Through the Night

Dear Fellow Fans of Audrey Claire,

Today Audrey is 37 weeks by pregnancy and 5 days old taking breaths. I sit in the NICU watching my husband watch our daughter while our son, dressed appropriately in a superhero costume, asks me what I am doing. “Making milk for little sis.” Confused yet intrigued, he says, “Hum, okay.” And he runs over to his daddy’s arms and wants to see the baby. I hear him whisper to his teeny sister, “Hi, sweet girl…” Something he undoubtedly picked up from us but sounds sweet as honey coming from him.

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The first night at home has come and gone. When I was first discharged, I wasn’t too emotional because it was the afternoon and I knew we would be back before the day’s end. It was leaving at the end of the day that opened the flood gates. I knew I would be back the next morning. I knew she was in the best hands, getting the best care. I knew these things, yet something still felt unnatural about it all.

When you have a baby, your body is designed to care for him or her. My arms felt empty, my heart yearned to be close to her…I ached for her. As my head hit the pillow, I wept. I held “Audrey Bunny” in my left arm and clung tightly to Chris’ hand. Perhaps this helped pacify my need to hold something… I praised God that our baby was alive. I felt overwhelmed for the parents who have lost babies and children and the hope of holding them or being near them was no longer a reality. Thankful for the profound perspective we have been given.

I woke around 2am and naturally wondered how she was doing. With groggy eyes and slow fingers, I dialed the NICU. The team who cares for her is incredible, her nurse have me the good news that she was sleeping peacefully and had been all night.

This morning looked a lot like other mornings around our house. Showers, breakfast, a messy haired blondie walking sleepily into our room. But today, we were motivated to get out of the house. All three of us were ready to see little sis.

We received our daily update from the neonatologist. Overall, Audrey’s day started out well. Her blood gas was one of the best she has had. Her bilirubin is getting better, so hopefully only one more night under the light with her “sunglasses”. She is still on 24% oxygen with 30 breaths per minute, but she is taking about 20 additional breaths of her own each minute as well.

Celebrate the small victories.

She continues to get more and more of my milk, the goal is 25mL over two hours before they can stop giving her extra fluids. Right now she is at 9mL and moving up one milliliter every other feeding. To supplement, she has been getting the extra IV fluids through her umbilical catheter.

HAS BEEN, being the operative phrase.

Today, for the 6th time, a team of nurses looked over Audrey’s body seeking a viable vein in which to place a PICC line to provide the extra fluids. This would allow the umbilical catheter to be removed since it was running out of time and would keep her from having surgery. This was the last chance. It was a big moment. We know how hard each try has been on her frail little body.

After waiting outside the NICU for over 2 hours…we got the news.

It worked. It worked! Not only is there no longer a race against the clock, but no umbilical catheter meant one very special thing…we can now hold this angel baby in our very arms. My heart skipped a beat, Chris looked at me with delight in his eyes. Our arms would be full of Audrey.

Less than an hour after we received the news, Audrey was laying on my chest and listened to my heart thump with deep love. I fell into an even deeper love if that was even possible.

I held her for almost an hour. Soaking her in, feeling each of her 3 pounds 13 ounces resting lightly as we each took breaths. I felt completely in sync with her.

Toward the end of my hold, her feeding tube started to slip out and made her quite uncomfortable. She has so many tubes and lines lacing her entire body, but somehow I didn’t feel them, I only felt her. A bit like her differences. I know they are there, but I don’t let them define our daughter. She is defined by her strength, beauty, the fight she puts up and the love she creates.

Later, Chris and I returned to the hospital to tuck her in and Chris had his hour to hold his baby girl. Watching this moment felt like such a blessing. We never knew what might happen. Here lies the father of my children, holding this baby only 5 days after she took her first breath.

The chaplain came in today who has been praying with us since Audrey’s birthday before the delivery. Trisha is a special soul, gifted and blessed with the ability to listen, ask questions and pray in a way that you know she gets it and you can feel a bigger presence in the room. She prayed over Audrey, specifically for the PICC line to work, and one thing she said stuck out, “Give Audrey the strength not only to survive but to thrive in this world. May she be like a stone tossed in a pond allowing her story to have a ripple effect and touch many lives.”

Nailed it. Between Trisha and our favorite nurse named Kim, Audrey’s team in the hospital goes beyond science and medicine. Her care has a spiritual layer.

So many incredible things have happened, and through all the hard times, we find a way to seek the joy…to choose happiness. A wise friend suggested to “…meet your daughter and love her for where she is today. Let tomorrow take care of itself.” Excellent, usable advice. We’ll do just that.

Audrey, today we celebrate many things, but mostly we celebrate the opportunity to hold you close to our hearts. While we would like to hold you all day long in the comfort of our home, today…today we celebrate this milestone. Thank you for fighting. Thank you for breathing…for eating.

Audrey baby…thank you for living.

Thank you all for your fervent prayers for this specific moment. It worked. We believe in you and your deep thoughts and prayers. Audrey’s warriors are powerful and intentional. Thank you.

Only God knows what tomorrow may bring, but tonight, we are grateful for the gift of her touch.

Carrie or I will write again soon, in the meantime, I encourage you to read the comments of each post a couple of days after it is live. Some amazing things are said by wise souls and we can all benefit from the writings by others who take time to read these.

Love and Hugs,
R

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7 thoughts on “Through the Night

  1. To watch Chris and Rachel as their love grows at an exponential rate for baby Audrey, I think I better understand the love of Father God for his creation. Though we see all the imperfections of these human bodies, He sees the heart, he sees through the bumps and warts and wrinkles and noses too big or too small, big ears, tiny ears. He sees through the wrapping into the heart and soul of us. He sees past Audrey’s differences and loves her…just as she is. That’s what I’ve seen in watching you two and Cooper. You just love her as she is. You didn’t want her to have these differences and struggles to be sure. You wonder why, you wonder what is to come, you wonder how she will impact this world. Yet, already, you see the effect on you, on us, on those who you know and love, on those you don’t know. The ripples mentioned by Chaplain Trisha are spreading quickly.

    We planners are prone to jump ahead and try to work out details of handling events to come but a quick reminder on a plaque in the NICU helps we who are the true color “gold” people: “Good Morning, This is God, I will be handling all of your problems today. I will not need your help, so have a miraculous day.” Control, some of us like to have it and perhaps even think we are in it, control that is. Lessons come that clarify our lack thereof. As Rachel pointed out, Audrey “Claire”, meaning: clear, clarity. She has brought clarity to many things even if not the future. It is clear she is loved unconditionally, inexplicably, completely…as does the Father love us, his broken pots.

    Today was indescribable. Tomorrow, we pray for another day with baby Audrey Claire, for easier breathing, more nutrition, more holding time for her mom and dad, progress towards home. Today we give thanks: to God, to family, to friends, to special caregivers, to those who minister to the patients and their caregivers. We give thanks to two awesome parents who chose life for baby Audrey. May your choice continue to bless you and many others. May your choice continue to glorify her Creator.

  2. Prayers have been answered. We asked the pastor for blessings for her so The Lord hears many voices asking for strength.
    You are in our hearts.

  3. This was a two Kleenex read. We are so happy for this news!! Its been one beautiful miracle after another!! The credibility of Gods hand in this is just overwhelming! And, we get to witness it, thanks to your generous sharing nature.

  4. First of all, I LOVE Cooper in his super hero costume! Secondly, those last 2 pics are absolutely incredible. What a precious baby..and precious family. I’m praying, praying, praying. Praying for Audrey to thrive. Praying for her sight and hearing. Praying for her oxygen. Praying for Cooper to keep adjusting well. Praying for strength, peace, and endurance for the whole family during this journey. Praising God for what he has already done, and for how he has provided for every need. Thanking him for the incredible medical team caring for Audrey. Thanking him that Audrey was born to you two incredible parents. So much to be thankful for. Love you guys!!

  5. Oh my goodness, We just rejoice with you all in this big victory of getting the PICC line in and getting to hold Audrey. What a joyful night. I love what your chaplain said and definitely believe that Audrey’s story will bless and effect many many lives. She is such a treasure. You are doing such an amazing job at taking in the full life of every moment and resting there and enjoying Audrey. She is such a fighter. I love all of the little miracles that are happening in Audrey and I definitely believe there are more to come. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Love you so much!

  6. Praise God for this moment! To get to hold baby Audrey…I cried tears of joy. She has most definitely touch my heart. The pictures say it all! We love you guys and praying that Audrey continues to eat more and thrive!

  7. Rachel and Chris:

    I have just learned about Audrey. Please know that I am keeping you in my prayes. I pray for God’s healing hands to be on you, Chris, Cooper and most of all, Audrey and the nurses and doctors caring for her. God’s love is an amazing thing. Take every small step and celebrate the victories.

    God’s love and Pease to you all.

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