Thursday, July 29, 2010
Just a real quick update to let you know that Brooklyn's surgery was a total success, and she is doing great! The neurosurgeon said she lost very little blood and that the surgery went about as smoothly as it could go. Praise God!
She slept peacefully last night, and today they will finally get to feed her some of my milk. Because she was having surgery, they were only able to give her sugar water and IVs. Now comes the good stuff!!! I'm not sure when I'll be able to nurse her myself, but I am pumping as much as I can in the meantime. Of course, the most important thing is that she is getting my milk, but I do pray that I get to nurse her soon. My heart is aching for that bond so very much.
My OB is supposed to come in first thing this morning to authroize discharge, and I CAN'T WAIT!!! I am so excited to get to Children's and see my little trooper. God (and your prayers!) got me through yesterday's separation, but I am MORE than ready to move on from that and get to lovin' on my girl!
I do have to say it's been really cool to see Jeff form such a strong bond with Brooklyn. I can hear it in his voice...he is totally and completely in love and is just soaking in all this Daddy time. He told me yesterday how she likes to be soothed, and I could just feel the pride oozing through the phone. Boy do I love that man...
Our next milestone is seeing how Brooklyn's body responds to the surgery. There was a small tear in the membrane surroudning her defect, which means fluid had been leaking out when she was in my womb. Now that we've closed that tear, as well as the open defect itself, there is nowhere for the fluid to escape. It will build up as her body tries to find a way to absorb it, and depending on how that goes, a shunt may or may not be needed.
However, because Brooklyn's ventricles were already measuring big (which means she already had fluid build-up in her head before the surgery), a shunt is looking like a very real possibility. This is not shocking news, but we are still hopeful God will find a way to absorb the fluid. Pray, pray, pray!
Jeff did meet with an orthopedic surgeron for a little while yesterday, and we got some AWESOME news that I just have to share. When Brooklyn was born, one of her legs was completely straight with no bend at the knee. This wasn't a total surprise since several of our ultrasound photos showed this; however, inititally they thought that this meant her bones were actually fused together, which would mean she would never have bending in her one leg. Of course, this was hard to hear and challenged the possibility of her walking successfully in the future.
BUT...after the orthopedic surgeon evaluated her yesterday, he was able to reposition her legs and massage the area and HER KNEE BENT! Testing also showed that she has "good muscle tone" and strong blood flow in BOTH of her legs. Can I get an AMEN?!!!! :) Needless to say, we are all elated and beyond thankful. God is so awesome!
She will still need xrays of her legs to give us more information, but right now, the focus is on her back and her head. Any casting or orthopedic surgery will most likley happen after she is home with us. They think she'll be able to come home in 2-3 weeks -- which is way too long for this mama -- but is what we had expected all along. Just pray that she heals quickly so that we don't have to add to that timeframe!
So that's it for now. So much for my "quick" update. ;) I'll post some more photos soon, but if you can excuse me...I AM GOING TO SEE MY GIRL!!!!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Miss Brooklyn is finally here! She was born via C-section yesterday at 4:49pm. She is a little peanut at 6 lbs 1 oz, and oh my goodness is she cute! I may be a little biased, but she has the sweetest little face. Oh how I wished I could have kissed it yesterday, but Jeff promises me he gave her plenty of “cuppy” kisses last night.
Although her diagnosis (at least for now) appears to be the same as we were told early on, God is still performing lots of little miracles for our baby. First of all, she is extremely stable. She is breathing on her own and her oxygen levels have been 100%, which is awesome (88% or higher is considered “good”). She was able to be transported very quickly to Children’s and is charming everyone she meets! They are even performing surgery less than 24 hours after her birth, which means that even at such a small weight, they think she is more than strong enough to handle it. Such a tough little cookie!
Her hydrocephalus (fluid in her brain) has not caused her head to swell at all, and she does have movement in her legs. Her feet are still clubbed and her legs are not positioned correctly, but we are waiting to see what the orthopedic specialists and the x-rays show. But somehow she is managing to move her legs, so we are still very hopeful!
So far today, they have performed three tests—a renal exam, an ultrasound of her head, and an echocardiogram. They all came back fine, and they are common tests they run before she heads into surgery. Her blood tests show her electrolytes are good, and Jeff says she is very active. Her eyes are wide open, and she is sucking and grabbing onto anything you put near her face. And this may be surprising to all of you…she is very vocal. I know, shocking, right?! ;)
Right now, the main focus is keeping her open defect moist and protected until they can close it up later today. They have been positioning her on her side and stomach, and Jeff says she seems comfortable. Her surgery is scheduled for around 4pm or 5pm today, but as we all know, things don’t always happen on time in a hospital environment. We are just pleased that the surgery is happening today. Because she was born so late in the day, there was a chance of switching the surgery to Thursday or Friday, which would have meant we would have had a different neurosurgeon. But, praise God, we are still able to have it today, and our original neurosurgeon is definitely performing the surgery.
The other miracle has been my recovery. I am feeling extremely good and the c-section went very smoothly. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say my body is healing well and the nurses and OB are willing to possibly let me out today! That’s a mere 24 hours after surgery, which is amazing. Jeff and I have –ahem – differing opinions about what is best for me, but I am ready to get out of here as soon as they say go. BUT I know I need to be conscious of my healing so that I don’t end up back in the hospital. We’ll see how I feel after the 24 hours has officially passed and go from there. I just miss her so much!
Well, I think that’s about if for now. We appreciate your prayers for today’s surgery, and we’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes. Sorry there was a delay in getting you this update, but now that my computer is all set up, I should be able to update much more often.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all for literally showering our daughter with prayers yesterday. We felt them, and the peace Jeff and I have is unbelievable. These last 2 days, I have felt nothing but comfort and acceptance and encouragement. The negative hasn’t found its way into my heart yet, which I know is because of all the love and support I received from so many of you.
God has truly provided me with more strength than I thought possible, and He is doing the same for our little Brooklyn. She is proving to be as spunky as we had hoped. :) To God be the Glory…great things hath done!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I close my eyes.
I see Him. His hands. He stretches them out to me and hands me my baby.
"Here, she is, child. It is now your turn to take care of her. She is special. You may not understand the decisions I have made, but I trust you. Her strength will be her spirit. Guide it, nurture it...for it will bless many."
I nod my head. I look in her eyes, and I know He has created beauty beyond my comprehension. Heavenly beauty that I get to share with the world. I am proud, and I am happy.
This day, she is mine. But, more importantly, she is still His. Together, we will show the world that His plan is always perfect. Always good.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Tomorrow we get to finally meet you, and we couldn't be more excited. There is so much to tell you, but for now, we just want you to know how much we love you. So very, very much.
Mommy, Daddy, Emma, and Kendall
Photo by the lovely Brookelyn
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
So far, it's looking like Miss Brooklyn is going to hold on until this Tuesday. Earlier this week, I was having some contractions, but nothing really since Tuesday night. I think those were more of a result of our fun-filled (but hot!) day at the zoo on Monday.
I also had my last loooong day of doctor's appointments on Tuesday (non-stress test, ultrasound, and OB visit). I didn't realize how much I wanted those to be over until I was sitting in the ultrasound room. Jeff was with me, and we got the latest numbers on Brooklyn ventricles (brain fluid estimations), and I lost it. The numbers were much higher than I expected -- 33 mm and 27 mm -- and before I knew it, the tears were streaming and I could not get them to stop. It was at the moment that I knew I wanted this to be over.
It's not that I wanted the pregnancy to be over; I was just done with all the stinking appointments. Done with the long days, the drama, the worry, the head games I had to play with myself every time...building myself up for what I might see, trying to stay strong for what I did see, then trying to convince myself that what I actually saw meant nothing. Totally and emotionally exhausting. Let's just say I would rather not see an ultrasound machine for a very, very long time.
The good news is that my OB wasn't concerned with the ventricle size at all and said it's all proportionate to her growth. (So, yes, I totally overreacted.) And speaking of growth, our "little peanut" is now up to the 56th percentile in weight!!! That was such awesome news -- we really want her to be as strong as possible if she does in fact require surgery.
She is still breech, but this girl is trying her hardest to move. Not sure she'll make it there, but I'm still praying that she will. The c-section is all set up, but in all honestly, my heart's desire is to deliver her naturally. Of course, I have no control, so whatever is meant to be will be.
I truly, truly believe that. I am at total peace right now with whatever happens. Now, I admit that last week was a totally different story. I wasn't ready. But after having some contractions and then the emotional release of Tuesday's appointment, my heart faced it all head on, and I honestly feel ready for anything. If she comes this weekend, great! We get to meet her sooner. If she waits until Tuesday, fine. Then all of our "plans" are in place, and we know what to expect (kinda).
The last few days have been wonderful as I get everything "in order" and do some last-minute fun things with the girls. I've even been able to have some really good talks with Emma.
Overall, I am totally motivated and feeling really good -- both physically and emotionally. Our plans are in place in terms of babysitters and emotional support for Brooklyn's birth and the days following, and I am so very excited to meet our little angel.
We'll keep you all posted, and as always, thank you so much for your prayers. She's almost here!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Before I begin, let me tell you that I am completely aware of the potential "realities" of Brooklyn's condition:
I am aware that she may be born with much more than just Spina Bifida.
I am aware that she may need 2 major surgeries within the first few weeks of her life and could have up to 30+ surgeries by the time she is 20 years old.
I am aware that she may have a shunt in her brain that can save her life, but can also take her life away if it becomes infected because I simply mistake it for the flu.
I am aware that she may never be able to go to the bathroom on her own.
And, yes, I am aware that she may not be able to wear any of the baby/toddler shoes that sit here waiting for her.
(Very) early puberty, seizures, vision difficulties, potential cognitive challenges...the list goes on and on and on.
These potential "realities"...trust me, I know of them. On "bad days," I have allowed myself to test each one out to see if I could in fact handle them. But for now, they are filed tightly away until I actually have to deal with them. They have been noted, but they are sitting on a little shelf some might label "denial." And I am okay with that. One. day. at. a. time.
With that said, on to "power" experience #2...
Right after my prayer shower, I was on a high. That night, Jeff and I had an absolutely wonderful time of sharing that our marriage and our hearts truly needed. The next day, I told my OB nurse all about the shower, and she was moved to tears. She prayed for Brooklyn right there in the middle of my non-stress test. I was strong, fulfilled, and encouraged.
But then Monday afternoon hit, and I started to get dragged down. Hard. As the days and hours passed, the doubts, the insecurities, the everyday challenges started to take over. I was tired, angry, impatient. I got sick. The girls were at their worst. By Thursday, I literally had the worst Mommy day of my life. I screamed and said things to my girls I never would have imagined I would say. At one point, my little 4-year-old Emma looked at me and said, "Mom, you are letting the Devil work through you."
And, you know what, she was right.
I truly believe that Satan was attacking me. No, I don't think I was "possessed" or that some demon was taking over my body, but I do believe that the power of what happened at that prayer shower ticked him off. Something was happening, and he didn't like it. I might as well have had a big target sitting on my belly.
So he attacked and attacked and attacked. And it wasn't just because of the prayer shower. It was because on Thursday night, we had another prayer "meeting" scheduled with the healing prayer team at our church. Satan literally did everything he could to keep us away from that meeting. My body so wanted to stay home; my heart didn't want to deal with one more emotion. The excuses were easy...I was literally sick (I need my rest), I was too tired (I AM pregnant after all), I had no babysitter lined up (I'd hate to ask one more person to watch our kids), the girls needed their Mommy to put them to bed (I leave them enough)...
But when the excuses kept coming and Jeff actually suggested we stay home, I knew we needed to go. My Mom even voiced my thoughts out loud, saying that I knew who was trying to keep us away (Satan). So we went, and God totally won that battle.
At the "meeting," this team didn't focus on praying for our peace or even for God's will (although we know that is the ultimate deciding factor). They prayed for healing. Complete and total healing. Healing of Brooklyn's back, her nervous system, her legs, her clubbed feet, the fluid around her brain. As one man prayed, we BOLDLY asked God to heal our baby because yes, it is bold to ask God to do something so completely selfish. But it is our job to ask. We leave the answering up to Him.
Do I believe that God can heal our baby? Yes I absolutely do. He did it in the Bible, and I know He can do it now. Within a nanosecond, He could take this all away.
The question then becomes, will He? Or rather, do Jeff and I have enough faith to actually believe that HE WILL. In the Bible, He healed people simply because they believed He could. But did they also ever doubt that He would?
To be completely honest, I don't know the answer to those questions. I want to believe 100% that God WILL heal our baby. But I am human. As much as I want to throw those "potential realities" so very far, far away, I am afraid to. It's not that I don't think He has the power to do it, I'm just afraid that is not His plan.
The night of our first ultrasound was one of the worst nights of my life. I literally laid in bed and cried ALL NIGHT LONG. I sobbed and grieved for hours and hours and hours. Every once in a while, I'd wake Jeff up to hold me when the pain became too much to bear, but for most of the night, it was just God and me. I truly believe God cried right along with me that night, allowed me to just feel. But then in the morning, He started to pick me up. And the journey began.
Believing 100% that He will take all of this away might mean re-living that night all over again, if in fact His plan is to not heal her. And that is so very, very scary. So far, I have not been angry with God (more on that later...), and I don't want to be.
But that is what faith is. It is believing so much that you put His power before your own weaknesses, even if it might hurt a little. That even if His plan wasn't what we asked for, that He would protect our hearts and get us through it. Again.
So that has been mine and Jeff's prayer... to erase all the doubt. To wholeheartedly trust in His power. To trust that He WILL heal our baby. To do more than hope. To BELIEVE.
As Brooklyn's birthday gets closer, I admit that it is getting harder to do as we attempt to prepare. But we are trying our hardest and fighting against Satan and all of the doubts he pours in. Ignoring the hurtful dreams, the financial stresses, the marriage struggles, the hormones, the exhaustion of raising two toddlers, and all of the challenges that want so badly to take over this home. To ignore the dozens of hurtful ultrasound images that flash through my head and just focus on that adorable, beautiful little face. To see His face in hers. To believe in His image.
We will accept His plan, but for now, please pray with us. Pray that He will heal our baby. That she be restored 100%. We have to ask for her sake. And because we know He has the power to do it.
"...Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children..."
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
My last two doctor appointments went well. The one I had 2 weeks ago turned into an ultrasound because my belly was measuring small (about 2 weeks behind), but the ultrasound showed Miss Brooklyn is growing -- she was up to 5 lbs, 9 oz -- which is still within the 25th percentile. I had a feeling that she was going through a growth spurt after that appointment, and sure enough, this week my belly was only measuring a 1/2 week behind, so she is getting stronger and stronger every day!
She is still breech, so we are scheduled for a C-section on July 27. However, both my girls were early (Emma was 10 days, Kendall about 5 days), so we'll see what happens. Miss Brooklyn certainly likes to keep life interesting, so I'm not planning on anything going the way I think it will. ;)
My OB did talk to us about doing a "version," which is where they manually try to turn the baby in utero so that she is in position for a natural birth. But, there are risks associated with that, and Jeff and I both feel it isn't worth it at this point. They say I am a "good candidate" because my other two deliveries went so well (nice and fast!), but I feel really confident that Brooklyn will be in the position she is supposed to be in when the time comes. Whether that means she does a flip on her own or wants to stay put, I am game. We have gotten this far, and I certainly don't want to induce an emergency C-section if we don't have to. We want to give Brooklyn the safest delivery possible.
(But... if you could say a prayer or two that she does flip, I'd appreciate it. I'd really like to recover from delivery as fast as possible so I can be with Brooklyn and the girls as fast as possible. I have accepted that this might not happen, but I am still hoping!)
So that's the scoop. My last doctor's appointment and ultrasound are on Tuesday, and then we wait until the 27th. Holy cow, that's less than 2 weeks away. Can you believe it? Let the countdown begin!
Monday, July 12, 2010
Lately, I am finding joy in the every day, especially as I look at these two little girls grow more and more in love with each other. They are truly best friends, and their relationship is something they created on their own. Somehow, their relationship makes me more complete, and it makes every hard day worth it.
The three of us -- "the girls" as Jeff calls us -- we are a package deal. And I love that. They drive me crazy, yes, but they also amaze me and inspire me and love me for all that I am (and all I am not).
When I look at them -- at us -- I am happy. Often frustrated, always exhausted, and sometimes overwhelmed...but happy. And to think we get to add another girl to our "package" makes me happier. I know it makes them happier too.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Let me be honest for a minute. If you would have asked me a year ago about the "power of prayer," you would have gotten some luke-warm response from me. Yes, I KNOW it's important. I know God tells us to do it. And of course I have done it many, many, many times for those I love and those I barely know because, well, that's what you do when something bad happens. You pray for someone. (Or you at least offer to pray.)
For me, prayer had always been one of those "I need to do more" things, and like most people, it was often a clear reflection my relationship with God. It definitely needed some help. I meant to pray more -- to actually follow through on my promises to people -- but sometimes I just plain forgot, got too busy...or fell asleep.
And even when I did pray, did I truly believe my prayers were making a difference? I mean God is God, and He is going to do what He is going to do. Was I just getting another jewel in my crown because I remembered to do it, or was I actually having some sort of impact on the lives I was praying for? I honestly don't know what I thought. In fact, I never really thought that much about it all.
Now, however, I will boldly tell you that there is absolute power in prayer. I know it because I have felt it pulse through my heart. I have felt it zap away tears and energize a broken spirit. I have seen it literally move legs and ignite hope like never before. Trust me, there is power in prayer.
Ever since we found out about Brooklyn's condition, I have been amazed at the amount of prayer and support we've received. I'll never forget an email Jeff got from a woman we didn't even know after I sent out our first prayer request email. Not only did this complete stranger offer us love and encouragement (and prayer), a simple scroll down showed that she had received our email after 3 forwards. Jeff and I were in total awe.
The cards, the letters, the emails, the blog and FB comments...each one has meant more than you know. And when you say you are praying for our baby, I believe you and I am truly and eternally grateful. Prayer is literally all we can offer our baby right now, so we have no problem asking for it. Pride has no place in your life when your child's health is concerned. We will do whatever it takes for her.
Soooooo...this is all leading up to two absolutely amazing prayer experiences I had in the last 2 weeks. Today I'll tell you about the first one.
Two Sundays ago, my sister-in-law and mother-in-law threw me a prayer shower. The invite list only included close family and a few church friends. I honestly had no idea what a "prayer shower" was and although I was so very thankful for the gesture, I was a little nervous about being the center of attention. I mean it's one thing when people are coming to rub your belly and say congrats, but it's completely different when people are coming to rub your belly with tears in their eyes and have no idea what to say. But it wasn't like that at all. It was A M A Z I N G.
After a beautiful lunch, my sister-in-law asked everyone to sit in a circle of chairs. She had everyone bring words of encouragement (bible verses, sayings, prayers, etc.) they prepared on a card that she put in a keepsake book. She invited people to read their card, to pray out loud if they felt led, or to just share their heart. There was no pressure and we didn't go around the circle. People just prayed and shared if they felt comfortable, and I have never been so touched in my entire life. There were tears, yes, but not because we were sad. It was just emotional and touching and
P O W E R F U L.
There is no doubt that God was in that room with us, and I felt absolutely blessed that I got to be the Mommy of such a little angel. A precious life that had managed to bring all of these people together to talk to God before she was even born. Bring all of us closer to Him...and to each other. One little life, so many prayers. SO MUCH POWER.
After we were finished, I stood in the center of the room, and everyone laid hands on my belly or just stood around me. My sister-in-law asked everyone to pray one very specific silent prayer in their hearts for Brooklyn, for me, or for our family. It didn't take long before those prayers were no longer silent and we were once again praising and asking and trusting. My heart was lifted, my love tank "filled," and my doubts and fears eased. Total and complete peace washed over me. Again and again and again.
Did I deserve all of this? No. But I will take it. All of it. For my baby and for His glory.
This was no ordinary shower. There was no registry, no pictures, no Baby Bingo, no pink safety pins to steal from your neighbor. There was no huge guest list (although we had enough dessert to feed hundreds!) and no obligatory "I have to go." I truly believe that those who were meant to be there were there, and God used them in a very powerful way. Everyone should have one of these. Seriously.
There were a few small thoughtful gifts, but most were opened after I got home. Nothing about this shower was superficial or worldly. This was about all about God.
I will forever treasure this experience, the keepsake book that will surely get me through the toughest of days, and every word that was spoken for my daughter, my family, and for me. And for those words that were unspoken, I will trust those to God. I know He will use them in an amazing way.
There is power in prayer. Not only because of how absolutely empowered I was after this experience, but because what happened in the days following. And it wasn't what you think.
Not that I'm trying to keep you hanging, but I realize that this post is getting long enough, and I have even more to say about experience #2. I will tell you that Brooklyn's condition appears to be the same, but I will also tell you that there a lot more hope around here lately. Keep praying.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
For now, I leave you with a haiku I wrote earlier this week thanks to the encouragement of my blogging friend Stephanie. It sums up what I experienced -- not once, but TWICE! -- in the last 5 days. Absolutely amazing.
Hands on my belly
Silence. (Tears) Warmth. Peace. Power!
Strength for tomorrow