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Isabel hunting for Easter Eggs at the Sugar Bush (Mar 15/09)

Isabel Main Page | Isabel Photo Gallery | Isabel Video Gallery

Jan 28, 2010
It's been a long time since we posted anything up here. Part of the reason is that we moved to a new house. We were worried that Isabel might have a hard time but she transitioned very well. Funny thing is, last week we were driving down a street near our old house and Isabel called out "old house". It's amazing to think that a three-year-old recognizes streets and houses. One of the benefits of the new house is that Isabel's cousin is 15 houses away; they see each other almost every day. BTW, we're back on the potty training wagon, going hardcore this time (and not too many accidents either). [new photos and video]

Sept 8, 2009
We lost access to this website temporarily but we're back now. Isabel continues to bring us joy. She enjoys life and finds fun in everything: playing with water, using a black marker on the furniture, playing her drum, avoiding bedtime. Bedtime is hilarious, as she gets out of bed and exits her room several times until she settles down. Toilet training has its challenges as she hasn't quite caught on to it. She continues to learn new words and provide commentaries about the world around her ("look mommy, two school buses").

May 10, 2009
Isabel keeps learning new words, as we explain concepts to her. Today, we were driving somewhere and she kept saying the word "cottage". I told her that we were going home and that the cottage was "far away". She kept mentioning the cottage and later said "I need cottage" and followed it up shortly afterward with "I need to go far away." So cute how they connect concepts. She's still pushing the envelope with bedtime; tonight, she got out of bed 6 times and came to the bedroom door, trying various excuses (more than once) like "drink of water" or "peepee on potty". She seems determined to stay up so she can experience the night life that she's obviously missing. (new photos and video)

April 14, 2009
We just celebrated Easter weekend at the cottage with family and friends; 16 adults and 10 children shared a turkey meal together. Isabel participated in easter egg hunts and enjoyed herself tremendously. The best part was that she got to eat lots of chocolate (although we are trying to moderate the amount a bit).
We removed one side of Isabel's crib on Sunday evening and placed two small protective gates (which leaves a gap in the middle for her to get in-and-out of bed). She initially wanted us to put the crib siding back, as she was confused by the change. The first night, she got into bed, we said our prayers and we left her, partially closing her bedroom door as usual. We placed a baby gate in front of the door. Five minutes later, she was out of bed and at the gate, saying "Hello! Out!" (as in "I want out"). Very cute and funny. On night two, she fell out of bed; we suspect it's because her cabbage patch kid was on the far side and she had little room to manoeuvre and so she rolled out of bed. A brief cry, she soon was back in bed, with the cabbage patch kid at the entrance side this time (let the doll roll out of bed instead of Isabel). It's so interesting to watch Isabel graduate through these little steps in life (out of the crib into the transition bed).

March 8, 2009 (27 lbs / 12.25 kg)
It's always amazing to watch Isabel grow and develop, although it can be challenging at times too. She's entered the "terrible twos", where she's start to push back, to see how far she can get, where her boundaries are. Food gets thrown on the floor, she has different plans than we do (e.g. we try to get her jacket on to go out, and she runs away), etc. However, as we're learning, this is all just part of life. What we enjoy is some of the other stuff: she sings to herself throughout the day as she's doing things, she helps set the table or do the laundry, she eagerly plays piano at church and tries to sing into the microphones, she likes to be tossed into the air sitting in the laundry basket as daddy tosses it up and down ("more up and down daddy!"). What joy it is to experience life with your child!

January 6, 2009 (height: 84 cm / 33 inches)
Happy New Year! We kept ourselves busy during Christmas time and I (Timo) found it hard to spare some time to update this webpage. Isabel learned about Christmas this year; she visited Santa in the mall, she had Advent calendar chocolates each day (she still asks for them) and she learned to open presents (after hers were opened, she started to open the remaining gifts which were for family and friends). Isabel loves to sing and she's already singin the melodies (and most of the words) of songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Jesus Loves Me". She even surprised me tonight by singing "Frere Jacques". Isabel is starting to talk and talk. She now chats with people on the phone, although most of the words are not legible (although many are recognizable by mommy and daddy since we tend to know what she's talking about). Her current favourite things are Elmo, chocolate, eating snow and being chased by daddy. She's still a very good eater, enjoying fish, broccoli, raw veggies with dip, condiments and sauces, pickles and various fruits (bananas, raspberries, blueberries, peeling and eating her own mandarin oranges).

October 31, 2008
Isabel is learning the important words: grandma, grandpa, oma, opa, ipod. It seems that she understands complete sentences we say to her, which I still find amazing (one of the great benefits of raising children... watching them grow and develop). She loves to play her musical instruments and sometimes make up her own songs (see Oct 8 video). She's learning to interact with other kids and play beside them. Isabel enjoys hanging out with mommy, and being chased around the house by daddy.

October 10, 2008
Isabel is starting to exert her own will. A natural part of growing up, it can be challenging at times for us parents. Still, she is such a joy. At daycare, they describe her as an active kid, but a quieter one. She continues to love music, her current favourite one being "Deep and Wide", which she asks for again and again. Watch the Oct 8/08 video of her singing her own songs.

September 21, 2008
Isabel continues to learn new words. Some words she can say quite clearly, like mommy, daddy, oma, opa, water, juice and bus. Some words are attempts to say the proper word, such as aipay (airplane), tar (guitar), choo choo (train), roar (lion), eow (for "meow", for cat), and waah (for "woof", for dog). How does Isabel say her name? "ahbeh". She's still a quieter kid (when compared to others her age), but she's building the vocabulary and I'm sure she will surprise us one day with the eloquence of her speech.

August 21, 2008
Isabel is such a joy, always happy and excited about life, learning new things, etc. Her favourite new words are "water", "bus" and "airplane". She sees an airplane fly overhead, points to it and excitedly cries out "airplane"; then, when it's gone, she turns to us and says "one more", asking us to give her another airplane. At her recent pediatrician's visit, he was satisfied with her continued progress and didn't have any concerns. Things are going well; thank you all for your continued prayers.

July 15, 2008
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Isabel is two years old today! Hooray! She's a very happy, easy-going child but she sometimes tries to exert her own will, which makes for interesting times. Ah... parenthood. But, all in all, she's a wonderful little kid, always happy, laughing and enjoying life. She loves TV, water, and playing outside. She enjoys walking now and is starting to learn to run. (new photos)

June 8, 2008
With the Spring/Summer weather come lots of outdoor activities: visiting gardens, going for bike rides, playing at parks, etc. Isabel is having lots of fun, especially visiting the neighbour's dog Pepper (all dogs are now called "pepper" to her). She enjoys dips in her wading pool, going down her slide ("one more" means "one more time, daddy"), and helping mommy in the garden. (many new photos)

May 10, 2008
Isabel is gaining more confidence in her walking. She can now stand up without needing to use an object to pull herself up. She finished swimming lessson, series #2; she loves being in the water. She has also discovered parks, of which slides and swings are great fun. Isabel is also starting to develop her own will; sometimes when she wants something but we're taking her elsewhere, she'll put up a big fuss with tears and crying and bodily resistance. It's just another sign that's she's growing up as a normal child... a blessing indeed considering her difficult beginning.

March 9, 2008
Isabel is learning to walk, and she's doing great. She has her arms stretched out to help balance her and she falls every now and then, but she continues to do better and better. We just had a major snowfall; Timo shovelled and Leah took Isabel out in the mini-sled up and down the street (we may put up the video one of these days). Isabel continues to have fun at daycare, as well as playing with her cousins and other people who come by to visit.

February 5, 2008 (10.34 kg / 22 lbs 13 oz) (74 cm / 29.1")
Isabel is feeling better (and so are her parents). Visiting the doctor recently, we learned that she is in the 25-50 percentile for weight but only in the 5-10 percentile for height; so she weighs fine but is a bit short... for now. She continues to enjoy walking with her walker, and is slowly transitioning from holding both of daddy's hands while walking to holding only one of daddy's hands. Soon she will be "hands free" and we won't be able to keep up with her.

January 23, 2008
The whole family is currently on the mend from illness; we're all taking the same anti-biotics for variations of throat/sinus/ear/chest infections. Isabel also seems to be suffering through a bout of pinkeye. It was hard, at first, to administer the ointment into her eyes; she'd cry and fight us. However, within a few days, she's calmed down and accepts the minor inconvenience quietly. She's such a good trooper! Isabel continues to enjoy walking around the house with the aid of her walker, and she remains curious, always wanting to be included in whatever mommy or daddy is doing.

January 1, 2008
Happy New Year! We celebrated a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. Isabel is learning how to open presents. We think her first word is "TV", although it seems to signify TV, music, speakers, etc. A social queen, she's very people-oriented; she'll watch people at restaurants and with men she tends to play the "shy game", looking at them and hiding her face.

December 22, 2007
Isabel is learning new things every day. She is now able to walk holding on to her walker (see picture below). Leah has taught her to turn the walker to the left (turning right will be another lesson). We're celebrating Christmas in Ottawa this year. We have a small Christmas tree on the buffet; we were afraid she might crawl up to a real Christmas tree and pull it down, but at Oma & Opa's house, she looks at their tree from a safe decision. To everyone, our best wishes this Christmas season, from Timo, Leah & Isabel.

November 20, 2007
Isabel's much more talkative these days, although it's all gibberish to us. She's curious as ever, but still shy often around people until she's gotten used to them. She's starting to take a few steps, with the aid of a toy with wheels (see it in the background of one of her Halloween photos in the photo gallery). What a happy, laughing, curious and fun baby she is. We love her so!

October 28, 2007 (9.38 kg / 20 lbs 11 oz) (73 cm / 28.7")
Isabel seems to be at the tail end of a month long cold; she still has a runny nose, but the cough seems to be diminishing. She's much more interactive; for example, when she takes off all the rings from stack and then puts them back together, we congratulate her and she claps and smiles too. She's a very happy, easy-going kid; even the daycare workers have said as much. She enjoys climbing and descending stairs; whenever a gate is open, she is quick to notice and makes a bee-line for the stairs unguarded beyond the gate. And she's fast... we're constantly having to keep up with her. Lots of fun, though, and a joy too.

October 4, 2007
Happy Birthday, Isabel... again? Today marks one year from when Isabel was supposed to be born. This is her "corrected age" birthday (doctors follow premies development for the first couple of years according to when they were supposed to be born). We celebrated with a small dinner and birthday cake, which Isabel got to put her hands into (and then promptly wiped onto her pants).

September 24, 2007
Last week, my computer hard drive crashed... with all our digital pictures of Isabel on it. I managed to salvage everything off it just yesterday. I still hope to upload some new videos and pictures soon, once I have a functional computer again.

Leah is back to work part-time and we found a daycare which will accommodate most of slots when we are both working. Oma and Opa (Timo's parents) assist with the few days that the daycare can't take her, so they're helping out a lot. Isabel seems to have no problems with her daycare; they say that she's fine all day with this... a very relieving feeling. But then, Isabel is such an easy-going child, what else should we expect?

August 28, 2007
We spend a week down in Owen Sound visiting Leah's mom (Isabel's grandma). We went to the beach and Isabel got to play in the water (and eat sand too). She loves water. If she sees a bathtub, Isabel starts to squeal with glee (it's so high pitched, I don't know how she does it). She's climbing up stairs now, under close supervision, and enjoys exploring new places all the time. In the kitchen, she opens the cupboard where we store the plastic containers and she reorganizes them all over the kitchen floor. What fun!

August 4, 2007
Isabel had her 10-month (corrected age) neo-natal follow-up consultation at CHEO. All premies are tracked for the first couple of years to make sure that they are developing normally, or if they require some therapy program. She passed the tests with flying colours (the doctor checks if she can vocalize, pick up small objects, uncover an object that has been hidden by a sheet of paper, etc.). We are so proud of Isabel; she continues to progress and thrive, enjoying all of life's curiosities (except for grass, she doesn't like to sit or stand on it... yet).

July 22, 2007 (8.76 kg / 19 lbs 5 oz)
Isabel celebrated her birthday last Sunday at church, sharing a large cake with the congregation. Then, she celebrated again during supper at her Opa & Oma's house. She enjoys all her new gifts, but it was the bags and wrapping paper that excited her even more. She's had a great week, continuing to laugh, smile, crawl, and pull her up to standing as she explores the world around her. Just tonight, she figured out how to stand up in her crib; good thing daddy lowered the mattress down a month ago.

July 15, 2007
Happy Birthday Isabel! A year ago today, Isabel was born. She was a rush delivery, an early bird, ready for the world that wasn't expecting her for another 12 weeks. Since then, she has progressed tremendously; you wouldn't know today that she had been a tiny premie baby. She keeps developing new skills too... she crawls and grabs everything (so we childproofed the living/dining room), she has started climbing stairs (so daddy quickly installed the safety gates), and she is able to pick up individual rice krispies with her fingers (fine motor skill). She is so curious, always exploring her environment; for example, when daddy was installing the safety gates, she came over to inspect the work. Thank you all for your prayers and your support; we appreciate it so much.

June 27, 2007
Isabel is now moving forward; it's kind of an almost-crawl. Check out the new videos for yourself. She stands up holding on to objects, but when she lets go, she often falls, hits her head and cries. Ah... the trials of being a baby and learning balance.

June 11, 2007
Isabel's trying to crawl; she just needs to bring her knees up to figure it out. The new thing she just started doing today is to vocalize "ta ta ta". It's like she's practicing a new skill, learning as she goes. See the new video "Isabel vocalizing".

June 1, 2007
I continue to be so thankful for Isabel, and her growth and development. She's doing excellent, being a normal infant. You'd never know that she'd been a premature baby. One recent development is that now when she drops things, she'll look where it went; I see this often when she's in the high chair and playing with a toy and then drops it. These little things, which we take for granted, fill me with such joy, to see that she's developing normally like any child.

May 21, 2007 (8.02 kg / 17 lbs 11 oz)
We went up to the cottage during the May long weekend. Isabel got her first outdoors experience. Sitting in her high chair outside, she watched with interest the dragonflies buzzing about. It's fun to watch her curiously explore the world around her; she touches objects, holds them, turns them over with her fingers, ... and promptly shoves them in her mouth.

May 14, 2007
Isabel is growing so quickly, but still cute as ever. She's been able to roll over from stomach to back for a few weeks but last night, she rolled over from her back to her stomach. Next will be crawling, I guess. She's also expanding her vocabulary, from just shrieks and "mmmm" to "ga ga ga". Checking our "What To Expect" book and the chapter for 7 month old babies, Isabel seems to be right on track, doing what is expected. BTW, she loves carrots (but had a hard time with pablum).

April 21, 2007
Isabel's fever has gone and most of the symptoms, but she still has a cold and her voice is a bit hoarse. But she's much happier now than a couple of days ago.

April 19, 2007 (7.6 kg / 16 lbs 13 oz)
This past Sunday, Isabel (and her mom Leah) was baptised at our church. The place was crowded with friends and family wishing to celebrate the occasion with us. It was a great day. Today, Isabel is quite sick, throwing up and with a temperature. We're treating her with medical advice, but it's still a grueling experience when it's your child, and especially so when it's the first time you're going through this. In other ways, though, Isabel continues to be a great, cheerful, inquisitive and healthy baby.

April 3, 2007 (7.3 kg / 16 lbs 2 oz)
Because of new security regulations, if we want to visit the USA, we all need passports (including Isabel). So, Leah went a got her a passport photo, and at today's pediatrician appointment, she got up-to-date height (64 cm) and weight (7.3 kg) stats for the application form. Whenever we're out in public, everyone things Isabel is so cute; they often ask how old she is, and my current reply is "she was born 9 months ago, so she's 6 months old" which confuses them.

March 27, 2007
Leah and Isabel went to their first baby swim session today. In a group class at a local indoor swimming pool, they played in the water. Isabel reported enjoyed herself very much. Leah's also started test feeds of pablum, and Isabel is doing quite well. It's still small amounts, but you have to begin somewhere.

March 25, 2007
Leah and I took an overnight vacation to Kingston, leaving Isabel with my sister and brother-in-law. All went well; we came back rested and Isabel had a good visit. She continues to be very curious about everything around her, easily getting distracted (especially during feeding times). She's squealing now, learning how to use her vocal chords; she's also doing well with grabbing, holding and shoving things into her mouth.

March 20, 2007
Isabel had a head ultrasound today at the CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario). It was to determine what damage might have resulted from the hemorrahging she'd had in her brain when she was born. The procedure went very well; Isabel was quiet and well behaved, just watched as the technician did her work. We'll find out the results at our next pediatrician appointment, which we're still trying to schedule.

March 8, 2007 (6.89 kg / 15 lbs 3 oz)
Life seems to have calmed down since their return a week and a half ago. We're back into a daily routine. Leah takes Isabel to play groups now and then, and we share parenting duties in the evening when I get home from work. Isabel is a happy, easy-going baby... we couldn't ask for more.

February 27, 2007 (6.63 kg / 14 lbs 10 oz)
Mom and baby returned home safely on Monday evening, after a two-week visit to grandma's house. In some ways, it felt strange getting re-acquainted with my baby girl; I guess two weeks of separation is a long time. Plus, Isabel has grown some more while away. Ah... but she still has a happy smile and is more curious than ever, looking at everything around her. What a wonderful baby!

February 14, 2007
Leah and Isabel left on Monday for two weeks visiting grandma in Southern Ontario. Both are doing well. I continue to feel so blessed with how well Isabel is doing. She is such a good girl, easy to put to bed, well behaved, etc. Her time in the hospital was hard, but since then, she's been doing great.

February 1, 2007 (6.19 kg / 13 lbs 10 oz) (height=58.9 cm / 23.2") (head circumference = 40.2 cm)
Isabel had two appointments at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). The first was a neonatal follow-up because of her premature birth. Her measurements were taken and are all close to the 50th percentile, which is good. A doctor and a physio-therapist tested Isabel in a number of areas: muscle tone and mobility, her eyes following objects and focusing on things, how her hands did at grabbing, holding, touching, etc. She got a passing grade, meaning she's developing normally despite having been born prematurely. She also have an ear test; we had to get her to sleep and then they tested sending low level vibrations through her ears and head receptors monitoring results. She passed that test with flying colours. Two passes and she didn't even know she was being tested! Awesome! She will have another such set of tests in 6 months, plus at the end of February she is booked for an ultrasound regarding her hemorrhaging when she was born. Thank you for your continued prayers; they are working!

January 27, 2007
I (Timo) spent the week away in Toronto for work. Leah did a great job on her own, but many thanks too to family and friends who helped out. I missed both of them and was glad to return Thursday evening. Isabel is more attentive and inquisitive these days, looking around curiously at everything. She coos, laughs and even tries her hardest to communicate. And when I sing and play my guitar, she's stares and stares, sometimes joining in with a gurgle and smile; she loves music.

January 16, 2007
I (Timo) am back at work, after spending 8 weeks of parental leave at home to support Leah in her post-partum depression and to help with Isabel. Pray that the transition goes well for all of us, with Leah being at home with the baby all day. Leah starts a post-partum depression support group tomorrow, so that's an encouragement. We covet your continued prayers, support and friendship. Please feel free to give us a call any time to chat.

January 7, 2007 (5.37 kg / 11 lbs 13 oz)
We are so proud of Isabel's continued progress. No major health issues at all. And she continues to develop and mature like every other baby. She's babbling more and more, and smiling constantly as she interacts with us. It's so thrilling to see. The big news will come in early February when she has a check-up to examine some of her previous conditions. We'll keep you apprised.

December 31, 2006
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! We want to wish everyone a very happy new year. May this coming year be filled with many wonderful experiences; we know that more great adventures are to come for us and Isabel.

December 25, 2006
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Isabel is doing great and is celebrating her first Christmas. Grandma & Grandpa Beagan came up for a week and Oma & Opa Jaakkimainen joined us for a Christmas Eve service and dinner (see photos). Tomorrow, we head over to Grandpa and Grandma Kupecz for Boxing Day dinner. Isabel continues to develop excellently. She's much more interactive now, talking and smiling (I'll try to get a bit of video up soon) which just thrills us all. Thank you for your continued prayers, and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

December 15, 2006 (4.76 kg / 10.5 lbs)
Isabel's weight gain is slowing down, but it's still doing very well. She saw the pediatrician this week; he recommended adding some brown sugar to her formula feeds, to help with her constipation problem. Medical assessment these days advises against home remedies such as corn syrup. Hopefully Isabel's bowel system will clear up; it's hard to have her cry out as she's trying to work things through her system and we can't do anything about it except hold her.

December 3, 2006 (4.54 kg / 10 lbs)
On Friday, Isabel received another RSV shot at the CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario); as mentioned previously, it has something to do with a treatment for the common cold (which premies are more supseptible to). She was weighed and has now hit the 10 pound mark. Doing well, baby!

November 29, 2006
Isabel had another eye exam; the doctor was pleased with her progress and her next appointment won't be until she's three years old. He did express concern about some near-sightedness and, if it got worse, she might have to wear glasses.

Isabel's Issues since birth:
Here is a list of the issues Isabel had because she was born prematurely, and the current status of each item:

  • RDS (Respiratory distress syndrome): More common as prematures are born earlier, this is when the lungs are under-developed; babies are missing a protein called surfactant which helps keep the small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. Isabel was treated with a BLES treatment (a surfactant), plus some time on a ventilator then CPAP. STATUS: Healed.
  • NEC (Necrotizing enterocolitis): A potentially dangerous intestinal problem, Isabel got this twice while she was in the NICU. She received anti-biotics both times and fully recovered. STATUS: Healed.
  • BPD (Bronchopulmonary dysplasia): Also called "chronic lung disease", it is when babies require supplemental oxygen. Isabel had extra oxygen given to her via ventilator, then CPAP, then nasal prongs until early September. STATUS: Healed.
  • Jaundice: premature babies are more likely to have this problem; their livers are not developed enough to clear the waste from the body, so the body is affected (the skin turns yellowish). It was treated with phototherapy while Isabel was in the NICU back in August. STATUS: Healed.
  • Anemia (low hemoglobin): This is when a baby has a low count of red blood cells, from something to do with the lack of iron in the body. Isabel required a blood transfusion in late July to help increase her hemoglobin levels. STATUS: Healed.
  • ROP (retinopathy of prematurity): When babies are born prematurely, sometimes blood vessels in the eye will speed up development, with damage occurring. Most cases can heal themselves, but severe cases can lead to vision loss and blindness. Isabel had some low levels and was monitored every couple of weeks from August through to November. STATUS: Doing well, although some possible signs of near-sightedness; the doctor was happy with what he saw and Isabel won't have her next check-up until she turns 3 year old (July 2009).
  • PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus): All unborn babies have a open duct in the heart that lets blood bypass the lungs; when the baby is born, this duct automatically closes. Isabel's ductus did not close properly. The NICU staff monitored it and it seemed not to affect her breathing (getting oxygen); it was decided surgery was not needed, and that they would re-examine it when she turns two years old. (July 2008) STATUS: Unknown, but doesn't seem to be an issue at this time.
  • IVH (Intraventricular haemorrhage): This is bleeding in the brain. It was noticed once Isabel was born; they couldn't do much but monitor it. Eventually, it became less severe and start to dissipate. Potential future problems may be from nothing, to cerebral palsy, to significant learning/mental problems. She will be re-evaluated in February 2007, I believe. STATUS: UNKNOWN; this is an item for continued prayer requests.

November 23, 2006
This week, we've started noticing Isabel is focusing her eyes more on objects around her, plus she's smiling. It's wonderful to see her progressing in her development and that her many issues haven't stopped her. She's doing awesome!

November 16, 2006 (4.28 kg / 9 lbs 7 oz)
Since last Friday, Isabel has had her share of pokes and prods: on Friday, she had a needle for RSV (a common cold immunization for premies); on Monday, her eyes were forced open with prongs so the eye doctor could check her ROP status, plus she had a needle to extract some blood for bloodwork; on Wednesday, she had a needle in each leg for two immunization shots. A lot of stress for any baby to go through, but she's handling it very well. The next week should be quiet so she can rest and enjoy the company of family and friends (we're open for visits; call to inquire).

November 13, 2006
In the past few days, it looks like Isabel has begun to notice the world around her. She seems to look intently at things; she followed a black marker that I held in front of her face and moved from left to right. Seeing new developments is an amazing experience! (see the new video; she stares at the camera)

November 11, 2006 (4.11 kg / 9 lbs 0 oz)
Isabel had a couple more medical appointments this week; she continues to do incredibly well. She's already outgrown her premie clothing and she'll soon outgrow her newborn clothing. To see her today, you would never have known that she was premature, such a healthy, strong (and vocal, sometimes) baby. Leah is doing okay; she's encouraged by having me around to help out.

November 6, 2006 (4.0 kg / 8 lbs 13 oz)
Isabel had her pediatrician appointment today and his assessment was good; she's continuing to grow and gain weight at a very good pace. Her potassium levels had been a bit off, but are now almost back to normal. Leah is doing well. I've now taken time off work. We're taking it all a day at a time. Thank you for your prayers.

November 2, 2006
Isabel is doing awesomely well, and we are so glad for that. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned in the prayer requests, Leah is experiencing post-partum depression. Family members have stepped in admirably to help out and we have support from friends too. I will be taking time off work to care for Isabel while Leah recovers. Your prayer support for her and us is greatly appreciated at this time. (new photos)

October 29, 2006
I created a short 9.5 minute video for a DVD to show people about Isabel's first couple months of life. Check it out below (via the YouTube link).

October 28, 2006
No weight checks since her last pediatrician appointment. Isabel continues to have some kind of medical appointment each week. This week, she had another eye check, plus another set of blood tests. Her health is very good and she continues to grow. Her schedule seems to be a bit off; she's often wide awake right when we want to go to bed. It can be until 1 or 2 AM that we finally get her to bed. Prayer Requests: For Isabel, that all her health issues will continue to resolve well. For us parents, that we find the rest we need (that Isabel doesn't keep us up too much in the middle of the night); for Leah, that her post-partum depression get resolved and she feels better; for me, that I find the strength to care for my family, especially with new stresses from work.

October 18, 2006 (3.38 kg / 7 lbs 7 oz)
Isabel is growing very well; her pediatrician was very impressed by her weight gain (she's exceeding normal gain amounts). She's now wearing newborn clothing (instead of premie clothing) so that's a new (and nice) change. How are we doing? In one word, tired. Two nights ago, I was up with Isabel until 2:30 and I had to wake up for work at 6:30 (yep, 4 hours of sleep). Then last night, Leah experienced the same thing. We both look forward to good nights of sleep. Unfortunately, the little darling seems to have selected the night shift; she sleeps during the day and enjoys being up at night. Enjoy the new pictures and video.

October 17, 2006
Short update... Now that she's home and doing well, there's less to mention. Plus, I have to remember to continue taking pictures, so that I can post new ones as well as for her photo album. She has her pediatrician appointment tomorrow, so we'll have a new weight count plus any updates from him. Isabel is feeding a lot more and continues to get bigger. I will try to add an update tomorrow with info from her medical appointment, plus I'll try to give a general update regarding all her conditions (heart murmur, etc.).

October 9, 2006 (2940 g / 6 lbs 8 oz)
Isabel is starting to make public visits. She went to church on Sunday; many people there were finally able to meet the one they'd be praying for these past three months. Sounds like she'll also be getting some home invitations too. Because her health is still weak, we're trying to avoid areas of sickness, plus we ask anyone who wants to touch her to wash their hands first. People who visit our house make the bathroom their first stop; they then rush back to get a chance to hold our little miracle child. If you would like to visit us, please feel free to give us a call or send us an email (it's as easy as clicking on the "email us" link at the bottom of the page).

October 4, 2006 (2740 g / 6 lbs 0 oz)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ISABEL! Today was the expected due date for Isabel. True, she was born on July 15th. However, for the next two years, she will be assessed by doctors according her expected due date; it is called "corrected age". For example, in December 2006 she will be 5 months old, but only 2 months corrected age. This is because, had she been born today, she would be considered a "term baby". In order to properly track her development, it's important to do so with-respect-to her "corrected age", as if she had been a term baby. After two years, child development differs for all children so tracking can return to normal.

Isabel continues to do well. She eats, she sleeps, she poops, all the things that babies do. The doctors who looked at her heart murmur (open duct) are confident enough with the results of the ultrasound last week that they don't want to see her until 3 years from now. She's getting bi-weekly appointments to track her eyes, due to retinopathy of prematurity (a commmon eye problem for premies); it is looking very good right now. We continue to wait for new results with-respect-to her brain hemorrahging and will update y'all when we learn something.

September 28, 2006 (2440 g / 5 lbs 4 oz)
It's been basically a week since Isabel came home. Our biggest learning experience has been adjusting to her constant presence. I've learned that the saying is true: newborn babies do only three things, sleep, eat, and poop. But she is just a gem, a treasure to have; we're enjoying this new experience with her and we're looking forward to all the blessings to come. Isabel has already had a few doctors' visits and, being a premie, plenty more to come. Taking these first two weeks off has been a great decision for me, as I'm able to help with the care and the appointments. We're also learning to take feeding shifts throughout the night, allowing each of us a good 6-8 hour window of sleep. (new pictures uploaded)

September 22, 2006 (2190 g / 4 lbs 13 oz)
ISABEL IS HOME! We picked up Isabel at noon today and brought her home (see new pictures below). Now we're adjusting to having a new little person in the house. Thank you all for your constant prayers and support; we feel so blessed to have such a wonderful community of friends and family who care so much for us. For the next couple of weeks, we're going to be taking things slowly and allowing Isabel to adapt to her new environment. When she's ready for her public audience, I'll post it and you can inquire about coming to visit and see her in person (do feel free to give us a call just to chat though).

Now that Isabel is home and doing well, the constant updates aren't needed anymore. My regular updates will slow down at this point. I will probably update this website on a weekly basis. Thank you all for your interest in our baby.

September 21, 2006 (11:20 PM)
We made an evening visit tonight and Leah got to feed Isabel. She's behaving just like she did before the surgery. She's looking good and being her normal self. We're still scheduled to take her home tomorrow around midday.

September 21, 2006 (11:00 AM)
The surgery at 8 AM this morning went well. After a brief recuperation period, we were able to see her, but she was sleeping so we didn't bother her. We heard that she was cranky/hungry after the surgery and that she took some bottle feeding from the nurse... an excellent sign. I'm back at work and Leah's resting; we will visit her again this afternoon/evening and hear any updates to her status. Thank you for your prayers.

September 20, 2006
We walked with the nurse tonight as she transferred Isabel from the General Hospital to CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario). It's the next building over and there's and tunnel between the two buildings. Isabel is scheduled for surgery tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 8 AM. It is to repair a hernia she has in the right side of her groin area. The surgery should last an hour. If she recovers well, she would be ready to go home 24 hours later (on Friday). Please keep her (and us) in your prayers. Thanks.

September 19, 2006 (2060 g / 4 lbs 9 oz)
There's a bit of confusion surrounding what will happen with Isabel. We meet tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon with the surgeons who examined her groin area. They think it's a hernia and should be operated on. I think the plan is to discharge her from the General Hospital NICU, transfer her to CHEO where she would get the operation on Thursday. If she recovered quickly, she might come home on Friday; otherwise, it might take a few more days. I'll try to sort out the confusion tomorrow and post an update. (new video of Isabel taking a bath)

September 18, 2006
The hospital staff have a number of tests to run on Isabel: head ultrasound tomorrow, heart ultrasound tomorrow, blood test regarding thyroid issue, examine fluid collection in her groin area (was initially thought to be a hernia). We were told that she'd be going home more likely later this week: Wednesday at the earliest, Friday at the latest. Prayer request: that Isabel would accept the feeding bottles we've bought for her. She's used to the hospital ones, which we're not allowed to take home with us and can't seem to find out in the stores; we've already bought 3 different kinds of bottles and nipples, and hope she'll accept one of them.

September 17, 2006 (2029 g / 4 lbs 7.5 oz)
Leah and I did visit Isabel late Saturday evening and again today. Saturday, it had been five days since I'd visited her, and the first time seeing her like a regular baby (without nasal prongs). The nurses allowed us to use a "parenting room" for Isabel's feeding time; it's a private room neighbouring the NICU ward. We got to spend some quiet time with her, away from the other babies and nurses, monitors and noises. I hope to upload a video soon. We had another private time with Isabel in the parenting room today again. Leah will talk to the staff tomorrow regarding the status of Isabel's going home schedule, if it's still looking like Tuesday or Wednesday.

September 16, 2006 (1944 g / 4 lbs 4.5 oz)
I (Timo) haven't seen Isabel since the last update (Tuesday), as I got quite sick for a few days. Hopefully, I'll feel good enough to be able to visit her tomorrow. Leah continues to visit her though. On Thursday, Isabel was taken off nasal prongs; Leah tells me she looks so nice without them. On Friday, the nurse told her that after 5-7 days off nasal prongs, babies are usually sent home; she told us to expect Isabel as early at Tuesday or Wednesday! We'll keep you updated as we find out more. Don't let the new pictures fool you; despite the blue, I'm told Isabel is still a girl.

September 12, 2006 (1843 g / 4 lbs 1 oz)
Over 4 pounds! She's starting to get chubby in the legs. Another bath day today. The mother of the baby next to us commented on how well behaved Isabel is; she didn't cry during the whole bath time. Such a good little girl.

September 11, 2006 (1811 g / 3 lbs 15.9 oz)
Isabel is 3 grams short of 4 lbs. The NG tube was removed a couple of days ago and not replaced. And she's doing well taking all her feeds via a bottle.

INFO SESSION: IV, NG tube and bottles
When Isabel was born, she got all her nutrients through an IV. Within a couple of weeks, the staff inserted an NG (nasogastric) tube; it goes through her nose down into her stomach. As she was now getting feeds through the NG tube, they could remove the IV line. See photos taken on Aug 24 to see us holding an open syringe with formula above Isabel's head, letting gravity push it into her stomach. As Isabel started to bottle feed, she'd usually be able to take half the bottle by sucking with her mouth; when she got tired, the rest was given via the NG tube. Since the NG tube is now gone, it means Isabel is able to take full feeds via bottle. This is great news.

September 10, 2006 (1753 g / 3 lbs 14 oz)
Nothing major to report. I thought I'd use this update to share our daily connections with Isabel. Until a few days ago, Isabel was feeding every three hours (12, 3, 6, 9, ...); Leah would often visit her at 3 pm and we'd visit her together either at 6 pm or 9 pm (if Leah was tired, I'd go alone). Isabel is now feeding every four hours (1, 5, 9, ...) and we're adjusting to the new times. We try to coordinate our visits with those feeding times because the nurses tend to do all the care (diapers, meds, weighing, etc.) at those times; this minimizes her handlings and allows her to rest the other times.

September 8, 2006 (1711 g / 3 lbs 12 oz)
Nothing major to report. She's getting bigger and hungrier. Yesterday, Leah fed her in the afternoon and I came in at night to do it; both times, we noticed she was looking for more after she finished the bottle. They noticed it overnight too, so today they raised the amount; she's getting 45-50 ml every 4 hours. A couple more videos uploaded.

September 6, 2006 (1654 g / 3 lbs 10 oz)
We learned how to bathe Isabel today. One of the benefits of these NICU days is that we are able to transition slowly into our parenting roles, and get some instructions from the staff. Isabel was a very good girl during the bath, not complaining too much. I am constantly so proud of how well she is doing, and I thank God for all He's done and is doing in her life.

September 5, 2006 (1629 g / 3 lbs 9 oz)
Our baby girl continues to do well. Isabel is gaining weight, and she's taking most of her bottle feds, which is very good news. We visit her daily and help out with changing diapers, check her temperature, feeding her, and we get some nice cuddle times with her.

September 2, 2006 (1523 g / 3 lbs 6 oz)
Isabel is 50 days old today. The big news is that she moved from an isolette/incubator to a bassinet/cot. She is getting bottle-fed every second time now; she often takes it quite well and quickly although sometimes she's tired and only gets about half of it down (the rest is then fed through the NG tube into her stomach). I've added a couple more pictures and video. Prayer request: Isabel seems to have a hernia; pray for healing and/or a good operation to fix it, plus the cysts in her head that resulted from the hemorrahging, that they will have minimal impact on her health and life.

August 29, 2006 (1463 g / 3 lbs 3 oz)
Leah visited Isabel this afternoon and got to hold her, plus she got to do a whole bottle feed. We visited her together this evening, and it was my turn, although she was a bit tired and only took about half the bottle (the rest ended up going through the tube feed). A doctor talked to us yesterday about the echogram and x-ray they did. Isabel still has the open duct in her heart; they haven't decided yet what to do about it, but they are encouraged that she's doing so well on the nasal prongs and with the feeds. We should hear something tomorrow or soon enough, plus the results of a head ultrasound (checking up on the hemorrahging she'd had). We pray that the results are encouraging.

INFO SESSION: Ventilator, CPAP & nasal prongs
Some people have asked about these three things and what it all means. When Isabel was born, she was too young and underdeveloped to breathe on her own, plus she needed more oxygen than air (21% oxygen) contains. She was placed on a ventilator, which breathed for her and fed her the needed extra oxygen. She was eventually weaned off the ventilator onto a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). The CPAP doesn't breathe in-and-out but keeps the lungs slightly filled and also administers oxygen; when Isabel inhales, she doesn't have to start from nothing (think of blowing into a new balloon versus one already partially filled with air) so it's less work for her. The next step was to wean Isabel off the CPAP onto nasal prongs. Nasal prongs deliver oxygen to Isabel's lungs, but now she has to do all the work of breathing in and out. Finally, once her oxygen needs decrease to regular air, she will be taken off the nasal prongs.

Photos Examples (from the gallery):
Isabel on a ventilator
Isabel on CPAP
Isabel on nasal prongs

August 28, 2006 (1413 g / 3 lbs 1 oz)
After an 18 hour period on nasal prongs, the nurses placed her yesterday (August 27) on nasal prongs at 6 am for 24 hours. She hasn't been off them since (that's over 36 hours straight so far!). She took another bottle feed today, the whole 25 ml feed amount (and she sucked it down in 15 minutes, which amazed the nurses as being fast). Isabel has lost some weight in the past two days, but it's not a big concern. Since she is on nasal prongs all the time, plus the bottle feeding, her body is doing more work and using more energy. They have increased the strength of the feeding formula, so she should hopefully start to gain weight again and balance out.

August 26, 2006 (1441 g / 3 lbs 3 oz)
We had a short visit with Isabel today at 3 pm; she was still on her nasal prongs (since 6 am). We heard from the staff that she did a 12 hour stint on the nasal prongs yesterday. I just called them (11:16 pm) and she is still on the nasal prongs; she will be taken off in 45 minutes at which point she will have been on them for 18 HOURS straight! AWESOME! She also took a bottle feed (sucking through the mouth) this morning for the first time; it was 10 cc's (10 ml). More great news. Please keep praying as she gets stronger and stronger. No infection from the pick line removal on Monday; the 48 hour window is long gone and so we're very happy about this too. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PRAYERS.

August 24, 2006
Yesterday, Isabel weighed 1390 g (3 lbs 1 oz), so she keeps on getting bigger (a very good sign). Her pick line (i.e. long-term IV in her arm) was removed two days ago and so far no infection. It's nice to see her with fewer lines connected to her. Leah held her last night and today I got to hold her during a feed. We keep praying for continued growth and good development, and we're thankful for the times we are able to spend with her. (new pics and videos below)

August 22, 2006
Leah got to hold Isabel again this evening. Isabel is now just shy of 3 lbs (1356 g). Her hemoglobin is still a bit low, but the staff will wait and see before making any decisions. Prayer requests: Isabel's duct will close; Isabel's hemoglobin will increase; Leah's continued recovery and peace for both of us during this time.

August 21, 2006
We believe one reason Isabel is having ups and downs with her nasal prongs periods may be due to the hole (or duct) in her heart which stills seems to be open. We will possibly be talking to doctors at some point regarding an operation to have it closed. For the prayer people out there, please pray that this might close on its own soon so that Isabel can get strong and wean herself off the CPAP, or that the doctors are able to address it successfully with minimal complications.

August 18, 2006
I got to hold Isabel a couple of nights ago during her feeding (you can see the video and photos below). It was a great experience. During tonight's visit, we learned that she is now 1230 g (2 lbs 11.5 oz). She is now on 3 hour nasal prongs twice daily; they're giving it to her more slowly so that she doesn't tire out as quickly. Hopefully, she will continue to get stronger and be able to breathe on her own soon.

August 16, 2006
(I accidentally deleted this entry, so I will rewrite what I can remember). The staff gave Isabel a two day rest from her nasal prongs, as she was getting too tired out. Leah got to hold her again. We found out that she probably has strawberry-blond hair, from what little we can see on her head.

August 13, 2006
Isabel continues to do well. She is now off her anti-biotics and back on feedings (through the tube down her nose into her stomach). Today, she was on her nasal prongs for 8 hours in the morning and 3.5 hours in the evening. Leah got to hold her again this morning and Isabel wore a jumper for the first time; it hid the medical wires so she looked more normal for a change (see pics and video below). Prayer requests: that Isabel will go off her CPAP to the nasal prongs full-time then to breathing all on her own; that Isabel's hemorrahging didn't cause any long-term damage; for Leah as she experiences some minor aches and pains in her incision area.

August 10, 2006
Yesterday, Isabel did great on her nasal prongs; she went six hours in the morning and 4.5 hours in the evening. A very long time! She had another good day today. We visited her and Leah got to hold her skin-to-skin for a while. New pictures and video below. Just to let you know, Leah is feeling better and can take phone calls if you want to say "hi".

August 8, 2006
We went to visit Isabel this evening. When we arrived, we found her wide awake and looking around; we have never seen her with such wide eyes. She was peaceful and quiet. She was on her second period of nasal prongs today. Leah got to sit and hold her for at least 45 minutes. Isabel just settled in nicely and enjoyed her time sleeping in her mother's arms. She is doing so well, she's bounced back from the problems she had on the weekend.

August 6, 2006
Isabel is doing much better today. The blood transfusion went well yesterday. Her colour is back and she's active again. She was on 2 hours of nasal prongs again this afternoon, which was encouraging. She's looking so much better than she was yesterday. I've uploaded a couple of videos to show her spunk (she's moving around a lot).

August 5, 2006
Some new complications have arisen in the last 24 hours. Isabel is a bit pale, overtired, rejecting her feedings, and requiring more oxygen. Unfortunately, with premies, the same symptoms show up for every different problem, so the staff is unsure what is exactly wrong. A number of tests have been done including x-ray, and the results should be coming back over the next couple of days. They have put her on anti-biotics in case she has an infection. Her hemoglobin is low so they will be doing a blood transfusion this afternoon.

August 4, 2006
Isabel got her first certificate today, for surpassing 1 kg (2.2 lbs).

August 3, 2006
We talked with the doctor today and got a better understanding of Isabel's whole situation. Most things have stabilized nicely. The great news is that the left side of the head has cleared. Our best understanding of the right side is that the blood clot is starting to break down and will be absorbed back into the body, which is all good. It will leave behind holes where it wore away at the brain. Long term damage won't be known for months; it could be as little as nothing ranging through some serious developmental problems. This remains our main prayer concern, that Isabel won't have much, if any, long term damage resulting from it. The next head ultrasound to monitor the situation will be taken in two weeks. Overall, though, she's doing great. She's been transferred from a humidity-controlled incubator to a regular one. She no longer uses an IV for nutrients but instead gets it all from her feedings (via tube directly to her stomach). We've been told that with the major ups and downs cleared, the rest of the changes will take more time. So, from now on, I will probably only update this website weekly or semi-weekly.

August 2, 2006
We got the ultrasound results and they are very encouraging; the left side of the head is down to normal, and the right side has stabilized. There is some concern about clotting on the right side, but they don't know what kind of damage may have occurred, if any. A continued prayer concern. I (Timo) was able to hold her against my chest for 20 minutes tonight, which was a great experience; we didn't have the camera with us so we'll get pictures next time.

August 1, 2006
Leah has been discharged from the hospital and is now home again. We visited her today and she continues to do well. We'll hear the results of the ultrasound hopefully tomorrow or Thursday.

July 31, 2006
Isabel breathed for almost 5 hours this morning on the nasal prongs; she continues to gain strength in her own breathing. Excellent news. She is also taking more formula; another good sign. She will get another ultrasound tomorrow regarding the hemorrahging. We should hear the results by Wednesday or Thursday; hopefully the bleeding will have diminished.

July 29, 2006
Isabel continues to improve in areas. The staff are trying to wean her off of the CPAP slowly, with periods of nasal prong use. Today, she lasted 3 hours in the morning and they were so encouraged that they were considering doing another short period this evening. They're looking to continue nasal prongs twice a day, until she's strong enough to breathe entirely on her own. She's back to feeding and taking 5 CCs of food; another very good thing. She also continues to react normally and with full vitality, resting quietly or complaining when handled; also very good to hear. The hemorrahging continues to be a concern, and another ultrasound will be taken on next Tuesday to see the latest news. The staff can't hear the heart murmur, so they are hoping that it is healing on its own. All in all, we are very happy for Isabel's progress.

July 28, 2006
We had a great day with Isabel. Leah got to hold her for half an hour; Isabel just nestled herself into Leah's chest and looked so comfortable there. See the new pictures and video.

July 27, 2006
Leah is doing much better today. Isabel is also doing well. Today, the staff removed the CPAP for 1.5 hours and she breathed all on her own. She's also taking food again, more of it too and keeping it down. She is now 2 lbs 1 oz (936 grams), gaining weight, and she's grown 1-2 cm as well.

July 26, 2006
An x-ray has shown that the antibiotics are helping heal Isabel's bowels. Unfortunately, the hemorrhaging has now also moved to the left side of her head; the left side is ranked at level 3 severity, while the right side continues to hover at borderline level 3-4. Leah remains in the hospital receiving treatment for her post-partum issues; it is expected that she may stay for a couple of weeks.

July 24, 2006
Leah is back in the hospital with some post-partum issues; she is receiving treatment and care there. Pray for her recovery, physically (from the c-section), mentally and emotionally. Having a premature baby can be a gruelling experience.

Here is the news about Isabel:

  • She is now off the ventilator and breathing on her own, with the help of a CPAP to keep the lungs slightly open. This is very good news.
  • The hole in her heart (heart murmur) is still there. The treatment for it did not work. They will continue to watch this, but may have to eventually operate to close it.
  • There is some blood hemorrhaging on the right side of her head. Not much can be done at this time, but the staff continue to monitor it. It is unknown what long-term effects this might have, from nothing through to learning disabilities.
  • Some blood was found in her stool, signaling possible problems with her bowels (something called "nec"). The staff is taking steps to address this (shutting down the bowels to let them heal with antibiotics).

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