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.

Evan, Jen, and Ava 20121018-171919.jpg20121018-171911.jpg20121018-172022.jpg20121018-172438.jpg





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.

Ava, Jen, and Evan









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.

Jen, Evan, and Ava








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.

Evan, Jen, and Ava