Support Ava and her Sweet Peas

To Ava’s friends and family,

We are very excited to be a part of March for Babies this year and hope you will join our team and donate to this organization that supported us through Ava’s NICU journey!

Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. We’re walking because we want to do something about this.

The money we raise will support March of Dimes research and programs that help moms have full-term pregnancies and babies begin healthy lives. And it will be used to bring comfort and information to families with a baby in newborn intensive care.

Please join our team: Ava’s Sweet Peas. You can do so on my team page. If you can’t walk with us, please help the team reach our goal by making a donation. You can do that online as well.

MAY 5th – 9am registration, 10am walk begins!

Ann Arbor/Hudson Mills
Hudson Mills MetroPark
8801 N Territorial Rd
Dexter, MI 48130
Thank you for helping me give all babies a healthy start!
Visit my team Web page at

http://www.marchforbabies.org/team/t2064369

Would you like to see what March for Babies is and why we are walking?
Click the link to see the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ1CsZbjY0g

The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

Thank you so much!
Evan, Jennifer, and Ava

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Ava’s First Christmas, New Year, and the 7 pounder club!

Good afternoon everyone! We wanted to share a few things with you about our sweet baby girl and how she is doing at home and over the holidays. As the title states, Ava is officially in, and almost OUT, of the seven pounder club! Can you believe it? December 14th was her due date, so today puts her exactly one month, four days old, and her gestational age at four months, four days old. She had a doctor appointment on Monday and was officially 7 lbs, 15.7 oz, her head circumference is 14.33 inches and she is 20.47 inches tall! What a big baby!! We are sure she has hit the 8 pound club by now! The doctor had nothing but great things to say about her growth and development so far. We are so very blessed and thankful each day for how great God is. He absolutely answered all of our prayers – and yours too. Thank you again for the support and love you have for Ava. She is one special baby.

As you can imagine, this Christmas was the most special Christmas for our new little family. Ava was able to attend her first Christmas mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Ann Arbor, where Evan and I were married. The church looked so beautiful and Ava especially liked the organ [photo below]. Ava was able to see all of her grandparents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, along with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin. Ava also met her first dog – Katie! Katie liked Ava, but probably enjoyed the sounds and squeaks of Ava’s toys more. Ava got some really cool presents, such as a baby/toddler scale so we can weigh her every day! Also, a cool ornament, some super cute clothes, even a chair for Michigan Game Day to grow into! As you can tell, we really love taking photos of Ava!

As far as New Years Day, Ava was able to spend the day with family as well and had a fantastic dinner with everyone. Even though the outcome of the Michigan game wasn’t what we wanted, we still had a great time!

Here are some photos to catch you up on Ava’s growth. We are looking very forward to going to the Developmental Assessment Clinic at the hospital, but that is not until April. Until then, we will focus on playing with her developmental toys, grabbing her own hands, holding her head up, Dad says even teaching her to stand….! : )

Thank you again for always being so supportive and sending your love. We loved the Christmas cards you sent, the gifts, the texts, emails, and the visits. We continue to realize each day how lucky we are.

Love,
Jennifer, Evan and Ava

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Ava’s Progress at home

Hi everyone! We have truly missed posting updates on our sweet girl, but as you can imagine, we are busy parents adjusting to home life with our newborn. Our goal is to be better with updates going forward, even if it’s just some photos.

Let’s catch you all up since Ava came home with us! As we mentioned before, Ava was on the “B” feeding schedule in the NICU, which was every three hours: 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, etc. We continued on that schedule, so at least we knew when Ava would be feeding. At first, we set the alarm at night, but our little clock would wake us up before the alarm! She was doing great with feeding even from day 1 and continued to gain weight. We were lucky enough to have already made an appointment with Ava’s new pediatrician, Dr. Musci after the first weekend Ava was home and at her weight check on Monday, she had gained about an ounce per day which we were very happy about. Since then, Ava hit 5 pounds, 8 ounces as of this Friday!! Dr. Musci was extremely happy with this weight gain and is expecting Ava to keep gaining gradually as she has been. Almost in the 6 pound club?!

We had a great Thanksgiving this year. As you can imagine, Evan and I had tears in our eyes so many times that day, as we were just so very thankful for what we have. We are so incredibly blessed. It was just the three of us at home, even though the family offered to come over and cook for us, we just thought it would be best to keep things low key. You will be very proud of us though, we cooked our first turkey! It turned out great. Wow! Thank you Mom for getting us the goods. We felt like official parents with our turkey and our baby. See the pic below of Mommy’s Little Turkey. Yes, that is a gingerbread turkey cookie, Evan’s fav. Thank you Aunt Patti. :) We also got some great leftovers, they were so yummy. Thank you Erin and Mark, Jim and Mar. Somehow when you have your new baby home, there is no time to cook!

As far as Ava’s eyes, we have extremely good news. She has followed up with Dr. Baker, her eye doctor that saw her in the NICU two times. We have been back two times since she came home and you will be very happy to hear that the nerves in her eyes are growing, which again is the main thing the doc looks for in preemies. As of Thursday, Ava’s right eye nerve has completely grown and her left eye is almost there. We have a follow up in two weeks and the doctor expects to see the nerve completely grown in both eyes. Fantastic news for Ava!

As I write this, Ava is laying in her little lamb rocker, which is something she loves to sleep in. She also loves her Baby Einstein Ocean play mat that lights up and has little ocean animals that hang down for her to grab and touch. She really likes the octopus and the whale. She has a bouncer seat that she barely fits in, but likes that as well. You can see her playing in those below. You can also see her in her car seat, all ready for the doctor! The only trips Ava has made is doctor visits and a few car rides. As far as clothes, Ava has almost grown out of preemie clothes! She fits into some newborn sizes, some with room to grow.

Evan and I are doing pretty well. We are definitely enjoying our time with our angel. We are a good team so we are helping each other out when we need to, taking turns on feedings and changings. We are looking very forward to Christmas and taking our daughter to her first Christmas mass to celebrate the birth of our savior. What a true blessing!

Don’t forget – every day is a good day.
Love,
Jennifer, Evan, and Ava

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Gerard watching over Ava

Ok everyone… This has been a crazy week so be prepared for multiple posts and pictures over the next couple days. There is big news that many of you might already know, but let’s still start with this past Monday.

For those that do not know, on November 12th, 2011, Jen and I lost our son Gerard James at 16 1/2 weeks gestation. There is not a DAY that goes by where Jen and I do not still think about him. Even though his life was short, Gerard changed our lives and many other people’s lives for the better. On Monday, exactly 1 year since his passing, we also thought about what a great Big Brother he has been watching over his Little Sister Ava throughout this entire process. Ava was still maintaining her temperatures outside the incubator, eating all her feeds, and in general doing GREAT! Then we got the news…

Dr. Bair (Head Doctor of the NICU and an INCREDIBLE doctor and person!) came over and said “So I heard Thursday?” Then Jen and I looked at each other and said… “What is Thursday?” Dr. Bair then proceeded to say he talked to Dr. Lueder (another incredible Doctor and a U of M season ticket holder) who said in report that Thursday was the projected day Ava would come home. Jen and I were completely in shock, filled with such joy and nerves all in that moment. And to get this news on November 12th, 2012 made the miracle of life and both of our children seem even more special.

More about preparing to bring Ava home, in upcoming posts, but as you can see Monday was a special day for both Jen and I. While parts of the day were difficult, we will always remember the day as a happy one. A day to celebrate both of our children’s lives and the day we came to realize AVA WAS COMING HOME! Below you’ll see Ava’s care board, her hospital band being cut off, and saying good bye (until they can play together at home) to her very best friend in the NICU, Chandler. We are so lucky!

Love,
The Chopps (Evan, Jen, Gerard, and Ava)

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Ava gets her first bath in a tub! Eye test results, PFO

After the Michigan win yesterday, we of course went to see our little angel and wow, she must have been pumped about the overtime victory! She was fed at her normal time of 4pm and took 50mLs of milk! The feeding before that, she took 48mLs of milk. Her minimum is 35 mLs, so this is quite a bit. She did not even want to break for a burp, she just kept drinking and drinking! We thought she would be so tired after that, but as I sat by her bed side for 2 hours after the feeding, she was still moving around like crazy! We read a book to her, played on her Boppy pillow, took photos and videos, took off and put back on again her hat and socks, sang to her, told her about the game, told her about how we are getting her room just perfect for her and she was still a wiggle worm! Her stats all were great and her incubator was still down to 28.1 degrees celsius. This girl is on a roll! P.S. Check out that hair below…it’s getting longer!

Since this week was so busy, we did not have a chance to post about Ava’s first bath in a tub. The tub was a hospital tub and as you can see below, Ava’s nurse put a heat light on her so she wouldn’t get too cold. She has really changed in the last 8 weeks, as you can see as well. She definitely has some pipes on her too…when she didn’t know why she was being undressed and taken out of her isolette, she definitely cried pretty loud. Then when we were pouring the warm water on her, she really liked it. It was adorable because she was holding on to my finger like she was saying, “Mom, protect me!” She liked when we were washing her hair too. What a great first bath! You wouldn’t think that would tire a baby out so much, but for preemies it takes a lot out of them. She was tired for about two days after, not taking her full feedings and not being as active. What a fun memory though, she was so cute in the tub.

Ava had her follow up eye appointment as well from 2 weeks prior, and the results are positive! No abnormalities so far, although her eyes are not fully developed, still only being 35 weeks. She has another follow up in 2 weeks to see her progress. We are so thankful yet again!

Finally, something that we have not written about is a heart murmur that the doctors have been hearing on and off during Ava’s journey in the NICU. It is very common with preemies, even newborn babies, to have some sort of a heart murmur when they are born. It was not too concerning for Ava, as she did not have any other symptoms and was able to come off the oxygen support and did not have any episodes that would tell the doctors the murmur was something she may not be able to grow out of. The doctor this week, however, decided to schedule a consult with the cardiologist to check Ava’s murmur. It is indeed, what they had thought – something that she will most likely grow out of. It is called a PFO, or a small Patent foramen ovale. It is a hole between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart that fails to close naturally soon after a baby is born. The nurses continue to check her daily, which is standard for all preemies in their care, and will follow up with Ava’s pediatrician after discharge. I was actually able to hear it myself and it is a very faint sound that occurs between each beat. Again, we are optimistic because the doctors are as well and continue to pray.

If you haven’t done so, take a moment today to be thankful. We are absolutely so happy for our little angel and everything we have! Have a great rest of your weekend and Happy Veterans Day to all of those that serve for our freedom. We are so lucky.

Love,
Jennifer, Evan, and Ava

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Ava hits 4 lbs. !

Good afternoon everyone. Jen and I could be at the Michigan vs. Northwestern game right now, but we are simply too exhausted. So instead, you all get another blog update while we are watching the game. Well the title says it all… Yesterday, Ava turned 8 weeks old and she has come from being born at 1 lb. 10 oz all the way to above 4 lbs!!! She is actually now 4 lb. 3 oz which is simply CRAZY to think about. She is such a fighter and so stinking cute!!

The weight gain is a good thing for multiple reasons, but one of the most important reasons is so Ava can keep herself warm. Ava is still in her incubator and before she can come home, she must be able to maintain her body temperature. As of this morning her incubator was set to 28.1 degrees celsius, which is VERY CLOSE to being able to try her in a crib. If she is in her incubator for 24 hours at 28 degrees celsius and her body temperature stays normal, then they will put her in a crib. Like I said earlier, this is a must in order for Ava to come home, so we will take any additional body fat for warmth (so keep slamming those bottles, Ava)!

Below are some pictures of 4 lb. Ava and her cute clothes. All of the nurses loves changing Ava, because they get to go into her “closet” and pick out an outfit. Halftime of the game…14-14… Go Blue! And as always have a great day and thank you!

Love,
Evan, Jen and Ava

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Ava gets her Nasal Cannula taken off!

Good evening everyone. Life has been keeping Jen and I busy, but I know I owe all of you an update. Plus, we have some new followers to the blog due to Ava’s Story being posted on Project Sweet Peas Facebook page (picture below). It has been a great week so far for Ava and we will probably do multiple posts to get you all up to date.

The BIGGEST news is that Ava is back to ZERO oxygen support and is completely breathing ON HER OWN! While she has done this before, Jen and I are hopeful that she will be off oxygen support for good. The nasal cannula was actually taken off this past Saturday and she has not shown ANY signs of needing to go back on. A nice side benefit to the tubes being out is being able to see her cute little nose better and play with it (don’t worry, I am gentle).

On that note, we actually saw Ava with NO TUBES for almost 24 hours. Ava had been eating her bottle so well that when she was due for her feeding tube change, they decided to just not put the tube back in until she didn’t finish a feeding. Well, you guessed it, our tough little Ava went 8 FEEDINGS until she just got too tired. Her current feedings are up to 32mL, so that is a lot of work and she had to get her feeding tube put back in. We were so proud of her (of course we are always proud of her, so I guess we were extra proud…) and it was such a joy to see Ava COMPLETELY supporting herself, even if it was only for a couple hours. We know it is only a matter of time until the feeding tube will come out for good too!

Well, that is it for now. Like I said, more updates soon to follow and as always we are SO thankful for everyday and for all of your support.

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

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Ava’s Shower and 1st Halloween!

Good afternoon everyone. So sorry for the delay in posts, it has simply been a crazy week. First of all, we wanted to let you know that last Friday, Ava had her eye exam that was mentioned in the last post. You guessed it – our little superstar passed with flying colors! There were no signs of abnormality, however the eye doctor will check her again in another week to compare the two exams and see her progress. The docs in the NICU are simply incredible and we have so much to thank them for. As far as other tests go, Ava will have a hearing test at some point, but it will be closer to her time that she comes home. She will also have to pass a car seat test as well before being discharged.

Ava’s baby shower was on Sunday, along with Evan’s and Pam’s birthdays [my mom]. We celebrated all three events together and were just absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of all of our friends and family. The Pink-o-ween theme turned out fabulous – a huge thank you to both grandmas, Pam and Marlene, along with Aunt Kathy, Aunt Linda, Mary Lou, Mary, Heather, Jim, Mark [we love the Ava sign you made! Precious! ...photo below], The Bridgewater crew, and many others for making the shower such a perfect celebration of Ava. Pictures are below that shows just some of the hard work. After the shower was all over, we went to visit Ava and told her over and over how many many people care so much about her. The Ava / Daddy photo on his birthday is below as well and you can just see the love written all over his face. All of your support has again strengthened us through Ava’s journey. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done for us.

Throughout this week, our little girl has grown so much. Currently, she is at 1660 grams, which is 3 lbs, 10.5 ounces! We just can’t believe how much she is growing and continues to do well. Since our last post, Ava did have another dose of lasix, a diuretic to assist with fluid retention. She had 6 doses of that and it definitely seemed to help with her oxygen levels and breathing. Ava was in the mid to high 20s for oxygen levels in the past, and in the last few days has moved down to the low 20s and at some feedings, has not even needed to be turned up. This is a great accomplishment, as Ava seems to be grasping the suck, swallow, and breathe combination that is so difficult for some preemies to master. The next goal is of course to slowly turn her down and have her require less oxygen, and go back to breathing on her own. She is currently at 21%, which is room air.

Speaking of feeding, another huge accomplishment is 6 BOTTLES! As you remember, Ava has been taking full bottles for about a week and a half now, but not many in a row. She might take a full bottle, then take half of the next feeding, and maybe none of the following feeding and will get fed through her feeding tube. It just tires her out quite a bit. As of 1pm today, she has taken 6 full bottles in a row! Wow, we were surprised, as 30 mL is a lot for our little angel. It seems like she is on her way to mastering the bottles now. : )

On the topic of celebrating, Ava celebrated her first Halloween! We were lucky enough to find out about a nonprofit organization called Project Sweet Peas [which is pretty ironic because of our son Gerard and his nickname being our Sweet Pea, for those of you that do not know] – that supports families with children in the NICU. Check them out on Facebook. Anyway, they actually made Ava a costume and sent it to us!! How amazing is that?! I was able to choose her costume to be a ballerina; I figured I should choose what I want her to be before she has a say. : ) Check out her little slippers as well, which were part of the package, called Baby Barefoot Sandals by LoLoMakes [http://www.etsy.com/shop/lolomakes]. Adorable! Thank you so much to Project Sweet Peas for making it and sending. See the photos below!

With that, happy Friday and happy week 34 for Ava. I can’t believe I would be 34 weeks pregnant with her if I was still carrying her. What a tough little girl. She continues to amaze us and simply brighten our day so much. Remember, every day is a blessing! Hope everyone had a great Halloween and were able to have some fun. Based on Ava’s smile, she sure did.

Love,
Jen, Evan and Ava

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Ava finishes her first FULL bottle!

Ava is now 6 weeks old! Fridays are always such a great day: One, because it is the weekend and Two, because Ava gets a week older!!! And even though she is already 6 weeks old, she is still 7 weeks before here due date (December 14th). Really makes you think about the miracle of life.

The biggest update for Ava is that she took her FIRST FULL BOTTLE!!! Jen was feeding Ava and it was incredible to watch Ava figure out how to suck on the bottle, swallow the milk, and remember to breath. Plus have enough energy to do that all. Before this feeding with Jen, the most milk Ava had taken was 18mL… then it was like BOOM and Ava took ALL 28mL!!! So cool that Jen and I were there for her first full bottle. After that Ava took 3 more full bottles….seems like she is really catching on. Such a cute little girl!!!

Ava is now up to 3lb. 3oz. and today she gets her eyes checked, which is a big test. As I have said before, preemies eyes sometimes are not fully developed and can require surgery. So hopefully the test comes back fine and we do not have to go down that road. A couple other updates are that Ava got taken off of her caffeine dose because she has had very few episodes (where she forgets to breath and HeartRate goes down). She did get put back on a small course of diuretic (Only 6 doses over 3 days) to flush out any excess fluids in her body. And her diaper rash is getting better. Finally she is still on the nasal cannula at 23 – 28% air flow.

Big weekend ahead, because we have Ava’s first party (her Baby Shower) and it is my Birthday on Sunday. Also, a big sports weekend with the Tigers, Wolverines, and Lions all having big games. Hope each of you have a great weekend and thank you for all the support.

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

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Ava hits 3 lb!

Hope everyone is having a good week so far. I know many of you are looking forward to the World Series starting tonight. Obviously Ava says “Go Tigers!”

Ava’s day to day updates are pretty similar. She is still on the nasal cannula with low oxygen support (usually anywhere from 23% – 28%). She continues to take all of her food and they have increased her feedings to 28mL every 3 hours. She tries to take a bottle a few times per day, but simply runs out of energy before she gets too far into the feeding. This morning, she took 18mL of her 28mL! Even though that isn’t the full bottle, Jen and I can tell she gets it, she just needs time to get a little stronger. Because she is eating more she is also pooping more frequently (sorry if you weren’t ready for the poop commentary). This is a good thing, other than the fact that she got a pretty rough diaper rash. We actually had to go to the store and get maximum strength Bordeaux Butt Paste, because it was higher zinc % than what they had in the hospital.

Also, since she is eating more, she is also gaining weight. Ava now weighs 3lb. 2oz. While we are very excited that she is gaining weight, it is really hard to tell what is true muscle/bone mass and what is water weight. For example 3 nights ago, she lost 20 grams and then 2 nights ago she gained 85 grams!?!? She does still seem a little puffy, but the doctors have not put her on another diuretic yet, because it has not impacted her breathing.

This week Ava will get her eyes checked for the first time, so hopefully that goes well. Eye development is one of the many concerns for preemies. You can see in some of the pictures below, she is alert and awake and opens her eyes when it is time to eat. She focuses on things sometimes in her Isolette [she is looking so concerned at Jen's hand below!], the clouds and stars on the ceiling of the NICU [picture below as well], or will follow our voices with her eyes when we are around. We have been told we do not want to be there when they do her eye exam, as you can imagine can be tough on a preemie. We are praying everything looks normal. Other than that a pretty normal week. In the NICU world, normal is good! Ava loves her doctors and nurses – the Oakwood NICU is filled with amazing people. Thanks again for being incredible family, friends, co-workers, and new acquaintances. It truly means so much.

Love,
Evan, Jennifer, and Ava

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Ava says “Go Blue!”

So yesterday, Ava turned 5 weeks old! Wow! On one hand this process has seemed so long and it has been exactly 60 days since Jen’s amniotic fluid started leaking. That means Jen and I have been at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn for 60 straight days (only a 35 minute drive, but wow when you make the drive everyday it gets old). But, on the other hand time has flown by and as soon as we get to the hospital we forget about everything else. Ava is just so perfect and such a miracle…. when we see her all of our troubles, problems, and concerns completely fade away. Ava makes us slow down and think about what is truly important in life…

Ava is now up to 2lb. 14 1/2oz. While this is great news (and I can’t believe she is getting close to 3lb.), Jen and I are a little concerned that she might be retaining water. Yesterday when we saw her it seemed like her legs were a little puffy. We let the doctors know and they were going to wait a day or so to see if she needed another diuretic to flush the excess fluid. Ava has continued to bottle feed. The most she has taken is still 15mL (currently getting 24mL every 3 hours), but she continues to try and took 11mL for Jen today.

Jen is still not feeling great, but she is feeling good enough to go to the UM/MSU game today (people continue to tell us to do stuff for ourselves…). Since birth, we have taken we have taken some photos of Ava in her Michigan gear, so what a good day to post them! The first is while Ava was really young, and it is Jim Pomeraning’s (Grandpa) Michigan Class Ring on her arm. The others are from last week and the final one is from today. Hope you all have a great day, love you all, and Ava says “GO BLUE!”.

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

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Ava’s First Bottle!

Sorry for the lack of posts everyone… Since I have gone back to work, it has been more difficult to keep the blog updated during the week. Jen definitely wants to do some posts (and she did a couple, could anyone tell which ones?), but unfortunately she has started to feel bad again. We went to the doctor yesterday and they think she might have a bladder infection. I know…. I feel so bad for her too. She started another antibiotic yesterday, so hopefully it will go away soon.

Onto Ava…. I guess a lot has been going on. First, Ava was starting to look a little puffy and her oxygen levels were not improving. So the doctors decided to put her on a diuretic for 2 days to help flush the excess fluid out of her body. The diuretic seemed to be successful. Ava definitely flushed some excess fluid and actually lost weight for 2 straight days (dropped from 2lb. 12oz. to 2lb. 10oz). But since then, she has been breathing better with lower oxygen support and is almost back to 2lb. 12oz.

Then, yesterday Ava got her first bottle (a bunch of pictures below)!!! As most of you know, Ava has been solely getting her milk through a tube in her nose, but yesterday she got her first milk orally through a bottle. This a big step in a preemies development, because they have to suck, swallow, and breathe all at the same time. Incredible that she is doing this and still 2 months premature.

Ava has been getting 24ml of breast milk each feeding and during her first bottle feeding she took 6mL. You could tell this was really tiring for her, but she did well and didn’t have her heart rate or respiratory levels fall. We tried again at her next feeding, but she was still pretty pooped out and only took 4mL. Then today we tried again and Ava did incredible!!! She took 15mL of the 24mL and it seemed like if she had the energy she would take the whole bottle! Simply amazing that after one day she learned so much.

Hope everyone is doing well and appreciating each and every day! As we have said multiple times in this blog, everyday is SO SPECIAL! We continue to be very thankful for our family and friends support. The amount of prayers, cards, gifts, etc has been astounding. We do not know how we would have gotten to this point without this support and know we will continue to need it as we move forward (and closer to Ava coming home). Thanks again everyone and have a good night.

Love,
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Ava turns 1 month old!

A month ago, on September 14th at 9:22am, Ava Lillian Chopp was born…. Yes I know it seems crazy (at least it does to her parents), but today is Ava’s 1 month Birthday! Wow time has flown by!! I still vividly remember that day and all of the emotions Jen and I were experiencing. As many of you know the joy of having a child can not really be explained through words, but because she was 13 weeks early and without amniotic fluid for over 3 weeks, that pure joy was mixed with uncertainty and questions….

How were her lungs?

She was on a ventilator for 12 hours, then C-Pap for a couple days, then nasal canula until Day 6 when she was breathing on her own for 16 days. Since then, Ava has been back on the canula, to help support her overall growth. Today she was only needing 28% air flow (room air flow is 21%).

How was her brain?

Ava has passed both of her brain scans and had NO BLEEDS and the cyst that was in the first scan was not on the second (or too small to detect).

Why were her feet and legs so swollen?

We do not know the exact reason for her swollen feet (picture below). But more than likely because of the lack of fluid and contractions, Ava’s feet/legs were probably being compressed. Both her legs and feet have had 0 issues since birth.

How much does she weigh (1lb. 10oz)….and what are the possible complications associated with being that small?

Weight was never the biggest concern, it was more how her organs were functioning. Usually weight is an indicator to how developed the organs are, but in Ava’s case we believe the steroids really helped and her organs were ahead of her weight (as you read above). Since birth Ava has gained 1lb. 2oz. and is now up to 2lb. 12oz. She is also now up to 24ml of milk every 3 hours.

Why is she so red in color?

This is a very normal thing with preemies. Ava had high levels of bilirubin and had to be under phototherapy lights for a couple days (picture below). The lights helped and after a couple of days, she never needed the phototherapy again.

What happened in the operating room and why did it take so long to put her breathing tube in?

This was one of the scariest moments of my life…In general after they delivered Ava, we didn’t really know how she was doing. The only update we got was that “she was really small.” Then Jen’s doctor asked for an update and the doctors and nurses working on Ava did not respond. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, they called me over to see Ava…. She was PERFECT! They also brought her over to see Jen and she was able to give her a kiss on the head…PRECIOUS! The doctor told us later that it was the most difficult intubation he had ever done, but he was not overly concerned because she was basically breathing on her own and they could have gone right to CPAP if need be. Thankfully they were able to intubate and Ava got one dose of surfactant before the ET tube was pulled out.

And in general…. is Ava going to be ok? Healthy?

While we still do not completely know the answer to this question, we do know that Ava is a VERY strong little girl and a fighter. She has come so far already and we are confident that she will live a normal and healthy life. We also know that we have the best support system anyone could ask for around us. From our family, friends, co-workers, hospital staff, and everyone we have interacted with through this process… We simply are so lucky to have you all and do not know how we would have handled this situation without you. Thank you for everything you have done for our family and especially thank you for your prayers… Ava is truly a MIRACLE!

Below are a couple pictures showing Ava in her first couple of days, and then a couple from the past couple days…. Wow, she has come so far!!! Thank you all again.

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

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Ava gains 1 lb. since birth

As the title states, Miss Ava has gained 1 lb. since being born 4 weeks and 1 day ago. She weighed in at 1195 grams last evening, which is just over 2 lbs, 10 oz.! We are so proud of our little girl. Some of the preemie clothes are even getting a little snug, which is just unbelievable for us. Ava continues to eat 22 ml per feeding and is still off the food pump, which allows her to eat a lot faster then 2 hours – it only takes about 20 minutes. She is getting closer to feeding from bottle/breast. It may be as early as next week!

We have continued to Kangaroo, which again is so comforting not only for Ava, but for us as well. We have also been holding her; as she continues to grow it is getting harder to kangaroo! The photo below shows how she is right when she begins to eat, which is wide-eyed and alert. It is great to see all of her facial expressions already. What a doll!

We continue to care for Ava, including taking her temperature, changing her diaper, wiping her eyes and mouth, changing her leads and blood-oxygen sensor, changing her clothes and bed [see Daddy loves me and MC Hammer pants, the bug wrap (Thank you again Stacey and JD) and the leopard print onesie (Thank you again Jake and Julie) below], changing her blankets, even brushing her hair! I loved doing that so much. Evan hasn’t done that quite yet but I am sure will soon enough. We love taking care of her.

We are off to Michigan Gameday now…everyone keeps telling us to do something for ourselves, so I guess this is it. Looking forward to seeing all of our family and friends there and hopefully it doesn’t rain too much. Thanks again for all of the support and prayers….it is truly helping us SO MUCH! Have a great day.

Love,
Jen, Evan, and Ava

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Quick Post – Brain Scan #2 Results

Good afternoon everyone. Just wanted to post quickly that Ava’s 2nd Brain Scan happened this morning and the results were perfect! She still had no brain bleeds and the cyst she had in the first brain scan is either gone or too small to see in the scan. So happy! Thank you again for all of your kind gestures, thoughts, and prayers. We appreciate it so much.

More detailed update later, but I just wanted to share the good news.

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

Ava keeps gaining weight (up to 2lb. 5 1/2 oz.)

Good morning everyone. I know I have not been very timely on my posts the past couple of days….Sorry. We have just been so busy. As I said before, we are still having Ava’s Baby Shower on October 28th (her original baby shower date and my Birthday), so doing all the preparation for that has been crazy. Thankfully we have our parents and Jen’s friend Heather, who made an AWESOME invitation. We also have to get Ava’s room ready…. We got her crib on Sunday, thanks to my cousin Chad and I put it all together with my father-in-law that night…. It looks SWEET! So, between all that stuff, visiting Ava, work, and normal life stuff….Been kind of busy.

Onto Ava, as I said in the title, she has consistently been gaining weight. She has gained weight for 9 STRAIGHT DAYS and is now up to 2lb. 5 1/2 oz (1060 grams)! Jen and I really are starting to notice her weight gain, especially when holding her and touching her tummy. She is still eating 20ml of milk through her feeding tube, but just today they decided to try to feed her by gravity instead of using a timed pump which delivers the milk over 2 hours. Using gravity instead of the pump delivers the milk much faster, so hopefully Ava adjusts and continues to finish all of her milk.

Ava is still on the nasal cannula (she doesn’t like the tube in her nose and always tries to pull it out) , but the Doctors and Nurses continue to reassure us that this is not a huge setback. It could be a multitude of factors why she has needed a little support (when I say a little, she has been needing about 22-26% air flow, and normal air flow is 21%). Some of those factors could be her stuffy nose, her weight gain making her tired, her weight gain causing her stomach to press against her lungs, etc. But, I guess if the Doctors and Nurses are not concerned, we shouldn’t be too concerned either. I think it is just really hard for us to see our baby with tubes back in her nose, but we are adjusting and trust the staff.

Below are a couple more pictures. Many of you have commented on the comparison pictures and really liked them. I took one today of her umbilical cord stump that fell out of her belly button next to a grain of rice…pretty tiny (yes that’s my handwriting and I write like a 4yr. old). Also one of Ava in her second outfit and her FIRST PAIR OF PANTS. Hope you like the pics! Thank you as always for all of the love, support, and prayers. And Ava wanted me to tell all of you to “Thank you for everything. Have a great day, and to be thankful for today!” What a sweet girl and she is only 25 days old… :-)

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

PS. We are going to Village Ford in Dearborn, MI to test drive a car today… For every test drive from 4pm to 8pm today, Village Ford will donate $40 to the Oakwood NICU where Ava is being cared for. Please come join us if you have free time tonight. Thanks.

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Ava goes back on Nasal Cannula

Even though they prepared us for the possibility, today was a tough day when they put Ava back on the nasal cannula. For those that don’t know / remember from earlier posts, nasal cannula is simply two small prongs that go into her nose and blow air in. So, Ava is still breathing on her own, this is just giving her a little rest. She had been breathing without the cannula for 16 days, so it totally makes sense that she might need some help, but it is still hard to see. The doctor’s again do not seem to be too concerned, especially considering she is still only 30 weeks and 1 day old. They would expect her to have some assistance at this point. Hopefully she gains her strength back and is able to go off the cannula soon.

Another small concern has been her left eye. For the past couple days she has still had some yellow build up. They have been giving her antibiotic drops that seemed to be helping, but it has still not gone away. So those are the couple concerns from today, but don’t worry there are still some positives for Baby Ava.

First, she is now up to 1010 grams or 2lb. 3oz.!!! Since last Sunday she has gained 200 grams….Incredible (picture of her being weighed below)! She is now eating 20ml of milk every 3 hours and tolerating that well. Another first, was Ava wore her first outfit! It was a preemie outfit and still pretty large (we had to roll up the sleeves), but SO CUTE!

Well, honestly we are exhausted… So we’re going to close this post down, but please if you find a moment after you read this, say a little prayer for Ava. She is simply a little tired and could use a pick me up. Thanks for all of the support we sincerely appreciate it…. AND we hope you had a great Saturday (helped that the Wolverines and Tigers won and yes that is a Maize and Blue bow in her hair)!

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

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Ava turns 3 weeks old!

3 weeks ago today at 9:22am, Ava Lillian was born. WOW, I cannot believe 3 weeks have already gone by! She was born on a ventilator, with an IV, required phototherapy, and ONLY weighed 1lb. 10oz. Now three weeks later she ONLY has her feeding tube, is still breathing on her own (has been since Day 6 in NICU), looks beautiful (I had to throw that in there), and weighs 2 lb. 1oz (yes she gained another ounce last night)! What a MIRACLE journey so far.

Speaking of the feeding tube, the soonest they would try to remove the tube and feed Ava orally would be 2 weeks from today (32 weeks gestation). How she handles and accepts oral feeding will be a big determinate on when she can come home. In terms of Ava coming home, the soonest Ava could come home is 4 weeks from today (34 weeks gestation). So that date would be November 2nd. From the beginning of the process though the Doctors have always had a goal of by Thanksgiving and we would be ECSTATIC if she was home with us by then.

In terms of thank you’s, I could write a book with so many names of people and the things each of you have done for us…. But I have to just throw a couple out there. First, as many of you know, Jen and I are pretty healthy eaters and prefer to eat home cooked meals. With everything going on that has been extremely hard, so when our friends J Mike and Anna brought over homemade chili, cornbread, and fresh cheese it couldn’t have been better timing! Then yesterday we received a MASSIVE box from Washington DC. It was from our friends Jake and Julie who had 2 premature twin daughters themselves (Their daughters Larkin and Adelyn are healthy and beautiful!). In the box were all of their daughters preemie baby clothes…. Just an INCREDIBLE act of kindness. WE were overwhelmed with the gesture and the clothes were SO CUTE!

Thank ALL of you again for what you have done for us. We are so grateful to have met so many wonderful people in our lives cannot say thank you enough. Below are a couple pictures from last night. Ava actually fits into a preemie hat now (kind of…) and we had her hold Jen’s wedding ring…Pretty sweet. Hope you all have a good Friday.

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

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AVA HITS 2 POUNDS!!!!

The title says it all!!! Ava was weighed tonight and she came in at 920 grams… So for us not on the metric system, that equates to slightly over 2 pounds!! She has gained 170 grams since birth, which is in no other words… MIRACULOUS! Ever since she has been getting the fortifier in her breast milk, it has really seemed to help her gain weight. Jen and I our just so proud of our daughter who has already taught us so many life lessons only 19 days after birth.

Below I included a couple pictures. One is her birth announcement (and yes we know they spelled length wrong, but we didn’t want them to redo). Then I placed a quarter on her hand in the birth announcement to show how small her hand was completely extended (many of you have asked me to do something like this). I also took one of her diapers and placed it next to a folded in half $50 bill (no I am not a baller with $50 bills, we just got a refund for our child birthing classes). Finally, I included one of her early pictures and one from today to just show how far she has already come.

This moment is kind of emotional for us, because we truly do not feel like we would be at this point without all of our family, old friends, and new friends. And while we have already come so far as a family, we still have a long way to go, so we appreciate the continued prayers and support. Thank you again for everything and continue to remember to appreciate each day… THEY ARE ALL SO SPECIAL!

Love,
2lb. Ava, Jen and Evan

PS…Jen’s Doctor appointment went well and they feel like her incision looks MUCH better. Based on the visit today there is no follow-up appointment scheduled and Jen continues to improve each day!

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Eating more and Gaining some Weight!

Good evening everyone. Hope the week has started well for all of you. It has been a pretty good week so far for Ava. 2 days ago, she wasn’t taking the milk fortifier and had her feedings decreased to 14ml over 2 hours without fortifier. Since then she has tolerated her feedings well and is now up to 18ml over 2 hours with fortifier! The fortifier adds additional calories to the breast milk, helping Ava to gain weight. Speaking of weight, Ava gained 20 more grams tonight and is up 130 grams since birth. She is now 1lb. 15 oz, getting closer and closer to the 2 lb. mark.

Ava did start to have some yellow build-up in her right eye. The doctors do not seem to be too concerned, but as a precaution put her on antibiotic eyedrops. It could also be a blocked tear duct, which is also common for a baby this small. Will keep you posted on that. Speaking of keeping you posted, Jen is feeling much better. She has finished her antibiotics and is basically taking zero pain medication. The concern is that she still has a pocket of swelling right above her incision. We have a doctor’s appointment again tomorrow evening, so hopefully that goes well.

Everyday Jen and I now Kangaroo. We rotate days and both look forward to our time with her SO MUCH. Last time I was Kangarooing, I decided to read Ava her first book, “Good Night Sleepyhead.” She really seemed to like the sound of my voice and I really liked reading to her. I think that might start to be a new tradition… Last night we had Jen’s parents as visitors and tonight we had my parents. It has been SO GREAT to have both sets of Grandparents so close. They have done EVERYTHING for us from cooking, cleaning, shopping, cutting the grass, etc. Basically anything to make our life easier they have done… THANK YOU! Tonight we also had a surprise visit from our friend Bilal, all the way from Pakistan (actually he flew in from Germany) to just see Ava. Talk about a support network!!!

Ok, so it is definitely time for me to go to bed. I hope you like the pictures below (a couple more of Ava sucking her thumb) and you all have a great Wednesday. Thanks again for all of the prayers, you are all incredible. We are so fortunate.

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

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Quick Update…Don’t want you to worry

Good evening everyone. I am exhausted so this will be a quick update, but I didn’t want to not post something and make anyone worry.

On top of our daily trips to the NICU, home life has been..Hmm.. CHAOS! Our incredible painter Kevin, finished our house late Saturday, which was great. But now we have to clean everything because of all of the construction dust and then put the house back together. Fun, fun! On top of that, Jen I a decided to keep our original baby shower date of October 28th (Pam and I’s Birthday too!). Yes that is 4 weeks away, but the catch with that is we never registered before Jen was admitted to the hospital. And WOW, I had NO CLUE how difficult registering for your first baby would be. If anyone has any pointers, we are totally open for suggestions. And then on top of all that, I go back to work tomorrow. It will be hard, but I cannot complain AT ALL. Best Buy and Magnolia have been SO GOOD to us through this whole process! Thank you.

Now onto to the important stuff. Ava has gained a little weight and now weighs 1 lb. 13 oz. Every little bit is good news. She didn’t seem to like the milk fortifier very much (this gives additional calories to the breast milk to help gain weight), but they tried it again tonight, so hopefully she tolerates it better. She is still off all oxygen support and IV’s and simply has her feeding tube. Below are 2 pictures from tonight. One of Ava flexing her muscles and biceps and another of her little hand squeezing Jen’s finger while she Kangarooed. Pretty cute.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Thanks for everything.

Love,
Ava, Jen, Evan

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Ava turns 2 weeks….Busy 36 hours!

Good morning everyone. I hope you all have great weekends planned with your family and friends.

Well, I better get to the updates, because a lot has happened in 36 hours. First, right as I was finishing my last update, Ava was meeting her first Great Grandma, Nana! Ava is very lucky to still have 3 Great Grandmas currently in her life. Nana is Pam’s (Jennifer’s mom) mom. So fortunately our nurse let Jen, Pam, and Nana all in the NICU at the same time (limit is normally 2 people) to get a picture of 4 generations of mothers and daughters. So cool.

Then, yesterday morning at 9:22am, Ava turned 2 weeks old! So many parents continue to tell us how time flies with a newborn, but I still thought it would be different with Ava in the NICU. So far I have been wrong. I can’t believe it has already been 2 weeks..where has the time gone?!?! Jen and I also introduced Ava to the Facebook world yesterday morning. While many people knew about her birth, we never officially posted anything. After the post yesterday, it was overwhelming to see all of the love, support, kind words, and prayers just flow in all day. While I have never been the biggest Facebook person, it has been an unbelievable resource for us during this process to keep family and friends updated. So I guess I have to say thanks Facebook?!?

Big news on Ava is that yesterday she got her PICC line (similar to an IV) removed!!! It is absolutely incredible but after only 2 weeks in the NICU the ONLY tube/needle/etc running inside Ava is her feeding tube (which she will have until at least 32 weeks). Speaking of the feeding tube, Ava is now up to 16ml of breast milk every 3 hours, which is the maximum for a baby her size. She actually lost a little weight last night (now 1lb, 12oz again), but doctors are still not concerned. Her weight had been increasing each day, so they are definitely pleased with that. They are now adding fortifier to the milk in order to give her more calories.

A couple other things…Ava moved yesterday. Every 2 weeks they change the baby’s incubators, so Ava was due. She also lost the last piece of her umbilical cord, so you can now see her belly button. Jen got to Kangaroo again, but also was able to give Ava a little bath (more of a wipe down, but we will call it a bath).

Ok, I think I got everything… On a side note, if anybody has any questions, please just send us a reply. I am trying to cover everything I can, but if I miss something or you are curious about something, please let us know. If can’t tell we are happy to share about our journey and know so many of you care about us and Ava. Thanks again for everything and we hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

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Ava sucks her thumb for the first time

Good afternoon all….Hope you are having a wonderful day! Couple updates, but then I am including a bunch of pictures, because everybody has been asking for more pictures (and we are proud to share!). Also, I went back through and added some pictures to the older posts (just an FYI).

Ok so, Jen’s incision is actually doing a little better the past 2 days. Instead of using a wheelchair in the hospital, she has been walking more (I let her walk in now, but still wheel her out). We were supposed to see Dr. Garmel tomorrow, but she actually saw us in the NICU waiting room and checked it out today (again GREAT DOCTOR!). She said the incision looks better and is pleased that the redness went down. So, hopefully this C-section torment will come to an end soon, since it has already been 13 days.

Ava is now 815 grams, which is almost 1pound 13oz. She is also still tolerating her 13ml feedings over 2 hours, which is great. Jen got to do Kangaroo Care with Ava again, because she is tolerating it so well. Yesterday, she actually did it for over 2 hours! While doing Kangaroo though, we did have another first…. AVA SUCKED HER THUMB FOR THE FIRST TIME….so cute! She has been trying for a couple days and she finally figured it out (pictures below).

Other than that, our house/kitchen remodel is almost done. That has been exhausting along with everything else, but it will be great when we are finished. House is getting painted the next 3 days, then it should be pretty much all set.

Thank you again for all the messages, prayers, and support. And thank you for letting us know that you enjoy the blog. Hearing that our story has helped people in some way really means a lot to us. That is one of the reasons we have decided to share so much. Thanks again and have a great night.

Love,
Ava, Jen, and Evan

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Daddy gets his turn…

Good evening everyone. Hope you all had a wonderful day! First an update on Jen and her incision. We went to see the Doctor today and it is still tough to say, even for them… It could possibly be an infection (so they put her on antibiotics just in case) or it could still absorb back into her body, or they possibly could have to reopen the incision. We have another appointment on Friday, so will continue to keep you posted.

Speaking of Jen’s Doctor…. I just have to say this…. I will NEVER forget what Dr. Sara Garmel at Oakwood Hospital did for my family and she will always hold a special place in my heart (and I know Jen’s and Ava’s too!). I get emotional even typing this, but without this INCREDIBLE woman I do not know how Jen and Ava would even be doing. She took care of the two most important women in my life and I just cannot express how much I appreciate her. Dr. Garmel has always treated us like family and even brought Ava the cutest piece of art today that said “I’m Kind of a Big Deal”. Again Dr. Garmel and EVERYONE at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn who has taken care of my family THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. You are all such talented and special people.

Onto Ava… She was pretty much the same today…nothing too new to post. They tried to bump up her feedings to 13ml, but it was too much and she did not finish. So they put her back to 11ml. She now weighs 1 pound 12 oz so she is getting up there :-). Ava also got to meet her second Aunt Erin (Stedcke, Jen’s Matron of Honor not my sister Erin). This made Jen really happy and of course Erin made her the cutest photo board to match her nursery colors. It is AWESOME…Thanks Erin!

The big news (especially for me) is that Dad got to Kangaroo tonight! Not much to say other than I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. To feel her breathing right on my chest was amazing. I also truly realized how tiny she is….When she curled up in my shirt and tucked her arms and legs in, she was barley bigger than my hand. So precious! I posted a couple pictures below, hope you like.

Thanks again for all you do and I hope you all wake up tomorrow morning ready to celebrate another great day!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

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Jen’s first Kangaroo!

Good evening all. Just a couple quick updates:

1) Jen is still not feeling so great. Thankfully, her spinal headache now feels a little better, but her incision from the c-section is very painful. We are hoping it is not an infection and have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning to check it out. This has been really hard for both Jen and I because it has really limited the amount of time we can spend at the hospital. So hopefully this starts to get better soon.

2) Ava is continuing to eat and digest her food well. She is now up to 11ml of breast milk every 2 hours and she also has gained a little weight and is up to 1lb. 11 1/2 oz!

3) Jen’s roommate in antepartum for 2 weeks, Rachel, delivered her baby girl successfully today! Both of our families have become very close through this process and I am sure the 2 baby girls will be friends. Plus we have promised Rachel’s 4 year old daughter Layla a play date after Ava gets out of the hospital. Layla’s exact quote was, “It’s gonna be HUGE!” We are so thankful Rachel and baby are doing well. Our prayers were answered!

4) Finally the biggest news was that yesterday Ava was doing so well that they let Jen do Kangaroo Care! For those of you that do not know what that is, basically Ava laid directly on Jen’s chest for complete skin to skin contact. It was just the cutest thing ever and there are pictures below. Not only did Jen get to Kangaroo, but Ava tolerated it so well that she was able to for almost an hour and a half!

Again, I hope all of you like the blog. We just have appreciated all of the support from SO MANY people, so the least we can do is keep everyone updated. While things look good today, we know this is still a long journey, so we continue to appreciate all of the prayers. Thanks again and we hope you all appreciated TODAY!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

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Brain Scan Results and more!

Today is Day 9 for Little Miss Ava and she continues to do amazing. You all know she is off all oxygen, breathing on her own. She has been doing fantastic with this, even when she gets weighed or changed or her bed remade. Breathing without a tube seems to make other things head in the right direction as well. She was having some mucus in her nose and some irritation on her lips, but now that is cleared up because that oxygen tube is out. She was being a little stinker before they took it out, as she kept finding her tube and was tugging at it. For now, she only has her feeding tube in [which yes, she has been trying to suckle!] and an IV in her arm, which she gets her nutrients and lipids [fats].

Speaking of finding things……Friday she was definitely feeling her face. She was pinching her cheek, touching her eyelids, even tried to suck her thumb. She was hilarious too with sneezing like Daddy [six in a row!] and hiccuping. Ava is just an amazing little baby.

We did not post anything about her bilirubin test. They draw her blood from her heel to test this, but it tells doctors how her liver is processing and developing. If her numbers aren’t where they need to be, they will put her under a phototherapy light and she wears a little mask to protect her eyes. As we post pictures, you may see the blue light and mask. She has been on and off of her light, but has been off for the last three days. The docs say it is normal and may take a while for her to stay off permanently. With the rest of her great progress, we are optimistic.

Finally for the drum roll…..Miss Ava had her brain scan on Thursday. It is always scheduled for 7 days after birth, however they scanned her one day early. I am so thankful to report that there was no bleeding on the scan!! I grabbed the doc’s arm and started crying, since we were not expecting the results until Friday. We are so happy. Her next scan is Day 28, which we are praying for no bleeds then either.

Diaper changing and taking her temp is going well. She has hands on time every three hours or four hours, depending on her feeding schedule. We have learned to keep the old diaper underneath her as we change her because she peed on it before Dad could finish changing her, just as the nurse was showing us with all of the cords and equipment. Pretty funny. She is also eating well, as you know she was having issues digesting her food. She is up to 9cc’s now and is 1 oz. over her birth weight. 1 lb, 11 oz. Go Ava go!

We continue to realize how blessed we are and every day somehow love Ava more and more.

Love,
Evan, Jennifer and Ava

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Post #30 – September 23rd, 2012

We are working on a blog so you all can check it whenever you’d like, to replace our FB message board. We know most of you want to continue to follow Ava’s journey and thought this was the best way to do so. If you have any suggestions or what you’d like to see, please let us know. 

Thank you so much again for being amazing family and friends. Using the words thank you do not even seem like enough. Know that we think about you and are thankful all of the time. We are so blessed! Rockstar Ava has more good news for you……coming in an update soon! 
Love,
E, J, and A

Post #29 – September 21st, 2012 (Ava is breathing on her own!)

Good morning everyone! Baby Ava just wanted to say hello and tell all the Chopp Family and Friends that she is now a week old and continuing to be so strong. Yesterday she was taken off all oxygen support and breathing completely on her own (might have to go back on if she gets too tired, but 12 hours off and she was still good). They also moved her to her belly as you can see in the picture. Just a quick post, but wanted to show all of you how beautiful Ava Lillian is after being only a week old.

Continued thanks for everything you have done. Jen and I talk multiple times a day about how we feel so lucky to have all of you. What did we do to deserve this incredible group of family and friends? We just feel so lucky!

Ava hopes you all have a great day!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

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Post #28 – September 20th, 2012 (A bunch of FIRST’s)

Good evening everyone…. I know I owe you all an update. Right now I am sitting by Ava’s incubator, while I type this….TOO CUTE! It has been a busy couple of days, so I will bullet point a couple highlights.

1) Jen came home yesterday after a month in the hospital and was SO PUMPED! She loved the new kitchen and Ava’s Room so much. The house would not have looked as good without the help of our wonderful moms who spent ALL DAY cleaning up. Jen referred to our place as the ‘Chopp Spa’ because everything looks amazing. We are so happy to truly make a perfect home for our Ava.

2) I basically tell everyone I see about Ava…including the cashier at Bob Evans.

3) We made a roadside breast pump exchange last night…..pretty hilarious actually. Our great friend and amazing mom, Emily, decided to help us out and let us have her pump…we met halfway between our houses at some shady gas station off of Ecorse and 275. Made the exchange…HAHA!

4) Ava had some congestion in her nose (just like her dad) and this was causing her to have retractions (using extra muscles to breath). They gave her nasal spray this morning and it helped out a bunch. She is breathing much better today.

5) Ava was also not digesting her food yesterday. Even though she had a bowel movement, she still wasn’t taking down her food. Today has been better, but she is still not always digesting her food. The docs do not seemed to be too concerned and this sounds fairly normal for a baby this age.

6) Yesterday, Jen got to take Ava’s temperature and change her diaper…. And today I got to do both things too!!! Just incredible.

7) And finally, just the sweetest thing EVER!!! Jen got to hold Ava last night and we got our FIRST FAMILY PHOTO!!! Wow!

So as you can see a jam packed couple days, but we continue to be SO THANKFUL. Everyday is a good day and we are so blessed to have all of you. I cannot continue to say HOW TALENTED this ENTIRE STAFF at Oakwood in Dearborn has been. The Doctors, Nurses, and entire staff here has been SO GOOD TO US ( especially Jackie  ). Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers. We are so lucky!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava

Post #27- September 18th, 2012 (First Bowel Movement)

Quick update… After a couple tough days, Jen is feeling much better. She has been experiencing a spinal headache which has been terrible to see her deal with, but she didn’t require a blood patch surgery and we were able to control with medicine. So since she is feeling better, Jen is getting discharged today after being in the hospital for a month! While on one hand this is exciting for her, it is also scary because we have to leave Ava at the hospital.

In terms of Ava, she continues to do very well! She is still only on the nasal canula for her lungs. On a big positive, she had her first bowel movement last night, which is huge because it shows her digestive system is functioning. But she hasn’t been digesting properly since the bowel movement so hopefully her body remembers how to quickly ( doctors say this happens ). This morning we saw Ava and Jen started talking about the animals on her blanket and Ava kept opening her eyes. Then we started talking about taking her to the zoo and she SMILED! So cute. I guess we are going to the zoo when she gets bigger. 

Thanks again for all each of you have done and also please say thanks to all the people you have asked to pray for us. I know it has made a huge difference and we really appreciate everyones support. Hope you all have a great day, and just remember every day is a good day!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava Chopp

Post #26 – September 16th, 2012 (Off C-Pap!)

Good morning everyone….. Just wanted to give you the 48 hour update… First starting with Mom (strange for me to type that referring to Jen), she is having a little bit of a rougher night/day. She has had some strong pains in her sinus area and her neck. This is more than likely from the spinal anesthesia that she had before the C-section. The doctors have a plan to fix and the first step is caffeine. For those of you that know Jen, she doesn’t ever drink coffee or pop, so it is pretty strange for me to see her drinking a Pepsi.

Now for Ava Lillian…. 48 hours in and she is continuing to be so strong! In terms of her lungs, yesterday, they actually removed her from CPAP and placed her on canister air (I know that is probably the wrong name, but it is simply two little nasal prongs that go in her nose and flow low levels of oxygen in). In general this was another positive step… The nurses in the NICU say that Ava is wild. Basically Ava likes to cry and wave her arms and legs all around. She does this for a while, then calms down because she is tired, then usually starts back up again. While it is a little hard to see her cry, this is actually a good sign, because it shows she has strength and energy. Ava actually now weighs 1lb. and 9oz. This is normal for most babies to lose a little weight after birth, but then slowly gain back. All in all, she is doing well and continues to get stronger every day.

Thank you all for coming on this journey with myself, Jen, and Ava! Your prayers and support mean more to us than you could possibly ever know. Each day we are so thankful and truly appreciate all the gifts we have been given in our lives. Hope you all have a great Sunday!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava Lillian Chopp

Post #24 – September 15th, 2012 (ET Tube removed!)

After 24 hours, Mom and Ava are doing well. One quick update on Ava… Incredibly after only 12 hours of birth, she was breathing so well the doctors decided to remove her ET breathing tube( hopefully she can stay off, but always a possibility, she could go back) They moved her to CPap breathing system which goes over her nose. She is strong just like her mother!

We are so thankful for all of the doctors, nurses, and staff here… All of your thoughts and prayers definitely are helping… Thank you so much, we are so fortunate and thankful for everyday. 

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Ava Chopp

Post #23 – September 14th, 2012 (Ava’s Birthday!)

At 9:22am, we welcomed Ava Lillian Chopp into the world! Jen had a successful c-section and is recovering very nicely. 

Our daughter Ava Lillian is an extremely strong baby girl already. She was born at exactly 27 weeks and is doing very well. According to the doctor he is “cautiously optimistic”, which we are very happy about. 

Even though she is small (only 1 pound 10 ounces) she is very strong!! The biggest concern was her lungs and so far they are doing good and she even has a possibility of coming off the et tube this weekend! In general Ava is stable and with everything going on… Stable is good. Oh yeah and she is gorgeous of course!

We love you all and really appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers. I know they have helped in this whole process. More updates to come, but being honest we are exhausted. 

Love, 
Evan, Jennifer, and Ava Chopp

Post #20 – September 13th, 2012

830pm and we are still pregnant! Jen is such a strong woman, I am such a lucky husband and soon to be father. Baby Girl Chopp is taking after her mom already. Still in labor and delivery to continue to monitor the baby. Jen did finally get to eat but only clear liquids ( jello never tasted so good ). 

It is just a wait and see situation at this time… Thank you again for all of the thoughts and prayers. We are so lucky to have you all as family and friends. 

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Baby Girl Chopp

Post #17 – September 11th, 2012

Hey all,

I know it has been since Saturday since an update and many of you have called or text to see how things were. Well, honestly it has been a rough couple days. Just a couple of up and down days…. but all GOOD DAYS, because Jen is still pregnant and her and Baby Girl Chopp are still healthy. 

Today marks 3 weeks since Jen started leaking amniotic fluid, so we are SO THANKFUL to still be pregnant.

I am going to try to spend some time with her, so this will just be a quick update. I went back to work last week (WOW is Best Buy and my bosses incredible, they approved me to work remotely during this process!). And I am still trying to manage the final steps of our kitchen remodel (Jen was handling most of this prior to hospital), so to say the least I have not been at the hospital as much. So, that is part of the reason for less updates.

Thanks again for everything, especially the thoughts and prayers, I truly believe they are helping. And again, please remember to be thankful for the gift of each day! 

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Baby Girl Chopp

 

Post #16 – September 8th, 2012

Thank you again to everyone for the messages and great wishes today and every day. They sure mean a lot. It was definitely hard to miss opening GameDay at the Big House. We did watch the game on TV, wore our GameDay shirts, did all of the band cheers, and had nachos together….just the three of us. Sorry, no big screens today. Jen had a good day today, not great but definitely good. A few pains here and there, but as you can imagine in this situation it’s tough to know which pains are normal pregnancy pains and which ones are ones to worry about.

Well, Baby Chopp has a new nickname: Overachiever Baby! Starting at 24 weeks, Baby Chopp’s heart rate is monitored two to three times per day. In the morning between 6am and 7am, she is monitored for at least 20 minutes [NST: non stress test], where starting at 28 weeks, the docs look for at least two accelerations in her heart rate. Prior to 28 weeks, they do not necessarily expect to see this. Well…..you guessed it! Baby Chopp has passed her NSTs with flying colors since August 24th! So the nurses and docs call her Overachiever Baby.

Also, yesterday I forgot to update you on Baby Chopp’s approximate size. At 26 weeks the average baby is 1.75 pounds and 14 inches long (size is compared to a Hothouse Cucumber). But, my guess is that Baby Girl Chopp is above average!

Some other updates is that we got the nursery painted. The color we chose was INSPIRED LILAC (or a light lavender). We especially liked the name because our baby has already been so inspiring! It turned out SO COOL! I know some of you asked if we had registered, but unfortunately didn’t register prior to Jen checking into the hospital. Might need some help from some of you local moms on that one. Will keep you posted.

We hope you all had a great day and just try to remember, every day is truly precious and we should all make the most out of each day! Thanks again.

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Baby Chopp

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Post #13 – September 5th, 2012

First of all, thank you all for all of your kind words, encouragement, prayers, thoughts, funny notes, wishes, cards, gifts, and ways you are letting Jen and I know you love us. We are so lucky, it’s really overwhelming at times to think of the great people in our lives. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

A few updates for everyone – Baby Chopp is 25 weeks, 5 days today! What a great day! We can’t believe it’s been two full weeks already since Jen has been in the hospital and two weeks and a day since the rupture. Jen had an ultrasound today and saw Baby Chopp moving around safely. Also what Baby Chopp was doing was practicing her breathing!!!!!!! Babies at this stage begin to take in fluid and it expands in their lungs to help them to practice what it will be like breathe oxygen. Champ Baby Chopp was practicing today. The doc said we don’t always get to see that in an ultrasound, so what a blessing to see that not only was there a little fluid to measure, but also she was using it as she grows stronger and closer to delivery. 

On that note, we did not update you all on Jen’s ‘new’ due date. The former due date was December 14th and we know many of you were hoping for your birthdays or even a Christmas baby, but the new date Jen will go to is November 2, which is 34 weeks. Typically women with ruptures do not go further then 34 weeks, simply because the risks outweigh the rewards. By 34 weeks, Baby Chopp will be able to do really well and may not even need a trip to the NICU. 

On that note, we were able to visit the NICU as well and met some of the incredible people that work there. It was a very warm and inviting environment with cute white clouds painted on the blue ceiling. The NICU here has 5 pods, with room for 6 babies in each pod. Right now, they have 22 babies growing bigger and stronger as we speak! It was amazing to hear some of the stories and hear the success of so many children. We did meet with the head of the NICU on the first day Jen was admitted and to be honest with you, it was quite overwhelming, pretty scary, and a lot to take in. Many of the things that were talked about are already out of the picture as we move to completing Week 25! However, the doctors here are Oakwood are angels and we are blessed to be here. 

Jen had a great roommate Rachel, pictured in our fun GameDay tailgate from Saturday (with her family), however, Rachel has moved to the private room. There are nine beds here on this floor and the longer you stay, the closer you are to staying in the private room. Jen was sad to see her go yesterday, but they will still be visiting daily I am sure. 

Here’s to another great day. Love you all, Evan, Jen & Baby Chopp

Post #12 – September 5th, 2012

Updates coming later today [some good ones about our strong baby!], but I did want to include what has been sent out. This is a prayer to St. Gerard, The Mothers’ Saint. Most of you know, we named our son Gerard James Chopp, after St. Gerard and pray to him often. Every day is a blessing!

Sorry if this is a repeat, but wanted to share with all of you:

For a Mother with Child
Almighty and everlasting God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you prepared the body and soul of the Virgin Mary to be a worthy dwelling place of your divine Son. You sanctified St. John the Baptizer, while still in his mother’s womb. Listen now to my prayer. Through the intercession of St. Gerard, watch over the baby girl and Jennifer; protect them at this time of delivery. May Evan and Jen’s child receive the saving graces of Baptism, lead a Christian life, and, together with all the members of our family attain everlasting happiness in Heaven. Amen.

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Post #11 – September 3rd, 2012

Hey all…. Just been a little tired the past 2 days and not on the IPAD…

But, a good 2 days of staying pregnant and Baby Girl Chopp getting bigger and stronger! She is now 25 weeks and 3 days old, which is SO GREAT seeing that Jen ruptured at 23 weeks and 4 days. Every Day is truly a blessing!

So again thanks for all the thoughts and prayers! All of the support is really helping Jen get through the days.

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Baby Girl Chopp

Post #10 – September 1st, 2012

So I have been getting a bunch of questions about how Jen is doing today and the answer is much better… In general, she just didn’t feel very good, but at the end of the day, it was still a GREAT DAY, because Baby Chopp got a day older. Vitals are good and in general, things have calmed down late last night into today. Jen was able to sleep in as well – you would think patients actually get to rest in the hospital, but they do not.

Today has been actually kind of fun (if you can believe that in a hospital). To have a proper GAMEDAY, Stez/AJ/Vanessa, sent us a Zingerman’s Rueben making sandwich kit complete with fresh bread, corned beef, cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, brownies, and more. This was just to bring a little bit of Ann Arbor to us here in the hospital. So cool, thank you for being incredible friends!

So of course we decided to have a tailgate in the hospital…why not?!? There is a conference room 2 doors down from Jen’s room. I brought a skillet, oil, and all the goodies. Of course both sets of parents showed up (in Michigan GameDay gear) and we invited Jen’s roommate Rachel and her family too. Marlene cooked the Ruebens and they were delicious!

The only bad news is obviously the game (losing 31-7 right now)….In the conference room they have old TVs so I had to go to the Allen Park Best Buy and buy two converter boxes to get the game. Have 2 TVs going right now, but I really don’t feel like watching…

But no matter what happens in the game I will be happy, because Baby Chopp is still in Mom and growing!

I know I keep saying it but, please be thankful for everyday…..they are truly precious…. and THANK YOU for all being such great friends!

Love,
Evan, Jen, and Baby Girl Chopp

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Post #9 – September 1st, 2012

So just a quick update tonight… I am really trying to take my own advice around every day being a good day…

The good news is that today was the start of week 25 and Baby Chopp is still growing inside her mom This seemed so far away when we checked into the hospital last Wednesday. But it is here and we are so thankful. We also had so many gifts/calls/prayers/emails/etc today that were so thoughtful. More updates on that tomorrow but we really appreciated everything today. 

The tough part of today was that Jen just didn’t feel well… She had some more bleeding, felt light headed, had a sore back, in general had a rough day. Hopefully after a good night sleep she will feel better

But today Is a good day. Thank you again for all the prayers… Goodnight

Love
Evan, Jen, and Baby Girl Chopp

Post #8 – August 30th, 2012

I added some more people to the update today (for those added, you should be able to look back and see all details). Again, just hard to reply to all the phone calls and texts (so this makes it a little easier)… BUT KEEP THEM COMING, it helps us get through each day!

Today Baby Girl Chopp is 24 weeks and 6 Days old! So great! Again, keep in mind today that EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY, not only for Jen and the Baby, but for all of us. If Jen and I have learned anything through this process it is that we need to appreciate each day more and never take a single day for granted…. I know we all have “Bad Days”, but really was it a bad day? In most cases when we look back, it wasn’t really that bad…

Just something that we have been talking a lot about so I figured I would pass it on..

Thank you again for all the prayers, we really appreciate it!

Love ,
Evan, Jen, and Baby Girl Chopp