Our Life in Pictures

This has been a very, very full last weeks.  Rather than give you this long, written rundown on everything, I thought I would show you some of the fun things (and hard things) through pictures.  Be prepared for lots of them!

Daddy pickup little miss up from preschool and took her on a Starbucks date:


The other little miss trying to fill her momma’s shoes:


Shopping with mom.  It was utter chaos with them both driving their own buggies, but to not have them fight over one made it so worth it.

Blake’s hospital trip and 2 month picture, all within a few days of each other.

Going to see Cinderella as a family.  Lets just say that it will be a LONG time before we attempt to take Emerson to a movie again.  It was a good movie, though.

Enjoying that it is getting warmer with some swinging (even Blake got in on the action) and picnic snacks.

Starting to celebrate Easter with the Town of Fuquay Easter Egg hunt.  What do you do when its raining and you can’t hunt outside?  You give a cup of eggs dipped out of a bucket to each kid, of course.  Our girls loved it and even posed with the bunny, with no tears!

Lastly, the big thing at our house this week – we now have a 5 year old!!  Seriously, time slow down.  She celebrated her birthday by eating Chick-fil-a for breakfast (her favorite), having “happy birthday” sung to her by her dance class, getting to have her “favorite pasta” to eat for dinner, and having a Frozen party (which made it easy to plan with all the Frozen things she has!).  She is maturing so much and it is fun to see her sense of humor and her awareness of things and concepts develop.  She is not lacking in personality or drama and loves her siblings like crazy (though she may not always show it).  Here’s to you, Ms. I-will-be-entering-kindergarten-this-summer.

I made the cake and was pleased with how it turned out – just don’t think I will be doing them for a living anytime soon.  We ate good food, drank melted snow, danced to Frozen music, played Pin the Nose on Olaf (don’t crack on my homemade Olaf) and Do you want to build a snowman?, colored Frozen pictures, opened presents, and gave fun gifts to the friends who came.

What is this picture, you ask?  Kinsley sleeping the night of her party, with her new “My Generation” doll beside her, her new Elsa doll beside her, wearing her new Elsa gloves on her hands.  Yes, she had a good birthday.

Lessons being Learned

Ya’ll, I think I am going to make it.  Today, I took all 3 kids to two different grocery stores to buy food for our women’s retreat this weekend (think a LOT of food!) and we all survived (I am sure my voice wasn’t calm and even keeled at all points, but we survived none the less).  Last week, I managed to get a shower while at home with all three kids by myself.

Every mom to be, or even mom that is thinking of having more kids, asks other moms of multiple kids “Which transition was the hardest for you – 0 to 1 kid, 1 kid to 2 kids, 2 kids to 3 kids, etc.?”  I know I asked that of many, many people and got many different answers.  If I were asked that, I would say that 0 to 1 was the hardest for me – it flipped my whole world upside down and I had to learn how to handle a newborn, deal with not going to work like my husband was continuing to do every day, and deal with sleepless nights.  1 to 2 was not hard for me at all – it just required me to balance things a little better.  2 to 3 – it hasn’t been that hard, but just super exhausting and it feels like there is always something to do and someone that needs you.  But to actually feel like I am starting to thrive a little, and not just survive, is a beautiful thing.  Granted, that is how I feel at this moment in this day – ask later today or even tomorrow and you may get a completely different answer :).

Blake is doing much better!  He has had a followup from the hospital appointment and his two month appointment in the last week.  Both appointments went really well and the doctors were amazed at how well he was doing.  The doctor even confessed to us that the ER docs thought he was going to have to be intubated in the PICU.  Thankfully, that never happened, and they say his lungs sound great.  The congestion could last for another month, but nothing to majorly worry about.  He has his two month shots which led to a fever for two days, but thankfully, this time we knew what the fever was related to and that is was temporary.

One thing that has been reiterated to me through all of this – God totally knows what is going to happen and provides you with what you need.  We had received quite a few larger, special monetary gifts at the end of the year and we were blown away by how the Lord was providing from crazy, crazy sources.  Like people that we didn’t know sending money to our ministry and us having to track down how they had even heard of us.  It just reaffirmed to us that He had, apart from our plan, created Blake’s life and kept him safe through all the pregnancy complications – and if it was His plan, He would provide ALL we need for him, financial and otherwise.  A total lesson for us in how nothing was in our control, really.

Then, the hole in his heart happened, RSV happened, and the hospital happened.  As we were sitting in the hospital, we were praising God that money to pay for the visit wasn’t something we had to worry about because the Lord had provided some and we knew He would provide the rest.  He KNEW what was going to happen and would provide.  When we got home from the hospital, we had another special gift from some very sweet friends to go towards our hospital bills.  Then, I received an email this morning about another special gift and we got an email last night from some former students who now have jobs and want to support us monthly.  Ya’ll, BLOWN AWAY by how generous and gracious the Lord is toward us.  Is this real life?  I deserve death, and yet he lavishes me with good gifts.  I mess us daily, and yet he extends grace and favor.  And that’s just the money side of things – he has provided abundantly through meals, people watching and helping with the girls, encouragement, prayers, etc, etc.

To be honest, I was hesitant to share this above – partly because we still need more monthly support to be fully funded and partly because I know there are some of my friends who are struggling financially and I always want to be sensitive to that.  At the same time, I feel the Lord deserves the praise for what He is doing and to not give Him that would be an injustice.  I also know the Lord allows us to go through trails to bring us closer to Him and this is one thing I have seen the Lord teach me through it all.  How special it is to know that God gives not based on what we do or don’t do, but because He is our provider and He knows what we need before we even need it.

The Latest Update

Lots of people have been asking for updates on Blake, so here goes:

I had a vision that after we were admitted on Thursday, we would stay one night in ICU, one night on the floor, and then get to go home.  I had a hard time when reality didn’t meet my expectations.  The reality was that although Blake did start nursing, he threw up once and we were faced with a ultimatum:  if he threw up again, they would tell me to stop nursing again or put in a tube.  Thankfully, by the grace of God, he didn’t throw up again.  Since, that point, he continued slowly getting better – eating, slowly being weaned off oxygen and fluids, and his breathing slowing down.  After two nights in the ICU, we were transitioned to the pediatric floor.

Last night, they started weaning him off the air (they had stopped the oxygen but were just giving him air to pump up his airways).  When I woke to him fussing in the middle of the night, I discovered that he had busted out of his swaddle and pulled his oxygen tube out of his nose.  Not only had it pulled it out, he had pulled it apart so it was in two pieces.  The nurse who came in said she had never seen a baby do that before, but, because he was obviously done with it and didn’t want it anymore, she would take him off the air.

He continued to do well, and this morning, we got news that we want to shout from the rooftops – we are going home!!!  When all the doctors and nurses in the hall know you, you know you have been here too long, so we are excited to bust out of this joint!

A few things I have learned from being at the hospital this week:  They have gift shops and kids playrooms and courtyards and Ronald McDonald rooms…but every hospital should have a gym…what a great stress reliever it would be for parents!  It may be fun to see what the “mystery” food is that they will be serving you…but when you haven’t eaten good food in a few meals, it is no longer entertaining.  You can learn to sleep through anything…beeps, babies crying, nurses being loud, etc, etc.  Hospital personnel (nurses, doctors, aides, etc.) have a huge influence on their patients and parents – the tenderness, compassion, smiles, excitement, etc. that we have been shown this week (or not shown) have made all of this so much more manageable.

Apart from these lessons, I feel the Lord has taught us a few other lessons –

1.  Ask for help and be able to receive help.  This third pregnancy and birth has been a continuing lesson in this.  When people serve us or are given the opportunity to serve us, they are able to reflect the hands and feet of Christ, not only to us but to those watching who don’t know Christ. Not only is it a blessing for us, but it can be a blessing for those serving.  Not only is it teaching us to put aside our pride and humble ourselves, it is allowing them to look beyond their life and circumstances to serve others.  Not only do our children get to see Christian community in action and learn that people give of themselves time and time again, but the kids of those who are doing the serving can be blessed as they learn the value of serving others.  It has challenged me to look for ways to serve others, day in and day out.

2.  Just this past week, I had a discipleship appointment with a girl I meet with, and we were talking about the importance of having a quiet time – a time not only to pray, meditate, and listen to sermons, but also to read God’s word for ourselves.  I think of the Scripture in Hebrew 4:12 that says that the Word of God is alive and active and sharper than a double-edged sword.  It is amazing to me when the Word of God relates directly to what you are dealing with!  I was able to have some time this morning to spend with the Lord, and this is what I read:

All of this was definitely not my way, but his way is perfect, nonetheless.  There is no one who is God besides the Lord, and no one else is the Rock except God.  Who are we to question what the Lord is doing or why He did this or allowed it to happen?  God has definitely sustained us and upheld us through this time, and has used this experience to draw us closer to Him and each other. Praise the Lord that we have a God who provides a path for our feet so that our ankles do not give way!  I am so thankful for the truth of Scripture to point us to what is true, even when our emotions try to tell us something different.

I am sure there are many more lessons we have learned/are learning, but these are a few of the big ones!  Thank you to everyone who has prayed for Blake, prayed for us, provided meals, watched our girls, called, texted, sent goody bags, and so much more.  We have been so blessed and thank God for each of you!


Hospital Living

Tons of you have been asking for an update on Blake – since not everyone has Facebook, we decided to post it here.  First, thank you so much for your prayers, support, and love for our family.

Second, a short update on how we got here.  Blake and Kinsley both started with a nasty cold/virus Sunday morning.  They had fevers (sometimes even as high as 104 for Kinsley), coughing, runny nose, and congestion.  Monday, I took both of them to the pediatrician and they ruled out of the flu.  They said it was just a nasty virus and it had to run its course.  They said that Blake could have RSV (Emerson had a very mild version of this when she was an infant so we were familiar with it), but that we would just have to watch his breathing to make sure he wasn’t struggling.  They also warned us that Day 4 and Day 5 could be the worse for him.  Man, were they right!

Kinsley finally kicked her fever on Day 4 and started feeling better.  Blake, however, kept getting worse as the week went on.  Not only did his fever go up and down, he also started having trouble eating and even vomiting some.  Wednesday night, he was super duper restless and wouldn’t eat hardly at all. Though he was having wet diapers (which they told us to watch for), they were getting consistently less and we knew he was getting dehydrated.  We gave him medicine about 5:30 that morning (Day 5) in hopes of making him more comfortable.  Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back.  By 7:45, he felt really warm and when I took his temperature, it was 100.4 (which is the point in infants where they say they need to go to the ER) and we noticed he was struggling to breathe.  By the time we made it to the pediatricians office, he was 100.8.  When they measured his breathes per minute and realized how high they were, they told us to go straight to the ER.  His heart condition was just another thing that complicated matters as they considered him high-risk.

The ER swooped us in, started doing tests, giving him air, started giving him fluids, and braced us that it would be a long day.  Indeed, it was!  Watching them put an IV in a infant who is majorly dehydrated was heartbreaking. They had to poke him many, many times because his veins were too flat and kept compressing.  To make a long story short, they confirmed it was RSV and they moved him to Pediatric ICU where they could monitor him better and provide support as he needed it.  They noticed that he was struggling to breathe more when he was eating, so they told me to stop nursing him and let him have some time off.  If I didn’t, they were worried the extra air he was getting while eating, along with the milk, could go in his lungs and cause a lung collapse.  This was probably the worst part for me.  Even worse than all the cords and IVs, or worse than trying to find his vein, or worse than putting him in this weird contraption to get a chest xray – hearing your baby cry cause he is hungry and not being allowed to feed him was the ultimate worst.

So, where are we now?  The doctor said he did much better breathing last night and they will spend today weaning him off the oxygen, if he allows, and letting me try to nurse him.  If he nurses well and isn’t struggling to breathe more while nursing, we will have crossed a huge hurdle and they may consider letting us step down to the pediatric floor.  If he still struggles while nursing, they will try a bottle or possibly a feeding tube, which would be another worst for me.  So, please pray that he transitions well to nursing again, that his breathing continues improving, and his fever continues to stay low (it spike at 100.5 again last night).

Thank you so much for all your concern, love, and support.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to not have family close by nor have the support of the body of Christ.  Our friends and church family have been the hands and feet of Christ as they have prayed, picked Kinsley up from school, watched our girls during the day and night, provided food, listened as we shared our concerns and worries, and spoke the truth of God’s Word shining light in a dark place.  I cry just thinking about how thankful I am for all ya’ll are doing and how you reflect Christ to us!