Day 11

Oliver is 11 days old today, which means that I’ve been in Phoenix now for 8 days. I was able to spend my first few nights at my Granny’s house, which I really enjoyed. David arrived on Monday and we came straight to the hospital for him to meet his son.
Neither of us had the joyous, tearful reaction that I was hoping for when we first met Oliver. Honestly, I could hardly feel any emotion other than shock for the first five days or so. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy! But the shock of being matched, and then immediately picking up my life and moving to Phoenix for an unknown amount of time…that’s enough to put anyone into a state of shock, I think.

For David, I think Oliver’s tiny size and all of the medical machines probably distracted from the first father/son moment. But within a day, he had a meaningful moment when Oliver latched on to the tip of his finger and wouldn’t let go. I was so happy to capture that image with my phone.

In all of the adoption resources we were required to read, it was emphasized that bonding with the baby is imperative. The baby is used to sound of his birth mother’s heartbeat and voice. One book even described it as a trauma for the baby to not be with birth mom after birth, because he is taken away from everything that is familiar. Adoptive parents, then, should try to do as much skin to skin contact and talking to baby as possible. Get him used to you and familiar with your voice, touch and smell. Limit the number of other people you allow to hold him in the first several weeks of his life.
Well all of those plans went out the window. Haha. We haven’t been able to hold Oliver yet, and I’m not 100% sure when that will happen. A small part of me is a little afraid that we won’t bond as much as we would have had he been full term, but the majority of my mind says that is nonsense. I will have tons of time to bond with him, even here in the NICU.

David and I checked into the Ronald McDonald House on Monday night and have really enjoyed being close to the hospital. I’m not sure how long we will be able to stay, but I am very thankful for any time I have there.

I just dropped David off at the airport a little while ago. We decided it would be best for him to go back home and back to work for a while until Oliver is bigger and can be held. There’s not much David can do here other than keep me company, and while I’m really going to miss him, I know that this is only for a time. Soon we will all three be together at home.

As I mentioned before, the doctors expect that Oliver will be here until about his due date. Late April or early May is a good estimate. Of course there are always variables that can shorten or lengthen our stay.

Medically, Oliver is doing as expected for a baby born at 24 weeks. The first day of life is critical for preemies, and he soared through that. He was on an oscillator for about a week, but got a little feisty and extubated himself on Tuesday. The doctor was planning to switch him over to a regular ventilator that day, but decided since the tube was out, to give him a chance using a machine that is similar to a CPAP. We were warned that it was a 50-50 chance that he would end up back on the vent, but that either way, there was no harm done. Oliver seemed to be doing well off the vent, and his bilirubin level was bobbing around the normal range, so they took him off of photo-therapy lights. On Thursday his blood gases weren’t quite what they wanted, so they decided to reintubate. Also, his bilirubin was up a tad, so they put him back on the lights. None of this is uncommon.

After losing almost 3 ounces after birth, Oliver bounced around from 1 lb.6 to 1lb.7 oz. The doctor said he wanted to see him back up to birth weight by day 14. Last night he weighed 1lb 9oz. They gradually increased his feeds from 1ml last Friday, and he is now up to full feeds at 14mls. He receives fortified donor breast milk every three hours via an orogastric feeding tube. He is tolerating his feeds well so far and our hope is that he continues to gain weight!

On day 7 of life (Tuesday), they performed a brain ultrasound to check for bleeding or swelling of any kind. This is normal procedure for any premature baby. The doctor said that the results were mostly good. There was a small hematoma on the left side of his brain that should resolve on its own without complication. The radiologist saw something that he said could have been shadow or blip of the machine on the right side of his brain, so they are redoing the ultrasound sometime this week just to check and see.
We take all of this as good news. Every doctor we have spoken to has informed us of the risks involved, but has also given no indication that Oliver will not survive and thrive. We have a long road ahead of us, full of bumps and twists and turns, but this is the path that God chose for our family. God writes the best stories and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.

I will try to keep everyone updated as much as I can, but the day to day will probably stay mostly the same. We are celebrating every tiny victory and milestone.

We covet your prayers during this time as I adjust to life at a hospital again. I thank God that I am so comfortable in this type of environment, because it take a little of the stress off of me. I am used to all of the whirring and beeping of machines and I am familiar with the comings and goings of nursing staff and teams of doctors.

Also keep David in your prayers as he returns home to a quiet, empty house. He is fairly self-sufficient, but I still hate that we can’t be together.

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Piece By Piece Puzzle fundraiser

***Update! You have claimed over $4,000 in puzzle pieces! We are so excited!

David and I are doing a fundraiser right now on Facebook to help with the cost of our adoption. I know that not everyone has Facebook, so I’d like to share it with you here as well. 
To help with the cost of our adoption, I designed a 252 piece puzzle that will be assembled, framed and hung in our future child’s nursery. We are asking you to “sponsor” a piece (or several pieces!) of the puzzle. 

We will write your name on the back of the piece/pieces that you sponsor so that our child will always know who helped bring him or her into our family. 
Instead of selling each piece for a set amount, we’ve decided the way this will work is that each piece will be “numbered” 1, 2, 3, 4…..all the way to 252, and each piece will cost the numerical value that it is assigned. So piece #1 will cost $1, piece #10 will cost $10, piece #150 will cost $150….and so on. 
Once a piece has sold, we will cross that value off the list. In the end, if we sell every piece, we will have raised over $31,000!!! (Which is exactly how far we are from our overall fundraising goal!)
The person who sponsors the $1 piece is no less important than the person who sponsors the $100 one or the $252 one. In the end, it takes every piece for the puzzle to be complete. 
I have been praying about this fundraiser for several weeks. I am excited to share this opportunity with you and I hope that you will come alongside us to help build our family piece by piece. 

***To claim your piece, please choose from the photo of the remaining numbers and comment on this post with the  number you’d like to sponsor and your method of payment (PayPal or mail). At the end of each day, I will delete and repost the picture after I have erased the numbers claimed for that day. Hopefully this will minimize confusion about which pieces are still available to be sponsored. 

***Payment information: We are offering two ways to pay. You can pay via PayPal, sending the amount to dsiler82@gmail.com

OR

You can mail the amount to our address 

18 Sullivan Dr. 

Granby, CT 06035

Obviously, if you are able to pay in person that is also another option. 

Any questions can be emailed to ambersue2248@gmail.com.

Baby Steps

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Everyone has probably noticed by now from the many fundraising posts on my Facebook page that we have begun the process of adoption. A part of me – I’ll admit a HUGE part of me – wanted to keep it a secret, even from our families. I am a private person in general. I remember the exhaustion of having to repeatedly answer the same questions from well meaning, loving people regarding my cancer journey. When announcing our plans to adopt, I had to prepare myself for the same with this journey.

But there is also the loss of the element of surprise, the one I wanted to experience when I announced to friends and family that we had been matched. For me, that is the equivalent of surprising people with a pregnancy announcement. I always looked forward to the way I would tell my parents….my friends. And with this journey publicized, it will be much less of a surprise. The joy of the announcement will be just as real though. And that I know.

In reality, I always knew that we would have to open our story up to the public, if for no other reason than to ask for help. Financially, yes. But there is something so much more helpful about having a community supporting us in every way. Lifting us up in prayer. Protecting our sanity (lol). Encouraging us. Reminding us of God’s faithfulness. We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support that we have already experienced, even at the very beginning of this process.

That being said, I’ve felt God telling me to open up and be transparent throughout our adoption journey. I want to share with you all of the things that have led us to this point. I am well aware that my posts can become rather lengthy sometimes, so my plan is to share our story so far in several posts over the next few days/ weeks. I’ll also include some general facts about domestic infant adoption and try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. And if any of you have questions that you’d like answered or are curious about anything, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!

Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll follow our story!