Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Unexpected Beginning-Meet Emsley

For anyone that follows me or any one of my family members on social media, this post will be old news. But I simply had to document on here what happened in our lives these past 2 weeks.

I will never forget this time in our lives, and how it was the most scary and hard time for us but there were also were little moments of joy and times when I could literally feel God's hand on our newest baby's life and our lives as well.

I'll just start from the beginning.

15 days ago, on Monday June 11th, I woke up around 5:30 in the morning. Before I even got out of bed, I felt my water break. I quickly woke Caleb and the two of us ran around the house trying to pack up and head out for the hospital.

On our way to the hospital, I sent out a text asking for prayers to friends and family. I knew I was a bit early to be having our 3rd child. I was only 36 weeks pregnant and while I knew this was a bit early, I assumed all would be fine.

Once at the hospital, we were informed that because I was 36 weeks pregnant and not yet considered full term, the baby automatically had to go to the NICU for the first 48 hours and would not be in the room with me and Caleb. While this made me sad, I thought to myself it would only be 48 hours. I would rest up some and then we would get to take the baby home with us.

Other than that sad news, this was the best birth experience I'd had. With Elliana and Ethan, my contractions started immediately after my water broke and I dilated to 10cm before getting any kind of pain relief at the hospital. However, this time around, the contractions came somewhat slowly and were not too intense. I actually had time to visit with family before going in for my repeat C-section.

After my c-section, the first day went just as smooth as any new mom would hope. Our baby came out screaming (a good sign of strong lungs), Caleb got to announce that the baby was a GIRL (this was our surprise baby) and she was given a clean bill of health! Then Elliana, was given the privilege of announcing the gender of the baby to family. My sister Courtney did a great job of documenting that first day.

Everyone got to see pics and we assumed we'd have our baby girl in our arms and our care after the mandatory 48 hours in the NICU.

We named our precious girl Emsley Jeannette. Emsley means "gift from God" and we chose Jeannette after Caleb's grandma and also one of my beloved late Aunts. Emsley was 5 lbs, 7 ozs, and 17.5 inches long.


After the first 24 hours, we quickly found out that 48 hours had turned into a minimum 5 day stay. Emsley was having some issues with apnea and oxygen desaturations. She had lost a significant amount of weight. She dropped to 4 lbs, 14 ozs, and she had jaundice.

I spent all 5 days going from my hospital room  to seeing and nursing or feeding Emsley in the NICU. I learned that because she was premature her brain and lungs were not fully developed, and mostly she hadn't yet learned to suck, swallow and breathe while feeding. I watched as she would often turn blue while Caleb or I fed her a bottle or burped her. Every time was just as scary as the one before, and the nurses would rush to our side and help us to "remind" Emsley to breathe again.

I was beginning to feel way in over my head, but I asked the nurses as many questions as possible. I tried to educate myself quickly about preemies, and all of Emsley's needs to prepare for her to come home with us on Saturday, 5 days after her birth.

Then, on Saturday we were told Em had to stay in the NICU at least until Tuesday, 1 week after her birth to further monitor her. The nurses still felt she needed 7 days from her first apnea event to make sure it wouldn't happen again.

I was discharged as a patient on Saturday and Caleb and I were offered a "sleep room" in the hospital to stay in until Tuesday. I wanted to stay close to Emsley and nurse and feed her as often as possible. Caleb stayed in the sleep room with me until Sunday, then he had to go home and take care of Ellie and Ethan since they had been with his parents the whole first week of Emsley's life.

I was going to stay in the sleep room until Tuesday, and then Emsley and I would come home and we would begin life as a family of five!

Then Monday morning came. I got a call from the nurses in the NICU to come and feed Emsley early in the morning. I was met at the door by the nurse that had cared for Emsley throughout the night. She had a sad look on her face and I my heart instantly sank. With tears in her eyes she said to me "Christine, I have bad news. Emsley can't come home with you tomorrow. She had another apnea episode last night in her sleep. It lasted a long time, and for the next 8 minutes her oxygen levels fluctuated up and down."

I knew what this meant. Just like that, Emsley would have another 7 day minimum stay in the NICU. The first TWO weeks of her life would be spent in NICU. Our family would be separated for another 7 days since I would want to be by my baby girl's side as much as possible.

I held back tears as long as I could, but it didn't last long. I walked over to Emsley's crib, I picked her up, began nursing her and the tears started to flow. As sad as I was over the fact that she was going to stay in the hospital for another week, I was more scared than anything. I was scared to lose her, I was scared as to what her future held.

After nursing Emsley and having many conversations with the NICU nurses and Dr's, I went back to the hospital room and sobbed. I called Caleb, my mom, and sisters and told them the news. Like I said on the phone to them, I would always worry about Emsley. They were quick to support me and try to find ways to bring comfort and peace.

We sent out prayer requests to our family and friends, both through emails and social media. The support we got was overwhelming. I knew that many, many people were praying for our newest baby girl.

Caleb and I had many conversations in the days that followed and as hard as it was to be living apart and going through all of this, he and I both said it had made us draw very close to God again. We both had spent lots of time in prayer and in the word, and it felt good to feel God so near.

The whole next week we saw Emsley improve every day. She was put on oxygen, but we were very much at peace with that decision. After being put on oxygen, she didn't have any more apnea episodes, and she was really beginning to master the suck, swallow, breathe thing. Mostly, we watched her thrive, in a huge way. The nurses in the NICU often told me how much they laughed about how someone so small could eat so much. They told me that Emsley was eating more than babies twice her size in the NICU, and they had named her "Miss Piggy". :) Once she started putting weight on, she never looked back and she was gaining 2 ounces a day! After losing a lot of weight in the beginning, she quickly passed her birth weight and by the end of the week, she was almost 6 pounds!

The best news was that after that week, on Monday June 24th, Emsley was finally discharged at almost 2 weeks of age and we were finally able to take her home and begin life as a family of five! I had tears in my eyes when I walked in that Monday morning to feed her as I knew it would be the last day we would have to visit our baby girl in the hospital.

 I was more than ready to kiss this scene goodbye.

Our first photo as a family of five! 
Taken by one of the NICU nurses the night before Emsley was discharged.

Emsley did come home on oxygen, but that's a small price to pay to have her with us. She's on a very small amount, and is only expected to stay on it for 1-2 weeks. I know the weeks and even months ahead will be challenging as I try to balance caring for our preemie baby girl AND chasing after my older 2, active young kids. We'll always have to be more careful with Emsley since her immune system won't be as strong as Ellie and Ethan's since they were both full term. Other than that, she is completely healthy and for that we are thankful!

Our family has been more than amazing as my mom and my parents-in-law have really stepped in and helped care for Elliana and Ethan over the past few weeks and are continuing to care for them these first weeks home so I can give Emsley my undivided attention. My family and Caleb's parents also pitched in and bought us a "Snuza" baby monitor. It's a monitor that you clip onto your baby's diaper and an alarm goes off if your baby does not take a breath after 15 seconds. It's just a little added security for now.

These last 5 days have not been perfect, in fact the first hour we came home was completely chaotic and stressful, but it's been wonderful to have Emsley home and to live life together as a family of five. Elliana and Ethan adore her and they are so sweet and gentle with her. I'm excited to watch their sibling relationships grow.

With each passing day I feel more confident that Emsley will be fine, and so will we. When I look back at where our journey began several years ago, when I thought we might never have kids, I see where we are today and my heart is so full! Our family is finally complete and I can say that God is indeed faithful. I can even look back at where we've been just the last 2 weeks and I can see God's hand in that situation as well.

Emsley Jeannette truly is our little gift from God!

Here's a bible verse that Caleb and I have grown to love over the years. We can't wait to frame it and hang it on our walls:

"When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel."  Isaiah 29:23


Mallory said...

Congratulations on your sweet baby girl! She is beautiful. I love the name Emsley, and that now all your kids' names start with E. I've been praying for her and your family since I saw Courtney's blog post, and I will continue to pray for her full healing and your adjustment as a family of five. Congratulations, again!

Courtney said...

I loved getting to see some of the behind the scenes pictures of her birth day. I am SO happy she is home and healthy and hopefully she won't be on oxygen too much longer. Love you Chris and I'm glad this is mostly behind you now.

Amy Snodgrass said...

So happy that you are all home and doing well. If you need anything, I am hear for you! Love that bible verse!

Tara Brown said...

God is so good! Love that blog world allows our worlds to connect even from afar! Biggest congratulations, praising God with you that Emsley is home safe and sound!!

About Me

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I am a daughter of the King. Saved by grace. Follower of Christ. I love my God and I believe that he is faithful and true to his word! I'm still figuring out and trying to follow his plan for my life. I am a wife to my best friend Caleb, a mother to my miracle babies (they are my greatest joy and challenge), a sister and best friend to 3 passionate women, and a daughter to 2 amazing parents that continue to teach me what it is to be real and faithful to God and his word. I am lucky to get to be a stay at home Mom (thanks to God's provision). I love music, singing, coffee, cooking, baking, traveling, our beautiful state of Colorado, and mostly being with the family and friends that I love!

Husband, Caleb

Husband, Caleb
Caleb is an amazing husband and father. He is always so good to me. He is my best friend. He is the romantic one. We love to laugh and spend time together. We've been married for 7 years and I just love that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.

Our 1st Miracle

Our 1st Miracle
Elliana Faith... God blessed us with our first miracle little girl in December 2008. She is sweet, smart, spunky, funny, strong willed, precocious, extremely outgoing, vocal and so full of life! She brings us so much joy.

Our 2nd Miracle

Our 2nd Miracle
Ethan James,.. God blessed us with our little boy in March 2011. Ethan was a bit of a surprise and an even bigger miraclle. Ethan is ALL BOY! He is very active, into sports and running around. He is also sweet, introverted, affectionate, and laid back. These days he often has us laughing, he's starting to show a little bit of "clown" in him. He makes our hearts happy too. :)

Our 3rd Miracle

Our 3rd Miracle
Emsley Jeannette... Our surprise baby girl was born on June 11th, 2013 and came into the world 4 weeks early. Her first 2 weeks of life were spent in the NICU, but due to God's hands and the prayers of many people, she grew quickly and came home to join our family! She is an easy, sweet baby and we are enjoying getting to know her personality.


We fight one day and then the next day we're fine. We're always loud and crazy when we get together. We're very passionate. We've been through it all together, lots of ups and downs. We're eachother's biggest supporters.


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