“I’m not very big. I have never been over the mountain. But I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And the Little Blue Engine hitched herself to the train. She tugged and pulled and pulled and tugged and slowly, slowly, slowly they started off. Puff, puff, chug, chug, went the Little Blue Engine. “I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can.” Up, up, up. Faster and faster the little engine climbed, until at last they reached the top of the mountain…And the Little Blue Engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain, “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.” – The Little Engine that Could
I brought Eliza out of her bassinet this morning to snuggle beside me under the warmth of my covers before getting up to greet our day. It was going to be a big day. As we lay there together, I told her about the swallow study, the hospital, the chair where she would sit and feed. I told her I was so proud of her no matter what. And as I spoke, she looked up at me with big eyes and a sweet grin…my precious little engine.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, my stomach was in knots, and we sat together in the waiting room holding hands as I repeated silent prayers. I wanted so badly to know that she was safe and that we could keep up our work, so I was relieved beyond words when we left with official clearance to continue oral feeds! While she again aspirated on thin liquids and was sent home with orders not to introduce them, there was a real fear that they would prohibit her from being able to feed orally at all. As of now, we mix the milk to a nectar thickness and use a Level 2 Dr. Brown’s nipple, but even getting to try that was an uphill battle. It was tough to get here, and our journey was filled with lots of tears and lots of persistence. But we kept chugging along. We may not have reached the top of the mountain just yet, but I feel the momentum bringing us closer each day. And I feel all the friends and family and helpers cheering us on along the way. It’s incredible! In this moment I am light and happy and so, so grateful!
Every day Eliza amazes me. Every single day! She may not be able to hold her head up or get through all of her feeds without fatiguing, but she is the strongest person I have ever met. Strength is funny that way. And she is so gentle, so patient, so forgiving. She endures nightly growth hormone shots with a smile on her face as soon as the needle is out, and her concentration and determination during physical and occupational therapy astound me. Derrick and I joked just last week that we want to be like her when we grow up.
The Little Blue Engine may have brought dolls and toys to the children in the city, but Eliza brings gifts even more precious…gifts of perseverance. Gifts of love.