At least I think she is...From everything I've read in the last few weeks premature babies often have two ages: their chronological age which is the age of the baby from the day of his or her birth (in this case Ava would be considered three weeks) and their adjusted age which is calculated based on the baby's actual due date; the adjusted age is used by Doctor's to measure if milestones are being met on time. Because Ava is considered a late preterm infant since she was born after 34 weeks but before 37 weeks and her due date hasn't arrived yet (April 13th) I'm not really sure what to say other than we've had her in our lives for three wonderful weeks, and that she's was early. The last few weeks have certainly been a learning experience for Chad and I. We've learned how strong our relationship is, how much we love one another, and just how much we love our children. We've also learned that maybe Ava's temperature doesn't have to be checked every five minutes (guilty) in order to make sure she's regulating it properly or that maybe she would breathe much better if my finger wasn't constantly under her nose checking for air. We've learned that she doesn't like when I've eaten broccoli or tuna fish (holy gas related nuclear meltdown), but other than that she loves to eat! So much so, that she gained almost a pound by her first Doctor's appointment (she's 6 pounds now!). We've learned that she makes the cutest sound after sneezing and dinosaur noises when she's stretching. We've learned that for the most part (when I'm not eating foods she dislikes) she's a pretty happy baby and smiles a lot in her sleep; also I don't believe people who say "it's just gas" she's smiling damnit! We've also learned that these two will be trouble in a few years
We've, or maybe I've been learning to just let go, to just breathe, and well, to stay off Google at all costs; seriously. With premature babies there are so many risk factors, so many exams, so many articles discussing your babies "uncertain" future that it can drive you crazy and for a minute there I think I was going crazy. It wasn't until we had her retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) exam the other day and got great news that I finally began to breathe, and TRULY, truly, believe that she is going to be just fine. The retinopathy exam is no joke however, and getting through it was terribly hard for this momma! I made the mistake of reading articles relating to this exam before we arrived for her appointment (some were more pleasant than others) and by the time we got there I was ready to turn the car around and ya know, save my baby from this evil Doctor; he ended up being a very wonderful, and pleasant man but, whatever! The waiting room made it even worse since it was nothing but babies getting their eyes dilated, and a little boy who couldn't have been older than 18 months screaming at the top of his lungs each time the nurse came out with eye drops; I cried when he got his done because his momma, bless her heart, looked so heartbroken telling him "it's just like last time, it's okay" and I thought rather selfishly I guess, is this our life now? Will Ava have to do this every few weeks? Sure, she may not remember now, but, she will and then I cried some more. When it was her turn to go back, Chad offered to hold her while they did the test and I don't know if it was the masochist in me but, I needed to be the one...I thought, if this our life now, if Ava has to have this done every few weeks than I need to be there for her; I needed to show half the strength she had been showing since the day she was born. It wasn't easy though, I had to hold down her little legs, and arms as she screamed and the Doctor used some contraption to pry her eyes open. When he started to manually move her eye around I lost it, closed me eyes, and cried until it was over and the not so evil Doctor gave us the good news. Ava's eyes were mature, and that he wouldn't have to see us again till July. He also told us that he really thinks she might be older than she is, that maybe they calculated my due date wrong, and that there are just some things Science can't explain...which I agree with! What Chad and I have learned the most over the last few weeks is how strong our faith is, how amazing God is, and how miraculous life can really be. We've learned how blessed we are and just how amazing this baby that he's given us really is.
She is strong, she is mighty, she is a little hurricane.
Ava Belle will be loved, and cared for beyond measure and no matter where her journey takes her, she will never go at it alone. We are still learning all about our little early surprise and while we aren't sure where this path is taking us just yet we are no longer afraid of it.