11.13.2014

Carlee Update

Carlee will be three weeks old on Saturday! It has been three of the craziest, yet most wonderful weeks of our lives. This tiny little girl has already touched and changed so many people's lives...especially ours. We have already learned so much from her and know she has plenty more to teach us. We really do feel so honored to have been chosen to be her parents.

As I already proudly announced on Facebook, I finally got to hold Carlee! I was completely ecstatic! It took 3 nurses and about 15 minutes of preparation before they were able to move her into my arms and get her positioned just right so her vitals wouldn't drop, but once she was in position in my arms, I seriously cherished every second of those very rare moments with her. They said as soon as her tummy heals from her latest surgery that we'll be able to start doing skin-to-skin with her.
This picture shows the size of one of her tiny little feet. We actually think her feet seem really big for her body, but they are still teeny, tiny little things.
The above picture shows her size in a little better perspective. She has gained 6 ounces since birth and now weighs a whopping 2 pounds 10 ounces. She has also grown 1/2 inch since birth and is 14 1/2 inches long now. This picture was taken after her second surgery where they removed her ileocecal valve and gave her a jejunostomy. You can see her little stoma bag on the right side of her abdomen. You can also see the very top portion of the opening in her tummy.

This picture was taken after her third surgery where they finally sewed up the hole in her tummy (you can see the bandage). Currently her remaining small intestine (the jejunum) is not yet connected to her large intestine. There is 25 cm of jejunum left in her tummy and the hope is that it will lengthen over the next two months and eventually, with time, be able to adapt to having the ileum gone. They won't try to go in to reattach the small intestine to the large intestine until she is at least 5.5 pounds and 6-8 weeks old. So now the goal is for her to keep growing and gaining weight so she'll be big enough to have that reattachment surgery in a few months. She will remain on Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) for some time but TPN causes liver damage so that is going to be a big concern moving forward. She has also developed a heart murmur (PDA), which they are watching very closely. They are going to try to remove her breathing tube in the next few days, so hopefully that goes well and she can start breathing on her own. They also said today that they may put in a feeding tube as early as tomorrow. She continues to make great progress and we continue to be so grateful for all of the fasting and prayers on her behalf.

Here's the anatomy of the digestive tract. The red boxes show the sections of her small intestine that have been removed (ileocecal valve & ileum).

Bryson loves to show people how tiny Carlee's diaper is in comparison to Lilly's diaper.

We are getting to know Primary Children's very well and have been beyond impressed and so grateful for all they have done for us so far. The doctor's and nurses are out-of-this-world amazing and we know Carlee couldn't be in any better hands. We are adjusting to our new life as NICU parents and rotate days visiting her. Mike visits Carlee after work on M, W, F and I visit her during the day on T, TH and then we visit her as a family on the weekends. They don't let kids in the NICU, so Bryson and Lilly won't be able to meet her until she comes home from the hospital.

This letter came unexpectedly in the mail for Bryson and Lilly from the hospital and reading it brought tears to my eyes. Did I not say they were amazing?

They have a playroom on the 3rd floor that Bryson and Lilly absolutely love. If they have enough volunteers when we bring the kids, then they let us leave them there while we visit Carlee, which is so wonderful.
Lilly is especially a fan of the playroom. Here's a little clip of her playing doctor (it's a good thing she's not Carlee's doctor...haha).


Favorite quote this week:

"Sometimes life's biggest lessons are learned from the littlest ones."

Life rules.

11.03.2014

Carlee's Adoption Story & Status

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."      
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Doctrine & Covenants 6: 22-23, 36 

Our sweet Carlee Rose Miller (named by her birth mom) was born Saturday, October 25th at 5:50AM and weighed only 2 lbs. 4 oz. The story of how she found her way to us is a very sudden and unexpected one, so let me start at the beginning.

We became eligible to adopt again on October 1, 2014. Three weeks later on October 24th we received a phone call from our case worker wondering if we would be willing to be considered by a birth mom who was due the first of January with a baby girl that would be born with Gastroschisis, a congenital defect where the baby is born with a hole in the abdominal wall allowing the intestines to protrude at birth. Obviously the situation didn't sound ideal, but as we thought and prayed about it we felt we should allow ourselves to be considered. I knew of a girl my age that had been born with this same defect who has lived a perfectly healthy life. They repaired the issue at birth and the only thing different about her is that she has a scar in place of a belly button. We didn't feel it was a super major issue and it could be repaired, so we told our case worker we would be willing to be considered.

At 8:01AM the next morning our caseworker called to tell us the birth mom wanted to meet us AND that the baby had just been born extremely premature at only 2 lbs. 4 oz. and was barely clinging onto life! The birth mother was only 30 weeks along. To say we were completely shocked is an understatement. We thought we'd have at least until the end of the year to prepare ourselves mentally and physically if this particular birth mom ended up choosing us, but now we were suddenly confronted with a whole lot more than we could have ever anticipated. We were completely flabbergasted and overwhelmed. Our case worker said the birth mom was hoping we could meet her that day and we definitely wanted to meet her as well to help us know whether or not this situation would be right for us. One thing we have learned through adoption is that God has a very clear and special way of letting adoptive parents know when a child is meant to be a part of their eternal family. We felt it when Bryson's birth mom first contacted us and we felt it again when we first met Lilly's birth mom. Through the feelings we felt with each of them, we knew without a doubt that Bryson and Lilly were meant to be a part of our eternal family. With both adoptions, we were also considered by several other birth mothers but those feelings were never there. We knew that meeting this sweet baby's birth mom would help us know if she was meant to join our family or not.

A few hours later we headed to the hospital to meet the birth mom. On the drive there I literally felt like my heart was about to explode from the anxiety I was feeling. I was kind of freaking out but of course Mike was calm and like a rock. Meeting Gina (the birth mom) was a wonderful experience. Gina was so sweet and her mom and dad were so supportive and caring. We immediately felt a connection with them and there was such an immense feeling of love in the room as we visited. Mike and I drove home feeling really at peace about moving forward. Later that day our case worker told us Gina had officially picked us to be her baby (Carlee)'s parents.

The following day we learned that the birth father would be visiting the hospital that day with his family (mom, sister & sister-in-law) to see Carlee. Gina called and asked us if we would be willing to come so we could meet him and so we could also meet Carlee. Unbeknownst to us, the birth father was not yet on board with the adoption and was considering raising Carlee with the help of his family. Fortunately we were able to spend some time getting to know them and learned that they had never had any experience with adoption, which was the main reason they were not totally on board with it. We were able to meet with them in a private room and shared with them our adoption experiences and how things work in an open adoption. We completely poured our hearts out to them and by the end of our conversation with them, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. The feeling of love in that room for sweet Carlee was unbelievable! It is an experience I will never forget. Gina's case worker also played a huge role in educating them about adoption and by the end of their visit, Carlee's birth father signed the papers. As soon as Gina heard he had signed, she immediately broke into tears and considered it a miracle.

During that visit we were also able to meet Carlee for the first time. I expected to see a very small baby, but I could not believe how tiny she really was. Pictures don't do her tininess justice. Even though she was itty bitty, she was absolutely beautiful and so perfect. Seeing her hooked up to so many machines and literally fighting for her life really tugged at my heartstrings. I could feel the enormous strength of her spirit. I could feel her spirit pleading with mine to be her mommy even though her journey would not be easy. I could feel how precious she was in God's sight and just felt so honored and blessed to be in her presence. By the time of my visit, the doctors had already been able to get all of her intestines back inside her tummy, but the hole was still open. The pressure of having her intestines back in her tummy was causing a lot of stress on her other organs so she had to be intubated and was (and still is) being monitored very, very closely.

The following day was placement. Placement is always a bittersweet experience. The spirit and the feeling of love in the room was so strong. It was a love entirely focused on the welfare of one precious little girl that none of us had even had the chance to hold yet but that we had already fallen in love with. Gina shared with us the feelings she felt when she first saw our profile and how she knew the moment she saw our picture that we were meant to be Carlee's parents. She also said that when she saw Mike standing over Carlee's isolette for the first time she was overcome with a confirmation that he truly was suppose to be Carlee's daddy. It was really special for us to hear her share those experiences with us.

Since placement, Carlee has had two surgeries and two blood transfusions. During the first surgery the intention was to sew up the opening on her abdomen, but before doing so they wanted to make sure her intestines looked healthy. Unfortunately, upon examination they found that all of her ileum (the final section of the small intestine) was dead and had to be removed. It's called necrotizing enterocolitis. The remaining small intestine was dying but they left it in hopes that antibiotics would help it improve. Two days later they went in to see if the remaining portion had improved any and miraculously it had--however, her ileocecal valve was not able to be saved and had to be removed, which is very concerning. She currently has a jejunostomy and her next surgery is scheduled on the 6th where they hope to be able to close up the hole. Because she lost so much of her small intestine, she will probably have short bowel syndrome (aka: short gut) and may be on total perenteral nutrition (TPN) for many years to come. She has a very, very long journey ahead of her but she is a little fighter and we truly feel blessed to have been chosen to help her on her earthly journey.
We are getting to know Primary Children's Hospital very well. We visit Carlee each day and have been beyond impressed with the surgeons, nurses, and social workers there. They truly are miracle workers! They expect Carlee to remain in the hospital until January, if not longer. We are so grateful for the prayers, fasting, babysitting and the unbelievable support we have received from so many. Your love and prayers have meant the world and have been felt. Thank you, thank you!


We've embarked on a very unexpected journey with an uncertain destination, and truthfully, it scares us out of our minds! This has been the most faith trying experience of our lives. Period. Carlee's future is filled with so many unknowns that is has been easy to let fear and doubt creep in. We have had many moments of protest and weakness and have spent many nights in anguish over our new reality. Our world has been completely flipped upside down. We've struggled because we know this journey is going to be hard, but after much prayer, fasting, time in the temple, blessings, and faith, we know that accepting Carlee as our daughter is God's will and the path we need to follow.

As our very inspired neighbor shared with us last night, "we have been given a very unique opportunity through this experience to prove our discipleship and to turn our lives completely over to Him." Discipleship does not come easy and we have come to understand that more than ever this past week. We have learned how weak we truly are. We absolutely know we cannot do this without the help of our Savior and we know He will be there to buoy us up through this incredible journey.

Our journey with Carlee is just beginning and we don't know where it is going to take us, but we know God is in control and has our best interest and Carlee's best interest in mind. It has taken us some time, but we finally feel at peace with however this all turns out. Our trust is in Him and we know His will will be done.

Please continue to keep Carlee in your prayers. I will do my best to post updates on here as we get them.

Favorite quotes this week:

"Don't be afraid of change. You may end up losing something good, but you will probably end up gaining something better."
-Unknown

&

"Where doubt is, there faith cannot be also."
-Unknown
 
Life rules!




9.17.2014

2 Years Old

Two years ago a dream came true and this little pumpkin was placed in our arms by her amazing birth mother. She is such a joy to have in our family and we honestly couldn't imagine our lives without her.


She got a new scooter for her birthday and rides it like a champ.

Here's a little clip of her playing in the yard (one of her favorite things to do).


She upgraded to a big girl bed and is loving her new found freedom.

She LOVES to read and especially loves to have Bryson read her bedtime stories.

Giving goodbey kisses to Mommy Amber at Cole (Lilly's half-brother)'s football game. We love spending time with Amber and her family.
They gave Lilly this cute little kitchen set for her birthday...
...which she completely loves! This is her say "cheese" face.
Two peas in a pod. These two are bosom buddies and were totally meant to be siblings.
She loves getting tickled by daddy.



We love you little miss Lilly! Happy birthday!
Favorite quote this week:
"Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."

Life rules.

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