30 December 2013

Avonlea's Delivery In Pictures

Avonlea is five months old now and I am sooo behind on blogging.  But, now that our little princess is 5 months old, I am finally beginning to find time to go back and fill in some of the last few months with pictures and updates.  I suppose it makes sense to start with Avonlea's birth...

These beautiful pictures were taken by Khimberly Caton from Snaptastic Shots.  I look at these pictures and still wonder if they are really pictures of my own experience...partly because the pictures are so gorgeous and partly because I can hardly remember the experience itself.  I am SO thankful to have had delivery photography during this, my last time to experience giving birth.

My OB, Brian and decided to induce labor, as I did with my other two.  I think it was particularly important this time since I was having a lot of anxiety over my fears that Avonlea was going to be born sick, like when Bennett was.  Inducing birth allowed me to make sure my very trusted OB could be there for Avonlea's birth, in case anything unforseen should happen.

I was admitted to the hospital at 5AM.  
Pitocin was given at 8AM.  
My epidural was given at 10AM...

and by 1:30PM and just a few pushes, she was here, Avonlea Brooklyn Gamel

Avonlea had a little trouble breathing since she had sucked down a little meconium into her lungs.  
So, our sweet delivery nurse had to rub her a bit to get a good cry from her.

She was measured and weighed:

Seven pounds, two ounces + 19.5 inches long

This was our first time to get to see her.

Our sweet baby girl.

My mother, known as "Mumsy," and my sister Aunt Brooklyn (Avonlea's namesake) came to visit us a few hours after her birth.  They are so proud!  After having two little baby boys in lots of blue, it was tons of fun to enjoy dressing this sweet newborn in tons of pink!

25 December 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

There is nothing more fun than twinkling lights at night, shiny ornaments on an evergreen fake tree and pictures of those you love hanging from the mantle.  Our little family had a simple and sweet Christmas this year.

During this Advent season, we celebrated the anticipation of Christ's birth by lighting a different candle on our Advent wreath each Sunday.  The candles represented Peace, Hope, Joy (the pink one) and Love.  Today, we lit the white Christmas candle to represent the day we were most anticipating: Christmas day.

Also, each night during the Advent season, each person in our family placed a piece of straw in the empty manger basket we kept under our tree.  It was our way, as a family, of preparing for the celebration of Jesus' birth.  This morning, like last Christmas morning, "Baby Jesus" showed up in the manager! 

Tonight, we will light a candle and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, a tradition borrowed from Brian's childhood.

This was the boys' first year to give gifts to each other.  We gave them $10 and helped them find something special for each other.

The boys even bought something together for Avonlea.  A teether. :)

 Oliver was so proud of his special gift he made at school for Mom and Dad: 

a painted plate.

After opening the gifts Santa brought, Daddy made us all a special Rudolph breakfast. :) 
...a Pinterest idea I got from here.

It was this little one's first Christmas this year.

We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas season...
a new baby sister, a healthy little CFer and a big brother who is a huge help to Mom and Dad!

Merry Christmas from the Gamels!!

23 December 2013

Visiting Santa 2013

Recently, Brian and I took the kids to visit Santa at our local Bass Pro shop, our very favorite place to visit Santa Claus.  (We had such a great time, despite that 2/3rds of our children failed remember to smile for the camera! :))

Our day was made even more special by the fact that Bennett's best friend, Parker, came along with us.  Parker didn't want to sit on Santa's lap alone but eventually agreed to do it once his buddy, Bennett, agreed to sit with him. :)

Oliver had a chance to give Santa his Christmas list, which he wrote himself...

...I suppose, a typical list for a 6 year old who says he wants to grow up to be a scientist.

Appropriate outfit for the day!

 While we were waiting to see Santa, we had a chance to ride the Bass Pro carousal.  Kids loved it!

This was one of Parker's favorite activities.  In fact, he asked Santa to bring him a Monster truck (hope Santa was listening).  We love visiting the Bass Pro Shop.  They have such fun things for kids to do, especially at the Christmas season.

So glad our little holly jolly enjoyed her first Santa experience this year! :)  

18 December 2013

Saying Goodbye to Grandmom

Thanksgiving was very special this year.  My uncle (my mom's brother) and his wife had spent the last year planning a family reunion of sorts for my grandmother, something she had wanted for a long time.  
We all knew that my grandmother would not be here too much longer, so our family and each of my siblings (as well as other extended family members) made the effort to be there. 

I did not know at the time just how little time we had left with her.  

This is one of my most precious treasures...a 4 generations picture with my grandmother, mother and daughter.  

Out of respect for my grandmother, I never really wrote on the blog about her issues with Cystic Fibrosis.  But 4 years ago, ironically around the time when Bennett was born, she was diagnosed with pseudomonas, one of the most damaging lung infections to which Bennett's Cystic Fibrosis lungs are very susceptible.  

Long story short, Grandmom was eventually treated by a Cystic Fibrosis doctor who strongly believed that while she had only one CF gene (you need two to technically have CF), she met the criteria for CF in every clinical way.  We were told to keep Bennett away from my grandmother and to never let him go to her house.  

This is why the picture above is also such a gift.  Avonlea does not have CF so, at Thanksgiving this year, my grandmother was able to freely hold and play with Avonlea...something she had waited a long time to do since she was never really able to hold Bennett.

Shortly after this picture was taken, my grandmother's end stage lung disease was just too much to handle.  She was admitted to the hospital last week and, within days, slowly lost her ability to breath.

I flew out early yesterday morning to say goodbye to my grandmother, who had slipped into a coma. Within just hours of my arrival, I was able to be there with my mother, father and my mother's brother to watch my grandmother take her last breath and enter heaven.  It was a difficult but beautiful moment.

We were all so very close to Grandmom.  She had a great sense of humor and never took herself too seriously.  She was well known for her huge heart and sincere love for others, particularly those who were disadvantaged in anyway.  Grandmom loved cooking (there was always a 50/50 chance she would burn the cornbread).  I always loved the way she would tell me over the phone, "I miss ya'll.  I wish I could hug your neck" (the Mississippi way of saying, "I wish I could give you a hug"). :)

Grandmom is survived by her children Cindy (my mom) and my uncle Rob as well as her five (of 7) siblings, her five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and countless nieces and nephews who love her very very much!

We have known for four years that Bennett could not be near my grandmother, for fear he would pick up a lung infection.  This was told to us by Bennett's first Cystic Fibrosis doctor who cared for him when he was an infant.

But, since then, we changed CF clinic doctors and so, knowing we were traveling to see my grandmother for Thanksgiving, I asked our current CF doctor about the dilemma at hand: do I allow my son to see his great grandmother, especially as we knew this could be one of the last times?

Our current CF doctor's response: "I think the quality of life is more important than the quantity.  Bennett deserves to get a hug from his great grandmother."

And so Brian and I made the decision to trust God and to allow Bennett to see his great grandmother and to allow his great grandmother to gently love on him.  These pictures are proof they did that.

We don't know if Bennett acquired any new lung infections because of his interaction with Grandmom. We may not know that for several months, if we ever know at all.  And, yes, we would certainly be sad if he does (although, it would have been simply a matter of time as lung infections with Cystic Fibrosis typically happen on its own).  But we realize that there are some things in life more important than worrying about a disease we cannot control.

If anything Cystic Fibrosis has taught us, it's that we should take nothing for granted.  We don't know the future but we know we have this very moment.

My grandmother passed away less than two weeks after these pictures were taken.  She was 87 years old.

Breathe easy, Grandmom.  You will be sorely missed.

16 December 2013

Avonlea, 4 months old

Avonlea turned 4 months old on November 25th.  Each month I have a momma-baby photo session. 

Bennett is well-known to be a photo-session bomber.  
I sure am glad.  Bennett is in love with his baby sister.

12 December 2013

Baby Elves x 3

Over the Thanksgiving break, I found this Christmas outfit that each of the boys wore on their first Christmas.  This prompted me to find a blog post where I compared my little boys on their first Christmas (  I figured I'd compare Avonlea with them as well!

 Avonlea - 2013, 4 months old
All three kiddos were born in the fall, so all kids got to wear the outfit...but Avonlea just barely fits in it!  It might not look like it but her toes practically poke out when you stand her up in it. :) 

Since I had taken a picture of each of the boys asleep in this outfit, I had to wait until Avonlea fell asleep to take pictures to compare how much she looks like her brothers.  Fortunately, she decided to comply. :)  

Oliver - 2007 - almost 2 months old

Bennett - 2009 - almost 3 months old

Avonlea - 2013, 4 months old

Close Up of Oliver - 2009 - almost 2 months old

Close Up of Bennett - 2009 - almost 3 months old

Close Up of Avonlea - 2013 - 4 months old