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I find it absolutely astounding to believe that it's been 100 days since our little miracle entered our world.  

In that short time we have learned so much.  So much has happened.  To try to describe the road we've taken is impossible.  

I still remember clearly Megan's face as she lay on the operating table and Ava was presented to her for the first time.  Megan's belly still cut wide open and Ava still struggling to breathe.   I still remember being scared out of my mind at the realisation that she was finally here, with us.  And I remember how no one believed me when I said "it's a girl"!

Bringing her home for the first time was amazing.  Being able to bring her back to her first home, surrounded by the people who love her, was such a wonderful feeling; the start of her journey out into the big wide world! 

Then of course, came the sleepless nights while we battled with breast feeding as nothing seemed to satisfy our starving little sweetheart.  All the hours of waiting & wishing for her to start growing...  Looking back, all of that seems so distant now.  I guess like most things, we remember the good bits and somehow block out the bad.  Ava was so small for so long, but looking at her now it's hard to think that she was so ill.  Having such a poor start has made us appreciate every perfect little smile, every gorgeous little giggle. 

We've even got a little routine worked out (well, it's not much, but it's working for us - for now).  She's sleeping soundly, and isn't making too much fuss of a night time.  She's started to poop regularly too, and it's not funny colours, and (thank whatever Gods may be) not explosive...  She's become the happiest little thing in the world, always smiling, laughing & cooing, trying her hardest to grow up as soon as she can. 

Even Brucey has warmed to the prospect of having a little sister in the house..  I'm not sure he's 100% happy with the idea yet, but I think he's come to terms with sharing our attention and is getting more playful around her. 

The last 100 days have gone by so quickly.  The whole thing has been a blur.  Almost none of it has gone to plan, but I don't think that anything was ever going to go 100% smoothly.  I love the little girl that she's become, though.  Enduring the struggles that she's come out of in her tiny life has made her into the wonderful little baby she is, and I couldn't ask for a more amazing daughter. 

If our first 100 days is anything to go by, the rest of her childhood will be fairly turbulent, with a lot of high points, as well as a few downs.  What we know is that she'll be able to get through so much, the rest of her future is already looking amazingly bright. 

 
 
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During our visit home, we were busy.  Very busy.  No sooner had I got off the plane at Brisbane airport, I was whisked away to see a GP.  Of course, his visit was only a short one, to make sure we were headed down the right path.  He was able to confirm a few of the theories we had suspected, and to disprove some of the more dubious thoughts we'd had.  Also he was able to give us a stack of referrals to specialists.  Given our short timeframe, this was a tremendous boon.  It was still a long shot, as most of the reputable specialists had waiting lists of up to 18 months.  It occurred to me that Ava would probably grow out of any allergies in that time.  That, or, you know, she would die.  18 months is a long time for a baby...

Our next stop - after a quick shower (not quite enough time for a change of clothes or bite to eat, however) was to a specialist lactation consultant.  I wish I could say that I was enthusiastic about this one - the lady had a lot to talk about.  She was very well read & everything she said was valuable.  Right up until the part where I fell asleep...  After a full day in Singapore, sorting Meg & Ava out for their flight to Brisbane, flying to Manila, picking up the firstborn, getting home & repacking bags for all of us, dropping Bruce back at the kennel, then getting back on a plane for Brisbane - via Singapore - I was a bit sleepy... For some reason, the LC chose the moment I drifted off to discuss her recommendations for a diet that Meg should follow.  So while I got a vital hour of slumber, Meg was led down a rabbit-hole of dietary intricacies that I still can't wrap my head around....  It was a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma...  So Meg & her mum (themselves frayed from travel) tried to comprehend the web of Matrix-esque data. 

Aside from missing all the information first-hand, and having to sort through the pages of recommendations we brought home, one other thing led me to question it all.  The fact that she had advised against any immunisation/vaccination.  She hadn't said outright not to, but her reference material did feature a lot of pro-choice books offering a different slant on the 'question' of vaccinations.  In my mind, this is a deal-breaker.  It only served to bring everything else into doubt for me.  I was no longer so miffed about falling asleep, but of course, this didn't do much to ease Megan's mind...

Or next two appointments weren't until a few days later, a bit of a miracle, really.  Instead of the 18 months, someone had cancelled and we snuck into their slot with a very reputable paediatric gastroenterologist and a paediatric allergist.  They were both able to confirm (as far as is reasonably possible) everything we'd suspected to be true.  Ava had an allergy to the proteins in dairy, and thus couldn't handle breast milk containing dairy, soy, eggs, nuts or seafood.  Fortunately, they both agreed that we'd taken the best possible steps to help the situation.  Our miracle formula that we'd muled over was paying off!  We weighed her there & were amazed to hear that she was up to 4.8kg...  She had put on roughly 500g in two weeks!  Of course we didn't want to get too excited, but as it turns out, she's kept the weight up which is amazing!  For the first time she's started to develop like she should've so long ago... 

The end result: we have decided to cease breastfeeding, and rely solely on the formula.  It was a very hard decision for the both of us, as we'd love to continue along the natural path, knowing that breast feeding is always the best option.  Unfortunately, given the incredibly difficult time we've already had feeding, as well as the allergies, our need for Ava to grow has outweighed our want to be 'natural' parents. 

Ultimately, I'm happy that we've made the right decision and I fully support Megan in this.  It's already made our lives much easier and much happier, which has had a direct impact on Ava already.  She's a completely different baby to the one that left Manila earlier.  There's no more screaming, no (entirely) sleepless nights, no more sobbing parents, no more frustration.  Instead, we have a normal, happy little girl, and that's everything I could have ever asked for.