respiratory specialists watched her for a minute or two and then rushed her to the nursery. Dave went with them and I was left to wonder and worry.

Since at the 11th hour, I had decided to get an epidural, I couldn’t get up and go with him. It was such a fast labor that, even hours after her birth, the drugs had yet to wear off. It was so hard laying in the bed, feeling helpless, unable to go see my new baby in the nursery. As soon as I could get in a wheelchair, I went to see her.

Not only had I barely seen our new babe, but now she was going to be transferred to another hospital in another town. The emotions that first day were extreme, to say the least.  Seeing her little body with all the wires and tubes was almost too much to handle. Dave and I just stared at her, crying for our new baby and not understanding what exactly was wrong with her.

At that point our pediatrician had already decided that she needed to be transferred from Orem Community Hospital–where she had been born–to the Newborn Intensive Car Unit (NICU) over at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (UVRMC).  That afternoon, a LifeFlight crew came and transferred Clara to the Provo hospital.

They thought it was probably pneumonia, and needed to start her on antibiotics before they knew for sure if they even needed them. With babies, they can’t wait for tests to be done before putting them on antibiotics because it’s just too dangerous to wait.

Dave was also born with pneumonia, so he and Clara will be able to bond on a new level.

We are so grateful for modern medicine. We loved the staff—the neonatologists, respiratory specialists, and all those wonderful nurses—that helped save and take care of our baby.

My sister brought our girls to the hospital to see Clara, but they could only see her through the NICU window.

On day four, she was extubated and we were finally able to hold her!

Hooray for fewer tubes! And we were finally able to get a good look at her cute little face.

This was her last night at the hospital when Dave and I got to “room in” with her.

She also had to do a car seat test for 90 minutes on the oxygen. I always forget how teeny newborns are in their car seats.

Coming home and meeting her sisters in person.

Big Baby meets the newest baby.

Since we didn’t get the traditional picture of our new family in the hospital, we took one once we got home.

After eight days, I was overcome with emotion as we were able to finally be together as a family. A family with four girls (I still can’t believe it)!

I am so grateful for these girlies. And I’m so grateful to have married Dave. He is so amazing—more than I could have ever hoped or wished for. The best husband, and the best Daddy of four girls.

I am so blessed.