Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Pheobe's moved!!!

Once again prayers have been answered! Phoebe was transfered this evening to Abbotsford Regional Hospital which is about 25 minutes away from us here in Langley (even closer once we move into our new house). Although we asked you to pray that she would be moved to Surrey, we had originally requested that she be moved to Abbotsford but were told that she wouldn't be well enough to transfer there.

So this is really fantastic that A. she got into our original choice, and B. that she is well enough to be accepted there. She is thriving, and seeing her this evening off her CPAP was so encouraging. She is really chuffing up and will be weighing 4lbs very soon hopefully.

The hospital is brand new (opened in August 08) so everything is state of the art and the facilities are phenomenal; We're so happy that Phoebe will spend the next 6-8 weeks here as it's such a lovely place to visit. The NICU is far more intimate with a maximum of 10 babies (as apposed to the 40+ so at BC Women's). We'll miss our friendly nurse Alyshia though from BC Women's - she was so great with Phoebe.

This afternoon there was the most stunning rainbow over Langley that reminded us once again of the Hope we have in God; When we first found out that Laura was pregnant with Phoebe I felt God speaking to me about Hope, and that our unborn child would be a sign of God's hope for us (at the time we were really in a tough place - homeless & unemployed). We always knew that if we had a baby girl her middle name would be hope.

Today has been significant for us; God reminding us of his promise, and the covenant I felt he made with me back in the summer in the UK that he would bring us hope.

And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind...Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9: 12-16

The rainbow behind our house this evening...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Update on Phoebe - Six weeks old today...

Good news once again; Phoebe is back off her CPAP! She was taken off her CPAP today after the nurses noticed that the prongs were aggravating her nose just a little too much - I agree with them, and the cap is giving her an awful conehead

She is tolerating being off the CPAP brilliantly and has only had 1 minor desaturation which is good - she was able to get back to normal all by herself which is great too. Her increase in weight is certainly a key factor in her ongoing success - at yesterdays 'weigh in' she was pulling a mean 1645g (3lbs 9oz ish) gaining 40g on the day before; IT feels a little like we're on the 'anti' biggest loser, with huge celebration every time we hear she's gained (I'm guessing there won't be a $1,000,000 prize either if she wins!) 

Over the last 2 weeks Phoebe has had some loose stools which the doctors are really wracking their brains over; They don't really know what is causing them, so they are eliminating the additives to her milk one by one - we'll keep you posted, although today her stool was a little more 'substantial' which is definitely something to get excited about! 

Tomorrow she will be having an eye exam and we should know the results straight away; We're feeling confident as she does seem to be able to look at us and is interested in us even if she can't necessarily focus on us. I'm guessing she'll only be able to read the top line of the chart though!!! 

We're still waiting on news of a transfer  - we'd love for them to send her to Surrey Memorial hospital, but they are always full for some reason so it's just a case of waiting. We'd really appreciate your prayers on this. 

There is also the chance that if things go well this week she will graduate from the isolette into a crib (cot) which would be such great progress. There are a number of factors that determine this, but essentially it is dependent on Phoebe being able to regulate her body heat. We're excited about this, as it feels like one step closer to normality. 

In all, we've got SO much to be thankful for. Although we take each day as it comes on this rollercoaster, we praise God for all that he is doing in our life and in the life of Phoebe. I've been finding great encouragement in Psalm 139 and know that Phoebe is in the hands of our amazingly faithful and loving father. 
Phoebe in an adorable little outfit sent by Esther
Laura taking Phoebe to the scales for the first time
Changing Phoebe's 'diaper'

Fun Weekend With Friends

This weekend we enjoyed visits from far away friends. The weekend started with Laura meeting up with Hannah Douglas (Her best friend Esther's sister) and ended with spending a night and day with our good friend Rachel Harrison (from New Zealand). We took her up Mount Seymour for some beautiful sunshine, snow, fantastic views, and some hilarious sledding antics! If that wasn't fun enough,  on Thursday I  (Paul) went curling for the first time ever - I'll be a Canadian yet! 
Rachel, Gracie & Laura
Laura, Rachel & Phoebe
Curling superstar!
Hannah meeting Phoebe for the first time

Phoebe's Clothes

I think we said in a previous blog that Phoebe is now wearing clothes which is just adorable, especially as we can put her in some of the smaller outfits that have been given to us. So many people have said to us that Phoebe looks so big and they can't get any perspective on how small she actually is, so here is a photo of two outfits we've been given to give you all an idea of how small she actually is. The pink outfit on the left is sized for a newborn baby, the vest on the right is the size Phoebe is currently fitting into, although she is gaining weight so fast now, she'll be in the newborn size before we know it! 

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Phoebe back onto CPAP!

So we expected that Phoebe would end up on CPAP again at somepoint, and on Sunday morning we received a call from the hospital to let us know that they were going to put her back on it that morning. While we were a little disapointed at first, it's been such a positive step for her as she has really been piling on the weight since! For the past 4-5 days she's consistently been putting on about 50g a day (2oz) so she is now weighing 1535g (3lbs 6oz). We're hopeful that this growth progress will continue as she is really starting to look more and more like a 'normal' baby. 

Gracie went in again with Laura, and Bev (Our wonderful Children & Families Ministry Director) on Monday and they had a fun time together with Phoebe, as well as visiting a British restaurant for lunch - I was working so I missed the fun. I'm really enjoying work, and am getting stuck into meetings, vision and clusters! LEFC is a really awesome church, and I'm so happy (and privileged)  to be a part of the team here - I'm preaching next Sunday, which hopefully will go well - apparently my English accent hugely stands in my favor! 

It feels like Spring is on the way, although you can never be too sure but the clocks do change in 3 weeks so we'll be ever closer to summer! Here are some photos from Monday. 
Phoebe, 5 weeks old!
Gracie and Phoebe
Bev & Phoebe

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The weekend...

We have had a lovely weekend together, playing football and basketball on the drive, going for walks and playing in the park. We also picked up the keys to our new home which is very exciting! We're hoping our shipping will arrive soon!

I (Laura) went to the hospital last night and had one of the best visits yet. I haven't held Phoebe in over a week because the doctors believed she had an infection and my visits were always timed badly (they don't like her to be handled that much). So when I arrived last night to be asked by the nurse if I would like a cuddle a jumped at the chance. 

Phoebe has now wearing clothes as they are starting to adjust her incubator to room temperature which is another brilliant milestone. She has grown so much but is still too small to wear premature clothing and is in micro-premmie clothes, but I don't think she'll be in them for long as she now weighs 1395 grams and appears to be gaining a good amount every day. Because she is now wearing clothes I didn't hold her kangaroo style (skin to skin) as I have so far, but held like a 'normal' baby which felt wonderful and far more natural. This was also the first time I've held her without CPAP, so i was able to gaze lovingly at her for over an hour! She even opened her eyes and had a good look at me for a while as well.  Here are a few photos from the weekend...
Gracie looking cute in her new top!
Phoebe with her eyes open
Holding Phoebe like a 'normal' baby

Friday, 13 February 2009


This morning we visited Phoebe together as a family; Friday is our only real opportunity to go together as a family as it's both time consuming traveling to and from the hospital, and Gracie doesn't last long looking into a plastic box! 

We were fortunate to make it into the hospital in time for rounds (where the doctors, nurses and respiratory nurses talk about Phoebes progress). Phoebe seems to be doing really well (although she was being a little pickle for our visit (lots of alarms going off). 

Anyhow, the doctors are now seriously considering a transfer to a more local hospital for us (well, within 30 minutes or so). She won't be able to transfer to Langley Memorial Hospital until 34 weeks at the earliest (Please pray that she is ready to transfer to Langley at 34 weeks - that would be amazing). 

So she is currently at 31 weeks (had her 1 month birthday on Thursday) and is now weighing at 1325g which is very close to 3lbs. We're hoping that she'll be transfered within the coming week to either Royal Columbian Hospital (where Laura spent her week on bedrest), Surrey Memorial Hospital, or Abbotsford Regional Hospital; It will be dependent on who has a bed available for her. 

In other news... We get the keys to our rented house tomorrow, although we can't move in until our furniture arrives :-( Our container is due to arrive in Montreal on the 26th Feb; From there it will come on a train to Vancouver (Which takes a week!) and will be transfered to our shipping company warehouse - then I have to clear customs with it. So please pray that this doesn't go on too long as we're paying rent on a house that we wont be living in. We're excited about moving in also, so want our stuff to arrive soon. 

Gracie remains to be gorgeous... She is full of life and currently is very into playing football, watching Ice Hockey, and riding on her scooter! Thanks for all your prayers - keep them coming. 

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

News update...

Just a quick update....

Last night we got a phone call from the guy who's house we want to rent to say he is happy with our references and we can move in on Saturday! We now need prayer that our shipping arrives quickly (we expect it at the end of Feb) so that we can move in and make home!

I've also just called the hospital to find out how Phoebe is doing-they got the results of her blood cultures back and she is clear of infection-Praise the Lord!

On another great blessing...I may have a taker for the rest of my frozen milk!!!!

God is so good. Thank you all for your continued prayer.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Anyone for milk?!

Since having Phoebe, I have needed to use a pump to express milk every three hours so to trick my body into thinking I'm feeding my baby and to produce enough milk to give for Phoebe's feeds. Apparently most mothers of premature baby's have trouble with producing milk as they are not with their babies and don't have the physical contact needed to stimulate hormones (or something like that!) Anyway... I am 'lucky'?! enough to have the opposite problem and have an enormous milk supply that I've been carefully labeling and freezing at the hospital and home. My storage allocation at the hospital ran out within two weeks and I have now filled the huge deep freeze at Alyson and John's!

The hospital encourages mothers with spare breastmilk to donate, so today I inquire about this but am told that I can't donate because I am British and may have mad cow disease! This is the most amusing thing i've heard in a while but I feel gutted I now have to chuck all the milk I pump day and night down the sink as well as a lot of the frozen milk. I could only bring myself to throw 7 of the 16 bags of frozen milk so if anyone is in need of breastmilk and isn't worried about me having mad cow disease, I'm giving it away!    
Saying goodbye to 7 bags of milk!

Monday, 9 February 2009

CPAP is finally off!

Well, it's taken a few more days than expected but I (Laura) went into the hospital yesterday morning to find Phoebe is finally off the CPAP! This is such a huge milestone for her and we can finally see our beautiful girl. On the downside her gorgeous strawberry blonde hair has been shaved in two different places as they needed to give her an IV as she has an infection and is back on antibiotics. They tried to get the IV into her scalp but failed twice and ended up putting it into her hand. They are not sure what the infection is but she has had loose stalls for a few days now so they wondering if the two problems are related.

I managed to be in for the doctors rounds this morning and they are happy with her progress and are restarting her feeds and finishing her antibiotics tonight which is great news. Phoebe has also moved rooms and is now in the intermediate nursery which is good progress; The room is far quieter which is great and there is far less of the bingbonging!

Paul is fully into work now and is sinking his teeth into his job there. We're hopeful that we've found a house (we're waiting on references) which is about 500 yards away from the church so Paul will be able to walk with no excuse or need for the car! It's also right by the city park, so location is ideal! Please pray that we'd get this house and that our shipping would come by the 28th as planned! As usual here are some photos...

Phoebe's strawberry blonde hair (and very dry back!)

Phoebe without the CPAP 

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

CPAP Almost Off...

We've just spoken to the nurse at the NICU and she surprised us by saying that they're hoping Phoebe will come off CPAP tomorrow; She has been on room air (the ordinary air we breathe which contains 21% oxygen) now for a couple of days (unbeknown to us) and they think she is capable of going alone as she is hardly having any support from the CPAP. 

This is actually a really big deal... CPAP is totally invasive and it's really traumatic to see her on it even though we know it's a good thing. She has 2 prongs that go into her nostrils (stretching and pulling them as they do). The tube is held in place by the weird hat that she's wearing that is so tight that it leaves her face bruised and puffy when it comes off(We haven't blogged a picture of her looking like that as it isn't pleasant). Any movement she makes (which is quite a lot as she is very active) causes her pain as her movement is completely restricted by the CPAP cap. 

We've watched them putting on the CPAP and taking it off and Phoebe really doesn't like it. You will notice in the last video a small section of Phoebe crying when they are arranging it for her. Suffice to say we'll be pleased to see it go from this perspective as well as from a developmental perspective. 

We're really considering this to be huge breakthrough for Phoebe; When we spoke with the neonatologist on Friday, she didn't sound hopeful that Phoebe would make it off CPAP for quite a while yet, however the prayers look like they may have been answered (and why wouldn't they be). We need to continue praying that her breathing will continue to improve and that her lungs will continue to strengthen as she may be transfered to a closer hospital if she's doing well.

She is still having apnea episodes, but she just needs a little stimulation (a little rub of the back) and she starts breathing again. While this is totally common in premature babies, we still want to pray that she doesn't have these episodes, as it would be wonderful to keep defying what the doctors class as normal - she is after all our little living miracle. 

Gracie has had a sick bug today and has been throwing up everywhere, so we're managing to maintain our 'one person sick' rule! Please pray that it's just a 24 hour bug and that Laura and I don't get it too. 

As ever here is a little photo of our little Phoebe; Yesterday she wore her first pair of booties, knitted by Esther Grant... Thanks Esther, they are adorable (and TINY). 
 Phoebe's new booties!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Our little girl...

One of the tough things about the situation with Phoebe is that we don't get to go see her everyday because it's quite a slow journey from Langley into Vancouver and very dependent on missing rush-hour. When we do go, we normally get to spend an hour or so with her so that time is very precious. Last night we had a lovely time with Phoebe, and Laura got to have a long hold with her again. 

Phoebe has made a little bit of progress over the last couple of days. Her breathing is getting stronger which indicates she is responding to the caffeine and she has been having fewer apnia episodes. We had a rare moment yesterday when she had her CPAP off and her feeding tube out, and she almost looked like a normal term baby (but about quarter of the size!).  She was looking far less distressed and bruised than the other night which is good. 

Phoebe enjoying another cuddle with mummy

A brief moment without any tubes coming in or out

My big girls!

So that the blog isn't completely Phoebetastic, here are a couple of shots of Gracie at the park yesterday. Gracie is on Fantastic form which is so wonderful; She seems to be thriving on Candian life and has even started to develop a little Canadian accent which is pretty cute! She is making some friends here which is really great, and she especially loves Taylor & Matthew who are the pastors children (she sings about them on a regular basis!)

The words to the song...

Just to clear up any confusion. The words to the song sung in this video are as follows:

I love you,
You love me,
We're a happy family.
With a great big hug,
And a kiss from me to you;
Won't you say you love me too.