family picture

family picture
We "want our very serve as HIS signature to all mankind so that all may know His work," Job 37:7

Sunday, August 19, 2012

8 Years Ago

August 19th 2004, We headed to Children's hospital for another test for Korinna.  She was now 25 months old, still not walking, still not talking and had just had tubes put in her ears for fluid that was so old that it was as thick as Elmer's glue, thus the diagnosis of "Glue Ear".  This test was for a sedated ABR.  We thought we had finally found the answer to her delays.  Korinna wasn't walking because the fluid wasn't allowing her to find her balance and the same with her speech.  So we went in there that day preparing for hearing aids. As we waited for the test results I rubbed my belly while watching my newest bundle of joy jumping in my womb.  I was 3 days past my due date and this was the last test that we had scheduled before planning a "maternity leave". 
While Korinna recovered from her sedation we received her test results.  She was hearing fine! Most parents would have jumped for joy but I was heart broken that our journey was no where near over.  I know for a fact my expression changed and my heart broke a little more.  Of course, you know God has a way of lifting your spirits and filling you with peace.  So we headed home to get ready for a dinner with friends as we celebrated my friends birthday. 
We returned home and I took a little nap with Korinna only I couldn't really relax because I felt that my little bundle of joy and a bundle of contractions.  They were 15 minutes apart and more bothersome than uncomfortable so I got up and trudged away at preparing dinner and getting the house ready.

By 6:00 our friends arrived and we started fixing plates and enjoying dinner while watching our two little ones play in the floor.  We also let them know that I was having contractions but they were only 10 minutes apart.  Now, remember I have unmedicated child birth so I don't freak out.  Also remember, that my friend doesn't have unmedicated child birth and she does freak out.  It was actually kinda fun having her there as I had contractions.  It really helped pass the time. 
At 10 they left both betting on me going to the hospital that night.  By midnight I was hurting pretty bad but my contractions were still only 10 minutes apart.  E was starting to get a little anxious since I could not sleep through them and he wanted to go.  By 1 we were leaving, 2 we dropped Korinna off at my mother's and 3 we were in triage.  Just to let you know I HATE TRIAGE.  They checked me and let me know that I was not that far a long.  I made a mental note that I would never come this early again.  They said if I didn't change in the next 3 hours then they would send me home.  I was furious and E wanted to lay down an take a nap.  I wanted to hit him.  I walked the halls and walked the halls, and watched the monitor and walked the halls.  By 6 I was in a room and we were having a baby.  At this time my totally awesome aunt who was a labor and delivery nurse came in as my nurse (she also delivered Korinna).  She knows how I like to roll and immediately took me off of the monitor and suggested the shower.  Of course because she is awesome she found me a chair to put in the shower and that is were I stayed 15 minutes in the shower with HOT water on my belly and then I would come out get on the monitor for 2 contraction and then back in the shower.  It was E's most boring delivery, it was pre facebook so he sat and watched tv and would yell out "K are you ok? Do you need anything?"  I think he was in heaven actually. 
By 9 am we were getting ready to push.  They coaxed me out of the shower and put me in bed.  By 9:30 I was getting ready and at 10:18 on August 20th I delivered a brand new baby girl 8 lbs 3 oz 19 1/2 inches long.  When I lifted her onto my chest I immediately noticed that her hair was wavy and thought wouldn't it be cool if she had curly hair.  I also noticed how amazing she was, how much I loved her and how happy I was to finally be holding her in my arms.  By 7 pm we had finally chosen a name, Elaina Davis. 

Korinna's first time meeting her baby sister.  I can assure you that this was the most excited she has been for a new sibling.  Each time her reaction gets a little less enthusiastic.

My friends who had come over the day before for dinner came to see her and to hold her.  We celebrated Elaina's birthday and a new friendship that was being grown under my friends ribs.  In 7 months she would welcome her 2nd daughter.  Elaina's friend.
My sweet friend holding Elaina for the first time.  She will kill me for posting this picture and for sharing this little tid bit.  But Oh Well! She was sick, very sick during her pregnancies and this day was no different.  She walked in and said, "Give me that baby so I will remember how worth it this is."  If you know her you know how funny this was and of course holding a baby does remind you of all of your hard work you have had to do on your end and all of the hard work God is doing to get your little one to you. 

Tomorrow my second E will be 8 years old and my- oh- my has my heart wept tonight as I have looked at these baby pictures of you.  You have grown up so much.  You are so mature. You can run this house better than I can.  You have such a compassionate heart and you strive to always do right.  You pride your self on being honest (almost brutally).  You still love the violin though practicing has become less fun.  Reading is an addiction for you and I hope this love continues.  You dream of being a mommy, a teacher at Rise and a violinist.  Your favorite band is Third Day.  You tend to be shy around kids your own age but with grown up you feel at home.  Homeschooling you has been a joy and I look forward to watching you grow. 
I love you little E to the moon and back and God loves you even more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

4 weeks as a Party of 7

**This was originally written the Wednesday before our cardiology visit.  I decided to wait to post until after the appointment.  Of course, you know what happened at the visit so that had to go first.

Well as of today we have been home for 4 weeks.  I have to admit there are times when it seems we have been home forever and then there are times in which it feels like we have been home for only a few short days.

Since coming home I have had time to reflect on my stay in China.  Many people have asked how was China?  Truthfully, I don't think I can give you an accurate discription.  What I experienced was not something that could be catagorized as a vacation.  We were on a mission, a grand adventure but not a vacation.  It would have been great to see more but Joely Poly needed me more.  So this what I do know.
  • It is weird and sometimes uncomfrotable to be the only caucasion person around.
  • You don't realize how much you enjoy, and use your first admement right of Free Speech.  This affects everything, your internet, books you read, blogs, Facebook. EVERYTHING!!!
  • China is big and there are a lot of Chinese people.  This isn't bad it is just a fact. Think of this 1 in 5 people in the world are Chinese.  For this little Alabama girl it is a tad bit overwhelming.
  • I would love to go back and tour the country side.  Our little fast train to Hengyang City unveiled a beauty that I can't explain.  I would love to go back and see that side of China.
  • Whatever your opinion. The majority of the founders of the United States of America were Christians and our government was based on many of their princples.  China well it is not and is not really based on any religion and you can tell.
  • When we flew into Changsha we were greeted with a large sign of things that were allowed and not allowed on a flight.  Many of them were due to the spread of Yellow Fever.  Some of the items included; plants, fresh fruit and vegetables, wild animals like snakes, birds and ELEPHANTS.  Yes people elephants! I think it was just something lost in translation but it has been a joke between me and E ever since.  Imagine us packing up in Changsha headed to Guangzhou and saying to one another, "Make sure you leave the elephant behind."  
  • I like black tea more than green tea.  
  • If you go to China don't be alarmed when they bring you your tea and it looks like it has seaweed floating in it.  That is just the tea leaves (they do not use those little bags or tea balls to hold the tea leaves).  Thankfully E and I are fairly adventrous with our food so we didn't even bat and eye.  If you are you might want to start praying now!  Relax and try as much of it as you can.
  • If you are adopting a little one who is walking or crawling or you pack like you are leaving for a year AND you are staying at the Garden Hotel.  Get the suite.  That is the one thing from our visit to Guangzhou we would have changed. 
  • I can go about 6 days before I start getting tired of Chinese food. 
  • People advertise abortions on the side of buses.
  • I love seeing a Chinese woman sporting long hair.  I just wanted to reach out and touch their silky black locks.
  • I would visit Hong Kong tomorrow just for the shopping.
  • I saw some of the poorest people for the first time in my life.
  • I really feel like the Chinese government wants to help find families for the orphans and has a wonderful program (generally speaking)
  • It changed me and I would go back.
  • E would go back.
  • If God doesn't want us to go back then we will encourage others to and advocate for those who can not.
  • Air conditioning and heat is not something that is found everywhere. This made me realize I am weak and Rin would only work if she could walk and was visiting in the spring.
  • People smoke everywhere.  When we got Changsha people were lighting their cigerettes in the ramp from the plane to the airport.
Those are just a few of the things that I remebered from my trip and the things that stand out over time. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

I love Him with my Whole Heart!

Today was a big day for our family.  It has been 10 months since we first set our eyes on Joel.  Ten months ago that we looked at a little boy who after consultation with a cardiologist was given a "High Risk" label and "very guarded" prognosis.  We had committed to adopting a child with special needs but when you receive a referral it takes the decision to the "next level". It was at this time that Ethan and I had to hold hands and jump into this journey with both feet.  We knew that this was going to be a step of faith and that this was what God wanted for us. It goes against the things of this world.  We were running our family under what we could control and what we could manage and what felt safe to us. Yet, we had been praying for a life yielded to God, one that He would lead and have full control of.  We wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus but our feet were having problems leaving this ground.  I will never forget those 12 hours after receiving our medical review from the International Adoption Clinic and the consult with a cardiologist.  E had called a trusted friend looking for counsel and that friend gave E verse James 1:5, " If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to him." 
But here is the clencher, the game changer; our friend also told him to not forget to read the next couple of verses. 
"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:6-8
Wasn't that what we were doing.  On one front we were writing blank checks to God and saying, "Cash it", "We want to do your will." "We want to help the fatherless." "Break our hearts for what breaks Yours." and then when faced with it we stalled.  I'm so thankful that God uses our brothers and sisters in the faith to speak truth to us.  I am so thankful that the Lord spoke through him and reminded us what we had told him we would do.  So as you well know we jumped not knowing the out come, being told that our sons heart condition would shorten his lifespan and we needed to be prepared to be his parents for as long or as short as God had intended for us. We trusted God, we wanted to have Mary's attitude in Luke 1:38. No matter the prognosis we would be willing and we would give our Lord and Savior the glory. Easier said than done...right?
So we fell in love, head over heels in love with this precious angel and we fought to bring him home.
Today was the cardiology visit.  This was the day where we finally got an actual diagnosis (state side), the day that we made a plan and a day were we would for the first time be told what to expect.. The way we felt driving into the doctor visit this morning could best be summed up by the ever quotable Donald  Rumsfield

"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know, we don't know."

Our appointment today started off with an EKG, which he did wonderful in.  I on the other hand was a nervous wreck.  I was so worried that he was gonna freak out and this was going to be stressful for him.  Well let me tell you.  These guys are professionals and this isn't there first rodeo.  Joel did FABULOUS!!
Then we went to get an x-ray.  He didn't like this very much but the nurse told me none of them like this.  Then they put us in a room to wait.  We waited and waited not super long but a little bit longer than I thought we would.  A sweet nurse did come in and tell us how close we were to seeing our physician.  Then the moment came.  They pulled us out of one room and took us to a room with a large ultrasound machine and a EMR set up for the nurse to make notes and print things while the Doctor was there.  She checked his oxygen saturation and then our physician entered and the talk began.  What we knew,  the x-rays the orphanage gave us, looking through the medical records from his last two surgeries and picking out the English we could find.  Then the ultra sound.  Again me nervous and the staff pros.  I sat on the table and layed Joel back on my belly and they gave him his first sucker.  I had the sweetest moment because I got to have an ultrasound of my baby on my belly and see their heart beat on large screens just like my other kids except this time the baby was outside and not inside my belly. I got weepy. Our physician took tons of pictures and talked to himself alot during the ultrasound and I wanted to ask a hundred questions but he politely asked if I would just wait until he looked at everything.  After the ultrasound he sat down and basically said that what he would like to do is tell us everything and then open the floor up for questions at the end.  
This is what he said in cliff note form:
  • He takes his "guarded" prognosis throws it in the trash and puts "positively optimistic" there instead.
  • His diagnosis is Double Inlet Left Ventricle with Aortic Hypoplasia (small aortia).
  • Similar treatment to the 3 stage surgery treatment as the Hypoplastic Left heart Syndrome (what we were originally thought).
  • Joel has what is considered a single pump heart.
  • This is a better prognosis due to the strength of the Left Ventricle and how God designed it.  
  • Joel seems to have a good pump.
  • None of his valves seem to be leaking.
  • He doesn't expect Joel to go to the Olympics unless he goes as a ping pong player.
  • His friends won't notice that he has a heart defect.
  • He can play some intramural sports.
  • We should start a college fund for him.
  • We will have to do a heart cath for accuracy in the next 6 weeks.
  • His next surgery will probably be in the next 6 to 12 months depending on his weight gain.
  • His next surgery has a 2% mortality rate.
  • He will always have to be under a cardiologists care but he doesn't foresee him being to hindered by it.
 We were excited.  No, elated, blessed, overwhelmed, head spinning, grinning, goofy, excited, overjoyed, amazed, celebrating, high fiveing, joy filled, parents.  We asked our questions and spent a few more minutes with the doctor and then we headed out.  

So we prayed for the best and prepared for the worst.  We got an awesome report for our little guy and given amazing news for the quality and quantity of life he could have.  God provided a physician for us that not only took time with us explaining and drawing pictures for us but also we feel like our personalities work together.  That I think is so important when you are building a team to care for your little one.  We hired him on the spot. 

A friend called us as we were walking out of the office.  In fact the same friend that shared the James 1:5-8 verse.  We were a little giddy as we walked and talked back to the car.  I left the parking lot crying and putting on one of my favorite songs that I have in my adoption play list (though I think I am going to change it to my, it's-hard-to-be-a-mommy-and-christian-this-life-is-a-battle-and-I-am-a-warrior play list)

I was singing at the top of my lungs, dancing and my sweet, calm husband sat in deep thought.  I turned the music down and asked him if he could believe the morning we had. All he could say is, "I'm so glad we didn't say no."

Let me stop and say though we were given a better prognosis for our child no matter what we heard we would have given God All the Glory and praised His holy name.  That is our goal in our daily lives.  We accepted something else but God revealed to us another plan for Joel's life.  We are excited and thankful that our child was given a good report today and we are so happy for him.  Because this little guy brings joy to my heart.  I love his little personality, I love his dark eyes, I love his silky hair, I love his laugh, raspy voice, little teeth.  I love how he points me back to our Heavenly Father every single day.