Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Celebrations

We've had a great couple of days of celebrating our thanks.

We put up the Nativity in our front yard a couple of days before Thanksgiving.
Here is Ryan adjusting the camel.
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Isn't it pretty...
Do you think little puppies were actually part of the real Nativity?
By the way...I highly highly recommend the movie "The Nativity Story". It's fantastic!
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Ryan received new Harley clothes from his Gammaw and Pawpaw.
Because of that he had to pose on his new motorcycle (an early Christmas present from previously mentioned grandparents). Doesn't he look cool!
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After Dinner on Thursday we put up the Christmas tree.
Ryan is such a great little helper. He is our de-tangler of lights...or something like that. :)
I don't have any after pictures of our decorated tree. I'm still deciding what to do. Ryan undecorated the tree faster than I was able to get the ornaments on. He was kind enough to bring me his new found "treasures" to replenish my stock though.
I have a dilemma. Do I just decorate the tree...the top half, or do I decorate the entire tree and spend all day keeping Ryan away from the tree or is there some other way? (I'm picturing long days with many meetings between Ryan and the "Rod of Correction") If you're a Mom (or dad) what did you do? Ryan is just at that age where he is VERY mobile and can pretty much climb the tree, but he doesn't yet have that reasoning ability of an older kid to understand that you "look...don't touch"
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Ummm......
That's Eddy.
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We celebrated at Nana's house on Friday.
Nana fed Ryan a bowl of Cool Whip. This kid has had so much junk over the last few days it's unreal. I did discover something exciting about food though. I gave him a candycane and expected him to just suck on it. He chomped it and ate it like a pro. This kid can eat just about anything. I think our days of being extra careful about having extra mushy food are over.
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Nana's Tree...
"Ooooh...Pretty. I think I'll take this one."
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What better way to end a day...
than by sitting in the dog dish.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Favorites

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Can you believe it? It's such a wonderful time of year...a time to remember...a time to be thankful. What do you have to be thankful for?

If I sat long enough I could think of enough things to be thankful for that the list would be too long. Is there such a thing, though, as a list too long...of things for which to be thankful? God has blessed us beyond measure. Praise be to the God Almighty!

Here are just 10 things for which I am thankful:

1. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is my all...everything I need...my heart longs for Him.
2. My awesome husband. He's a man of God and is striving to live a life worthy of hearing "well done, good and faithful servant."
3. My precious son. He's a joy, a delight, a constant smile, a hearty laugh. He challenges me daily and reminds me of God's great love.
4. My sweet princess, Brandy. She taught me more than I ever could have imagined.
5. My family. Their love and support mean all the world to me.
6. My friends. I have only a few friends who are very close to me, but I have many who are always a phone call away or even a blog message away.
7. My dogs. They warm my lap in the morning, and never do they greet me without a burst of excitement and joy.
8. My home. It's warm and cozy. I am never in need.
9. Health. My family and I are all relatively healthy. That's a great thing!
10. Hope. Hope for the future...for God's provisions...for God's blessings.

Finally here is one of my most favorite Thanksgiving dishes: Mmmm...mmmm...scrumptious!

Sweet Potato Casserole

6 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 Tbs. vanilla
Topping:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
2 cups pecans
2/3 cup butter

Mix sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and vanilla. Pour into 9x13 greased baking dish. Mix topping. Sprinkle over potatoes. Bake 450 for 40 minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

MUCH Better!

Ryan is doing MUCH better. Hooray! He is still coughing some and is still needing breathing treatments a couple times a day, but I'm so excited that he's doing so much better. For the first time since last Friday (11/14) he spent the day playing, smiling and laughing. It has been a great day...a fun day!

Here are some miscellaneous pictures. Most of the them are from today.
This is Ryan's new "Hmmm...what can I get into now...?" face.

I don't know what prompted this exactly. He was fussing a little because he couldn't pick the tray up off the floor and move it to the exact spot he wanted. He gave up and this is how I found him.

Eddy likes to sleep on my head during nap time.

Well...I don't even know what to say about this one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Little Better

Ryan is doing a little better. He's by no means close to his regular self yet.

I took him to the doctor yesterday to have everything checked out. The entire time I was driving I was praying that Ryan would just sound awful. Not because I wanted him to be sick, but because I wanted the doctor to clearly hear and see what we've been dealing with for the past week. Of course when we enter the office Ryan doesn't cough once, snot wasn't dripping to his toes, his lungs sounded okay, he wasn't breathing fast, he wasn't wheezing. The doctor more or less looked at me like I was crazy and said he was doing "great". He said I could give him Benadryl 3 times a day to help clear up any congestion he may have. (I think Benadryl makes my little guy extra cranky. I haven't experimented with it yet, but since I've been giving him more Benadryl he sure has been extra wired and cranky. He just wanders around the house whining. I'll be so glad when he is completely well...poor little guy.) I guess I can say that I'm glad the doctor didn't think it is RSV. He didn't test him for anything. He just said it was probably a virus.

Ryan is still coughing. His cough still sounds horrible. You know the kind...the deep from the bottom of the lungs, wet, coarse, can't quite get it all up...kind of a cough. He is coughing less for which I'm grateful. He is still crying for his breathing treatments. They are loosening everything up for him. I'm amazed that he can tell, but on 2 or 3 different occasions over the last couple days Ryan has cried unconsolably until we gave him a breathing treatment.

I'm really glad Mr. Tux is a permanent part of our family (thank you BCBS).

A very sweet thing about all of this is that one of the only *activities* Ryan really wants to do is sit a read books, which is so unlike him. He's definitely been Momma's sidekick...He doesn't want me more than about 5 feet away at all times.

Thanks to everyone for your prayers.

Rearrange


"Here, Mom. You really need to rearrange all your kitchen utensils."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Old Picture...You'd Think I'd Take A New Picture Once In A While

This is another picture from last week. Doesn't he look cute?

Ryan is still very sick. I figure that if he doesn't show marked improvement tomorrow I may have to take him to the doctor. I've never seen him this congested. He's not eating, and tonight he cried not for milk but for another breathing treatment. Although I can't think of anything else the doctor might do for him, I guess it won't hurt to find out if there is, indeed, something else. I'd kind of like to know what we're battling, too.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sick

These are some pictures from Saturday. Ryan's fish tank needed new batteries.


Ryan is pretty sick. He is very congested. I started him on breathing treatments this morning after he spent the biggest part of the night coughing. I thought I had a supply of Albuterol, but was disgusted to find I only had Pulmicort available. I gave him the Pulmicort this morning and called the doctor for a new prescription of Albuterol. I have yet to discover why sometimes it seems as though doctor's offices don't take parents very seriously. (I'm not talking about the doctor. I think Dr. S is fantastic.) I called this morning and began calling the pharmacy at noon to see if it had been faxed. It had not. After a call at 3:30 with no sign of the prescription I called the doctor's office back and explained that we really, really needed that prescription filled as soon as possible. They sent in a "second request". Finally about 4 or 4:30 I got a call from the doctor's nurse saying the prescription had been called in. The pharmacy called a little while later needing the doctor's phone number because there was a mix up on the dosage. I finally picked up the medicine at about 5:30. Ryan sat perfectly still (an amazing thing...really!) for his evening breathing treatment. He even went to sleep before it was over. Sweet little boy.....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big Congratulations!!! (and other things)

A GREAT BIG CONGRATULATIONS!!!
To my little brother and his wife...they are expecting a baby!
Ryan's new cousin should be arriving in July.


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These couple of pictures have nothing to do with the post title, but I thought they were cute. It's a glimpse of the craziness in our house.


Well...I'm sad to say that we must start our hibernation. In fact we should have started it last week. I just couldn't make myself do it. I wanted one last "hoorah" week, and since I didn't have to work on Friday I decided to make this past week our last week of freedom. We had a very fun and busy week.

On Monday evening we went to a Thanksgiving Dinner celebration for NICU graduates and their families. It was great. One thing I've learned is that once you have a preemie you enter into a new "family" that only preemie parents can belong too. It's a family that understands, loves, rejoices and mournes all the wonderful, exciting and disappointing aspects of having a preemie. No one can truly enter this "family" unless they, too, have had a preemie (or NICU graduate...as some are not actually preemies). That being said...it's great to get together with people who have experienced the same things we've experienced. I love hearing everyone's story and I love telling ours.

Tuesday was just a regular day. We spent the day at home.

Wednesday evening we went to a Preemie Honoring Ceremony to honor and recognize our (families in Oklahoma) preemies...both those who are living and those who we've lost. It was another great night.

Thursday was a slow day at work and since Ryan and I had a nutrition appointment to attend in the afternoon I forwarded my calls to my cell and spent the afternoon running errands and sitting and waiting in...The Health Department. (If you could hear me say that it's with a very ominous tone.)

On Friday Ryan and I had a doctor's appointment. Ryan's ears looked fine. Dr. S said that he had negative pressure but that was because his tubes are small. More importantly he said that it shouldn't cause any hearing problems. Think of riding in an airplane and having the feeling that you need to "pop" your ears. That's what Ryan is probably feeling with this negative pressure. I also had an appointment because I've had this irritating skin problem for several months. I just wanted to get it checked out. It's psoriasis...chronic, irritating, controllable. After our appointments Ryan and I did some Thanksgiving dinner shopping and some Christmas shopping...oooh fun!

Okay...are you ready for this...think back to "The Health Department. Picture in your mind a room packed, with no seats available. Kids running around everywhere. Toys in the middle of the room. Waiting for almost 2 hours. Got the picture? Last night I was awakened to the sound of a rather course barking type sound over the baby monitor. I sprang out of bed and into Ryan's room. He's sick. He's snotty, stopped up, congested, coughing, can't breathe through his nose, hoarse. He's sick. I told you I should have started our hibernation last week. I really feel that his yuckies came from the health department though. I can't wipe down everything in the health department. You better believe that I do wipe everthing I can with disinfectant wipes. I carry them (and Germ-X) in my car. I wipe down every surface Ryan might touch on a shopping cart and I also use a shopping-cart cover. I use germ-x more than lotion.

This season I'm a little more nervous in some respects. Yes...Ryan's immune system is much stronger than last year, but he also received extra immunity boosts through the Synigis (RSV) shots. This year he doesn't qualify. I sure would feel better if he did.

Momma and Baby Bear are hiding in their cave...see you next spring!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Foto Friday

Today is Foto Friday.

The theme for today:

"Family"


This picture was taken a few days ago. The quality isn't the greatest because I forgot to turn on the flash. It's amazing that all of us were able to sit still enough to get this good of a picture. For laughs...click on the picture and take a good look at poor Eddy.

For more Foto Friday fun check out these: Ballinger Family and Twin Powers

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures...

Here a bunch of pictures from this week.
"Hey, Mom...Look what I can do?"

"It's really a pretty good article."

Mr. Handyman making sure everything works.

"Good Morning, Zoe"

His Story

So back to the stories of my kids…
Fast forward a few months and you find us in early summer of 2005. Wade's grandfather was dying and we decided that it would be great if he at least got to meet one more great-grandchild before he passed. We decided to have another baby.

We didn't have any trouble conceiving Brandy...in fact, we weren't trying, so we just stopped the prevention. Month after month went by and then our perspectives changed from "stop preventing" to "start trying". Months passed. I started charting temperatures. I even went so far as to research pressure points that are supposed to help with fertility.

I finally decided to make an appointment with my OB for my yearly physical and I figured I would at least discuss the pregnancy issue at that time. The next available appointment: 8 months away! Are you kidding me!? I decided to call and talk to the nurse. I was more or less told that unless we had been trying for well over a year that they didn't even want to hear about it…nothing else mattered even if there were perceived problems that could be causing difficulties. Some time passed and after researching some insurance options we would be taking when I did get pregnant I found that my OB wouldn't take that insurance anyway, so I decided to find a new doctor. I found the greatest OB in the whole world! I explained the situation and they made me an appointment. The doctor spent a good hour with me on our first visit and it was discovered that I had a fairly large cyst on my ovary. I was put on some medication and told that if in a month it was still there then the next step would be to remove it. A month later I had surgery to remove the cyst, and I also had some endometrial tissue removed. 3 months later I was pregnant!

We were so excited and so nervous. I already had one pregnancy with complications, and a child born with heart problems. Once you have a child born with heart problems it greatly increases the chances you will have another one with heart problems. We entered into the pregnancy with anxious anticipation, hopeful that everything would be fine. We even had that handful of well-intentioned people "reassure" us that nothing could go wrong, lightning only strikes once....

Everything was going well. I started taking Progesterone shots at about 17 weeks. We had several ultrasounds, and at our 20 week ultrasound we learned that indeed our baby's heart looked normal! We also found out that we were expecting a little boy! Yea! Oh how excited we were.

At 21 weeks it all began to crumble...our hopes...our dreams...our peace. I began to bleed. I called my OB and was sent to the hospital to be checked. I wasn't having contractions and the nurse checked me. She said she couldn't really find my cervix, but she really thought everything was just fine. I went home. The next morning I bled some more. I called the OB and begged for him to check me. The nurse (who is awesome) said, "yes, when can you be here?" I said I could be there in about 40 minutes. I called my husband, picked him up from work and off we went.

When we got to the hospital I stood up out of the car and a very sharp pain stabbed me in the side. I never told anyone. I knew something was wrong. The doctor checked me and immediately pulled back. He explained that my bag of waters was "right there" and that although it was still intact the chances of saving this baby were very slim. We went immediately next door to the hospital.

I was put in bed with a catheter and IV fluids and they put me on top of my head hoping that the bag of waters would gradually make its way back where it belonged so the doctor could get a rescue cerclage stitch around my cervix.

That evening the doctor came to do the procedure and his nurse from the clinic came to see me and offer her encouragement. I could tell Dr. G wasn't feeling very hopeful about the situation, but he was going to try everything. The procedure was a success!

So the plan was to make it 10 more weeks until I reached 32 weeks. According to the doctor’s charts I was currently at 22 weeks, but I knew from my charting when we conceived and that I wasn’t quite to 22 weeks yet.

I didn’t make it 10 more weeks. I only made it 10 more days.

The night of day 9 a “friend” came by to see us, and she went on and on about how everything was going to be okay and that we didn’t have anything to worry about and she was hoping that I would just lay in that bed (remember I still had to lay flat or even a little head down) for not just 10 more weeks but until I made it past 40 weeks! She kept saying things like, “I hope you have a monster of a kid…9 pounds or more!” Aaaah! Oh that didn’t settle well with me at all. I wanted to stay in bed for as long as it took to have a healthy baby, but the idea of staying flat in bed (do you know how difficult it is to eat laying flat) for more than 10 weeks much less to deliver a huge baby was definitely not what I had in mind. That night I went to bed feeling very restless, praying that I would have a healthy baby but that I also wouldn’t have to lay in bed forever. It was a rough night.

For a long time I partly blamed that “friend” for getting me so upset, and I know that is absolutely ridiculous. For a long time I felt guilty for ever feeling so selfish that I wasn’t totally willing to lay in that bed for weeks on end. But then I remember that God is totally and completely in control of everything. He is the giver and taker of life, and I will never give credit to anyone else but Him for what happened next!

The next morning, February 11, 2007, I wasn’t feeling very well. I had been bleeding off and on since arriving at the hospital, but this day was different. I was bleeding more AND I was having contractions. The nurse kept giving me Brethine which helped for awhile. Eventually though the contractions started coming stronger and more frequently despite the Brethine. I was moved upstairs to L&D. The labor pains were relentless and the contractions were coming so frequently that I felt like I never could catch my breath. They started Mag and laid me head down hoping to stop everything and keep my baby inside a few more weeks. I fought hard trying to keep that little guy inside, but there came a point when everyone knew he was coming that day.

Around 5:30 p.m. my baby boy was born via emergency C-section weighing a mere 1 pound 8 ounces. According to the charts he was born at exactly 24 weeks gestation. The only glimpse of him I got was as they rolled the incubator passed me. I saw a small bundle of blankets in the middle…too small to see a baby. Was my baby really that small?

Ryan was in the NICU a total of only 90 days. He was born February 11th and he went home on May 11th. He was on the ventilator for just over 2 months (2/11-4/12). He was on the bili lights for at least that long. He never had to be on the oscillator and for that we are grateful. He did have his share of problems, and his extremely underdeveloped lungs were the source of most of them. He would de-sat so quickly and so frequently that he gained a name for himself. There was a time when they said he only knew 2 numbers: 70 and 100. He either satted 100 or 70 and he went from one extreme to another in a matter of seconds. His alarm was the one that went off continuously, and it had to be the loudest I think. He had a few minor infections in his lungs related to being intubated and he had an eye infection once. His infections never were life-threatening though. He never had intestinal problems which is amazing. When they started feeding him they never had to stop. When they began feeding him bottles he continued to eat like a champ. He sucked his first bottle down like he had just been waiting all that time for that bottle. I started kangarooing with him when he was just a couple weeks old, and to this day I think that had a MAJOR affect on how well he did. I am a huge believer in kangaroo care and if I could I would do everything possible to convince all hospitals of the importance of early kangaroo care. I held him for 2 or 3 hours every day.

There were days when we went home crying. There were days when we left not knowing if we had just said our last good-bye. There were days when we mourned for our friends who had to leave the NICU for the last time with empty arms. There were days when we rejoiced with families who were leaving with their precious little miracles, and there were days when we wondered if we would ever get to be that family. Finally, on May 11th, we were that family and we took our 4 pound 4 ounce little boy home with oxygen and an apnea monitor in tow. He truly is our little miracle! To God be the glory....forever and ever!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Outdoor Fun

Here is one of Ryan's favorite games.
video
He loves to be chased. If you listen closely as he goes under the tree you can hear his new laugh. It's his "I'm ornery to the core" laugh. I've been trying to get a good recording of it because I just have to share it with everyone...it's great.

Big Foot



Sunday, November 9, 2008

Discoveries and Her Story

I've discovered something great. Those cheap little "Take and Toss" cups from Wal-Mart...the ones with the straws...are the coolest things for two reasons: 1) They don't spill when tipped upside down (seriously...not around the straw nor through the straw) 2) They work just like a juice box. You give the cup a little squeeze and up comes the juice (or whatever liquid you choose). It's just so neat. If I had known about these cups earlier I would have bought them sooner and used them in aiding Ryan's mastery of straw drinking. We've been trying to teach him how to drink out of a straw for several months now by giving him little sips out of our straws. He started sucking from the straws, but when we would put the straw back in the cup instead of sucking the liquid out he would just bite the straw. Last Thursday or Friday I found a juice box in the refrigerator and decided to try it out. I gave it a gentle squeeze and he started sucking. That's the end of the story. Ryan now likes to drink out of the straw.

I don't have a new picture today. I have plenty on my camera, but unfortunately I let my batteries go dead without charging another set. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to download the camera.

Since I don't have any new pictures to share I think I'll share the story of each of my kid's entrance into our lives. I'll start with Brandy's story, and since her life was so short I'll tell an abbreviated version (you may find that my idea of abbreviated is still more like a novel when you finally reach the end) of her entire life. To read the detailed version go here
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Wade and I had been married for 5 years when we unexpectedly conceived our first. We were delighted, elated, excited, nervous, giddy, surprised. Most of all we were happy. I entered my pregnancy with that beautiful innocence that only first time moms have. That innocence that makes you take the test and squeal in delight at the results, you tell your family, make plans, dream dreams. It's such an exciting time. I went to my regular OB appointments and continued life as normal.
At 26 weeks I went for a regular appointment and explained to the doctor that I thought I had a yeast infection. She decided to check it out. Unfortunately it wasn't just a simple infection. I was immediately sent to the hospital. I was dilated to a 2. I went to the hospital...the wires...the IVs...the monitors...the blood tests...all the things that now seems so familiar but at the time were absolutely terrifying. I was all alone and scared. My husband and mother came as soon as they could but we live a good 35+ miles from the hospital.

It was finally decided that I was in pre-term labor. My contractions were coming every 5 minutes, and I had no idea. I felt nothing. I was put on Mag and who knows what else, and then began the constant flow of nurses and doctors flooding in and out of my room relaying the latest news and preparing me for what they believed to be the impending birth of our daughter. The one thing I remember more clearly than anything else was when the NICU doctor came and said that we should prepare for a birth of a very tiny little girl who only had a 20% chance of surviving. I remember her staring at me and I wondered if she was waiting for me to cry. I didn't.

My labor stopped, but more problems began. Not with me. With her. One of the ultrasound techs thought she saw a problem with the baby's heart, so a perinatologist came and did another ultrasound. He said everything looked fine. Again...another tech thought she saw something wrong with the heart, so someone else followed up. After this being repeated a few times it was finally decided that, yes, something was indeed wrong with our little girl's heart. Finally a pediatric cardiologist and a perinatologist did an ultrasound together. Yes...there was a defect...no...they couldn't decide what it was going to be. For now though it looked like it was going to be coarctation of the aorta.

After a short 10 day stay in the hospital I was allowed to go home, but on one condition....I had to stay in bed at no more than a 45 degree elevation. I could take one quick shower and sit for 3 times a day for no more than 30 minutes each time. I said, "Okay and here is my condition: I need home health". I still couldn't feel contractions and I was still having them at irregular intervals. I live 35+ miles away from the hospital. I was scared that I would begin contracting and not know it until it was too late. The doctor agreed.

I followed the doctor's orders. I watched movies, crocheted, cross-stitched, read many books. I was able to stay home for about a month and I was glad. Our goal was to make it to 32 weeks. At that time the doctor intended to lift the bed-rest restrictions. After the month at home I ended up back in the hospital. I started having contractions again. I was given several shots of Brethine and the contractions stopped, but the doctors felt like it was in the best interest of my baby if I remained in the hospital until she was born. They also thought I should stay pregnangt for as long as possible. So much for the lifted restrictions at 32 weeks. I didn't think I would make it much longer.

I made it to 36 weeks. All together I spent 10 weeks on bedrest. 6 weeks in the hospital, 4 at home. On September 4, 2003 at 2:00 in the morning my water broke. My precious little baby girl arrived at 8:15 in the morning. I was so excited...and so exhausted. I hemorrhaged after her birth so I felt pretty bad. Thankfully though she was able to remain in the room with me for a few hours before they wisked her away to the NICU.
Brandy was so beautiful. She weighed 5 pounds 15 3/4 oz. (They rounded it up to 6 lbs 0 oz.). She seemed perfect in every way. The only thing was the concern about her heart.

Early in the afternoon they decided to take her to the NICU for observation. The doctors felt that after her PDA closed it would be evident whether she had coarctation of the aorta. They prepared us for the worst explaining that it could close at any moment and when it did she may need to be mediflighted to the Children's Hospital on the other side of town. Day one went by...followed by day two. Well into day 3 her PDA hadn't closed yet, but by evening it had and the diagnosis was...NO COARCTATION OF THE AORTA! Yea! We were so excited.

The surgery to fix coarctation of the aorta involved an incision in the side of our baby girl and a subsequent "fix" that opened the aorta wider. We were terrified of her having to go through that. Little did we know that later we would be wishing that was the only problem her little heart had.

A Pediatric Cardiologist did an ECHO of her heart and came into our room to explain what he saw. She was diagnosed with ASD and Cleft Mitral Valve. She had not one but two holes between the upper chambers of her heart. He explained that they see this defect often and the surgery did involve an open-heart surgery, but the prognosis was good and we probably wouldn't even have to worry about surgery until she was at least 8-months-old or more. We accepted it, prayed alot, and decided to go on with life. Yes, we were scared, but we had a little baby girl in the NICU who needed us.

Brandy stayed in the NICU for 10 days for "observation". We were so excited about taking her home on that Sunday afternoon. It was great! She was our precious little princess. Having her home was great but not without struggles. She hated (I mean HATED) to eat. For weeks we could only get her to eat between 1 and 2 ounces, and it took a good hour or more to get that much in her. She also began having breathing problems which lead to her being put on heart medications and a diuretic.

At four months old Brandy barely weighed 8 pounds. On good days she weighed 8 pounds on most days she still weighed 7 something. Her cardiologists and heart surgeon decided that it was time! They scheduled a heart cath and a week after that we checked into the hospital for her open-heart surgery.

I can't begin to explain the feelings we had at that time. We were terrified yet confident that everything was going to turn out just fine. This wasn't a MAJOR heart defect...right?
On January 11, 2004 Brandy had open-heart surgery. After a long 6 or 8 hours (I honestly don't remember...I've blocked some of that out) we were told she was doing fine and we could go to the PICU to see her within an hour or so. The surgeon told us that he was able to get a good fix on her heart and that he was glad we decided to have surgery now. He explained that becuase her mitral valve wasn't working well that fluid was beginning to back-up in her lungs and if we would have waited much longer she would have had permanent lung damage.

An hour later we saw our little girl. It was horrifying. She had two chest tubes, on a ventilator, catheter, Central line, 2 IVs, and she was still bloody from surgery. I looked at her, kissed her, told her I loved her and left so other family members could go in and see her. When I reached the waiting room I crumbled into a heap on the floor...crying like I've never cried before. Why did my baby girl have to go through this? She was still too small and oh so innocent...she didn't deserve this.

A week passed and they began talking about sending us home. Brandy was able to leave the PICU, and she seemed to be doing well. She seemed uncomfortable but we were starting to see that precious little girl peak out from behind the horribleness of what she had just endured. We saw her big toothless grin again... and her sparkling blue eyes...and her little stories...and her cuddly sweet innocence that only she possessed.

On Saturday the doctors came in and said that tomorrow (Sunday) would be the day. We were excited, but scared. Could we really take our little girl home after only a little over a week after an open-heart surgery? Was she ready? Were we ready?

The next morning things had changed dramatically. Brandy was very fussy and everything seemed just not right. The surgeon, in his great wisdom, came in and just stood silently watching Brandy. He kept saying that something wasn't right, that Brandy was trying to tell him something. He finally left after deciding that we should stay at least one more night.

At 6 that evening Wade and I sat on the bed and watched America's Funniest Home Videos (it's amazing the things you remember at times). I was holding Brandy. It had been a very long, trying day. After the show we flipped on the lights and it was then that we noticed something terribly wrong. Brandy was blue.

Wade ran out into the hall and yelled that we needed someone fast. The rest became a blur...nurses...doctors...blood tests....oxygen alarms...oxygen saturations....phone calls...noise...confusion...questions. We were sent out into the hall. We waited and waited. Finally she was stabilized and the surgeon (he was called at home since he had to leave the hospital feeling ill) decided that she should be taken back to the PICU, and she should have a blood transfusion as well. Finally, after what seemed like hours of waiting, they began the process of transporting Brandy back to the PICU. I walked right by her side the entire way. She talked to me and looked at me with longing eyes. It was as if she was saying, "Mommy, what's happening? Why is this happening? Mommy, please save me." When we got off the elevator of the 6th floor the nurses told me to go to the waiting room. Brandy would need to get settle in the PICU. We would be able to see her in about 30 minutes or so.

It couldn't have been more than 5 or 10 minutes when someone came out of the PICU looking for me. I knew something was wrong. It was too soon for them to be ready for us. She pulled me aside and said that Brandy had gone into cardiac arrest and that they were doing everything they could. I walked straight to the back of the waiting room and found Wade who was on the phone with the family. I told him the horrifying news and the two of us went through those cold, dark doors of the PICU and down that hallway that now seemed miles long. Brandy was pale. They were doing CPR. I fell against a pole. And we were graciously escorted out of the room and into the Parent Room...the room that we knew was for families who were losing a child.

I prayed and I prayed...like I have never prayed before. Lord, please don't take my baby girl. Please give her back her life. Please don't take her away from me.

Brandy was finally resuscitated after 13 long minutes. We were told that the next few days and weeks would be long and we should be prepared for what the future may hold. We held onto hope. We hoped so hard that we thought we saw things that we now know didn't happen. Doctors continually asked questions like, "Does she recognize you? Does she follow you with her eyes? Does she respond to your voice? Does she respond to your touch?" We wanted it so bad that we began thinking that *yes* we saw all those things.

Another month passed in the hospital, and finally we were able to take Brandy home. We were hopeful and looked forward to the future. We spent the first few weeks visiting cardiologists, neurologists, pediatricians, and a GI specialist.

She was so fragile and still so sick. She began having major problems with reflux that put us right back into the hospital exactly a month from the day we left the hospital in February. She had a Fundo and G-tube placement surgeries. She began services with PT and OT and we went from one specialist to another. During CPR the chest compressions put too much stress on her heart and she now needed a valve replacement. She started having infantile spasms and we started treatment. She even had to be medi-flighted back to the hospital a couple of times after turning blue. (Our hometown ambulance crew was terrified of our phone calls.)

After several months of taking brandy from one specialist to another trying to find some answers...some relief for her...some healing for all of us, we finally went back to the heart surgeon. We loved him. We knew from all of our cardiology appointments that Brandy needed another heart surgery, but we were trying to wait as long as we could before doing that again. We visited with the surgeon and he visited with us with heartfelt compassion and pure love for our daughter. He asked us to consider whether God had intended for Brandy to live a long live...much less in the state she was now in. We went home and thought a long time before we finally made the most difficult decision we have ever made. It was time to let her go. The brain damage was so significant that she never responded to anything other than with cries of pain. She would never walk, never talk, never smile, never be comfortable, never quit hurting. We called in hospice and stopped going to all of the doctors and specialists. Hospice started coming to our house just before Christmas.
On February 14th, 2005 early in the morning Brandy went home...to Heaven. Her last moments were spent laying in bed between the two people that loved her the most...her mom and dad. Jesus welcomed her home and now she is dancing with the angels. Each night when the stars are out and the sky is clear we think to ourselves, "Brandy's ballroom is lit. She is dancing tonight."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another Road

I write this today somewhat reluctantly knowing full well that some will criticize me whether out loud I don’t know but perhaps in their heart or in their mind. Some might offer encouragement. Some might offer advice. Whatever the case may be I write it because I think I need to write it. What better way to get to know somebody more intimately and more personally than to truly know their heart, and this is what my heart is saying. I’m walking down uncharted territory for me…a road I never dreamed I would travel. I know I’m not alone on my travels. Many have walked it before. Many walk it today. Walking down the road called infertility. It’s a struggle. It’s heart wrenching. It’s confusing. It’s a mystery.

Some may say, “Well why aren’t you satisfied? You already have a child.” To that I say it’s true. I have been blessed beyond measure, blessed beyond what I deserve. I have a beautiful, healthy, happy little boy. I’m delighted that God has allowed me to be his mother. I’m excited about our future. I love him with a love I cannot even dream of expressing in words.

If God so chooses to call me to the ministry of being the parent of an only child then I will praise Him. I know He will equip me with everything I need to raise my son in a way that honors and pleases Him. I know He will equip me with everything I need, filling the gaps in every area I’m lacking, so that my son can grow to be a mighty man, strong in the Lord. Of course it isn’t my dream to only have one child (and by have I guess I should clarify. I mean raise. I will forever be the parent of at least 2 children.). God’s ways are more perfect than mine. I just hope he finds me worthy to raise at least one more. I am ready and willing…Lord, your will be done.

Some may remind me of all the struggles I’ve had with both my pregnancies. I agree that each pregnancy was difficult and emotionally exhausting. That still doesn’t take away the desire to be pregnant one more time and to have another child. Sometimes I wish it did.

As you can already see there are struggles with http://www.christianitytoday.com/tcw/2001/marapr/10.66.html?start=1>secondary infertility. There’s guilt…I already have a child…some can’t even have one…etc. There’s confusion…if children are a blessing and “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is FULL of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” (Ps 127:3-5; emphasis mine) then is there something in my life getting in the way of God’s blessings. On the other hand I struggle then with the feeling of shame…does God now think I’m disappointed in the life He’s given me. Of course I would emphatically say no. I love my life. I’m sorry for wanting more…. (I have so much to learn, so much growing to do. My faith is so young.)

My husband and I have been hoping to find ourselves “with child” for a little over a year now. I’ve seen my OB recently. We have begun the first steps of dealing with infertility. It is a slow approach yet it is also detailed and intense. I will explain it all another time.

I have much, much more to say, yet my thoughts are cloudy and my eyes heavy. I’m tired. One last thought though…Do you think I should start an additional blog to discuss my travels on this road or would you like me to write about it here? Should this just be about Ryan or about our family? Let me know what you think please.

It's Official...

Ryan can drink from a straw!!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Foto Friday

It's FOTO FRIDAY
Today's Theme
"Four Footed Friends"


Since everyone has seen our dogs in pictures recently I thought I'd share a pet from my childhood. Yes...I had a ferret. Ferrets are awesome pets. Eric was my first ferret. He learned to walk on a leash and he and I took a walk almost daily. The only thing odd about that was that he was uni-directional. He only walked west and north. He never would walk east nor south...he acted like he'd never walked on a leash before. He always rode...(okay, get ready for a flash back)...in the hood of my shirt. Yes...it was during those days in which hooded sleeveless shirts were popular. Actually it was probably a little past their popularity since I was one of those nerdy kids who was always a couple of years behind times when it came to fashion. Ferrets are fun and playful animals. They like hiding in small places, and the best way to "fish" a ferret out of a couch is with a potato tied to a string. My ferrets ate cat food and used a litter box. We kept them in cages for their safety. They are curious and conniving little creatures. Unfortunately Eric found a small hole in the screen in my bedroom window. Alas...he found the all-outdoors...and I found myself without my four-legged friend.

Be sure to check out these two sites for more Foto Friday Pictures: Twin Powers and Our Journey

It's A Size Thing

Ryan found this under his bed the other day. He insisted I let him play with it, so I thought it might be cute to see what he would do with it.

November 2008

May 2007

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mornings...

Do you know what time changes are good for

for parents of young children...
NOTHING!!

Every time change we've had since Ryan has been home has taken about 2 weeks or more for him to fully adjust. Ryan is usually an early riser although a bit slow to wake up once he's up. He likes to cuddle for a while before really starting his day. I definitely won't complain about that :). Do you know what time Ryan woke up this morning!?
4:30 a.m.!!
And he wasn't just up for a short little reminder that Mom still exists. He was up for good. Needless to say I wasn't ready to get up, so I put him back in his crib and laid down on the bed beside him. He played in his crib for TWO HOURS before finally falling asleep again. I was ready to get up then. I can't complain. I was able to get up and have a little bit of quiet time before my day really began.

I wish they would just leave the time alone. I love this time change. I love getting up early with the sun just peaking over the horizon to greet a new day. I'm always reminded of how God's mercies are new every morning. I love mornings. This time change also brings great night atmosphere to those of us who are not night owls. I enjoy the night atmosphere that comes when the sun goes down. Since I turn into a sleep-deprived cranky monster fairly early in the evening its nice to be able to enjoy some night life without the late hours.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Nature Fun

Ryan and I had a great day together. We went to the Martin Nature Park. It was so wonderful to be outside enjoying God's great creation. The fall colors are really starting to show, and the leaves are starting to fall. It was great. Ryan enjoyed running around...the freedom...the rocks.




We did other things today too, but I'm too tired to write about it...maybe tomorrow.