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Andrew Michael: NICU Beginnings and Beyond

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Andrew Michael: NICU Beginnings and Beyond - Page Text Content

BC: Andrew, we love you and are so proud to be your parents. Love, Mommy and Daddy

FC: Andrew Michael | NICU Beginnings and Beyond

1: This book chronicles the unexpected arrival of our first child and all of the incredible moments that we experienced in those first few critical months.

2: How it all began... Last November, we were thrilled to find out that we would be welcoming a baby in August. The first and second trimesters were a breeze; I had little morning sickness and no complications. There was nothing to indicate that the third trimester would be any different... Things started getting interesting the evening of Sunday, June 5th after a full weekend of baby showers. We were coming home from Dusty's hometown of Warm Springs, GA (a 2-hour drive) when I started feeling odd. I was uncomfortable, overly sensitive to the jostling of the car, and experiencing mild cramps. I assumed that it was just the busy day and the long car ride, and that the symptoms would go away once I got settled at home. Well, when we finally got home, I could hardly walk because of the discomfort. | I immediately laid down on the couch and tried to do a kick count; there were more cramps than kicks. This scared me because I was only 29 weeks pregnant, so I called the doctor. She sent me to the Birthcare Center at Newton Medical Center. We got there a little after 9 pm. They took my vitals, drew blood, did a series of tests, and did an ultrasound (which hurt A LOT). We learned a few things: my blood pressure was elevated, I was mildly dehydrated, the baby had a heart arrhythmia and was butt-up and breech, and that I was NOT in labor because the preterm labor test came back negative (98% chance I wouldn't go into labor in the next 1-2 weeks). They made me drink some water and sent me home, assuming that the contractions were due to dehydration and over-exertion. They were somewhat concerned about preeclampsia, so they scheduled some tests for later that week. We left for home a little after 3 am Monday, June 6th. After a few hours of sleep, Dusty went to work and I rested. Everything seemed to settle down from the excitement the night before. I was tired, but feeling fine. Later that night, as I was getting ready for bed, I started feeling the same as I had the night before. We had a regular OB appointment the next morning, so I took 2 Tylenol and went to bed, determined to get to the bottom of all of this the next morning.

3: Sleeping proved to be a challenge as I couldn't get comfortable due to the increasing pain. Within an hour, I began running back and forth to the bathroom, sick to my stomach. Maybe I ate something that didn't agree with me. This continued for over three hours. I thought about calling the doctor again, but we had just done that. Was I really going to be one of those women who showed up at the hospital for every little thing? So, I just toughed it out--until about 4 am when I started throwing up. The pain was pretty intense at this point and I couldn't ignore it any longer, so we called the doctor again. After talking about my symptoms and Sunday night's hospital visit, she decided that I probably had a stomach virus which was causing the contractions, but that I still needed to go back to the hospital. So a little before 5 am on Tuesday, June 7th, we headed back to Newton Medical Center. When I arrived, they hooked me up to the monitors, took more blood and began IV fluids. My contractions were about 3 minutes apart at this point, but they said that there was little they could do until they got the results from the bloodwork. After all, I wasn't in labor because the preterm labor test had come back negative. The contractions continued unabated for over an hour. At that point, the nurse came in to do a routine check of my cervix. | She said that they were just checking to make sure that it wasn't getting soft or anything. I was over 9 centimeters dilated. At that point, things started happening quickly. They made me get out of bed, into a wheelchair and then into a bed in a labor room to wait on the doctors to arrive. I labored for another hour and a half, fully dilated, wanting to push but not being allowed to. He was still breech and my water had yet to break, so they were trying to keep me from pushing. That was not easy. Finally about 7:30 am, I was taken in for a c-section. I was given a spinal and Dusty was able to stay with me. At 7:44 am Tuesday, June 7th, Andrew Michael Fuller was born. He was 2 lbs, 11.2 oz and 14.5 inches long. He cried at birth and was breathing on his own, a wonderful sign. I got a brief glimpse of my son as he was quickly whisked away, his daddy following closely behind. During the c-section, the doctor discovered that I had a placental abruption, where the placenta tears away from the uterus. This is a pretty rare condition (1% of all pregnancies) and we can only guess at its cause. There is up to a 40% infant mortality rate with this condition, and it can also be fatal for the mother as well. If my labor had not progressed so rapidly or they had tried to slow it down, Andrew may not be with us today and I may not be writing this story for you.

4: Andrew Michael Fuller Born June 7, 2011 at 7:44 am 2 pounds, 11.2 ounces 14.5 inches

5: June 7, 2011 Andrew's First Day | Andrew was put on a ventilator shortly after birth to help his under-developed lungs. He was given antibiotics to ward off infection and was mildly sedated. It looks like his heart arrhythmia corrected itself at birth, a wonderful sign. The cardiologist should check it out in the morning. The doctors are optimistic of his condition. I finally got to see him later in the evening, a very emotional moment for me.

6: June 8, 2011 Andrew's Second Day There were a few small victories today. Andrew is now breathing oxygen levels closer to normal, about 25%, as opposed to what we breath, 21%. This is a good sign. We have also learned that our son is a fighter: he is constantly kicking the nurses when the do something he doesn't like and pulling on his equipment. He seems be just as stubborn as his daddy. I am recuperating pretty quickly and hope to go home Friday.

7: Today, Andrew had his first poopy diaper, a wonderful sign that his digestive system is working properly. This is a really important milestone in a preemie so small. He is being give 1 cc of breastmilk every 3 hours through a feeding tube and seems to be tolerating it well. I am doing really well and walked to the NICU today on my own to see him. | June 9, 2011

8: We were not expecting this for a few more days at least, so this was fantastic! He is now on a CPAP machine, which forces air into his lungs at regular intervals, but he is responsible to breath it in. It is the step between being on a vent and breathing unassisted. Not only is he able to breath on his own (sort of), but now he is able to cry and make noise. It is a wonderful sound! Apparently, he is also now able to blow spit bubbles, which he was doing all over the place during our visit. | Today, I was officially discharged from the hospital a little after lunch. However, they are going to let us board for free until tomorrow. This is something that they do for parents of preemies when there are rooms available. We are thankful to have another day there with him. After dinner when we visited Andrew, he had a surprise for us. He was off the ventilator! | 6.10.11

9: It was really entertaining! He continues to squirm everywhere and doesn't like being swaddled. He also likes to stick his feet straight out of the blankets and locks his legs when they try to put them back under. I believe we do have a little Dusty on our hands! | June 11, 2011 Mommy Home from the Hospital | Today was a difficult day as I had to go home and leave my sweet little Andrew at the hospital. I cried as I left, the reality of what was ahead of us finally sinking in. This is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Thank God his is doing as well as he is. He held his own during the night, only needing a little help once (physical stimulation) to remember to breathe. The nurses say that this is very common in preemies this young. After all, he was not supposed to have to breathe for another 8-10 weeks! Other than that, everything looks great! The nurse said that once when they were repositioning him, he didn't like where they put him, and so he tried to move himself and all of his equipment back to where he wanted to be. Someone please remind me of this cute story when he's two and fighting me every step of the way!

10: June 12, 2011 Finally in My Arms Today was a magical day! When we arrived at the NICU for our daily visit, the nurse asked if I had gotten to hold him yet. When I said no, she said it was going to happen today! I was overwhelmed--I hadn't expected this for several more days. We had to wait for a while for the next "touch time" (when they check vitals and feed him) to minimize his stimulation, but I would have waited all day for this. Finally, it was time. It took three nurses to move him with all of his equipment and 15 minutes to get him settled in my arms. Even with wires taped all over me, I was in heaven! For the first time, I could see my son, feel him squirm and hear him all at once. He cried at first, but settled down very quickly. I held him for just under an hour. During that time, his stats were good, his breathing even and his temperature normal. He seemed to like it just as much as I did! The nurse said that an hour of kangaroo care (what this skin-to-skin therapy is called) a day was our goal. I couldn't be happier!

12: 6.13.11 Today's visit was a little disappointing. We arrived at 10, expecting to meet with the regional neonatalogist, but he did not arrive until 12:30. The visit may have been better had I been able to hold Andrew today, but I couldn't. His body temperature was a little low, so they wanted to keep him in the incubator. In addition, he had to have a blood transfusion today to help replace some of the blood that they are drawing every 3 hours for tests. The nurse said this was expected in a preemie this size and we should not be concerned. He was a bit fussy today and cried a lot, probably because both of his arms are now stabilized with IVs and he cannot move them as he would like. We did get the good news that they have increased his feedings to 2 ccs of breastmilk every 3 hours. I knew that there would be days like this, where things are not as we'd like, but it is still not easy, especially after so many days of huge gains. One step at a time. | A baby fills a hole in your heart that you never knew was there.

13: June 14, 2011 Today was a better day. This morning, they removed the umbilical line, which will make it much easier to move/hold him. I got to hold him for an hour, although he fussed for most of it. He doesn't like the CPAP machine in his nose and he lets you know it! He has a pretty powerful cry for someone so small. He was back under the Billi lights today (hopefully the third time's the charm), but the nurse said that was really common in a preemie like ours. They did an ultrasound of his head this morning to check for bleeding in the brain (standard practice) and we should know the results hopefully tomorrow. Overall, it was a good visit.

14: I am Walt Pearson's mother. I have a 23 week baby boy. He is 22 years old now. It sounds like y'all are doing fine. Don't let anyone get you down. I had some pessimistic doctors, friends, and relatives. Keep you hopes high. Nobody knows but GOD. Andrew really looks good and big. Walt said he is off the vent. That is the greatest. Hawk (my son) didn't get off for 3 months. I will be glad to talk or anything else I can help with. I am so happy you have a new son. Nothing like little boys. God will help you through every moment. -Love Beth Hubbard You have all three been in my mind and heart since I heard of Andrew's birth. My prayer is that Andrew would continue to improve and get stronger each day and that our God would give you peace as you walk the road ahead. I am so glad you created this page and that I can read updates and look at the precious pictures. Thank you for being willing to share. -Heather Merritt Andrew is so precious. We look forward to you bringing him to us to see at Warm Springs First Baptist and seeing him run all over the church. I know that will be a while, but I believe it with all my heart. We will be much in prayer for him and for you. Love In Christ, Judy Gosa We are so thankful to hear that Andrew is growing and improving! Thanks for keeping everyone updated with your wonderful site. We are looking forward to hearing how things progress in the days and weeks ahead. Andrew is one lucky little guy to have such great parents. Love to you all, Beth Coody Cousin Natalie says, "I love Andrew!" Aunt Kelley says, "These girls are loving your new web page. It's a great way to help us all feel connected to our newest family member." | June 14, 2011 | Friends and Family Comments

15: Cousin Samantha says, "Andrew probably doesn't like all that stuff on him. As a baby that's born too early, I guess he's really cold. That's why they have to keep him warm. He's so skinny and sweet! He's so cute! I wish I could hold him all day long." My husband and I are praying for you, your hubby and that sweet baby boy of yours. He is so very precious and I know you are one proud Momma. We pray that God strengthens him more each day. Love, Jessica (Brown) Syracuse Mr. Rickie and Miss Sheri here. We are so excited to see Andrew! And you can touch him with your bare hands! You all are in our thoughts and prayers. So glad today was a good visit. -Sheri Baucom Thank you for taking the time to share the story of how Andrew arrived and his progress. Your family has such an amazing story that Andrew will know well as he grows up! -Lori West Great to hear from you again. Praying for your family. Let us know how we can help. -Rusty Ewing We are praying for you and all of your family! -Debra O'Quinn Congrats!!! Many prayers for you and baby Andrew :) Love, Jessica Glasco and Family Still praying for Andrew that he will get stronger each passing hour. Glad that you, Christy, are doing well. --David Shytle It does sound much better than yesterday! Progress is truly in baby steps:) Tell Andrew that Nana and Pappy send their love.

16: Good to hear the update.. Just hang in there and claim the victory that everything is going to be alright. I had one that the Dr.'s said there was nothing else they could do and it was out of their hands. He is 34 years old now. Jeremy has 3 of his own now. We are still praying for strength for little Andrew, Mama and Daddy and Grandpa and Grandmaw also. Love ya, Aunt Jeanette | Hello Andrew! It's your Aunt Katie. I haven't met you yet, but you haven't been far from my thoughts since you were born. We're all rooting for you and praying for you here in one of your surrogate hometowns, Manchester. Dusty and Christy, we love you and support you all the way! | Christy,, we are praying for you and little Andrew. Know that our God is GREATER than anything! and that HE is in control! Thank you for posting on here and keeping us all updated! Love, Janna Kelly | Andrew, I will come see you this afternoon. I am looking forward to getting to hold you soon. I love you and I am praying for you constantly. I know God has something very special designed just for you. See ya later. -Love Gramma | What an amazing gift the two of you have and Andrew is one blessed little boy to have you two as his parents. The whole Pagett crew is praying for you guys. -Forest Pagett | June 14, 2011

17: I'm so glad you created this page! I love the ducky theme! It was hard to get through your entries and the beautiful photos without crying. I experienced a tiny bit of the fear and emotion you've felt since this all began. It's quite a story, and he's quite a boy, and you're quite the parents. Rough days are going to come, but I pray that you'll be able to glimpse a bit of joy every day. I love you all and look forward to being with you soon. -Kelley Land | Nick and I are following and praying for y'all and Andrew!! We did the NICU thing for 3 weeks with Luke for surgery, but it is nothing compared to what you all are going through. God knew what he was doing though, Andrew is here, and you are here, and that would not have happened any other way. Praying for y'all!! -Nick and Sharon Holbrooks | What a precious and tiny blessing from God! I look forward to reading the updates as Andrew grows and thrives. Hopefully we'll get by to see you guys soon. We'd love to take y'all to lunch one day! Sending prayers and love your way daily.....Charles, Lamb and Peyton Eggers | Glad to see photos of Andrew out of his little "incubator." We're rejoicing with you and celebrating his good first week! Love and prayers.. -Doug Adkins | Congratulations! We are so happy for you and will continue to pray for Andrew! -Debbie Draffin (Claire's mom)

18: He doesn't look tiny in the pictures. He looks like he is getting stronger every day. -Jeanette Majors | He does look bigger than I expected. How much does he weigh now? -Robin St.Peter | I can tell he is a spunky little monkey....can't wait to meet that boy! -Becky Adkins | He actually weighed 2 lb 6 oz at last check. -Mommy | 6.15.11 | Today was a great visit! He was quiet and content when we arrived and did really well while I held him for our hour. His stats remained stable the entire time we were there, which is the first time this has happened. Usually, he "forgets" to breathe a few times while we are there, but there were no such incidents today. This made us feel a lot better about everything. He did get really mad when his CPAP mask got twisted sideways and the nurses had to take it off and put it back on again, but we got the first pictures of his face without any lines/equipment. Dusty says he looks like him when he was a baby. Poor kid! The other good news was that his head ultrasound from yesterday was normal, praise God! It was a great day!

20: I am loving the website, Christy! He is definitely the little fighter and I can't wait to see you all sometime soon. We are praying for you all and are so thankful that you both are okay! Love you! -Claire and Derek Tichy So glad to see some pictures of that precious little peanut! Thanks for sharing your story and for setting up this site. I know things are hectic and exhausting for you now but we were all so hungry for news. Our family and the children at church are praying for baby Andrew and both of you as well. Can't wait to see all of you! -Becky Adkins Christy, Dusty and Andrew, thanks for sharing Andrew's progress with us. Prayers are being sent up all the time, everyday. Love to you all, Elsie Monk Good report. Praying for him. -Richard Barnes We are praying for all of you daily. Remember to keep your heart toward Jesus as you help monitor and take care of your little one. He is so sweet and tiny; I am thankful that you are getting to hold him some, and hope it won't be long before the grandparents can hold him, too. -Debbie Phillips (ZBC) Everything sounds wonderful. Moving right along. Praying for you. Love, Beth Hubbard Cheryl and I are praying for y'all daily. You have great Grandparents young man....God is on your side. -Marshall Walters

21: Gramma is praying for you right now, Andrew. I pray that the nurses take very good care of you until it's time for you to come home. I was so glad to see you last night. I'll see you soon. I love you, Gramma Barnes We are praying for this little one!! What a wonderful gift God gives us when he gives us children. I pray that you will see the invisible hand of God move as you continue on this journey. Praying for God's Will and asking for a speedy recovery!! -Jeremy Kendrick I pray for big blessings for you and your precious baby boy! Sending our love and prayers. -Dona Ellis Congrats and prayers for all of you. Andrew is such a beautiful baby and I feel God will be with him to sustain and grow each day. We had a 7 month baby and in 1952, we could not touch him until he was out of the incubator [6 weeks]. His first day out of incubator, we thought he was soo big at 4 1/2 pounds until a 13lb girl was born and put right beside him. God blessed us and was with us during that time and he will you also. A lot of prayers going your way!! -Merle and Jack Claxton Just a note to say you are in my prayers. With parents like you, Andrew will fight hard to overcome this difficult beginning! Hang in there. -David Fowler I LOVE IT!! I have signed up for the text notifications so I will always know what's going on!!! Love the pictures too! -Rebeccah Barnes

22: June 15, 2011 I am so thankful that Andrew is making good progress. How wonderful that he is getting such loving care at the hospital We will keep on praying!!! Love to all 3 of you! -Sandy Williams So, so glad for this wonderful news! And thrilled that you got pictures of your precious boy without that crazy attachment he has to wear. He is beautiful and I can't wait to look at him in person. I'm sure a positive day like today does wonders for your spirits. Love you! -Kelley Land Christy, congratulations to you and your family. I look forward to keeping up with Andrew's progress. We miss you at OHS! -Shannon Martin

23: June 16, 2011 Another Great Visit! Today was another great day! He was quiet and content and "family time" was really wonderful. He was cooing like a little bird, yawning his little head off, and even sneezed a time or two--really cute! We had another visit with no breathing incidents, so maybe this will become the norm. We got the great news that they have increased his feedings to 3 1/2 ccs every 3 hours, an increase of 1 1/2 ccs! When we got there today, we learned that a 24-week baby was born last night and was immediately transferred to Egleston. A family out there really needs our prayers! | Andrew, that was a great update on your test. We will continue to pray and you keep fighting. I can't wait to take you to a Braves game. Love, Grandaddy | Sounds like he is just doing great. So happy for y'all. Love Beth Hubbard ( Walt's Mom) B

24: Good morning Andrew. I hope you spent a good night. Granddaddy and I will come see you tonight or tomorrow night. I am praising the Lord that your tests came back normal yesterday. Gramma can't wait to hold you. When people at work ask about you and your mommy and daddy, I just tell them the Lord is blessing us all. Keep up the good work. My little peanut. Love, Gramma Christy, Dusty and Andrew, we're thinking of you every day and are happy to hear of Andrew's progress. I know it must be hard to just see him for a while and then have to leave him but it sounds like he's getting stronger by the day! Hang in there. -Jan Angstadt Christy -- What an amazing story you will have to tell this young man when he is older! Before you know it you will be snack mom for the t- ball team and Dusty will be the coach! Cherish these moments, even the difficult ones, because they will make the end result that much sweeter. Can't wait to meet this precious baby boy in person. You all are in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Ruth Wilson Thank you for sharing your story and pictures. I showed Andrew's picture to my daughter, Casey, who is in your Mom's Sunday school class at Zion. Now she knows who we're praying for. Andrew looks as if he's getting stronger every day! I'm looking forward to hearing about how God's working in this situation and praising Him for what He has already done! -Still praying.., Patti Symons Praise God for such wonderful news! I'm so thankful the head CT came back okay. I love the new pictures. I know Aunt Kelley can not wait to see him this weekend and I can't wait to see her pictures and hear all about her visit. Thinking of you! -Heather Merritt Yay, Andrew! Keep up the good work. Nana loves you very much.

25: So, so glad for good news like this! Especially tidbits about Andrew's personality. I'm thrilled that your time together has been so special. His aunt can't WAIT to spend time with you and Dusty and to see Andrew in person. On another note, 24 weeks. Wow. Really puts things in perspective, doesn't it? I imagine that little one weighed a pound or less. And yet, babies that early can still survive. I will keep that family in my prayers. -Kelley Land Andrew is a precious little fellow. I am so thankful he is getting better and stronger each day. Thank goodness God is still in charge. Many prayers are being answered. We have people in our family, Tyler and Paige Dunn, praying also for Andrew. The Manchester community know about your special little man and his needs. -Marie Segars Wayne and I went in to see Andrew this evening and he was resting well. No beeps or buzzers from his machines, just quiet breathing. The nurse he had today made some comments that led me to believe she may be a praying nurse. Isn't the Lord good to provide praying nurses for our little man. Gramma and Grandaddy enjoyed just standing there watching him sleep. The nurse also said it was nice to see a young couple so caring for each other and their new little one. Watching the Lord bond this little family together is amazing. We have so much to praise the Lord for. -Gramma and Grandaddy | We are so happy to hear of Andrew's progress. He sounds like a strong boy and I know the Lord has plans for his life. Praying for all of you and I know that you have many people praying around the country. God is faithful and this little boy is loved by many. What a story you will be able to tell him someday~ -Nancy Martin So glad Andrew is improving every day! I am praying fro you all. -Kim Williams

26: June 17, 2011 | Fantastic News This morning when Dusty and I visited, we got the news that his CPAP machine was no longer having to push air into his lungs; he was taking in the air on his own. That was the next step down the respiratory ladder--one more step toward him breathing totally on his own. He was sleeping soundly and was so content that we couldn't bear to disturb him. Then, this evening when Kelley (Dusty's sister) and I went back, the CPAP was gone entirely and we could see his whole little face! He is now on a nasal cannula (like people who are on oxygen)--another step down! Two steps in less than 24 hours! It was great news to hear on the day that Dusty had to return to work (not fun). This will make it a lot easier for me to hold him and I may even get to hold him longer than an hour now. 10 days old and already breathing on his own with virtually no assistance. We are so thankful!! Check out the wonderful photos that Kelley took tonight! He was alert and happy!! | It's tough to get your beauty sleep when the paparazzi won't leave you alone! -Ruth Wilson I love this shot! So cute! :) -Heather Merritt That's what I feel like in the morning! I'm SO glad he's doing well! It's great to see his face and to have him off the CPAP. -Claire Tichy

27: So cute with his eyes open. That means he is getting more and more alert.. So happy for you. Aunt Jeanette

28: We'll remember this photo when he is taller than you and has a family of his own. I can't wait to see how God blesses him. Love, Gramma Barnes Wow! He is so tiny! I can't wait to see how he grows and changes. He's adorable... We'll keep you in our thoughts and prayers. -Rebecca Hope

29: So glad to hear of Andrew's progress. We are praying for all 3 of you (& grandparents too). Praise God for working through the doctors and nurses that are caring for Andrew. Looking forward to hearing that Andrew will be coming home! -Pam Hart That is great news. I am so glad he is doing so well! -Sandy Williams We are proud of you, little man. Keep up the good work. Mommy will get to hold you tomorrow. Love you. XOXOOXO Gramma and Grandaddy Barnes | 6.17.11

30: First Diaper Change! Today was another great day! This morning when we visited, he was alert and awake, squirming all over the place. By the afternoon, he had decided that the pacifier that fit into his mouth wasn't good enough and he wanted the one that was way too big. He pitched a fit until they switched them. What can I say; he's Dusty's son... Andrew and I had some wonderful Mommy and Baby snuggle time. He hardly moved for the hour that I held him. We found out the they have increased his breastmilk to 4.5 ccs every 3 hours and have decreased his IV fluids--another great step! I also changed his diaper for the first time--and made a mess of it! I will admit that I do not have a lot of experience in the diaper department, but it's so much harder changing a diaper that small, on a boy, in a box with hand holes! I just wasn't quite fast enough and if the nurse hadn't been supervising, we would have been changing his bedding along with the diaper. Oh well. I will have plenty of time to perfect the art (without the box)! Thank God for good days! Dusty cannot wait until tomorrow--he will (hopefully) get to hold Andrew for the first time. | June 18, 2011

31: So glad for the great improvement Andrew has made. He is looking good in photos. -Richard Barnes | Love seeing those eyes and that precious face....will be thinking of all of you tomorrow on Dusty's first Father's Day! -Becky Adkins | What a great entry! I remember vividly the first diaper changes with Dusty. This after taking care of 2 little girls. Hope all goes well tomorrow. What a Father's Day! We love all of you. -Cindy Fuller | Sure hope Dusty gets to hold him tomorrow. No Dusty, he can't run the lathe...........yet. Happy Father's Day! See y'all soon. Love, Pappy | Sounds good. I am keeping up and will continue to pray for him and family. -Richard Barnes

32: After seeing Andrew in person for the first time on Friday, I was in awe that such a small human being could survive. I worried about him and had a hard time sleeping that night. But today, when we went back, I saw him more for who he really is: a feisty little man who wiggles, cries, makes funny faces, and lets everyone know when he likes or doesn't like something. He's got a fiery spirit, nurses who are taking good care of him, and two of the most loving and amazing parents in the world. Aunt Kelley is proud of him and proud of Dusty and Christy. I'm so glad for the privilege of being with you all this weekend. -Kelley Land

33: FATHER'S DAY June 19, 2011

34: This is so sweet! -Heather Merritt Precious! Love it! -Rachel Huston What a little trooper! -Sheri Baucom What a great picture. -Sharon Barnes | To think that someday the roles may be reversed. God is good! -Thad Fuller

35: Father's Day! Until today, Christy had gotten all the "Andrew time" she could get. But today was not her day - after all, this is Father's Day, and my gift was a little over an hour of one-on-one, skin-to-skin time with my little boy. Two hands covered everything except his head. Well, except the leg that he kept poking out. All the same, I managed to keep him safe and warm and even changed my first diaper (no, I didn't need a second try). I was halfway expecting him to squirm a lot and cry a little, but I got no such reaction. He wriggled a time or two and gave me a few coo-ish grunts, but that was about it. So either he likes me, or he likes being warm. I would like to think that its a little of both. The nurses have been pleased with his progress, which I must say has been inspiring. I know we have a long way to go - he's still less than 2.5 pounds. But seeing how he's changed just in the two weeks since he was born tells me that he's up for just about anything. If his behavior means anything at all, he's a stubborn fighter who is going to do things his way. I guess I should expect no less, considering his parents. Hopefully when we look back at these journals and pictures, we'll be reminded less of the surprise and shock of how Andrew got here and more of our community of friends and family who have helped us through it.

36: What wonderful news I keep reading about Andrew. I cannot wait to see him! My prayer today for all of you is the progress keeps pouring in. Love to you all. -Elsie Monk Fantastic! -Susan Ryan We are so glad both mom and Andrew are doing so well. We know the two of you will be excellent parents. Please let us know if you need anything. -Josh and Fielding Yelverton I am so glad that Andrew is doing so well and that he is a fighter! I will be praying for y'all. -Claudia Brooks (Ola High) Hang in there Andrew. !! It takes new Mothers a while to get the hang of changing diapers. You just keep giving her something to work with and she can practice. Love and God Bless. Sounds like things are going well and we continue to pray for all of you. -Merle Claxton | 6.19.11

37: He's Gained Weight!! Today's big news was that he has finally gained some weight. He bottomed out at 2 lb 6 oz (down from 2 lb 11.2 oz at birth) and is now creeping up at 2 lb 7.8 oz! This is fantastic news! The nurses said that he is so active that he was actually burning too many calories and impeding his weight gain, so we had a little "talk" and now Andrew is supposed to rest more and play less. We'll see how long that lasts. They have continued to raise his food amounts and lower his IV fluids, so we're now up to 5.5 ccs of breastmilk every 3 hours. That's a long way from .5 cc where we started. He is doing so well. We continue to be amazed by him everyday. Thank you for your support, especially the prayers. They mean so much to us! | 6.20.11

38: I've been remembering you all in my thoughts and prayers. We've known several folks in the past going through what you are now. I know God is going to bless you. It's hard, but with his help you're going to make it through. We're looking forward to seeing Andrew at some Birthday or get together in the future...Just know we are PRAYING FOR YOU ALL!!! -Carol Land Samantha says, "Andrew is so tiny and cute! I couldn't tell by any of the pictures except for the one where Aunt Christy was standing beside him, and he was so cute and itty bitty. My favorite picture was the one Mama got of him with his arm over his eyes. I wish I could see him at the hospital not in pictures, but I understand that he needs to stay safe." Natalie says, "I love duckies and you too!" Aunt Kelley says, "Dusty's entry is so special. I'm thrilled that he got to cuddle his son. Andrew is absolutely amazing. I look forward to the next time I can visit. Love you all!" -Kelley Land What a great Fathers Day gift to you Dusty. I am so glad to hear that things are progressing along so well. We have been and will continue to keep all of you in our prayers. -Forest Pagett Congratulations! What a precious "little buddy". I've been in the hospital, but got a notification about this wonderful website, and couldn't wait to read your STORY. God is so good and I know you will be bringing little Andrew home soon. I'm praying daily for you both, the doctors and nurses that care for him, and for strength and daily improvement hour by hour. -Carolyn Pepper He's going to be crawling around chasing Sam before you know it. Great news. -Gramma and Grandaddy Super news! I've been thinking about the three of you all day long. It's hard to be away, especially now that I've been. I just love that little guy and am thrilled for his continued gains. -Kelley Land Good report -Richard Barnes | June 20, 2011 | June 21, 2011 | Wow! Little Andrew is starting to eat more and grow! What wonderful news! Before you know it he will be eating steak and potatoes. You will continue to be in our prayers. -Marie Segars Go Andrew!!! He sounds "all boy" already. I hope to finally get to see you after we get back from camp next week. At this rate he will probably be saying his ABCs by then! -Becky Adkins It's great to read that your little guy is gaining weight! I know that is encouraging. Sounds like he is doing great. Ann and I are thinking of y'all and praying that things continue to go well and that these days will pass quickly. Soon he will be home and in your "nest." -Jim Ross

39: Another Good Day! This morning's visit was another good one. I had some good cuddle time with Andrew while his Daddy read him his daily story. I changed my third diaper today and am getting better and better at it! Eventually I will get it down. We left him sleeping soundly to go to my first postpartum doctor's visit. The doctor had some more information for us about what caused the preterm labor. If you don't want or like the medical specifics, you should probably stop reading here for tonight's entry... :) The doctor estimates that the placental abruption was about 50% by the time I had the c-section (half of the placenta was essentially dead). The reason why we did not know about it was that it was a "concealed abruption," meaning that the back half of the placenta had abrupted but was still sealed in the uterus by the front half. This is the most dangerous type of abruption because there is no way to diagnose it from the outside. She intimated that Andrew was minimally affected by the abruption only because I was able to hold off pushing for so long, keeping my amniotic sac in tact. If my water had broken, we probably would have lost the baby before he could be safely delivered. The more we learn, the more thankful we are. We came very close to disaster. God was certainly watching out for us that morning! | Reading this makes me shudder. I do think it's good to learn these things because, as big of a scare as this has given us all, it helps to know that the situation played out in the best way. I look forward to your entries all day long. You and Dusty mean the world to me, and I already love that little boy like crazy. Enjoy your time with the in-laws this week! (: -Kelley Land All I can say at this moment is God is GOOD!! You are one special family to our community!! -Forest Pagett

40: Wonderful to hear that Andrew is improving daily. We are keeping posted on his progress through your entries. We live in a wonderful age when we can check in daily to find out what is going on. Our prayers are with you, Dusty and Andrew daily. -Judy Gosa, 1st Baptist Warm Springs A great day for Nana and Pappy. Our first up close and personal contact. He curled his finger around mine and opened his eyes. To see him (especially right after Christy's report from the OB) makes me think of the song "Day By Day" that we sing at FBWS. "The protection of His child and treasure...." -Cindy Fuller | L O V E | 6.22.11 Another Good Day! Another good visit this morning! He was sleeping when we got there and sleeping when we left, with a little awake time in the middle. It took a little longer to get him settled in my arms because he kept pulling his cannula (his oxygen) out of his nose and putting it into his mouth--not an easy feat considering it is taped to his cheeks on both sides of his face! He's a mess! His feedings have increased again to 6 ccs every 3 hours and he's tolerating that well. We're making progress, day by day.

41: June 23, 2011 Our 4th Wedding Anniversary and first "family" picture!!

42: Happy Anniversary to Us! Today was another pretty good day. Andrew got visits from his parents and both sets of grandparents today--he's a lucky boy! My holding time got cut short this morning because Andrew kept trying to curl into a little ball that was not conducive to good breathing. I guess he forgot he was a little boy and thought he was a roly-poly. We'll have to work on that. This was certainly not the way that Dusty and I thought we'd be spending our 4th anniversary, but getting our first family picture taken of the three of us was a pretty good gift. Photo Comments Awesome! Congratulations on your anniversary as well :) --Rebecca Hope I love, love, love the family photo!!! -Kelley Land Precious! So happy for you! Love, Debbie Phillips What a beautiful photo of a beautiful family! You all continue to be in my prayers. Love, Ruth Wilson The look in both of your eyes says it all! I'm so glad he continues to do so well. -Claudia Brooks Such a beautiful family! Love the twinkle in your eyes! -Becky Adkins What a beautiful family! I got a flashback to you sitting in the booth at Mercer all giggly because you had a crush on Dusty! I'm so happy for you! -Claire Tichy

43: Thanking God for a "good", uneventful day!! I'm glad he's eating well! Still praying daily for all you guys! -Lamb Eggers So good. I always enjoy reading updates and so thrilled with his progress. Glad to see this little fighter win. WOW -Richard Barnes "Great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see." We are all watching a miracle. Let's wait and see what "great and mighty things" the Lord has to show us "that we do not know"! -Gramma Barnes Sleeping, eating, growing... day by day... and being loved. Andrew is blessed to have you two as his parents. Thinking of you and continuing to hold you in our prayers. -Jim and Ann Wonderful news. Pulling on things, eating, sleeping, yep, sounds like a normal growing boy to me!!!!! Praying+++++++ -Pam Hart Hey, you two lovebirds! I've had a rather busy day but I knew it was your anniversary the moment I woke up. I remember your wedding vividly and am so thankful you have each other. I can't think of two better people to move through life's ups and downs side by side. This situation is by no means ideal. It's not what you imagined, hoped, or planned. But Andrew's here, and so are you! I'm thankful, and I know you are too. Here's hoping your squirmy little guy will be able to settle down for cuddling time tomorrow. Love to all! -Kelley Land

44: June 24, 2011 More Daddy time... (as told by Daddy) Today was another "Daddy" day, along with a visit from Nana and Pappy (my parents). Andrew was pretty good, he had a couple of his spells but was overall peaceful and content. He's now getting 7 milliliters every three hours, its being bumped up little by little. Hopefully he'll hold on to some of that. He's looking better each week. Not a whole lot of new stuff, just a new baby or two in the unit. That's when we realize how small Andrew is - the next baby up is still twice his size. Guess he'll just have to catch up! | June 25, 2011 Huge Gains! Today was a good day! This morning Dusty and I were looking at Andrew and thought he was a little pudgier than he had been, so we asked what his weight was. Amazingly, he has surpassed his birth weight and is now 2 lb 14 oz!! We are so thrilled! This means that he has gained 8 oz since last week. Andrew and I also had some really good cuddle time today, and Andrew got to meet his Aunt Becky for the first time. When we have several average days in a row, we can easily become overwhelmed by everything. But days like today help us get through it! Thank you for your words of encouragement, meals and prayers! We appreciate it so much!

45: It will take time but he will grow. He will get there. -Richard Barnes Yay for our little buddy! And yay for his dedicated mommy who works so hard to keep up her pumping schedule, even during the night. I know this isn't easy, especially when you don't have a crying little one willing you to get up. And yay for his loving father who supports his mommy and does everything he can to keep the family strong during this difficult time. I'm so glad Becky got to meet him Love to all! -Kelley Land On his way to being a big boy! We're so glad his weight is going in the right direction. We enjoyed our visit and hope we did some good. Love all three of you........and Sam too. We don't know all God's ways but we do know He is good. Love, Pappy

46: June 26, 2011 | Andrew-Mommy cuddle time!

47: This morning was busy for Andrew. He started his day with a new IV to administer his second blood transfusion to restore a low hemoglobin count. The nurse said that he was cooperative while they put it in (a first, I think!). The transfusion was expected because they are taking more blood for routine testing than Andrew is able to replace at this point. I got to hold him before they started the transfusion and he was really good--awake, but calm. It was really wonderful time. They started the transfusion soon after we left, and he did really well with that, too. The nurse today said that babies often get bursts of energy after a transfusion and apparently Andrew was not left out because he almost crawled--yes, crawled--off of his bedding before the nurse put him back. Little stinker! And he ended his day with a visit from Gramma and Grandaddy. A busy day! we are continuing our prayers for the little bundle of joy that is in both of your lives. -David Shytle So happy to hear that your little man is doing better, and growing. God is faithful and these days will just be a memory someday. Prayers are being answered on a daily basis! Your little family is still in mine! -Nancy Martin Wow! The little guy is having a growth spurt! That is great! As I remember our journey with Caroline 31 years ago, the ups and downs of one day to the next can be challenging. But, as you look back over a week or longer, you can see significant progress. We are so glad he is doing well. Before you know it he'll be home with you where he belongs! -Jim Ross

48: "Normal" Days are still Good Days Today was a "normal" NICU day: we visited, held him, read him his daily book and sang to him. A normal day. Nothing really exciting happened, but nothing bad either. His feedings continue to increase; we're up to 9 ccs every 3 hours now. His Daddy and I are tired, and starting to really feel the wear of three weeks and counting waiting for our son to come home. So today, we're thankful for our normal day, a day to recharge a bit and sleep a little more, preparing for the week ahead of us and 4th of July weekend. PLEASE keep Dusty in your prayers as the weekend approaches. If you've ever decided to plan that family cook-out at any park on the 4th, you know what he's in for--by himself: three grueling 15+ hour days with little or no sleep and no time to see his son. Please pray that the number of people will be manageable, the guests pleasant, and the problems few. Hopefully there will be little added stress for an already stressed new Daddy. Thank you for your support and prayers! No telling what that little guy will do. Good report! -Richard Barnes We will certainly pray that Dusty has an uneventful July 4. Prayers are going up for all of you everyday. Love to you all! -Elsie Monk Dusty, just stay calm and collected and do what you can do and forget the rest. It's hard when you are as dedicated to doing a good job as you are. If folks don't understand why you can't do 4 jobs at once perfectly AND look after your family, call me and I will come straighten them out. Ha, the state can't fire me! If either of you need anything this weekend or anytime, I'm 2 hours away. Be assured Cindy feels the same way. Love, Dad | 6.27.11

49: June 28, 2011 Same here! If there is anything Wayne and I can do. Answer phones, help out in the office....I don't know, whatever, we can do, just give us a call. All 3 of you are in our prayers many times, daily, the Lord is our strength and He will answer our prayers, in His way and in His time. We love you all. "This too shall pass". That's what Dr. McClelland always used to say. Andrew will be home before you know it and you will look back and wonder how you did it. Love you, Gramma and Grandaddy Samantha says, "Andrew, I thought you weren't supposed to be crawling yet! I don't really think you like your cannula since you tried to take it out. I wish I could see you right now. I hope you get to come out of the hospital soon. Love, Samantha." Aunt Kelley says, "Thinking of you all as you bear these daily burdens with such grace (or not, depending on the moment!). I can't imagine how difficult this is and truly wish I were closer so I could bring lots of food and do other things you need. Just keep telling yourself this weekend, too, shall pass. Love you!" We've been checking on Andrew's progress and remembering you and Dusty. Praying for you all every day. -Wayne & Cathy Tankersley

50: Mommy's First Bath Time Although Andrew had a good day yesterday, it was a particularly difficult day for his Mommy. It may have had something to do with being overtired, or having a list of important things to do, or dealing with a difficult nurse. I don't know really, but I was having a hard time. Even the news that Andrew had broken the 3 lb mark and is now 3 lb 3 oz didn't seem to cheer me up. I left the hospital yesterday afternoon pretty low and spent most of the afternoon unsuccessfully trying to get past the mood I was in. Finally last night I couldn't stand it anymore and I asked Dusty to take me back. We don't normally visit late, especially when Dusty has to work the next day, but he knew that I needed it. We soon found out that we'd arrived at bath time! I'd never been there for bath time, and had no idea when it was. The night-shift nurse was a favorite of ours and walked us through the sponge bath and lotion, showing us how to turn him to get to everything. Even though she was busy with other babies and letting us help took much longer, she did it anyway and I am so thankful. Andrew cooperated as well as can be expected, getting mad a few times (especially when we had to pull all the tape off), but the experience was just the medicine that I needed. It soothed my hurting heart and made me feel closer to my son instead of distant. Last night when we left a little before 10, I felt so much better. Who would have thought that a bath could be an answer to prayer? This morning, Dusty and I had a quick visit because Dusty had to get back for work. We learned that he is now at 10 ccs every three hours. (If you've been reading these entries wondering what a cc actually is, here you go: a cubic centimeter (cc) is the same as a milliliter and also the same as 0.0338140 ounces. I had to look that up for you Grandmama!) They have also turned down the air-flow of his cannula. The respiratory therapist said that babies are hard-headed and will use the breathing help if they have it even if they don't need it, so you have to challenge them to work a little harder so they can get better. Knowing Andrew, he will meet his challenge head-on and amaze everyone! I am going back this afternoon for our daily cuddle time, so if there is anything new to report, I will post again later. We have new pictures of our little porker and I will try to get them posted as well. Thank you for your prayers! | June 29, 2011


52: Daddy holding Andrew after bath time. | Oh, look at him!!! He looks amazing. Beautiful boy. -Kelley Land Wow! Wow!! Wow!!! That look in his eyes is amazing!!! -Forest Pagett Precious! -Debbie Phillips What an awesome picture. He totally trusts you, dad!! -Pam Hart Wow! He is really growing fast! Soon he'll be holding a football like you're holding him! -Claire Tichy

53: Dear Christy, thank you so much for your updates and for sharing your feelings so beautifully! Those of us who had full-term babies can only begin to imagine how difficult this is for you. My Sara was jaundiced and had to stay two extra days in the hospital under the bili- lights, and I remember how scary and intimidating THAT was! And compared to what Andrew is going through, that was NOTHING!! I also remember my baby's first bath, and how afraid I was that she would slip, or that I wouldn't rinse all the soap off right, or that I would get shampoo in her eyes, or hurt her little belly button, or something terrible. Being a first time parent is tough regardless, but you and Dusty are doing it with style and grace!! You are all in my prayers, keep the good news and darling pictures coming! -Love, Ruth I'm glad everything turned out well for all of you. That is a great new photo of Andrew looking at you. I can tell he's filled out since last week. I hope before long ALL of the staff at the hospital are a cooperative and supportive as the nurse from last night. Love from Nana and Pappy. -Cindy Fuller I think of all of you daily and wonder how you are handling this emotionally. It must be hard to leave Andrew there when you go home after a visit. You are doing such a great job of describing your visits; I know this must be so very special for your family members. I know I can't wait to read each day about his progress. Keep your chin | up; God must have something extraordinary for Andrew's life. Let this help comfort you--along with the fact that many people are praying for you. -Debbie Phillips What a beautiful little bundle you have. I know you can't wait to get him home. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. -Charlie & Judy Powell

54: I love the new picture of him Christy! He is beautiful! I am glad you have a little fighter! I am also glad you listened to your heart and went back last night for another "Mommie Fix." Hang in there, his pictures are showing how far he has come. He looks like the little man he will grow up to be in this new picture! Love you and praying for you and your whole family~ -Nancy Martin He's such a handsome little man! I can't believe how much he's changed in the nearly two weeks since I saw him. That means it's about time for me to get back up there! Thanks for sharing pics of our beautiful nephew. Love to you all...and prayers for comfort when you ache to hold him and have him home with you. -Kelley Land | Another Good Day Today was a pretty good day. Dusty and I visited this morning and thoroughly enjoyed our cuddle time, even though Andrew slept through most of it, I yawned through the whole thing and Dusty nodded off a time or two. It seemed that the entire Fuller family was sleepy this morning. We found out that they're going to start trying to transition him out of the incubator starting next week, just in time for his 1 month birthday! Next week will also be when we start transitioning him off of the feeding tube. He has already tried to breastfeed, even though he isn't supposed to yet, so I'm hoping it will be a smooth transition. (No one told Andrew that he had to wait until 34 weeks to breastfeed. Apparently that was left out of his memo!) The reason we have been waiting to begin breastfeeding is that the doctors don't want him getting too much milk while he is still on the feeding tube. It has been difficult to keep him from doing what he wants while we're cuddling. He's a very determined little boy! | June 30, 2011

55: What a beautiful baby. I am so glad you got to go back and spend special time with him. Bath time is a wonderful time for momma and baby. I remember some great bath times. G-Mama, there are 5 cc in 1 teaspoon and 6 teaspoons in 1 ounce!!! So at 10 cc he is getting 2 teaspoons every 3 hours, or 16 teaspoons every day. Not quite 3 ounces every day. Doesn't sound like much, but he sure is putting it to good use, look at how he has filled out. Christy's milk must be premium brand!!! We are continuing to pray for all of you. Dusty as he works so many hours in this heat. Christy as she continues to cope with being a new momma separated from her baby. And of course for Andrew as he grows, that the Lord will protect him from germs and from harm. Love you all. -Gramma Barnes My nephew's a genius! Top of his class already! Go, Andrew, go! -Aunt Katie My name is Mary Dial and I work with your dad at Emory. I just wanted to let you and Dusty know how happy I am that Andrew is doing so well. With three kids of my own, I know how stressful health issues can be on the parents. Take care of yourselves and I hope Andrew is home soon. -Mary Dial 7.1.11 A Good Visit This morning's visit was another good one. Our cuddle time lasted a little longer than usual, and I enjoyed every minute. Andrew was asleep for most of our time, but that's okay. He needs his strength to get bigger. They increased his feedings yet again today--we're up to 13 ccs. I can't believe we'll be celebrating his 1 month birthday next week. It just seems unreal. In some ways, it makes me sad, thinking of how the first month of parenthood should have been for us. In other ways, it gives me tremendous hope. The first month--the hardest month--is nearly behind us and he is doing remarkably well. He charms and amazes everyone who sees him on a daily basis. I could not be prouder of my son! Your post's have been lessons, to me, in what GOD can do! It's the small steps that get you where you're going. So glad to read of his progress each day. (Bathtime was the BEST!!!!) We're continuing to pray for you all! -GG :-) (Carol Land)

56: Thank you and Dusty for letting us share these moments. I can't wait each day to hear the news on little Andrew. Every day I read hope in your messages and I know it will be soon when you get to bring him home. Can't wait to meet him. -Aunt Jeanette I can't wait to see him again in person. He has changed so much. It has been in an eventful month. I'm sure there will be a lot more adventure once he gets home. I hope Pappy gets to come up and help complete the changing table. Love to all. -Cindy Fuller July 2, 2011 Today was a good day on multiple fronts. Dusty and I went to visit Andrew early this morning so that Dusty could get back for work. It was a quick visit, but a good one. I went back later for a longer, cuddling visit, and Gramma (my Mom) came with me. Andrew was asleep for most of the second visit, but we enjoyed every minute. Meanwhile, Dusty worked the first busy day of the holiday weekend. So far, everything has gone really well. Let's hope it continues. Another NICU baby went home today. That leaves three babies total. Someday soon it will be Andrew's turn!! Hooray for a good day when you were expecting such a dreary weekend! I live for these daily updates. It just doesn't seem right if I don't get my "Andrew fix" before I go to bed. I printed out the gorgeous picture of him looking up at Dusty and posted it on the fridge with my other nephews and nieces. I love being able to see his sweet face every day. I'm so glad to hear the good news about another baby getting to go home! And you're right that Andrew's time is coming. He's such a trooper! Glad your parents are there to help this weekend. Love to all! -Kelley Land July 3, 2011 Mommy Time Today was just a Mommy day. Unfortunately, the park monopolized all of Dusty's time today and he was not able to visit Andrew. So, it was just me. I went to see him this afternoon, after going to church for the first time since he was born. It was wonderful to be at church this morning, and I was encouraged by the messages that I heard and the hugs that I received. Apparently, when I rang the door phone at the NICU, Andrew immediately started fussing, like he knew it was me out in the hall. The nurses laughed about it for a while. He is now taking 16 ccs of breastmilk every 3 hours and is doing very well with that. They are building him up to begin our transition to breast and bottle feeding next week.

57: I can't wait! Today's cuddle time was really nice and Andrew found his comfy spot and quickly fell asleep. I read to him some, and sang to him some, trying not to rock in the rocking chair. Do you know how hard it is to sit in a rocking chair and not rock? (The rocking can cause reflux while they're being fed.) It is a daily battle! I heard today that the other two babies in the NICU may get to go home soon. Andrew may be the only one left. It might be nice to have the NICU to ourselves for a change. It gets a little crowded when all the parents decide to visit at the same time. Anyway, today was a full day, but a good day. Hopefully tomorrow will be more of the same! Christy, it was wonderful to see you today in church. You are radiant! I am encouraged by your daily posts and Andrew's daily progress. God is getting him stronger to be home with you and Dusty. Cherish every special moment you have with your little boy. Praying every day for you. -Cathy Tankersley I love these reports and I read them everyday. So glad for the improvements. Hope you and Dusty will take care of yourselves. Have a good 4th. -Richard Barnes I'm checking in daily and still thinking of you often. It is so great to hear how wonderful Andrew is doing! I'm happy to hear that you will be able to start breastfeeding next week! Just one step closer to Andrew being home. -Heather Merritt Hey! I'm hoping this crazy weekend is finally winding down for you both. I know you'll be glad to get back to a routine of sorts. It was good to hear that you got to go to church, Christy. Just being around your community of faith can lift spirits. I know they were glad to see you too, since you're pretty awesome. I'm excited for Andrew's big week and can't believe he's one month old tomorrow. It's unreal. I would love to talk to you on the phone sometime this week. I'll try to call. Love to all! -Kelley Land | 7.4.11 Sentenced to Mittens...

59: July 6, 2011: Review of Several Days When I woke up this morning, I realized that I forgot to post yesterday and I did not post Monday, so I've got a lot to cover! Here are the highlights: Andrew is 3 lbs 6.5 oz and is breathing room air (21% oxygen) through his cannula. They have also continued to increase his feedings to 19 ccs every 3 hours, and they have lowered the pressure of his air. These are all wonderful steps in the right direction. The one disappointment is that the transitions that we were expecting this week, getting out of the incubator and off the feeding tube, are postponed until next week. The reason is that somewhere along the way, we've lost a gestational week. The day he was born, the nurse told me that he measured exactly 30 weeks. Apparently, that was changed to 29 weeks and we didn't know. This means that the transitions that are to begin at 34 weeks will have to wait until next week. The amazing part of all this is that his progress is even more remarkable given that he's a week younger than we thought he was! The estimated timeline is another 6 weeks in the NICU, although that could change based on his status. That concludes the highlights. Now, here's the day-to-day run-down if you are interested: Since Monday was the 4th, Dusty was unable to visit again. This was hard for him, but it was just the way it had to be. So, I went by myself for the visit. It wasn't the best visit, and it wasn't the worst visit, but it still left much to be desired. I guess those kind of visits are part of the deal. Tuesday was a crazy day! We tried to go visit the baby at our usual time, for the 9 am feeding, but they had closed the NICU because of 25-weeker that was born, so they told us to come back for the 12 pm feeding. When we show up for the noon feeding, they had still not re-opened the NICU, so we ask if we could wait in a hospital room so I could pump. Finally at 1 pm, we are allowed into the NICU. Unfortunately, they had started the feeding at 12 like usual, so we were told that we'd have to come back later to hold him. That was really frustrating, given that we'd been waiting all morning to get in there just to be told we'd have to come back again. Dusty had to be back at the park by 5, so I'd have to come back by myself. We visited for a little while and talked to the nurse. She said that he'd been bad that morning and had yanked out all of his tubes, so he was now sentenced to mittens. They looked so silly, the normal-sized mittens on his tiny hands. I told her that the mittens wouldn't stop him; he'd find a way--(and sure enough, he pulled off one of his wires today while wearing the mittens--amazing!) Since I had to go back again, we had a short visit and left. I had just enough time to eat some lunch and pump again before I had to leave to go back to get there by 5:30. Luckily, that evening

60: visit was a good one. I held him for almost two hours, singing to him, while he remained sound asleep. It was a quiet, peaceful visit, and after the days we'd had, it was perfect. Today's visit was another good one. Dusty held him today and I read to him, something I can't do while I'm holding him. It was so nice! Hopefully we'll have a string of days more like today and less like Monday and Tuesday. I guess it's all part of it. | Your little man is SO handsome! I have enjoyed reading the updates & pray for your regularly! Thank you for taking the time to share his stories with us! We love y'all & are praying with you that god continues to strengthen him so you can bring him home!!! Much love, Alicia & Nathan Phillips Hi Christy, I enjoy your updates and hearing about the progress Andrew is making. He's getting stronger.. He showed the nurses by yanking some of his tubes :) It is difficult on days when you're so ready to hold him, read to him and love him, only to be told....wait. God is with you, waiting with you, caring for you, loving you and Dusty. Waiting in the stillness of a God moment. If you ever need someone to ride with you or drive you to the hospital, please call me. I'd be honored to help. Love and prayers, Cathy Tankersley Thanks for sharing this little guy's improvements with us. -Richard Barnes

61: 1 Month Old!! Happy Birthday, Andrew! What a milestone we've reached! And, exciting as it is, we've got good news to celebrate! He is officially IV-free, which means he is no longer needing fluids to supplement the breastmilk. He is also now taking 22 ccs every three hours. We spoke to the doctor this morning and he said that he hopes to wean him off of the cannula completely in the next two weeks, and we can start breastfeeding once a day tomorrow. I'm so excited! That's a lot of progress today! Our visit this morning was good, even though Andrew was pretty cranky for most of it. Everything that happened made him mad. I guess he was celebrating his 1-month birthday in his own, rebellious way. I've spent the afternoon researching pediatricians, setting up interviews and organizing insurance EOBs. I spent yesterday afternoon working on the nursery. Andrew's doing his part, so I guess it's time I do mine. Wayne and I went up to see our little guy last evening. The NICU was quiet; the other 2 babies were asleep; Raymond's music was playing, and our little man was sound asleep with the strap to his snuggly over his face!! I got him fixed and comfortable and watched him stretch and make faces and smile at his grandaddy. It was a great visit. His face is getting fuller, he is filling out and doing just fine. He'll be home before we know it and we will look back on these days and be amazed at God's provision and protection. -Gramma and Grandaddy | July 7, 2011

62: Happy Birthday Andrew! You and your family are still in my prayers. Stay strong! -Nancy Martin Christy, I am thrilled to hear how well Andrew is doing. I have a feeling you will be bringing him home before six more weeks! I love reading the updates on how well he is doing and seeing the Lord's hand in all of this. -Claudia Brooks Your post today was very reassuring. It's hard not being able to get up there and see him ourselves. The posts from Gramma and Grandaddy are great. I'm glad one set of grandparents can see Andrew often. Once we get back from Florida and "deliver" that kidney stone we will be up as often as you all will have us. Love, Nana and Pappy He has those Fuller lips! Going to have a great smile. Hope to visit later this month! Love, Thad and Shaunna 7.8.11 Today was a fantastic day! Dusty and I visited this morning and gave Andrew his first breastfeeding lesson. He lost interest after about 10 seconds. The nurse then suggested trying a small, less intimidating, bottle. He sucked enthusiastically about 4 times, but then did not know what to do with the mouthful of milk, so he ended up choking himself and spitting most of it back out. This reaction wasn't a surprise. Not being able to suck and swallow at the same time is consistent with his age. We'll keep trying once a day to see if there is any improvement. Most babies are born knowing instinctually how to eat. Andrew has to be taught. He'll learn in time. The fantastic news this morning was that his air pressure had been turned down again. By this evening, when I went back with Aunt Katie to visit, his oxygen was off entirely and he was maintaining his stats pretty well. He may have to go back on and off the oxygen some in the next few days as they wean him off, but it was a great sign! The nurse said tonight that Andrew is 15.6 inches now. He's growing everyday!! We could not be prouder of our little man! Things sound so good. -Richard Barnes

63: Glad you got to try nursing today! Andrew is amazing. I'm sure he will get the hang of it in the weeks to come. What a sweet moment for you to share. I continue to be so thankful for the good reports! Glad Aunt Katie finally got to meet him too. (: -Kelley Land 7.9.11: A Bit of a Disappointment Today was a bit disappointing. Katie and I went this afternoon to see him, but I was unable to hold him today. The nurse said that his temperature had been unstable and they were watching him closely. His temperature had risen a little too high, then dropped, then risen again, then dropped again for no apparent reason. As a result of the rise in temperature, his respiration increased and he was unable to keep up without the oxygen, so they put his oxygen levels and air pressure levels back up to where they'd been earlier yesterday. By the time we visited, his temperature was back to normal and they were backing down his oxygen, but they were still being cautious. The nurse said that this temperature spike was not indicative of a fever. I guess there would have been other symptoms had it been an infection or something. They told me that I might get to hold him at the 9pm feeding, but that's just not going to happen tonight. Dusty and I will visit tomorrow morning instead. They seemed perplexed by this temperature instability, but not alarmed. We'll see what happens over the next few days. Thank you for your prayers and support. Way to go Andrew! You'll be taller than your mom in no time. Getting off the oxygen cannula is the first step to going home. Now, we need you to keep warm on your own, so you can come out of the incubator, so your Gramma and your Nana can hold you. I can't believe you are a month old and still have not felt the loving arms of your grandmothers. Shame on you!! No don't cry, I'm only fussing a little. I will give you a couple more weeks before I really get upset. You are a fighter and I know that you will try really hard now, since you know your grandmothers are getting impatient. Keep up the good work. You'll get the hang of nursing in no time. Then we can let you pull out the feeding tube for good and you can get rid of those funny green mittens!!!! Grandaddy and I will come see you tomorrow after church. Love you, -Gramma B

64: 7.9.11 Amazing Andrew does it again!!!! I am so excited for all of you. This little guy is going to be one determined child....I can''t wait to get to know him. Thanks for the updates we check everyday to cheer him on! -Becky Adkins Great-Gramma Lattimer just got a chance to catch up on all the news and see all the pictures of Andrew. She says she is praying for him and hopes he gets stronger soon. She is so grateful for the Lord's protection and watch care for both Christy and the baby. -Great Gramma Lattimer I'm sorry for these difficult and confusing moments. They make me sad for you. I know it's even rougher with Dusty having to work such long hours. We love our little nephew/cousin and are praying for him and his parents. Love you! -Kelley Land Ann and I are thinking of you all. Sorry about the disappointment today. We trust that tomorrow will be better. I know this up and down business is tough. But remember how far he has come thus far! Blessings and Peace to You Both. -Jim Ross 7.10.11 We will be praying for all of you. Babies bodies just to strange stuff adjusting. Maybe it is just a mystery fever which unfortunately will happen every now and then anyway...that's my experience. In any event, I know it is upsetting and causes you worry. Just know we are all with you and that precious one in spirit. We prayed for Amazing Andrew in church this morning so many thoughts and prayers are being sent your way. -Becky Adkins We are so excited Andrew is doing so well. We read this everyday. Thank you for keeping us posted. Can't wait to meet him. -Aunt Annette Siler Great report... -Richard Barnes | July, 10, 2011 A Fantastic Day!

65: After yesterday's disappointments, I was really hoping that today would be better--and it was! Dusty and I went for a quick visit this morning to find that Andrew had one of our favorite nurses today. She's always very good at explaining what is going on and she has been a breastfeeding advocate for us from the beginning, so I was hoping that would help also. She said that yesterday's problems were mechanical, not biological. It was the bed's inability to read the temperature probes on Andrew that caused the rise in temperature. Basically, the bed thought that Andrew's temperature was cold and raised the temperature, causing his temperature to rise too much. She said that in babies Andrew's size, a "fever" is actually a decrease in temperature. Isn't that interesting? The nurse yesterday had not explained this to us. Today, his temperature was very stable and he was doing really well, so I planned to go back this afternoon for another breastfeeding attempt. Luckily my Mom was able to be there, too, and that helped a lot. The nurse was very helpful and instructed me in the best holds and positioning so we could get the best results. Babies as small as Andrew need extra support, which is a little difficult to manage while feeding. She said the doctor wanted us to try for 25-30 minutes everyday, which is a lot longer than the 30 seconds that we tried the other day. Andrew was able to get a good latch about 4 or 5 times during the session with 4-5 sucks each time. This was SO much better than the other day. We'll keep working everyday and he will get better and stronger each time. He did a fantastic job today and was pretty much worn out by the time we were finished. I am so thankful that the nurse took the time to work with me--she never left my side the whole time, offering suggestions and being supportive. My Mom was also great and provided a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, something that I needed. Between the three of us, I think we figured it out. It was a very encouraging day! | It was such a relief to read your post. Everything is still going great. I'm so glad you had your mom and the right nurse there today. I really want to come up (Pappy, too!!) when the Florida trip is finished. Love to all from Nana!!! -Cindy Fuller

66: Hooray about the temperature not being Andrew's fault! I was a bit worried about the little guy. Also glad about the breast feeding. Better that your mother was there than me :> -Katie fuller Pappy and I should be able to come up next week! He is having his kidney stone procedure tomorrow and should be better by this weekend. We will call and work out a time. Can't wait!!!! -Cindy Fuller Great news!!!! -Becky Adkins | July 13, 2011: Ups and Downs The last few days have been full of ups and downs. Monday was a busy day of meeting with pediatricians and running errands. Our visit at the hospital caused a bit of frustration when we found out that a nurse had given Andrew a bottle instead of waiting on me to breastfeed. Apparently there was a miscommunication between the nurse and the doctor and she was unaware that we were coming to breastfeed (even though we come everyday). Since he is only supposed to have one feeding session a day, it was a big deal that she had "used up" our one time. Luckily, she let me breastfeed anyway since it was later in the day and he did really well. We have since made it very clear that we do not want Andrew to get a bottle at all (at least at this point) and the doctor is in agreement with this. We do not want anything to undermine the breastfeeding progress we are making. I am not doing all of this work pumping every three hours for nothing!! Hopefully we will not have any more problems with this. Tuesday was a good day as far as Andrew is concerned, a bad day for everything else. At the last minute, we had to cancel a pediatrician appointment because the park's water system wasn't working correctly.

67: Of course, this was on Dusty's day off. He thought he fixed the problem, so we went on to the hospital for a wonderful visit and breastfeeding session. Andrew was alert and eager and was sucking and swallowing in the correct order, at least a few times. It is slow going, but he is doing REALLY well with it. Then, Dusty and I went to see Transformers, our first "time-out" since Andrew was born. Unfortunately, we had to leave an hour into the movie because the park was totally out of water. Gotta love 70+ year-old water systems. Dusty worked on that well into the evening--we finally got water restored earlier this afternoon. FUN! Today was another day of ups and downs. Dusty wasn't able to go with me to visit Andrew because of the water situation. When I got to the hospital, they let me know that Andrew was going to need another blood transfusion because his stats were low. They said that it was totally normal for a baby so little, and that it would make him feel better. I tried to breastfeed while they waited on the blood to get there, but we didn't get very far today. It was clear that he didn't feel well. He did suck some, but then spit out most of it. Hopefully tomorrow we will have more progress. I held Andrew for the first hour and a half of the transfusion and it was clear that he was already feeling better as a result. They let me know that he is now 3 lbs 9 oz! Yay! We are really close to being able to transition him out of the incubator. They also continue to decrease his air levels. He is now only on 1/2 liter of air pressure and 21% oxygen. While I was there, the nurse had to take the tape off of his face to reposition the nasal cannula. That was so hard to watch. I tried to help calm him as much as I could, but the tape is tough stuff and he screamed the entire time. It was so horrible. Welcome to motherhood, right? In the midst of these crazy days, we have had some really good moments. He's gaining weight, breathing better and breastfeeding amazingly well for a baby his age. That's what we have to remember when things get tough. Thank you for your prayers, your gifts and your meals. They are certainly a big help!

68: Hey! Just thinking about you three. The last update was such a relief to read. I'm glad Andrew's temp issues weren't serious and so thankful you have at least one nurse who does the bedside manner portion of her job well. I wish they could all be that way. I hope nursing is continuing to go well. It sounds like Andrew is eager to learn! I know the two of you have had a rough couple of days with water issues, etc. I hope those are well on the way to getting resolved. Can't imagine what you've been doing in your situation! I love you all and will talk to you soon. -Kelley Land Just wanted you to know that you all are still in my prayers. Thanks so much for keeping us all updated. I can't wait to meet Andrew. Love to each of you. -Dianne Bales Aw, gee! It's so tough to hear of the difficult times. I get so frustrated when you guys can't catch a break. And to be out on a date and have it interrupted...boo!!! I hope you can try again sometime soon. There's a certain epic movie coming out on Friday that you'll want to see at some point. (: As tough as it is to read about the bad times and wish I could smooth everything over, it's also fabulous to read the news of Andrew's continued progress and successes! I know I'll barely be able to recognize him next time I visit. Love to all! -Kelley Land Praying for all of you. -Richard Barnes July 15, 2011 Another Fantastic Day! Today was a wonderful day full of good news. Dusty and I went to the hospital this morning for a short visit and were met at the door with progress. Andrew is now off of all his medicines (caffeine and sodium) and they will be slowly transitioning him out of the incubator starting this evening. I got to take his cute little preemie outfits to the hospital and hopefully he will be wearing clothes for the first time when I go in tomorrow morning! He is also on schedule to lose the cannula in the next day or so. That will be a huge step. The doctors have reassessed his breastfeeding/bottle feeding/feeding tube situation and have decided to add a bottle feeding once a day in addition to the breastfeeding once a day starting tomorrow.

69: We've been getting so many different opinions about the breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding at this point that we weren't sure who to listen to. The more that I read and listen, the more that I realize that for a preemie as little as Andrew, the bottle is the natural transitional step between the feeding tube and the breast. The bottle is the only way to get him off of the feeding tube and still make sure that he gets a full feeding. He is not strong enough yet to tolerate multiple breastfeeding sessions in one day, yet he needs to be off of the feeding tube as soon as possible. The bottle is the best solution. The doctor said that as he gets stronger and better at eating, we will add more breastfeeding sessions and decrease the number of bottle sessions. I keep telling myself that when it is all said and done, it's all breast milk, however its given. So this does mean that I will get to hold him now twice a day instead of just once. And Dusty will get to help with feedings. That will be wonderful! I went back this afternoon for today's breastfeeding session and he did really well--much better than yesterday. He's still only sucking a handful of times in the 30-minute session, but he was opening his mouth better today and it kept his attention for longer. Small steps! Yesterday's session was really frustrating--he was wide awake when we got there and got settled so we were hoping for some good progress, but he was sound asleep within 10 minutes of holding him. Not a whole lot of anything took place yesterday. Like I said, today was a really good day. The only negative was that our little man has a pretty nasty diaper rash that they are trying to take care of. He screamed when I changed his diaper today, something that he doesn't normally do. Hopefully that will go away soon. Christy - I am so thrilled you had a baby - especially a boy (I have two!) Just had my first grandbaby in July - a little girl. Babies are such a precious gift from God and I know Andrew is going to grow big and strong. We had friends whose grandson was born at 27 weeks, and through so many prayers and so many of God's miracles, this toddler is running around driving his parents nuts - a normal toddler! I will keep you, Dusty, and Andrew in my prayers that every day God will give you a special blessing as you watch Andrew improve. Much love, Jody Kearley Great! -Richard Barnes That's amazing that he's learning so quickly!! -Rebeccah Barnes

70: July 16, 2011: Success! Today was a day for the record books! If you've been keeping up with the posts, then you know that we've been trying to breastfeed this week...trying being the key word. We've attempted with very little success for the last several days. In 30 minutes, he may have latched 2-3 times and sucked a total of 8-10 times. Sometimes he then spit out the little milk that he actually got. It was slow-going and frustrating for me, but I accepted that this was the way it was going to be...one excruciatingly slow step at a time. Instead of looking for huge gains, I was trying to see small wins: he doesn't need as much coaxing today; he stayed awake for 5 minutes longer; he swallowed instead of spit. Until today. Today Andrew brought his A-game and thanks to a lenient nurse, I was able to see it. Usually the staff let me try to nurse a maximum of 30 minutes a day. Today Andrew was wide awake and interested, so she let me continue as long as he wanted. At first we started out the same: a lot of tasting but not a lot of eating. After about 35 minutes, he'd latched only 3-4 times and sucked for a total of 3-4 minutes. Pretty normal as of late. I thought that he might be getting tired, so I popped him up on my chest to nap like normal, but he was having none of that. Apparently he was not done eating. I switched sides and tried a different hold and a small miracle happened: he immediately latched on and proceeded to nurse for the next 15-18 minutes, stopping only long enough to catch his breath every now and again. He was sucking AND swallowing (in the right order) AND his stats remained good, which means that he was also breathing sufficiently. The nurse kept coming to check on us, saying "Another 5 minutes, you think?" She did this four times before he was finished. It was incredible. In my mind, today was the first day that he breastfed. The other times were just practice. The nurse cautioned me not to expect this kind of success every time from now on, that he'll have his good days and bad days, but she was utterly amazed at his progress. One of the nurse the other day said that with Andrew, it's all or nothing. Either he needs a lot of oxygen or none at all. Either he sleeps all day or very little at all. I guess it is the same with breastfeeding. He just had to decide that he wanted to, and he wasn't going to do anything until that happened. Fullers, sound like anyone else we know?? My only regret is that Dusty wasn't there this morning to see it. This evening when I returned for our first bottle session, things did not go so well. Although this was the first time I'd ever fed a baby a bottle, I claim no responsibility for the failure. Andrew just didn't want it. Everything that went into his mouth came right back out again. I like to think that he was saying, "I like the other way better." Unfortunately, he's going to have to learn both since I cannot be at the hospital every 3 hours around the clock--it's just not possible. The nurse said that he was just not ready to take a bottle and we'd keep trying. They've been telling me that breastfeeding was too hard for him and a bottle would be easier, but leave it to my stubborn fighter to prove them wrong!

71: I am so happy for your success with Andrew today. He was ready for some mama time. That's wonderful. Thank you for taking time to write and share your sweet, sweet story. Praying for strength for you, Dusty and Andrew. -Cathy Tankersley | "I'm not so sure about this!" 7-17-11

72: 7.18.11 | Look at how big he has gotten! What a beautiful little boy you two have. I read his progress daily and am ecstatic at how well he is doing. Yay! -Carmen Jackson

73: July 18, 2011 Written by Daddy Another good day - or two We've had a string of pretty good days lately. Our morning breastfeeding visits have gone well. We tried to breastfeed twice yesterday, but Andrew wasn't too interested the second time. His diaper rash, even though it's being treated with the best stuff they've got, is still going to bother him until it heals. Not fun. It's probably part of the reason he was a bit grumpy. We visited twice today since it's one of my days off, and the second time we fed him with a bottle. This went much better than a few days ago. He was able to take 14ml over the course of an hour, which was twice as much as he did last time the bottle made an appearance. He's now 3lbs 13oz, and 17 inches long. That's a pound heavier than his birth weight! He may be coming out of the incubator this week, as 4 pounds is the benchmark that is typically used for this transition. He's been holding his temperature well enough, so he may be a little more "out in the open" next week. That's about all for today and yesterday. Christy should be back tomorrow!

74: Good News and Bad News Today was a really busy day. It seemed that Dusty and I were running all over the world getting errands done that all seemed to have to be done today. We finally got over to the hospital this afternoon for a visit. We were met at the door with some disconcerting news. Andrew has had several episodes over the last two days where his heart rate drops suddenly. One required severe stimulation to get it back up again. He has had these in the past, but usually not 4 or 5 over the course of 24 hours. The doctor has ordered a full blood work-up and has started giving him antibiotics in case there is some sort of infection. We will know in the next two days what the results are of the tests. It could be nothing, but they're trying to rule out the more serious problems. He is doing so well that we hope this is not a setback. Please pray that the tests will come back normal and these episodes will go away. He was sound asleep when we got there and so the breastfeeding got off to a slow start--he did virtually nothing for the first 40 minutes. Then, he woke up. It took him another 10 minutes to decide that he was interested and then he latched and stayed latched for the next 25-30 minutes. It was pretty amazing. Unfortunately I had to contort myself to get him comfortable (there was a new incubator today and it did not allow much slack on the wires--the old one needed to be cleaned), but it was worth a little back pain to get such wonderful results. So, good and bad today. Great progress made in breastfeeding, but some potentially bad news around the corner. Please keep us and little Andrew in your prayers. Great news! I know I won't recognize him when I see him. I believe he was at his lowest weight when I met him for the first time. He continues to amaze me and delight me. I can't wait for him to be out of that box so you have better access to him! -Kelley Land Wow, what a report. It certainly brings mixed feelings, doesn't it? He has changed so much!!!!!! Please keep us informed, and let us know if you need us. Pappy is feeling much better. We are probably going over to Kelley's Thursday and are still planning to come see all of you next week. We love all of you. -Cindy Fuller | July 19, 2011

75: I went this morning to breastfeed, which went really well by the way--35 minutes really well, and found out the the blood work came back normal. They are still waiting on the blood cultures to come back. She said that if those results were also normal, they would discontinue the antibiotics and assume that the problem, if there was one, has gone away. She said that he has had a few more episodes, but they have been minor compared to the ones he was having. Hopefully this means that the issue is being taken care of one way or another. So far, good news. He was wide awake during my visit and actually got mad at me when I made him stop eating (he can only nurse for limited amounts of time to reserve his energy for growing). I guess he was planning to eat until his next feeding was due! If you haven't checked out the new photos, be sure to do that. They're great! I'll be going back tonight at 9, so I'll post anything new after that. Praying for Andrew this morning. Keep your eyes set on the prize, and do not let the discouragement overpower the positive steps that this precious baby has made. Love you all and I am so proud of you, Christy. You are an incredible mother and I am in awe of the lengths you have gone to nurse your son. Keep up the good work! Hugs and prayers~ Love, Nancy Martin Praying for all of you. I know Amazing Andrew will continue to amaze us all. We will be checking for updates. -Becky Adkins I sucked in a nervous breath when I saw your update hit my inbox. I knew there were some issues with Andrew and was hoping for good news. I do love hearing about him getting mad and trying so hard to nurse! Sweet boy! The new pictures are too precious for words. The girls and I love them. And I'm relieved to hear the good news on the blood work thus far. Still, I know it must be unnerving not to know exactly what caused the heart rate drops. Always praying for Andrew and his parents. Can't wait to see you this weekend! -Kelley Land | J | July 20, 2011

76: July 21, 2011: More Good News We spoke to the doctor this morning and the blood cultures came back negative for any bacteria, so he took Andrew off of the antibiotics. He said that Andrew hasn't had an episode in 12 hours, so things were looking good. The episodes could have been caused by reflux or just part of his prematurity. So, we can sleep and breathe again! They had to up his oxygen during all this mess, so now we begin the process of weaning him down again. Hopefully he'll be through with that soon. This morning's breastfeeding went really well, just like yesterday. He latched immediately and ate for about 45 minutes. We seem to be increasing the length of the feedings everyday, which is good. He doesn't suck as strong as a full-term baby (or so I've been told), so it takes him longer to get full. Today he decided when he was finished and promptly fell asleep, a happy, content little guy. Too bad we can't breastfeed every 3 hours like we would at home. I gave him a bottle last night at 9 and he has still not quite figured it out. It takes a little more coaxing to get him to try, and then he can't pace himself: he starts gulping really fast and we have to stop while he spits out what's left in his mouth, catches his breath, and makes horrible faces at me for making him do this. I wish that we could just stick with nursing because he likes it so much better (and I do, too), but he has to master the bottle and be able to take a whole feeding before they'll take out the feeding tube. He's only taking about half of a feeding right now. We'll get there; it's just a matter of time and patience. Great news....love the reports. -Richard Barnes Thankful for the good news! -Becky Adkins

77: Thanks for keeping us posted, Christy. We continue to pray for Andrew, you, & Dusty! Can't wait to see him in Madison! -Doug Adkins Christy, We are members at Zion you may not remember us but we certainly do you and your family. We are praying for Andrew and you guys. Thanks for keeping us posted this way. I have a few Caring Bridge loved ones that I keep up with. Hope all continues to improve and he continues to grow and mature as he should. Let me know if we can do anything else. Love to you all, Larry and Cathy Kendrick | 7.22.11 A picture to treasure. -Gramma

78: Love this picture! "I love you, Mommy! Thanks for helping take care of me!" -Debbie Phillips | I love that look on his face! -Jennifer Locklear

79: 7.22.11 "Hooray for food!" | 7.23.11 "Hey, Mommy!" | I can't believe how much bigger he has gotten since his first pictures! -Rachel Huston | He knows his mommy! So sweet. -Carolyn Carter

80: July 23, 2011 Wake up, sleepy head...or not The last few days have been a little frustrating for me. I went in yesterday morning for our daily breastfeeding session and Andrew decided that he was going to sleep the ENTIRE time. I tried everything that I could think of to wake him up, but after 45 minutes of trying, we finally gave up and the nurse gave him his feeding through the tube. It was so frustrating for me. I mean, it was wonderful just to hold him, but it wasn't what we were supposed to be doing. Since I only get to try twice a day, ideally once for bottle-feeding and once for breastfeeding, when we miss one, it means a lot. If we were at home and things were "normal," I could just wait until he woke up and feed him then, but I can't. If he's asleep when I'm there, then we miss that opportunity. It's hit or miss, and the more we miss, the less progress we make. Last night, I went back to try again and brought Dusty's sister, Kelley, along. He was so awake that it took 30 minutes to get him settled enough to breastfeed, but after that, he did really well. We were there for almost 2 hours and he was still awake when we left. This morning, it was a repeat of yesterday morning. Once again, he did not wake up and we had to feed him through the tube. Kelley and I will go tonight and I'll try again...so frustrating! Hopefully this will not become a pattern. It kills me that his progress is based on these hit or miss opportunities. All we can do is keep showing up and trying...over and over again.

81: Thursday evening Wayne and I experienced a tremendous joy as I got to hold and bottle feed our little man. What a blessing. He slept through most of our visit, never really opened his eyes, although he did blink at me a couple of times, but what a joy. To finally hold our first grandchild. He took about 12 cc from the bottle over the course of an hour, and we were able to hold him another 30 minutes while the nurse gave the rest of his feeding through his tube. Nana, you and Pappy should get your chance while you're here next week, I hope. I know you will be as thrilled as we were. Each day that passes we are getting closer to the day when Christy and Dusty can bring their little guy home. What a difficult, exciting and wonderful road this has been. Surely the Lord is great in lovingkindness toward His children. -Gramma and Grandaddy I am so glad that Gramma got to hold Andrew. There's nothing like holding your grandchild. It's about time we grands got into the action :) -Cindy Fuller

82: I cannot covey the excitement with which I write this post--we are incubator free as of 3:00 this afternoon! What a surprise when I went with my parents to feed him to find him asleep in his new little bed wearing his new little clothes. The nurse said that he has done amazingly well so far in the bassinet and has had no episodes today. He met the 4 lb mark on Thursday, so the doctor said it was time to say goodbye to the box. It was so wonderful to finally be able to see all of my baby when I change his diaper, although now I have the obstacle of the clothes to deal with during diaper changes instead of the incubator--I actually think it was easier when he was in the box without clothes! Today I got the wonderful privilege of changing his clothes, too, because he peed all over the ones he was wearing when I arrived before I could change his diaper. He woke up when I got him out of the bed and latched immediately, a nice change to the past few days. | July 24, 2011 | NO MORE INCUBATOR!!

83: It was a wonderful visit!! The nurse said that things will progress much faster now that he's out of the incubator, but we are still expecting him to be there for several more weeks. Tonight, I will go back with Dusty's parents to give him a bottle and hopefully a bath. I needed this wonderful day so badly! Check out the new pictures from the last few days! | Our thoughts & prayers continue to be with you and the family each day. What a wonderful miracle you have been blessed with. Cherish each moment of every day as Andrew continues to progress. May God be with each of you every day, giving you strength. Love & Prayers!!!!!! -Delores Stuart Go Andrew!!! I am sooooo excited for all of you! -Becky Adkins Our little man is wearing clothes!!!! I saw the new pictures and squealed with excitement. He is so precious and perfect and wonderful. I'm thrilled that you had a great day today, Christy. You really deserved it. I hope the evening has gone well with Nana and Pappy there, and I hope Dusty enjoys his time with Andrew tomorrow. Love to all and continued prayers of gratefulness for these wonderful advancements! -Kelley Land It will be interesting to see how hard he can do his muscle man workouts in this new crib! -Kelley Land GO ANDREW!!! I am so excited for you all, what an answer to prayer! Can't wait to meet this little guy in person! Love, Ruth Wilson

84: Samantha says, "Andrew is so cute wearing his little clothes and hat! I can't wait until he gets out of the hospital so I can hold him one day. He looks so tiny and cute. And I love him and hope he can stay out of the incubator." -Kelley Land He looks so good! And he is really growing! I'm so happy he's out of the incubator. It was good to see you in church Sunday. -Carolyn Carter 7.26.11 Several good things have happened since I posted last on Sunday, but I have not had a second's time to tell you all about them. Sunday night's visit went really well. He did really well with his bottle and Nana and Pappy (Dusty's parents) got to hold him for the first time! Yesterday was a busy, busy day. Dusty and I went in the morning to breastfeed, but he was just too sleepy, so we tried a bottle instead. He took an entire feeding (a little over an ounce) from the bottle for the first time! So, even though I was a little disappointed that he wouldn't nurse, we did make progress. The eye doctor came by yesterday for his first check of Andrew's eyes, an appointment that we have been apprehensive about. Until yesterday, they hadn't checked his sight at all. The nurses said that Andrew tolerated the visit well and all the doctor said was that his eyes are immature--we already knew that. He said nothing more, but the nurses said it was very good news. If there had been a major problem, the doctor would have been able to tell and he would have had more to say. Andrew may still end up needing glasses or something like that, but we kind of expected that already, given his genes. After all, his mother is almost blind. Last night when I went back to breastfeed, I was thoroughly wiped out from several busy days in a row. Unfortunately, Andrew didn't see the need to give me a break and it took about 2 hours to get him to nurse 25 minutes. It was one of the more frustrating sessions, and I'm hoping that we'll grow out of that soon.

85: This morning, Dusty and I sent Nana and Pappy to the hospital to give Andrew a bottle while we met Andrew's pediatrician (as was decided after today's wonderful introduction). I think Dr. Lisa Miller is going to be fantastic and take very good care of our little man. It was a relief to finally have that decision made. She thinks that Andrew will be coming home in the next 2-3 weeks, so now it's crunch time!! There are a lot of things that still need to be done on our end to get ready to bring him home and not a lot of extra time to do them, but we'll do our best. We've had some very good but very busy days as of late, but it's looks like this marathon may soon be coming to an end. | I'm so thrilled for all of you! -Claudia Brooks Sounds like things are progressing very rapidly! We're so happy for all of you and hope we get to see him soon! -Jan Angstadt

86: When we went in this morning, we were thrilled to find him cannula-less. Apparently, the nasal cannula was removed late last night and he has done really well since then. No more oxygen; no more pesky wires around his head; a few less things to grab and pull out. We are so excited--another thing has been checked off the list. Now, all that he needs to do is learn how to eat better. To that end, I met with the lactation consultant this morning to see if our breastfeeding could be improved. She gave me some pointers and showed me a new hold (not in the books) and he did so much better. I am hopeful that our sessions will be even better now. While he napped after he ate, the nurse started going through some of the discharge procedures. It's really going to happen! It is still a few weeks away, probably, but the process is beginning. We are starting the checklist, beginning with some of the vaccines today. Then it will be CPR training for Mommy and Daddy, followed by another heart echo and head ultrasound, then a hearing test and an eye follow-up, a few "educational" videos, and then, finally, the carseat test. There's a lot to be done, but it will move so fast. He will be home with us before we know it!! The progress report I read this morning made me smile. What a wonderful way to start a day knowing Andrew is getting him himself ready for that ride home soon! -Elsie Monk | July 27, 2011

87: That's awesome!!! -Rebeccah Barnes This kind of news makes Aunt Kelley shout for joy! Hooray, Andrew! Can't wait to see that precious face without the cannula. We're thinking of you all as you start making preparations to take your miracle boy home. Samantha says, "I hope Andrew does good with every single one of those tests. And that he will get to go home soon. And I hope you get to keep coming and seeing him every day! I love Andrew!" Natalie says, "I love Andrew!" -Kelley Land This is fantastic news!!! You are both ALREADY Extraordinary parents. Andrew is sooooo bless to have you! WE are still praying for you all. -Carol Land SO Excited for your good news! Sounds like everything is moving right along toward his going home. Like you say, things will move fast! I'm praying daily for all of you. -Carolyn Carter | Thankful for good news! Let me know if there is anything the girls and I can do to help you get ready for Andrew's homecoming. Lydia is getting really good with laundry! Can't wait to meet that little man. -Becky Adkins

88: Wonderful news! We will truly miss you all at the reunion this weekend. -Dianne Bales Christy, what good news. You are going to be very busy getting ready to go home, but that is on the right track for sure. So glad he is doing better. Will continue our prayers. -Cathy Kendrick | 7.29.11 Happy Birthday, Dusty! Well, today Dusty leaves his twenties behind! I took great delight in singing him Happy Birthday at 3:30 this morning when I woke up to pump. He didn't seem to be too excited about it then! We continued the celebrating with a morning visit to the NICU where Dusty got the privilege of feeding Andrew for the first time. He was a little nervous, but he did a great job! One of our favorite

89: nurses worked the night shift last night and she had a surprise waiting for Dusty when we got there this morning. There was a piece of construction paper taped to his bed that said, "Happy Birthday Dad! Love, Andrew. July 29, 2011. 4 lb 7oz." It also had two pictures of Andrew that she took this morning. It was such a sweet thing to do and it meant a lot to both of us. I'm going to miss seeing several of the nurses when this is all finished. Unfortunately, Dusty will spend the rest of the day working. His family is coming into town tomorrow and we're going to have a little get-together Sunday. I had wanted to do a big thing, but it's just not going to happen this year. Maybe I'll get my act together for 40. Andrew is doing very well. Not much has changed in the last several days. We are just practicing eating and waiting for Andrew to get better at taking a bottle. It is just a matter of time. He is growing so fast. Even though he just started wearing clothes less than a week ago, he has already outgrown some of the preemie clothes. I actually took in newborn-sized stuff today. All of our free time is being spent getting ready to bring him home, but I see an end in sight. Soon I will be a full-time Mom instead of a part-time one. I can't wait!

90: Was wondering if we would see you holding little Andrew. Good picture. -Jeanette Majors | 7.29.11 | Happy Birthday Daddy Dusty! -Becky Adkins And Happy Birthday to Daddy Dusty from the Rosses! It sounds like Andrew is making great strides toward coming home. -Jim Ross Happy Birthday Dusty.....I actually remember when I turned 30 and I truly did not want to leave

91: 29. 40, 50, and 60 were not as bad as 30.. Christy you guys are doing a great job. -Richard Barnes I've said it before and I'll say it again. Thank God for nurses who really care. What a sweet gesture! We are excited about Dusty's big day and glad we can come celebrate it this weekend with all of you. I can't believe Andrew is getting that big!!! While full-time parenthood of course has its challenges, it will be perfectly right for you to have your baby with you all the time instead of going to him a few hours each day. Avoiding the drive alone should take away some of your stress. Love to all! See you soon! -Kelley Land | He looks so peaceful and look at his little hand on your heart:) =Lori West | He looks absolutely perfect! You couldn't look any happier - God is good! -Jody Kearley

92: July 31, 2011: Piggy, Piggy Yesterday, the doctor gave the order that we've been waiting for--more feedings. I can now breastfeed 2-3 times a day and the nurses will bottle feed 2 times a day. This is basically every other feedings. So, yesterday I fed him in the morning and the evening. He did a fantastic job: about 30 minutes in the morning and 25 last night. Dusty's family is in town for his birthday celebration tonight, so Kelley (Dusty's sister) went with me last night. It was a great visit, even though Andrew was a little fussy toward the end. This morning, Dusty and I both went and Andrew was ready for us. He ate for almost a solid hour--like he'd been starved for days. It was the funniest thing. After about 30 minutes, I started looking for the signs that he was finished. I would go to lean him back to see if he was slowing down, and he would grab with both of his hands and pull himself forward, like he was saying, "No, you don't. I'm not finished yet!" He went from eating like a bird to chowing down like a pig in about a week. We couldn't be more proud of our little piggy.

93: That is so good. He wants to get out of that hospital. -Richard Barnes August 2, 2011: We see the Finish Line!! I just got home from the hospital and can hardly catch my breath--he's staying his last few days in the NICU, if all goes well. The doctor said today that he wanted him off the feeding tube as soon as possible, so they have asked me to breastfeed as often as I can (every 3 hours, if I can). I wasn't expecting that order for several more days and am not sure that I'm ready for it, but here we go. They are going to prepare a room for me in the next 1-2 days for me to basically move into the hospital so I can begin nursing around the clock. Until the room is ready, I will be getting to the hospital as often as is possible during the day and they will bottle feed at night. If he responds well to around the clock nursing, then they'll take the tube out and they'll move him out of the NIUC into my room at the hospital. We'll room-in for a day or two to continue monitoring him, and then we'll go home. He could be home as early as this weekend! So, now the panic is setting in as I begin scurrying around trying to get the last few things ready. Pray that he'll do well and that I can stay calm as we prepare for the day we've been waiting for!! Wow!!!! This is an incredible step and so exciting to be getting ready to have that little bundle home. We are so blessed in Madison to have your family as a part of our community and church. Praying that you guys have a great next few days and homecoming SOON!!!!!! -Forest Pagett All right! Things are really happening quickly sounds like! We are so happy for y'all. Blessings.. Jim Ross

94: Unbelievably happy for you. I got chills "hearing" the joy in your post. -Susan Ryan What great news!! He definitely is a little fighter! -Claudia Brooks NO WAY!!!! I can't believe it! It's got to be exciting and yet totally intimidating, especially when you weren't expecting it so soon! I'm thrilled for the three of you and will also be praying for your sanity during this crazy time. I can definitely come up one weekend in August whenever it might be helpful. Whoo-hoo for Andrew and his hard-working parents! -Kelley Land What wonderful news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are rejoicing with you! -Becky Adkins That is great, but I understand your mixed feelings. I do wish I could help more!! If you really need someone, Katie can come and help make the last few preparations. Let us know ASAP! -Cindy Fuller August 3, 2011: Closer and Closer... Yesterday when Dusty and I went back at 3, there was another surprise waiting--no more feeding tube! This was a shock to us because at 9 am, he still was not taking a bottle well enough to come off. Apparently, at the noon feeding, the nurses figured it out. Up to this point, when you tried to give him a bottle, he would grimace, whine, arch his back, spit it out and have episodes. If you worked with him for an hour, you might get him to take 15-20 ccs, which is less than an ounce. We thought that he just didn't like the bottle and preferred the

95: breast. Yesterday, we discovered that it is not how the milk is being delivered, but how it tastes. They've been adding a fortifier to his bottles and apparently he doesn't like it. After trying to get him to eat for 20 minutes with little success, on a whim the nurse made another bottle without the fortifier (which is supposed to be tasteless). At first, Andrew refused that as well, but once he tasted it, he drained the entire bottle in 15 minutes. She said she wouldn't have believed it if she hadn't seen it with her own eyes. The nurses said it's the only time that they know of that a baby rejected the fortifier. Leave it to our stubborn child to be the first! I hope this will not translate into picky eating later. We'll just have to see. One step forward, two steps back... Unfortunately, Andrew wouldn't wake up enough to take either his 3:00 or 6:00 feedings, so they had to put the feeding tube back in. We knew this could happen and is not a huge step back, but it is a little disappointing. This sleepiness could have been caused by the low red blood cell numbers that showed up in the labs this morning. For the last two days, Andrew has had some blood in his stool, probably from an internal fissure (he poops a little too well, if you know what I mean). Anything more serious was ruled out by a belly x-ray yesterday morning. It has cleared up but has thrown off his system a bit. About 6:30 tonight, they decided to give him another blood transfusion to raise his numbers. Hopefully he will eat much better tomorrow. We do not know if today's events will change our timetable for coming home. He usually recovers very quickly when they give him a transfusion. We'll just have to wait and see how the next few days go. We'll certainly keep everyone posted.

96: August 3, 2011 Sooooo very excited for y'all! As we approach our due date, we are feeling that same excitement! Maybe we'll be taking our little guys home on the same day?! Praying strength for Andrew & peace for his mama & daddy! Look forward to these updates!!! Much love, Alicia Phillips August 5, 2011 A Heart that Hurts Yesterday, things were looking better. He was eating good and the blood in his stools was going away, or so we thought. It hasn't, so they're looking for reasons. One of the few possibilities left is that Andrew is allergic to my breastmilk. I didn't even know such a thing was possible. When the doctor told us this morning that she wants me to stop nursing and put him on soy formula, I couldn't stop the tears. It has been so hard to keep up my milk supply and teach him to nurse, but we're doing so well. It's such a slap in the face to hear this news. Nursing Andrew was the one thing in all of this that I was 100% set on, the one thing that I was willing to butt heads with the doctors to be able to do. And now, for at least a while, I can't. She said that at this point, it's temporary. She wants to try it for a week and see if the bleeding goes away; meanwhile, she wants me to strip all dairy from my diet and continue pumping. If it is an allergy, then we'll try to transition him back to breastmilk without the dairy and see if there's improvement. So for now, I am left pondering and worrying over the possibilities. One possibility is that it is not an allergy at all and another problem, and I'll be nursing him again in a week, but the problem will still be a problem. Another possibility is that it is an allergy to the breastmilk as it is, but maybe he'll be able to tolerate a dairy-free version. Then we'll just have to get rid of the freezer full of milk that I have been tirelessly pumping and saving. The third option is that he's allergic to my milk and no amount of diet adjustments will change that. I will be forced to stop nursing altogether. Logically, I know that in the end, Andrew will be fed and that is the most important thing, but right now, my heart just can't accept that last option. I'm struggling to accept that I will not be able to nurse him for a week; I can't imagine the possibility of never being able to nurse again. I know that women make that choice out of necessity all the time, to wean early, so they can go back to work or whatever the case may be. But that's not my choice. I want so desperately to do this, and everything has been working so far to let me. We've overcome all the obstacles that come with nursing a preemie, from low milk supply (I just

97: pumped 240 ml, about 8 oz, in 30 minutes), to difficulty latching, to learning to switch back and forth from bottle to breast. We've done all this and excelled at it, just to find ourselves at this point. It's just so hard to accept. I hope your day is going well with your sweet baby, Andrew. I am sorry that I missed visiting with you yesterday. I apologize for the delay in bringing your Threads of Love bag given through the Women's Ministry of Madison Baptist Church. I had planned to give you the bag one Sunday and have been carrying it around in my car. However, realizing you are busy each day caring and loving Andrew and now preparing for his arrival home, I wanted to bring it to the hospital for you. I am continuing to remember you in daily thoughts and prayers as Andrew grows stronger and you and Dusty will soon bring him home. We have missed you both singing in choir and being in the fellowship of our church. You are loved. -Cathy Tankersley You hang in there, Christy. You're a strong person with a brilliantly good heart. Andrew knows you love him, and he is strong and will overcome whatever the problem is. I used to be allergic to cow's milk when I was young, and it went away. Maybe this is just a momentary setback. I know your heart is hurting, and that's always hard to take. You, Dusty and Andrew are in our hearts and minds and we love you very much. Trust in God and everything will even out eventually. -Katie Fuller Honey, I couldn't stop the tears when I read your post. Even though we talked just a couple of hours ago and I knew all this already, to hear the hurt in your words was painful for me. We will continue to take all this to the Lord. Just as we have every step of the way. He knows our hurts and our disappointments. He knows Andrew's situation and the solution for it. Try to rest in Him. And for a little while, you can borrow my faith. I KNOW the Lord is faithful. He has proved it to us over and over and over again. Please rest. Try not to fret. Continue to be the best mother (as you have been) doing all IN YOUR CONTROL to be there for Andrew, and try not to fret over what is not in your control. I love you, more than you know. MOM Your mother and my daughter said it best. Nothing to add. Our love and support to all of you. -Cindy Fuller

98: Precious Ones, We are thinking of you and loving you....and wishing we could do more. Try to rest and take it one day at a time. (I know neither of these is easy right now.) High hopes and much love, Ann Ross Praying that God would hold you in His loving arms. I know this is hard on all of you. Words are cheap, but for what it is worth, I love you and I am praying. Love, Nancy Martin | August 6, 2011 | Look, Mommy! I'm helping!

99: Today was a better day than yesterday. I have gained some perspective on things and can better accept the way that things are at the moment. Andrew is doing so-so with the formula--he's throwing up about every other feeding at this point. That is not real good, but the blood in his stools seems to have disappeared immediately when they started the formula. This leaves me with some questions. I have been doing some of my own research and have some things to discuss with the doctor tomorrow to help me better understand what is going on. Meanwhile, I am doing the dairy-free thing and pumping, hoping that I will be able to nurse him again soon. The nurses are thinking that we'll still be going home sometime next week. If he's actually stopped bleeding, then the doctors may just discharge us and let the pediatrician sort through what was causing the bleeding. Dusty and I are almost ready--just a few last minute things to do. Oh my heart breaks for you. I had to stop nursing Lydia earlier than planned because I was sick and had to take medication but I did get to do it awhile. I remember how i cried in the doctor's office so I can only imagine how heartbroken you are. It sounds so trite but "keep your eyes on the prize." Little man has an amazing mama! Praying for all of you. -Becky Adkins Christy, spending time with you yesterday evening, feeding Andrew, I could already see the evidence of answered prayers. Thank you friends (and family) and thank you Lord for your faithfulness. Please continue to bathe this little family in your prayers. From the heart of a grateful Gramma -Sharon Barnes Your journal entry brought tears! Like your mother said, I could feel your broken heart. Hang in there. You have been doing a great job so far. God is in control and He will never leave you. We will continue to pray for your strength and comfort, and of course, little Andrew. -Debbie Phillips

100: 8.6.11 | What a beautiful picture. :) -Sharon Barnes | August 7, 2011 I'm glad a day makes a difference. You are both smart parents, and it is totally true that you are the only ones who will advocate for your child. The doctors and nurses are doing what they think is best and what they know to do in each particular case. That doesn't necessarily mean it's always the right thing for your son. I'm sorry Andrew is throwing up. I'm sure that's unnerving and frustrating, but it's good to hear about the bleeding. You go in there with your new info and you be strong and confident as you advocate for your little boy. Love to you all! -Kelley Land Continue to think of and pray for you all. I'm going to update the Youth & Family Ministry Team, and say a prayer for you all at our meeting today. -Doug Adkins

101: What a beautiful face!! -Sharon Barnes I totally agree! -Cindy Fuller Look at that chubby little man! (: He's come so, so far. And he is completely adorable. Can't wait to cuddle him with no wires at his very own house! -Kelley Land YAY! I'm so glad he's home!! -Claire Tichy (8-12_ | August 8, 2011: Homeward Bound... First of all, thank you so much for the emails, phone calls, messages and prayers over the last 3 days. It was definitely a roller coaster, both emotionally and mentally, but we've made it through and we're in a really good place now--all 3 of us. Andrew was totally off of breastmilk for a whole 48 hours before a new doctor came in to the picture and decided that the current course of treatment was unnecessary (the doctors are on a week-long rotation starting Sundays). Since the improvement in Andrew's stools was immediate and none of the test results were worrisome, he determined that the breastmilk was not the problem and allowed me to start nursing again yesterday afternoon. He did want Andrew only getting fresh milk, so it took me one whole pumping to get him enough milk for all of the overnight feedings. At first, I just stood there staring at the nurse, trying to figure out how we got from Friday's version of events to yesterday's. That is still not quite clear, except for the fact that every doctor does things differently. All I know is that I am grateful that things are back on course. Andrew is doing remarkably well. HE IS JUST OVER 5 POUNDS as of last night. He looks like a totally different baby than he did. We were told this morning that it looks like he is coming home Thursday or Friday of this week! We are so excited!! He will be coming home on a monitor, so Dusty and I will have to be trained on how to use it, but I am actually glad about that. We've spent 2 months waiting for his heart rate to plummet for no reason and for him to have apnea spells (stop breathing), confident in the knowledge that we knew what to do when they happened. I was nervous about coming home without the monitor because these events could still happen and we wouldn't know it. This will allow us to sleep and not worry that he is in trouble. There are still a few tests and procedures that have to be done before he can come home, but those are being scheduled one right after another. Today, Andrew came off of two of his medicines, the nurse was going to do the carseat test, and the eye doctor came to do the second exam. He said that Andrew's eyes are still immature, but they are progressing from the last time he saw them. We will follow up with him after we go home. Tomorrow, the doctor is ordering the home monitors and we'll set up our training. I am back to

102: breastfeeding three times a day and will probably wait to do 'round the clock feedings until he comes home. He is proficient with both the breast and bottle (breastmilk and/or formula), so there's no reason for me to board at the hospital. Outside of any new developments that we haven't foreseen, our son will see his first glimpses of sunshine, sleep in his own cradle and meet his dog in the span of a week. Thank you, God! | Ahhhhhh! I'm so excited!!! -Katie Fuller What great news!! It will be so much fun to drive out of that hospital with Andrew. I am very excited about the news. It certainly has been a very difficult few months but I am so thankful this day is finally almost here! -Aunt Sandy Williams WONDERFUL NEWS!! What a difference a day makes.....and what a difference a second opinion (or third) makes!! Every day brings Andrew's homecoming nearer. ...And 5 (FIVE) pounds! What a big boy he is getting to be! LOVE to all 3 of you! -Ann and Jim Ross Praise God! I am so excited for all three of you! Please continue to post on how Andrew is doing after y'all go home. Still praying for you guys and hope and pray for an easy transition home. Our God is so faithful! -Janna Kelly This is the news I've been waiting for! Your last few words were really moving. To think of what Andrew's been missing all this time, and now you'll get to show it all to him! So glad you get to have the monitor too, for peace of mind. Aunt Kelley will very much look forward to getting over there and seeing him once he gets settled at home. Much love to all of you as you make this exciting, much-awaited transition! -Kelley Land So thankful on your behalf for the shift in attending/medical thought. It can indeed make a parent think they've lost their mind. ;-) Your breastfeeding efforts have been extraordinary and I really hope you get to enjoy that aspect of parenting in the way that you'd hoped soon. I remember my own battle to that end, clinging to what ideals I could especially tightly because so many were out of my control. Congrats on a growing boy and a nearing homecoming. Sweet blessings to your family. -Allison Tripp

103: We have been out of town, but have been watching the updates on Andrew through ZBC's prayer chain. So thankful that you guys are going home soon. Prayers and faith bring us through everything. Our grandson has been through so much in his little life (he is now 5) and we certainly felt the prayers and love from others. We will continue to pray for all of you. Hope to see you at ZBC in the near future. I know that Grandmother and Granddaddy can't wait to show him off. Praying that all continues to improve. -Cathy Kendrick Wonderful news!!! I'm so excited for all three of you! -Heather Merritt August 9, 2011 Well, it looks like Sam will be meeting his new playmate Thursday!! For those of you who don't know Sam, he's our 60 pound border collie who has been anxiously trying to figure out what has gotten into his parents the last few months. He's about to find out!! We went this morning and found out that Andrew passed his carseat test yesterday and was going to get his hearing test done this afternoon. Tomorrow, they will give his 2 month vaccines and complete anything left on the checklist. We are set to go home Thursday! Apparently that checklist also included being thrown up and peed on and I just didn't know it. He threw up on me yesterday (after he ate like a pig for 45 minutes--his fault!), and he peed all over me today. Apparently he was pointed in the wrong direction, if you know what I mean, and it was like a fountain flying out of the top of his diaper. It was all the nurse's doing, but a lesson has been learned nonetheless. Needless to say, I've had multiple wardrobe changes in the last few days! Welcome to motherhood, right? We cannot be more excited about what is in store for us. We've had a difficult time of things so far, but we know how truly blessed we are to be taking him home at all. Through this whole experience, God has surrounded us with family and friends who have encouraged us, prayed with us, cared for us and strengthened us. We

104: could not have made it through this without the support that he has provided for us. Thank you so much!! I will post updates as we make the last preparations for Thursday, and will do my best to continue his story after he comes home. I have been overwhelmed by the response that this website has received. It has been such an encouragement to me. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Tears of JOY for you all!!!! We are so excited for your little family to finally be home together. We are rejoicing with you! -Becky Adkins I'm so happy for all of you! Can't wait to see his "at home" pictures! Thanks be to God! -Claudia Brooks This is great news. I am so excited for all of you. Prayers will continue. Love to all. -Dianne Bales Whoo-hoo! So looking forward to seeing our little hero in his own element! You know I'll be there as soon as you're ready for me and I'm available to come. Love to all as you get ready to bring Andrew HOME!!! -Kelley Land We are so thankful things are looking up! I know you will be glad to get home and "nest" for a long time. Giving thanks along with you and for you. -Jim Ross | I am thrilled that you will be bringing Andrew home Thursday! Praise God through whom all blessings flow! -Carolyn Carter | I know how excited you are; when we finally bought our angel home we forgot to take off the "scrubs" they made us wear to visit and were half way home when we figured out why all the other cars were laughing when they passed us. It has been a true blessing to share your blessing and I have appreciated the opportunity to pray for you and your family. With all the "bad" things going on in the economy and the wars, I have looked forward to your good news everyday. Enjoy your precious blessing......before you turn around, they will be 23 years old, like mine! -Susan Stead | Yea!! Can't wait to see Andrew in Morgan County with his Momma & Daddy! So happy for you all. -Doug Adkins | Thank you God for Amazing Andrew! The Adkins are doing the Happy Dance! -Becky Adkins

105: August 11, 2011: Homecoming Andrew is finally home where he belongs!! Dusty and I went to the hospital this morning, expecting to be there most of the day, but we were on our way home by noon. It went a lot faster than either of us expected. It was so exciting and so intimidating to take that walk with him out of the hospital. We've walked that same path dozens of times already, but this time it meant something totally different. Once we got him strapped into his carseat, got his monitor set up and got on the road, the reality of what was happening hit home. He's ours now--all of the time. No more thousand-dollar babysitting. No more NICU mamas telling us what to do and how to do it. Now, I'm the only mama Andrew has. I'm still a bit nervous about everything, but I think we've done pretty good so far, especially considering that he wanted to eat the minute we got into the door and nothing was ready. He was screaming and I was crying, but somehow we figured it all out and we've survived so far. My parents arrived around 4, welcome reinforcements for the next few days. Things have settled down a lot since we got home. Andrew is sleeping fairly peacefully and I've got a minute to write this, so I think we're going to be okay. We head to the pediatrician tomorrow morning and we've already got several appointments with specialists for evaluations in the next month. We've still got a long road ahead of us, but at least we're all together now.

106: So excited for you all! Hope all goes well tomorrow. Give Sam a pat on the head for me! -Jan Angstadt Sooooo Excited to read this post! YES, you are his ONE and ONLY MAMA, now! Don't let ANybody tell you any different!!! You and Dusty are going to be super PARENTS!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! -Carol Land I'm so happy for you! What a great mom you are. -Susan Ryan You're going to be fabulous parents, no doubt about it! -Katie Fuller | This makes me so happy! Beautiful family! -Kelley Land Yay! Love it! You look beautiful, Christy! -Claire Tichy

107: Thrilled for you all and glad you have your parents there to help. Welcome home, sweet Andrew! -Kelley Land "He was screaming and I was crying." Yep, congratulations you are officially at home with a newborn. I am so, so glad your parents are able to be there from the beginning. Tell my wonderful loving son that I expect updates at least every other day because I don't want to call and wake up a sleeping baby or parent. -Cindy Fuller Enjoy your baby boy now that you have him home. Remember, you are his Mama and pray for God's wisdom to meet his needs. I would imagine the fear may try to get the best of you, but look how far God has brought Andrew so far. As much as you love that little boy, his Heavenly Father loves him even more! -Nancy Martin I'm so glad Andrew is home with his mama and daddy! I love the picture of him holding his bottle. Precious!!!! -Heather Merritt I'm so glad and thankful that this part of the journey is over for all of you. Been thinking about y'all all day. Just settle in and enjoy one day at a time because soon you will wonder where all the years went. Let me know if and when I can help out. Love all of you. -Pappy OH HAPPY DAY! -Becky Adkins

108: 8-13-11 | So very happy and relieved for you that Andrew is home. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. You have excellent reinforcements. Nothing like having your Mom with you no matter what. Thank you for keeping us informed about little Andrew. And as I said hope to see him and you at ZBC for a visit in the near future. God bless you all. -Cathy Kendrick What an adorable picture! We are so happy for you ALL! Love you -- Ann and Jim Ross 8.14.11 I know there will be plenty of bumps left along this road, and I'm sorry for the ones you've already faced. I hope you have a good LC to help you with the nursing issues. I didn't even think of that! It's got to be tough to deal with pain while you're trying to care for your son around the clock. Oh...thank goodness for those monitors and for your familiarity with them! -Kelley Land

109: August 14, 2011: Well...we're still all here. The last few days have been wonderful and intimidating and exhausting all wrapped up together and tied with a blue bow. Thursday night went pretty well, as far as nights with an infant go. I got to sleep for 2-3 hour stretches and was more tired when I "woke up" than when I went to sleep. Friday morning we took Andrew to his first pediatrician appointment. Whew, was that an ordeal...not the appointment itself; getting to the appointment was the problem. It took a while to get him into the carseat. Then, we had no sooner gotten him settled into the car when the error alarm on the heart monitor started yelling at us. That means that there was something wrong with either the leads (where it senses Andrew's stats) or the cords. So, we had to take him out of the carseat. The alarm was still going off, so I had to take his clothes off and adjust the leads. It was still going off, so I wiggled the cords, grasping at some unknown solution. Finally it stopped. We then had to put his clothes back on and put him back into the carseat. Needless to say, we had to call the doctor's office to tell them we'd be late. The appointment itself went really well, except for the 2 month vaccines. When the nurse arrived to give them, she almost turned around and went back out again when she saw how little he was. She said he was the smallest baby she'd ever given these vaccines to. He screamed so loud and so long that we had to wait for him to take a breath before she gave the next one. Luckily he was asleep within seconds of getting the last one. As far as the hour-by-hour story goes, he's come to us pretty well trained. He's hungry every 2-3 hours and usually sleeps in between. There's only been a few rare occasions where he's fussy because he needs to burp or something like that. For the most part, he's a really good baby. The only trouble has come at meal times. I've been struggling to get my milk supply to match what he's eating (which is much less than what I was pumping) and the effort has left me really sore most of the time. That makes nursing around the clock rather painful for me and a little more difficult for him. Mealtime has also made me VERY thankful that we have our monitor, because we've had a few episodes at home where his breathing would get so shallow that his heart rate would plummet. This only seems to happen occasionally when he's trying to burp or swallow. Luckily I was well trained in the NICU and I know what to do to get it back up where it should be. The last few times, I've actually anticipated the episode before the monitor went off, so I'm getting better at reading his cues. So, there have been a few scary moments at home, but I'm still so thankful that he's here. Continue to pray for us. It will be a long few months here at home, going back and forth to the doctors, before we can re-enter "normal" life. We're allowing "through the screen-door visits" right now and limiting any real visiting to family only. Unfortunately, this is a necessity until Andrew's immune system is working better. It will probably be the holidays before we can be more relaxed. Thank you for understanding!

110: 8.15.11 | 8.17.11 | 8.18.11 | Precious Boy!!! -Ann Ross | How adorable can you be, Andrew!! -Ann Ross

111: August 19, 2011 Andrew has been at home for a whole week and we've found our routine. My mom cooks, cleans, does laundry, changes diapers, and gets up with Andrew at night. Dusty works, sleeps and plays with the baby. I nurse, sleep and play with the baby. Yep, that's about right. Seriously, we could not have gotten through this first week at home without my mom's help. She has been absolutely invaluable. This morning we went back to the pediatrician to follow-up after last week's appointment. The gastrointestinal issues that Andrew was having in the NICU (aka blood in his stool) have come back since he came home and she has been monitoring it. Today she did not see the progress that she was hoping for and consulted the gastroenterologist at Egleston. She thought that Andrew may be admitted today for testing. Instead, we are headed to Egleston Monday afternoon to see what this is all about. Please pray for us. We knew that a return to the hospital was a possibility, but we did not expect it so soon. Hopefully we'll be able to identify the problem and that it will be something that is easy to solve. If he is admitted on Monday, Dusty and I will be temporarily moving in with my parents to be closer to him. We'll just have to wait and see what they find on Monday. | We will be praying and thinking of you all! If you need anything, you know who to call. -Katie Fuller Monday seems like a long time to wait when you're worried about your baby. I'm sorry you have to be afraid for him and pray that the issue is easily resolvable and won't require overnight hospital stays. Sweet boy has had enough of that, as have his parents! Love to all as always. -Kelley Land

112: We will certainly be sending up prayers. -Elsie Monk Glad you've settled into a good home routine! We will definitely be praying for your Egleston visit---they are the best! If there IS a problem, they'll find it! Let us know if you need anything! Love, Charles, Lamb and Peyton Eggers Praying for our Andrew! -Becky Adkins | 8.22.11 What's Best for Andrew... From the very beginning, I've tried to do what was best for Andrew, no matter how difficult it was for me. When he was in the NICU, I would strip from the waist up and do skin-to-skin kangaroo care because that was best for him, even when he wasn't breastfeeding yet. When he was eating 1 ml every 3 hours, I pumped at home to keep up my milk supply and froze over 1000 ounces of extra milk in two months. And since we found out today that Andrew has a severe unknown food allergy, I will put him on hypoallergenic formula and stop breastfeeding - because that is what is best for him. We took him to see a pediatric gastroenterologist at Egleston and he is certain that we are dealing with a severe food allergy. Unfortunately, because I've been dairy-free for 2 weeks and we have seen no improvement, it is nearly impossible to know what it is. If we had a normal full-term baby, I could potentially go on an elimination diet until we figured out what the allergy was, but that is not possible in our case. Because Andrew is a preemie, we cannot wait to find out. The longer that we wait, the more damage is done to his system. At some point, it becomes irreparable. We cannot take that chance. The irritation has been going on too long already. The doctors believe that it will be better to introduce foods into his diet one at a time later instead of trying to figure it out now. So, I will no longer breastfeed my son. Not because that is what I want to do, but because that is what is best for him. It's not about what I want...I guess that's what motherhood is all about.

113: 8.23.11 Happy Due Date, Andrew! Today, Andrew is officially a newborn. Too bad he's almost 3 months old! Today is also his first day home with just Mommy and Daddy. We've been spoiled with family help for almost two weeks and now they have gone back home. Today is also Andrew's first full day on his new formula--and it has not gone well. He's been spitting up and throwing up for most of the day. We cannot lay him down, otherwise he'll throw up his food. Twice it has come back out of his nose. We've had to monitor him very closely to help him clear his airways with suction after each spitting up/throwing up episode. He's too small to do it on his own. His reflux is much worse than it was and he has even started having apnea spells during his sleep, which he wasn't doing before. We're hoping that this is a temporary transitional period and it will subside when we're used to the formula. We've got an appointment with the pediatrician Thursday to assess things. Until then, Mommy and Daddy are trying our best to keep a positive attitude about everything. We're emotionally and physically exhausted and things just don't seem to be getting any easier. Please pray for us. The title of your entry captures it all. Breastfeeding is joyful, but that's with the assumption that it's nurturing your child. I know this is a blow, but you are doing the right thing. In fact, it's the only thing you CAN do. Hang in there. I'm thinking of you. -Susan Ryan Christy,I know how hard that decision was, and I applaud you for trying as long as you did! When my oldest, Sara, was three weeks old, I developed a sudden fever and had to go to the ER. It turned out I had contracted staph (most likely in the hospital delivering her!) and I had to stay in the hospital for three days and on antibiotics for six months! Since the staph would have been contagious to her and the antibiotics were too harsh for her system, I had to stop breastfeeding, just when we were getting the hang of it! I was so disappointed, but It all turned out fine. As Andrew grows and thrives, the hurt of not being able to breastfeed will fade quickly. After all, if you had adopted a child, you would not be able to breastfeed. You are nurturing Andrew in God's love, and that is the best thing of all! Love to you and Dusty and your precious little guy! -Ruth Wilson

114: I am so sorry you had to come to this point. You've been beyond amazing in your dedication to nursing Andrew, and it just doesn't seem fair that you can't continue that form of care. Please know that I grieve with you over this lost part of his nurturing and also am happy that you know the steps to take to help him get better and keep growing. Love to all! -Kelley Land Christy I know you have worked so hard and are heartbroken over having to stop nursing. I too grieve this loss for you. You are right, though, when you love a child there is no sacrifice too great. Andrew has an amazing mom (and dad!). We are all breathing a sigh of relief that he is home and that it is a food allergy and not something more serious. Though we have yet to meet him, we love this little guy! -Becky Adkins I am so sorry, Christy. I know you are disappointed. You have been amazing --- so devoted, so determined, tirelessly surmounting obstacles --- (though I know you MUST be tired). Life is just not fair a lot of times. However, in the most important ways of nurturing Andrew, you are the expert! You will still be feeding, holding, playing, singing, reading, cooing, keeping him dry and warm, looking into those precious eyes with love and delight, listening and learning to interpret his needs through his own "signals". You are Andrew's adoring Mommy! We are loving you and Dusty and Andrew. -Ann Ross We continue to pray, Christy. Andrew sure is blessed with loving parents! -Doug Adkins We pray for you all everyday and will continue to do so as long as it takes. Please give Andrew a hug from the Monks. We cannot wait to meet him. My brother's name is Andrew...we call him Andy. All Andrews are very special. -Elsie Monk

115: I wish I could have been more help with Andrew during my short visit, but I don't yet feel qualified to handle him when he has a problem. This too shall pass and there will be many opportunities for playing, fishing, and that sort of thing. Cherish these days for they are all too soon gone. The love changes from adult/baby to adult/adult seemingly as quickly as you can turn around. I think you three need a little time to yourselves without our constant questions and suggestions. Just remember we are only a phone call away. I love y'all (and you too Sam). -Pappy | 8.23.11 Already best pals!

116: August 24, 2011 "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow" I have been so encouraged by the messages that so many of you have left us in the last few days. Your prayers and our pleas have truly carried us through. I think that Dusty and I both hit our lowest yesterday. We were scared, sleep-deprived and angry. We were scared that our little boy was sicker than we thought, that he might stop breathing in his sleep and we wouldn't hear him. We haven't slept more than a 4 hour stretch in over three months and we feel guilty when all we want to do is close the door and go back to bed. We were angry that this "fix" seemed to be making everything worse, that we couldn't make the fear in Andrew's eyes go away when he was gagging so badly that he couldn't breathe. Yesterday was not a good day, but God gave us the strength we needed to get through. And today has been a better day. There are reasons to have "bright hope." Andrew's eye appointment this morning went really well--his retinas are fully developed now and we've been referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist that we will see in 6 months. That was great news. Andrew rested well today and has tolerated the formula better today also (except for the one time the he threw up down the front of my shirt!). Even in the midst of the throwing up and reflux battles, we have seen improvement in Andrew's general demeanor and behavior. He is sleeping better and seems to be more content--he's not grunting, straining and arching his back like he was before. These are all signs that we may be on the right track. So, we will continue to do what we're doing--we'll keep on keepin' on, relying on the One whose "strength is perfect when our strength is gone..." I am so sorry these days have been so difficult for little Andrew. It is so scary to have him so tiny and then with the added problems of his formula and reflux it is even more stressful. I remember when Jake could not take the different formulas and started losing so much weight. It was very frightening! I am praying God will reach down and provide everything he needs right now to grow and develop into a healthy little boy. Remember-God is never nearer than when we are walking through hard times. Even when we can't see Him He has promised to always be with us!! -Love, Aunt Sandy We are thinking of y'all and praying that things will "smooth out" very soon. So sorry that Andrew's tummy is having a hard time. May you find strength for today. -Jim Ross Prayers are with you all. -Dianne Bales

117: I am praying for you all continually. Aunt Sandy said that Andrew's name means 'strong' and I know that the Lord will give him (and you both) the strength you need to walk through these days. Just remember to ASK GOD for the strength you need. I am so proud of you. Trust the Lord fully for Andrew. Remember, I am only a phone call away. Love you, Gramma Barnes This is a big adjustment for all of you. Just like everything else, it'll take time and patience to work out. You guys are awesome parents! -Katie Fuller Glad for the hope we all have in Christ and for the fact that, while God is not a genie who magically makes things better, he walks beside us through each moment and gives us strength when we need it most. That's been my fervent prayer for you and Dusty--that you'll feel stronger than you may be at any given time. And for Andrew--that he'll keep fighting as he's always done and grow right past this. Love to all! -Kelley Land | How precious and sweet! -Carolyn Carter

118: Motherhood is not for the faint of heart is it Christy ? Praying for your family and praying that God will multiply your rest for those few minutes you do get to sleep, and that he will give you the peace that He is in control of all of this. Love you much~ Nancy Martin You know your Paw Paw would say just keep on keeping on. I still have that saying on my shelf. Just remember every day is a little better and then it gets a lot better. Jeremy was a preemie and I had to wake him up to feed him. I had to take him to the eye Dr. also. Soon you will look back and just wonder where did the time go. We are praying for all of you. -Jeanette Majors Though you may sometimes feel alone in all of this, especially in the middle of the night, know that in spirit we are all with you. We continue to lift you all up in prayer. I am sorry that you all are having to go through such a hard time now but remember it is only a season of your life that will soon pass. It seems like forever when you are sleep deprived and exhausted but soon when he is running around getting into everything it will seem like a very short time indeed. You both are doing a great job and Andrew is blessed to have such loving and devoted parents. -Becky Adkins I have read everyone of your reports. Our love and prayers are with you. -Richard Barnes August 26, 2011 Things have been a little better the last couple of days. We've actually been able to sleep a little bit and everything seems better after a little sleep. Andrew is currently snoring on my chest as I write this--he was spitting up in the crib, so here we are. Yesterday, we went back to the pediatrician and had a good visit. Andrew has gained 8 oz since Friday of last week--we're now 5 pounds 11 ounces. This is a MAJOR improvement. Before that, he'd only gained 3 ounces in two weeks. You can really see the change in his face. He's still spitting up quite a bit, but the doctor changed his reflux medicine, so hopefully that will help. We talked through what the GI doctor ordered and our pediatrician agrees. She told us the story of another preemie who had similar problems--that mother insisted on trying to breastfeed again later after she had "cleaned" her milk and the baby got sick again. Our doctor said that we need to stick

119: with what is working, which is what Dusty and I had already decided. Obviously the weight gain is a sign that the formula is working. We also asked the doctor for a timeline of when we could take Andrew out so that people could meet him. She was adamant that he not be taken anywhere that was not absolutely essential until he was at least 9 pounds--and then she went on to say that no one was allowed to be around him who was sick, thought they were sick, or might be sick...AND no one who has small children at home. So, all of our wonderful friends who have been waiting to meet him--you'll be waiting a little longer, I'm afraid. I told our youth pastor at church that everyone will meet him before he's 30, I promise! We have to do what is best for Andrew and we cannot take chances. So, "through-the-door" visits are still encouraged and will have to suffice for now.

120: I am so proud of you and Dusty. It sound like y'all are doing a great job. I know you don't think that because y'all are so tired. Andrew looks so big and cute. God WILL take you through this. It will always be something going on. Let God take you through. I used to say I wish Hawk was 7 or 8 so all this will be over, so in a blink of an eye he is 23 years old. Hawk was 4 months premature. You will always wake up when he cries or when his alarm goes off. You think you won't but somehow you do. You will get used to that. I was afraid to take Hawk off the monitor because I was afraid he would stop breathing without it. I know this is horrible to say but we put Hawk in the bed with us. It was so much easier (monitor wires, oxygen, and all.) I also got more rest that way. Love you very much and call me is you want to talk. Walt's mom. 662-902-8829 -Beth Hubbard August 30, 2011: 12 Weeks Old! The last few days have been pretty good. Andrew took his first stroller ride on Sunday, saw his first sunset yesterday and felt his first breeze today. Not too bad. Momma and Daddy got our first full-night's sleep Saturday night thanks to my Mom. Andrew is following toys with his eyes, turning his head towards sounds and even rolled over on his own yesterday! He's still spitting up a great deal, but he's gaining weight like crazy, so it may be something that we just have to deal with. This week we have a reprieve from the doctor visits. We have a physical therapy evaluation and a pediatrician's appointment next week, followed by two more therapy appointments the following week. Busy, busy! Everyday he grows bigger and stronger and everyday we grow more comfortable with our roles as parents. Hopefully it will not be long before we can re-enter the world and show off our little bundle. Check out the new pictures--he's making himself right at home! Absolutely wonderful photos. I am really looking forward to this weekend. Let us know if you want Katie to come on up Thursday. Again, wonderful. I do believe he is the handsomest baby in the world!! -Cindy Fuller

121: Hooray!!! I needed some new pictures so badly! These are wonderful. He is completely adorable and looks like Mommy and Daddy for sure. I absolutely can't wait to see him in person and watch all his new tricks. I'm sorry you're still dealing with spit-up, but you're right that some babies just have that issue. The fact that he's gaining weight and reaching all these milestones is proof that he's growing! Love to all and thanks so much for the update. -Kelley Land Wow, what a difference a few weeks makes! His pictures showed a preemie coming home from the hospital, and now it is a baby at home with his parents. He has really grown! Thanks for sharing those pictures. You can see his little personality coming out! -Nancy Martin What a beautiful blessing! I cherish being able to pray for Andrew and watch his growth, and of course praying for Mom and Dad! You are doing a fabulous job and I know there are more good things in store. Love you! -Merrie Money Hurray for little big man Andrew! Sounds like he is growing and beginning his journey into the great big world. He is blessed to have you two as his parents and to have loving grandparents to help out during these busy days. Much love., Jim Ross That is wonderful news. Sounds like things are going well. You will have those up and down times. But God is there through it all!! -David Shytle You have a precious growing little boy! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful moments captured in pictures for all of us to share in your joy! My prayers are that God will continue to bless you all! Love is already there!! -Dona Ellis

122: 9.4.11

123: A Mother's Reflections 9.5.11 As I write this update, I am watching my son sleep on the living room floor. As I watch his chest rise and fall, I am amazed that I could love something so small so much. I am in awe of every sound, every movement. When he hurts, I hurt. When he cries, I want to cry--and sometimes do. And God forbid that I cause that hurt, like I did this morning when I nicked his finger trying to trim flailing fingernails. For those 20 seconds that he screamed and I saw the tiniest bit of red on that fingertip, I felt as though I had just committed the most heinous of crimes. Of course, he forgot it almost instantly, but it will be a long while before I do. I am reading a book on motherhood that a friend lent me and it said that looking into your child's face is looking at Creation and Creator at the same time. What a gift! Looking into my son's eyes and seeing him look back at me (as he is just starting to do), I understand God's love for me a little more, and I am newly amazed at his willingness to sacrifice his own child--a part of himself--for me. Only now as a parent can I begin to understand what that cost him. It makes the gift of love that God has given me all the more precious. Though I am often tired and sometimes lonely during these days of required seclusion, my soul is not wanting, for I only have to look at my son to be reminded of God's unfailing love and grace. You're a fabulous mother! I'm sure I'll be asking you for advice when I become a mother, just like I will Kelley or Mama. I'm sorry I wasn't able to come this past week. Stupid sinuses. I was really disappointed. We'll work something else out though. Continued blessings and happiness to you all! -Katie Fuller Beautiful words. There is nothing like being a mama. You are in my thoughts and prayers everyday. -Elsie Monk

124: This is a beautiful post, Christy! And you said it. There is nothing like having a child. I also heard it compared to watching your heart live outside your body. It's so true. This is a love like no other, and when we imagine the love of God, it floors us. I had to smile at the fingernail incident because I did the same thing to Samantha when she was a newborn! She cried, I cried, she recovered, and I kept feeling terrible about it for days afterward. And of course there will be other times when you unintentionally hurt your child--whether physically or emotionally (and vice versa). That's part of the God comparison too, though. We build a foundation of forgiveness based on the knowledge that we are all human beings just trying to figure out how to show God's love. Your baby boy will know your love! -Kelley Land Oh, Christy, how I wish I could convey my feelings as eloquently as you! That was so beautifully expressed! I completely understand your emotions. -Claudia Brooks Thanks so much for your words today!!! I am so glad you are all doing sooo well and we can't wait to see you ALL soon. I have seen a little red on the fingertips with our children- poor little things. -Forest Pagett I was going to start my morning devotional after checking e-mail, but reading your entry got it started for me. Thanks for reminding me that children are indeed a gift from God and that just by looking at them we can see creation and know the Creator and how very much He loves us. I have enjoyed keeping up with your family and Andrew's progress. You are *growing* right along with him. You have blessed me today with your words and I pray that you will continue having many many *God* moments with your son. Praising Him! -Patti Symons

125: 3 Months Old!! September 8, 2011 I cannot believe that my baby is 3 months old--and over 7 POUNDS!! Yes, that's right. 7 pounds 1 ounce. He's gained 2 pounds in 2 weeks, a new record for him! Needless to say, some things are going right. We're still playing around with the formula to find what works best for him, though. He's had a really bad diaper rash for two weeks and we've tried the gamut of remedies and nothing's worked, so we're trying a new brand of formula. At nearly $50 a can, I hope that we figure it out soon! The doctor said that if Elecare and Neocate don't work, there really isn't anything else, so I don't know what we'd do then. Let's pray we see a drastic improvement on Neocate. It's been a busy few days here. We had Nana and Pappy visiting over the weekend, which was a lot of fun, and two doctor's appointments Tuesday. We went to the pediatrician to get this rash looked at and then headed to Fayetteville to a occupational therapy evaluation at Children's. We really didn't know what to expect--I mean, what does an occupational therapist do with a 3-month old--but it was actually really helpful. Andrew did his best to irritate us by sleeping through over half of the planned evaluation. We'd driven an hour and a half for him to sleep! We tried everything to wake him up--a cold washcloth, sitting him up, laying him down, rubbing his feet and back and head and arms and...well, you get the point. Nothing worked. Finally when we'd given up, he just woke up with no prompting. He just decided it was time, I guess, so we were able to finish the evaluation. The therapist showed us what he was doing well and what we needed to work on, mainly reaching for things and opening up his hands. She said he had great head control and was exceptionally strong, which we already knew. Changing diapers is "fun" when he's doing windmill motions with his legs and pushing us away! I think that we're in much better spirits here as we've settled into a routine. We see the light at the end of the tunnel at last. Now if we can only get him to smile at us, we'll know everything is going to be okay. Continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

126: Thanks so much for your updates on Andrew. He is a growing boy! We are so thankful he is doing better and that there is finally a sense of routine and at least moving toward normalcy - whatever that is! I know it must have felt odd to have been trying to wake him up for his appointment! Most of the time we're trying to do anything to get them to sleep! -Love -- Jim and Ann | 9.9.11 | Christy, it's always good to hear the progress. I know Jeremy was a preemie and he also had a bad rash. I had an old nurse talking care of him and she would let him soak in warm water 3 times a day, pat him dry and let him air dry also. then she would use preparation H on him. It tough up his skin. It worked for us. I know that was a long time ago. Love ya, Aunt Jeanette Sounds like we have another Dusty in the making! Before you know it he'll be as tall as his daddy. Glad to hear things are going better and that you're able to get out some, even if it's just for doctor visits! -Jan Angstadt

127: 9.11.11 | GREAT PICTURE, Looks like you!!! -Carol Land

128: 9.19.11 | September 20, 2011 Once I started getting "Where's my update?" emails, I knew it was past due for me to catch everyone up. :) It's so nice that people miss our updates when I get behind! Our computer has been in the shop for the last 10 days and then we went on our first trip with the baby, so things have been a little crazy. Apparently, the last update was from the 8th, so I've got quite a bit to cover. First, the most important news: he's probably over 9 pounds now! Friday he was 8 pounds 9 ounces, so if we're not 9 yet, we're really close. He's gained 4 pounds in 4 weeks, an incredible gain! We've been wearing outfits once before he grows out of them because he's growing so fast. I know that finally finding the right formula is part of this success. We switched formulas from Elecare to Neocate and it was such a relief to finally find something that works. We were a little concerned at first because his poop is now like roofing tar-black, but apparently that's "normal" for this brand of formula. The bleeding has stopped and the diaper rash is getting better. He's still spitting up with nearly every feeding, but we've come to accept that as our new normal. We are still working with his reflux medications to see if that helps, but he may just spit up.

129: He is getting more and more active everyday. He is now rolling over with gusto and is trying to scoot across the floor. He can control his head in just about every situation and is even starting to pull up if you hold his arms. He can now stand in my lap and loves to bounce. He is staring at faces, fans and toys and is reaching for things that he wants, though he hasn't figured out how to get them yet. He is now smiling fairly easily and Dusty finally got his first grin last night. We even got one smile on film! He is making more baby-like noises, although he still grunts all the time. He loves patty-cake, stroller rides and his stuffed frog. He sucks on his arms during his sleep and snores like his Daddy. He is rarely quiet and never still--we're in for quite an adventure! Andrew's Daddy and I are finally getting a bit more sleep now that the doctor said we could let him sleep for 5 hours at a time at night. That has made everything much easier to handle. Dusty's still swamped at work--that's actually what prompted this trip to his parents' house. He had an overnight meeting and I wasn't quite ready to be on my own overnight, so we packed up and headed to Warm Springs yesterday (his meeting was nearby). We'll be back home tonight. A quick trip, but so far, it's gone pretty smoothly. One perk of the trip was that Andrew finally got to meet one set of his Great- grandparents. That was a special meeting!

130: The doctor always said that at 9 pounds, we could introduce Andrew to the world. We're now waiting a bit longer. Andrew is supposed to have his first RSV vaccine next month. Once that happens, THEN we will finally get to show off our baby. I cannot wait to introduce him to his cousins and all of his friends at church. I can't wait to just run to the store whenever I want and re-enter our lives that we left abruptly almost 4 months ago. Thank you so much for all of the prayers, words of encouragement and meals that you have sent our way over the last 15 weeks. It has not been what we expected, but when it is ever? So, those of you who have been waiting and waiting to meet our son, your waiting is ALMOST over...just a little more time. The wait will be worth it, I promise! Plan B, right? I was thrilled to spend the weekend with you and am head over heels for this little guy. Andrew is absolutely adorable. One of the things I liked best when I was with him, aside from making eye contact and seeing him smile, was to hold him facing the front and kiss his soft head while he gazed around the room. Thank you for letting me share some time with all of you. I can't wait until the next visit! -Kelley Land What a great update on Andrew Michael Fuller and his precious parents! I know his Warm Springs family was thrilled to have him there......on the first of a "million" memorable visits to his grandparents' homes. What amazing progress he has made --- growing by leaps and bounds --- like babies have a habit of doing. I can tell you all are "soaking" it up! Love to all, Ann Ross So glad to read the good news about Andrew! I'm sure y'all are doing an awesome job as parents!!! He's fortunate to have YOU!!!!! Keep up the good work!!! -Carol-GG Such good news!!!!! Can't wait to see that big boy out in public! -Becky Adkins I so enjoy reading your journal. In my mind's eye I can see Andrew growing each day and what a beautiful baby he is. I have news for you, Christy and Dusty...my babies are 38 and 34...you never stop worrying about them. I cannot wait to meet him and to see the Fuller family in church. I have missed you so. Love to you all. -Elsie Monk So glad to hear from you. Everything sounds so good. I am one of those cousins who can't wait to meet Andrew! Love to all of you. -Dianne Bales

131: First and most important, there are new pictures of our little miracle posted, so check them out! Second and equally important, Andrew is now 9 pounds, 8 ounces and 20.5 inches long. He's gained about a pound a week since we switched to formula. We cannot be happier about his weight gains. We went back to Egleston on Monday for a follow-up appointment with the GI doctor and he was also pleased with Andrew's weight. He was not thrilled with the severe diaper rash that we have been battling for over a month now. It turns out that it is not a diaper rash at all--it is more like a burn. The doctor feels that there is a pH imbalance in Andrew's GI track that is causing acid burns on his bum. This could be caused by an immature colon that is not absorbing bile from the gallbladder efficiently, or it could be an issue with his absorption of carbohydrates. We are doing tests to determine which is the cause and hoping that it is the first choice because he will eventually grow out of that. In the meantime, we are treating the affected area with stuff that actually seems to be working. Finally, he's getting some relief. The doctor said that he must be in an incredible amount of pain--it's like pouring acid on a paper cut over and over again. Despite this, he's such a good and happy baby--I can't wait to meet him when he's pain-free. He slept through the night last night for the first time--a whole 8 hours! I felt so well-rested and pampered this morning when I woke up. I doubt that tonight will be the same, but it was nice while it lasted! We have begun to emerge out of our cave and have made some quick trips to the store and a restaurant or two during the quieter hours. It has been so nice to get out with the baby. Dusty's new boss and his family are finally moving in this weekend, so hopefully Dusty will get some relief and some much-needed time off. We are really excited that Dan Schay is going to be the new park manager at Hard Labor Creek. It will be so nice to have another ranger to share the responsibilities of running the park, and I am thrilled that there will be another "park wife" and kids here. They even have a golden retriever, so maybe he'll be a playmate for Sam! Once Dan gets settled, then I think that Dusty is going to take a break and hopefully we'll be able to finally bring Andrew to church before the end of the month. That's the plan, anyway. We'll the baby's waking up from his morning nap, so my few minutes are gone...take care! | October 5, 2011 | Life at the Fuller House

132: So loved reading today's update! ----and seeing the new pictures!! Congratulations on a good night's sleep! ---and you're right....it may not happen again tonight! =) I know you all are ready to get that little bottom cleared up NOW! (It's a rough old world, Andrew.) We are so happy for all of you that Dusty is getting some relief at the park. Good news all around! Love to you all! --Ann Ross WONDERFUL POST, despite rash/burn. Hope it clears up soon!!! Praise the Lord! -Carol Land And now we know for certain why he hates getting his diaper changed! Poor little guy! I'm sorry he has this issue and will pray for it to resolve and for his skin to heal. I'm happy to hear all the good news and to see the pictures. The one with "Mom and Pop" is just so good. The expressions on their faces are priceless. Love to all and can't wait to see you soon! -Kelley Land Thank you Jesus, for all that is being accomplished. Good to hear the "upbeat" update. Continuing to pray for that little cutie pie. Praying that it is a continual positive change for you all. -Cathy Kendrick

133: October 7, 2011

134: 10.30.11 | 10.31.11

135: 11.19.11

136: November 19, 2011 A Family Portrait

137: Giving Thanks 11.24.11 As I enjoy this quiet, peaceful Thanksgiving night, I am taking a few moments to write what I think will be my last entry here. Life at the Fuller house is never-ending these days and I do not have time to write as much as I would like. But in reality, this is a website for people who are having health crises, and my sweet little boy is no longer sick. He is healthy, happy and full of life. So, these are my final thoughts: First, a brief update. Andrew is doing so well. He is now about 11 pounds and finally growing into the feet of his pajamas. He is inquisitive, alert and social: he smiles, laughs and “talks” all day long, crying for only the briefest of moments. He has been able to meet most of his extended family, all of his great-grandparents and 2/3 home churches (Zion Baptist, your turn’s coming soon!) He sleeps 10-12 hours most nights and plays and/or eats most all day. His weight gain and GI issues are going so well that we do not have to go back to Egleston until February. He is still on his heart monitor, but he hasn’t had an episode in almost 2 months, so we expect to say goodbye to that at his 6 month appointment in December. 6 months—I can’t believe it! He is right on track with his physical movement and reflexes and is even ahead in sitting up (he’s not quite there, but he’s trying). He is incredibly strong-willed and determined, but his is also extremely sweet, especially with me. His smile, that I waited so long to see, melts my heart every single time I see it. Looking at him now, you would never know how tiny and fragile he once was, how far he’s come.

138: Every morning when I hear that ear-splitting hungry cry coming from the next room, no matter how tired I am, I remind myself how truly blessed I am and I take a moment to be thankful. He is here, with me, and there are no words to explain my feelings of gratitude for that. But I am also thankful for so many other things as well. I am thankful for quick-acting doctors and wonderful NICU nurses who gave me the confidence that I needed to be able to take care of my son. I am thankful for family and friends who dropped everything to be there in our moments of greatest need. I am thankful for all of the prayers and encouragement that we received through this site, letters, cards, emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, financial support and casseroles. I’m especially thankful to my Mom, Sharon, who moved in for nearly two weeks when we first brought Andrew home and has stepped in countless times since whenever I needed her. Finally, I am most thankful to my husband, Dusty, the father of our little miracle. They say that adversity shows you what people are made of. Well, my man is made of some pretty tough stuff. Despite running the park alone and working insane hours all summer, he never left me alone in this. He was there for every moment: every good moment, every scary moment, every sad moment, every excruciatingly hard moment. In the moments before Andrew was born, Dusty was there, holding my hand, telling me that everything was going to be okay. The first time that I really saw my son, hours after he was born, Dusty was there to envelop me with his strength and let me cry. At home when I would wake up to pump in the middle of the night because Andrew wasn’t in my arms to feed, Dusty would wake up with me and lay down on the floor of the unused nursery just in case I needed anything. When I was devastated that I couldn’t breastfeed my baby anymore, Dusty was there with quiet reassurances. When we finally brought Andrew home, Dusty was there to share everything: the midnight feedings, the diaper changes, the laundry and bottle-washing. He does everything that I do and then goes to work the next day. He is my hero

139: and the love of my life. I am so thankful that my son has such as wonderful, strong, caring father who will always be there for him as he has been there for me. On this Thanksgiving night, as I end this litany of thanks, I offer a prayer to the One who has led my family through this valley. Because of his love and grace, we have finally emerged on the other side. I have a beautiful, healthy son who will have a magnificent story to tell. Thank you to all of you for letting me share the beginning of his story with you. God bless you and goodnight. You are so eloquent. You are able to capture in words what we all are feeling this Thanksgiving season. I remember last Thanksgiving as you with tears on your face said how thankful you were for your family and husband, even after losing the little one during the summer of '10 that we thought the Lord was bringing to us. Now, look at where the Lord has brought you. Looking back on those dark days, we can see the Lord's footprints, right there along side, as we walked that scary path. But, I agree that looking at Andrew's beautiful smile now, those memories are in the 'distant' past. I know that as the years go by, you will teach Andrew to be thankful to the One who gave him life. We have so much to be thankful for this year. I love you Christy, Dusty and Andrew. What a beautiful addition your family has made to ours. -Love Gramma Well, I can't think of a better way to say thanks than what you've done here. We are all in awe of Andrew and love him so much. You and Dusty have amazed and inspired us all. Looking back, it's hard to believe how in the world you've done this and managed to keep loving each other. The amount of stress you've both endured is unimaginable to me. But you are still moving forward, and seeing you with Andrew is such a blessing. We are so very thankful for all of you. -Kelley Land

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Christy Fuller
  • By: Christy F.
  • Joined: almost 8 years ago
  • Published Mixbooks: 1
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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Andrew Michael: NICU Beginnings and Beyond
  • This book chronicles the unexpected arrival of our first child and all of the incredible moments that we experienced in those first few critical months.
  • Tags: None
  • Published: over 7 years ago