Some of you may know this, but when I was 26 weeks pregnant with Rayna, I was admitted to the hospital for preterm labor. With my history, this wasn't a huge shock, but we were praying and hoping to get to the golden 32nd week which is considered the safety zone for preemie babies.
Well, I lasted another 2 weeks in the hospital starting and stopping labor contractions each day and Ms. Rayna came at 28 weeks...a good 12 weeks/3 months early. She was just over 2 pounds at birth, in fact, her birth certificate doesn't even say 2 pounds...it says 1058 ounces or something.
Anyway, my little bitty Bumblebee came out, screaming BLOODY murder, which was a blessing in and of itself, since no one wants to hear silence after a baby is born...and had excellent APGAR scores (9s) before they whisked her off to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and hooked her up to all kinds of IVs for nourishment, monitoring, etc. and put her in an incubator for the first weeks of her life which helped maintain her body temperature. We bathed her through a tiny hole in the incubator with Q-tips and cotton balls...she was SOOOO little.
The teeny tiny preemie diapers had to be folded twice to fit her. Yet, as tiny as she was, the wonderful NICU staff allowed and encouraged Johann and I to hold her against our bare chest with blankets over her (called Kangarooing), which helped her regulate her own body temperature and breathing. I loved seeing her numbers soar when we held her...in the incubator by herself, her heart rate and oxygen levels would be around 89,90, 91...but when we held her, the numbers would jump up to 99%!
The NICU can be a scary place with Doctors and Nurses rushing around, checking on babies whose monitors are beeping because they have stopped breathing or their blood pressure has dropped too low. There were babies that would not make it and babies that weren't just early deliveries, but severely disabled and parents who were on the verge of a nervous breakdown, praying against heartbreak and for miracles.
Well, our little miracle was such a trooper...she was nursing on her own after 4 weeks, skirted a 'hole in the heart' surgery (which the Father closed on His own, instead of having to have a medical team cut her open to close it - Hallelujah!), she was growing like a weed and a favorite among the staff ;-)
Rayna was born on October 2, 2006...her due date was Christmas Eve - December 24, 2006. They told us when she was born that she would likely stay in the NICU until December 24th and that she would likely have chronic lung issues, eye problems - preemies of Rayna's gestation often have their retinas detach because the eye is still forming at that time (28 weeks), they said she could have gastric problems and any number of other things due to her early birth...
But, as she progressed, we were able to bring her home over a month before her scheduled release date. She came home Thanksgiving week at just over 4 pounds.
Well, Rayna has not stopped amazing us. She is now, at 4 years old in the 85th percentile for weight (at 42 pounds) and the 95th percentile for height at 41 inches! (Just 3 centimeters shorter than her 7 year old sister). She has never had any eye problems, and has only mild asthma which has completely ceased since we've been in Spain! She is our miracle girl, she is funny and smart, she lights up any room she walks into...and Rayna NEVER just walks into a room...she sashays or bounces or dances in. She LOVES shoes and dresses and wearing perfume and pink nail polish. And she loves to cuddle and sneak into my bed every morning around 3am.
She loves her sister, she is a Daddy's girl and always wants to be with Mommy. I am so proud of her, my little Rayna Devron! Her Grampy's 'Suga-Ray'!
This year, she is continuing to blossom with her Spanish in Spanish class on base - her teachers LOVE her, she is one of my TOP students in Sunday School (I teach her class), she loves tea parties, playing soccer and watching Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang!
And singing the song we made up about her in Paris - "Rayna D is in Par-reee ~ Rayna D is in Par-ree ~ Eating baguettes and cheese, chocolate croissants on her knees...Oh, Rayna is in Par-ree!"
Happy Birthday Bumblebee! - Here's how we celebrated your birthday!
First we went to Reese's soccer game - you sat happily drinking your soy hot chocolate from the NEX!Reese won her game 4 - 0!!!
Then home to open presents...
Reese helped you read your cards...
And as we were recovering from our trip to Gibraltar the day before and preparing for our trip to Ronda and Marbella the next day, we played at the house and napped the rest of the day until we sat down to the dinner you requested: Cheese covered, baked spaghetti, salad and garlic bread....You got to sit at the HEAD of the table (in Daddy's chair!!!)
You got your favorite plate (Ariel) and Reese didn't even fuss!
And then an ICE CREAM cake from Baskin Robbins to finish things off!
Cha Cha Chaaaa!