Your Story: The Birth of Sullivan Michael

Today’s story is one that displays in an incredible way the Lord’s protection over a tiny baby boy who, against odds, was born safely into the loving arms of his family of five.  Sullivan’s beautiful mama, Jaime, joins us today to give the amazing story of his birth, and the breathtaking surprise they encountered upon delivery!

“You’d think your fourth birth would be a cake walk, right? People kept telling me my body would know exactly what to do… muscle memory and that my son would probably just walk out. Sullivan Michael was born on October 16, 2014 and I wasn’t quite prepared for what was to come.

My 3 prior deliveries were pretty textbook.  I gave birth to my first daughter, Sophia Raye, in 2007.  She came on her own and on her due date, which is typical of her personality (she hates being late).  I received a planned epidural with Sophia as I was uncertain as to what birth was like.  In 2010 my second daughter, Scarlett Patricia, arrived 4 days late which, again, is quite typical of her personality (late sleeper, a little pokey).  With Scarlett I was bound and determined to have an unmedicated, IV free birth.  I did it.  It was painful.  I tore so much because she had a large head and came out with her hand raised.  I’m glad I went naturally with Sophia because I was curious as to what millions of women have done before me. 

My third child, Samuel Robert, arrived a week early on March 1, 2012.  I decided I would wait to find out the gender until birth. Finding out Samuel’s gender at birth was the best 30 seconds of my life and well worth the 9-month wait.  I never grew up with brothers and secretly really wanted a son, so I was shocked to actually deliver a bouncing baby boy.

31 months later in October of 2014 I was preparing to deliver my fourth baby, Sullivan Michael. His pregnancy was very difficult.  In addition to being a busy mom of 3, I had severe headaches, all day nausea, and vomiting (which let up at the magical 17th week, just as with my previous pregnancies!).  We found out Sullivan’s gender at the 20-week ultrasound appointment and surprised the kids with blue balloons… They loved it!

The eve of October 16th, one week before my due date, I started having pretty strong contractions.  I called my husband around 5 pm and told him he should probably come home from the office, just in case.  We hadn’t even packed our hospital bags!  Funny side note: With baby #1 and baby #2, the bag was 90% packed by 20 weeks.  In fact, as an example of what four kids has done to my (long lost) Type A personality, I found out I was pregnant with my first at 5 weeks gestation and immediately started a baby registry.  Who does that?!  Now, just one week before my due date with #4, I hadn’t even packed my hospital bag!

As I packed my hospital bag, the contractions became stronger and stronger.  When I start tearing up during contractions, my husband knows it’s time to go to the hospital (he’s had plenty of practice).  I was crying and breathing through contractions.  The tears, I think, were a combination of hormones, excitement, fear, and adrenaline.  We made it to the car and Sophia (my oldest daughter, age 7 at the time) jumped in the backseat.  We had planned for her to be at the birth, but not present during labor.  Sophia has wanted to be an OB/GYN her entire life so we knew she wasn’t getting out of the car.  I was too preoccupied with my contractions to even care.  At the ripe young age of 7, Sophia watched the entire labor and delivery of her baby brother, even staying up into the wee hours of the next morning.  The doctor thought it was awesome that Sophia was involved and even let her examine the placenta afterwards… she was in heaven!  Scarlett (my 2nd daughter) joined us in the delivery room, as well as my mom, my two sisters, and two of my friends… it was quite a party in there!

We arrived at the hospital around 7 pm and after my pelvic exam they found that I was only 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced.  This was disappointing because (from my previous birth experiences) the contractions I was having usually meant I was at 6 or 7cm.  Nonetheless, because my contractions were regular and the hospital was slow they decide to officially admit me!  I’ve had some depressing false labors before, so being admitted and knowing that you aren’t leaving the hospital without a baby in your arms is one of the best feelings in the world.  I labored naturally (no Pitocin) for 2-3 hours and progressed to 4 cm and 90% effacement.  I received an epidural and labor progressed so that I was soon ready for my doctor.  Dr. Jon C., father of 7 and a very well-practiced OB/GYN, entered my room.  33 years ago he was supposed to deliver me, but happened to be out of town.  He made up for it that night…in so many ways.

My water never breaks on it’s own, but once it’s broken things go rather quickly.  Soon after Doctor C. broke my water, I was ready to push.  I pushed, but Sullivan would not move down.

With every push, Sullivan’s heart rate was plummeting.  Instead of wheeling me in for an emergency C-section, Dr. C. made the wise and quick decision to use a less invasive vacuum method to pull him out.   Upon birth it was discovered that Sullivan had his umbilical cord knotted (nuchal cord knot, image below), and wrapped completely around his neck!  He had performed some sort of somersault in utero and made a knot in his cord.   The knot didn’t present a problem until he was supposed to descend.  Many babies with a nuchal cord knot descend prior to delivery and, as a result, the knot is pulled taught and cuts of all blood and oxygen supplies to the baby.  If Sullivan would have descended weeks prior to birth his cord would have been pulled taught, likely causing him to be stillborn.  Dr. C’s decision to swiftly deliver via vacuum saved Sullivan’s life.  My baby boy was born quickly at 1:56 AM, weighing 7 lbs., 12.5 oz and measuring 21.5” long.

God kept Sullivan from descending on his own and allowed Dr. C. to help him quickly pass through the birth canal.  Because Sullivan had also managed to wrap the cord around his neck, he was born with less than perfect Apgar’s.  They placed him on my chest and rubbed him down while I had my first look at him.  They then moved him to the incubator for a quick round of tests.  Thankfully, Sullivan perked up and was returned to me within minutes.  All I could do was thank God for this baby, for this miracle, and for giving me the chance to be his mama.  I’ll never forget holding my baby, surrounded by my loved ones, and shaking Dr. C’s hand.  If one could convey all their emotions into one handshake, I did it.

My birth photographer, Erika Schirmer of Eurekame Photography, captured all of these powerful images.  Life is delicate and precious and I was given a reminder of that on October 16, 2014.  I am so thankful for the privilege of raising four babies.”

“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:13-14

Do you have a story to share?  Use the button below to submit a 3-4 sentence summary of it!

Your Story: Ava’s Perfect Heart ❤

What is perfection?  Culture would often define it as the absence of trial and defect, however in the dictionary you will find perfection defined as “the state of being complete”.  Miss Ava’s story shows us how the Lord often makes way for the presence, not the absence of trials in order that our lives might be complete.  God grace sustained Ava’s fragile infant body as it’s endured more in her first 22 months than most do in an entire lifetime!  From it all, Ava emerged with an infectious smile and an ever-grateful mama (Kaila) who testifies “it broke us in the best way, I truly feel blessed daily that she is mine”!  Join us as Kaila shares more about how Ava’s perfectly-imperfect heart made their family complete!

Gracious May: Welcome, Kaila!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  For readers who don’t know your little family, please take a quick moment to introduce yourself.

Kaila: Hey Guys! I’m Kaila, most-commonly known as “Ava’s Mom”.  I’m going on 5 years of marriage to Chandler, our family’s keeper.  In December 2013, shortly after being told we would need the help of fertility to conceive (due to PCOS), Chandler & I were shocked and elated to find that we were expecting!  Today our miracle girl, Ava Monroe, is almost two…  And we have a baby boy on the way (due August 2016)!

I’m currently finishing up with my degree in Echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) and have an unhealthy obsession with Interior Design.  I keep Chandler busy with projects of my own whenever he has a spare moment.   Both Chandler and I are children of interior designers so design is in our blood.  

Gracious May: What were the heart defects that were discovered while Ava was in the womb?  What did that final trimester look like for your family?

Kaila: During my pregnancy with Ava, as I was approaching my final trimester, our doctors discovered that she had a compilation of heart defects known as Shone’s Complex.  Shone’s Complex affects the size and function of the left side of the heart.  In Ava’s case Shone’s Complex manifested itself in the form of valve abnormalities, VSD’s, and a coarctation of the aorta.  We only told immediate family about Ava’s heart defects at that time.  It was a lot to digest and I just wanted to maintain as much “normalcy” I could.   To be honest, those last few weeks of Ava’s pregnancy were such a blur, but we were also full of hope. 

Gracious May: Once Ava was born how long did she remain in the Cardiac ICU?  What were some of the biggest challenges you faced there?

Kaila: Ava had a very long journey in the Cardiac ICU.  She had open-heart surgery at 6 days old which went beautifully!  However, the complications that came along with CICU recovery threatened her life countless times.

What was meant to be a 10-day-recovery-stay in the CICU turned into 100+ days.  Ava faced many complications: a blood clot which threatened the loss of her leg, GI issues, and, most severely, airway damage (due to constant extubations).  The airway damage resulted in the need/last resort of a Tracheostomy.   That was a very dark place in my faith, but family support and the outpouring of love from our community constantly lifted us up and stood in the gap for us.

Gracious May: Since bringing Ava home from the CICU, what are some of the biggest victories you’ve celebrated?

Kaila:  Wow, what haven’t we celebrated?!  On top of the many exaggerated celebrations of the obvious firsts, Ava came off of the ventilator the same month we came home.  She then amazed us (and her doctors) by becoming 100% medication free!!  

We celebrated Ava overcoming muscle atrophy, and graduating physical and speech therapy.  We celebrated her first oral meal (at 13 months old).  Ava also had her Gtube removed this year.

She learned to plug her trach with her finger so that we could hear that precious voice… music to my ears!!

And Ava was deemed “heart-healthy” last month.

Ava is now 22 months old and thriving!  She is so imaginative, it’s hard to catch her in between her imaginary/yet very serious phone conversations.  She loves to dress up and one of her very first words was “boot”.  Her favorites are her Gracious May Bunny Boots.  She would wear them everywhere if I’d let her!

Gracious May: Since Ava was born, you have doubtless had the opportunity to connect with many moms who are walking in the same shoes.   There might be a mom reading this who is fighting alongside her baby in the CICU/NICU.  How would you encourage her right now?

Kaila: To all the new trach mamas: I know it feels like you traded your perfect squishy baby in for an awkward robot/transformer version, but I promise, your wee one will surprise you.  You will find wells full of patience, energy, love and understanding; wells you didn’t know existed.  Never stop fighting for your child and what you know they are capable of.  Connect with other advocating parents who have been in your shoes, you will need them. ❤ Congenital Heart Disease has changed us as a family.  It broke us in the best way.  I truly feel blessed daily that I get to be this precious girl’s mama.

While the miracle I prayed for didn’t come exactly the way I expected it, by just looking at Ava I know that God answered the cry of my heart.  I’m grateful for the beauty, the pain, all of it.  Now, through her life, I am able to offer hope and encouragement to other heart moms and trach moms going through similar situations.

Gracious May: We have definitely loved watching Ava grow up in her Gracious May!  Can you tell us what Gracious May means to you and why you (and Ava!) enjoy our shoes so much?

Kaila: I discovered Gracious May while in the hospital (which is where I purchased her first pair of Gracious May booties).  Shopping for baby clothes helped me imagine doing the un-imaginable, which was bringing Ava home and dressing her up (what every girl-mom dreams of)!  Gracious May was one of the first shops we ordered from and the positive/uplifting message you promote is truly an encouragement.

Gracious May: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Kaila!  Will you tell readers how they can follow you from here on?

Kaila: Thanks for letting us, we love spreading CHD Awareness and offering hope to those in similar situations!  You are welcome to follow along our crazy life via Instagram: @kailabiagini.  We love and appreciate those who celebrate Ava’s victories and cheer her on along with us!

As of July 12th, Miss Ava’s trach was successfully removed!! This miracle girl is not only heart healthy, but now breathing on her own with absolutely no assistance!!!

Would you like to have your story featured on the Gracious May Blog (birth, adopotion, NICU, etc.)?  Email us with a few sentences that describe the experience you want to share about and we might feature you!

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Your Story: Vienna Bond is Born ❤

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Vienna Bond is a little lady who has literally grown up in her Gracious May shoes.  Today we are absolutely thrilled to be bringing you her birth story!  The miracle of birth is made even more amazing when retold as witnessed through the loving lens of a mothers eye.  As such, Vienna’s birth story is brought to you by none other than her lovely mama, Irina… enjoy!

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“On December 10th, 2014, my world changed forever.  Our baby girl, Vienna, was born at 5:44am, weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 19 inches long.  I will never forget hearing her tiny voice for the first time and seeing her little face (eyes wide open) as it pressed warm against mine.

Vienna was originally due on the 18th, but she made her appearance a little earlier at 39 weeks.

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During a scheduled checkup on the 9th I had had a non-stress test that showed I was having contractions every 10 minutes.  I came home from that appointment to an odd fever and chills.  I called the doctor’s office about it and the on-call OBGYN told me that I should get checked out at the hospital.  Upon arriving at the hospital, I left my hospital bag in the car thinking I’d probably just be sent home.  As the hours progressed, the on-call doctor recommended that I remain at the hospital since I was already full-term and having regular contractions.  By this time, my contractions were closer to 5 minutes.  By Midnight on the 9th, the painful contractions began.  My water broke during one of these intense contractions and the pain went up considerably, at which point I begged for an epidural.

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At our first meeting, I told my OB/GYN that a vaginal birth was very important to me. I even asked her what her C-section rate was and what I could do to increase my chances of delivering my baby “naturally.”  Throughout high school and college, I had volunteered at two local hospitals (one of which was the one I delivered at) and had seen countless vaginal and C-section births.  I definitely knew which one I preferred.  Because my labor was progressing naturally, I thought I was on track for my ideal vaginal birth.

Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses decided that it was imperative that I have an emergency C-section. The reason for this decision was threefold: I was running a fever, which meant there was a possibility of some kind of infection; my water broke with meconium in it, meaning possibly fetal distress; and I was not dilated enough in relation to what they saw on the fetal heart rate monitor (another signal that baby might be in distress). My entire pregnancy had been normal and healthy, so hearing the word “C-section” as a possibility was incredibly upsetting.

It wasn’t the scar that scared me (as the nurses seemed to think when I was reluctant to sign the consent forms).  I didn’t want major abdominal surgery; I didn’t want to be cut into.  I had prepared for a vaginal delivery mentally and emotionally. For weeks now I had been going through the motions in my head and giving myself pep talks about how well baby and I would do.  I wanted to continue laboring in that room instead of being wheeled into a surgical theater.

Doctors and nurses kept coming into my room and repeating how important it was to start the surgery now and urging me to sign the consent forms. All the while, they were frantically prepping for C-section.  When my own OB/GYN arrived around 5 am, she affirmed that, given the circumstances, a C-section was the right choice. I felt I had no choice but to oblige, especially after hearing that my main doctor (who’d seen me from 7 weeks’ gestation) was on board.  I was frustrated because my intuition told me that I was doing fine: my contractions started on their own and my water broke naturally too. However I also realized that something could have been really wrong with my precious baby.  I couldn’t help but wish the tests that were run could somehow come back within hours instead of days later.

I sadly and slowly signed the consent form and held onto the clipboard a few seconds longer before giving it back to my nurse.  It felt like my life and my baby’s life were now completely in the hands of mostly strangers.  I remember my husband telling me through teary eyes that everything would be okay and that we had to do this for the baby.

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I was in the operating room with the extra NICU staff huddled and ready around the incubator/bassinet (a precaution taken since there was meconium in the amniotic fluid). I think there were about 30 people in the room because of the extra staff.  Although I couldn’t see past the blue screen, I had seen doctors performing a C-section enough times to know what everyone was doing.  I just couldn’t believe I was the one on the table.

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Soon after the C-section began, I heard the sweetest sound – my baby girl’s little voice!  I couldn’t believe Vienna was here and all ours.  My Husband was with Vienna the entire time, but because she was being cleaned up and checked out by the NICU staff I couldn’t see her for some time.  I listened intently for any clues about her health and waited eagerly for the moment I’d finally see her.  Finally, a nurse brought her to my face and I got to see my sweet swaddled bundle with wide-open eyes. I kissed her and cried as we touched face to face for about a minute.  Then she was whisked away to the NICU floor.

The hospital staff did an excellent job, and I am forever grateful for their skills and professionalism in taking care of my baby and me.  As a first time mom, however, I felt robbed of so many special moments in my delivery.  I naively never, ever thought that this could even be a possibility for me.  Because of precautionary measures taken due to the fever I was running during labor, Vienna had to stay in the NICU for 48 hours; and I in my recovery room for 24 hours after my fever subdued.  Aside from the few minutes she was held against my face in the operating room, I wasn’t allowed to see Vienna until about 28 hours after delivery.

I’m balling my eyes out and barely able to read the screen as I go back and remember what it was like being separated from my baby for 28 hours.  Family and friends were going back and forth visiting Vienna while I sat in my room staring at the clock.  I was counting the moments until I could go up and hold her for the first time.  I couldn’t feel her sweet little kicks in my tummy anymore, yet I wasn’t holding her in my arms.  It was surreal and unnatural.

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28 hours after delivery, the time finally came to go upstairs and hold my little Vienna for the first time.  My husband took me up to NICU floor, where I put her delicate 6 pound body against my own.  She was so warm and lovely, and her skin was velvety soft.  Every little sound she made was precious, and I wanted to protect even the tiniest hair on her head.  I spent hours there making up for lost time.

Sure enough, the 48 hours passed and Vienna’s tests came back looking great, and she came back down to my recovery room with me.

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Both the NICU nurses and the postpartum team were so helpful in our recoveries; I couldn’t have asked for a nicer or more helpful staff.

The birth plan in my diaper bag was never even touched, however it’s incredibly fortunate that there never was any infection present during labor.  After all this, (and with much perseverance) Vienna took to breastfeeding like a champ, which was so important to me!”

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Thank you so much for sharing, Irina!!

This story was adapted from an original post at bondgirlglam.com.  All images c/o Irina at Bondgirlglam.com and @bondgirlglam on Instagram.  External links are provided solely as a means of crediting the interviewee.  Gracious May is not affiliated with, responsible for, or endorsing the content of the external links in this post.

Would you like to have your story featured on the Gracious May Blog (birth, adopotion, NICU, etc.)?  Email us with 2-3 sentences that describe the experience you want to share about and we might feature you!

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“Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord‘s name is to be praised.” Psalm 113:2-3

Your Story: Finley’s Adoption ❤

Gracious May absolutely loves featuring the beautiful Finley in her AFO customized Fringe Boots, and today we are even more thrilled to be bringing you her Adoption Story!!  Finley is a radiant example of the reality that, no matter what the different-ability, each little life has been lovingly knit together by the Lord and placed on this earth for His purpose!  We hope you enjoy getting to know Finley as her lovely mama, Christina, shares a little bit of their story. ❤

Gracious May: Welcome, Christina!  Thank you so much for joining us today!  For readers who don’t know your little family, please take a quick moment to introduce yourself.

Christina: Well, I was born and raised in Southern California and am a strong believer in Christ.  I’ve been married to my high school crush for almost 5 years.  We have a beautiful home, one daughter, one dog, and one puppy-zilla.  I like to think we are pretty normal, I enjoy karaoke apps in my spare time and my husband loves to garden- he’s quite the green thumb. Our daughter has Mild Cerebral Palsy, so our everyday life looks a little unique to some. 

Gracious May: What brought you to your decision to adopt? and was special needs adoption something you chose, or something that chose you?  Please take a little time to tell us how it all unfolded. 

Christina: After a full year of naturally trying for baby, we received fertility testing results that I have what’s called “diminished ovarian reserve”.  This condition is a known side-effect of accutane (a serious acne medication).  The news was devastating.  After the “dust settled” we had a real sense of peace about the situation.  The Lord kept presenting us with Adoption.  You know how people keep bringing things up to you and you are like, “Ok, this isn’t just a coincidence”.  It was a God-thing.  I never would have imagined I would have a special needs child (not sure most do).  Finley was perfectly healthy in the womb and that’s all we knew when we were chosen to be her parents.  She was delivered 9 weeks early because her birth-mother had preterm labor complications.  Finley developed brain bleeds as an infant and because of this we knew that it was a possibility she could be diagnosed.  When we googled “Brain Bleeds” Cerebral Palsy was always in the search results.  Before our adoption was finalized, we knew that Finley might develop special needs.  Honestly, we felt she was ours from before she was born and nothing was going to change that. 

Gracious May: There is absolutely no denying it, Finley is one contagiously-happy little girl and it doesn’t look like anything is holding her back!!  What are some day-to-day lifestyle adjustments you’ve made to overcome the various challenges that Cerebral Palsy poses?

Christina: Besides the typical schedule and lifestyle changes that are made when adapting to life with a toddler, I haven’t really made “adjustments”; my life is very normal to me.  My life is, however, is different in many ways from that of my friends with toddlers.  Because of Finley’s poor balance, I cringe if someone sets her down on a tall chair and walks away.  I’ve even had her fall out of a friend’s arms because they underestimated her physical abilities.  I carry her everywhere and assist her with every task.  Potty training, dressing, swimming,  getting on and off of things; everything requires assistance.  This is our normal.  Our communication with each other is amazing because Finley relies on me for everything.  My back is gonna hate me later, but my heart will be so happy. 

Gracious May: There may be parents reading this who are facing fears over a diagnosis their little one has just received.  If you could encourage them with a word or two from your experience, what would you say?

Christina: Oh sweet friend, I’ve been where you are and you are not alone.  I promise you, it will be okay.  You will learn to not focus on words the doctor’s use.  Instead you will look to your little one to be your guide.  Take it one day at a time. Find others that are going through it too, to lean on.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to connect with other parents in your shoes. 

Gracious May: Finley certainly holds a special place in our hearts; but can you take a moment to tell us what Gracious May means to you, and why you/Finley enjoy our shoes so much?

Christina: Well, Gracious May is my game changer / life saver!  Words will never do justice to the intense gratitude I have for their [customized boots for AFO Braces].  Finley has the widest foot ever, so with the braces there are no shoes that fit her.  Thanks to her Gracious May Boots, my daughter is able to be her fashionable self!  I absolutely adore that they are using their huge following they to do the Lord’s work and spread Scripture.  And the boots are the best; they zip on and off so easily!  Finley loves them too! We get stopped everywhere we go, because everyone wants her boots! 

Gracious May: Thank you so much for sharing, Christina!  Can you tell our readers how they can keep up with you and Finley from here on out?

Christina: Thank you so much for having me!  Y’all can follow along on our journey via our Instagram @fifiandmo.  I typically post everyday and update my profile links based on all activity regarding Fifi.  We have a YouTube channel and are hoping to get it up and running soon! “Fifiandmo Video”.  If you are a fellow special needs mama, please feel free to send me a direct message on Instagram or email me at fifiandmo@gmail.com.  This was so much fun, thank you Gracious May!

Would you like to have your story featured on the Gracious May Blog (birth, adopotion, NICU, etc.)?  Email us with 2-3 sentences that describe the experience you want to share about and we might feature you!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Your Story: Azlyn Lucille {a mini miracle}

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Quite possibly the tiniest fashionista in human history, Miss Azlyn Lucille is famous for the way she styles her Gracious May shoes and Snugars accessories!!  With an Instagram fan base of nearly 27,000, Azlyn adds an irreplaceable dash of sparkle and sweetness to the World Wide Web.  What may be lesser known, however, is that this tiny princess made a spectacular entrance when she was born prematurely at just 26 weeks gestation.  Today in an interview with her beautiful mama Naomi, Gracious May is taking a closer look at the amazing grace of God that walked this now-thriving one year old through her critical first weeks of life!

Gracious May: Welcome, Naomi!! Thank you so much for joining us to share about your Mini Miracle! For those who aren’t familiar with your story, will you take a few minutes to introduce yourself and tell us about Azlyn?

Naomi: Hello! My name is Naomi, and I’m mama to my little lady, Azlyn.  After two miscarriages my husband and I found out we were expecting for the third time!  Azlyn’s was a very difficult pregnancy.  I spent the majority of my pregnancy in the hospital (hyperemesis) and then, at 17 weeks, I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix.  I was on bed rest from 17 weeks until Azlyn made her grand entrance at 26 weeks!  As you can imagine, being born 3.5 months early comes with a laundry list of trial and worry.  From the start, however, Azlyn’s shown herself to be a tiny fighter and we are so excited for the great plans God has for her life!!  Azlyn came home after spending her first 11 weeks of life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  She turned a year old on April 14th and is constantly beating odds and surpassing all of her doctor’s expectations!!

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Gracious May: Azlyn Lucille: tell us why you chose this amazing name for your tiny girl.

Naomi: Growing up, Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis was one of my favorite books.  After finding out we would be delivering Azlyn prematurely it seemed even more fitting to name her after the fierce lion, Aslan, from that book!  We changed the spelling from Aslan to Azlyn to make it more feminine.  Azlyn constantly lives up to her name!  Lucille (Azlyn’s middle name) is after the most amazing woman I know – my mother!

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Gracious May: Once Azlyn was born, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced during that 11 week stay in the NICU?

Naomi:  The first few weeks were overwhelming to say the least.  One of the moments I will never forget was when Azlyn was about 10 days old (at which point I hadn’t even held her): Azlyn’s oxygen levels dipped dangerously low and she started turning blue.  Instantly, doctors and nurses surrounded her bed and began resuscitating her.  This incident was, and is, by far the most traumatic thing I have ever been through!  As a parent watching your less-than-2-pound baby fight so hard for simple things (like breathing) is so difficult.  But, while there were so many hard and terrifying moments in the NICU, every bad moment was countered by five amazing moments.  If I can say one thing about our NICU experience with Azlyn it is this: miracles do happen! 

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Gracious May:  There might be a mom reading this right now who is fighting alongside her micro-preemie in the NICU.  If you could encourage that mom with a word or two from your experience, what would you say?

Naomi:  Love your child today and do not worry about tomorrow!  My biggest goal in the NICU was to spend every day with Azlyn in ways that I would not regret.  I fought for every chance to touch her, change her diaper, help with baths, etc.  In the NICU you don’t know if you will have a tomorrow with your baby. Instead of getting caught up in that, I chose to spend every moment I could celebrating the day.  I celebrated every gram Azlyn gained, every minute she didn’t have a BRADY, and so on.  Do not waste your time fearing tomorrow!!  The future can seem so overwhelming when you are holding your tiny baby’s finger (a finger that doesn’t even wrap around your finger tip!), but I promise you will never regret just simply loving your child and enjoying the moment you are in.

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Gracious May: Azlyn certainly holds a special place in our hearts; but can you take a minute to tell readers what Gracious May means to you, and why you/Azlyn enjoy our line of apparel so much?

Naomi: First off, to support a small shop is so amazing!  To uplift and support other mothers and women, and see all the love and care that goes into each and every piece is such an honor.  Not only is Gracious May’s quality amazing but also it means so much to my family and I to support a faith-based company.  I love seeing how they incorporate Scriptures and such into what they do.  Azlyn has an amazing collection of Gracious May & Snugars goodies and we are so excited to continue growing it!  We will be life long supporters of this amazing company. 

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Thank you so much for sharing, Naomi!! If you’re like us and you can’t get enough of Azlyn, be sure to follow @AzlynLucille on Instagram for a daily dose of pint-sized cuteness!!

Would you like to have your story featured on the Gracious May Blog (birth, adopotion, NICU, etc.)?  Email us with 2-3 sentences that describe the experience you want to share about and we might feature you!

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“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:13-14