Friday, April 30, 2010

Gracen's Appointment

I just want to say thank you for all the prayers that I know have gone up on Gracen's behalf. I certainly felt God's peace and presence today....and I think the news was good.

We all had a pretty good night's sleep and we woke up around 4:30 this morning. We left our house at 6:03, which was 3 minutes behind schedule. Not too bad! We had to be at Children's Hospital by 8:00 and we were concerned about the morning traffic. Thankfully, we arrived at 7:45, even though the traffic was pretty congested from Alabaster all the way to our exit.

When we first arrived, I just stared at the building, even though I had been there many times before, and thought, "We should not be here. We should be at home watching cartoons and doing our regular thing." I started to get that nervous, yucky feeling. I started praying and honestly started to feel better. We made it to the correct clinic and started the registration process. All the people were very friendly to us and to Gracen. After, we did all the paperwork, we headed up to the second floor to the clinic where Gracen's procedure would be performed. You know I started crying in that elevator. Not an ugly, snot rolling kind of cry, just eyes filling up with tears, kind of cry. I guess it was just the anticipation of what was about to be done to Gracen. What parent wants their child to hurt, ya know? To make matters worse, she was laughing and smiling, happily investigating this new location. Little did she know what was about to happen!

We had more paperwork to complete in the second waiting room, which in all honesty, gave me time to collect myself. My parents arrived shortly after I completed that set and their presence brought me a GREAT sense of relief. We headed back to have the Gracen's catheter dye test around 8:35 or so and we were completely done at 9:07, which included undressing her, talking to the technicians, and redressing her. That in and of itself is a praise. I was told that it could take up to 45 minutes or longer , depending on how long it took Gracen to completely empty her bladder.

When the technician inserted the catheter, Gracen let out a high pitched scream and then started to cry. Two technicians held her legs down and Gene and I held her arms. She cried and squirmed and fought almost the entire time, which was heartbreaking. I just wanted to scoop her up and run that would solve her problem. She emptied her bladder and then the nurse filled it up with dye and she emptied her bladder again, over the course of several minutes. She did give us some moments of calm throughout the procedure which gave us a chance to take a deep breath.

Gracen really did great and the tech. said she got great pictures and everything that she needed. That technician was really good and really quick with that catheter. She had it in Gracen in what felt like 5 seconds.

We had to wait a good hour to see the doctor and discuss the results. Gracen does have reflux of urine between the bladder and the kidneys, meaning that some of it goes back up into the kidneys rather than all exiting her body. This is causing kidney infections, not just UTI's. The right ureter tube has a reflux grade between 1 and 2 and the left ureter tube has a grade of 3. (For those of you who read Facebook, I said it backwards there.) The highest grade is a 5. The doctor said that 60-70% of all children grow out of this without surgery. That is what we are hoping and praying. Thank the Lord, they didn't find something really horrible today. Basically we found out what we already knew.

The plan is to go back in 6 months (Oct. 29th) for an ultrasound just to monitor the kidneys. Then Gracen will have another catheter dye test (ugh!) 6 months after that, at the end of April 2011. We are praying, and want to ask you to pray, that the reflux is gone a year from now. Over the course of the next year, she will take a low dose antibiotic to prevent infections....or at least we hope it prevents infections...another prayer request. If the reflux is not gone after one year, we will follow the same plan for another year.....6 months=ultrasound, 6 months later=catheter dye test, all while continuing the antibiotic The doctor said this could continue for several years. If she continues to have kidney infections, UTI's or other issues, a surgery to correct the anatomy will be performed. We are certainly praying that it never gets to that point.

I am suppose to watch her for any signs of an infection such as lethargy or fever, and take her in to collect urine if I suspect that something is going on. I am already a worry wart, and I just know I will be taking that child to her pediatrician every time she even whines. Crazy! Pray that God gives me the intuition to just know in my gut when something is wrong.

Thanks again for all the prayers and sweet phone calls and emails. I appreciate it so much!
(Sherry, I received your sweet message and it meant a lot!)

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at I will answer it the best that I can.

I will certainly be keeping you updated with concerns, prayer requests, and praises.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Day is Here

Well, the big day is finally here. Gracen goes to Children's Hospital in the morning to have the VCUG procedure done. This is basically the catheter dye test which will show the doctor exactly what is happening with her urine when it flows between the kidneys and the bladder, and the extent of the problem. We were told at Baptist East that she had a mild case, so that is what my spirit is holding on to.

I spoke to a mom at church last night whose has gone through this with all of her daughters. I cannot imagine. She gave me a lot of comforting words about the quality of the hospital and the doctors that we are going to see. She swears it is the BEST place we could go and that seems to be the consensus about Children's Hospital. She did warn me that the procedure is tough to watch because Gracen will not be numbed or sedated in any way and she will scream and kick her legs during the whole procedure, which could last up to 45 minutes. Gracen will need to urinate on the table once the doctor injects the dye, so please be praying that she goes quickly. She did say that babies usually go quickly, but older children who have been potty-trained are usually a little more stubborn. She has a daughter that has had to go through this procedure every year for the last 5 years. How heart breaking.

This mom and several other moms have reminded me that this is a necessary evil for Gracen's ultimate good. Without the knowledge that the test will provide, Gracen could eventually suffer kidney failure due to a build up of scar tissue. I certainly do not want that. So, I guess I am ready to go and have this done. At least, as ready as I can be.

I have been reading verses throughout the day about God's constant presence. I know He is always there, in the good things and the bad things. I love Joshua 1:9 which says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." What a comforting truth from God's Word. I may have to write it down and take it with me to not tremble though. I know I will be nervous for my little one. Another great verse is Hebrews 13:5 where God promises that He will never leave me or forsake me. I can already see that this trial has brought me closer to God. I have definitely been in the Word this week and I have prayed more than normal. Trials have a way of either bringing you closer to God or causing you to turn away. I choose, no matter the outcome, to draw closer to God. I trust His Hand and believe in His goodness....even in the hard moments.

We will be leaving our house at 6:00 a.m. We have to be at Children's at 8:00 and her procedure begins at 8:30. We will wait on test results and then meet with the pediatric urologist at 10:30. Please be praying for us....that we get there safely and on time, for a peace to fill our spirits, for Gracen to be calm, if that is possible, for her to "go" quickly, for the doctor to find her problem, and of course for her healing. I so appreciate all the phone calls that we have received over the last couple of days and all the prayers that I know are going up on her behalf. I will let all of you know about the results tomorrow afternoon.

I wanted to leave you with a few adorable pictures so you will have a visual for your prayers.

This first photo is a little off centered because Gracen simply will not be still, but I still think it is adorable. Oh, what a precious face! Maybe the doctors will think she is just too cute to stick...

Here she is walking towards me. She always smiles big and puts those arms out in front of her. Isn't she something?
You know I had to include a picture of Reagan too. This is a sweet shot and they are both actually sitting still.
And here is one of Reagan. She is such a pretty thing too. Women pay big bucks for curls like those!
God has certainly blessed us and we are grateful!

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

Can you still do a weekend wrap-up two days after the weekend has passed?

Well, here I go, even though there really isn't all that much to wrap up actually. Friday night we had a great time as a family. After pizza, we had one of our family movie nights complete with the queen size air mattress, lots of pillows and blankets, and of course popcorn and sprite. Reagan LOVES this and Gracen is even getting into the gig too. Just in the last month, she has learned how not to fall off the air mattress. She crawls on and off gracefully, which means I can actually sit and watch the movie. Reagan's movie choice was Snow White. I know Gene was thrilled to see this movie again, but he never complained. We watch a lot of girly movies around here, and I guess he has gotten used to this. We were going to make S'mores outside around our firepit, but Reagan just about fell asleep during the movie, so we nixed that idea. After the girls were in bed, Gene and I made coffee and watched TV together.

In my last post, I wrote how excited I was to have Gene home 3 Friday nights a month starting this past Friday night, and then we started talking and realized that he has something the next 2 Friday nights....this coming Friday night is a regular college event and the next Friday night is an annual event at our church, the Graduation Banquet. The last weekend in May, he is going on a white water rafting trip, and we have some graduations thrown in there for good measure. So we will have to wait to settle into this new routine of some more family Fridays as we progress into the month of June.

On Saturday, we were expecting really bad weather, so we literally stayed home all day long. I enjoyed the low key day with nowhere to go and nothing to do. However, by about 4:00 I started to feel like I was in an insane asylum because, let's face it, the monotony just gets to you after awhile. We debated going out to dinner or going somewhere, but thought that as soon as we left the house the storm would hit. We didn't want to risk it, so we just toughed it out until bedtime. Thankfully, we only received some rain and wind, no tornadoes or hail as predicted.

On Sunday, we had another great day of worship. Gene is teaching through Romans in Sunday School, and Bro. Glenn preached another sermon on pride. The worship is always good and, I love being with the EMBC family. The people there are so wonderful and genuinely love our family. After church, we headed home and spent about an hour outside enjoying the sunshine before heading in to put the girls down for their naps. After a restful afternoon, we headed back to church.

Well, I warned you before you started reading this entry...nothing exciting all weekend.

I do have some interesting information about the ordeal Gracen went through on Easter Sunday. I spoke with a ER nurse friend of mine last night for over an hour about Gracen and what brought us to the emergency room that day. We never got a clear answer about why Gracen almost stopped breathing. My nurse friend is pretty confident that Gracen was in septic shock. You would have to google it for a complete explanation, but basically the body starts to shut down, or go into shock, due to a raging infection. Microbes/toxins get into the bloodstream and lead to a decrease in oxygen delivery. 35% of septic shock cases derive from urinary tract infections and 15% of septic shock cases derive from respiratory infections. Gracen had both of these infections. It can occur when the white blood count is higher than 12,000 and Gracen's was 34,000. The ER doctor mentioned this as a possibility, but my pediatrician didn't, and I really forgot about it until now. I read online that the mortality rate from septic shock is approximately 50%, and it is the 13th leading causing of death in the U.S.

Can anyone else say, "Oh, my goodness!!!!!"

This information has greatly changed my perspective from why did we have to go through all of this for a urinary tract infection" "Praise the Lord, for getting us to the ER and for sustaining her precious little life." I am so thankful that God chose to reveal her problem to us and so far, is choosing to heal her. We go to Children's Hospital this coming Friday and I have prayed a great deal over the last couple of weeks. I am still a little anxious, but much more ready to go and find out EXACTLY what is going on with her and how we can prevent such an infection from occurring again. Praise the Lord for medical care.

Please be praying for all of us as we get ready to head to Birmingham early Friday morning. I will definitely blog on Friday afternoon, letting you know the results and the plan of action.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cry for Help

Gracen is walking!

Today she didn't want to stay seated at all.

She didn't want to crawl at all.

That means that I have to stay righ with she walks on wobbly legs.

I have tried to carry my computer around to blog....didn't work.

Can someone please come watch these kids so I can blog?

Friday, April 23, 2010

ipods, Gracen, and Fridays

I finally joined the technology revolution and got an ipod, and I have to say, I just love it! I have no idea why I was so resistant to getting one over the years. I guess I just figured it was one of those unnecessary luxuries that I could live without due to our one budget situation. Well, I bought this one from a college student at our church who upgraded to one of those new $300.00 ipods, so I didn't even spend half of what this classic ipod would cost in the store.

I am embarrassed to say that it took me days to figure that blasted thing out. I guess my age is really revealing itself. I sat at my computer and watched all the ipod tutorials on the website and still had trouble. I think I am finally getting the hang of it though. I have downloaded many contemporary Christian songs and lots of great preaching podcasts. I love the fact that I can pick which songs off a particular CD I want to download, instead of going to the store and buying the whole CD. I know I am behind the times, but I just have to say that it is really cool.

This week I have started exercising again. It has been really hard to find the time or motivation over the last year. Having a baby makes it hard to find time for yourself, but I think we have started to turn a corner. Gracen's schedule is much more predictable and I am no longer breastfeeding. Both of these are freeing me up somewhat. I have been walking by myself for about 45 minutes starting at 5:45 a.m. and I absolutely love the freedom. I strap on my ipod and listen to great preaching or great praise and worship music. It is exhilarating! Yesterday, I was walking along and one of the worship songs by Casting Crowns moved me to tears. I starting praying and raised my hands to heaven, forgetting where I was and forgetting that no one but me could hear that wonderful praise music. I am sure the people driving by thought I was a nut. Oh well.

My quiet time with God is looking a little different right now and I think that is OK. I am still reading through my Bible as I drink my morning coffee, but I cannot do an in-depth study right now, which I miss, because I am using my mornings while the girls are still sleeping to walk. I am loving, loving, loving the mornings.

Did I say I was enjoying the mornings? Just checking! I wanted to make sure that you got that part.

Other interesting news, Gracen is about to be walking everywhere. She is letting go of the furniture and walking 5 to 6 steps before she falls. It is adorable. She is smiling so big as she makes her way across that short distance. She has both arms out beside her body for balance and when she falls she claps for herself, only because we clap for her. She is ready to go, go, go and my house will never be the same. She is making a big enough mess crawling, much less walking. I love it though. I can hardly wait to watch Reagan and Gracen play chase out in our yard. Fun times ahead.

Gene's schedule has changed just a little and I am completely pumped about it. Instead of being away from home 3 Friday nights a month, he will only be gone 1 Friday night per month. Everybody loves Fridays right. I mean it is the end of the work week, and the beginning of the weekend. It is a night to unwind and be with family. Well, it has been over 5 years since we have had the typical Friday night. So tonight we are eating pizza, watching a new movie, popping popcorn, and making smores over the fire pit. I am looking forward to it. It is 3:30 now and I am already watching the clock to see that handsome thing drive up in his truck.

Remember to be praying for Gracen. One week from today we will be taking her to Children's Hospital for the cath. dye test procedure. I am a little anxious. Pray for all of us as we walk through whatever is next and certainly pray for Gracen's health, that the kidney situation is indeed mild and she will grow out of it without surgery.

Until next time....(which will probably be Monday)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Neat Opportunity

I have had the opportunity in recent weeks to become friends with someone who I don't think is a Christian. Before I even introduced myself, I started to think that God might be up to something. We will see. We have had several conversations and she never mentions church or anything like that. When I initially told her my husband was a minister, I got the "Oh, hmmm, OK" response. I shared where we went to church and what my husband does at the church and she didn't reciprocate her church information and I didn't ask. Not yet anyway.

Our children have played together a few times and Gene and I are planning on inviting the family over for dinner one night in the near future. I am excited to see what God does and hopefully He will use us to point this couple to Christ.

Just this morning in my Bible reading in 2 Corinthians, I came across two verses that really spoke to my heart about this very situation.

2 Cor. 2:14-15 (New American Standard)
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."

2 Cor. 3:6 (New Living Translation)
"He has enabled us to be ministers of this new covenant..." The new covenant is in reference to faith in Jesus Christ.

As a Christian, I want my life to count for the kingdom of God and sometimes, as a stay home mom, it is easy to start feeling like you aren't doing anything significant...even though I know in my heart that I certainly am.

This new relationship/opportunity has opened my eyes again to the truth that God wants to use me where ever I am. In my plain old ordinary day to day activities, I may come across someone who needs Jesus. I just have to be looking and sensitive to His leading.

According to the verses that I shared, my life should display the aroma of Christ, the sweet smelling fragrance that comes from knowing Him personally. I want this person to see Jesus in my words, in my actions, in the way I speak to and discipline my children, and in my relationship with my husband. According to the second verse, I am as much a minister as my huband. Actually, all Christians have the same responsibility. I am called to look for those opportunities to share the gospel and be obedient when I sense Him leading me to open my mouth.

If you get a chance today, pray for me. Pray that this person will see Jesus in me and that I will have the right words to say when the opportunity comes to share my faith.

I also have another prayer request. A dear friend of mine and fellow staff wife at East Memorial, Beverly Easley has been battling breast cancer for years. She went into remission only to have the cancer return in January of this year. The chemo and treatment in Montgomery was not working and she was sent to a specialist in Birmingham yesterday. She was told that the cancer is spreading quickly and that they could not treat her. She was given a life expectancy that she has not shared at this time. She is a stay home mom to 8 precious children. My heart is breaking for them, and I just cried when I got off the phone after hearing that news. I cried going to sleep last night thinking about her pain and her family and what they all must be going through. We are praying for a miracle of healing. Please join me in praying for Beverly.

Also remember to pray for Gracen as our visit to Children's Hospital is quickly approaching.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

I have to start with Reagan's fishing field trip on Friday. My mom came to my house to keep Gracen and Reagan and I headed to a pond in Millbrook, with lots of other 3 and 4 year olds, with our best Barbie fishing pole, dreaming of catching the big one. The weather was absolutely perfect and the setting was beautiful.

Let me just say, I am not a nature girl. I didn't exactly dress for fishing and became a little annoyed when I got mud on my new Yellow Box flip flops. Note to self...."Wear old clothes and tennis shoes on next year's fishing trip." Gene had to work, so I was a little concerned about carrying everything from the car to the pond, which was a good little hike, and baiting Reagan's little hook with crickets or worms. Reagan and I split the load, and thankfully, we used hot dog pieces for bait. Who knew catfish loved hot dog wieners. I guess you learn something new everyday.

It took me forever to learn how to correctly cast that line far out into the water, not right in front of us at the water's edge, and then it took me awhile to teach Reagan to do the same thing. Fishing is not quite as easy as it looks. I had other problems too, like how to untangle your line from a branch when you throw it into a tree. But, clearly that is another story, one that I am sure you are not interested in.

Here is my precious little nature girl, in a cute little skirt that is equally not fishing attire, patiently waiting on her fish. She kept bending forward on her knees (like in the pic) and sighing deeply. She would look at me and ask, "Where is that fish, Momma?" After about 30 minutes or more, I was beginning to wonder the same thing.

Well, I was hoping that Reagan would at least catch one little fish. I knew that would make her day. I was so thankful when Isaw that little bobber (spelling?) start to move up and down. I knew we were getting a bite. I was shocked when the bobber completely disappeared and Reagan started to cry out that she needed help with her pole. Brandi Cleveland, the preschool director, came walking by about that time and reached over and started pulling on Reagan's line. Low and behold, Reagan caught a catfish that was at least a foot long, maybe longer. I screamed when that thing came out of the water. So did Reagan. We didn't quite no what to do with it. And even though, Reagan didn't really want to touch it, she was beaming with pride.Here is a closer shot of our little catch. A friend, Shane Russell, was there with his boys and he came over and got that thing off our hook.

Reagan and I had a great time together. It has been a long time since we have been able to do something alone. Gracen has required a lot of my time and attention over the last year. I know that has been hard on her and she seemed to really enjoy being with me and filled my ears full of conversation.

On Friday night, I took the girls to my mom's house to spend the night. Gene was away Friday through Sunday and I didn't want to be alone all weekend. Mom cooked a delicious baked spaghetti dish and we had a great time visiting with each other and watching the girls play.

On Saturday, we took them to the zoo to enjoy the beautiful weather. Gracen loves being outside and would ride in her stroller all day long if I wanted her to, and Reagan loves everything about the zoo. She loves the animals, the train, the playground, the gift shop (which we didn't visit), and the picnic lunch we always have. I had a great time and was so thankful to have my mom's company. She filled my lonely weekend. It is so good when your mom is also your friend. I love you Mom!

After the zoo, we went to Sonic for frozen treats. What could be better?

I headed home Saturday afternoon, and spent a little time outdoors with the girls. Reagan recently got a new John Deere tractor, and she absolutely loves that thing. Her little cousin Jacob has one and now they can ride together. Here are a few shots of the tractor.

Gracen wanted to sit on it too. Reagan was a little annoyed by her baby sister sitting on her brand new tractor, but I figured there was a life lesson in the waiting, and so I let Gracen longer than I would have if Reagan had not fussed at all.

Saturday evening was a whirlwind of activity as I feed the girls supper, bathed both of them, and laid out clothes and packed bags for Sunday morning. But, praise the Lord, I had both girls in the bed and asleep by 7:15 and had about three hours of "me" time. It was heavenly! I actually got to paint my nails and toenails, which is no small accomplishment when you have two little ones at home. I think the zoo wore us out because we all slept like rocks. I had to wake both girls up around 7:00 Sunday morning to get them moving for church.

Gene met us at church and of course, I was thrilled to see him. We had great services morning and night, with a long afternoon of family time in between.

A perfect day!

Actually, a pretty perfect weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easter Activities

Man, I am having trouble finding time to sit down and write a blog entry. My two main problems are Gracen's new mobility and the beautiful weather. Gracen isn't walking yet, but she is crawling really fast, and she is cruising along every piece of furniture and wall that we have. If I turn my back for a second she disappears. She falls so quickly too and that means that I have to stay pretty close to her, which is usually far away from my computer.

I am by no means complaining about the weather, but both girls are wanting to be outside. If we are inside for even a span of 20 minutes, Reagan will ask to go back outside. Gracen will sit in front of our french doors and whine like a dog that needs to go out to use the bathroom. She will also sit in front of the back door and beat her hand on it. I enjoy the outdoors, so they don't really have to twist my arm to go out. Again though, it is hard to type when I am outside and my computer is inside. I do have a laptop, but even that won't help me with Gracen. We are on the move all day long. When I am inside, I am trying to catch up on the cleaning for the day.

I started this post a day or two ago. The date on the top is wrong. Today is actually April 17th. I got all the pictures loaded, but I am just now finding the time to sit down and type something to go with our pictures.

These photos are from the Saturday before Easter and Easter morning...all before our little trip to the E.R. and our prison sentence at Baptist East. Thankfully, we had some fun family time before those scary events transpired.

The first 4 pictures are at the Easter event at Shoal Creek Baptist Church. We go to this every year because it is in our community and there are so many old friends that we like to reconnect with. We also really like taking our girls to let everyone see the answers to their prayers. You see, we were members of Shoal Creek for almost 10 years. This church body walked with me through all those years of infertility, faithfully praying for me as I tried to conceive and then as we waited to adopt. They truly enjoy seeing both of the girls and catching up with us.

Here is Reagan as she is headed to the egg hunt.Here she is blowing dandelions. She was suppose to be hunting eggs. She blows every dandelion she sees and wishes to be in heaven with Jesus. I hear this wish repeatedly throughout the day and I really want to tell her to stop wishing that. I do not want her in heaven with least not today. I want her here with me. How do you explain that to a 4-year-old?Here is Gene with the girls in front of one of the many inflatables. Reagan loves those things.

And here is Reagan blowing bubbles at one of the many different stations.

We went to my mom and dad's house that evening for my birthday dinner and easter activities for the kids. Here is a photo of my parents with 3 of the 5 grandkids. Ariel and Dean live in Tuscaloosa and they couldn't make the trip. Too far to come for an Easter egg hunt and they are probably a little too old for that any way.Here is a family shot. You know we always have to take a family picture. I hate that I didn't get a picture of my sister's family. Here is the only picture that has all three of them in it....Lindsay, little Hayden, and Brian (walking away).

Here is my precious little neice Hayden. She is 3 weeks younger than Gracen and is already walking all by herself. I was amazed by that. She is so petite and a dainty little flower.
Here is a shot of me and Gracen. Her little shirt has a monkey on it. I thought that was an appropriate outfit because I call her my little "Chunky Monkey".
Here she is walking around the yard. We spend hours doing this every day. She is smiling big despite the terrible kidney infection that she had. She has such a sweet disposition...even when she is sick.
Here is Reagan and Gracen opening their Easter baskets from Gram and Pap. This is actually Gracen's Easter basket and Reagan is pulling things out for Gracen.
Here is Reagan playing with the bubble wand that was in her basket. She loves bubbles.
Here are their Easter baskets at home on Sunday morning.
Both girls digging into their stuff.
Look at that precious little face. Does this look like a baby who will be in the E.R. in just a few hours? I do not think so.

Unfortunately, we were running late for church after doing all the Easter activities and I didn't take any pictures of the girls in their Easter dresses. Gene had to be at church at 7:45, so he left our house at 7:15, which is about the time that the girls woke up. It was crazy doing everything alone on Easter morning, and I just assumed that we would take family pictures after church. I won't make that mistake again. I will always make time for pictures, and should probably wake up ealier on special occasions.

I will have to dress them up in their Easter duds again soon and take a picture. I will share it whenever I do.

A Very Long Post

I am so thankful to be home. We were in the hospital from Sunday to Friday and I didn't even go outside during that time. I missed home and the sunshine so much!!!! I even missed cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. Is that totally weird? I guess I just wanted to be back doing all the normal things of life. We have spent a lot of time outside over the last several days, trying to replenish our vitamin D. I don't think Gracen even remembers that old hospital. She has been so happy and seems to be on the mend. It is hard to tell though. She isn't old enough to tell me if she is hurting somewhere, so every time she randomly hollers out, I cringe, wondering if she is in pain...or just hollering out as babies do. I wish she could talk to me and tell me what is going on with her. That lack of communication is very frustrating during the baby years. Of course, when Reagan learned to talk, I longed for the quiet again....never satisfied, I know.

In my last blog entry I just talked about Sunday. Monday thru Friday were certainly not as scary as Sunday, but hard nonetheless. We were on a schedule of checking Gracen's vitals every 4 hours...8:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 12:00 a.m., and 4:00 a.m. Gracen was also given an antibiotic through her I.V. at 3:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. It was so hard to get any sleep and it was very hard to wake Gracen up for all those checks after it seemed like we had just gotten her to sleep. It seems like rest would be very important for the body to heal itself, but it didn't seem like the hospital shared that point of view.

We only slept about 2 hours on Sunday night and maybe 3 hours on Monday night. I woke up Monday morning in the wee hours to a loud beeping sound. In my half conscious state I dreamed that Gracen had "coded". My heart was racing and tears immediately came to my eyes as I jumped out of the bed. Thankfully, it was just a problem with her I.V. pump, and I just wasn't used to the sounds of the hospital. It is humorous now, but not funny at all in the moment. Monday was my birthday and I felt every bit of my 37 years. I felt like I had been run over by a truck due to the anxiety, nervous stomach, and lack of sleep. I certainly cannot say that my birthday was uneventful....definitely memorable.

Around 3:30 Tuesday morning, the nurse remember that he need to take blood from Gracen. He needed a tube so the simply finger or heel prick would not do. Again we had only been asleep about an hour from when they woke us up for the midnight check and they ended up sticking her 4 times before they were successful. Gracen was screaming which made me start crying. The entire situation sent me back to the bathroom. I think I lost about 4 pounds while we were there. Anyway, I was livid with that nurse and told him so. He was a horrible nurse with no bedside manner and no personality to work with children. I made sure that he was not in our room again. Thankfully, we had wonderful nurses who did a great job with Gracen every other night.

Tuesday's bloodwork showed a white blood count of 23,000. It had certainly come down from the original 34,000, but the doctor wanted it under 15,000. Our overnight visit quickly turned into 2 nights. I also realized that we would have to do bloodwork every morning to see if we could go home. Ugh!

On Wednesday morning, her blood count was at 18,000 so we were very hopeful that we would go home on Thursday. Wednesday was also a very good day. Gracen was happy and I could see her easy-going personality returning. Gene's mother also brought Reagan to see us, which made me smile. Gracen took great naps that day which allowed me to rest and to spend some time reading my Bible and praying, which lifted my spirits tremendously.

The days were long because Gracen is at the age (11 mths.) where she is wanting to go. She wanted down to crawl all over that nasty hospital floor. I just couldn't allow that so the entire day was spent holding her, walking her up and down the hallway when the I.V. was disconnected, playing with toys on the bed, or letting her play with toys in her hospital crib. Thursday was the longest day because we really thought that we would be going home that morning after such a great Wednesday, and at this point, I was going stir crazy. I also thought Gracen wouldn't do well being confined for another 24 hour period. The doctor came in and said that Gracen's white blood count had not dropped enough over night(16,000) and something in her urine had actually increased. He said they would like to keep her another night and he might as well have punched me in the stomach. It was raining outside that morning and it was just dreary...inside and out. I started to think that we might not ever get to go home.

On Friday, the blood count was around 13,000.....Praise the Lord! We packed at lightning speed and hit the road. I felt like I had been released from prison.

Well, I am rambling and I want to thank some people that helped us make it through that horrid week.

My mom and dad came almost every night and my mom spent at least 2 full days there... maybe 3...I can't remember now. They also kept Reagan one night. Thanks Mom and Dad for all you guys do and your constant love and support.

Gene's parents kept Reagan the other nights. They don't read this blog, but I want to say thank you anyway. Gene's mom also came and cleaned my house. It was nice to come home to a super clean house after the week I had.

Riley Anne Montgomery brought a precious gift to Gracen. Thanks Riley Anne.

Traci Varon totally lifted my spirits by bringing me a birthday gift on Monday morning and a set of blocks for Gracen to play with. I love the candle and I am using the prayer journal. Traci, thank you for thinking of me and remembering my birthday.

Cassandra Hicks and Leslie Dedon came on Tuesday bearing gifts from my momMEtime group. They brought a huge basket of snacks, coins for the vending machine, and gift cards to Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, and Panera Bread. That was so nice and definitely brightened my day. Thank you to Cassandra, Leslie, Traci Varon, Christie Sellers, April Turner, Joy Williams, Rebekah Ismail, Monica Hagley, Tabitha Abele, Megan Crosby, Valerie Urnis, Emily Whitten, and Amy Cabaniss.....If I missed anyone I am sorry.

Thank you to Cassandra and Joy for the visits, the phone calls, and the constant FaceBook updates.

Thank you to my aunt and uncle, Sherry and Billy, for the adorable baby doll and balloon. Gracen loved both of them and I enjoyed my candy.

Thank you to the ladies in the EMBC church office who also put together a snack basket and thank you Kimberly Hunt for bringing it. I was so happy to see your pretty face that day.

Thanks to Martee and Dicky Windham, Joy and Tim Williams, Austin Barnett, Jeremy Moore, and Mark Otstot for the visits. Others tried to visit but we put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door whenever Gracen was asleep...which was random times throughout the day.

Thanks again to my sisters Lori and Lindsay and to Brian, Lindsay's husband, for the phone calls and visits.

We also received NUMEROUS phone calls every single day....too many people to name individually....and I had 264 comments on Facebook. That is crazy to me! I didn't know we had so many friends.

If I didn't name you and you did something for us, I am so sorry! I tried to write down things as they happened, but I know I am forgetting something or someone. If I have forgotten you, let me know.

Well, this has gotten ridiculously long!

Until next time....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Ordeal

What a horrible week we had!

Most of you already know about Gracen and the fact that she was hospitalized last week, but I still thought I would give a run down of what happened and how Gracen is doing.

On Easter Sunday, Gracen woke up and seemed totally fine to me...other than the remnants of a cough and cold that she still had due to the croup from the previous week. Both girls dug through their Easter baskets and then I started our normal routine of feeding them breakfast and getting them dressed for church. They looked beautiful in their Easter dresses and I could kick myself for not taking pictures before we left for church....but we were running late and I figure we would just take family pictures with Gene after church.

When we arrived at church, I had to stay and work the nursery because there were so many babies in Gracen's class. Gracen was fine the first hour. I had to stay in the nursery the second hour as well, and it was during this time that Gracen's temperament changed. She became very fussy and just wanted me to hold her. She usually takes a nap about 10:00, so I just assumed she was tired. I tried to rock her for a good 30 minutes and she was incredibly restless. When she finally fell asleep, her breathing sounded really funny to me....weak and shallow. I asked Shannon Meadows, who was in nursery with me, to listen to her breathing and she agreed that it didn't sound quite right. Gracen slept in my arms until church was over and continued to sleep as I was walking down the hall to leave.

As we were leaving the building, I felt her whole body go almost limp, like a rag doll. I leaned her forward to look at her and she was pale and her little lips were turning a light blue. I freaked out. We were at the car and I screamed for Gene to look at her and he immediately started saying, "Oh, God....Oh, God....Oh, God!" This unnerved me too! We basically all jumped in the car and flew like lightning out of the parking lot to the ER, which is less than 10 minutes from the church. In that ride, Gracen became more and more pale. Around her eyes starting turning light blue and I could see veins on her forhead because she was so pale, almost gray looking. I was holding her and kept rubbing her back and stomach. I was crying and lightly shaking her to keep her from going to sleep. She only opened her eyes two times in that car ride and both times her little eyes rolled back in her head. She never made eye contact with me and was completely limp the entire ride. To say that I was petrified is an understatement of epic proportions.

I realized in that moment how fragile life is and how God is in complete control. We are just a one moment and gone the next. I found myself begging God not to take her, not to use us as an example of walking through such grief and loss. Over the course of that horrific day, I wish I could say that my faith and trust in God brought me complete peace. It didn't! Maybe a minister's wife shouldn't say that, but it is totally true. Horrific things happen to the most godly people....not that we are the most godly people, just making the point. We live in a fallen world ravaged by sin, a world where terrible things happen to believers and unbelievers alike. I do trust God and love Him. I do believe that He is in complete control, that everything happens for a reason, and that everything works together for good for his ultimate glory. I knew that in His sovereignity, her life and her death could be used to bring Him glory and I just didn't know which way we were headed. Terrifying thought....that He could choose to take her, or Reagan, for that matter, for His glory....that He could use that to point others to Himself.

When we arrived at the ER, we were in a room within 10 minutes. At this point, some of Gracen's color was coming back and she was crying. The nurses put a probe of some sort on her toe to monitor her vital signs, which brought me great relief. We waited a good hour before they did anything else to her. Eventually they came in and took blood. They also put in an IV, bagged her urine, tested her for the flu, strep, and RSV. They also took about 25 minutes worth of x-rays. They may have run some other tests but that is all I can remember at this moment.

Thankfully many family members arrived to offer parents, Gene's parents, my sister, Lindsay, and her husband Brian. Bro. Jason Kennedy also came to the ER right after we arrived and helped with Reagan until our family got there. Bro. Glenn, our pastor, arrived shortly after Bro. Jason.

The nurses found that she had a viral infection of some kind in her chest. They called it bronchilititis (I have no idea how to spell that). They also found a severe kidney infection. Her white blood count was around 34,000, which is off the charts for a baby. It is suppose to be under 10,000. The decision was made to transport her to Baptist East by ambulance to monitor her over night and to give her steroids and antibiotics by IV. Gene and I were already completely drained. We arrived at the ER at 12:15 and they loaded her in the ambulance at 5:45. Neither one of us had eaten since breakfast....not that I could have eaten at any point during the day. My nervous stomach also got the best of me and I made several trips to the bathroom. I was so nauseous that I could not ride in the back of the ambulance. Only one parent was allowed anyway. Gene thought I needed to go home and get Reagan situated with her Gran and Paw Paw and pack our bags. I didn't argue.

I cried and prayed while I was in the car by myself. I also called Joy Williams, a friend and prayer warrior. I asked her to put out a FaceBook request for prayers and to start praying herself as well. She did. She also prayed with me on the phone and her calming nature calmed my spirit. Thanks Joy.

I packed our clothes and some comforting things for Gracen and headed to the hospital. As I drove, I cried and prayed some more. My older sister, Lori, called me and we talked for a good 25 minutes. She is another prayer warrior and allowed me to talk and cry as well. She assured me that she and her family and their church family would be in prayer and I believed her. Another comforting phone call. Thanks Lori.

When I arrived at the hospital I found this...
A little angel in a hospital gown, with an IV in her hand brought me to tears....again. No child should be dressed in either. Heartbreaking!!! When I arrived, Gracen was already so much better. She was smiling and had won over the nurses with her cuteness. Many people were with us that night at Baptist East... my parents, Cassandra Hicks, Tim and Joy Williams. Your presence was comforting. Thank you for coming, especially on Easter Sunday.

Sunday night was very difficult. Gene and I might have slept 2 hours total. We finally got Gracen to sleep at 10:30 and the nurse came in at 12:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m., and 8:00 a.m. to check her vitals. Gracen woke up every time and it took me a good hour to get her back to sleep. The nurse also walked into our room every single hour to look at Gracen. She didn't need to because I was standing up beside her bed, looking at her too. The car ride to the ER was imprinted in my brain and I just knew she was going to die in her sleep. It was Tuesday night before I really slept. and even then, for just a couple of hours at a time.

Early Monday morning, my birthday, we had to hold Gracen down for a renal ultrasound. This was not a painful test but Gracen was scared of the nurses and the big machine. They also rubbed that sticky gel all over her stomach and back and she didn't care for that. The ultrasound showed that she has a mild case of neonatal hydronephrosis, which is basically a blockage between the bladder and the kidneys that doesn't allow urine to empty from her bladder completely. This causes reflux of urine back into her kidneys which can lead to scar tissue and eventually kidney damage if not corrected.

We have to take Gracen to Children's Hospital for an outpateint procedure on April 30th and she will be on antibiotics for a year to prevent any more kidney infections.

The doctors are not 100% sure what caused the terrifying breathing spell as we were leaving church. They gave us two possibilites. 1...A mucus plug broke loose from her chest and blocked her airway....or 2. Her little body was fighting two infections and just shut down, similar to passing out. I really think it was number 2.....but who knows.

I am very thankful for many things...

  • that I was with her in the nursery while she was in such distress.
  • that we were in Prattville and close to the ER when it happened.
  • that I wasn't by myself, because there is no way that I could have driven my car.
  • that something like this happened which forced us to take her to the ER, which allowed us to find the kidney condition before any major damage occurred.
  • that I have such wonderful friends and family.
  • that Gracen is still here.
  • that all of my family is together again under one roof.
  • that I have been forced to realize that as hard as it is to be a mother is the greatest blessing that I have on this to being a wife to my wonderful husband.

I will post some more details of the rest of our week in the days to come. Our one night of observation turned in to 5 nights as the doctors waited for her white blood count to fall under 15,000. When we left on Friday, the count was around 13,000. Gracen is on the mend and is taking antibiotics. Unfortunately, I am still not sleeping all that well. I still feel the need to check her repeatedly throughout the night.

All I can say is Praise the Lord for doctors, nurses, medicine, and hospitals!

Here are a few more pictures.

We spent days on this bed with toys trying to keep Gracen occupied and off the floor.

Here is Gracen visiting with Reagan and her cousin Abby.

Here is Gracen playing with a baby doll that my Aunt Sherry sent us. Gracen loved it and held onto it for days, kissing it and giving it love. Thank you Sherry and Billy. Now she is sleeping with it.

I have more thank you's to give over the next couple of days....but Gracen is waking up so I have to go.
Until next time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Quick Update

We have had a bad string of days. That is really sad as pretty as the weather has been too. Reagan was sick and then Gracen was sick. Apparently after croup, a pretty bad cold develops. Reagan was manageable, even though she wasn't in the best mood. A sick baby on the other hand...not so manageable. The doctor said this cold could last 5-10 days. I seriously will not last 10 days. I am not joking! Wednesday and Thursday were the worst two days. Gracen was ill as a hornet. Everything I did made her cry and whine, which made the snot roll and made her cough profusely. The coughing made her gag and the gagging made her mad, which made her cry some more. You get the idea. If I was holding her she wanted down. If she was down she wanted me to hold her. If we were inside, she wanted to be outside. If we were outside, she wanted to be inside. The constant whine is beginning to sound like nails on a chalkboard. She has not been napping all that great either, and she has been waking up way too early in the morning, and going to sleep way to late at night. One would think with the arrival of spring that all our sickness would be behind us. Maybe this is it for a while.

On Thursday, I was on edge. Gene noticed this and thought maybe it would be a good idea to go somewhere by myself. Ya think! I also needed an Easter dress and the girls needed hair bows to match their Easter dresses. I left about 1:00 and didn't come home until around 5:00. That was the fastest 4 hours of my life. It was really nice to be alone though. I went to the Sassy Cricket to buy hair bows and then went to East Chase. I went to Justice for my niece's birthday, Kohl's for a few spring items, Dress Barn for my Easter dress, and then spent an hour or more in the Montgomery Target. After my checkbook was done shopping, I sat in the Sonic parking lot and drank a fruit smoothie and relished the complete quiet and serenity of my car. I then prayed on the way home, preparing myself to go back in.

Friday was somewhat better. Gracen's mood is improving and Reagan seems fine. Unfortunately, Gracen still has a runny nose and a cough. She is also still "touchy". Gene was off for Good Friday and we had a date night planned. We spent most of the day outside and survived until 4:30, which is when we took the girls to Gene's mom. We went to Olive Garden, Belk for Gene's Easter shirt and tie, and then Target again. I love Target. We really enjoyed the night away from the house together and the girls were really good for their Gran and Paw Paw. Reagan spent the night there and Gracen came home with us because I am still nursing her.

Today, we are going to Shoal Creek Baptist Church for their Easter Egg Hunt (& other activities) from 10:00 until 12:00. We are looking forward to seeing old friends. We will come home and rest and then we are heading to my Mom and Dad's house for a cookout and probably a little Easter Egg Hunt. On Sunday, we will wake up early to give the girls their Easter baskets, eat breakfast, and head to church. We do not have services Sunday evening, so we are having dinner and another Easter egg hunt with Gene's family. Hopefully, the weekend will be nice and Gracen will continue to improve.

I have read some really beautiful blog posts about Easter, including the blog written by my older sister, Lori. You will find the link to her blog on the right hand side of this post. I had really hoped to be more reflective during this week leading up to Easter on the meaning of the cross and the resurrection. Unfortunately, with Gracen's sickness and subsequent moodiness, I haven't really had much of a coherent thought. Maybe that was Satan's plan.... to use this illness to keep me from entering in to worship this week. Even as I type this entry, it is 6:23 a.m. and Gracen has been crying in her room for the last 10 minutes. I simply cannot be a deep theological writer right now....not that I am usually all that deep. I will say that I am so grateful for the cross and so grateful for the forgiveness of my sins.

We have had some really good discussions with Reagan using the Resurrection Eggs and the Easter movie we bought her that details the last week of Jesus on Earth, the cross, and the Resurrection. Hopefully, when asked about the meaning of Easter, she will tell you what Jesus did for us. I hope that comes out of her mouth before the Easter egg hunts, baskets, and bunnies.

Well, check back on Monday for lots of pictures of our weekend events.

Until then....