Well, here he is...
Our handsome, chubby, sweet baby Abe. Abe Douglas Robert Van Andel arrived on October 29, at 12:30 pm, weighing in at 8 lbs, 3 oz, 20 inches long...happy and healthy! Brett and I went in to Labor and Delivery on Monday, the 29th, to have my water broken for a number of important reasons. We arrived at the hospital at 7:00 AM, had my water broken by 7:30, and Abe entered the world exactly 5 hours later. Everything about Abe's birth was different from Emri's-which was a relief. My labor went so fast that by the time I even had a thought about pain medication, it was too late. Although the pain was profound to say in the least, the birth was beautiful and the recovery much quicker than with my first medicated birth. I cannot describe to you the overwhelming relief that came with hearing those first few cries coming from my sweet baby boy...it was such a beautiful sound. Abe's apgar (health) scores at birth were 8 and 9 out of 10. When Emri was born, she scored a meager 1 and 2 out of 10. Needless to say, the experiences of meeting my two precious kids for the first time, were entirely different. Brett and I were overcome with thankfulness and disbelief to have Abe come to us healthy. Along with feelings of gratitude and relief Brett and I felt with Abe's arrival, came some difficult memories of Emri's birth. Seeing our rosy-cheeked, round-bellied, perfectly healthy baby Abe made us remember how earnestly we desired that for Emri shortly after we learned she was not any of those aforementioned things. We are SO thankful for our healthy son, but know that sitting him next to his big sister and acknowledging their differences may be extremely hard at times. We know that Emri will inevitably get to a point where she is able to begin making comparisons, and will realize that Abe doesn't need to visit the doctor near as many times as she does. She has already come to recognize that Abe does not have a g-tube or glasses...and that is hard for me, as a mom, to watch. Through all of this, though, I have to remember that God gave us Emri and Abe, and we trust, wholeheartedly, that He knows what is best for our little family.
So far, Emri adores her little brother for the most part. She refers to him, endearingly as "baby Abee" which makes me smile every time I hear her say it. Emri loves to test her limits by pushing on him, touching his face, and making plenty of noise while he sleeps--but she also loves to hold him, help give him baths, and "watch" Barney with him. She gets slightly distressed every time he cries and insists on someone helping him until he is once again calm. It has been a stressful but sweet, draining yet thrilling, demanding but beautiful, last three weeks acquainting ourselves with having our two amazing children.
In other news, our little family of four will be departing Seattle and arriving in Baltimore on December 11th. We have a few big appointments for Emri at Johns Hopkins before her spinal rod surgery, scheduled to take place on the 19th. This surgery has been looming before us since it was scheduled this summer and lately is becoming very, very real. We leave in a little over two weeks and the thought is somewhat terrifying. Knowing that we will be watching Emri suffer through more pain and constant discomfort is beyond distressing...but knowing that, as with any surgery, that something could go wrong and she could be taken from us...is truly, truly unbearable. Please pray that God brings our sweetheart through this surgery safely and that we can see her smile and experience her bear hugs soon afterwards. My love for this girl is just...unbelievable.
Emri has been pretty consistently struggling with keeping all of her feeds down. Just about every morning and after many of her naps, Emri loses much of the milk that she has been given overnight. It has been terrible watching her go through this, and it is so hard to turn her g-tube pump on, knowing it may be causing her discomfort in the end. But what really gets me is that every time Emri does get sick, she perks up afterward and says "Emri feels better!" She is so good at turning every difficult instance around and pulling the good from the bad. God has given us an amazing little girl.
So that is the latest from us. We are hoping to be able to keep updates going on this blog and facebook during Emri's upcoming surgery. PLEASE keep our family in your prayers. We are praying for peace, perseverance and HEALTH in the coming weeks.