Thursday, April 26, 2012

Every Good and Perfect Thing....

Dear Charli,

Months before you were born, your mommy gave me free reign to decorate your nursery. Her only preference was that she likes dark wood and for the walls she wants photos of babies in sepia prints. We haven't added any photos to the walls yet (I've decided I want those photos to be of YOU!)

We are still contemplating printed canvases vs. framed prints. We've chosen some of your newborn shots we'd like to use but that's all that has been decided.

Poppy and I purchased your crib for a Christmas gift for your mommy. Soon after, your mommy purchased some dressers at a really great price. The furniture didn't match but I assured her we'd make it work.

Your mommy and I had been searching for quotes and scriptures for me to paint on your walls. We narrowed it down to your Mommy's favorite choices. How perfect that the scripture your Mommy chose was James 1:17 "Every Good and Perfect Thing Comes from Above." God certainly sent us a very good and perfect thing when He sent you to our family!

The far wall above your crib says:
Sometimes the smallest things
take up the most room in your heart--Pooh

The words on your bookcase say:
Child is a
Story Waiting to be Told

Your room is finished except for a few minor finishing touches and pictures and decorations to hang on the wall. It's all waiting for you to come home, and then it will be complete.

I imagine one day that your mommy might come into your room and find you coloring on your walls. I wonder if your response will be "I'm painting like Grammy does!"

Every day brings us closer to bringing you home and we so look forward to that day.
We love you bunches and bunches!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Uncle Mike!

Dear Charli,
The first Sunday after you were born was a treat! Your mommy's uncle Mike, Poppy's twin brother, came to visit. It was a treat because he lives far away in Hawaii and was in San Antonio for a class with the Army. He arrived on Sunday morning and as soon as Poppy got out of church they headed to San Antonio to see you.
They also brought our dear friends, the Wilcox Family. You have so many people who already love you so much! All of them are anxious to have you home to love and hug!

Your first visit from Uncle Mike:

Uncle Mike also brought presents from Hawaii! This photo was taken much later but it was the first time your Mommy brought you some of your own clothes to try on. Uncle Mike and Aunt Debbie gave you and your Mommy matching Hawaiian sun dresses. We are anxious to get you home and take photos of you and Mommy in your matching dresses!

I think you are the prettiest baby I have ever seen!

Snuggles Again!

Dear Charli,
On Saturday after surgery you came off the ventilator and your mommy and I were able to hold you. The favorite part of our day is snuggling you!

You no longer had the vent tube, but now you had a feeding tube. The feeding tube is the white tube in your nose. It contained your Mommy's milk but it emptied into your lower intestines, below the surgery site, not into your tummy. Your doctors wanted to be sure your lower intestines worked properly, and your surgery site had to heal before any food
could go through it.

I love the look on your Mommy's face every time she holds you. There is so much love there!

I can't wait to bring you home!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Post Surgery

Dear Charli,

Your surgery was Thursday morning and Friday night you still had not awakened. Although we were concerned by this, doctors were not alarmed. Your nurses encouraged us to try to waken you Friday night.  I video recorded you trying to waken, but no success.

You were a bit puffy, especially in your face, after surgery. The nurses explained you were retaining fluid after surgery.

All the extra tape on your face was to keep all your tubes and wires in place. You have a new tube after surgery, one hooked up to a ventilator to help you breathe. By Friday night you still weren't breathing on your own. Your doctor hoped to be able to wean you off the ventilator by Saturday.

We couldn't hold you while you were on the ventilator. We could stand by your bed and talk to you and touch you though.


You would open your eyes just far enough to peek at us but you didn't fully waken Friday.

Hoping to hold you soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Surgery Day

Thursday morning, March 22, your mommy and I were scheduled to be in the NICU to see you at 6 am to get kisses before surgery and so the surgeon could talk to your mommy. Your mommy still had not been released from the hospital so when we woke we just had to get dressed and go upstairs to see you. Poppy and Granny drove over to the hospital very early so they could see you before surgery too.
At 7:30 we still hadn't seen the surgeon. At approximately 8:30 they finally wheeled you down to surgery and we all went to the 3rd floor surgery waiting room. We were told surgery could take 2, possibly 3 hours to repair your intestines.

The nurse put you in an incubator and wheeled you away:

We got one last glimpse of you as they pushed you down the hallway:

At approximately 10:25 am Dr. Thomas came to the waiting room to let us know your surgery went well and that you would go straight back to the NICU for recovery.

After surgery, for a couple of days, we couldn't hold you while you were on the ventilator. You remained on the ventilator until you could breathe on your own again.

It was hard to see you hooked up to so many tubes and wires but we knew they were all in place to make you well again.

Praying it won't be long until you are healed and home!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Bath

Dear Charli,

Wednesday evening, March 21 your nurse, Suzanna, asked your Mommy and me if we'd like to give you your first bath. We of course said "YES!" It was just a sponge bath due to all your tubes and wires but you had to be cleaned up good before surgery the next morning.

Grammy washed your hands and between your fingers:

Mommy washed your arms:

and your belly:

and your legs... I teased Mommy that it looked like she was playing with a doll!

and you were not at all happy when Grammy washed under your chin:

Mommy got you a clean diaper:

You were not crazy about getting your hair wet:

but getting it rubbed and washed wasn't so bad

All that work made you so sleepy. Good night sweet Charli. Sleep well.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Downs Syndrome

Dear Charli,

I had this notion in my head from your ultrasounds that you would need surgery for your duodenal atresia but that's all. I know there was a possibility the duodenal atresia could be linked to Downs Syndrome, but I had convinced myself you didn't have it because Dr. Huff never saw any signs of it on any of your ultrasounds.

Tuesday morning after your Mommy had been given a round of iv antibiotics, I wheeled her up to see you.

I don't remember who came to talk to us first, but someone did, and wanted us to know you were being tested for Downs Syndrome. The doctor had seen some physical characteristics of Downs and ordered the tests to be sure. The events of that day are a bit of a blur now. I remember every doctor or nurse who came to talk to us, first asked us if we had already been made aware of the Downs. I remember thinking and saying to your Mommy, that I can't see it and we asked the nurse to show us the physical signs they saw. Because of your Mommy's research, she knew what to look for, and after being made aware of the characteristics in you, she then could see what the doctors saw all along.

The finger curved so cutely, apparently ready for tea parties with Grammy and Nana is actually a characteristic of the Downs:

Your beautifully shaped eyes are another characteristic that I still only see sometimes and I never see when you're asleep:

Your right hand has one crease straight across and a curved crease around the base of your thumb unlike the 3-4 creases on most hands and like your left hand has.

I didn't want to see the characteristics that meant something was wrong. I wanted you to be perfect. And you know what, you are perfect in every imaginable way. God made you and God has a plan for you. Every doctor who talks to us about Downs tells us that children with Downs are the most loving children we will ever meet. We have been told how blessed our family is, how blessed we are that God chose us to raise such a special little baby girl. And they are all so right. Your Mommy has been so amazing. God placed you in the care of an awesome Mommy who is going to take such wonderful care of you.

I never realized until you that Downs Syndrome can be such a blessing to a family. I look forward to getting to know you, watching you grow, and learning all I can to help you develop.

I thought there might be things you can't do, and I'm learning more and more that just isn't the case. You can do everything, just some things take a little longer than they might for a child without Downs.

What a blessing you are to us!


Charli ♥

Dear Charli,

After you were born your mommy began to vomit and run a fever. The doctors wanted her on antibiotics before she could go to the NICU to see you. In the wee hours of the morning before Poppy drove Granny home, he and I went upstairs to see you again together. We decided together we wouldn't hold you until your Mommy was able to hold you again. Each time we look at you we grow to love you even more, if that's possible.

In the NICU they already had you hooked up to monitors and had your iv in place, and the protective gel on your eyes:

I still think you are the most beautiful newborn I've ever seen.

An Incredibly Blessed Day!

Dear Charli,

On Monday morning, March 19, your Mommy had an appointment to see Dr. Kirchner. Mommy called me afterward and said she was dilated to a 3! Dr. Kirchner just told Mommy to go home and that if her water broke or contractions started to call her or the hospital, that she would be on call all day.

Your Mommy called me again at 11 am that she was beginning to feel what she thought might be contractions. She had been having contractions for weeks but couldn't feel them unless she put her hands on her belly. Her doctors said she probably couldn't feel them because of all the excess fluid.

Your Mommy was beautiful pregnant! That's you inside her belly in these pictures:

I left my job at the church office and went home to have lunch with your Mommy about 12:30. She tried to call Dr. Kirchner but everyone was out to lunch and the hospital wouldn't page her until 1:00. At 1:05 Mommy called the office again where they told her to go to the hospital in Seguin to be transported to San Antonio. So I called Poppy and Granny and told them they could meet us at the hospital. I put all your Mommy's bags in the car and we drove to the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital we went straight to the ob department and the ladies there were very confused. Apparently Dr. Kirchner had 2 pregnant Mommies going into labor and reporting to the hospital. They kept asking your Mommy if she was Sam or Samantha. They were expecting her but had not received notification yet that your Mommy was coming. They got that straightened out and soon after Dr. Kirchner showed up to check on your Mommy and to make sure she got there ok. She ordered a helicopter to get Mommy and you to San Antonio faster. As soon as the helicopter had been called Poppy, Granny, and I decided to head over to San Antonio, hoping and praying you wouldn't arrive before we could get there. I became aggravated when just before our exit to go to the hospital traffic just completely stopped. We weren't moving at all and I was so afraid I was going to miss your arrival! Soon it started moving again and we found our way to the hospital and to your Mommy. Mommy was still in the triage, or emergency department of the OB and I waited with her there while Poppy and Granny waited in the waiting room. She wasn't there long before they moved her to a labor/delivery room to get ready for you. Your mommy was having contractions close together but not in a great deal of pain and not dilating any further.
Your mommy let me take some pictures of her in the hospital:

Still beautiful and still smiling! She doesn't know how blessed she is that she was only umcomfortable for a short while until her doctor gave her some medicine that took all the pain away.

Your heart rate dropped pretty low a few times and scared Grammy. The nurses put oxygen on your mommy and had her lie on her side because you seemed to like that better. Your heart rate dropped again a while later and the nurses did the same thing and it worked again. Suddenly sometime around 10:00 or 10:30 all the nurses and some doctors came rushing in to the room. Your heart rate dropped again and nothing was working to raise it. Honestly Grammy was scared and it was all happening so fast and there were people everywhere. One doctor decided to check your Mommy and discovered the reason: your Mommy was completely dilated already and ready to push you out. That doctor, Dr. Lunsford and the other doctors and nurses helped your Mommy know when to push and one of the doctors rubbed your head and said some babies like that and it helped stabilize your heart beat while you worked to come out.

In a very short time you were here, all purple and blue and crying and your Mommy and I were crying, so happy to see you. A doctor handed me a pair of scissors and asked if I'd like to cut your umbilical cord. I did, then kissed your Mommy and grabbed a camera to take your picture. Your Mommy did so great!

You arrived at 11:04 pm, in the middle of a raging storm outside with thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and high winds. Your Mommy and I were completely oblivious to the storms and only knew they existed when I went to the cafeteria and saw a news report on the tv. 

 Your mommy had decided as soon as she knew you were a girl that your name would be Kayleigh Charles, and she wanted to call you "Charli."  You scored a 9 on your APGARs and you looked so perfect and beautiful! We had to wait to know your weight because they wanted to get you to the NICU for all that.

We knew because they had to get you to the NICU to look at your heart we wouldn't get to see you long, but as soon as they said you were ok they wrapped you up and put you in Mommy's arms:

They put in a tube to drain your tummy right away (that's the tube poking out of your mouth)

The nurses let me call Poppy and Granny to come to the hallway so they could see you before you went upstairs to the NICU:

I still cry tears of happiness when I remember seeing you for the first time. You have blessed our family so much already and we love you so very much!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Leap Year Baby?

Dear Charli,

Your mommy saw Dr. Kirchner the morning of February 29. When Dr. Kirchner checked, your mommy appeared to be ready to go into labor. Because of your condition she took no chances and sent your Mommy straight to the local hospital so you could be transported to the San Antonio hospital.  (The local hospital is wonderful, but doesn't have the level of nursery needed to take the best care of you because you require surgery)

Doctors weren't surprised that Mommy might be going into labor. Everyone expected you to come early. Duodenal Atresia causes Mommy's womb to have a lot of excess fluid, which often causes mommies to go into labor early.

Grammy, Poppy, and Granny all drove to the hospital to meet Mommy just before they put her in the ambulance. We were all so excited that we might meet you soon AND that you might be born on leap year. Your Great Great Grandpa Gunter had a leap year birthday so that would have been pretty cool.

Grammy and Poppy followed the ambulance to San Antonio, and Granny followed us. We didn't want to miss a thing! :)

The ambulance crew took good care of Mommy and got her to the hospital in San Antonio where she was hooked up to monitors that showed you were doing well and Mommy was having contractions, but she couldn't feel them. They kept her there a couple of days to make sure you weren't coming and finally let her go home. They told her she could go home but that she had to take it easy and she couldn't go back to work.
I took your Mommy home where we all waited, anxious to meet you and wondering when you would arrive. We speculated on dates and compared whose birthday you might share.

You were already so loved by so many people! I am still overwhelmed sometimes by how many people love you so much, even before you were here. People have been praying for you, praying about your surgery and health and praying for your mommy.

I knew you were being taken care of by God and that He had a plan for you. Your mommy and I have had some long talks and I'm so thankful that she also loves God and trusted Him with whatever happened with you.

I was very anxious to meet you, see you, and smother you with Grammy hugs and kisses!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Duodenal Atresia

Dear Charli,
On January 24, 2012, I took your Mommy to her first appointment in San Antonio where she met Dr. Huff. Dr. Huff would continue to see you every other week through ultrasounds where he would measure you, measure the amount of fluid in your Mommy's womb, monitor your heartbeats, and see if your "double bubble" changed...all through ultrasounds. It was so awesome to see you move and develop on those monitors. Dr. Huff laughed at the term "double bubble" and said it's not really a bubble at all, and that it doesn't contain any air. He confirmed the duodenal atresia diagnosis and explained that a portion of your intestines had not developed or was blocked and that you could not digest food because nothing from your stomach could pass through until your intestines could be repaired. He explained surgery after you were born would be necessary.

Your Mommy and Dr. Huff:

 We learned that because you had duodenal atresia that you would also have a 30% chance of having Downs Syndrome. Your mommy began to research Downs Syndrome as well as the duodenal atresia. Dr. Huff never saw any signs of Downs in any further ultrasounds through the rest of your Mommy's pregnancy.

We continued to watch you grow through the ultrasounds and grew to love you more and more. Your Mommy would let me feel when you would kick her tummy and it was so cool to be able to feel you move around.

Dr. Huff introduced Mommy to Dr. Parker who she would begin to see in San Antonio every other week when she would go see Dr. Huff too. Now Mommy had a team of 3 doctors she saw for the rest of her pregnancy. They all took such great care of her and of you.

Your Mommy and Dr. Parker:

And the doctor who cared for Mommy from the beginning, Dr. Kirchner:

From the beginning, you have had the best care!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ultrasound - January 12, 2012

Dear Charli,

I attended your 29th week ultrasound with your Mommy on January 12, 2012. Your ultrasound tech at the time was so patient it seemed, taking many many measurements and printing lots of photos to share. The sweetest and my favorite of all was printed that day:

Looking at you that day we never imagined anything could be wrong. You appeared chubby and healthy and so perfect. After viewing many images we were sent into another room to wait for the doctor. Dr. Kirchner wanted to see us before we left. We were later glad we didn't know ahead of time that Thursdays are not a day she is in the office or we might have been concerned. We didn't realize it was unusual for her to be called in after an ultrasound. So your mom and I waited, not worried or concerned, just at the time wishing we could leave and get back to work. Little did we know Dr. Kirchner was arriving with the news that something was not right according to the ultrasound images.

Dr. Kirchner arrived carrying some photos from the ultrasound. She shared with your Mommy that she would need a level 2 ultrasound to look more closely at your stomach and intestines. A "double bubble" seemed to be evident from the ultrasound. She said the words "duodenal atresia" as well as another term but it wouldn't be until much later and after hearing those words a few more times that we remembered what the words were or what they meant. I remember trying hard not to cry, and failing, and trying to understand all she said.

Your mommy and I began to google "double bubble" because those were the only words Dr. Kirchner said that day we could remember. The results of those internet searches raised  many questions that your Mommy wrote  down and asked Dr. Kirchner, who so patiently answered all of them.

We spent the next week googling, praying, writing down questions and waiting for the next ultrasound that we hoped would reveal all was well.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Looking Back

Dear Charli,

In August, 2011, our little family's world turned in a completely different direction. While a pregnancy at that time was not what we had hoped or planned for your Mommy, that was the news she shared was to be. We thought we had years before thinking about preparing for grandchildren. Since that day, your mommy has grown so much and touched my heart in so many ways.

When it sunk in that I was going to be a grandmother, I began to grow very excited about you. I began to  consider possible "grandma" names you could call me. I began to imagine whether you'd be a boy or a girl. I dreamed of reading stories together, teaching you about Jesus, and secretly hoped you would be a girl.

In October I went with your mommy to her ultrasound hoping it would reveal a girl. After that appointment I began to dream of future tea parties, shopping, PINK, painting nails, frilly dresses, bows, and oh so many girly things we'd one day do together.

Still dreaming of all things girly and pink,