Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2 Month Update... This is our Little Miracle Baby...

… named "Baby Girl Strackeljahn"... until 3 Days old! 


We were not ready for our baby to come. 

We certainly were not ready TEN WEEKS EARLY! 

So when she arrived and we were tasked (barraged by family and nurses *smile*)… to name our precious little tiny miracle we were at a loss. Truly I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of naming such an amazing little one. Who, in our hearts, was a miracle and will grow to be an incredible little toddler and someday an amazing adult.

My true problem was that there were SO many names that I loved and I had not had time to narrow them down. We were supposed to have 10 more weeks! :)

Throughout this pregnancy the word that continued to come to mind was “MIRACLE”… I could not get it out of my head. We have prayed and cried out to our Heavenly Father to bless us with another child… for 3.5 years we struggled with infertility. Our prayers were earnest and desperate. Our hearts longed and hoped for the answer to not be NO (although medically and historically this seemed most likely.) It would take a MIRACLE! … and that is exactly what we prayed for.

I attended a Bible Study that fall and felt God had impressed upon me three questions that I needed to wrestle with. 

1. Do you believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (infertility included) (Psalm 139, Gen. 1:27, Eph.2:10)?
2. Do you believe that God really wants the BEST for you (Rom. 8:28)?
And 3. Can you thank God TODAY even if His answer is no (and you do not know His answer yet. Like Jonah in the belly of the fish, before he knew the outcome)? 

I honestly wrestled with these questions… I prayed that God would prepare my heart for the No and allow me to be THANKFUL for that no. My heart was so torn, we still hoped He would say yes, but began to trust that even if His answer was No, there was still a best yet to come.
I cried. I mourned. I didn’t want that answer, but I trust God and He is ALWAYS faithful (Deut. 7:9). He always has been. I could trust Him now.

Month after month we would hope, I would take a pregnancy test, and I would grieve. Those who have experienced this will understand what I am talking about, although I am not sure that I can truly explain it. Then came November 2013. I really did not expect to be pregnant because of timing and an unwelcome snow storm that kept me from my love for far too long. But I took a test on a Friday because I hoped this time that I felt funny was really the time His answer would be YES!... it was negative. Again. I was MAD, not just disappointed, but truly mad. I had turned over my heart (I thought) and was truly OK with no… but obviously I still needed some work.
God restored me and renewed me. He is ALWAYS faithful. Come Monday I still was feeling icky and considering taking pseudafed and decided I would take a pregnancy test “just to be sure” so I could get relief from my symptoms without feeling guilty. It was positive! So I took another test… it was positive! God has said “YES!!!!!!” and I cried… and cried… and cried… JOY filled my heart and I could not stop praising God for this miracle baby in my belly.

At our first Ultrasound we were beyond excited! We.Could.Not.Wait. to see our precious little miracle at just 6 weeks old! & There she was! Beautiful! Our little miracle!

But that is not all, God blessed us with TWO babies. Two tiny miracles. We were overwhelmed with emotion of joy and love for our tiny little ones at just 6 weeks old. We were already so in love.

& As quickly as these emotions came we were hit with the tragic news that one of our little ones did not have a heartbeat. Baby had already gone to Heaven. They give it the euphemistic name "vanishing twin syndrome." We were confused and heartbroken. We left with mixed emotions of joy and heartbreak and honestly I could not wrap my head around what had happened. My sweet husband asked me if I wanted to name the baby and I immediately said “no.” that seemed strange to me. Then as I was grieving this little one a sweet friend encouraged me with these words & they were exactly what I needed to hear.    

She said, “ultimately God added to our family and to His. He used us to create lives that will never know anything but the joy of Jesus, and we may not get to hold them on this earth, but we will spend eternity with them.
 (Let that realization sink in for a moment! ... God is AMAZING!)

So as I prayed about our hearts and how I should feel. I would grieve and yet rejoice. I believe during this time that God impressed upon me a name to give our baby. A name my husband had suggested as soon as we saw the little + sign on the test. It didn't seem strange anymore but gave our baby's life meaning and significance...

Her name: Joy Belle.


Joy for the joy we received when we learned of her little life and Belle (beauty) for the beautiful life and meaning she has left us with. Beauty for what she gets to see and experience every day as she experiences Heaven and the joy of Jesus and His unfailing love for her. 

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”
Matthew 19:14

I will share more on our little one, our Joy Belle later, but wanted to include this in Charlotte’s story because it IS a part of her story too. 

(My last “belly shot” at 27 weeks)



(our last family of 3 picture! (29 weeks))


 Due to pregnancy complications, severe pre eclampsia and HELLP syndrome, Baby Girl came 10 weeks early. Her original due date was 8/25/14 but she made her grande debut on 6/19/14.

This was not a surprise to God. He had formed her… perfectly for 30 weeks… He knew this would be her birthday and as scared as we were, we trusted that God held her in His hands. 
She arrived with a cry I will never forget! Oh that sweet sound brings tears to my eyes as I remember that moment.

She was ALIVE! 

 
(Minutes old! Still in the delivery room.)

I did not get to see her right away, but I cherished that cry and held it in my heart. I was trusting God and the medical staff to make sure that they would give her whatever she needed, what my body had failed to provide her from this point on. And she didn’t need ANYTHING immediately! The staff was in awe. She was a miracle! She was too small & too early, but she was strong. She still needed to get to the NICU for further evaluation and medical attention. So, as they wheeled her out in the isolette (or tiny plastic box of a bed) they realized I had not seen her yet. They stopped  and held her little head up and I saw her for the first time.  She was beautiful and tiny! I loved her so much.

Then I had to wait… “24 hours”… I was still considered critical (more on that later.) and I could not see her. These were THE.LONGEST.27.HOURS.&.15.MINS of my life. 
yes …I counted every minute to see her! To touch her! … & to name her.

(The first time I got to see her and touch her.)

Three days in and we could not come up with a name for such an amazing miracle! She was strong and healthy (for her gestational age.) and I wanted to give her a name “that meant something.”

So we prayed… and talked… and got name suggestions from just about everyone… it probably made my problem worse. Haha! I liked them all.

But a name kept coming to mind… was Charlotte.

You see, we have this list of names on my phone, and whenever I would hear or see a name I liked I would write it down. It was a list compiled over the last 3.5 years while we were hoping for a baby. So it was a long list and I like so many of them. Charlotte was on the list, but once my sister Melissa said that if she had a baby girl some day that she really wanted to name her Charlotte, I moved it down on my list of importance.
You see, I understand what it is like to long for something that is yet to happen. I understand what it is to hope and dream of that little life, yet God has not answered that prayer yet. I liked the name, but I wanted Melissa to continue to have hope for what God would do in her life.

Then we were pregnant, and this spring Michael comes to me and said “what about naming the baby after you?”

I always thought this was WEIRD (he had brought it up before when we were naming Lila too.)… I did not want a Laura Amanda Jr. lol. So, he explained, “well what about Charlotte?” 

A nickname for CharLOTTE is Lottie… & my childhood nickname was Lottie Bird. (Some in my family still call me that, or just Bird.) But I had decided to name my etsy shop Lottie Bird “because I would never name a child after myself.” :)

But then we are sitting there looking over our names and one keeps popping out… CHARLOTTE… 

Charlotte means “petite and feminine.” … our little Lottie. 

 

It was perfect!


So I made Michael call my sister Melissa to tell her… :)

I needed her to be okay with it. He called. He began to share with her how much we love her and how much, how significant she had been to us during this time. How scared he had been. And as he choked back tears (big manly tears!) he said “I was scared to death Laura and our baby would die and you were there for me, for us, for our baby. You walked us through this and we would love to honor you, and a name you love, by naming our baby Charlotte.” Of course she said she loved it.

Now Hope was harder to come by. I could not get the word “miracle” out of my mind, but I really didn’t feel “cool enough” to name a baby that. Hehe. So we considered several other middle names. We had a Grace (Lila Grace) and a Joy (Joy Belle),  so we came into the final round with Praise and Faith. Neither of us could agree… then Grandpa Rob made a suggestion, Hope.

There is was right in front of us. Why had we not considered it? I am not really sure! We saw Hope and it was like our eyes were open. 

Charlotte Hope was a perfect name for our baby. 


Hope has been what we have held on to for many many years. Hope for survival of this precious life when we had already lost one twin. Hope, in the midst of fear, is what we clung to when the outcome looked so bleak. Our hope was not a passing whim of well wishing or optimism. Our hope was in that something that IS happening will continue to happen in it’s fullness. Our hope is in the One who had sustatined us …on our infertility journey, in our grief in our loss,through peace in our fear and throughout our whole lives. It is His hope that we live by and walk in. We KNOW, just as He has these last two months, He will see us through. We are certain of His presence, His hands, His strength. He formed our miracle baby in my womb and gave us hope… again and again and again.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we  boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." Romans 5:5-11
Our ultimate Hope is in Christ who has saved us, if you do not know Him personally and would like to know Him and have this hope, please contact me. I would be happy to share with you my Jesus. 

❤️❤️❤️❤️

And here she is… 

our little Lottie… our 

Charlotte Hope

Born June 19th, 2014 Birthday

Weighing only 2 pounds 3 ounces and 15 inches long

  

(Some precious first moments when Michael got to be near her and touch her.)

(This cpap machine helped her breathe.)

(One day old. My first time "holding" her.)
(One day old. My first time "holding" her.)

(One day old. These pictures make me emotional. Remembering how tiny yet perfect she was. Looking at me when I talked... Calming with daddy's touch. God's work is AMAZING.)

(One day old. Sucking her thumb.)

(One day old. Holding mommy's finger.)

(One day old. Calmed by daddy's touch. So tiny!)

!!! VIDEO!!!

My first time seeing and “holding” my baby girl!

click here: http://youtu.be/KNeKeMBk3ug




 and today... 

Charlotte Hope

08/19/2014 – 2 Months Old

Weighing 5 pounds 9 ounces and 18.25 inches long



God continues to form her! 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

2 Month Pictures... To Be Continued...

 (Note: I PROMISE, Charlotte was safe during the entire production of this photo. Michael was photoshopped out to preserve creativity in capturing this "moment".)


Big sister and Baby Sister

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Charlotte ~ 40 days

Update:

She has now doubled her weight at 4 pounds 6 ounces. It's amazing what 2 pounds 3 ounces can add to her tiny body.

I really wish all of you could see the transformation!
God is truly amazing! We are in awe of His handiwork as we have watched her grow these last 40 days.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Update July 25th

Guess who is weighing in at over 4 pounds? 

Charlotte Hope! 



At 36 days old Charlotte is 4 pound & 2.7 ounces. She's doing great holding her temperature And she's still having some apnea/bradycardia events. She's taking about 30% of her feedings herself and the rest they are still tubing. 
With everything going well Her feedings seem to be the biggest thing she needs to get down now. She is just 35 weeks gestation age, so it's still early for her to be doing all of this herself! Charlotte is amazing to be fighting so hard and God is amazing to have formed us in this way!

Please keep praying that Charlotte will continue to grow strong and healthy. That she will continue to do great and increase her feeds. 



On Monday, it will be 7 weeks I've been here in OKC... And I cannot wait to be home with my whole family all together. ...Before I was transferred here I was really enjoying my Bible study of Gideon... I knew he was in the Bible but I honesty didn't know his story. :)
I remember reading the study the first two weeks and being excited to read the Bible and learn what God was going to do through his life. 
One point that stood out to me as I reflected on my own life was that I rather enjoyed my comfortable life. I am a home body and enjoy my family being all together. We do things intentionally to make this a priority.
I asked God to show me how He could use me by taking me out of my comfort zone. Last weekend while talking with my friend (or rather while I was complaining about how I'm just not comfortable here and that I just want to be home.) it hit me... God has answered my prayers and instead of taking it as a gift I was in a hurry to get out of here. 
With Charlotte we are waiting while we watch her grow... It's really in His hands.
So this past week I have tried to be more intentional about others around me. 
I pray God is glorified in and through my broken life. And I am grateful for the mercy He has so graciously given us to sustain us during this time. 

P.s. Although I've changed my perspective I pray every day that they tell us a date we can go home! :) 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Update... 35 weeks or 1 month old. :)

Charlotte is now weighing 3 lb 13.7 oz. she will be at 4 pounds, the minimum goal weight for going home, soon!
She's looking really cute in her outfits and pretty blankets. :)

A few other "milestones" she must meet before going home and we would love prayer for are that she must take all her feedings herself, not through a tube.
Right now she is allowed to try every other feeding time but has been doing a little more than half through the bottle then they tube the rest. It's a lot of work for her and she gets worn out. She has taken the full feed for me 2x of the last several days.

Also she is still having apnea/bradycardia spells. They are becoming less but she still gets them. I am not totally sure when they will be okay with her going home while still having these.

So those are two things we would love prayer for.

As you have prayed specifically in the past, God has answered.
Thank you for joining us in praying for these things as well!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Charlotte had an eye exam...

Eye exam went well.
It looked scary but Charlotte was very brave. 

They do not see any signs at this time of ROP eye disease. Praise God. 

... but her eye vessels are still maturing, as they would be at 34 weeks gestation. So they she will have an eye exam every 2 weeks until she is full term. 


Thanks for the continued prayers!


Kissing baby sister's nose...

...  It's Lila's "thing".  

She thinks it's so silly to kiss your nose... she finally got to hold her and kiss her nose!



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Charlotte is totally rocking the weight!

She's at 3 pounds 2.8 ounces!
Just over a whole pound up from her birth weight.

Today she would've been 34 weeks so she's still having her apnea/ bradycardia spells.
They make me nervous but the nurses and doctors say it's normal for a preemie and are keeping an eye out for her.

This week I was getting weary. Not because anything bad happened... But because this is hard. I know it's not as hard as others have it and we have a LOT to be thankful for... But it's still hard.
I was pouring my heart out to God (and later again to Michael)... that as great as she is doing that there is still no talk about going home. On one hand, I do understand that. And I know she's not ready yet. But I'm someone who likes a plan... The plan can change, I just need a plan.
And as of right now all they keep saying is "expect your due date." Which is 8/25. That's 6 weeks from today! I've already been here for a month. I'm a home body who loves having my family close. I have never been away from Lila or Michael this long and I can't stand to leave Charlotte either. I'm SOOO ready for our whole family to be together again. I'm tired and weary...

Then we walked into a local church on Sunday and they were singing ...
"I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a Friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory

Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in your hands
I'm holding onto Your promises
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side"

And then I was encouraged further by the sermon on John 14:16 where Jesus encourages the disciples by saying He will send the Holy Spirit to be with them. I needed that same encouragement that the disciples needed that day. Thank you Lord.

The Holy Spirit is with me and my girls have an army of angels by their side and we are not alone. I know Who goes before me!

This weekend we were together for the most part (can't always be at the hospital all day), but it was one of the hardest times to say goodbye to Michael and Lila.
I am sooooo grateful my mom and Michael's mom are still here helping out in a tremendous way (always with a smile too!)
I'm not sure where we would be without them! (Also thankful for Papa and Grandpa who sacrificed to have them come!)

Charlotte decided to thank us all too by letting us hold her in blankets!
This is a BIG deal y'all!
...Because
1. only Mama and Daddy could hold her skin to skin before now. (Which is also awesome)
2. I finally got to hold her and LOOK at her. Be amazed by all her little tiny parts and stand in awe of God's masterpiece!
3. The big sister and grandmas got to hold her for the very first time at almost 1 month old!


 Big Sister holding Baby Sister for the first time!
Sunday, July 13,2014







Grandma and Loulou Lovin!






PRAYER WORKS!

Please continue to pray for her to gain strength and grow! Each ounce is a day closer to us going home and being all together.

Please also pray for strength for us to carry on as God has already proven faithful.

Also, I would love for you to pray for the other babies in the NICU many are not doing as well as our sweet Charlotte and I cannot imagine what the families are going through in these difficult times.

THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Update: Mama gets a "thumbs up" from Charlotte and doctors!

I apologize I haven't updated lately! I have just been enjoying snuggling with my baby girl and taking care of all the things new moms take care of. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 4th Update

Official Results are in!

Her PDA is small and has shown some healing!

So, they plan to let it close on it's own as the doctors don't believe it is really causing her any problems.




She's weighing in at 2 pounds 9 ounces! And got to wear a hat handed down from her cousins today... It was a lil big but I think she made it work. :) 

Maybe soon we will get to put clothes on her? :)


THANK YOU for your continued prayers! God is faithful! 






Watching fireworks from Charlotte's room in the NICU! Amazing!


Friday, July 4, 2014

❤️ Always & Forever



Daddy, Big Sister, & Baby Sister ❤️ ❤️ ❤️