My Christmas Letter… Again

My Christmas Letter... Again

Be sure to read through to the P.S. at the bottom!


“I think I’m just going to be a mommy now and enjoy this baby phase with Oaklee…”

Friends and family,

As I close out the re-telling of our 2017, I look back on 2018 and see so much love, so much joy and so much redemption. I feel so humbled by the way God has turned my story around. 2017 was hard and painful. 2018 was hard and beautiful. I became a mom in 2017. I embraced being a mom in 2018.

In 2017, I fought a 6 month breastfeeding battle through anger, tears and frustration, leaning heavily on my breastpump. In 2018, I breastfed my child – largely with ease – the entire year.

In 2017, I was confined to the greater Grand Rapids area due to bedrest, proximity to the hospital, and, eventually, having a smaller-than-usual baby at home. In 2018, my husband and I took that baby from sea to shining sea – from Portland, ME to Portland, OR – catching weekends in Illinois, New York and northern Michigan in between.

In 2017, my baby was seen daily by a doctor for 69 days before attending 22 appointments in the remaining 3 months of the year. Not once did she appear on the growth chart. Not once did she make any developmental achievement at or ahead of what her actual age would have suggested. In 2018, my baby attended a total of 20 appointments with various health professionals. She made her first appearance on the growth chart in early January, coming in at the 2nd percentile for weight, and closed out the year over the 30th. She developed at or above expectations and finished the year – like any other 18-month old – a walking, talking toddler.

In 2017, I began feeding other babies with excess breastmilk, an opportunity I’d never aspired to have, but one I was confronted with. I donated to Oaklee’s neighbor(s) in both places she’d lived – in the NICU and at home. In 2018, I donated even more milk to those babies, plus a friend-of-a-friend’s baby, donating a total of 4,000oz (31.25 gallons, to put that in perspective). While I hated almost everything that came along with having an over-abundant supply of breastmilk, I would do it again and again if it meant I would have the opportunity to help mommies/babies so substantially like I was able to over the course of these past 18 months.

In 2017, I was stretched, I was mad, I was frustrated, sad, blindsided, confused, scared, regretful, tired, hopeful, relieved, grateful, redeemed. In 2018, I was stretched, I was happy, I was joyful, busy, adventurous, grateful, love-filled, content.

I don’t know what 2019 holds, but this is where my re-telling ends. This is where we officially let Oaklee be Oaklee. Our story, these days, is not much different than the stories of other 18-month-olds… and that feels pretty good.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

In the stats:
Birth weight: 2lb, 12oz
Last known weight: 10lb 8oz (12.1.17)
Adjusted age: 14 weeks, 1 day
Actual age: 26 weeks, 3 days
Days in the hospital: 69
Days home: 116
Appointments since home: 22

P.S. Thank you to those who’ve journeyed along with me through this re-telling! I do not have any concrete plans for where things will go next in this blog particularly, and will therefore take no offense should you choose to unfollow. There may be some radio silence for a while, but I will continue to post book reviews for those interested in what I’m reading, I will be fundraising for the March of Dimes again and will give updates as to progress there, and I will fill you in (eventually) on my next writing project – something I’ve dreamed about for years and am very excited to take steps toward in 2019!