Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A new rhythm...

We've had 3 nights at home with Phoebe now, and although we're progressively getting more tired, Phoebe is becoming more settled and is adjusting to the quiet life. She has made some progress in the bowel dept which is good news, although she still needs to do an almighty poop to really clear her tummy. The community nurse popped in yesterday and weighed her and she is continuing to put on weight which is excellent - yesterday morning she was weighing 6lbs 5oz so we can hazard a guess that she'll be 6.6 or 6.7 today. Gracie continues to dote on her and tonight they had their first bath together. Here are a few more photos to add to the collection!
Phoebe having her first bath at home in the kitchen sink!
Lovely cuddles with daddy
Gracie getting creative
Sleeping like a baby... Literally
More Lord...
Gracie and Phoebe bathing together
Our two smiling girls...

Monday, 30 March 2009

Update from Home!

It's so nice to be at home for our second morning without having to worry about a visit to the hospital; Gracie has adjusted so nicely to having Phoebe at home, and is being such a wonderful big sister... We even found her lying in her cot yesterday morning with her (well actually on top of her, and it was VERY lucky that I found her!).

Laura and I are enjoying the freedom that having a child at home brings (in comparison to having one in hospital). I took Gracie to church yesterday morning and Laura spent the morning at home with Phoebe which she absolutely loved.

Phoebe is in a lot of discomfort and would love some more prayer... She's not done a poo since coming home which is obviously very painful for her as she is blocked up... If this doesn't sort itself naturally, I'll be having to hold a laxative pill up her bottom until it does(which believe me I don't want to do). This has been an ongoing problem for quite a while now, but we've not really had to experience the reality and see just how uncomfortable she is pretty much all day long.

She also has some reflux which is causing her some pain... It's mild which is good, but you can see that she's not happy about it. Like I said it would be great to pray for these as she has already been through so much.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Home sweet home!

Together at last

We've been praying, hoping, waiting, longing, dreaming, talking, blogging about this day and it has finally come. This morning Phoebe came home to us from Abbotsford hospital weighing 6lbs 2oz (2 days earlier than we had expected) . She is our living miracle, evidence of God's rich blessing on us, a testimony to his faithfulness, and we are so thankful that we finally start this chapter of our journey together as a family.

God has been remarkable throughout this hard season, and we've been so blessed by the people that have surrounded us to support and encourage us, pray for us, love us, feed us, house us, move us and just be all round great friends and family. We also owe a huge debt of thanks to all of the medical staff who have supported Phoebe over the past 11 weeks - you have all been incredible.

Just to show that God is interested in the details as well as the big stuff, Phoebe was released us on the same day our 1 month parking permit expired, saving us the extortionate parking fees for Sunday and Monday (Exactly the same thing happened when she left Vancouver)!!!

We're loving having Phoebe at home with us, and it feels like we can finally start life here in Canada together. We've got a long way to go with our little Phoebe, but at this stage we're just happy to be together.
Phoebe in her carseat
Home at last
Gracie and Phoebe watching TV together!

Big Phoebe Size Farts...

One last time...

Yesterday we did one last family visit to see Phoebe in Hospital; When we arrived, they had taken all monitors off, the tube out of her nose, and she was our 'normal' baby for the first time. We had a great time feeding & bathing, and Gracie simply adores her which is so nice to see. Here are a few photos...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Great News!

Today I went to the church 'moms' group for the first time in ages and took a break from dragging Gracie over to the hospital. We both had a great time; Gracie-playing with all the toys and children, and me; listening to a great woman talking about slowing our lives down. When I got home I had a message from the hospital so I called them back straight away and they gave me the amazing news that Phoebe is going to be discharged on Monday morning!
We are so excited by this news and are truly amazed at how Phoebe has pulled through the odds and will be coming home exactly 11 weeks after she was born...3 weeks before she was even due to arrive in this world! God is so faithful.
Another great thing to mention is that Phoebe had her hearing test and passed! She has normal hearing and they don't need to see her again.
The mad rush to do all the jobs I need to do before Monday is on!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

6lb Sister!

It's official; Phoebe has now tripled her birthweight weighing in at 2724g (6lbs). She is just doing remarkably! On Friday she will 37 weeks gestation which is considered 'term' for a baby being born - she's is SO close to coming home. We just need prayer that she will continue to get her strength and energy up so that she can take all her feeds orally and that she has no desats.

Gracie had a great time with her this morning, and absolutely just absolutely adored her - this is so nice to see as they've had so little time together. This morning was the first time Gracie has had an unaided cuddle with her and they both loved it.

This evening we've had a great fun time playing settlers, eating chocolate and watching the Canucks (hockey team) win again with good friends Matt and Katie. Gracie made pizzas with daddy for us all...Adorable!
Gracie and Phoebe
The Chef working up her special 'saucy'

Friday, 20 March 2009

A family morning in Abbotsford

We like to go and see Phoebe as a family on a Friday morning; We are able to have some time together as a family which is just great. We try to round off our trip with a visit to 'Triple O's' which is a burger place! This morning we visited Phoebe and had a great time with her - Gracie really enjoyed her time with her and enjoyed having cuddles with her. Phoebe is now 5lbs 8oz so is well on her way to being 6lbs.

Cute Phoebe video

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Day trip to Vancouver

Today I went with Phoebe to Vancouver for another eye appointment. We went by ambulance and Phoebe was allowed to travel in a car seat for the first time! I watched the exam (against the advice from staff) and it was terrible...it was worse than watching Jack Bauer on 24 interrogate a suspect! I won't go into to detail as it was just horrible..but the good news is that her damaged retinas (from the early exposure to oxygen) seem to be healing and they confirmed that she isn't blind and was very unlikely to become blind. She will need to go back for another appointment in two weeks time, and eventually will need annual check ups. They did say that there was a more likely chance she will need glasses but we are still praying for God's continuing and complete healing to her whole body. Paul is at the hospital this evening whilst I am enjoying a quiet night in alone...bliss!

Ready and waiting for our transport
Getting strapped in...Phoebe is there behind the paramedics hand!
Phoebe is known by the staff for her pose...hands out flat and in the air!
All set to go on the stretcher

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Thanks for using Amazon!

We just wanted to say thanks to those of you who have started buying products from Amazon through the blog. We hope you're finding what you want!

Phoebe's Update...

Phoebe is continuing to do well; She now weighs 2466g (5lbs 7oz) which is huge in comparison to her 894g birth weight - It is almost like we have a different child. She is continuing to progress with her feeding and her breathing, and the doctors indicated on Monday that she could be home as early as 2 weeks time (from Monday gone) which isn't far away at all.

She is off for her 3rd eye test tomorrow; They found some moderate retina damage last week, so they will be keeping a close eye on her (pardon the pun) to see what sort of long term damage she will have. We're praying that they would completely heal - everything else has gone so well, so we should be able to see (another cheap pun) another miracle! Laura is going with Phoebe in the ambulance back to Vancouver for the day so she'll give a full update with the results.
Phoebe having a cuddle with Alyson

Gracie loves the new house!

So we've almost been in the house a week now and Gracie is having such a fun time with all her toys. One morning this week she decided to put all her dressing up on so she spent the day walking around the house in her sunglasses, upsy daisy outfit, and her fairy costume! She's also loving having steps in the kitchen so she can help Laura with the cooking and cleaning!

Gracie doing some washing up
Gracie emerging from her bedroom dressed as everything!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

We're home!

Well there is so much news really, and very little time to write! The real big news is that we moved into our house yesterday; 53 packages were unloaded into our house following a 10 month journey from New Zealand (via Bridgwater, Somerset). Having not had any of our possessions for almost a year, it was wonderful to finally unpack, and for the first time be 'home' since May 10th 2008. Photos and video to follow in the usual style!

Phoebe is doing incredibly still! She is taking more and more feeds from the bottle, and is also starting to breast feed. She took an entire feed from Laura this afternoon which was incredible. They are now increasing the number of feeds that she takes from the bottle as she is gaining strength and the stamina to be able to cope with it. So she's now weighing 2309g (5lbs 1oz) which is awesome; We're blown away by the progress she has made - she feels (and looks) so much like a real baby now. She had her second eye test yesterday and we are awaiting the results from that, so we'll let you know how she goes; They are wanting to see her again in a week, but that is all we know.

Gracie is on wonderful form; She is loving being in her own house and has played so beautifully the last 2 days - I think she is so happy to have all her toys back with her after such a long absence! It's so great to see her really thrive. Tomorrow Laura will walk to church for the first time (as we're now 5 minutes away) and I will lead worship at the 10:45 congregation for the first time - it's going to be a great day. As ever, here are some photos.

Gracie watching some TV while waiting for the furniture to arrive!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

We're moving in!

Today Paul went into Vancouver to clear our shipping through customs...it went through without a hitch and our stuff is getting delivered on Friday afternoon! We are feeling very excited that we will finally be in our own home (although living with John and Allyson since we've arrived here has been amazing). It's been almost a year since we have lived in our own home as a family and we feel ready to do so again! Thank you everyone for your prayers.

Both of our gorgeous girls are doing well. Gracie is just adorable at the moment and makes us laugh so much. She has recently started roll-playing with her toys and it is hysterical to listen in to see how she views the world; my favorite is when one of her animals falls on the floor and she says 'oh sweetheart' and gives them a big hug!

Gracie and I went into the hospital this morning and Gracie got to cuddle Phoebe for the first time which was lovely-it lasted for about 45 seconds-but it was still very sweet! The hospital have a free babysitting service for siblings of children in hospital, this is run by volunteers each weekday morning which we have been using. This has been amazing as one of my biggest problems is finding time to see Phoebe but not wanting to be away from Gracie for a long time, I can now go into see Phoebe and take Gracie with me which makes life a little bit easier!

Phoebe is still growing! She now weighs 4lb 10oz. Her weight gain has been so good that the dietitian came to see her and they have cut back on the HMF additive they give tiny babies...this is good news as it just brings us a small step closer to bringer her home! Her second eye exam is going to happen in the next few days. Phoebe will go on a little day trip back to Vancouver by ambulance for this as they don't have all the equipment at Abbortsord hospital.

We'll keep you posted with the results of the eye test in the next couple of days, and we'll get some photos of the new house once we've unpacked over the weekend. God is so faithful to us!
Gracie and I having a picnic at the hospital
Gracie has her first cuddle with Phoebe

Thursday, 5 March 2009

What Church Looks Like!

As I said earlier in the week I spoke at Church on Sunday morning; As I started the talk I took a photo of the church for you all to see - I'm sure you're keen to know what we've come to. It looks a little different as of today as we took all the pews out and put chairs in! The talk is available online now so take a listen if you want by following this link.

Have we sold out to Amazon?

So you may be wondering if we've sold out to Amazon? In short, yes we have!

If you ever shop at amazon.co.uk, you can now shop through our blog! If you use the search box at the top right of our page, and then make a purchase in that visit, we will make a small referral fee. You pay no more, and we receive a percentage of Amazon's huge profit! If you spend over five pounds (can't find the symbol on my Canadian keyboard) you'll get free delivery, and your new book, DVD, or hedge trimmer (or pretty much anything) will be with you within a couple of days! You can't go wrong... Just click on a link!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Prayer point #1 answered!

We want to thank everyone for their prayers over the past 24 hours. God is awesome and we weren't expecting Him to answer so quickly, but we called the hospital this afternoon and the nurse told us that Phoebe is out of the incubator and has graduated into a cot. We are so excited about this as it's another step towards being ready to coming home. She's still putting on weight which is fantastic. She put on another 53g today so is now weighing 1948g (4lbs 4oz).
Phoebe in her new Cot

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Day 51 : Great Progress

Well it's day 51 and Phoebe continues to make progress; Laura has just come back from visiting with Alyson and the reports are good. She is now weighing 1891g (4lbs 3oz) and is continuing to gain weight steadily.

It really does feel like we're on the home stretch, although we've got a number of hurdles to cross first. There are a number of things that Phoebe needs to achieve before she will be allowed to go home.

1) She has to graduate to a cot (she's still in an incubator); At the moment the incubator is set to a temperature to keep her warm so they are gradually reducing it until it is actually the room temperature; When she is comfortable at that level and still gaining weight etc they will put her into a cot and bundle her nicely in blankets like you would any old baby!

2) She has to go five days without any desats, braddies, or apnia; which means that she needs to be able to breathe completely and do it consistently without any dips; Obviously this is as much for our benefit as Phoebe's as we don't want to spend our life reminding her to breathe! She's still desaturating quite a bit at the moment, so pray that she'll get stronger (which she will with size).

3) She needs to be able to take all of her feeds by bottle or breast for a period of 48 hours. She is currently receiving almost all of her milk (precision pumped by Laura!) via the feeding tube in her nose. Laura is starting to breastfeed her now although it's really just getting phoebe used to the taste and sensation of latching on - it doesn't offer any nutritional benefit at this stage, but is really important for Phoebe to start to develop the swallowing/sucking/breathing reflexes, and is fantastic bonding.

So that's where we're at; Please pray that Phoebe continues to develop in the coming weeks. We also need prayer for our shipping as it's taking an eternity to arrive! I received an email to say that it won't arrive into Vancouver until the 9th, and we can't process any paperwork until after it arrives, so we could be looking at a week after that at least which is frustrating as by then we will have paid for a months rent and not even spent one night there (although I did take a wee there last week!). As ever here are a couple of photos for you.

Phoebe in a deep sleep
Me getting a cuddle with my baby girl

Sunday, 1 March 2009

So much good news!

This week we've been blown away by God's goodness! The new hospital is simply amazing and the staff are wonderful; The last 2 nights Phoebe has been looked after by a member of our congregation who is a nurse at the NICU there, and we met another lovely Christian nurse; Her husband had actually read about Phoebe on a prayer chain email that has obviously done the rounds at some point which was really encouraging, and very humbling.

We met Jen(the nurse) at church this morning and she gave us great news; Phoebe is now breathing completely on her own with no tubes or support at all; This is once again huge progress - they took her nasal prongs off yesterday afternoon and she has been coping pretty well. She is also now just 3 grams short of 4lbs which is incredible too - she has doubled her birth weight :-)

All in all, Phoebe is doing amazingly, and we are so thankful to God that he is in control of this situation.

This morning I spoke at church, and shared testimony and story from the past few months - I guess I'm biased, but I would recommend taking a listen here... The MP3 will be online I'm sure in the next couple of days. Below is the video that I played at the end of the service and of course some pictures!

Phoebe all cosy under her bunny

The characteristic 'Kingsley-Smith' double chin in great development!
Laura bathing Phoebe for the first time!