Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Birth Day

Four years ago tonight I was holding two bald little girls. One was the tiniest baby I'd ever seen with fuzzy blonde hair, 4lbs 8oz. The other came two hours later, 5lbs 6oz. Her hair was dark and her eyes big. Zinnia Naomi wanted to eat. Esther Gwynne was peaceful and let us know she needed something with a soft, feminine cry. Two little girls.

I never thought we'd celebrate a birthday in a hospital, let alone a birthday with just one girl. Today was a bitter sweet day. Esther asked about Zinnia several times through the day. Was she opening gifts? Was her cake good? What is her Lalaloopsie doll? She told every person she saw today that her cake has ballerina slippers and Zinnia's has a crown and a wand. She was mindful of her sister all day. Here are some snapshots of our day...

She got a phone call from a few of her friends first thing this morning. They sang Happy Birthday and asked if when Esther is better they could watch Tinkerbelle together. These friends used their own money to buy Esther these gifts, chapstick, a AWESOME 96 count of crayons and a giant pad of paper on which to color

Breakfast. Not coffee cake, although I'm pretty sure at least one Alvarado had cake for breakfast over at Brent's Place. Esther's appetite has dwindled to really nothing. She has lost about .7kg since checking in, that a little under two pounds. Last night she started partial IV nutrition to help make up some of the calories

Bathing beauty! Esther has to take a daily bath. Her Broviac site can't get wet and the best way to keep it dry is a common household material...Press & Seal plastic wrap.


She opened her presents....

And then tried them out. She'll need a hat for now, but in a couple months those ear muffs with compliment all of the hair in keeping her warm!

This Lalaloopsie dool is named "Dyna Might." She wears a cape and is ready to fly through the air with her awesome super hero goggles. Her personality is "speedy and brave." Dyna is the perfect choice for this brave girl.

Birthday cake! Esther was very, very excited her cake had ballet slippers and she said it smelled delicous. It is delicious! Esther had a few bites and asked if she could eat the fondant slipper. I gave her a little and then she threw up...guess a fondant slipper has a bit too much sugar :). She didn't care asked to eat the other part of the slipper a little later
Esther's nurse made a sweet card for her and the other nurses came to sing Happy Birthday. As you can see, she pretty much thought it was the coolest thing ever.
I know it's sideways and note quite clear. She stared with the BIGGEST smile on her face for the whole song. Very cute. They gave her a fun Polly Pocket set with 10 dolls, including a guy named "Rick." We changed his name to "Ricardo" because we got to see Mr. Ricardo today. Ricardo was our first oncology nurse and he did a fantastic job of easing us into this new life. He's taken care of Esther several other times and happened to be on the BMT unit today. She adores him and now has a doll named after him.
Esther wore her fancy dress all day. It's her Christmas dress, but birthdays work too. It made our time looking at Christmas lights all the more sparkly.
Before bed we visited with the rest of our family via FaceTime. Esther was very concerned about Zinnia and was desperate to make sure Zinnia knew she loves her. It was very sweet. Anthony and the kids sang Happy Birthday once again to Esther and we got to sing to Zinnia. As we sang to Zinnia I was struck with how much they love each other.
I think this has been hard on our sweet little blonde Zinnia flower. She was throwing up again last night. I was already here with Esther. Anthony has no also been around Zinnia, so if she has a virus, we are both susceptible to having it or bringing it here to Esther. I'll be here until we can figure out what is going on with our little girl. It is a strange throw up, containing undigested parts of meals she'd eat the day before, namely green beans (sorry, it's gross, but hey, we Alvarados are keepin' it real). Anyway, I am thinking about what could be causing this illness... Did I get a bad batch of green beans? Is she allergic to something at Brent's Place, a new cleaner or something? Does she have cancer of some sort that makes you vomit? (it's hard not to go down that path). Is she really stressed out? I have come to wonder if it's a "twin" thing.
Maybe it's just a virus and we'll need to trust God to not allow anyone else become sick, but maybe it is a physical reaction to this road. It's a lot for any child to endure, but I think especially difficult when your best friend who has been next to you every day of your life has been torn from your side and is suffering. We've seen with both sets of our twins they never were attached to any lovey, they had each other. When they are scared or hurt they often go for each other. During movies they will snuggle next to each other. It is an interesting bond between multiples.
Please pray for Zinnia's illness to be very clear and for discernment in when it is best to switch here at the hospital.
Quite honestly, the last four years have been hard, cancer aside. Having five little children in less than 4 years has taken all of me, revealing my need for God's help in every circumstance. While the last four years have not been "textbook" in my walk with the Lord, He has proven Himself over and over again. It's not about how well I've studied my Bible, journaled, memorized verses. I've seen over and over again that it is not about what I do. I can not earn God's favor because it's already given. I don't have to earn His company or help. He is there, willing and ready. His mercies are new each morning and His throne of grace is my place of rest. As I kneel to pour out my heart he catches my tears, holds me close and strokes my hair. He gives me grace for the day, corrects my heart, walks with me...it's a walk! He will lead me along the journeys this life holds, let me stumble and cut myself on the brush when I stray and is there for me in the lush, soft green patches.
This is the God who is in control of Esther's future. His goodness and wisdom is trustworthy.
Esther has a different blood type than I, and it caused her to need time under the bilirubin lights. It is strange how much this little girl looks the same, sleeping here tonight.

Happy Birthday, Zinnia and Esther. I love being your mommy and praise God I get to be YOUR mommy. I thank God He gave me each of you as my daughter, I would choose no others.



  1. Happy Birthday, Esther! Mom hopes you do well and I hope you do well too! :) You looked so pretty in your pink dress and enjoy all those crayons! You definitely had more crayons than I did at age 4!

  2. That was so sweet and real, Sam. Made me cry. I just love your family and am so hopeful for you all! Praying for you.

  3. Ever so precious in sleep, and such a blessing to see the nursery baby and the cancer patient looking so much alike. It reminds me of the teaching from a few weeks back about Christmas being the beginning of Easter. Also, reading about Esther's birthday brought tears to this grampa's eyes, seeing the love that Esther receives - and the love that she gives. Although she is suffering, she is also greatly blessed by a loving God. Thanks for keeping us up to date with her and sharing your own lives with us so intimately.

  4. Happy Birthday Esther and Zinnia. We we're once there a surgery before Aly's first birthday and the chemo started the day after. God was good to let use stay home the actual day of her birthday. We understand. Kaeli once got sick while Aly was in the hospital. Even if they're not twins there is a special bond between sisters. I believe she nearly got sick from being sad without mommy and sister.If it gets worse take her to the doctor anyway, so if she needs antibiotics it will start helping right away. I pray it all goes well and the girls could be together soon. I learned to love the stem cell rescue smell. Its nice to know that when you walk into the room that is the smell of a new life! Blessing Friend!

  5. I'm late to the party, Happy Birthday sweet Esther & Zinnia! I do wonder if Zinnia is just feeling for her sissy and it's upsetting to her. I can't imagine the toll it must take on her with their close bond and with how young the girls are. It is often really hard on my children and they are much older. Will be praying for her too. I love the sleeping pictures you posted, it's it funny how they always just look like themselves only smaller? I remember always wondering what they'd look like when they got older and now that they are older, they look pretty much like they did when they were babies, only older (imagine that). Praying for you all and sending big hugs from afar.