Anybody ever heard the phrase, "It has to get worse before it gets better?"  Well, I am starting to believe in that statement.  Last Thursday was a rough evening.  As always, Raleigh and I headed down the interstate to make the girls 8:00 pm feed.  That night, I was just plain tired of going to the hospital.  I started to yearn for the girls to be well and home with us.  Before they were born, we usually kept to a routine of eating dinner at home and being in our comfy clothes by eight o'clock.  Of course, routines change and we have adjusted to our new schedule but that night I just really wanted to have the girls at home with me instead of driving to go see them.

Earlier that day, the nurse practitioner gave the thumbs up to start trying three feeds a day from the bottle.  As great as that sounds, it was a huge test for them because they were still having trouble taking one feed, let alone three.  The nurse that was in charge of the girls that evening told me that it might be a good idea for the girls to be evaluated by the occupational therapist.  For some reason, that made me feel like throwing in the towel.  I felt defeated and wondered if they would always be less developed than other children.  It is the hardest thing as a parent to admit that your child is under-developed.  I think it is my pride.  Our girls are doing so well but my pride wants them to be better than other children even though they are preemies!  Has anybody else ever felt that way about their kids?  Boy, it is a hard thing to deal with!

Leaving the hospital that evening, I didn't have much to say.  I was tired, upset, and sad.  I got out of the car and headed inside to get ready for bed.  As I stood brushing my teeth over our bathroom sink, I became overwhelmed with my emotions.  Tears started flowing and I fell to the floor crying.  Raleigh came to help me and tried to make me feel better about the occupational therapist but I honestly wasn't in the encouraging mood.  I hate to admit this, but I stormed upstairs just to be alone for a little while.  I crept into the girls nursery and just sat in the reclining chair rocking back and forth in the dark.  Oh, how I longed to have them home in their room!  I just want it so bad it hurts!!!!  Eventually, Raleigh came to get me and we both headed to bed, just spent with exhaustion.

Friday morning I woke up still feeling upset.  Typically, I go to the hospital for their mid-day feed and that day I was moving a little slower.  When I arrived for the feed, the nurse let me try breastfeeding them.  As I sat in the hard plastic chair holding baby Adeline, I became overwhelmed with guilt.  The sweet nurse came in to check on us and she could tell I was upset.  We began to talk and the tears just started to flow again.  I felt like a wrecking ball spinning out of control.  Suddenly, my guilt engulfed me like a wave crashing down on the sea floor.  Guilt is a horrible feeling, my friends.  I have been plagued with it since the moment I arrived at the hospital 78 days ago.  I have felt so guilty for them being born premature.  I feel guilty when I get to their feeds late or when we just go once a day on the weekends.  Guilt strikes me when I see a cute girl in her last days of being pregnant and it rears its nasty head when I try to relax.  Sometimes I feel like it is my fault that they were born early.  Recently, one of the nurses told me that they think the girls were actually closer to 24 or 25 weeks instead of twenty-seven when they were born.  They think this because during their initial assessment, they still had fused eyes and their whole growth has been about two weeks delayed than their actual week.  Knowing this gives me more discomfort because I realize how fortunate we are for them to be with us.

As I sat there crying, I looked down and saw dear Adeline looking back at me.  Her eyes are so big and blue and she smells so sweet.  She makes funny noises and loves to grasp whatever she can get a hold of in her hands.  As I held her in my arms, I realized that she was a miracle.  Even if she is more premature than we thought, she is alive and she is getting better every day.  She was born early for a reason and this is all part of God's sovereign plan for our lives.  He knows how many hairs she has on her head and he knew she would be born early allowing him to deliver her safely into our arms.   He knew we were ready for this challenge because he heard our request to be used to glorify His kingdom.  He has been preparing us for this fight for years and He knows that if we rely on Him we will win this battle.  The one thing that God has not given me for this battle is guilt.  He would never make me feel guilty.  He loves me too much and He chooses to offer me kind words instead of discouraging ones.  This is self-guilt and I have allowed the devil a port hole to enter into my mind and fester this ugly beast.  It got out of control last week and since then I have tried to give it to God and let it go.

Maralee has hit the four pound mark and Adeline weighs 4.9 pounds now. Since they have done so great, the nurse told me that I needed to start coming for all of their day feeds.  That means I will be at the hospital five times a day and if they do good with this advanced feeding schedule, their is a very good chance that they could come home early next week!!!  I can't believe that the end is right around the corner.  I want it so bad it hurts.  Please pray for the girls to do good this weekend with their feeds and for us to remain patient.  Also, please pray for our families because they are helping us get our house prepared for them to come home.  We are so excited but at the same time, we don't want to push them to hard.  We want them home but we also want them to be taking their feeds extremely well before they leave the NICU.  The last thing we want is for them to be readmitted because they can't take their feeds.  Let us pray that they remain healthy growing little girls!

Raleigh and Maralee (10 weeks old)
Christen and Adeline (10 weeks old)

Friends, it was really quite silly for me to get so upset about the girls needing help.  The occupational therapist ended up being a good thing and she is helping us move in the right direction towards coming home.  I feel like God is using this experience to refine my thoughts.  He wants me to conquer the devil with my mind and not let him use guilt to discourage me and make me afraid.  When I stop allowing little red to control my emotions I will have defeated him.  For me, this is much easier said than done but every day I am learning my lesson.

Isn't that what life is about?  We are all filled with guilt and hard times but it is how we decide to deal with these things that determines the type of people we want to be.  I encourage you to rely on God and give him your worries because He desperately wants you and me to seek him when we are scared.  He is with us always; it is just up to us to allow him to enter into our hearts and our minds.  The more we are filled with God's truth, the easier it is to fight this never-ending battle for our minds.  Joyce Meyer wrote a great book called Battlefield of the Mind and she talks about how the devil lies.  She says that he doesn't know how to speak the truth.  He wants us to feel guilty because he hopes he can use that to sway us from being close to God.  "If we listen and accept what we hear, our enemy rejoices."  Friends, I do not want Satan to do a happy dance because he got into my mind.  In order for me not to let Satan have a stronghold on my mind, I have to fight him with praise and prayer to God.  By doing this, I have God on my side and the battle will be won!

"For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds" - 2 Corinthians 10:4

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen