Monthly Archives: January 2010

Evan at Ten Months

Evan loves exo-saucers! For those who don’t know what an exo-saucer is, it’s this circular shaped thing that babies hang out in that has tons of toys attached to its tray. While Evan visited Wisconsin, he got to use one his grandma borrowed from a friend. He couldn’t get enough of all the spinning options on this one!

In January, Evan traveled to Wisconsin where he got to meet some family members (on the Merrick side) for the first time. He had a blast with his Uncle Greg (and a frozen waffle box)!
Evan also got to meet his Uncle John and Uncle Drew (not pictured–he’s a bit more shy regarding cameras). And Evan got to hang out with Aunt Heidi again. The last time Heidi saw Evan, he was in a perpetual state of crying and screaming! I’m glad she got to see what an amazing little boy he has developed into!

Then Evan got to meet his Great Grandma Keeler! Even though she doesn’t look excited about Evan in this picture (or any of the pictures that were taken), she couldn’t get enough of the little guy. She loved him so much she wanted him to be twins! But then realized that it would mean a lot of work for Ryan and I, as he was, in her words, “quite a little dickens!”

Heidi had a blast taking pictures of Evan so I thought I’d post a few more of her masterpieces!

Evan—Our Tiny Warrior, Literally!

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a difficult day we had. Much of the stress has been about Evan’s health. Evan has not gained weight the past four months. This would be significant for any baby, but since Evan was so tiny to begin with, it’s even more concerning.

Evan and I were at Walgreens yesterday and the employee helping us asked me how old Evan was. He was shocked when I told him 10 ½ months. He shared that he and his wife have a 7 month old who is 17 pounds, while Evan at 10 ½ months is 12 pounds, 10 ounces. According to one of our baby development books at home, a typical 10 month old baby boy should weigh between 17 – 24 pounds. Evan’s current weight lines up more with a typical 4 month old (12 – 17 pounds).

The good news is that most of the tests the doctors have run the past few weeks have come back normal. Yet there are still some questions about what’s going on with Evan as two of the important tests have contradicted each other. One came back as abnormal (the first one) and the second one came back as normal (the second one). Right now we’ve been told that it is likely that he does not have celiac disease (whohoo!). We still have some more tests to go and will continue to work with the gastro-intestinal specialist, but for now it looks like Evan lack of growth may be due to him not getting as many calories as he should, which while concerning, but not the worst diagnosis he could receive.

Evan will only take so much formula and baby food so creativity is needed. Ryan and I have tried every strategy recommended trying to get more food in him to no avail. Enter a nutritionist who will help us increase Evan’s calories. We’ve been encouraged to add canola oil to his baby food and feed him more fatty or high calorie foods, such as avocados or meat baby food. The pediatrician has also prescribed Zinc as it’s supposed to increase his appetite.

So far, we’ve started everything but the Zinc (the prescription will be ready on Monday). After feeding Evan both chicken and ham baby food, Ryan believes that Evan is vegetarian, as he grimaces, spits out, and eventually refuses to eat either. He did not like the avocado either, but liked baby yogurt (who knew they made special yogurt for babies?) and hasn’t minded canola-oil infused baby food.

Even though Evan has struggled to gain weight, he has started to do some new things which we’re excited about. The most important one is that he’s started to sleep 11-12 hours straight at night! He still has a night here and there where he’ll wake up a few times, but more often than not, he’s sleeping long and hard! After ten months of getting up several times a night, Ryan and I are elated! Evan is also sitting up for the most part on his own which is fun to see. He still needs some help here and there to balance his weight, but he’s getting there! Evan’s also starting to hold his own bottle. At first it was just him putting his hands on the bottle, but now he’s advanced to guiding the nipple into his mouth! He’s also babbling a lot! It’s very obvious that both of his parents are extremely verbal! It’s been really fun to see him master new skills!

Role Reversal

If you had told Ryan and me a year ago that I’d be working full-time while he stayed home with our son, we would have laughed, because that wasn’t in our plans at all! Yet here we are, a year later, Ryan at home taking care of Evan, while he job searches, and I’m at work full-time. It’s not what either of us would have wanted, but it’s currently what works for our family.

There are days when we can’t wait to have the roles reversed and other days when this setup has worked well for our family. Ryan loves the time he gets to spend with Evan, who is becoming more active and feisty each day. He gets to see Evan have firsts and helps him with his physical therapy exercises. Ryan also enjoys doing some wood-working when he’s not job-searching and caring for Evan, and does an excellent job at keeping our house clean (his standard for housekeeping is spotless and excellence, so our house looks *amazing* when I come home at night and is much cleaner than I would produce). At the same time, Ryan gets frustrated with the monotony and longs to be back in an engineering job. He struggles with being stuck in the house for most of the day, but tries to make the most of taking Evan places as much as he can. Although he knows this is temporary, some days it’s hard not to get down about being unemployed.

On my side of things, the job I have has worked well for our family in the past, but recent changes have made it less family-friendly. Due to new job expectations, if I need time off work and don’t want to use up vacation or sick time, I have to work extra within the same week, even if things are slow work-load-wise. In order to attend Evan’s extra doctor appointments, I’ve needed to work longer hours on some days, which means on those days I barely get home before Evan’s in bed. That breaks my heart. I’ve started to look forward to getting up in the middle of the night to feed him, because although it makes me tired at work the next day, at least I get to spend time with him! Although it’s not as flexible as it once was, I’m still thankful for my job because I love working with teenagers, it pays well, and it provides us with much needed medical insurance. But in my heart of hearts, I’m ready to be home, at least part-time, with Evan.

Many days, Ryan and I look at each other, and wish the roles were reversed. We both look at the other person thinking that they have it better. Ryan envies that I get to leave each morning and don’t have to manage Evan when he is fussy. I envy that Ryan gets to be in our comfy home with our son and that he doesn’t have to deal with office politics. In reality, both roles have blessings and difficulties. And I honestly believe that once Ryan’s working full-time again and I hopefully get to stay home with Evan, this experience will help us appreciate what the other person does for our family.

Is There Such Thing as Purposeless Suffering?

Is there always a clear, obvious lesson to learn in all difficulty or at times are we called to press on despite how difficult life is without finding a “ah-ha moment” for each specific hardship? So often I feel I “can handle” or press through difficult times if I see a purpose or something I’m learning, but there are times where I don’t see a clear, definitive purpose or lesson in a specific suffering or hardship. I guess there is a common purpose to suffering or hardship, a reminder that I am not God and that I am dependent on Him, and that this world and humanity are not as it was intended. This world and those in it are to be redeemed and restored. This is not it! Part of accepting that reality includes having to accept that I may not always see or understand right now the “why” of what I’m experiencing. That is really hard for me. I like understanding the deeper reasons for things.

And remembering that there was never a promise for an easy life, even if I’m striving to live out a life of faith in God. I know that on a cognitive level, but at times, when life gets tough, I resent those times and wish that living a life of faith came with a guarantee that things will go smoothly and easily.

A quote that has challenged me in recent years humbled me today: “Your character is forged and your heart is revealed when life does not go your way.” Today was an incredibly rough day for Ryan, Evan, and myself and the heart that was revealed in me was ugly! And I honestly don’t know if my character was forged either as I gave into frustration, anger, sarcasm, and impatience today. We spent a lot of money and time today on medical appointments because Evan has stagnated regarding his weight gain. He has weighed twelve pounds for the past few months. We got no definitive answers today, just a laundry list of additional tests that need to be done. We were told that these tests will help determine whether he has something as minor as a food allergy or whether he’ll end up diagnosed with pancreas problems, celiac disease (the fancy name for being gluten-intolerant–a permanent, life-long condition), or even cystic fibrosis (which has an average life expectancy of 35 years). On top of all of this, we’re going into the third month of Ryan being unemployed and the return phone calls he has gotten, have been for temporary, out-of-state work. And although I continue to be thankful that I have a job, especially as it provides us medical insurance, recent changes at work have made it much more difficult to come and go to all the medical appointments Evan has. Ryan and I both had moments today where we just wanted to “throw in the towel”…and yet it’s not an option.

I always hear people say “God will not give you more than you can handle” and I don’t know where that saying comes from. I don’t see it stated anywhere in the Bible. I wonder if people believe this so it isn’t implied that God is a sadist, or whether they say this to others because they think it will encourage the person going through a difficult time. By stating this, do they think it will cause the person to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and push on because if God only gives us what we can truly handle, then it all comes down to willpower?

I do know that God promises to walk through difficult times/suffering with us, and that He will give us the strength to overcome. He also promises that we will not be alone in whatever we go through, but honestly, I believe that He will give us “more than we can handle” at times, otherwise we wouldn’t ever need to lean or depend on Him. And if you search the Bible, there are multiple stories of men and women being given more than they can handle, not God giving people just up to the limit of what they could handle. Even Paul, who many put on a pedestal regarding having faith, “despaired of life itself” at one point in his journey. He later stated that God allowed the experience so he and those with him learned to rely not on themselves, but on God (II Corin. 1: 8-9).

II Corinthians 4 has challenged me for years. I was drawn back to these verses today:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body…16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”