Thursday, November 29, 2012

10,000 Reasons

A couple of months ago, I was at Columbus Road Baptist Church on a Wednesday night sitting in the back running the sound board for the Praise Team (I don't know what I'm doing with 200 of the 225 buttons, sliders, and switches...) when they started practicing this song in the video above. Joel Webel, who is one of the MANY talented musicians we have at our church, led this song. I instantly fell in love with the song. He sounds a lot like Neil Young (think Heart of Gold) when he sings this song. Walking out from the ultrasound today, Kelsea and I briefly mentioned how we feel like today was a day to celebrate. Although Hayden's weight is still low and below the 10th percentile, everything else was great. He passed his biophysical profile with 8 out of 8 points. This test, done during an ultrasound, observes the baby's general movements, muscle tone (moving of arms, hands, and fingers, and breathing movements (or practicing breathing as Kim told us) which are basically chest and diaphragm movements, and the amount of amniotic fluid. Even though Hayden is still only at 2 lbs 5 oz., we felt hope because he has gained weight. We walked out thanking God for this wondeful news and took a seat to wiat to meet with the specialist.

As we sat down, I noticed a couple sitting across from us, close to our ages probably, who seemed very happy and carefree. We were called in to our next appointment, and all went fine. We again felt at ease with the doctor and Shannon, our nurse coordinator who meets us at every appointment, was wondeful as always. On our way out, as Kelsea was scheduling her next appointment, I spotted the same couple leaving the office. Their expressions were a sharp contrast to what they were 45 minutes earlier. My heart immediately sank and I wanted to reach out to them. I don't know what they were grieving, but there was definitely something heavy on their minds and hearts that was not there 45 mintues earlier.

It's easy to thank God when things go your way and you get what you want, but what about the times you don't get what you want? I felt so bad for this couple. I don't know their story, who they are, where they are from, or where they were going. However, I've been in their shoes and so have many of you. You have shared your experiences with us and shared your thoughts and prayers with us. I wanted to let this couple know they may not see it right now, but God does have a plan for them. We don't always know how we fit into it or what role He will have us play, but if we turn to Him and cry on His shoulder, He will lift us up. We can't just praise His name and sing out when things are going our way. When we find ourselves at that day when our strength is failing, the end draws near, and our time has come, your soul still needs to sing unending praise.

I hope this couple has Jesus Christ in their lives. If they do, they will get past this. I can't imagine where Kelsea and I would be today if we didn't have God in our lives. He is not 100% at the center where He should be, but He is moving closer and closer every day. I know for a fact that He is the reason we are where we are today and that we are making it through this today. My prayers tonight are for you to find the 10,000 reasons for your heart to sing His praise. One of the reasons I thank God is for the work that is happening right now. The people in our lives who are being touched and transformed by the love and forgiveness He has shown me, including my own transformation. I thank God for continuing to throw them the "life saver" hoping they will turn their back on their old lives and grab on to Him.

Reason 10,001.....................

Monday, November 26, 2012

Your Presence

I'm not much of a "book" reader, but I read. I read online stories, keep up to date with the news around the state, country, and world, and I have recently become more of a follower of blogs and reading other people's accounts about their lives, their trials, and their tribulations, especially those regarding revolving around families who have had pregancies with babies who have omphaloceles.

Two nights ago, I found one that really drew me in. A lady was talking about her pregnancy and everything milestone she wrote about, I followed along right on the edge of my seat. It was from 3 years ago, but her story was very similar to mine and Kelsea's. The week they found out (the week they went in for the ultrasound to find out if they were having a boy or a girl), their ensuing trips to a specialists, the level II ultrasounds, and the echos. Everything was right on. Even down to this lady's wonderful attitude regarding God's plan for her baby boy. As the weeks progressed, I felt like I was getting closer to this family and pulling and praying for them, even though this was three years ago. However, towards the end of her pregnancy, a weekly check-up revealed that his heart had stopped beating.

I was completely devastated. It was like a horrible ending to a really, REALLY good movie. It was the ending that nobody ever expected. All through it all, this lady kept a positive attitude and gave all credit to God, even in the end, after her baby boy's heart stopped beating. For the past two days, I have once again, tried to take on the world all by myself. Instead of putting my faith in God's hands, I tired to worry the hours away. The past 48 hours were miserable. I tried to do it myself, but as always, it doesn't work. All I could think about for the past two days was that Hayden's heart was still beating strong and we would push on through another week.

As I sat in my truck tonight, waiting for Kelsea at QMG, I opened up to God and asked Him to forgive me for not leaning on Him. I asked Him to forgive me for not putting my worries on Him. Of course, our God is a good God and he forgave me. He also once again showed me His plan and I felt like a fool for not putting full trust in the Lord. As we left the doctor tonight, I was still full of adrenaline after hearing Hayden's heart, this song was on the radio.

I am not a musically inclined person, but music has always connected with me. It is more than just the sound. When you really listen to the lyrics, it is amazing what message people are able to convey.

"Let me hear Your voice,
 For Your voice is sweet.......
I love Your embrace
I love Your presence..........
Your desire is for me
Nothing can change Your mind."
I know it will happen again, but the last line of the song really got me. His desire truly is for me, and there is nothing I can do that will change His mind. It is His plan, and it will continue. I just ask God, that You give me the vision to see more clearly what Your plan is so I can help carry it out.
Kelsea got her Rogam shot tonight (RH- Blood), had her Glucose testing done, which she said she could drink that stuff all night long, measured in at 29 weeks (which is good considering we are 29 weeks!), and discussed more with our local doctor about the non-stress testing (NST). She reaffirmed what Kelsea and I both felt, that the NST at this time would not be an option because it can produce a false-positive for a problem and Hayden would be forced to join us early in this world, and we don't want that! All is good. We are good. We are even considering cloth diapering.......    Call us crazy...maybe! Smart.......maybe! All part of the options to weight over the next few weeks.
We head to St. Louis again Thursday for our next ultrasound and appointment with the specialist. Althought not looking forward to the quick turnaround on the drive, we are looking forward to seeing our little Hayden again on the black and white screen!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What Does it Mean to be Loved?

Has it really been 2 1/2 weeks since I last visited this area of the World Wide Web? It is amazing, scary, exciting, and nerve racking (all at the same time) when I sit down and think about just how quickly time is passing us by.

These past 2 1/2 weeks I have tried to accomplish two things. First, I have tried to continue pushing forward trying to get everything in order for the new year and have our life as simplified as possible when God decides Hayden is ready to join us on the "outside" in this wonderful world. Second, I have tried to slow down and enjoy our life as a normal married couple who is expecting their first child! Let me tell you, these two lifestyles don't really play well together!

I am lucky that I don't need a lot of sleep to function. Staying up until midnight or 12:30 and getting up at 5:15 or 5:30 work ok for me. Would I benefit from more sleep? Probably. However, I've promised Hayden the best life possible and I will do what it takes to ensure that. Our parents have been strong examples showing Kelsea and I what it means to sacrifice your wants for your child's and I have quickly learned that it is something easy to do. The day after we returned from St. Louis a couple of weeks ago, I heard a song on the radio coming home from work. Thankfully, Soundhoud was able to give me the name and lyrics of the song. Although the details are different, the lyrics of this song, "What it Means to be Loved" by Mark Schultz, hit pretty close to home. It goes without saying that it brought tears to my eyes, once again!

So what does it mean to be loved?
  •  Over the past 3.5 weeks,we have all seen the posts on Facebook regarding what people are"thankful for." Well, every single post people have put on there are examples of what it means to be loved.
  • The continuous cards of prayer, encouragement, testimonies, and general well-wishes are examples of what it means to be loved.
  • The financial and emotional gifts of love and support are examples of what it means to be loved.
  • All of the wonderful gifts and gift cards we have received from Babies 'R Us and Wal-Mart for Hayden are examples of what it means to be loved.

  • All of the cute clothes and hand-made blankets and socks and hats that Hayden received yesterday are examples of what it means to be loved....looks like I have some work to do on Hayden's closet today...not sure where we're going to put all of his things!
  • All of our family members who were able to make it Kelsea's shower yesterday (and those who sent cards but weren't able to make it) are examples of what it means to be loved.
  • Kelsea's mom Laurie, sister Kim, Aunt Bonnie, and Grandma Mildred who traveled a long way in a VERY short time yesterday are examples of what it means to be loved.
  • Kelsea's Uncle Bruce who sent the bar of soap (with a train on it of course!) because he heard she was having a shower are examples of what it means to be loved!!
  • My parents coming in town and helping us out around the house this past few days are examples of what it means to be loved.
  • I know there are more, and I apologize if somebody is reading this that has done something that has showed us what it means to be loved, but there are so many things, it is hard to keep track of them all.
The basement is almost complete being "decorated" and the computer room is a mess (as always). However, it will get done...sometime! Pictures will follow soon!

11/22/2012 - 28 or 29 Weeks....whichever one it is!!!
Other than the issues with the Omphalocele, Kelsea's pregnancy is following a normal pregnancy. Kelsea is not getting big, rather Hayden is getting so big! We need that. We meet with Dr. Kagumba in Quincy on Monday for a normal visit and then we head to Barnes again on Thursday for a 3-week follow-up ultrasound and meeting with one of the MFM specialists.

Yesterday, our iPhone app told us Hayden is 29 weeks. Now, does that mean he is entering the 29th week or has completed 29 weeks, I have no clue. However, it does tell me that we are leaping and bounding closer to our due date. The goal is to make it to 39 weeks, which would put us a week before his due date, which is on February 9th. If we can make it to 2/2/13, that would be wonderful. Howver, as we have found out through our connections with many wonderful people around the country who have had an Omphalocele baby, many don't make it to their scheduled C-Section date, but the work God has done through us and in us continues to amaze me. I am sure the date won't end up being 2/2/13 (which would be the 39 week mark like the MFM wanted us to hit) but that date would mark the one-year anniversary that of our miscarriage with our fist baby.

It's so hard to fathom what God can do and the control He has over everything in this world.  From the timing of Hayden's due date (although it is yet to be seen when he will actually join us) to the work he does on people's minds and hearts. I continue to see loved ones and strangers evolve. I see God throwing that life jacket to them (as Bob always explained to me that God was doing for me) pleading with them to grab on. It is a hard thing to do to give your life to God, something I still struggle with. However, He truly is a loving and forgiving God. I continue to pray, and ask for your prayers, that those in this world who are struggling to find God, will have their eyes and their hearts opened, so He can show them what it means to be loved.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Omnipresent....or Just Hanging out in the Heart Station???

Genesis 28: 15, 16 states the following:

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it" (Genesis 28:15,16).
I know this is true, that God is omnipresent. Bob and I have discussed this in our studies over coffee (which I truly miss because I have not made it a priority lately). However, I felt like the only place He could have been today was in the Heart Station Fetal Echo room this morning at Children's in St. Louis. The news that was delivered to us today, I know it was from God. 
Hayden behaved this morning and our tech, Diana, was able to accomplish her job in about 45 minutes! Many times it can take up to 90 minutes to get sufficient pictures of the heart becasue of constant movement. However, God was right there with us, moving her hands across Kelsea's belly and comforting Hayden throughout the process. After Dr. Singh came in and looked at the heart again for about 3 minutes, he turned towards us and said "The heart is functioning properly. It looks good and I don't see any major defects." Before he could finish, the flood gates had been raised and tears were rolling down my cheeks. It was unbelievable news this morning, something that I know ALL of your prayers had a hand in. God was so good to us today. He gave us some reassurance that He has a plan for Hayden and He is using him in so many ways. He is using Hayden to reach out to families who are hurting today, families who are making difficult decisions, families who feel like there is no hope. He is using Hayden to show His love and grace is greater than all things we could imagine here on Earth.
We also got to tour the NICU which was like a whole different world. Children's is such a neat place. From the train when you walk in from the parking garage to the little kids's voices in the elevators. It is truly an amazing place. The Neonatologist and Pediatric Surgeon we met with for over an hour gave Kelsea and I reassurance that Hayden is going to get the best care that is available after he is born and Dr. Cahill, the MFM we met with today, along with Dr. Shanks from our last visit, and Shannon and Chris (our Nurse Coordinators) have given us the confidence the Kelsea and Haydne have the best care leading up to his birth.
Thank you everybody for your prayers and well wishes. It has been another long day, but such a rewarding day. It was a nice change to hear some good news, some news that made the selfish, human part of me happy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

City of Fulfillment

Well, we finally made it to our room after leaving the house 6 hours ago! Drove down to St. Louis tonight.....thanks Mom and Pops for the room and dinner.... Or at least part of it! We have a long day tomorrow... 5 or 6 different appointments I believe, so we decided to try to have some fun. We stopped by Baby's R' Us and I got to have some fun with their little "scanner gun!" I could do some damage with that! A lot more fun than looking online!

As we pulled into the "city" I thought about how life changes a person. I also thought about how my connection with God has changed me over the past few years. I have always loved St. Louis and have many fond memories from here and many memories I can't recall...or maybe have tried to forget! As we exited off 70, as you turn South onto Broadway towards the dome, the city suddenly overtakes you. Even with some run down buildings, it's still beautiful. I always felt St. Louis offered me everything I ever needed. However, I never realized what it was that I truly needed. Even though the things I desire and need have changed over the past three years, I am glad that now that I know what I really need, I can still find it here. Made me smile knowing I was here tonight for my Kelsea and Hayden and not here for my selfish wants and needs, hitting up Washington St. and all the stuff the "city" offers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5: Cat Hair and Fireplaces

As I read the "thankful" posts over the past few days from female friends I have on Facebook, I think about all of the things I am thankful for myself. Over the past few days, I have had several conversations with different friends, and all of them have centered on things I/we are thankful for. I am assuming they are doing one each day leading up until Thanksgiving or the month of November. However, that isn't enough time to even begin to put a dent in the things/people I am thankful for.

The biggest and most important thing I am thankful for is God's everlasting love. It is so hard to comprehend how He can love and show mercy and forgiveness to somebody who has lived the life I have had. It would be easy to accuse God of "punishing" Kelsea and I with the uncertainty that we are having with her pregnancy right now. However, we know that is not what our God does. We know He doesn't punish us because we have sinned. We do know that God is jealous for our love and our attention. I continue to see God work in not only our lives, but the lives of people around us and around the country. God is constantly telling us not to worry because He has our back!

I have wanted nothing more the past five and a half months (since we found out Kelsea was pregnant again....which I'm still not happy I didn't get breakfast that morning! Ask her about my great sadness over this story....) than for Kelsea to experience "normal" things many women get to experience during her pregnancy. Normal activities, actions, feelings, concerns, etc.. Well, for the most part, that hasn't happened. God realized she was stornger than most women and could handle bringing His special child into this world. From our concerns over the first few months because of her first miscarriage to our current concerns with Hayden's Omphalocele, I was worried she was going to miss out on things. What, I didn't know. I know we are to give our worries to God. Philippians 4:6-7 states

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

There were some things in particular that had been weighing on my mind. Things I shouldn't have been because there was nothing I could do about it. After I finally turned to God and asked Him for the things I needed, the things I wanted for Kelsea, He showed me once again just how powerful He is. God answered my prayers and reminded me He is in control.

I had mentioned in an earlier post about how I hate making people sad. I hate seeing the hurt and sadness in their eyes when I tell them something they don't want to hear. Whether it is something that impacts others or something that impacts us, I DON'T LIKE IT! However, I am here to say, sometimes the things we are afraid to say or ask are the things that need to be said or asked the most. Please don't be afraid to ask us questions about what we are going through, what we are feeling, or thinking. Don't be afraid to ask us what we are scared for and what we are excited for. I know it is like waiting in line at a funeral or visitation. You're not sure what to say because you know no matter what you say, it won't change things. You're afraid that what you say or do might not be appreciated or even come out right. I'm here to say, it's ok....say it anyways. Ask it anyways. Don't be afraid you are going to upset us (which we might...sometimes it is hard to hold back the tears) because most times it is that comforting word, phone call, note that is left that helps you get through. Never let your fear get in the way of your intentions.

Kelsea and I have been trying to balance doing the "normal" things expectant parents do with the "not so normal" things parents with complications in their pregnancy do! First off, I think I have been the one that has been "nesting" lately! The upstairs is clean, the rooms have been rearranged, and the basement is all set up (minus wall decorations), so we decided that it was time to minimize car hair. I have never been a fan of cats, although they were a package deal and I have grown to accept them as part of our family. However, I still get frustrated at the amount of cat hair in our house and on our coats! We decided it was time to shave the cats again and keep the hair to a minimum.  I'm not sure what is going throught the cats' mind right now, but I have a few good ideas! It sure is a good thing Tucker doesn't shed! Which by the way, I know it is probably one of those things that there is zero need to worry about, but I think constantly about how I am going to miss him and have already come up with some ways to sneak him down to St. Louis every now and then so he can give Kelsea some love when she is down there. I know when Hayden gets here that Tucker will take a backseat and I won't worry about him as much, however, right now, I do...and I know I will miss him. I do feel loved though because once again, God has been working...even in the pet department and let me know He will take care of Tucker, just as He will take care of our little family!

Kelsea and I have had some "fun" the past few days. Trying to accomplish one of the "normal" activities in between nights of coming up with questions for the cardiologist, neonatologist, and pediatric surgeon, we decided we better start looking at items that we "think" we will need for Hayden. Still not exactly sure what his life will be like after he is born, we decided to go ahead and register at Baby's R Us and Wal-mart and try to come up with things we think he will need. With the help from our new friend in Texas, Kelly Davis, we feel we have a pretty good idea. However, we hope to learn more from our marathon appointments this Thursday when we go back to Barnes and Childrens in St. Louis. We have struggled a little bit because this is obviously going to be our first child and we're just not exactly sure since we have never done this before! We don't know if we are picking things out that are too expensive, or not the right size, or if it stuff we don't need or if there is stuff we need, but we have no clue we need! It has been fun and we have started a big list, many duplicates as we keep saying we need to go back and cross-reference (mainly cross off) things we have on both websites! It is so hard picking stuff out for Hayden when we can't see the items in front of us. Of course, Wal-Mart has limited items in stock, so that isn't a ton of help! We are actually going to stop at a Baby's R Us in St. Louis when we are down there in a few days and hopefully will be able to decide on what we want/need and what we don't need/want!

So here is my Facebook "Day 5" post: I am thankful for:
  1. the love of God
  2. my loving wife
  3. one of the strongest and most supportive families a person could ever ask for
  4. the endless cards, words of encouragement, and gifts of love we receive every day in the mail and in person....we have quickly gotten behind recording all of the information that we promised we would when this started. However, my plan is to start catching up tomorrow night.
  5. Our new fireplace in our finished basement...this thing will get a lot of use over the next few months!