A giant fork in the road.

Well, we are on the road to succeeding with Judah. Which means we will no longer have to worry about a tube for our sweet boy.

But with new changes, brings more changes.

Nick and I have been throwing around things for the past few months. Thinking about where we are going to go and where God wants us to be.
Praying. Praying. Praying.
Waiting for an answer.
Praying some more.

And it seems like God has been silent in this matter.
I've come to realize that maybe God is being silent because we are at a fork in the road.
Maybe it's up to us to decide from here, where we are going.
There are a lot of different things going on.
So many, it would take too long to describe them all.
But maybe, right now, God's letting us decide where to go.
Maybe no matter what we choose, we will have the opportunity to do good, to be good, to live for Him.
So with that being said.

A lot of changes are coming.
Maybe not permanent, but I've also come to realize, no matter what path you take it's going to have it's rough spots.
Stay, Go, Come back, Leave. It's all going to be hard.

I'm not afraid to say that Nick and I have gone through a lot in the past few months.
It has brought us to our knees in ways we never imagined.
It has strengthened us too.
But this journey is only beginning, and there are many many difficult things in store for us.
But also many beautiful and wonderful things.

I've always known that God puts us through trials.
They strengthen us. The bow us before Him. They show us the dark side of evil, and the beauty that can come through despite everything.

So we have bowed our heads before God.
And we are listening, still, waiting for even a breath of an answer for this.
But we realize that in the end, He may be letting us make our own path at this time.

I hope we choose the one that is best for our little family.
But you know, no matter what.
I know my God is bigger than anything we could go through.
And his Mercy will carry us even when we choose incorrectly.

God bless our Judah.
God bless all the babies in the NICU.
God bless babies who struggle to eat, breathe, live.
God bless families who are struggling.
God bless the broken hearted.
God bless us.
God bless my family.
God bless Nick's family.
God bless our Church family.
God bless everyone we touch.


A single soul in two bodies

"What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies."

I love this quote. I am too lazy to look up who said it, but I know it very well. A friend introduced it to me in high school when we were best friends, and now I realize the depth of what it truly means.
I'm beginning to think marriage is crippling and strengthening all in one. It cripples you, in the sense that your spouse becomes your literal other half, and you can't seem to function if they aren't around... And it strengthens you in the sense that there is someone who gives you a reason for living, a reason for being able to function. They are your strength, they are your secret-keeper, and they are your love.

As marriage gets older, it's said that you bond in a way that is unlike any other friendship. You know what the other person is going to respond with, you know what they are thinking (sometimes), and you know that you can tell them practically anything, and it's safe.
Although you go through times where you can be a little bit "snarky" with each other (lol), the only reason you can really get away with the 'snarkiness' is because you know that the love is not going to end because of an argument. The love is not going to go away because you are cranky. The love will still be there when you are feeling a little bit selfish.

I think the reason people coined the term "you fight like an old married couple" is because to old married couples, it's not really fighting. It's creative talking. (I know this sounds ridiculous). The arguments that you have, you often don't recall a week later. A day later, even. They are pointless, most of the time, and it's because you are under the understanding that it's safe, safe to argue this way, safe to talk this way to one another.

Now I'm going to relate this to God.

God is our heavenly father. He knows our tantrums and our worries and our fears. He knows how we are probably going to react, and what we are thinking before we even think it. He already knows we aren't perfect, but his love for us is so strong, is such a bond, that he will always be there. He is safe.

God doesn't run off when you tell him that you are angry, that you are sad, that you are scared. He doesn't mind when you take it out on Him, he will be there when you get back, and He will hold you in his open and loving arms.

I recall screaming at God when I was younger. Yelling at Him. Blaming Him for things that weren't really his fault. Telling him that I hated Him at one point.
How could He love me after I had treated him with such anger.

God loves me more than Nick loves me. God loves you more than your spouse could ever love you. He loves you more than you could ever comprehend. Loves you more than the first time you held your baby in your arms, more than that love. More than the amount of love your parents could ever feel for you.

Why do we think that we have to act a certain way in front of God? Why do we think we have to stand a certain way, raise our hands a certain way, worship a certain way. Why do we think we have to put on our sparkly, wonderful, perfect personality on to be in God's presence? He loves us, he knows us, and despite every flaw we have.

I saw a girl dance at a Grand Prize (Esterlyn) concert about 5 years ago. She was unashamed. Everyone was staring at her, she was the only one dancing (spinning, twirling) at this concert, in front of everyone, with her eyes closed. I remember thinking "Wow, how strange." But as I watched her, I knew that she wasn't putting on a show. She wasn't worshipping like everyone else, it was beautiful. She was beautiful, despite her difference, despite the way she chose to worship her father.
"I want to be like that." I thought.
"I want to worship God with all of my heart, unashamedly." I decided from that day that I would.

See, everyone in the congregation can follow their own set of rules, but I know that biblically, people DANCED before God. They sang, spoke in tongues, danced, celebrated, and it was like a rush of WIND, like a parade of horses, it was beautiful.

Why do we choose to dress up our love? Complete abandon is the most beautiful. Abandon your ideas, although try not to scare other people off of the idea of worship. You don't have to put on a show, that's not the point. The point is that you worship as God appoints for you to worship.
If he asks you to worship him on your knees, with silence, tears flowing, with laughter, with singing, with speaking in tongues, with prayer, with dancing, with arms lifted, with spinning, with playing musical instruments, playing drums- don't hold back what is in your heart of hearts.
God will use your reckless abandonment for his will, for good. Give your heart to him in worship, and you will see the fruits of His labor in you.

Don't be afraid to tell God what's in your mind, what's in your heart. He already knows, and he knows you to your core.
Let him stir in you a fire that the world cannot explain.


Thing 1 and Thing 2 of having a baby:

Thing 1:
Turns you into an emotional wreck.

Maybe it's the insane amount of hormones surging through your veins, or maybe you feel that it's your new perspective on life, but you can't escape the emotional wreckage following (and during) pregnancy.
When you watch shows about families where the child dies or is in danger, or the parents are worried about their children, you find yourself coughing and turning your head so people don't see you crying. Maybe you were emotional before pregnancy, but for many women, this is a whole new ball game.

Thing 2:
Turns you into a zombie.

Did you have days where you got all your laundry done, your house cleaned and found your keys? Say goodbye to those days (at least for a few months). Unless you have a live in house cleaner, you are going to get bamboozled (oh yes I did) by six billion diapers, wipes, formula (unless you get to breastfeed), bottles, spit up covered clothes, and that's if everything goes well. Just wait for the unexpected diaper explosions and projectile vomiting- that's when it gets really interesting.
If you are still awaiting your little bundle of joy, take advantage of the days where you get to shower, put on makeup and leave the house. They are limited and you will miss them.


7 months old

Judah is seven HUGE months old this past week, and it's flying by like crazy.
I think you finally grasp a HUGE concept of time when you have a child, and how quickly it truly passes.

We remember the first time we saw Judah like it was yesterday (it feels like it really was yesterday to us), and we remember the second we could tell something was just 'not right'.

Now we have removed Judah's tube entirely and it has been absolutely breathtakingly amazing. Judah was adorable, tubed or un-tubed, but he is especially adorable un-tubed. And the relief we feel every time we look at him is indescribable- almost like this dead weight has been lifted right off of our shoulders. The relief is something that God has done, it doesn't make sense but it's there, and it is fantastic.

Isn't he adorable without his tube? :) You have to admit, it's pretty cute.

The next part here is for mommy's with NG tubes, it's just kind of the process we went through, so that a mommy dealing with this might have a little bit of insight if she has to do it herself.

Judah was placed with an NGtube at birth, but it was never used. It was removed and he was fed via bottle (he would not breastfeed due to breathing issues) until he was almost 4 months old.

Judah would only ever eat 2 oz at a time, never more. He acted as if it were exhausting, he refused to suck, he would turn his head away from the bottle and refuse anymore. This was okay at first, but at almost 4 months, he was losing weight and we thought we were going to lose him. He didn't gain more than 2 lbs by this time.

After demanding that something was wrong with him for months and months, we finally got to see an ENT. We had seen the same ENT before, but he hadn't scoped Judah's throat. Judah was a loud breather and he had what they call stridor from laryngomalacia. Normally, laryngomalacia is not treated surgically, but his was grade 4, so they used a laser to trim his larynx and treat the tissue. I honestly wish that we hadn't done the surgery, because either way the end result was a feeding tube.

Judah was given a feeding tube 1 week after surgery when it was discovered he was aspirating liquid into his lungs and had developed pneumonia. He kept the feeding tube for 2 months before he finally passed a swallow study and was no longer aspirating.

His suck reflex had entirely disappeared in the two weeks before he passed his swallow study. He didn't really suck on his pacifier very hard and he didn't know what to do with a bottle. The speech therapists demanded he would not be a bottle baby.

I wasn't going to take that for an answer, as I had seen him suck on a bottle two weeks before the swallow study.

I let Judah get very hungry, and then I gave it a try. Sure enough, he knew how to suck when he was hungry, but he wasn't very interested in the idea of it.

We didn't opt to use thick it or a thickener in his formula, because he was not showing signs of struggling with the actual liquid, but with the sucking idea alone.

Our speech therapist, Sky, came out to visit weekly and she and our doctor had come up with a 'plan' of how to feed him. The idea was to let him take as much as he would by mouth and put the rest in his NG tube. He was supposed to eat 6 ounces every 5 hours.

He was barely doing 1 at first, and not eating all of the time. He increased over the next week to about 2 ounces, but he really wasn't interested.

We were still doing 10oz feedings overnight for Judah at this point as well. The speech therapist (Sky) and our doctor decided to take away his night feedings to help drive his hunger. We were great with this idea, although it took away his sleeping through the night, we obviously were excited to work towards getting the NG tube taken out.

After we took away the night feedings, his interest increased in eating, but it wasn't dramatic still.

After 2 weeks, he stopped showing interest in eating during the day, but he would wake up at night to eat and would drink about 4 oz 3 or 4 times a night.

He decided eating during the day was optional, simply because either way his tummy filled up at the right time. (our theory).

at just about a month after we had started, we decided to remove the tube. This was because he was eating well, but only at night, and we wanted to see if his eating habits would change with removal.

As it turns out ANY baby at 7 months old is hard to hold still to eat, and Judah really didn't WANT to hold still, but if we swaddled him (or took him for a car ride) and sang a song or played quiet music in the dark (or dim area), he would be just stuck enough to eat and would take anywhere from 3-5 ounces this way.

Judah started eating from the first day, and now on day 3 of no-tube, he has been eating around 4 ounces every feeding about every 3-5 hours. It's going to be a tough thing to get him on a regular eating habit, but it is absolutely possible and it's going to happen for sure :).

More to come.

Blessings to you and your families :D

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