Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Cousin's Love

My twelve year old cousin Joe recently had an assignment in school to write a descriptive essay on any subject of his choosing. He chose to write about Lea. Below is the most beautiful piece of writing I've ever read.

            She was scarcely half as long as a thumb and they gave her the name of “Thumbelina,” or Tiny, because she was so small. A walnut-shell, elegantly polished, served her for a cradle; her bed was formed of blue violet-leaves, with a rose-leaf for a counterpane.”  According to Hans Christian Andersen, Thumbelina is the baby daughter born to a woman who desperately wanted a child.  The woman planted a tiny seed and overnight, a beautiful flower, much like a tulip grew.  Inside the tulip was a little girl, no bigger than a thumb.  Her name was, Thumbelina.  This year, God blessed our family with our own, Thumba-Lea.  I knew from the instant Lea was born that I would love her forever and ever.
            Lea Celeste Gorman was born on January 4, 2011.  She was eleven weeks early and weighed only one pound, fourteen ounces and was 13 inches long.  Lea weighed about as much as a can of chicken noodle soup, or a walkie talkie and was only an inch longer than the ruler I use in math class.   Her hands and feet were the size of my own thumbs.    She was a tiny, itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, buddle of love from the moment she was born.  She was bigger than a thumb, and she didn’t sleep in a walnut shell, but she was our Thumba-Lea.
              Micro-preemie babies are very susceptible to germs; especially the kind of germs active boys like me can carry.  For Lea’s sake, it was best for me not visit her while she was in the hospital growing.  That didn’t stop me from praying for her every day!  Each day I asked God to watch over my tiny, little cousin and keep her safe until I could finally meet her and hold her.  After 64 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and weighing a whopping four pounds, fifteen ounces, Lea was finally ready to go home!  Princess Thumba-Lea chose the most extravagant holiday in New Orleans, Mardi Gras, as her day to go home.  Proud parents, Jessica and Lain didn’t have a King Cake this Mardi Gras Day, but they certainly “got the baby!”  Now I could finally see her, hold her, touch her sweet, soft skin, breath in that fabulous baby smell, sing to her, and look into her crystal blue eyes and let her know that Joe Joe would ALWAYS be there for her!  I was counting down the days until I got to meet her, it was better than Christmas!
Lea & Joe

lea4.jpg            April 21, 2011 was one of the best days of my life.  My favorite cousin, Jessica knocked on my front door and said, “Hey Joe, are you ready to go see Lea?”  Ready? Of course I was ready! Even though Jessica only lives about ten minutes from my house, the car ride to her house took forever.  All I could think of was that gentle, sweet baby lying in my arms.  We pulled up to the house, and I knew she was inside.  Excitement filled my body, I had chills all over me, I was scared, nervous, and anxious.  What if she cried when I held her?  What if she didn’t feel comfortable in my arms?  I threw off my seatbelt, and bolted inside.  There she was, the most beautiful, precious, baby I had ever seen.  She was like an angel, her soft little face glowed.  I stared at her, and my eyes filled with tears.  Thumba-Lea was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen in my life.  The room was still, the only sound I could hear was Lea cooing.  My Aunt Nancie gently laid her in my arms, I was in heaven!  I stared at her petite, little face, and was instantly captured by her sweet innocence.  Lea was perfect, and I was totally in love.
            While most kids would want to spend a day off from school playing outside, or lounging in front of the television, I spent the day with the most amazing gift God has ever given someone.  I cradled Lea in my arms, I sang to her, and caressed her delicate, cottony skin.  As I sat there, gazing at her, her little eyes fluttered like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  She opened one eye, and then the other, our eyes locked, and I whispered to her, “Hi, I’m your cousin, Joseph.”  She blinked a few times as if to focus, then raised the left corner of her perfect little mouth, then the right, and smiled at me.  In that instant, Thumba-Lea captured my heart forever.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lea Unplugged

Happy Easter!

Today we came one step closer to normalcy. Lea spent all day wire-free, unattached to her heart monitor. We decided to give it a try since we'd be in church, and the machine tends to ring its deafening alarm any time we are out in public. Also, I can't lie... I went from loving to despising this monitor over the past few weeks. I'd seriously like to beat it up, like the scene in Office Space where they go to town on the the fax machine with a baseball bat. At first, having it gave us piece of mind. But after countless ear-splitting false alarms that wake you out of dead sleep, tripping over wires and lugging around all this extra baggage, we decided we needed a break. I think Lea did too. She was noticeably more comfortable today without the thick band that is usually wrapped around her torso quite snugly, which often chafed and reddened her sensitive baby skin.

First Easter - 2011

My little muffin did great without her monitor. And surprisingly, Mommy did as well. Aside from the couple of times I woke her out of a dead sleep just to make sure she was still breathing, I felt pretty comfortable having her "unplugged," although I NEVER once took my eyes off of her. At church this morning, we also had the pastor pray over Lea that God would keep her safe in this new transition. That most definitely helped to put my mind at ease.

It felt so good to carry Lea (and only Lea) in my arms today. No wires to hold up off the floor as I walked... no heavy monitor to carry on my shoulder. Just me and Lea - as it should be. Tonight the monitor will go back on. We're not quite to the point where she can sleep without it. Hopefully that day is coming soon that the doctor says it can be removed for good. Until then, we'll just be unplugged during the day!

1 Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tiny Dancer

Last night, Lea enjoyed her very first concert. She squealed with delight and kicked her feat to the Black Eyed Peas. She is so amazing. Enjoy :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Donate to Graham's Foundation to help preemie parents!

While Lea was still in the NICU, I came upon an amazing resource for micro-preemie parents: Graham's Foundation. If you are a preemie parent, I urge you to visit this site!

Graham's Foundation is a non-profit founded in 2009 by Jennifer and Nick Hall in memory of their son, Graham. Its mission is to offer both practical and emotional support to parents of micro-preemie babies. The foundation supports the parents by sending care packages to them during their journey in the NICU. Also, the foundation’s website provides a place for parents to share their stories and find support, which I found most helpful as a preemie parent.

I recently had the opportunity to join this amazing team as the Director of Graphic Design. I'm so proud to be a part of such a fantastic cause!


Graham's Foundation has partnered with Pampers to  help them launch their year-long Little Miracle Missions by deliverying more than 30,000 care packages this week to all the Level 3 NICUs in the US and Canada. Not only that, but Pampers is generously matching all donations collected for Graham's for the next 90 days, up to $20,000!

I urge you to donate to this cause! Even the smallest donations count! If you have a preemie, you know that the smallest gestures of kindness make such a big impact on your state of mind. Being isolated in an NICU day in and day out while visiting your baby can make you feel so alone. I can assure you that every parent that receives one of these care packages will have their spirits lifted, and will know that people out there like you care. Thank you for your generosity and compassion in advance!

Click here to make your donation