Friday, January 30, 2009

Please Pray!

I received this letter from a dear friend this morning regarding the loss of her 6 1/2 year old daughter, Keren, earlier this week. It's long, but it's definitely worth reading. Please join me in praying for her and her family. Keren was a very special little girl and will be greatly missed.

Dear Friends and Family,

I have been wanting to write an update about a year now.... To update you with all of our great news of the year starting with last February when we moved into our new home. Life being what it is, though, VERY status quo, busy, and full of joy, I've not taken the time to write. Our three girls have been growing like weeds. The younger girls, Clare and Evvie (3 1/2 years and 22 months) have been keeping Kraig and me on our toes with everything they've been learning (and testing us with!).

Keren (6 1/4 years, Trisomy 18) has been growing so much physically and in every area. She's been thriving at school, and losing her baby teeth like mad (and getting some new ones). Driving us crazy with some silly self-stimulations like poking her eye or gouging her gums, but for the most part full of huge hugs and squeezes, accompanied by laughs, squeals and sloppy kisses. ...And we've been gearing up to announce to everyone our crazy, happy news that we're about 13 weeks into expecting number four!!!

And then Wednesday of this week, January 28, the unthinkable, unbelievable happened: We lost our Keren-girl....

She'd come down with one of her typical bug/colds Sunday--fever with some congestion. Her norm with a "bad" one is that she'll have the fever and cold for a few days, then it turns into sinusitis of an infection of that sort, she goes on antibiotics, end of story. I guess God had different plans this time. Her fever was manageable, but constant from Sunday on, but though the congestion seemed to clear up Monday Keren kind of slept non-stop Monday-on. That was a bit strange. I talked with the doctor's office Tuesday afternoon (third day in) and the nurse and I agreed that since the fever was controlled by meds, we'd just set up an appointment for Wednesday and bring her in if the fever hadn't broken.

Wednesday morning I got Keren up from bed to get a bath and as I washed her, I noticed her breathing change--really labored and awful, almost obstructing, but she wouldn't cough anything up (very unusual for her....). I quickly got her back into bed with her cpap/sleep apnea machine, and that improved her color, but she was still just breathing through her mouth (had been doing that). Called the doc's office and they said, yes, bring her in now, but if anything changed to take her immediately to emergency. My sister was able to get over within ten minutes to watch the younger girls, so I packed Keren up, along with her cpap (we have a power inverter in the car) and took off.

Wednesday here was one of our snowy days--it was going like fury (of course). I quick called my OB's office to cancel what was to be my 12 week appointment that morning, and canceled one other appt. Keren was to have. Throughout, I could hear Keren's labored breathing. We were less than a mile from home when I realized that I didn't here her any more. I got off the road, and got to her, and she was completely unresponsive. My brain was frozen--I could hardly think enough to figure out if she had a pulse, and I didn't want to take the time. I just laid her down on the floor, hoping she'd breathe better that way, turned the car toward our nearby urgent care and called 911.

They had paramedics meet up with us before we got to urgent care. Amazingly swift. After a few minutes of working on her in the ambulance, they told me which hospital they were taking her to. I had the choice of going with her or driving myself, and I chose to drive. Isn't it strange. It's one of those choices that I think is probably vastly different for each of us. I think I knew I'd be in the way in ambulance, that I needed space to think, pray, call Kraig, etc. I wonder now if it was mostly because that strange, unresponsive little girl they had taken from my car was NOT my Keren. I think my Keren was already gone...

As I drove to the hospital (don't worry, I was a good girl and didn't try to keep up with the ambulance....), I kept praying, "Lord, please don't let this be it," but at the same time I had an unshakeable peace that if this WAS it, God was with us and Keren, and had us in His hand.

When I got to the hospital, the doctor and nurses were with me in minutes. They explained that they had been administering CPR, meds, and ventilator on Keren for a full hour by that point (can an hour be so fast?), and she had not responded once. The diagnosis was a respiratory arrest, that went into cardiac arrest. I was basically faced with the words, "Within minutes we need to stop. There's nothing more we can do...." Tried to process it all--even asked point-blank if any of this would be different if she wasn't trisomy. They hadn't even had her medical history as they worked on her.

I called Kraig and he was already on the road from work, and my brother-in-law was there right as they took me to Keren. My bro-in-law has done EMS work, and got to talk to the EMS workers right there, confirming for us that they had done all they could.

So that's it. I got to weep on my girl. Kraig arrived, then more family and close friends, pastor from church, were all there with their arms around us. It's been like that since. We came home to more food already than we could imagine at the house, with my sister and close family friends doing laundry and running herd on our little girls.

Two of Kraig's three siblings are right here in town, and were over most of the day. Amazingly, Kraig's dad is here this week from his work overseas, and my youngest sister is home from grad school out east. My other sis and her husband were supposed to be in Maryland by now for a new job, but the process has been slower than expected, so they're still here.

My parents had just left on vacation Sunday, and flew back immediately, and Kraig's mom is flying in from overseas. His other brother and family arrive in the morning. Our church, within hours, had set-up a meals and child-care coordinator, and the love has been overflowing. The hardest phone call that I wanted to make myself was to Keren's teacher to let them know.... Oh, that was awful. I think that's one of the hardest things--letting all those who have known and loved Keren know that she's gone....

I'm in process mode, or something like that at the moment. I'm finding I want to just keep moving and planning, and talking the whole thing through. I'm letting the emotions come when they come, and avoiding the "what if" game with a vengeance.... Keren's pediatrician called us Wednesday night, and it was so reassuring to talk it through with him and here him say we had done everything that could have been done, and what would we have done differently?

I slept horribly Wednesday night--not surprising. I was doing much better tonight, but Ev was crying since she crawled our of her covers, and after I tucked her in, my brain wouldn't shut off. I've been wanting to write all this down, and now seemed ideal.... Kraig's hanging in there. Keren was so much her girl--he's been wrapped around her finger since she first grasped his in the NICU six years ago....

The little girls are coping in their ways. Evelyn isn't too phased, but the first night she kept pointing at Keren's bed going "Sissy! Sissy!" Finally I put her on the bed, and she immediately grabbed Keren's pillow and crawled under the sheets. That's where she wanted to sleep.

Clare has been going through the round of emotions. I can't imagine how hard it must be for a 3 1/2 year old to process this. Keren has always been in her life.... On the one hand, Clare is thrilled that Keren can now walk, and talk, and have her new house with Jesus (a concept that we've built on a lot since we moved into our new house a year ago. It connected with a Bible story we read about Jesus making a new home for us in heaven, and when it's ready, he calls us there.

That's made a lot of sense to Clare, though she often has said, "But I don't want to die! I like THIS house." Can't argue with that logic!). On the other hand, she hits those awful moments where she breaks down and wants to know when Sissy will be home, and says, "But I want TWO sisters!" Oh, I couldn't agree more....

Phew, sorry, this is a long one. I know many of you have heard this news via my family or through church, and my mom has written some incredible stuff, but I had to write and share with her. I know there are so many questions. The hardest thing for Kraig right now is, "God was using Keren to touch SO many lives.... Why does it have to stop now? What about all the people who have never met her?"

I will REALLY try to keep you posted. Please feel free to write or call--ask any questions you want. Please DON'T walk on eggshells! It helps us to talk. I can't tell you how much your prayers and support have been to us over these past six years.....

Much Love,Loren for Kraig, Keren Elyse (T18, 9/27/02~1/28/09), Clarissa Joanne (7/17/05), Evelyn Ruth (4/26/07) and baby due (EDD 8/6/09)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 Things About Me

Okay, so practically everyone else is doing it, so I guess it's my turn :)

1. I am CPR certified (as of last night!)
2. My two babies have an AMAZING birthmother (Auntie E), and we are now great friends. That is a dream come true.
3. Mark and I moved lived in 4 places in the first 2 1/2 years we were married, and now we've been in the same place ever since (5 years).
4. I love pop, esp. Cherry Coke and Wild Cherry Pepsi, but we try to only drink it on weekends. Auntie E says I'm like a kid in a candy store when it comes to some things, and she is so right.
5. Mark and I met when we were 13, started dating when I was 15, got engaged at 19 (on four year anniversary!), and got married at 21.
6. I live north of Canada. Weird.
7. I have a cat that actually likes dogs and loves people.
8. Mark and I have talked about adoption since high school, so it was a very easy decision for us.
9. We never really considered fertility treatments, and I'm so glad we didn't.
10. I absolutely LOVE living near my parents.
11. My family and Mark's family were good friends before we ever started dating. What a blessing!
12. We're pretty sure we want more kids, but if I only want even numbers (can you tell I was in the middle??).
13. Mark wants to wait a looong time before having any more.
14. I kind of like having Christmas babies every year :)
15. My living room looks like Toys R Us, but almost all of the toys are from garage sales and mom-to-mom sales.
16. I graduated college in less than 3 years. My parents said I couldn't get married until I graduated.
17. We use cloth diapers. I love BumGenius diapers! (See links on sidebar.)
18. We also ue Target brand diapers for days we're out of the house and Huggies overnights at night.
19. I make matching scrapbooks for my babies and Auntie E but don't really enjoy it.
20. We recently switched churches, and I feel so at home there. This is the first church where I've felt that when mt dad wasn't the pastor.
21. I wish that we could move with them.
22. I have a hard time sitting through a movie.
23. I sleep with a lot of blankets at night.
24. I love the playgroup I'm in, and I can't wait to get back to playdates now that kids are healthy again.
25. I really really want to edit and rearrange these into a logical order, but I'm not letting myself do it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Milestones

Steven got two new teeth in the past week and a half! He got his first two in August (?) and then hadn't gotten any more since. He got one of his upper front teeth (left) as well as the one next to it (not the other front tooth!). It makes his teeth look funky, but I think he's getting more because he's been chewing his fingers non stop and usually doesn't do that. He's also drooling like crazy, which means that both of our clothes are wet!

Steven also gave me my first kiss last Saturday :) He would kiss toys and the dog but never a person. It was always cute because he makes the kissing noise and then puts his lips on the object. I opted for a kiss on the cheek because they are very wet kisses (remember all the drooling??).

Steven's also walking more and more, although some days he spends more time falling down than walking. He is so proud of himself when he walks, but he still crawls when he's in a hurry (usually when he sees a remote or cell phone within reach!). I thought we'd have a walker by now, but I'm not worried. It will be nice, though, when I don't have to carry both of them when we leave the house!

Our Week

We're slowly getting into a routine, and I'm a tad more efficient at getting out of the house with both kids (still have a long ways to go though). We made it to Bible study on Tuesday (and pretty much on time!) and out to lunch on Thursday (nowhere near on time).

Steven's still having a hard time adjusting. This week he's sat on her when she was doing tummy time (he had been napping when we started), yanked a bottle out of her mouth, and insisted on sitting on my lap when I was feeding her. I know it'll get better soon. The poor boy just doesn't know what in the world is going on!

On Tuesday I took Michelle to the doctor (again--I LOVE how medicaid has no copays!) to have her belly button checked out. It was bulging/swollen and just didn't look right. It turns out that she has a herniated belly button, but it isn't as bad as some I've seen. The doctor is just having us watch it, and hopefully it'll close up on it's own. If not, they generally surgically correct it when they're 3 or 4 years old. Other than that, she's doing great. She had gained 15 ounces since her last appointment the week before. I don't think we have to worry about her gaining weight anymore!

Thursday was a really big day for us. Their birthmother went to court and officially relinquished her rights to Michelle. Steven, Michelle, and I then met up with afterwards for lunch and to play together in the play area at a local mall. It was the first time she had seen either of them since they were born, and after Steven's initial hesitation, he had fun playing with her and sitting on her lap. I got some great pictures of them together (and her with Michelle) that will mean so much to them when they get older.

After a few hours, we met up with Mark at Wendy's since he's only seen her twice ever. He then took the babies home when I took her home. I stayed at her house for about an hour playing with her kids and talking to her mom and aunt. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and her family, and it helps that they absolutely love me too. She told the social worker that I am her homegirl :)

At the mall, several people asked her about Steven and Michelle, assuming that they were her kids, and each time she said, "I'm not their mother! She is" (pointing to me). How cool is that?! The kids are going to call her Auntie E---. That was her idea, and I love it. We're already planning the next time we get together, and we're definitely going to her daughter's birthday party in March. I really wanted an open adoption (which it wasn't last year), so this is a huge answer to prayer!

Please continue to pray for her and her family. They still have no living room furniture except two plastic chairs and are really struggling financially. Even more, please pray that she will come to know Christ as a result of our interaction with her. How wonderful would it be for Steven to Michelle to have both their families in heaven with them!?

Bath Time!

Here are some pictures of Michelle's first real bath. We didn't remember to take any until after we were done, of course, but we still got a few. The first two are when she was just out of the tub (and before she peed everywhere!).




After her bath, I put her Eucerin on to help keep her skin moisturized (essential for AA babies). I also put it in her hair, but I put in waaaay too much. I then spiked it before combing it. I was planning on combing it straight just like her birthmother did in the hospital (we think it's going to end up being straight), but it didn't work so well. Instead, she looked like a little grease ball, and I was unsuccessful in my attempt to wipe it off with a towel.

She still looked that way when we spent the day with her birthmother the following day. (Her birthmother laughed at me!) I'm learning; somehow I forgot everything we did with Steven!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Family Pictures

We finally got some family pictures at my parents' house yesterday. We have a lot of out takes, but we ended up with a decent one that we might use for our announcements.






"Playing" Together

Steven enjoys playing with Michelle when she is in her car seat. He loves the window in the visor and plays peek-a-boo with her using it. He also loves opening and closing the visor, and the one time I even heard him say "boo" when he opened it and looked at her.

Michelle is extremely tolerant of him, but I definately keep a close eye on him. He's good at being "gentle" with the critters, but his version of gentle isn't quite gentle enough for a newborn :)

In these pictures, he was rocking her in her carseat, and she was at least somewhat enjoying it--she cried at one point when he stopped!




Steven loves clapping for himself when he does something, and here he is clapping for himself after rocking her back and forth. Can you tell he gets a lot of positive reinforcement at home??


Matching Grandma

Yesterday we went to my parents' house for lunch after church. Steven gets so excited when he sees his Aunt Katie, and he is very attached to her. Michelle enjoyed hanging out with Grandma, and they even had on coordinating outfits. We love seeing my family, and we always enjoy having a bit of a break. (They also babysat on Friday so we could go to a movie and have dinner--almost free thanks to Lauren's Christmas presents--Applebees and theatre gift cards!)


Having too much fun to stop for a picture with Aunt Katie!


I never lived near grandparents growing up, and it has been absolutely wonderful living near my family and seeing them interact with Steven and Michelle. I don't know what we'll do when they leave (no location or date set yet). I'm thinking stowing away in the moving truck :)

First Dress!

I have always been a very girly girl, and it is so much fun to have a little girl to dress up! I found this little dress at Target on clearance for only $2.48, so I had to buy it. (I went back yesterday and bought another one in a larger size.) Michelle also had a headband on when we went out, but I took it off her when we got to my parents' house because it leaves a bit of a dent in her head :( It's not too tight, though, because Steven likes to wear it (he tries to put it on his head every time he sees it), and I have been seen sporting that look too. Oh the things you do for your kids!



As you can see, she's highly impressed by her dress!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas

Steven is very tactile, and he opened his new pjs and
immediately had to put them against his face and saw ahhhh :)







Steven






Michelle






Friday, January 9, 2009

Updates

Things have been crazy busy around here this week. Michelle got my cold, so I ended up taking her to the doctor earlier this week. I wanted them to look at her belly button because it wasn't dry at all after her cord fell off. I also wanted to get her weighed to see if she had gained back the half pound she had lost (and she had--exactly back to her birthweight of 7 lbs.). While we were there, Steven got his 2nd flu shot. That went over about as well as you'd expect :(

Steven is having a very hard time adjusting to Michelle. He does fine when Mark's home, but during the day, he doesn't like me holding Michelle. He has meltdown after meltdown, so I'm often holding both of them. We actually had a pretty good day today because they alternated their naps. That meant that Steven didn't have to share me much at all.

Steven isn't consistently walking yet, but he started walking more in the last few days. I'd say that he walks about 40% of the time now. He has had great balance for a while, but he's not confident enough (nor fast enough) to always walk from place to place. He's also talking and communicating much more. He has a good vocabulary, and each day he's been saying words that I didn't even know he knew. He says mommy, daddy, doggy, kitty, baby, stinky, door, key, ball, bib, bottle (which sounds similar to his version of bib), please, thank you (thankee), cheese, and a few other that I can't think of right now. He also signs all done, more, and shakes his head no. The doctor said that is a lot for a 13 month old. I always knew he was advanced :)

Michelle is hanging in there. She tolerates her brother exceptionally well. (He tried playing peek a boo with her and likes to pat her head.) She eats fairly well, but not nearly as well as Steven did. I generally have to coax her to eat, and she likes to take breaks during her bottle. She still has her nights and days mixed up--she doesn't believe in going to bed before 3:00 a.m. She's a very alert baby and likes to study things. Right now she's focused on the light.

We also have a court date of Jan. 22 for their birthmother to go to court to officially relinquish her parental rights. After that, she can't change her mind. If she's up to it, we're going to get together with her and bring the kids with us. That will be the first time she's seen Steven since she was discharged after his birth.

It's been nice having Mark back, and we're slowly settling into a good routine. I start a new online tutoring job next week, and then school starts back up on th 19th. This quarter I'm working Saturdays in the Writing Center. I'll be busy, but I'm optimistic that we'll be fine. One of these days I'll start taking pictures again too :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Helping" Mommy

Steven found one of Michelle's hats and felt the need to try it on. After that, he thought that she needed to wear her hat and proceeded to put it on her. In the end, he was quite pleased with the result. Michelle? Not so impressed :)












Monday, January 5, 2009

First Smile!

Yes, it really was a real smile :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thirteen Years!

It's hard to believe, but today marks thirteen years since Mark and I started dating. It also is the ninth anniversary of our engagement. That one is harder to believe! Here are a few pictures from the early days. We were so young back then!


A few days before our engagement






Saturday, January 3, 2009