Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Thousand Prayers

The Lord answered some prayers today, and from the sounds of it, there are thousands out there.

I am truly amazed, not to mention how blessed I feel at how our story is being spread to every nook and cranny of this world...literally. It is amazing the statistics that Google can show you regarding where your blog is viewed throughout the world. For example, did you know that right now, there is a 23% chance you are reading this right now on an iPhone? Of course you did! The cards that filled our mailbox today when I got home were an absolute shock. I never expected this to happen. I didn't start writing to reach out. I'm not really sure why I did (even though it was only a week ago that I started....) but I think it was important for me to be able to get my feelings out. Most of the time, I don't really show the swing in my emotions. I am fairly even keeled and go with the flow. I know this may be a way of helping me through it all, to reflect on everything. Plus, it allows me to talk to Mom, Dad, Kelle and Jay and not repeat stories four or five times!

Some of the things I have been praying for have kind of been selfish lately. My rekindled walk with God has been going on for a little more than three years now and I have always felt uneasy about what to say to God. However, I also know that the Holy Spirit tells God exactly what I want Him to hear, whether I say it correctly or not. We have received hundreds of messages, texts, e-mails, phone calls, letters filled with bible verses, prayers, and testimonials (hard to beat the one I heard last night standing in my basement whle the door handles were being installed....the last place I ever thought I would hear one!). It is so encouraging and refershing to feel the love and support from people we know and don't know. While talking to my mom tonight (who by the way is currently in Basalt, Colorado sitting on a deck overlooking the Frying Pan River....can we say jealous????) I was saddened to hear the struggle in her voice and her words. However, I was at a loss of words when she told me about her friend and former coteacher who had spread our story to a church in New York and how they were going to make it their mission to pray for us and our family. I don't even know what it means to make somebody your mission, but it was so comforting to hear the joy in my mom's voice knowing that there were people over a thousand miles away, who none of us had ever met, praying for her and for us. This whole experience (even though it has only been 9 days) has felt like a lifetime of learning. We thought that God used our miscarriage as a way of drawing us nearer to him and as a way of reaching out to others to show His love and mercy. I am quickly finding out that His plan is much bigger than that. He is using Kelsea and I, and baby H for a much bigger purpose.  However, we still appreciate the prayers for strength and understanding, and esepcially patience.

Even with the prayers for patience, it is hard to keep. Kelsea finally got the call from the Fetal Care Center in St. Louis today, one that was met with a sigh of relief and put a smile on my face. This is where I wanted to take Kelsea and Baby H because of one name that kept popping up on almost every search I have done. A Large Omphalocele is correctable, but from my research, it still poses many risks after he is born and there are many other defects that can be associated with this, which is why I want the best out there. We go to St. Louis on October 10th for an early morning appointment with a Genetic Counselor. This sounds scary in itself, but it is no big deal. Everything we will be doing with the Fetal Care Center that day (which is a part of Barne's Jewish and St. Louis Children's) was previously done at St. John's in Springfield, IL. The genetic counselor basically will talk with us about our immediate family and medical issues in the family. We will then have a more in depth ultrasound performed and will have to discuss the amniocentesis.

While in Springfield, we opted for a blood test which screens for the "Big Three" chromosal defects which are many times associated with an omphalocele. We should be getting those results back any day. After getting those results and the ultrasound in St. Louis, we will then decide on the amnio. I want to be as educated and prepared as possible when Baby H arrives because I want to give him the best life possible.

Afterwards, we will meet with the Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor, Dr. Shanks, who it seems will be in charge of our pregnancy for the duration. After that, who knows. We might have to have an echocardiagram performed to check the heart functioning, but we just dont know. I felt so good two nights ago because I spent about an hour on the St. Louis Children's website looking at the services, doctors, patient stories, and vitual tour. The Virtual Tour was very neat. It is hard to believe that will be our home away from home in a few short months. I wonder if they will allow Tucker to come visit Baby H?

Random thoughts as I have been typing:
  • I wonder how many times a person's car can get hit/door dinged over the course of a lifetime? Kelsea's car was hit again this past Sunday in the church parking lot. I think we have put more money into that car over the past three years, due to being hit or ME hitting concrete pillars underneath hotels in St. Louis, than what it is worth! You think God is trying to tell us something about her vehicle?
  • Well, I was right...AGAIN! It took Kelsea less than 6 days to "slip" on Baby H's name! Luckily it wasn't on Facebook like I had predicted! However, a slip turns into well now I have to tell such and such, and then you have to tell such and such.... I would like to keep some things a surprise, this being one of them.
  • QHS Blue Devil Soccer just won 2-0 over Legend High out of Colorado in the Gateway City Classic. Man do I wish I was down there tonight....gonna miss going to the zoo and seeing the penguins in the morning. However...I am sure Dink is happy to have a room without me for a change!
  • Wonder what ever happened to this kid below... Kind of cheesy, but I like some of the lines. Kind of made me think about all of the people all over the world praying for us tonight....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Part Two: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, & The Good

The Good: Carpet was installed in basement on Saturday.

The Bad: The 1,347 flies living in our house because the door had to be open to get carpet, pad, tools, etc... into basement.

The Ugly: My ugly feet walking on the carpet...but it felt ohhhh soo good!

The Good: My awesome, wonderful, thoughtful wife talking Spanish and giving homemade enchiladas and beans to the Mexican workers who installed our carpet to take with them for dinner on their ride home to St. Louis.

 The Bad: They probably threw the plates (and food) out on of their 1986 full sized van before they turned on 12th St. laughing because we gave them the food we did! (Just kidding....they were very appreciative and I bet they chowed down!)

 The Ugly: My stomach after eating the enchiladas.

The Good: Dr. Kagumba's office at QMG contacting Washington University last Thursday and faxing Kelsea's info to her. We still don't know a lot yet, but we hope to find out more after we can meet with a specialist down there. I am guessing our future includes Barne's and Children's in St. Louis.

The Bad: Dr. Kagumba's office not hearing back from Wash U. for several days and every time they call, they get a voicemail and not live person. This has been a long five days waiting to hear what our next move is. I know we shouldn't worry, but the hardest part right now is the unknown.

The Ugly: What baby H was about to see this afternoon because I was getting very frustrated we weren't making any progress with St. Louis

The Good: Listening to a story tonight from and old friend who was telling Kelsea and I about his recent struggles with faith. It was amazing to hear him open up and talk about the loss of a "brother" and the temporary loss of a deep rooted faith, only for God to take his words and lead him to those words in the Bible. Listening to somebody open up about their questioning, their struggles, and God's wondeful way of bringing him back to Him was so uplifting. I feel like the conversation could've gone on forever tonight.

The Good: Lisa's homemade cheese soup and brownies tonight. It was a perfect night for good company, although way too short. It was a pretty special time to see my best friend, his family and his three beautiful children.

The Good: Dr. Kagumba's nurse calling Kelsea this evening and explaining that the paperwork somehow was lost in transition and that they finally spoke to somebody at Wash U today and they would be calling Kelsea to set up an appointment in the morning. Talk about instant anxiety relief!

The Good: God, His word, and His plan. We might not know, we might not like, we might not agree with, or we might not even see His plan, but we DO know that it is GOOD.

Part One: Winning and Losing

Well, the weekend came and went and I still don't feel rested from our travelling last week. However, I am ok with that because there will be another one coming up soon!

The soccer trip to Lincoln didn't go quite as I had hoped, however that has kind of been the theme of our life the past few weeks, personal and professional. I hate to admit it, but my boys have not won a game yet this season. Eric and Matt, moreso Eric than Matt, like to "bust my balls" because of this fact. I don't know how many times I have been "fired" this season due to our record. I have a couple of quotes I tell the boys every year our first weekend in Burlington for team camp. I tell them you are going to lose this weekend, and you will probably lose all five games. I mean it. I want them to know and prepare themselves to lose because they are supposed to lose. It is the first time I get to really coach the team and they are playing against JV teams. They are not supposed to win. I tell them a little about our program and the success we have had over the years. I explain what my job is, what their goal(s) should be, what the coaches expect of them, etc... I also beak the season down into games.  At this level, there is no postseasons, there are no state or media awards, there are no player awards that the team votes on at the end of the season. I don't keep track of stats, who scored how many goals, who comitted which fouls. I don't care. It doesn't matter! What does matter, and what I tell them they need to focus on is learning the game, learning the system we play as a program and making steps forward every game.

I tell them that I don't care if we don't win a single game all season (I have said this since day one). I tell them we could lose every single game we play and I would be ok with that if one thing happens. Well here we are, halfway through the season, and we are winless. Am I upholding my end of the deal? I am not sure. I am competitive. I have never really thought about it too much because I have never had to deal with it the past six or seven years, but I hate losing. However, on the trip home, I replay the games and evaluate whether the boys have done that "one thing" I tell them will make the sting of losing go away. I look to see if they are moving forward every game and making progress. Are they trying to learn the game, our coaching styles, our system and earn a spot on that charter bus instead of on the school bus? My job is not to win games, my job is to teach the boys and share my knowledge of the game and the system and to prepare them for their later years. My job is to make Travis, Eric, and Matt's life easier. Looking back on this season, they have made the progress, with a few little setbacks here and there, that I have asked of them. Even though they are winless so far, it will pay off for them in the long run because as a wise, old coach once said (won't name drop here....) "It's easy to win after everything has been prepared for you!" Even though I always say I don't care if we lose every game, it sure would be nice to see a 1 be put in the "W" column!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Life is a Highway

I'm exhausted! That is the only way I can explain it. After the week we had, the last thing I wanted to do was drive 600 miles.

Last Friday, Kelsea and I were met with some saddening news. Her cousin, Lucas Myhre, had been murdered the night before in Riverton, Wyoming. We are not exactly sure of the circumstances, but he was shot three times and suffered the same fate that his father had fifteen years before. As Uncle Bruce said today at the funeral, "One murder in a family is tough enough. Yet to suffer through the same thing twice is unexplainable." His ashes were spread in Wyoming, on the family farm near Dorchester, IA, and buried with his father at Waterloo Ridge Lutheran Church.

After driving over 600 miles in 26 hours, I made several realizations. 
  1. Northern Iowa is beautfiul. I used to think of Iowa as flat land full of corn. Boy was I ever wrong!
  2. God was preparing Kelsea and I this week for our life ahead. After driving to Springfield Wednesday for our dr. appt., even though we weren't excited for the driving part of this trip last night and today, we wanted to be with family in this difficult time. During our trip, we got to laugh, cry, sing songs, joke, talk about our future, share stories, and eat a romantic dinner at the Travel Plaza in Urbana, Iowa sitting between a fireplace and a water fall! (BTW...i only made her mad two or three times...I think every time was because I have control issues and don't like being a "passenger" while someone else is driving...true in the car and in life) We know our life next year will be filled with driving, eating on the fly, dr. appts, NICU, and no time to do things for ourselves. I asked God several times this week why his timing was the way it is. I leave in 7 hours for a tournament in Lincoln, IL as well! However, it hit me tonight as we were pulling in the driveway. Our life will be hectic and it will be spent doing things that we don't necessarily want to do. However, isn't that what God asks of us? To do not what we want, rather what He wants?
  3. We are surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of people who love us and would do anything for us (I already knew just hit me again these past 24 hours). We both had the time to read the e-mails, messages, posts, text messages that everybody has sent our way. We know it's a long road ahead, but we also know it won't be travelled alone.
As we got home tonight, and I was cleaning the garage, and moving the treadmill and sawhorses, and dryer in the basement to prepare for the carpet installation tomorroow (YEA! Finally! Jeff Hughes has done an absolutely amazing job on our basement by the way....I highly reccomend him!). Kelsea and I were talking and kind of recapping the past few days. We discussed how God used us in February with our miscarriage and allowed us to spread His message about love and grace in times of heartache. We both agreed that He is already using our little Baby H to do the same!

We are currently waiting to hear back from Kelsea's doctor in Quincy about our next steps. Kelsea's information was forwarded to Washington University in St. Louis where they will review her information and decide which doctors will be best suited to help us along this journey. Not sure when, but we are guessing we will be making our first trip to St. Louis sometime next week.There, we will probably have to repeat the process again. Another Ultrasound, more consultations, testing, etc.... However, we look forward to it, even though it means another trip in the car, because it will continue our journey as we learn more about our future and Baby H's future life.

One thing I am not looking forward to (I know that will change when the time comes) comes from my selfish side. I have already promised (over and over and over) to our little boy that I will do anything and everything to ensure he has the best life possible. In order for that to happen, I know I will probably have to give up things in my life that I cherish. One of those, as many people know, is doing what I do from June through October. I hate to think about it, but I feel this will probably be my last go 'round with soccer.... at least until the lil' one starts playing!

The last 7 years, this has been such a big part of my life. People on the outside might think we hate each other based on the things we say to each other and how we act towards each other, but we have a bond that is hard to explain. It's more than just coaching the boys. The other coaches...they are what makes this enjoyable, instead of a job. Even though some of the coaches have changed over the past years, it's always the same. It was evident this week, no matter what outsiders think or see, just how great these guys were. Matt, Eric, and Travis made my life easier by making their's more difficult. They are more than a coaching staff. Although I can't reveal the content, my life tonight was filled with 25 minutes of laughter revolving around our text message conversation. These are things I will miss.


It's easy for me to be selfish and say I will miss many things about my life now. However, I quickly think about that precious gift from God that is growing inside of Kelsea, and it makes the sadness disappear. It makes me look forward to the change and the future.

However, the future is not here......bus leaves in 6.5 hours......time to get back on the highway.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Only a Mountain

I love Facebook. I can't get enough of it. I love sharing photos, check-in's, trading barbs with my sister, posting about the things I love, and the things I dont love! People might call me crazy, but after we had our miscarriage back in January, I wanted to keep things a secret. When we found out we were pregnant again, I wanted to wait as long as we could because I didn't want to go through the heartache of telling people bad news again. I hate knowing that something I did or said hurt somebody, emotionally or physically.

When Kelsea wanted to tell all of our friends the sad news with our first pregnancy, and the good news with our second, I was hesitant to tell the whole world. However, I gave in and let her "win" (as she always says, "My mom always said you have to let the boys win sometimes or they won't want to stay around!"). She had a valid point. If we were to experience something unfortunate, these people, our family and friends, are the ones who would be there to support us and get us through the difficult times. Even on Tuesday night after we had the ultrasound, I was hesitant to let her post the picture of our beautiful baby boy! I am still holding out on the name! We have a name, and it fits him perfectly. It is such an awesome feeling to be able to call him by name. Sorry, you will have to wait for that one! However, if you check Kelsea's Facebook Page, there is a good chance she will let it slip one day!

So for me to say I love facebook, yet I am still a private person, some people might laugh at me! This week has pained me for obvious reasons. However, I feel like some of the worst times have been telling others that there are some complications with the pregnancy. I hate seeing the person's face turn from pure excitement to utter shock and pain. I hate putting people in the position of fumbling for words to say because they don't know what to say. We have all been there. Not sure how to respond. It is like being at a funeral (which unfortunately we have to be at tomorrow.....that's a whole different story!) and the whole time while standing in line leading up to the family, you are rehearsing exactly what you are going to say. You don't know what to say. That is ok. Sometimes not saying anything is exactly what is needed. The past few days, some people I have told the whole story, some people I have just told the exciting part. Why, I'm not sure. I don't know if it is for me and to help keep my emotions in while walking the hallways at school, or if it is for the other person. Either way, I know what they are thinking and I greatly appreciate it.

I have to be honest, I was kind of in a funk today. I think it is more of exhaustion. We have to hop in a car and drive to Minnesota for a funeral, turn around and drive back tomorrow afternoon. We have to finish getting the basement ready (so excited to move the treadmill once more....) for carpet on Saturday morning, and then I leave at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning for a tournament in Lincoln, IL. Let me tell you how excited I am to be on that school bus again!! I hate to leave Kelsea for the day, but it will be good because I love what I do. I can't imagine my life without soccer, however, I have a feeling that time is coming, sooner than I want, but it is not about what I want! There is obviously a bigger plan by someone more important than me. A couple of years ago, I would've missed that plan. Not today though!

On the way home from school tonight, I beleive I saw a glimpse of part of that plan. Jason Castro's "Only a Mountain" came on the radio.

This is only a mountain
You don't have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall
This is only a moment
You don't have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it'll move
Tell it to fall, it'll fall

As this was playing, a truck drove by with "33 Pslm" on its license plate. I got home and read it.

Psalm 33: 20-22

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

There can't be much more said than what these lycrics and this verse state. This is only a "mountain." Only is a huge word. It may seem like something that can't be done, but we continue to put our faith, our hope, and our trust in the lord and his unfailing love will help us move it instead of trying to find our way around it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Omphalo what???

September 19th, 2012

There are many moments, that throughout your life, stand out and are forever etched into your mind. Some of mine are being in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse at Disney World as a little boy, getting spanked outside of my uncle's wedding because I refused to walk down the aisle as the ring bearer, getting picked up by the "short bus" at Connie's house because I had a broken leg, starting against QND my senior year at Flinn Memorial Stadium, the day Kelsea said "yes" when I asked her to marry me, and both mornings that she announced to me she was pregnant.

For whatever reason, God felt our first baby was just not right, and after about six weeks, he ended the pregnancy. We thought the world was coming to an end and that we would never be able to recover. However, God was using this time to strengthen our trust and faith in him. We didn't know it, but we were going to need that faith several months down the road.

Fast forward to September 17, 2012. Kelsea is in her 20th week and we are meeting at Quincy Medical Group for an ultrasound. We can hardly contain ourselves because today is the day we get to find out the sex of our precious little child. The U/S is amazing. We hear the heartbeat again (dad is taking videos of the monitor while the tech is making it louder for him!!!), we get to see the baby sucking on its thumb for a few seconds, we see what effect Kelsea's ice tea has on the little booger, and we get to see a face peering back at us, as if it knew we were watching it. Finally, the U/S tech says, well, it is definitely a boy! Kelsea felt all along it was going to be a boy (and a girl...she thought twins!!!) and I really had no guess and/or preference. I just wanted God to bless us with a healthy child.

After getting our DVD and our 5' long roll of pictures, Dr. Kagumba finally was able to come in and go through the normal questions you have to answer at every office visit. After going through the measurements, which were all on par for our child's age, Dr. Kagumba caught us off gaurd and the conversation turned to one of those memories that will be etched in your mind forever. She told us she had some bad news, something that I easily recall her saying before.

A million things raced through my head in the two second pause before she continued. I thought I heard her wrong...there was no way there could be bad news. Our precious little boy was alive and well. His heart was beating strong, he was twisting and turning, and he even seemed to wave to us at the camera. Nothing stuck out on the U/S monitor. There was no third arm, or missing foot. There was a heartbeat, a beautiful spinal cord, two hemispheres to the brain. She had to be wrong.

Then it came out. Omphalocele. Omphalo what? Omphalocele she replied. A word that I had never heard of, nor could I even begin to pronounce, had within a 2-second span, become my life.

Our little baby boy's abdominal wall had not developed and what basically happens to 1 out of every 5-6,000  is that internal organs now begin to grow on the outside of the body. This is something that can be corrected as soon as our baby is born, but Kelsea had become a high-risk pregnancy and would require the care of a specialist.  Belleville baby with something similar from 2010.

We headed off today (9/19) to Springfield to meet with a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist and find out just what this means. You can imagine the research I completed in the 36 hours prior to our trip this morning. I basically finished the doctors sentences for her today.

Well, we had another U/S at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois today and got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that early results indicate there are no chromosomal defects or heart defects connected to the Omphalocele (which is fairly common....about 50% of cases are tied to other chromosomal defects). However, it is also still too early to tell on the heart and more tests and an MRI are being ordered. We also did a "Harmony" test for the "Big 3" chromosomal defects. Not because we wanted to weigh our options, but because we want to be informed as possible when our little one enters the world. This is only a screening, and we might decide to do an amnio in a week or two if certain results come back to us.

The bad news that we got from the MFM Doctor was that the omphalocele was large, which we saw on the ultrasound today. The doctor told us she had never seen one this big before. It was at this point, I immediately starting thinking about different options because I knew from my research, what that meant.

The omphalocele can be corrected, pretty easily if it is a small one, immediately after child birth. However, the larger it is, the more complicated it gets. With large omphaloceles, the abdominal cavity is not big enough for the organs to be pushed back inside once the baby is born. Gradually, over time (days, weeks, even months), they are covered and slowly pushed in as the abdomincal cavity grows. It can still be fixed, however, as one could imagine, there are more risks and complications. We also decided we wanted to go to St. Louis and meet with doctors who specialize in repairing omphaloceles. I have already promised my boy he will never have to worry about anything and that his dad is going to take care of everything. When we got home today, Dr. Kagumba said she would work on that in the morning, so we hope we can get in to see one of the doctors early next week.

A positive thing is that Kelsea's health will not be jeopardized due to this condition, other than normal pregnancy complications. We have a long, difficult road ahead of us, and we are both really scared, mainly due to the fact that we don't know many, many things. However, we know that we have the best support system anyone could ever ask for in our family, our friends, each other, and most importantly, God. We will struggle at times (as we have quite a bit already) and I know we will question, and get angry, and sad, but I also know it will be short-lived because God has a plan. As the title of this blog states, I have adopted a new motto: If He leads you to it, He will lead you through it.

It's been a long 48 hours, and we have to drive to Spring Grove, Minnesota tomorrow night for a funeral. Kelsea is fast asleep.....not sure how though!