Saturday, April 21, 2012

Holt Gala 2012

It was that time of year again! Time for the Holt annual Gala! It has a special significance to us as this time last year we met our social worker, Bonnie (who ROCKS by the way), had our first home study, and   attended our first Gala that night. Ironically enough, most of the couples at our table last year were adopting from an Asian country. At the time, we were planning on adopting from Ethiopia (but because of political concerns we switched programs). I remember picking up a green paper origami bird as we were leaving for the night, when I felt the first stirring in my heart that maybe Ethiopia wasn't the right choice for now. Little did I know that after much thought and prayer, we would switch programs and be bringing our daughter to this years event!

We also met our great friends Kent and Randa for the first time at this event last year. We have had such a good time getting to know them this last year! Randa is actually from the same town that we live in now - small world. We adore their girls and enjoy spending time together. We brought our friends Cory and Rebecca with us for a fun night out. I've known Corey's entire extended family (and love them all) since grade school and we have all kept in close contact since then. Such a wonderful family! With us was also Ed and Laura. They adopted their sweet little man from Ethiopia and are on their second adoption. Great couple! We also had the privilege to sit next to our friends Ed and Sandy, who are amazing, to say the least! They just completed their 7th adoption (10 kids all together)! Their children are just as incredible! What a blessing to know such great people who have such big hearts for these kids. We had a great group at our table and couldn't have had a better time.

During the silent action, we had the privilege of meeting several other adoptive families. We had so much fun that I didn't even make it around one table (I'm telling you - some awesome families)! Many who have recently adopted from China, with kids close in age to ours. Another family just brought their daughter home and she was actually in the same orphanage as K! Can you believe that?!? They are 2 months apart, probably spent the first 2 years of their lives together in China, and are now living half way around the world an hour apart!

We can't say enough wonderful things about Holt. Our experience has been amazing and we are so thankful for their guidance and continued support! We haven't met a Holt family that we didn't love!!

                                                                           M & J

                                          Mama & K waiting for desert - Lemon Meringue Pie!

Daddy & K bidding on a beautiful bracelet to surprise Mommy

What a blessing this last year has been! God, we are so thankful for the Holt staff. Our adoption journey has been incredible! We feel honored to get to meet so many amazing people that have an open mind and wonderful hearts for families and children. Thank you for the time spent together glorifying you! Thank you for the opportunities that you have given us and for the doors that continue to open. We desire, Lord, to continue to give back to you and to be a blessing to others. In your name!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Seats

Update: Both babies love their new booster seats at the table! Another blessing to have peaceful & safe meals!! Maybe when K is 10, I'll let her sit alone again :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our Little Miracle

Sometimes in life circumstances occur and we don't always understand why God would allow such pain in our lives. The kind of pain that makes you feel physically sick. The horrible pain that is so deep that you are scared for the next mintue to ocur. But in the exact same moment, you feel peace in the storm. It's a battle between your mind and your heart. My heart felt peace while my brain couldn't even fathom what was occuring. I have to believe that though this pain, we will find that God will make us stronger and bring glory to Him.

On April 7, 2012, I was prepaired to write a post about our daughter to share about her many accomplishments and the amazing progress that she had made. As that day progressed, I thought about all of her great achievements and how incredibly blessed that we are to have her in our family. I was so excited to share with the world that she was walking around the house unassisted chasing her brothers. I wanted to tell you that developmentally she impresses us every day. I was going to write that she follows simple English commands and increased her vocabulary to 20 words. I wanted to tell you that the boys call her Butterly - which we find quite suiting as she has literally spread her wings. On our 1 month anniversary of "Gotcha Day", a very different story unfolded.

The day started with a wonderful morning. We played and had a ball together as a family. At about 1 pm, we grabbed JJ for lunch and brought it home to eat. The big boys had just finished up and were in the living room playing with daddy just a few feet away. I was sitting with the babies when K decided that she was done. "All done" she signed. "Ok baby," I had said as I looked down for a nano second and took a bite of my sandwich. As I stood up to help her, I saw her out of the corner of my eye use her legs to try to stand. It was too late. She had already fallen. Initially, we thought that she had landed on her back and then maybe hit her head. We were both with in feet of her. It all happened within seconds. How could this be?

The week earlier I was in Babies R Us trying to decide if I should buy her a booster seat with straps. I decided not to as K doesn't like being strapped down and has never attempted standing in her chair. I tried putting her in the seat that we have at home and she screamed. Surely she can't throw a tantrum through out the entire meal, but she has, more than once. To give her a little control and bring peace back to our meals, we let her and S both sit nicely in their own seats. We felt that they were safe and it's never been a problem...until today. I wished, at that moment, I would have bought the seat.

Shortly after the fall our little girl was vomitting. We thought that maybe she had eaten too much and perhaps got the wind knocked out of her. It wouldn't be abnormal for her to eat more than she should. We also knew that this was a sign of a concusion, but that it wasn't something that we thought to rush her to the ER over. Afterall, we can't count the number of times that our boys have fallen with bumps and bruises. She had only fallen 2 feet and had no signs on her head of a scratch, bleeding or even a bump. We decided to watch her closely throughout the day.

K took a wonderful nap and woke up as usual. She played well with her sweet brothers and appeared normal. We noticed that she looked a little more tired than usual but nothing that was obvious. Around 6 pm she again began to vomit. Our concern started to increase. We took her up stairs as she was fussy after throwing up. S, K, and I took a bath to clean her up and distract her from being upset. She played like a wild child splashing and dumping water on me.

At around 8ish, Daddy helped us out of the bath and I jumped in the shower for a quick rinse before bed. Soon after I lathered the shampoo in my hair, I heard a terrible scream from our little girl and then vomitting again. Directly after, M walked two feet over and stood in front of the shower. He calmly said, "Hunny, we have a problem. K is unresponsive." Maybe it comes from his training. He is prepared to be the calm in the storm when delivering babies. But not me, not when it comes to my babies. "What"?!? I screamed as I looked at her lifeless in my husbands arms. Her eyes were rolled back and I called to her, but no response. We rubbed her breastbone firmly hoping to arouse her, but nothing. "Get her to the ER"!

My mind could not wrap around what had just occured. I follow them downstairs looking for my phone to all 911. "My daughter is unresponsive. My husband is on his way to the ER. Please have them prepared for when they arrive." He made it there in appoximately 3 minutes from the time she became unconscious. This can't really be happening. As I ran past the boys in a panic trying to find clothes, I realize that they too had just witnessed what I had. I am crying and I hear them say, "mommy, why are you sad? Is K alright? Will she make it? Is she dead?" It all feels like a blur, as I can hear them, but feel uncapable of a correct response. And I didn't have an answer.

Our incredible neighbors were there in minutes. Pam stayed to watch the kids, while her husband, Ed, drove me to the ER. They were there so fast, that I don't think that Ed even had shoes on. We accessed the back entry to the emergency department where I see my daughter laying in a bed connected to tubes to monitor her little body. I ran to her and told her that I loved her and that I was there by her side. I prayed and asked Jesus to hold our baby in his big hands. I gave my daughter to Him and asked that He provide in only a way that He could. As I prayed, I felt peace in my heart, but my brain was still trying to catch up. All that I could do was cry. I cried to God and asked Him to be present. I cried next to our daughter and asked her to be strong. I cried in my husbands arms and he held me tight. Nothing in life can prepare you for a moment like this.

As I stand next to her, the ER doctor explained that he would give her some medicine and then intubate (put a breathing tube in) her to control her airway. They would call the life flight team right away, and do a quick CT to see if there was blood (or a clot) on her brain. The intubation went as planned and we followed her back into radiology where the CT would take place. During the procedure, the table moved into the scanning area and her oxygen level dropped, and her tube was pushed down too far into her right side. Fortunately, with the help of respiratory, her saturation levels rose and the CT was complete. She was wheeled back into the ED and we waited by her side until the helicopter arrived to transport her to Children's hospital. She needed to be suctioned several times as she already had a croup - like infection before the fall. More medicine was drawn through the syringe and injected into my daughter's tiny veins. It felt like a terrible nightmare. Someone please wake me. "Should we have brought her in earlier"? I asked. To be honest, the ER doctor explained, "without seeing an obvious bleed on CT and no signs of her even hitting her head, we would have examined her and sent her home."

The life flight team arrived and tried to hook her to the vent machine to take over bagging her, but was unsuccessful. Her chest would not rise with the machine, so the decision was made to bag her all of the way to Children's - about a 35 minute flight. Neither parent was allowed to go as there wasn't room in the helicopter for us.  I hated leaving her, but we didn't have an option. After lots of hugs and kisses, we drove home to pack our suitcase and smooth things over with the boys. Just as we got to the house, we heard the helicopter fly over our home. This was a good time to talk to the kids about how their sister was doing. I think that it was good for us both. We told them that God was taking good care of her and that she was going to Children's Hospital for Dr's to make sure that her body was healthy. We told them that she was in the helicopter - and bless their hearts  - they wanted a ride too!

With luggage packed and the boys doing well with several neighbors (Ed, Pam, John, Julie, Katherine, and Maddie - you are all amazing and we can't thank you enough), we left for Omaha. We would normally tell you that we drive this drive at least twice a week and that it really wasn't that far. This day, I would tell you that it was one of the longest drives that I had ever had. We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. We called as many friends that we could think of that would pray for her. We believed that she was God's daughter too and that He would bring healing.  Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Our daughter would make it through this and we absolutely believed it.

The flight nurse called and told us that K had arrived safely. She sounded warn out and I could tell that bagging her the entire flight had taken its toll. What she didn't tell us, was that the intubation tube had again slipped too far and that K's left lung had collapsed in flight. This nurse, holding our daughter's life in her hands, was frightened that she wouldn't make it to the hospital. We can't thank this team enough for their hard work and for making sure that K arrived at Children's safely.

As we walked through the door hand in hand, there were 5-7 people in the PICU surrounding our daughter. Labs were being drawn, tubes were being connected, and lines were being placed to support her. A second IV was being started and more medicine was being placed in her IV. We ran to her and stood next to her. The nurses were awesome at letting us be right next to her, just like in the ER where we live. I snuggled up next to her head and whispered prayers in her ear. I told her that she is the strongest little girl that I had ever met. I encouraged her to be brave. I held her hand and reminded her that she wasn't alone. I know that God was holding her this entire time. I remembered a verse that I had written down earlier that week, "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13 Thank you God for helping our little girl!

It was explained that because of the collapsed lung, that she would need to be intubated until morning. The left lung, with oxygen pressure, and the tube in the correct position, would naturally inflate. An MRI would be done shortly and we needed to wait for about an hour for her to come back, then a little longer for the neurosurgeon to read the results. Another procedure done, and again, God was right there. She was still ok, but not out of the woods yet. With both of us by her side, we closed our eyes for a few minutes of rest. We were physically and mentally exhausted.

At about 5am on Easter Sunday, we met with the neurosurgeon to hear the results of her MRI scan - subdural hematoma. In other words, she had small amounts of blood on her brain where she had fallen and hit her head. This would be consistent with the vomitting, loss of consciousness, possible seizure, posturing, and incontinence in the car on the way to the ER. A fluke accident. It could happen to anyone, even when within feet of your children. They couldn't explain with such a short distance fall how this happened. The plan was to watch her closely and extubate (take the breathing tub out) her after a chest x-ray to make sure her lungs were both passing air. And another blessing came. They were!

I was thinking back to what our plans were for Easter day. I remember fretting over what K will wear for her first Easter with us. The boys had adorable clothes to match and we couldn't be more thrilled to spend the special day together celebrating Jesus's resurrection day. I hadn't planned on a cooking a nice dinner, so felt a tad bit guilty about not having something planned for our first Easter together. Should we go to the club to eat? Should I hide Easter eggs here or in town after church? But how quickly life had jolted us back into perspective. At that moment I could care less about our plans, what we wore, or that I hadn't planned a nice dinner. We were holding our daughter close, in just a diaper and her favorite blanket, connected to machines to help her body heal. Our Easter wish was for a healthy family and that our little girl would amaze us, yet again, and pull through this. In Romans 12:2 God warns us, "Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect." Why do we let ourselves get caught up in "worldly" cares? When your world dramatically shifts in an instant it is suddenly evident what you really value in life.

The tube came out and she had no problem breathing. Thank you Jesus! Oxygen was given to transition her to room air and she tolerated it all well. We spoke with several doctors and they felt confident that she could be moved to the 4th floor to be monitored. We could put her in "normal clothes" and even go to the playroom later if she tolerated the transition. K also underwent an EEG to take a look at her brain waves. She passed with flying colors. Neurology assessed her and said that there was no need to even follow up.

During our 4th floor stay we met some of the most amazing nurses, students, residents, and attending doctors. We took part in morning rounds and were so grateful to be included in the decisions of her healthcare plan. Of course, miss K, loved meeting new people too. She smiled and waved at just about everyone she met. We know that our little girl is incredible, and we think that they thought so too! She loved her wagon and car rides around the floor and enjoyed her time with mommy in the playroom. We stayed with her each night and one of us was always there by her side. I have to admit that as the day was winding down, when she slept cuddled next to me, I felt incredibly grateful for time with just her and I. Every moment I took in like the first. In the busyness of life, I am reminded to slow down, and treasure each day as we really don't know what when will be our last.

Gia (my mom) flew in on Easter to help watch the boys at home. Our sweet little boys came to the hospital to love on K and she really delighted in their company. We spent Easter together as a family in her room. We joked about how many holidays that we've spent in the hospital. We can't count the times that we brought daddy dinner on a holiday during residency. Nothing planned or perfect to us. But beautiful it was together as a family.

Our baby still battled with nausea and vomitting for a few days. She was so tired. This led to little bits of eating and drinking. Thank goodness on day 3, she was a real trooper and gave into our attempts to get her to drink. She was given a bolus of fluids and then her last IV infiltrated. We really didn't want her to have to get poked again, so we made a deal with the resident. As long as she was able to pick up her urine output, no IV would be given. The challenge was on! And we never doubted that she would make it! Not only no more IV but we got to go home the next day! Each day brought great strides!

After 4 long days in the hospital, our precious little baby was discharged. As papers were getting signed to leave, she was walking up and down the halls all by herself. She was giggling as she tried to get drinks from the water fountain. Everyone commented on how amazing she is. And she is we agreed! You can't help but fall in love with her!

This little girl is a "miracle" the doctors kept telling us. Most children in the US would have had the same surgery that she did in just a couple of days after birth. Our little girl went 6 months, with a large fatty lipoma (8-9 cm) covering her myelomeningocele, leaking spinal fluid, and abandoned. She could have died of an infection alone. Most children need a shunt - she didn't. Most children can't walk - she can. Most children need to be cath'ed every day - she doesn't. Some children are never found after being abandoned - she was. There is no doubt that God has incredible plans for our daughter!

God, through His grace, has brought complete healing. He is always good. Thank you to the amazing people who touched our daughters life. Thank you to the Dr's, child life team, nurses, respiratory, volunteers and other staff in both our small community and at Children's. Words really can't express our gratitude for helping K. Though we go through tough times, we believe He has a purpose. In Jeremiah 29:11 God tells us, "I know the plans that I have for you...plans to to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Thank you God for being faithful! Thank you for our family and for the blessings that you continue to bring. We pray that through our trials, we gain a better understanding of who our Father is and who He want us to be. Glory be to God!