They all said that becoming a parent will change you forever, and you can never go back to not being a mom or dad. They were right.
I have never experienced such a wide range of emotions in such a short amount of time. I have never felt so helpless and heartbroken than when I watched my son’s silent tears roll down his tiny, tiny face as a breathing tube was put down his throat in preparation for surgery…just 30 hours after his early birth. I have never felt such an overwhelming sense of love than when countless family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers sent words of encouragement, prayers, meals, gifts, checks in the mail, and the list just goes on.
And through out each day, gratitude has become my ever present companion. It brings sparkle to our hospital room and shines upon every interaction I have with my sweet son.
Many of you have read my last post with an update on Josiah’s physical condition and what the doctors have told us thus far. We are still pressing in for creative miracles and for complete healing over our son.
But today, as I reflect upon the first four weeks of his young life, I’m astounded at his progress. And as a testimony to your prayers and to the goodness of our Father, I want to celebrate the ways our miracle son has…well, become a living miracle before our very eyes.
So, below are a couple of pictures from each of the last four weeks to visually mark his amazing progress.
This was just hours after his birth, when I got to hold him skin-to-skin for a few moments before they transferred him from the hospital where I delivered him to the children’s hospital where he would be admitted into the NICU. You can barely see him behind all of the monitors and wires. Looking at this picture, I can’t believe I actually experienced and endured this heart-wrenching day.
This picture is from the day after Josiah’s surgery. Poor little guy was in a lot of pain, hooked up to a respirator, under phototherapy lights for jaundice (that’s why he’s bathed in blue light), and getting his nutrients from IV’s. He still hadn’t passed his first stool and hadn’t eaten any breast milk yet.
Josiah was jaundiced for quite a while (which is expected for preemies), but he moved quickly down from the stronger respirator to a weaker form of oxygen assistance within several days after his surgery. Our little trooper has strong lungs!
Soon after that, he was off of oxygen assistance completely! To do that in the second week of life (he would have been 31 weeks gestation in the womb) is incredible. During this time, he also passed his first stool and started eating my breast milk via feeding tube (starting with a small 3mL per feeding, every 3 hours).
Starting week three, Josiah was eating and digesting enough breast milk that he was weaned completely off of all IV’s – one wire/monitor at a time, they were coming off! He also got to spend a lot of time doing kangaroo care with mommy (and grandma…the kid already behaves better with her knowing she’s going to spoil him like crazy!).
Look at that head of hair! He had also lost a few ounces after birth (which most full-term newborns do anyway) but was starting to slowly gain some weight on his little frame. Since all of his features are so distinct (especially with his long arms and legs) all of our visitors kept remarking how he looks like a normal newborn-sized baby in pictures. But in real life, he was so little! So, I took this picture of him next to a dollar bill to try to capture his “true” size.
Also, on his right side is his stoma and ostomy bag, where he is temporarily passing his stool until surgeons perform the second surgery to redirect everything down to his bum. That surgery will probably take place in about 5-6 months.
A few days before we hit week four, Josiah was moved down to the first floor where the less critical, more stable patients are located. Although doctors and nurses always seems to be rather conservative in their language (so that they don’t give any false hope), so many of them have been saying it really is rare to see such a young preemie doing so well to the point of being able to go to the first floor at his age. Thank you, Jesus!!
This last week, Josiah started what is called “non-nutritive breast feeding” where I pump before he eats, he still takes his 24mL of milk by feeding tube, but he is put on my breast to practice latching, sucking, and associating mommy with a full, happy tummy. This is his cute little “mommy, more milk!” face after one of our non-nutritive sessions. He is also FINALLY in the 3 pound bracket, weighing in at 3 lbs. 2 oz. as of today (up almost a pound from his lowest weight a few days after birth at 2 lbs. 4 oz.). Every ounce counts!
When I just compare the first and last pictures in this post…I have no words. No words to express my gratitude before a God full of grace and mercy and kindness and power. No words to express my gratitude to the sea of prayer warriors cheering our son on into the fullness of healing and life.
And this was just the first four weeks of his life. What will the next four weeks, months, and years bring?
We still probably have another six weeks left in the NICU. But as hard as that place was at first, it has now become a place where we get to witness God’s creative hand at work.
So, all that to say…thank you for being a part of our son’s miracle month! The story has just begun.