Elijah’s Summer Check-Up

At the end of last year’s summer check-up with Dr. Pitcher, he asked us to schedule an appointment for this summer just so he could see Elijah. Today was the day! Hugs all around!

Another healthy check-up and lots of smiles from everyone were included in today’s visit.

I mail cards and photos to Dr. Pitcher’s office a few times a year, and he said Elijah’s photo hangs beside his desk as his constant reminder of the Easter Miracle. While we certainly don’t need a reminder, photos with Dr. Pitcher go straight to the scrapbook. This man and his patients are forever in our prayers, and we pray God gives him the energy to keep helping babies and their families for many more years.

Feelings about March

I’ve spent some time over the last few days rereading my posts from last year at this time. They were filled with excitement as we awaited Elijah’s arrival. I even posted that it would be fitting for Elijah to be a Holy Week baby. God only knew…

It’s so hard to believe a year ago I was wrapping things up at school to be done until August. Our bodies are so incredible that if it weren’t for photos, it would be hard to believe this was taken less than a year ago on my last day of work.

As spring break begins, my heart is full to spend it with my baby. Not a day goes by where I don’t give thanks for the blessing he is in our lives. March is an extra special reminder.

 

 

Elijah: 11 Months

img_5961-1More milestones were met this month, and we were even able to spend time outside during a week-long February heatwave. It was fantastic!

The biggest milestone was that Elijah was moved to the one-year-old room at daycare. The person in charge of the daycare called me at school one day just to chat about Elijah and that he seemed bored in the infant room. She explained that she knew 10 months was early, but she was wondering if we’d be willing to explore the option of moving him. I was so thankful she recognized his boredom and also so grateful she called to talk about it. My hesitations of course included the fact that he didn’t eat table food very well and that he still takes a bottle twice while at daycare. She promised they would start him slowly on the prepared food and offer baby food if it didn’t go well. She also said they’d allow the bottles until we begin weaning him at one year. Elijah has only had one permanent week in his new room, but it’s going as good as we could expect. We’re happy!

Table food has improved drastically this month, and there is even one slimy food Elijah will pick up and eat- blueberries. His hands are stained purple, but he loves fresh blueberries. Puffs are no longer the enemy, and he absolutely loves cereal bars (blueberry, go figure).

We know Elijah will be walking soon, and we’re willing to bet it happens before he’s a year.

Finally, I have to share that I’m amazed a ten-month-old can take a wooden truck and drive it up and down the hallways, through the kitchen, and around the table over and over again. It amazes me he knows to do that with a truck. Those moments of independence always take me aback.

The next Elijah monthly update will be his one-year birthday. After how we spent the day of his birth, you better believe we are throwing a party this year!

An Extra Valentine

img_5895Sometimes I’m too busy to check my mailbox at school. I guess I should have made time yesterday because an extra special valentine was waiting.

John and I have made an extra effort to give back to The Ronald McDonald House Charities since Elijah was born. We used this service in Iowa City during Elijah’s surgeries so that we were never more than one mile away from him. We also used RMHC charities through St. Luke’s when Elijah was placed back in the hospital at one-month-old. Both locations offered support in the form of a shower and food when we were away from home.

My eyes were opened more than ever during our stays because of the people we came into contact with who were fighting battles much scarier than our own. Some of the people had been at the RMH for a year or more as they underwent cancer treatments themselves or watched their children fight cancer.

John and I chose to skip Christmas presents to one another this year and donate to the RMHC instead. The organization lists their “needs” online for anyone to purchase specific items or give a monetary donation. They need a lot because they serve a lot of people- more than 1,000 families from around the world each year.

My Valentine’s Day gift goes with this theme and the golden chocolate bar is just a bonus. The donation was given to the St. Luke’s Family Room and will benefit families in need.

As much as I love sharing gifts with my husband, we know that when we needed help, people were there. We want to return that favor in any way we can in the years to come.

We have no intentions to stop donating to RMHC, and we are even signing up for their Red Shoe Run/Walk in May. I considered running the half marathon for this event, but I think pushing Elijah across the finish line in the stroller will mean that much more to me than 13.1 miles alone. If you’re interested in joining us, you can even see John come out of running retirement to support the cause.

“Jesus the Physician”

600-jesus-484Today’s Gospel Reflection from Notre Dame referred to the photo “Jesus the Physician”.

I was unfamiliar with the photo so I went searching.

I now see Dr. Pitcher behind the surgeon’s mask while Jesus rests his hand on the doctor’s shoulder and guides his hands.

Elijah and I presented Dr. Pitcher with a gift over the summer, and I mailed him a Christmas card. I’ve been trying to think of a gift to send him on Elijah’s birthday, and I think this picture is my answer.

Thankful for Perspective

2016 changed me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It gave me the title of “mother”, and it required to me to take “Let Go and Let God” to a new level.

I’ve never been stretched more in a year, and it hurt. While I wouldn’t wish our hospital experiences on anyone, I’m thankful for a new perspective. My eyes were opened to the NICU life. I saw the compassion of nurses working around the clock, and doctors/surgeons who committed their lives to saving people no matter day or night. When we took Elevator I, Level Six every morning to Elijah’s room, the doors would open at the pediatric cardiology unit or the pediatric cancer unit, and we counted our blessings. We were the lucky ones.

We woke up on a holiday at the Ronald McDonald House, and I cried for multiple reasons when I saw the Easter baskets waiting downstairs. Thirty-five rooms are booked each night, with a waiting list, to give families one less thing to worry about while going through hell.

While we all hear about babies in the NICU, about parents watching their babies fight for life, and about Ronald McDonald Charities, it’s something I now understand with my heart.

In closing, I’ll steal words from Lysa TerKeurst:

“And in that raw moment, remember it’s the most unpolished, unfiltered, untouched by perfection moments that make us into our most beautiful selves.

Because that’s when we are closest to the way God created us. Vulnerable and aware of our need for HIM.

Goodbye 2016. Thank you for the lessons.”

2016 Recap

January

Family Weekend Away

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Baby Shower at School

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Baby Shower with Family/Friends

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February

Preparing for Baby W (and an updated photo)

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March

Embracing March

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Surprise Baby Shower at School

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Elijah James 3.25.16

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The Biggest Test of Our Faith

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April

Rest and Recovery in the NICU for “God’s Miracle Man” and lots of Swaddles and Snuggles

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Bringing Elijah HOME!

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A Minor Medical Setback

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May

Baptism (on Mother’s Day)

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Our First Road Race

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June

Celebrating 31 with this sweetheart!

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Celebrating Six Years of Marriage

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Meeting Miss Mollie

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July

4th of July

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Livin’ the Lodge Life

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Vacation: Music City

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August

Standing by Mollie’s Side

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EJW Community of Faith Scholarship

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Healthy Check-Ups

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Starting My Ninth Year Teaching

Another Road Race

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September

Notre Dame Weekend

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Flood Week

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Celebrating SIX months

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October

Raech’s Birthday/Wine Tour

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Presenting at ITEC

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Halloween

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November

UIHC Children’s Hospital Open House

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Thanksgiving

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Turkey Trot 8k with Matt

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December

Celebrating John

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Christmas Blessings

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Thank you for being one of the many blessings in my life!

May 2017 offer you health and happiness.

Elijah’s First Christmas

img_5443My favorite memory from this Christmas was sitting in the overflowing church for Christmas Eve Mass. Alongside my siblings and parents, our family is blessed to be outgrowing one pew. Packed together, I held my son against my chest as the children’s choir sang “Mary, Did You Know?” This song quickly became my favorite Christmas song last year as I pondered what, like Mary, I didn’t yet know about my unborn child.

The first nine months of Elijah’s life have allowed him to evangelize more than I could have ever dreamed. I know God will continue to use Elijah, and I will do my best to guide Elijah to listen.

This song will forever give me chills.

“When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.”

Elijah: 8 Months

img_5320When Elijah was a month or two old, I heard “it gets better” a lot. I didn’t really understand this statement because I loved my little peanut at those early stages. I had nothing to complain about, so I didn’t know why people were throwing out those comments. I think what they meant was that it gets more fun. I see that now because the last month has been particularly entertaining watching Elijah grow.

We’ve installed a baby gate at the top of our stairs because Elijah has learned to army crawl.

This 20+ pounder does great eating oatmeal cereal and purees. He refuses to eat anything with a texture, but I keep offering “solids” with the hope that someday he suddenly likes one of them.

His favorite person in the world is his dad. He kicks his legs and squeals when John enters the room.

Elijah’s laugh is the sweetest sound in our world.

 

Elijah: Seven Months

Sometimes your seven month photos turn out like this…

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We love this kid! Everyone is allowed to have a bad day, Elijah.

It’s safe to say peaches are Elijah’s favorite food right now. We’ve also been eating a lot of fresh apples from the orchard. Our NutriBullet Blender is getting more use with fresh apples than it ever did for smoothies. We even have the freezer stocked!

We haven’t seen any teeth poke through yet, but this will happen any day. Elijah drools so much that he goes through multiple outfits a day, and he wears a bib to daycare.

Elijah hasn’t started crawling yet, but he does a few scoots backwards when he’s trying to reach for things. Right now he pivots in circles and rolls wherever he wants to go. We’ll gladly purchase baby gates within the next month for our little mover.

As far as sleeping goes, he was not sleeping through the night at six months. After our six month check-up, the doctor told us not to feed Elijah if he wakes up during the night. There was a transition period for this, but he made it pretty easy on us. In the last two weeks, he has slept through the night more times than he hasn’t. It’s actually pretty incredible a little person can know it’s “night” and switch from eating every three hours during the day to making it all night. We’re proud of you, buddy!

We’re so excited to celebrate upcoming holidays with Elijah. Stay tuned for his Halloween outfit. It’s pretty dog-gone adorable.