Saturday, November 29, 2008

So So MUCH to be Thankful for!

We have so many blessings that have been bestowed upon us.
Not just this year, or the past few weeks, but always.
Unfortunately, it sometimes takes struggles to really see the blessings.
This year, we have a heightened sense of Thankfulness.
We are praying that it becomes our way of life- 
to be thankful in EVERYTHING and in  EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE!

Here are a few pictures of our very low key day at home with our little family!

Sterling in her
"Gobble til you Wobble" shirt.
Our Healthy kids-so thankful
The Fam

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our two Girls

Well, I must say that we have the two cutest girls ever!
Zoey thinks Sterling is great. She wants to snuggle up to her.
Zoey like to lick the baby on the head and then plop down
 right next to her for a little nap.
We, of course love it and think they are just the cutest,
 and right about the same size too!
It won't be long until that poor little dog is being dressed
up and shoved into a toy stroller like she is Sterling's own little baby.

So after a long two weeks at the hospital, I convinced Randy-
which wasn't too hard- to go hunting last Saturday. Bless his heart, he had spent about 15 hours a day at the side of Sterling's bed and he needed a 
break. He loaded up Chandler, his Dad, and a couple of friends and off to 
the lease they went. (at 2:30 in the morning-to sit in the dark, I don't
understand this silly "sport" but to each his own.)

They had a great day together and caught up on a nap or two in the stand.
The best part was Chandler shooting not just his first deer, but he got TWO!
The phone call from him was hilarious- I am the first one he called-sheer joy.
(again, I do not understand why killing Bambi is fun-again, to each his own)
He was so excited and I think that Randy may have been a little 
more thrilled than Chandler. Chandler is now hooked-as long as he doesn't 
have to clean them. 
Here are a few pics from their day-the last one is a little yuck, so if
dead Bambi bothers you, skip the pictures.
Randy, Chandler, and Will

Chandler, getting ready to hunt.
One of his two prizes-so exciting

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We Are Outta Here!!!!!

The day has finally come! 
Actually, we are leaving Cooks Childrens Hospital at least a week earlier
than anticipated.  Sterling is doing so great and so far ahead of the doctors expectations
that she has been released this morning!!! They had told us that they would have us spend the night this weekend and then go home
....but my husband did a little sweet talking,
and they let us out of the overnight stay and we are on our way home!

This is a day long awaited for and prayed for even more-
the only reason that we are able to go home is with out a doubt, 
because of the prayers that were lifted on behalf of our family.

We are so grateful for the care and love that has been given
 to our daughter at Cook's. The entire staff, from the doctors and nurses  to 
the security and maintenance, made our 2 week stay as comfortable
as possible. We have also been so touched by the other families that have been 
there at the same time. They have encouraged, supported, and prayed for us in a way
that only another parent that is dealing with such a scary thing can do. 
Thank you thank you!

On our way out, we were sure to thank them all & with as much kindness that we could muster, told them that we hoped that we never see them again.  :)
They said the same thing.
My going home hat-isn't it ridiculous and fabulous all at the same time?!
Happy Happy Day!
First time in the car

We were greeted by proud big brother at the front door! 
Home has never felt so good!

No Tubes & a Test!

Our girl has the last tube out of her tiny little body!!!
She has been eating like a champ, so the feeding tube is o longer needed! 
So out it came this afternoon-she was not a big fan, I am sure just removing that
dang medical tape (which hurts me) off her sweet baby skin really hurt.
But- it is off, she looks BEAUTIFUL with out all that mess on her face. 
She is just what we dreamed she would be.

So, now we are working on our check list to go home-maybe Saturday or Sunday!
We had to take a CPR class-check
get all her tubes out-check
eat on her own- check
gain or at least maintain her current weight- check
pass the car seat test-check
watch an orientation video- not yet
spend the night at the hospital with her,
 while they observe us through the night-not yet

Her car seat test could be done once she was tube free, so this afternoon we did that.
They just plop her in her car seat for 90 minutes and observe her heart rate and
O2 levels- to make sure she can tolerate sitting up at that angle.
She looks so tiny in that seat!! 
She didn't fuss a bit and passed the test with flying colors!
So we are one step closer to going home!

the last tube comes out!
Stylin' in my car seat
Don't I look so little in here?
I love my car seat-with the leopard trim
that Mommy picked just for me!

Holding Her!

In the PNICU the nurses are a little more relaxed and you can actually let 
other people hold your baby. YIPPEEEE!!!!
We had decided to keep it to Grandparents only-just to keep it simple and fewer germs
(still a wee bit paraynoid)
I happen to ask about others holding her while Randy's dad (Pa Pa) was in
the room with me-he looked at me and said
"Give me that baby, before Cara Faye (Randy's mom) gets in here"
 If you will notice in his picture he has a HUGE grin on his face-he was thrilled to be the
first grandparent with his hands on our girl. :)
Then of course was  Ma Ma, Grandmom, G-Mom, &  G-Dad!
All equally as happy to snuggle up to her.
I have to say, that it was a precious moment to see each one hold her and love on her
they have waited so long.
However-the most precious to me, was to have my "Big One" hold my 
"Tiny One" and have our first real family picture.
We have dreamed of this moment and talked about it so much, it was 
hard for me to wrap my brain around it as it was happening.
Anyway-thanks for letting us share these milestones in our lives!

Pa Pa
Ma Ma

G-Mom & G-Dad

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Movin' on Up!

We FINALLY made it around the corner to our new room!
It is called the PNICU (Progressive NICU). They are calling Sterling
a "feeder and grower" It means just that....they are only keeping her to 
teach her to feed  and make sure that she grows. 
The mood in this room is a little lighter...the babies here aren't nearly as sick as they
are in the NICU. Here, each nurse has at least 3 babies to look after, and Sterling is baby #3-
meaning, she needs very little "looking after" so she is an easy patient. 
Right now she just has the one feeding tube in. They are starting her on a bottle
(courtesy of mommy pumping-which is a WHOLE other ordeal, that I will not go into....just let me say quickly, I NEVER had any intention of nursing in ANY form or fashion, but
because she was so sick I am now pumping-hate it. Now, moving on.. :)
She has 30 minutes to eat what she can then the rest of it is given to her through the feeding tube. She isn't getting the hang of it just yet, but I know her to be not only beautiful, but also brilliant, so it won't be too long before she has it down on her own. 
More pics and updates to come from our new home in the PNICU!
isn't she so cute? 
(please disregard the large circles under Mommy's eyes)
Night Night little one!

Big Girl Bed!!!

Sterling was moved out of her little incubator to a Big Girl Crib! 
This is just one more step in the right direction!
She is doing much better-no tubes in her chest and we are waiting for a spot
in the Progressive NICU-it's still ICU, but not as critical as the NICU
We are 3rd or 4th on the list, so hopefully in the next day or so we will have 
a new address around the corner!
(oops you caught us with out a bow)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Arms are Full and Our Hearts are Fuller
(isn't fuller a word?)

Yesterday we finally got to hold her! They removed her right drainage tube from her lung and that opened the door for us to yank her out of that bed and love on her. I wish I had been there when Randy first held her- look at the smile on his face (thank you to the nurse who captured that moment for me). I too was beside myself. It almost felt odd to actually have her in my arms.

They also had us start trying to feed her with a bottle. She is starting to get the hang of it. They let us try to bottle feed her for 30 minutes and then whatever she hasn't finished, goes into her feeding tube. She is starting to suck and swallow better and each feeding she seems to get a little more down.

The removal of all tubes (except the feeding one) also allowed me to dress her! YAY!!!! We picked a sweet little gown that made it easy for them to still check her and of course a fresh new bow. I am still having a hard time believing that I am actually dressing my own little girl. She looked darling- and of course we love that everyone stops by her bed to see what new bow she is wearing!

Just before we left last night she pulled her feeding tube out of her nose and then threw a HUGE fit when they tried to get it back in (i would too by the way). After about 10 minutes of shoving the darn thing up her nose, they had to put it back down her throat- which also ticked her off royally (she has the temper of her Daddy). She got so worked up that she threw everything up-which resulted in us loosing our clothing privileges for now. So no clothes and no bow- :( See what happens when you don't cooperate?

We are still on the path to healthy, we just need a few more days to get evened out. Will keep you posted on our progress. Again...thank you for your love and prayers!

This is what the first picture without all the mess on her face-
 just a little O2 and the feeding tube
This is what she looks like with nuthin' on. No tubes, no tape, no bow, no clothes.
She looks like a completely different baby.
This is our first outfit. Also this is before she threw up all over it. :)
Pretty sweet, if I do say so myself!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last night Randy and I took a break from the hospital to be together and go to our church worship service. ( We were in great need of a little "fill up" Brandon started a new series entitled "Me, Myself, & I"  It is about how we are wired as humans to be selfish. I find that very true in myself as I am sure all of us do. 
The jewel that I took from church last night though was this...We are called to be selfless and serve each other just as Christ served. At the last supper He served his disciples by getting on his hands and knees and washing their feet. This was a picture of selfless serving, of love for his closest friends. We as His people are to do the same. We are to use the talents and gifts that He has created and purposely planted in each of us to serve one another when there is a need and build each other up when someone needs extra love.
We have been honored, humbled, blessed, and touched by the selflessness that we have witnessed and received this week. From the doctors and nurses, to our family and friends, strangers at the hospital and online, and new neighbors who we have yet to even meet. You have dropped everything for us, gone out of your way to call, come to our side in the middle of the night, cry with us, bring food, magazines, clothes, gifts, done laundry, taken care of our dog, sent flowers & cards, prayed and prayed and prayed,and just sat at our feet and ask "What can I do for you?" You have truly served us and our loving God this week. 

We have always known that we were loved and never once questioned how deep that love flows- but to witness it in such a beautiful way, has changed us forever. We are bound to each of you in our hearts and love you.
Yes, we are a selfish people, but this has been an act of obedience and a witness to the beauty in all of us too. Thank you thank you thank you!

~randy, tomi, chandler garrett, sterling, and zoey
Ventilator Free!!!!!!!

See that big Jet Ventilator with all the wires and what have you?
see ALLLLLLL the lights turned off?
see ALLLL the wires and tubes just dangling there?
PRAISE GOD from whom all blessings flow!!!!!
Lights are off and tubes hanging, because they are not attached to our little girl anymore to keep her alive!!!!! She is doing it all on her own-with a little help from a certain God that we know and love!!!! 
It is a beautiful sight to us!

This is her tonight, less tubes, wires, and lights. 
She actually looks like our baby now.
Today we are sporting a hot pink hat with zebra bow, and one fabulous zebra sock  on the foot that is bare of other tubes.
 (hey, we will take what we can get it- a great bow and one great sock is good enough for me!)

She is really making progress and hopefully by tomorrow we will have another great report!!!
We may even get to hold her tomorrow!!!!! YIPPEEEEE!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My two babies---

It is sur-real to see Garrett/Chandler (which ever makes you happy) and Sterling together. I am sure that every mom feels this way when they add a sibling to their family. This is just a really precious time for me.

Years ago when Garrett/Chandlers Dad and I divorced, I had always hoped that wouldn't be the end of my "child bearing" -that sounds corny, but let's just go with it. But as the years went on, the question of more children for me seemed to be dwindling...and I had finally gotten to a place where that was ok. I was so filled up with love for not only Garrett/ Chandler, but also with love for the many little ones I have around me. I have no doubt in my mind that God 
blessed me with them to fill the void that I had in my heart. 
I remember not too long before Randy and I met, that God and I had talk....
and we decided that I was complete-with out a husband or other children- 
complete in His love and provision for both myself and Garrett/Chandler. 
Ahhhhh, the peace that passes all understanding.
It was then that God freed me up from those chains of longing and sadness.
Just in time to have my heart be prepared for Randy and what is our now precious family. 
God is so so good. 
I am so overwhelmed with the way I see Garrett/Chandler and Sterling.
He represents my growth-spiritually, emotionally, and yes-even physically.
He represents a God who NEVER fails, who ALWAYS protects, and Provides,
 a God that can turn water into sweet sweet wine,
a God with a fabulous sense of humor.
She represents hope for our future. She represents new beginnings and eyes that look to what's around the corner with curiosity and adventure. She represents strength and beauty. 
She represents the power of prayer and miracles.
She represents a God who can orchestrate perfect harmony in an imperfect family.

So now to see them holding hands-maybe you can see a glimpse of what this mothers heart sees.

Holding hands for the first time!
He looks so proud!

This is of course the bow of the day. 
Don't know if you van tell, but it matches the blanket over her bed.
Who says you can't be stylin' in the NICU??

Thursday, November 13, 2008

If  you know me at all, you know that I have been dreaming about a GREAT BIG BOW
ever since we found out that this baby girl was on her way. Since she has been so sick, a bow has not been on the top of anyone elses list-I, however just new that it would make her feel better, but I didn't win that battle......until tonight!!!!!!!

She is in the NICU at Cooks, the night shift nurse was so precious, and had had her a little (teenie tiny) bow and stuck it on her head. swell, I was that as an opportunity to at least ask about my big bows-she said "ABSOLUTELY!" So with out hesitation, the sweet little teenie green bow came off and on went my big huge one. 
It is GIANT on her little bitty head, and I LOVE IT!!!!!

We have made a huge step in getting better- a big ridiculous bow can work wonders!!!

The tiny bow
Her eyes opened up once there was some kind of bow on her head. :)

Big Huge and Fabulous!!!!

It even holds on her little ear muffs- see a bow is medically necessary!
Now, we have to figure out what color to put on next! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Our Tiny Little Girl!!!

As many of you know. This past Saturday evening, we prematurely gave birth to our Little Sterling Maye Cheeks. She weighed in at 6 pounds & 6 ounces, and 18 3/4" long. She was delivered  at 36 week via c-section. She let out a good holler and we thought that she was healthy, great, and FABULOUS!!!!

She is still great and fabulous.....the healthy part, not so much. Her little lungs are underdeveloped and have been working really hard to breathe. We first thought it would be a minor set back- put her on a C-pap machine and stay in the NICU for a couple of days, then home by Thursday. She was breathing on her own but struggling still a little. A couple hours later she had worked so hard, that she blew holes through both of her lungs. After an emergency procedure , she is now on a ventilator and oxygen, and some other not so fun things too. They were no longer able to care for her here at Harris HEB so we had her transported her via teddy bear transport to Cook Children's downtown. Daddy was able to ride with her and has stayed ever since. I am still here trying to heal as fast as I can, in order to get back to my family. Chandler is trying to stick with his daily routine, but is getting a little bit crabby about all that is going on.

We have been incredibly humbled by the amounts of love that been poured out over us- nonstop for the past three days. We have always known  that we were loved-this has been such a confirmation of that love and the love that God has for our family to so graciously and strategically place people in our lives for this very moment.

The latest update is ....
-Sterling is improving. Not by huge leaps and bounds. Baby steps. They are slowly turning down the ventilator and her oxygen intake. She at times is breathing above the vent-just not consistently. Big step yesterday-they began giving her formula and now some breast milk through a g-tube.  She has actually gained weight and at last measurement was up to 6 pounds 10 ounces! (that is most defiantly on our side). There are so many other things that I could report, I am sure, but since I am not there in the hospital with her, it is hard for me to wrap my brain around it all and then relay it. Hopefully after I am released this morning and make a move over there, I will be able to give better info. They have told us to expect a up to a 4 week stay, maybe more- if it is less- we will take it and praise God for a miracle!
-I am being released this morning sometime. I am obviously sore and achey. My insides feel yucky, but should get better with time. 

Randy has been amazing. He has not left her side hardly since she got here. Obviously he is in Daddy mode and wants to do whatever it takes to "fix" her. I am told that he is asking great questions and is really understanding exactly what is going on with the tiny one. He sits with her (actually stands- no room for chairs in the NICU) for as long as he can through out the day. He has let me know that he and Sterling have all the worlds problems worked out and that they have very important ,long conversations, and that she is super smart. :)

Here is how you can pray for us specifically....
*For Sterling, we re-claim the verse that God gave me last April to pray over her..."He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it." That He is faithful to complete her tiny little lungs and repair the damage. That she will quickly grow strong and healthy.

*For Garrett- he has so many emotions all at once. He is experiencing LOTS of change and is trying to get settled and process his feelings. Pray that he feels apart of the process and that he is comfortable opening up about all that is going on in his little head and heart. Also, that he doesn't withdrawal (which is his tendency). 

* For Randy- He has been so great. I know that he feels so pulled between Sterling, Garrett and I. Trying to balance the people that rely on him is exhausting. Pray that he is given continued strength and wisdom as he talks to the doctors and nurses. Pray that the few times that he actually does get to lay down and rest, are very deep and renewing sleep.

* For us as a family - that we are bonding as a family. That our marriage is not under attack in this time and that our son feels like we adore him still, just like we did before.

I know that there are so many more things to share, stories to tell and people to thank. After we get into a better routine, hopefully I will better be able to keep you more informed. until then- we thank you from the VERY bottom of souls for all that you are doing for us- we feel your arms wrapped around us and we are eternally grateful.