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Baby Ele

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S: Greater Things . . . Eleanor Lynn Bratton April 1, 2010

FC: Eleanor Lynn Bratton April 1, 2010 | Greater Things . . .

1: In order to better facilitate updates on the little miracle that is Ele, we will be posting the latest and greatest information about her condition and progress...right here! Just not yet because it is breakfast time. =) But for the briefest of stats, Eleanor "Ele" Lynn was born April 1st, 2010 at 3:13pm at 12.5" and 1lb 11.5 oz. God brought her into our lives after exactly 25 weeks gestation. She's a fighter! | Thursday, April 8, 2010 A blogger?

2: Thursday, April 8, 2010 Prayer Requests | As a beautiful 25 weeker, little Ele has a number of developmental issues which we will have to address over the next 2-3 months that she is in the NICU (and potentially after we bring her home). Most all of them stem from being born early and are about par for the course. Here I will list the various hurdles she is facing, how she needs prayer, and the answers we have been blessed with so far. If you'd like to just know how you can pray, there will be a summary at the end. Thanks!!! Issue: Apneic Episodes (forgets to breathe/breathes too shallow) Sometimes Ele forgets to breathe or breathes too shallowly. Most premature babies suffer from apneic episodes. Even as they get close to what would be term, they can occasionally still have them. Clearly, we can't take her home before these resolve. | Prayer: That Ele would very soon cease to have apneic episodes and continue breathing on her own as they wean her off of oxygen support. | Issue: PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus) A duct in all babies while they are in the womb which allows the lungs to be (mostly) bypassed by the blood supply. They are not used much and the oxygen from Mommy is better served going to the rest of the body. It usually closes on its own in the first day or two after birth; however, in the premature infant it often does not. If it remains open, it can cause decreased growth as well as heart/lung overload. A last resort is surgery (Duke or Chapel Hill). Prayer: That the PDA in Ele would close completely.

3: PRAISE!: After first discovering a LARGE PDA, the hospital treated her with a three day course of ibuprofen. After taking another look at her heart, they discovered the PDA had been significantly reduced to a size they deem "trivial." Unless she begins showing signs later on that it is causing her trouble, we put it behind us. Praise the Lord for a huge answer to prayer! Pray that it closely completely! =) | Issue: Various Developmental Hurdles Most of Ele's systems are not yet functioning as they should. * Her stomach/intenstines are very fragile. * Her eyes and ears have not finished maturing. * Her bone marrow is not producing all the red blood cells she needs. * Her liver is not doing all the general clean up it needs to. * Her brain anatomy has some more development to do. | Please pray for each of the above items that her little body would grow strong in every way strengthened by God in that little baby incubator. | SUMMARY: Please pray that... * Ele's PDA would close completely without surgery. * Ele would breathe normally on her own without apneic episodes. * All of Ele's body systems would continue to mature just as they would in the womb far beyond all the would could ask or imagine. | And now to Him who is able to far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to HIS power at work within us - to Him be ALL glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations! Amen!

4: Friday, April 9, 2010 Week One | This week Ele has moved from a breathing tube to the CPAP you see here. Her feedings (non-IV) have increased from every 8 hours to continuous for 3 on 1 off. The PDA has closed significantly, and her weight has gone from 775 to 695 grams after an initial increase. (This early loss of weight is actually a good thing. It means she is not retaining extra water in her lungs, etc.) She receives the breastmilk Robin produces through a stomach tube that goes through her mouth (OG tube). To help train her to associate sucking with food in her stomach, she is sometimes given the pacifier as seen in this picture. Here she was very content to hold it herself! | Every two hours, a neonatal respiratory therapist comes to check her head gear to make sure its not causing any extra indentions, rubbing, redness, or swelling. We took that great opportunity snap a shot of her face! She is beautiful! (Though I'm sure when she gets older she will refer to these pictures as her "old man" days... haha!) Love that pretty young lady!

5: "For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise for You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in YOUR book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16 | And here you have the two proudest parents there ever were. Praise God for his many mercies this week!

6: 25 Weeks | April 2, 2010

7: 26 Weeks

8: 26 Weeks

9: Friday, April 9, 2010 For this I have Jesus! | "Come and see what God has done, how awesome His works on man's behalf!" (Psalm 66:5) | How did we get here? In our final days at the hospital, after things had somewhat settled, we found ourselves asking, why? Searching for a reason that would help things to make sense. The pregnancy had gone so well. We left every OB appointment with an A+ and I had finally entered into the 2nd trimester bliss of no nausea. No warning, no preparation... why? I'm sure many of you can relate (on some level or another) to times like this when life doesn't seem to make sense. This is why we have Jesus! In an uncertain world, Christ is unchanging in His love for us. Many times it's easy to want life to be "normal", however "normal" is not based off of our circumstances (for they will always be changing)... "normal" is the presence of God in our lives-- constant, faithful, ever present! God wanted Ele to come early! "Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!" (Romans 11:33-36) Life is not about us!! God, in His grace, allowed Ele to be born in order to give testimony to His power and glory! We have already seen so many miracles and answers to prayer. My Dad brought great encouragement to us as he shared his reflections on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (right before Jesus was betrayed). Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as YOU will." (Matthew 26:39). Jesus knew the suffering he would face at the cross, but he chose obedience. That is where we have found ourselves. We did not ask for this cup to be given to us, but we know we are safe in God's hands as we continue to follow and obey Him. God is right here with us-- guiding, protecting, strengthening!

10: For this I have Jesus! | Some of you have asked what occurred leading up to Ele's birth on Thursday, April 1st. Here's a brief account of events... pre-Ele. | The picture you see to the left was taken March 22nd (my belly at 24 weeks). Austin had just gotten home from a month long deployment to Haiti that previous Friday (March 19th). Already, we have seen God's hand in having Austin home in time! Saturday, March 27th, we spent the day in Sanford with my family, celebrating Austin's return and getting excited over my big belly. We returned home around 7:00 pm that evening and settled in to just relax for the night. Around 8:00 pm I began to feel cramping pains. I hadn't felt them before and thought maybe they were just "gas pains". As I went to bed that night, I couldn't fall asleep because I could still feel small cramps. Austin and I began to time the cramps to see if they were random or on an interval. Sure enough, they were coming every 6 minutes. We called the emergency line for labor and delivery around 12:30 am and were told that what we were feeling was normal and that I should lay down and drink water, it should pass in a couple hours. | However, as the evening (well, now morning) progressed, the "cramping" began to occur every 3 minutes. Around 3:00 am Sunday morning, I went to the bathroom and all of a sudden my amniotic sac began to protrude out, about the size of a baseball. This was the scariest moment of our lives. We thought we were about to deliver the baby in our bathroom. The amniotic sac, however, went back up into my uterus and we quickly made the drive to the emergency room. Another blessing amidst the turmoil was that my water did not break.

11: My cervix had begun to dilate and Ele's foot was in the birth canal. At Womack (army hospital) I was put on magnesium sulfate (smooth muscle relaxer) to help stop the contractions. Magnesium sulfate makes you really flushed and also slows other muscles down. It made my stomach nauseous as well and I threw up several times. Later, we found out that during this process some fluid had gotten in my lungs. I was given a steroid shot to help Ele's lungs develop in case of an early delivery. Two shots were needed to complete the treatment and we had to wait 24 hours till we could get the next one--all the while praying that Ele would stay in as long as possible. Each day in the womb can make a huge difference in the baby's development. Womack could not handle a baby of 24/25 weeks, so I was taken by ambulance to Cape Fear Medical Center (only 10 minutes from our apartment).

12: At Cape Fear, my contractions were continually monitored. I was able to get the 2nd steroid shot--still praying Ele would stay in as long as possible. They upped the does of magnesium sulfate, which in turn, slowed more muscles than just my uterus. Monday night a combination of the magnesium treatment, the fluid in my lungs, and sleeping in the Trendelenburg position (head lower than the hips) I contracted aspiration pneumonia. As I slept, Austin could see my oxygen levels slowly decreasing. I awoke Tuesday morning, hardly able to move or talk. In the morning, a chest x-ray showed my whole right lung to be white, which is not good. I had to wear a BIPAP(Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure) Tues-Thurs. Ele's foot was still in the birth canal and my cervix had dilated to 5 cm. As they lowered the magnesium levels, I still began to feel contractions Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday I was given an epidural in case I needed to be rushed in for a c-section. We were praying that the epidural would work because with my lungs fighting for air, anesthesia would have been a scary option for my health. | All the aforementioned details led to the doctor saying, "We need to get this baby out now!". I was rushed in for a c-section, epidural worked, and Eleanor Lynn came into this world at 3:13 pm, April 1st. Praise God that Ele was able to stay in and be delivered at 25 weeks (a huge difference from 24 weeks). This truly was a resurrection story... very fitting for Easter week. Thank you Lord for the miracle of life! For this I have Jesus! | For this I have Jesus!

13: Monday, April 12, 2010 2 Steps Forward and 1 Step Back is Still Forward | It's hard to know how to start a post sometimes -- whether to write immediately of all the little good things, or the little bad things, or just wait till they all even out and then write. We are incredibly grateful to have the support of so many family and friends and even of many more who we do not know. So for everyone who has thought about us and prayed for us, we want to say THANK YOU! | The above title is very apt for a baby in the NICU. Let me begin by saying that by everyone's reckoning who speak to us there, little Ele is doing very well for a baby so young. So therefore let me begin with our PRAISES. Ele has grown up from her initial water weight loss down to 675 grams up to 755 grams as of today. (Though as she has not been voiding (peeing/pooping) quite as much as expected, it may be that she is retaining some of that.) STILL, we are able to hold her now for 1 HOUR each day!! What a blessing to no longer have to just look at our sweet daughter there in the isolette but be able to impart to her more really some of our overflowing LOVE! | Also, she was able to spend more time on room air concentration oxygen in the CPAP today. The bilirubin levels in her body are remaining constant or decreasing slightly which means her liver is starting to produce the necessary molecules to handle it. Also my (Austin's) dad is in town this week which is wonderful! His first grand-baby!!

14: That said, our precious Eleanor Lynn still fights to breathe when off of the CPAP and has several episodes each day where she either stops breathing or breathes too shallow, which in turn often causes her heart rate to drop dramatically. Please pray that she would soon be able to maintain a good oxygen level in her body on room air and come off the CPAP soon! | Saturday, they redid an ECHO of her heart after hearing a significant murmur on a routine check. They found that the PDA had reopened some to a "small" size. Therefore they started a second course of the ibuprofen treatment in an attempt to close it. Her last dose is today, and they will re-ECHO her heart tomorrow. Please pray that the PDA stays closed for good and that she can go back on continuous (breastmilk) feeds again! A potential side effect of the ibuprofen treatment is decreased kidney function. This may be the reason she has been voiding less recently. Please pray that as little as it sounds, she would begin peeing/pooping again as normal. On a humorous note, as first-time parents we find it funny sometimes when we see new moms in the hospital with their newborns. They come rolling down the hall in a wheelchair from labor and delivery, baby either in hand or in a roller right beside. Our first thought is often, "Wait! Where is the oxygen for that baby??" And then we remember, that a great many babies are born everyday perfectly able to breathe, eat, regulate body temperature, and a great many other things that our Ele is only slowly being able to do herself. Then, we laugh, knowing that God has given us more than enough strength to tackle the time ahead, and that one day Ele too, by HIS grace, will be able to do all the same things. | 2 Steps Forward & 1 Step Back is Still Forward

15: Two apt passages come to my mind tonight and truly have helped us persevere through the ups and downs and whys of every day. The first is from John 9: "As Jesus passed, he saw a man born blind. And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam' (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing." God wants to reveal himself in this situation and show himself MIGHTY TO SAVE. He will heal and strengthen Ele even as He is in these very moments. | Or consider Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane: "Father, if you will, take this cup from me, but not my will but yours be done." We know that God withholds no good thing from His children. Yet Jesus went to the cross to accomplish for us what we could never do our own -- Redemption, Justification, Forgiveness. Can God take all these ailments from us at a moments thought? ABSOLUTELY!! Still we remain to show the grace, goodness, and refining power that God brings into ours and Ele's life through this adversity. But also that His daily strength and breath supplied might be evident to all around. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers today. As a prayer summary, please pray that: * her PDA would close completely. * her lungs would strengthen and she would have less apneic/brady/desat spells each day. * her kidneys would function normally. * her GI system would grow strong. * she would know the GRACE given her in the years to come. Love, Austin and Robin

16: Sunday, April 18, 2010 Children are a blessing in every way! | Who would have thought we'd say we love changing diapers?! It is awesome being able to do anything we can to take care of our little girl while she is in the NICU. As she gets bigger we will be able to do more and more things for her. Each step makes it closer to her being home. Her diapers are very small, about 3"x4.5". Even that size is a little bit big on her. The following videos were taken the week of 4/4/10. When Austin changes her diaper you can hear crying in the background, however, it is not Ele. She has a much softer cry (at least at the present time). When Robin changes her diaper you can hear a faint little cry in the background, that is our precious Ele! | Holding Daddy's hand 27 weeks!

17: Sunday, April 18, 2010 Week Two | Week two ended really well! We had a little bit of a roller coaster of events, but that is to be expected. At the beginning of the week Ele was having more trouble breathing. She'd been having increased apneic spells, so when we walked into the NICU on Wednesday we were just in time to hear that she was going to be reintubated (place a small tube in the baby's windpipe to give oxygen directly). This was a step back from wearing the CPAP. | We were reassured by the nurses that for her size, sometimes they need a little extra help in order to regain strength. Breathing is quite a chore for these little ones. She was also given some blood in order to help increase her oxygen levels. We were saddened to see the step back, but hopeful to see her grow a little stronger and then go back to the CPAP in a few days. Well, Ele had a plan all of her own... she decided that she was ready to go back to the CPAP and pulled out her breathing tube on Friday, she's an ambitious little girl. Instead of putting the tube back in, doctors/nurses decided to try her on the CPAP again. As of today's visit (Sunday) she was still doing beautifully on the CPAP. Praise God! We hope she will continue to breath well and not have to be reintubated again.

18: Week Two . . . | A huge answer to prayer this past week is that her PDA closed!! Her weight is now 787 grams and she is back on continuous feeds (3 hours on, 1 hour off). She gets 1.5 cc of breast milk per hour. We have LOVED being able to hold her! Even though it is just 1 hour a day, it is amazing to be able to feel the skin of your own child nestled so closely to you. Ele loves it too! It's much better than napping in her bed. She naps so peacefully in our arms and every now and then strokes her fingers across our skin. Nothing beats feeling the warmth of Mom and Dad. | Grandpa Turner headed back to Texas today. We had a wonderful visit with him this whole past week. He was so proud to have his first little grand daughter grab his finger. Ele says "thanks Pop" for visiting her this week and cooking some delicious meals for Mom & Dad. | "Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your WONDERFUL works. They will tell of the power of Your AWESOME works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds. They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and JOYFULLY sing of Your righteousness." Psalm 145:3-7 | We praise God for week two! Thank you for your prayers! Love, A&R

19: 27 Weeks

20: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Truly Comfort For God's People | "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11) "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (Isaiah 40:27-29) | What encouraging verses!! Amazing to see how important Ele is (we all are) to God! He sees her tiny little body, still in need of a lot of care/growth and He pours all His love and attention onto her. He is tenderly looking after her, as a shepherd looks after his flock. God is holding Ele in His arms and close to His heart. I believe the words of those verses with all my heart. God clearly wants us to know how valued we all are by Him; even the smallest/weakest of beings. Focusing on the truth of God's word has helped give our minds and hearts peace as we say good bye to her everyday (it's getting harder and harder to leave her). God is also "gently leading" Austin and me as we daily surrender our hearts to His will. One day at a time! Thank you Father for taking such tender care of her and us as her parents.

21: Week three is off to a great start! Ele weights 816 grams (~ 1 lb. 12.5 oz). Her feeds have been increased to 3.5 cc/hour and they are combining formula with breast milk in order to up her calorie intake. Breast milk is 20 calories, so they are adding an extra 5 calories with the formula for a total of 25. This will help her to gain weight more quickly. She is still breathing much better on the CPAP this week, yay! | Grandpa Abell visited today, which was such a nice midweek surprise! It was very special to be standing side-by-side with my own Dad; now gazing upon my own daughter! Wow! As MasterCard would say, "Priceless". My Dad took me out on a dinner date tonight since Austin is out of town. I smile thinking of Austin one day taking Ele out for a "daddy date". Thanks Dad for taking such good care of your daughters! | Every few hours a respiratory therapist takes Ele's CPAP mask/headgear off in order to do a head check. They make sure the mask isn't rubbing or putting too much pressure on her head and face. I took a video of it today and I think you will be amazed to see how much her face/skin has already changed in just 3 weeks! Wow, she will be 28 weeks tomorrow (Thursday). A family friend, Marilyn Coffield, was visiting during the mask check.

22: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Two Pounds!! | Yes, little Ele has approached the 2 lb mark! As of last night she weighed 900 grams (close to 2). When they weigh her tonight she should definitely make the 2 lb. club. Her feeds have increased to 7.5 cc every hour. She is still on the continuous feed (3 hrs on, 1 hr off). She no longer has an IV, which I know she is very happy about because she no longer has a cord restricting her arm.l | This past weekend she went off the CPAP again. Praise God she didn't need to be reintubated!! She had done so well on the CPAP all week and just got a little tired towards the end. She was put on NIPPV (non-invasive positive pressure ventilation), which allows her to still do all the breathing (unlike a breathing tube). The NIPPV is two fairly long prongs (~ 1.5 in.) that go down her nose. It gives her "reminder breaths" just like the CPAP. I admit, the prongs look a little scary to me, but she is taking it like a champ. She has been doing well on the NIPPV and should be going back to a CPAP within the next couple days. | Ele got a Freddy! "Freddy" is the nickname for a little bean bag type weight the nurses use to put over the babies to help give them a sense of security. Ele loves to kick her legs, stretch, put her little butt in the air and turn her head. This is great for strengthening muscles, however, she doesn't need to be burning any calories or pulling any tubes out. So... the freddy is sometimes placed on her to help calm some of her preemie jitters. She looks so precious nestled under it.

23: Doubly hard to be away from home! Austin was in DC last week for training and dying to get home to see BOTH his girls! I got to hold Ele everyday while he was gone, so he was going crazy waiting for his chance to hold his little girl. Monday night of this week he finally got to hold her for OVER an hour. The nurse got a hat for her to wear to help her maintain her temperature (must be at least 36.5 to be held). | Hook 'em Horns! Well, Daddy has certainly been bonding with his baby girl. I think he has also been secretly training her to cheer for UT, lol. The picture to the left says it all. It might be a few more weeks before she can do the "go wolfpack". Hmm, I guess Mommy needs to get working on that training, haha. Oh how I love my Texas husband! | We daily stand AMAZED! We are constantly amazed at how God continues to encourage us. This past Sunday our church prayed for us and during the meet & greet time a pair of grand parents and their very solid looking high school aged grandson came up to us. The grandmother had tears in her eyes as she put her hands on the shoulders of her grandson and said to us, "This one was 25 weeks, there are miracles!" Wow!

24: 28 Weeks

25: 29 Weeks

26: Friday, April 30, 2010 Clothing Time! | I was quite surprised on Thursday when I walked into the NICU... there was Ele, wearing a tiny brown & pink onesie. The nurse in charge of her care that day decided that she was ready to start wearing clothes. Ele loves being able to wear clothes now!! I also got to hold her for the first time "cradle like" after swaddling her in a blanket. I was able to look at her face the whole time. She is making some huge baby steps indeed. I've posted a picture of her preemie sized onesie next to her newborn sized onesie just to give you guys an idea of how precious her little clothes are. She won't wear the preemie size too long because she will continue to keep gaining weight (praise God). As of Friday nights weigh in, she was 938 grams (2 lbs. 1 oz.).

27: It is hard to believe that she has been alive for 4 weeks. Her corrected age (gestational age + actual) is 29 weeks...wow! She has only had a few apneic spells this week and overrall has been very calm, except for her normal squirminess. Doctors & nurses have commented on how well she is doing. Thank you thank you for all of your prayers! To God be the glory!!! I gave her a bath Friday night. Every other night she gets a "sponge bath" where you take warm water and baby soap on small cloths and wipe her. She cried through most of it (good to hear her voice) except when I got to her hair. She got so calm and quiet, it was sooooooo cute! I think girls like having someone shampoo their hair, very relaxing! | Grandma Abell also visited Friday morning. It had been a few weeks since she had last seen Ele, so the three of us were overjoyed to all be together again, sharing in the goodness of the Lord! | Pop & Grandpa | 27 weeks | 28 weeks

28: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 1000 Grams Club | Eleanor Lynn has made it to the "1000 Grams Club" this week. Last night she weighed in at 1,005 grams to be exact (~ 2 lbs. 3.5 oz.). This was a big step because she is now able to be held twice a day. There must be 8 hours between holdings in order to make sure she doesn't get too stressed. It's awesome because I can hold her during the day and then Austin gets to hold her in the evening!! Austin got to hold her for the first time swaddled in a blanket Tuesday night. She is so cute with her head peaking out. She also likes to stick her little hands out and hold your fingers. In this picture she is holding Daddy's finger. | An update on her breathing... Overrall, this past week she has been doing much better on the CPAP. Actually, just today (Wednesday) she had some of her first apneic spells in a while. The doctors would like to see continued improvement and growth before they take her off CPAP and put her just on a nasal cannula. Each body system is so closely tied together. The nasal cannula takes a little more effort to breathe, so if she were to go on it too soon she could start to burn more calories (grow less), when growing bigger makes it easier for her to breathe. So, she needs to get a little stronger first. We are very patient, she can take her time growing strong!!

29: She will be 30 weeks (corrected age) tomorrow (Thursday)... yay! She is still on continuous feed at 8 cc per hour (3 hr. on, 1hr off). The past day she had a little more residual left in her tummy than what they normally like to see, so they will keep monitoring her feeding and see if it needs to be adjusted. The above picture is Austin going through her charts. Ele loves her medic Daddy because he checks and reads everything! | This is a picture of one of her BIG yawns! Yawns are contagious even from a 2 lb. baby; just posting the picture makes me yawn, lol. In case you are wondering, the tube in her nose is her "feeding tube". I know it looks a bit scary. Anything down the nose (at least for me) always makes me twinge. Normally it goes through her mouth, but she had been pulling it out so much that they tried a different method. It only stayed there for a couple days and then nurses moved it back to her mouth because the CPAP mask made it harder to go through the nose. | Whenever Ele wakes up and is turned on her back she usually stretches her arms out above her head and yawns. It is so adorable! I think she will definitely be a "hand raiser" when she sings in church. We took a video clip of her waking up for you guys to see. Sometimes she'll open her eyes and be really alert, however, after we flipped her on her back she still wanted to keep sleeping, cutie! Enjoy!

30: Monday, May 10, 2010 26 weeks vs. 30 weeks | Words really aren't even necessary for this post. Thank you for your prayers! God is amazing!

31: 30 Weeks

32: Sunday, May 16, 2010 Singing His Praise! | This past week has been quite exciting as Eleanor reached 31 weeks corrected age (6 weeks out of the womb). On Monday she was still on the CPAP. She had been breathing so much better over the past week that we knew it was only a matter of time before they would put her on the nasal cannula. Sure enough, on Tuesday Ele made the switch to a nasal cannula...YAY! She no longer has to wear the mask and head gear. It is nice being able to see more of her face. With regard to her breathing, the cannula is the final step before she becomes completely free of any respiratory aid. This is a HUGE answer to prayer!! | Since she is now breathing with the nasal cannula we were allowed to start non-nutritive feeding with her on Wednesday. Her primary feed is still through a feeding tube (16 cc of breast milk every 2 hours over a period of 20 minutes), however she is given an opportunity to latch on and try to suckle on her own. It helps her get used to associating mommy with food. We were blown away by how well she did--so were the doctors and nurses! Since she was able to latch on so well, the doctors decided that she could be given two breast feeds per day. The nurse supplements the breast feed (if needed) with the originally scheduled 16 cc. Saturday night she did so well feeding on her own that she didn't need to be given the 16 cc through the feeding tube! She is a breast-feeding baby for sure!

33: Visit from Bedstemor! For those of you that are wondering, Bedstemor is danish for "grandma". Lynn flew in from Texas today and will be staying with us for several days. The last she had seen Ele was the day she was born. She was amazed at how much Ele had grown since April 1st. We like to say she is becoming a "big" little girl, lol. She is getting bigger every day. She now weighs 1286 grams which is about 2 lbs. 13 ounces. Lynn got to hold Ele today while she napped. She is the first grandparent to hold her--she was in heaven!

34: Thursday, May 20, 2010 What is missing in the second picture? | The nasal cannula!! Yep, you got it right! Wednesday Ele came off respiratory support and started breathing freely on her own! Holding her is now a lot easier because she no longer has breathing equipment attached to her body. She still has her feeding tube. I'm sure some of you are also starting to notice some chubby cheeks...yay! She currently weighs a little over 3 lbs (1373 grams). She has come a long long way since her birth weight of 775 grams (1 lb. 11.5 grams). | Some of you may be wondering when she will be able to come home... Premature babies typically go home close to their original due date. Ele was due July 15th. There is always a possibility that she could come home early if she is able to perform all normal body functions. Just to name the basics, she must be able to: go 7 days straight without having any breathing spells, eat on her own, digest food completely, maintain her body temperature, etc...

35: We asked nurses how much the average premature baby weighs when they go home and we were told about 4 lbs. Of course, this can vary depending upon the baby and the situation. However, it's exciting to know that Ele is quickly approaching that weight. She is getting fed every 3 hours now (25 cc). She is still given two breast feeds per day. Austin and I are getting excited for the day when we will hear her cry for food and she will only be a couple steps away--sleeping in her own room in her own crib. God is certainly blessing her progress and we continue to take it a day at a time as He leads. We've been amazed to see the peace God has given our hearts through out this incredible journey. We need not be overwhelmed because He has given us, "...everything [we] need for life and godliness." (1 Peter 1:3). | Anxiety and worry come from trying to do it on our own. I remember hearing someone say that, "Worry imagines a future where God is absent." That statement really hit me as I realized the simple truth that God will never be absent in my life--today, tomorrow and forever. What joy and freedom come from walking hand-in-hand with our loving and powerful God! I also like how Oswald Chambers says it in My Utmost for His highest: | "All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God...God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the things we have calculated on without taking Him into account. We get into circumstances which were not chosen by God, and suddenly we find we have been calculating without God; He has not entered in as a living factor. The one thing that keeps us from the possibility of worrying is bringing God in as the greatest factor in all our calculations." God does do, "...immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." (Eph. 3:20) HE is the living factor! Amen!

36: She is now being fed 27cc every 3 hours. We are allowed to breast feed her for 3 of her feedings (these are spread through out the day). The next step will be feeding her every other feeding. This will probably happen sometime this week. Here are a couple cute pictures of Ele with her eyes open: | Monday, May 24, 2010 Intermediate Care | Good news... Eleanor moved to the intermediate care nursery on Saturday! This is the final step before coming HOME! She still has several more weeks ahead of her in intermediate care, but she is getting close to completing her NICU stay.

37: 31 Weeks

38: 32 Weeks

40: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 34 Weeks! | Eleanor is now 34 weeks (corrected age). Hard to believe she should still be inside of me. It has been amazing to see her tiny little body continue to grow and strengthen outside the womb. God has certainly blessed mankind with the wisdom/knowledge to create technology that allows life to be sustained at such a young age. Monday of this week she received her 2 month old shots. She handled them very well. They made her a little bit sleepy, but she was back to her normal self on Tuesday. | Over the weekend Ele enjoyed a special visit from her Uncle Forrest and Aunt Katy. They came all the way from Austin, Texas just to see her!! She was so excited to have such fun and loving visitors. She says thanks for flying in to see her! In the picture with Aunt Katy, Ele is wearing a cute t-shirt that says, "On my way to Texas"--we are definitely looking forward to visiting all the Texas fam when Ele is able.

41: Her current weight is 1634 grams (3 lbs. 9 oz). When she reaches 1800 grams she will move to an open crib. Her feeds have been upped to "2 out of 3". She is given two nipple feeds (breast or bottle) and then one tube feed. She is still fed every 3 hours. Trips to the hospital are beginning to increase as she is able to be fed more from her Mommy--yay!! That is a big step! In the picture below she is wearing one of her first "sleeper" outfits from her Bedstemor. Up until now she had just been wearing her tiny little onesies. However, now that she is getting bigger she is able to fit some of her other clothes. This little miracle keeps taking steps toward coming home! Thank you for your prayers!

42: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 Eating on her own! | A new big step for Ele... She is now taking all her feeds on her own either by breast or bottle. She is doing really well! She is still being fed every three hours (~34 cc of milk). Her feeding tube is currently still in just to help her make the transition to eating on her own. In the past few days there were a couple feedings where she was just tuckered out and had to be fed through the tube. I imagine that in a couple days they will take the tube out completely. Even Daddy gets to feed her! | A huge answer to prayer is that she is gaining weight! Now that she is breast feeding more often (without supplementing the feed) we were praying that she would keep gaining. Yesterday she weighed in at 1710 grams (3 lbs 12 oz). My trips to the hospital have definitely increased! I've started packing a lunch, so I can be there most of the day. I get to change her diaper, nurse her, hold her and watch her sleep. I've enjoyed reading by her bed and praying for her. It's quite peaceful, except for a few crying babies in the background.

43: Eye Exam... Ele had her eye exam today. No, she didn't have to read any letters. The doctor looks for ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity). It is an eye disease in babies caused by many things such as oxygen, ventilators, and prematurity. These things can cause an enlargement of the veins in the eye which in turn can cause the retina to become detached/loose. Ele's eyes looked great! She will have a follow up in a week just to make sure everything is still okay. | Grandpa and Grandma Abell visited last Friday and got to see Eleanor feed. Here is a picture of Grandma Abell holding her. She loves being held by her family!

44: Sunday, June 6, 2010 Time with Daddy before he leaves for Guyana. | Daddy's last time putting Ele back in her Isolette.

45: Just the Two of Us!

46: Eleanor Lynn moved to an open crib on Saturday this past weekend. It has been a big adjustment because she is now maintaining her temperature all on her own, which initially takes a little more energy. They keep her bundled up and nestled under lots of warm blankets. Maintaining her temp plus going through a growth spurt has made her a little more tired for some of her feedings, but she is doing a great job. She will be 36 weeks corrected age this Thursday. She still has at least a few weeks left before coming home. The above picture shows her sleeping in her new bed. Her old bed is behind me. | Monday, June 14, 2010 Sleeping in a Crib!

47: Her problem is definitely not sucking, it is going too fast and not stopping to breath. This is a maturation issue that will fix itself with time/growth. We are hoping to breast feed her completely when she comes home. She will, however, have to have at least 2 bottle feeds a day in order to take her vitamin (preemies are sent home with a vitamin that they take twice a day). Another final hurdle is for her to go 7 days without having a breathing spell. Most of her spells have been during bottle feeds, so I'm praying that these will soon subside. Such a beautiful little girl! Thank you Lord for her life!! | She is also ad-lib for her feedings now. This means that she eats whenever she is hungry! This is exciting because it will allow her to settle into her own schedule and eat as much as she wants. Her weight will start to increase a lot more quickly now. As of Sunday night she weighed 1859 grams (4 lbs, 1.5 oz). So far, she has been wanting to eat every 4 hours. She generally takes between 50-60 cc of milk. If she has the energy, she breast feeds very well. However, if she is more tuckered out she prefers the bottle. We are working on helping her pace herself on the bottle.

48: Thursday, June 17, 2010 Bottle and Bath Time Fun! | It has been a wonderful week with Eleanor... every week is! The doctors have marveled at her improvement. She had lab work done this morning, which produced stellar results. All of her nutrient levels looked great. She still has some maturing to do in certain areas. The doctors would like to see her start to gain weight more quickly. Her weight gain has been slower this week, partly because of the transition to moving to a crib (takes more energy to maintain her temperature) and partly because of breast feeding more often (takes more energy). | Currently, we are working with her on feeding from the bottle without having a breathing spell. As she begins to better pace herself and take in more milk, she will begin to gain more weight. She is so excited and eager to eat that she has trouble pacing herself on the bottle. The nurses and I have been working with her to teach her to pause and breathe after several sucks. I've attached a cute video clip of one of her bottle feeds below. She is making progress!! The doctors have said that the only remedy for some of the issues Ele is working on now is simply time & growth. In the video you can see how eager she is because she starts to suck before the bottle is even in her mouth. Also, at one point she starts turning her head and opening her mouth to try and tell the nurse, "I'm ready! More please!!"

49: Every other night Ele gets her bath! Back in the day (I can say that now, right?) she used to cry when we would clean her. Now, as a big girl, she loves bath time!! She kicks her legs in the water and just looks around with her beautiful blue eyes. I love wrapping her up in a warm towel and then washing her hair. Here are a few pics from bath time this week. | Splish splash I was taking a bath... | At the salon getting her hair washed! | All snuggled up and ready for bed time!

52: The days are beginning to countdown quickly for Ele coming home. The doctors have made a couple changes in her care this past week, all in preparation for her to transition OUT of the hospital. Ele no longer wears a pulse ox to monitor her oxygen saturation and they are beginning to decrease the amount of calories in her formula. The doctors noted that she was no longer having apneic spells (her breathing spells while bottle feeding were more about maturation and learning the rhythm of eating, as opposed to an actual lung issue). With that said, they removed the pulse ox today. I was also told that we are not waiting for her to go 7-days without a breathing spell. She has already passed the apneic spell test! Since she only has minor spells during bottle feeds or big burps, the doctors have said that once she is a little more ready her going home plan will come about rather quickly (we won't have to wait 7 days). That is really exciting! This past week she showed huge growth with her bottle feeds. | Also, they have decreased her formula calories from 27 to 25. With lower calorie formula, she will be able to intake more milk. They will gradually continue to decrease the calorie level on her formula to make it more like breast milk (20 calories). She will need to show that she can gain weight while consuming 20 calorie breast milk/formula. She is currently 4 lbs. 11.5 oz. Wow! | Sunday, June 27, 2010 Getting Closer to HOME!

53: Pick me, pick me!! Ele is SUPER EXCITED to leave the hospital. She is having such a good week too. Good news is that on Monday the doctors lowered her to 20 calorie breast milk. This is the final stage in her intermediate care before coming home. She now receives pure breast milk (no longer mixed with higher calorie formula) except for two 24 calorie formula feeds a day. This will be what she will go home on. Her weight will be monitored over the next couple days to make sure she is still gaining. Doctors keep smiling at us and saying "soon"... we are eager to be able to share with you just how soon. | Tuesday, June 29, 2010 Raise your hand if you want to come home!

54: Eleanor Lynn Bratton arrived home today at 12:30 pm. She entered the NICU April 1st of this year weighing 1 lb. 11.5 oz. She left the NICU today weighing 5 lbs 5.5 oz! After 97 days in the hospital, she was more than ready to say, "Good bye". No more cords, no more monitors, no more watching Mommy & Daddy have to leave. She is HOME! Since we have been caring for her for so long and are very comfortable with her care, we were given the option to "room in" (spend the night with her at the hospital) or just take her home. That decision was easy! There are numerous passages in the New Testament that speak of Jesus' miraculous power. The reactions amongst His disciples or crowds of people to the miracles He performed is one we share today...AMAZEMENT and PRAISE! | Wednesday, July 7, 2010 There's no place like HOME!!

55: "The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"' (Matthew 8:27) "Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked." (Matthew 13:54) "The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel." (Matthew 15:31) "He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!" (Mark 2:12) | Today, WE stand AMAZED at all God has done through this precious little girl. She is here today-- alive, well, growing stronger by the minute--because of the wondrous power, love, and mercy of Christ. Three months ago he chose her little body as a way for Him to demonstrate His unfailing love and His incredible power. Nothing is too big for Him (or should I say, no one is too small for Him). We want to THANK ALL OF YOU for your faithful prayers and messages of love that made this homecoming day possible. It has been a joy to share this journey with you and it will only continue to get sweeter with each passing day. Love, The Brattons

58: Friday, July 30, 2010 Thank heaven for little girls . . . | 6 lbs 1.5 oz!!!! 18.3 inches in length | Our precious Eleanor Lynn has been home for a little over 3 weeks now. There is much good news to report. Ele had her final eye exam this past week. Any eye damage caused by her prematurity has resolved itself and she is a free woman (no more eye exams until her normal preschool age checkup). Both her pediatrician and dietitian are pleased with her weight gain, so we are thankful. This past week she gained 21 grams per day. The goal is 30 grams, but 21 is still super. She is one excited baby when it comes to eating!! | Amazingly, preemies actually catch up with their peers by age two. Ele will have to work a little harder than other babies her age (4 months), but she has a big God who has been fighting for her since day one!! She has her own special time line that need not be rushed in any way. | . . . for little girls get bigger everyday!!!

59: Really, 4 months old? Yep, Ele got her 4 month shots today and did really well. Her pediatrician was amazed at how much weight Ele had gained since the last time she had seen her. On August 6th Ele weighed 6 lb. 9 oz. We had been praying that she would begin to gain an ounce a day and to our surprise she actually gained a little OVER an ounce a day. We are so excited! Today when she was weighed the grand total was 7 lbs. 6 oz!!! | What is even more outstanding is that Ele is strictly on breast milk-- no formula, no milk fortification. We had hoped to be able to do this, but knew that she would have to show that she could gain weight quickly. God continues to blow us away with how He is taking care of our little girl. It reminds me of Daniel in the Bible (Daniel Ch. 1) who chose to eat only vegetables and water in order to honor God. He told the palace guard to test him for 10 days and then compare his appearance with the other young men. At the end of the 10 days Daniel's body was more healthy and more nourished than the other men in the palace who ate the royal food. All God! The pediatrician today actually asked me if I was fortifying my milk because Ele had such a good gain. I'll say it again, ALL GOD! In case you are wondering... will the blog continue? Yes, but as you have seen the posts will not be as frequent as they were when she was in the hospital. More than likely a new post will appear every couple of weeks, we'll see. If you want to see how she is doing and catch a latest pic just be on the look out! | Tuesday, August 17, 2010 4 month shots!!

60: Friday, August 20, 2010 First smile on camera!!

61: 25 weeks | 26 weeks | 27 weeks | 28 weeks | 29 weeks | 30 weeks | 31 weeks | 32 weeks | 33 weeks | 34 weeks | 35 weeks | 36 weeks | 37 weeks | 38 weeks | 39 weeks | 40 weeks

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  • By: Robin E.
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  • Title: Baby Ele
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  • Started: about 6 years ago
  • Updated: about 6 years ago

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