It is raining tonight in Montgomery and I am in the exact mood as it looks outside...dreary, cold, and stormy.  We had a busy day today - I went to the hospital three different times.  The first visit was the 11:00 feed and we tried nursing.  This past Saturday was our first time trying this with the girls and they are slowly getting the hang of it.  I have to admit it is much harder than it looks.  Of course, I read all about how the baby will just latch on and how it is a natural process but that just isn't the case with us.  With the girls being premature, they have to be taught everything...breathing, eating, and yes, latching on.  The lactation consultant says that they are doing well for their size and it will come with time.  On Monday, I prayed to have patience with this new endeavor and it has helped me to relax while they try to learn this process.

My second visit was the 2:00 feed and Raleigh's cousins and aunts got to come to this feed.  His cousins are like his younger brothers and it was so funny seeing them around the girls.  They both were a little timid yet fascinated at the same time.  Their moms said that was probably the first time they had seen a diaper being changed...thank goodness it wasn't a dirty one or else they would have been scarred for a while!  Our nurse had Mrs. Price and I try to bottle feed the girls.  They were a little slow and sleepy but we ended up getting most of the milk down.  Right now, both girls are taking 30 cc's of milk which is about half of a bottle.  On Monday, Adeline officially drank all of her milk in one sitting...it was so exciting to watch her little cheeks move in and out gulping down  the good stuff.  Maralee accomplished this feat a week ago so now we are trying for both of them to take all of their bottle each time. Both girls are taking the bottle twice a day and trying to nurse once a day.  It is our goal to get them to take all of their feeds through a bottle/nursing before they go home.  Once home, we will more than likely try to nurse during the day and give bottles at night...we shall see closer to time.

The last visit of the day was the 5:00 with Raleigh.  We usually go to the 8:00 p.m. feed together so we can both bottle feed them but today he wanted to go early so he could rest his eyes.  He has been studying all day for his final test tomorrow.  Please pray for him to remember what he has learned and to work quickly and efficiently on the drawing part of the test.  If he passes this test, he will officially be a licensed architect!!!!!  We look forward to that becoming a reality!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today the girls are officially two months old.  They are 60 days old.  I am so proud of them.  Watching them take the bottle and try to nurse makes me want to cry because I know that they are trying so hard.  It is such hard work for them to learn how to suck, swallow, and breathe.  The competitor inside of me just wants to push them to finish a bottle even though I watch them struggle.  It is such an anxious feeling knowing that the due date is quickly approaching but also realizing that we have a lot to accomplish before we go home.  Each day I feel like something new is being reviewed on their little bodies.  This past week they each got a sign on their isolate labeled fragile bones.  Maralee's bone levels jumped drastically down so she had some intense x-rays done yesterday.  Nothing was fractured (thank goodness!) but we still have to be extra careful with them.  The sign makes me a little paranoid to be honest; we have all handled them with such care and now I feel like I might break them if I grab them the wrong way.  The girls might be small but they are actually easier to handle than a full-term baby.  Anyways, it is just a precautionary but it still weirds me out.  Also, the girls are constantly having their eyes dilated to check if their retinas are protruding.  So far, their eyes have looked fine but tonight the optometrist told us that they had stage one disease. He said this was very common in preemies but when I am told that our children have a type of disease I can't help but be concerned!  To add the cherry on top, today they also have to receive their two month old vaccinations.  In college, I did my internship at the Autism Society and I heard so many stories about how children acted different after they received vaccinations.  I know it is more of a headline with the MMR vaccine but I was still a little hesitant to give my initials today.  Trust me, I believe in vaccinating our children but I was hoping to at least talk to the pediatrician about potentially having the shots spread out a little bit.  Call me paranoid, but it is a concern of mine.  In the end, I gave them permission because I know that the NICU would not give our girls anything that they can't handle for their age and I also realize that it could potentially do the girls (and other children) more harm than good if they didn't receive these shots in a timely manner.

Recently the NICU has been busy with new babies coming in.  Today, I glanced over at a new baby boy and he was so tiny.  He looked like he was breathing on his own but I can tell he is going to be there for a while.  His dad and a family member came in today and I couldn't help but remember what they were feeling as I listened to them asking the nurse questions.  Those first couple of days were such a blur and so much information was being thrown at us.  All we knew is that our girls came early but they were doing okay.  We really had no idea how tough the road truly was ahead of us. One thing that I have struggled with is seeing other babies come and go.  We are officially the seniors that rule the hall of the NICU.  All of our other classmates have graduated to going home but we are still taking our finals.  Recently, we struck up conversation with a new couple that had a little girl in the NICU.  She was born around 33 weeks and her biggest roadblock was learning how to breast feed.  After talking to the parents, I tried to be supportive of them because I could sense how troubled they were but at the same time I wanted to shake them to make them realize that was nothing compared to what we have been through!!!! They got to room-in after two weeks and I will admit that I was very jealous.  I have hope that our day will soon come but some days it just looks so far away.

Friends, a sweet sister shared a powerful word of scripture with me.  It is a tad long but please take time to absorb each and every word.  The more I read it, the better I understand God's love for us and how we are supposed to rely on it.  When we rely on Him, we help others.  Instead of shaking that couple, I earnestly tried to encourage them because I deep down realized that even though their struggle was shorter than mine they were still struggling.  I think that goes for everybody in life.  We all have struggles - some big and some small - and we all need someone to help us.  Jesus is our Savior, our rescuer, and console.  Please take heart to these words from 2 Corinthians: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.  If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same suffering that we are also suffering.  Our hope for you in unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so you also share in our consolation...He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, 10-11

Our praise band at church sings this great song called "Let It Rain" by Michael W. Smith.  I found this awesome You Tube video of the song to images from the movie Passion of Christ.  The text is written in another language but I don't need the text to describe the emotions.  Please spend some time listening to this song and worshiping our amazing Savior, Jesus Christ.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

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