Overcoming High-Risk Pregnancy Fears

Pregnancy is scary.

I always thought I would be one of those unicorn women that handled maternity like a boss. Those women whose bodies were just made for baby-making and who a few hours after sneezing out their newborn babes are jumping out of their birthing pools and whipping up a meal for supper. Kind of like Brooklyn Decker pregnant with twins in What to Expect When You’re Expecting when she’s wearing 4 inch heels while talking about how she’s full of energy and always super horny.

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I know that’s Hollywood, but we all know some magical unicorns like that, right?

To be honest, I’ve had to work through a lot of uncertainty and fear. I’m impressed by my friends that have had their babies at home or in a plastic pool, but after what happened with Mariah, you couldn’t pay me enough to have my baby in any place that doesn’t have a state of the art NICU down the hall.  Given, my track record isn’t exactly stellar. I had a miscarriage at the beginning of our marriage and then another miscarriage between Mariah and the baby I’m carrying now. I went into labor with Mariah at 33 weeks and she eventually came at 34 weeks and we almost lost her to a horrible Strep B infection.

When I found out I was pregnant with this baby, I was terrified. God and I had to have a serious conversation because I was literally crippled with fear about having another miscarriage (maybe someday I’ll post about that convo). I am 26 weeks now and I’ve wrestled hard with fear. Fear of miscarrying, fear of preterm labor, fear of babies hooked up to monitors and filled with tubes in the NICU.

Then, this past Tuesday, I had to face my fear again. I am in the high-risk pregnancy program and each week I receive a Progesterone shot and either see a specialist or have a cervical length ultrasound. So far, I’ve been measuring great with no issues. This week, however, my cervical measurement had decreased by 50% and then I started having some cramping and discomfort.

I was so very discouraged. When the ultrasound tech left the room and said she needed to talk to the doctor, I barely kept it together. I mean, this baby is supposed to stay in there for three more months!

It was just scary. I was sent up to be fit into the high-risk doctor’s schedule and he checked to make sure I wasn’t dilating. Then he sent me home to wait two days to see if things progressed. Those were some long days.

Finally, one morning as I was praying, this thought came to mind: If you really trust God, why are you so afraid? 

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I know that God is perfect love and that perfect love casts out fear. If God loves me perfectly, there is no room for fear. I know that He is always in every detail, whether something goes the way I want it to or not. I became incredibly aware of the fact that our every breath is in God’s hands when He decided to inflate Mariah’s lungs that night despite what the doctors were saying. I also became incredibly aware that He could have chosen not to inflate her lungs and that I had no control over that.

The same goes with this pregnancy. I can do everything in my power to have a healthy pregnancy and the doctors will do as much as they can, but ultimately, it’s out of our hands. If God wants this baby to come at 26 weeks, then he’ll come at 26 weeks. I may not be in love with that idea, but God loves me perfectly, so I can trust that He will see us through and that His plan is far better than ours.

That is freedom from fear.

Knowing that something is scary, but acknowledging that the One who loves us perfectly has it in His hands.

Friday I went back to the hospital and had a bunch of tests done. I was extremely relieved to find out that as of right now, everything is holding tight. My cervix hasn’t thinned anymore and the cramping is due to the baby’s head being right on the cervix and surrounding nerves. So we wait and try to keep that baby cooking for as many weeks as possible.

Obviously, we are overjoyed that all is well for now. But I’m also resting in the fact that even if I do have this baby tomorrow, it’s not a scary surprise for my heavenly Father. Every time fear starts creeping in, I try to focus on His perfect love and that He cares far more about my babies than I ever could.  I can remain steadfast because I trust in Him and His perfect love for me and my family. I’ve found that true freedom is being able to say “I trust you Lord, do it your way.”

Job 12: 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Psalm 31:14-15 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My life is in your hands… 

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Costa Ricans vs. Cold Weather

Seeing as the average annual temperature in Costa Rica is between 70-80 degrees, it’s no wonder the Ticos have a bit of a warped concept of cold weather. Here are some of my favorite examples:

  1. It is incredibly common to see a baby wearing fleece pajamas, wrapped in fleece blankets, and wearing a cotton hat on days that it is 75 degrees.
  2. Hats, gloves, and coats on children and adults alike are more than acceptable for any temperature under 65 degrees.
  3. Children shouldn’t go barefoot because it is incredibly unhealthy for them to walk on “cold” tile floors.
  4. You should never change a baby out of their pajamas when they first wake up because their body needs time to adjust to the morning “chill.”

Taking these things into consideration, naturally there was some concern as to how Albin, Mariah, and our dogs were going to adjust to the winter weather. I mean, in CR Mariah was pretty used to running around half-naked and barefoot (until sundown of course) and our dogs would shiver indoors if it was anything below 60 degrees outdoors.

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First snow!

We get asked all. the. time. from people how everyone is adjusting to Ohio winters. The answer: we should all thank God I’m not from Minnesota.

My favorite quote from Albin about the cold so far has been, “It goes straight through your pants and right to your bones.” Yes Albin, yes it does.

Mariah seemed unaffected at first, but is clearly annoyed by the amount of clothing she is required to wear these days. She has also been known to hang out by the heat vents.  In regards to snow, she was impressed at first until she actually went outside. Ten minutes later she was back in the house crying about her hands being cold.

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Just hanging around the heat vent

The dogs? Well I think they hate us. They mainly hang out in front of a space heater.

The irony? I’ve become the biggest wimp of them all. I’m always cold. Go figure.

The good news is that God knows and has blessed us with some really mild weather for January. Clearly in His mercy, He knew we’d need some unseasonably warm days to give us hope that we can survive in this frozen tundra bahaha.

So here’s to hot chocolate, heat vents, and warmer mittens for Mariah. May we all come out hardier on the other side ;).

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Warming our buns…

 

There’s More to the Story

Three months.

That’s how long we’ve been back in the U.S. and squatting at my parents’ house. We have loved being here with family, experiencing fall, and just resting- but I’m sure it’s not a surprise that the transition has been difficult as well. There is a lot to process, a myriad of emotions, and a lot of uncertainty. I’d like to think it is culture shock, but there’s nothing really shocking about where we’re at right now.

Recently Al and I have been in a weird place. While we love being here and are so thankful for my parents’ willingness to let us live here, we are wondering why we’re here and what is next. We feel like God told us to come back to the U.S.- specifically to Atlanta. He worked out everything for us to come back in amazing ways, but now that we’re here, we’re a little lost.

We don’t feel like we can move to Atlanta quite yet because I’m 20 weeks pregnant and I have to see my high-risk specialist weekly due to what happened when Mariah was born. We don’t feel like we can settle down here and have Al get a real job because we feel like we’re supposed to go to Atlanta. Several doors have closed for temporary jobs for Albin. Our house hasn’t sold in Costa Rica despite numerous people interested. The position we hoped for in Atlanta as houseparents is no longer an option since my due date is a day before the position was to begin.

It’s just confusing.

We’ve found ourselves huddling up with the Lord and asking Him what is going on. A little part of our hearts has wondered if maybe we didn’t hear Him correctly about the whole moving back thing. Why would He take us away from our community, our fostering ministry, our house, etc. and then bring us here to do seemingly nothing? It feels like we’re wasting precious time. We know the Lord has called us to open up our home and our family to those without families, but we can’t do that being unemployed and in a temporary living situation. It just doesn’t make sense right now.

Yesterday morning we had planned to try a new Hispanic church in hopes of finding some Spanish speaking community. We didn’t end up making it to church because Mariah woke up in the middle of night vomiting everywhere. Instead, we decided to listen to a sermon and God spoke straight to our hearts through it. The pastor spoke about how there is always more to the story than what is currently seen. It’s easy to get caught up on a “scene” of our story, rather than the whole story itself. We can’t possibly know how God is working in our little steps of faith to set the future in motion. He is constantly working in our lives to make our story much grander than we could have imagined.

That was a great reminder for us last night. This “scene” in our lives seems a little anti-climactic and. it’s. okay. This is only part of our story and God is setting things in motion because we stepped out in faith. I am ashamed to admit I’ve kind of been like the Israelites in the desert; whenever things got rough, they asked God why He brought them out of Egypt if they were just going to starve, die of thirst, etc. They had seen Him part the Red Sea and do tons of miracles, yet they were worried that He wouldn’t provide for them. It’s incredibly easy to judge them until  I realize that God worked everything out for us to move back and we’ve seen Him do miracles, yet the moment things look a little confusing, I start asking if it wouldn’t have been better if He’d just left us in CR. Lame.

So that’s where we’re at. I have hope that someday I will look back on this post and be able to testify that this period of transition in our lives was just a part of the story. I know God will fulfill His purpose for us and I’m resting in that.

Psalm 138:8

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December Family Adventure(s)

It’s taken me two weeks to recover from December, but I’m back. I wasn’t overly-motivated to blog again, but Albin assured me a lot of people were waiting for me to write again. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case, but his undying enthusiasm could not be ignored. For those of you that were losing sleep while waiting for me to post again, this one goes out to you.

My family came down to Costa Rica for Christmas this year and we had a fabulous time. It was slightly nontraditional for those northerners (i.e. the weather was in the 80’s, and we spent our days hiking rainforests and volcanoes), but incredible nonetheless. My house was full, my heart was full, and my children were spoiled.

Our family loves being outside and exploring new places, so we set out every day and did something different. We hit a volcano, the beach, the rainforest,  some waterfalls, and the artisans market downtown. By the end of it, the kids were a mess from not taking naps, my dad was insane from driving the rental car all over CR, and we all needed a vacation from our vacation- but it was totally worth it.

Here are some pictures from our adventures:

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God blessed us with a clear day to see the usually clouded-over crater.

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In the rainforest at La Paz with the babes in tow.

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Clearly the babies were excited about the toucan.

Two Babies: Our New Normal

Not surprisingly, I haven’t had much time to blog over the last few weeks. Having a 13 month old and a one month old in the house has been a little time-consuming. It has been interesting being back to spit-up encrusted shirts and pulling the nightshift again. If I wasn’t a frumpy-frump before, I most definitely am now. In my head, long nights with a colicky newborn and long days with a mobile toddler justify my refusal to wear anything but yoga pants and never fixing my hair (and don’t even get me started about tweezing).

Also, I don’t know if it’s just in my head (or stuck in my nose), but I’m convinced our house smells like one huge sick-nasty diaper. Along with the smell, our house is now an unsightly obstacle course set with gates, clips, and locks in order to keep our curious daughter from trashing the place (even more). Oh, and the used baby bottles strewn throughout the house are reminiscent of a frat house after a drunken party (ex. I found one under the Christmas tree this morning).

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Don’t judge me for having a blow-up pool in my living room (Hannah).

When I do get out of the house, I’m amazed at the planning and strategy that it requires. I’ve been able to successfully cut down the number of hours it takes to get everyone fed, ready and out the door, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that while I once lived out of backpack for a year, I now have to pack twice as much gear to do some “quick” errands.

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Pure joy over peanut butter. She’s obviously my child.

Basically, I have a whole new respect for parents. The fact that some moms keep up with things like bathing themselves AND Pinterest is impressive.

Because I’d rather sleep than write, I’m going to jot down a few highlights from the last several weeks:

  1. Our fuzzy foster baby gained almost 2 pounds since coming to us a month ago (I told you we were chunky baby experts). His pediatrician is so impressed by how strong and healthy he is despite his prenatal circumstances. Praise Jesus.
  2. I have become a ninja when changing diapers. Baby boy parts cannot be trusted under any circumstances. #peeEVERYWHERE
  3. My mother in law has been a HUGE help to me and has even spent the night a few times. We have started to really work as a team and our relationship has been strengthened immensely through this.
  4. I’m starting to really enjoy watching how people curiously approach the subject of our babies’ ages. When we’re out in public, it’s almost a guarantee that someone will casually start a conversation for the sole purpose of finding out just how soon after Mariah’s birth Albin and I got back to making babies. I usually let them do the math in their heads before I mention the tiny one isn’t ours.
  5. I’ve spent somewhere around eight hours over the last two weeks waiting in the public health clinic lines to get fuzzy registered, screened, and checked up. Thankfully, this time around wasn’t nearly as complicated as it was with our first foster daughter since now the staff know how to handle temporary custody cases. I only had to go semi-postal on one miserable secretary that tried to override a doctor’s order in scheduling our next appointment (I still don’t know why she became so belligerent). I called her out and she became sickly sweet when she realized that I wasn’t some clueless foreigner and that I was doing a public service for a high-risk newborn. It’s rare that I’ll pull out my gringo directness on a Costa Rican, but when it comes to my kids…
  6. People have been incredibly generous with clothes and baby boy items. Friends, family, and even a Pharmacist from the free clinic have showered us with clothes and diapers. God bless.
  7. Sometimes I get in the fetal position and hold myself when both babies are trying to out-cry each other.

I can’t deny it’s been chaotic with two littles under 13 months, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Waiting in lines, dodging streams of urine, and fielding lots of curious questions are a small price to pay when I consider the privilege it is to get this little guy off to a healthy start in life. I am thankful that I can be a stay at home mom and love on these kids even if it’s not always pretty. I love falling into bed at night knowing that every ounce of my energy was spent loving on the precious lives God has entrusted to me. I know that we’re right where God wants us right now and that’s a good place to be.

Raising Our Kids: Top 10 Legacies We Want to Live

In my head, our 30’s will involve raising of A LOT of kids–biological, adopted and fostered. As we embark on this journey of being surrounded by little humans, I want to establish some healthy patterns that will hopefully stick with them throughout their lives. I’m thinking the word “legacies” works to describe the ideas we want to instill in our children. We’ve also realized that if it’s going to be a way of life for our kids, they need to see it from us- so I’ve included in italics how we’re trying to integrate these things in our lives.

IMG_3057First and foremost, we want worshipers of God. I want my kids to have the joy of the Lord
and realize that bringing glory to Him influences atmospheres, changes situations, and provides communion with our Maker. I want them to learn to worship him with their voices, but also with their actions and their lives. To initiate this, we’ve started to have “worship night” once a week at our house where we turn off the lights, put on some (good) worship music, and spend time with Jesus.

Second, we want kids that live out the gospel. Not just kids who are well-versed in all the right answers and know what looking like a good Christian is. We want kids that get their hands dirty and whose first response is to help those in need. We want our kids to know our house is open to the homeless, our food is shared with the hungry, our clothes given to the naked, and our hearts are willing to love well. We want them to stand up for the kids being bullied and make friends with the lonely new student. We want this to be like second nature to them, so we’ve started to live like this: stopping to give away groceries to people begging, fostering needy kids, going onto the streets on Saturdays to talk with the hopeless, finding ways we can stand up for justice, etc.


We want adventurers and explorers.
We don’t want our kids to be afraid of getting hurt, fearful FullSizeRender (25)of the unknown, or planted to the couch watching TV. We want our kids to love being outdoors, to love finding new places, experiencing new things, and meeting new people. We want to raise inquisitive kids that ask questions and look for answers creatively. We want to teach our kids to look for solutions to problems and to not be limited by societal confines. To live this out, we’ve been planning family adventures at least once a month.

We want culturally-aware kids. Obviously, we love cultures and love learning about them. We want our kids to appreciate our Costa Rican and American cultures; but we also want them to have a love for all people. We hope they want to learn new customs, try new foods, learn new languages, and see new places. Obviously, we won’t allow racism in our house, but we want it to go above and beyond that–which means showing our kids how to be open-minded, accepting of cultural differences, and interested in the lives of others that are different from us. I feel like we have a head-start on this one since our family is a fusion of two cultures, but we also have been intentional about visiting other countries, understanding world issues, becoming friends with people from other cultures, and trying international foods.

We want family time to be important and fun. Somehow my parents succeeded in this area and I am grateful. Growing up, I would often choose to spend time with family over going out with friends. We played games, went fun places, respected one another, and had an honest, open relationship. I want that for my kids. I don’t want to be friends with them in a negative sense, but I want them to feel respected, accepted, and loved. I want our family to be a safe place for all of us. A place of trust and acceptance. To do this, one thing we’ve started doing is family game night once a week and the family adventures once a month.

We want individuals. We truly treasure different personalities and interests. We want to encourage our kids to be who God created them to be, not what society says they should be. We want them to feel free to express themselves and be different. I hope that we can encourage their different talents and try to provide them with opportunities to achieve their personal goals. We want to build on their interests, foster their gifts, and teach them to think for themselves. We’ve been trying to do this in our lives as well–to not worry about what people say, what their opinions are, or how they judge us. We’re taking steps to become more of who God created us to be, and learning that it is beautiful.

We want kids our kids to be respectful. We don’t want kids that talk back to teachers and know that we’ll defend them when the teacher calls. We want our kids to be a breath of fresh air for their teachers. We want sons who grow up to be good husbands and daddies. We want daughters who grow up to respect their bodies and hearts. We want a family that respects those in leadership, even though we don’t always agree with their decisions. We hope for a family built on honor: honoring God and honoring one another. In our lives, Albin and I have tried hard to have a mutual respect for one another and to foster a culture of honor in our home.

We want to raise hard workers that know it’s okay to make mistakes. We aren’t looking for perfect kids here, so we want them to know there is grace for when we fail. We also want them to work hard and do their best, so that even if they do fail, they know they gave it their all. We don’t want everything to be about success, failure, or living up to high expectations. We want them to work hard, live fully, and learn from their mistakes. I’ve learned a lot about what true success is in the last four years, so I’m trying to give up my perfectionist ways and live well.

We want kids with a sense of humor. I want our kids to be serious when they need toIMG_2388 be, but I don’t want to them to take themselves or life too seriously. They don’t have to be the class clown or be naturally witty, but I want them to have the freedom to laugh and realize how having a sense of humor helps us connect with others. Life application: 90 percent of my family’s conversations are based on witty remarks.

We want little givers. Something I have strived over for the last few years is being a good giver. I am selfish and I’m not a natural gift-giver, so I wanted to improve in this area. I want our kids to grow up with giving in their blood. I want them to come home hungry because they gave half their lunch to the kid who didn’t have one. I want them to pass a granola bar out the window of our car to the man begging on the street. I want them to value giving over acquiring. I want them to learn to use their money wisely so that they can give as much as they can to those in need. I want them to give their hearts, talents, and treasures to the glory of God. Since I turned 30, I’ve tried to be intentional and give one thing to someone everyday (whether its time, a treasure, or a talent).

Maybe trying to raise kids with all the above ideas is a lot to ask. That’s fine; but I want to have a guideline and start these kiddos young on a culture guided by these ten ideas. From the beginning, I want little people that know they have intrinsic value, but know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I really feel like this super long post could be summarized into one simple statement:

I want my kids to grow up knowing how to love well.

When you love well, everything else falls into place. That makes this list seem way less daunting. When your heart is full of love, the rest just overflows out of you naturally.

“Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be                                                 something you do but someone you raise.”

–Andy Stanley

October FFO

I was so excited to post about our new foster baby last week that I didn’t post about our family outing for October. By the way, all is going well with our precious baby. Besides the exhaustion that comes from waking up to feed a baby every three hours during the night and then chasing around a one year old all day, we’re feeling great. He is a really chill baby and sleeps well. He’s putting on weight and already losing those skinny, little chicken legs he had a week ago. Albin and I like to think we’re experts in growing chunky babies, so it shouldn’t take too long for this one. We’ve only gone out a little bit, but I love to see how people look at us. Surely they think Albin and I breed like rabbits with these two little people in tow. I LOVE our little family of four.

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Anyway, I committed to documenting our family adventures, so here it goes for October. We decided to make a weekend out of it since I was also celebrating my 30th birthday. We drove south down to a beach on the Pacific coast called Dominical. From there, we explored several different places and tried out a lot of new foods (coconut ceviche and berry stuffed french toast with coconut syrup…life changing). We had SO much fun together as a family and of course I was able to satisfy my deep need to get out the city and try new things, so it was a win for everyone. I’ll highlight our two favorite places:

First, we went and explored Playa Ballena (Whale Beach), which is know for the beach shaped like a whale’s tail and also for the common whale sightings at this beach. We didn’t see any whales, but we did make the trek out to the whale’s tail, which is only possible during low tide. We explored in the rocks, swam and played in the sand. Mariah loved it and Albin is so happy that he finally has someone that will play with him at the beach. When we left, we asked a local how to get to an overlook to see the tail from a distance. We went up a scary mountain road, but it was well worth almost losing our transmission (jk).

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The picture I took…

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The picture I wish I took… Photo credit: youtube.com

The next day, we hiked the Nuayaca Waterfall. Amazing. It probably ties for first place on my favorite waterfalls in CR list. The hike was 8 km and pretty strenuous, probably around an hour and a half each way with a lot of hills. Once again, the waterfalls were well worth the trek. Absolutely breathtaking. I would definitely recommend it.

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I didn’t take this one either… photo credit: tripadvisor.com

Overall, the trip was a total success and I’m so thankful we got a chance to get some hiking in before we received our tiny, fuzzy baby. We’re not quite sure what November’s adventure will look like, but honestly, just leaving the house and running errands with those two littles seems pretty adventurous to us :).

Our Family’s Newest Addition…

We’re (foster) parents again! This time around we were asked to foster a newborn baby boy. He is precious and so very tiny due to being born premature. Unfortunately we can’t tell you his name, give too much information, or post a picture of him for legal reasons, but we’ll just affectionately refer to him as our “little fuzzy” because he has the cutest fuzzy head of hair. Anyway, we are so thankful to receive him into our home and for an opportunity to serve God in this way.

What’s really neat about this whole thing is how God prepared our hearts to receive this fuzzy little babe. When Mariah was born, we spent a lot of long days in the NICU. One of the things that absolutely broke our hearts was seeing the “social service babies.” Whether the mother was deemed unfit to care for the child or she decided she couldn’t take care of him/her, the babies were just left in the hospital until social services knew what the next step was. Sometimes that next step was an orphanage, a foster home, or being claimed by a relative. Until then, the babies just waited there. The nurses did their best to give them attention, but they had so many babies to care for. Albin and I have talked and thought about those babies a lot since then, so when our social worker called us asking if we wanted to take this newborn baby boy, we didn’t have to think about our answer for too long. Just a year after we saw those babies in the NICU, God gave us an opportunity to change the situation for at least one precious life. For as long as we have him, we’re going to shower him with love and celebrate his birth. On top of that, we were experienced with premature babies since we had a crash course when Mariah was born. It wasn’t nearly as daunting to be handed a five pound baby this time around. Funny how God uses our experiences like that…

A few weeks ago I posted about how God was speaking to us about walking like Jesus did and living out the gospel. There is no doubt in our minds that fostering and adoption are close to God’s heart since he’s adopted millions of us into His family and commands us to take care of orphans all throughout the Bible. As we change this tiny person’s diaper, suck the snot out of his nose, and wake up every three hours to feed a child that doesn’t belong to us, we have thought about how this must be close to what Jesus meant when He said to “care for the least of these.” If we are honoring God with this act and changing a child’s story, it is totally worth the sleepless nights.

So, if we go missing in action for a couple of weeks, now you know why. Having an extremely active one year old and brand new baby has brought an interesting dynamic to our household. It’s definitely a challenge, not always comfortable, and we know it will be hard to give him up someday, but the Spirit keeps reminding us that living out the gospel is ALL that matters. We’re excited and thankful that at this time the Lord has entrusted us with the huge responsibility of raising up and loving on two precious little babies. Please pray for our family as we transition to this new way of life and for our little fuzzy, his biological family, and the case workers during this time. Please also celebrate this new life with us!!! Thank you!

 

Mariah’s First Birthday

Today we have a lot to celebrate and be thankful for. One year ago our precious daughter was in critical condition and her prognosis was bleak. Today she is a healthy and happy one year-old and we couldn’t be more grateful. For those of you who haven’t heard the long version of Mariah’s incredible story, you can read it here.

The short version goes like this: our daughter was born six weeks early with a deadly bacteria. Within 24 hours, her body started to shut down; she had a collapsed lung and her blood was septic.  When the doctors told us that she may die, we were heartbroken and started crying out to God. After two hours of praying and singing in the hallway outside of the NICU, the doctor came out and told us that Mariah had amazingly stabilized, that her lung “mysteriously” inflated on its own, and that her body had started fighting. From that moment on, every complication from her illness began to disappear.


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For the thousands of you who have prayed for Mariah, I’m going to take a moment and be specific about how your prayers were powerful and effective.

  • Mariah’s lung inflated on its own which allowed her heart to get enough oxygen to pump the medicine through her blood more effectively.
  • Her body began to stabilize its erratic sugar counts.
  • Her heart rate and blood pressure stabilized.
  • Her blood became bacteria-free.
  • Her brain scan came back normal and she has no brain damage from the many seizures she had during her first 24 hours.
  • She was able to skip the Intermediate Care Unit and went from the Intensive Care Unit straight to the General Care Unit.
  • Her virtually non-existent immune system at birth has fully recovered. White and red blood cell counts as well as platelet counts are leveled.
  • Despite being born premature, she has reached her developmental milestones.
  • Her umbilical hernia has closed up and healed.
  • Her hearing test came back perfect despite the doctors’ concerns that the strong antibiotic would cause deafness.
  • The initial concern over her inability to gain weight has clearly been erased.
  • As far as we can tell, she has outgrown her dairy allergy.
  • She has overcome the sensitivity in her arms from being tied down and stuck with many IV’s.
  • God sustained us through that difficult time in the hospital and for the four months after that we spent in isolation as we waited for Mariah’s immune system to develop.
  • We’ve gotten the opportunity to share Mariah’s story with thousands of people, many of whom were going through heartbreaking circumstances with their own newborns.

Man, we’re just thankful. There is nothing like seeing God work so directly and completely. We share her story everywhere we go because we just can’t keep quiet about it. Hearing doctors and nurses call Mariah a miracle and marvel at how there aren’t any residual side effects is such a testimony to God being the great Physician.

Obviously, we’re experiencing a lot of emotions today. I remember the trauma of hearing the doctors bluntly use the word “death” and of the nurses asking if we wanted a priest to come and say her last rites. I remember the heart wrenching sound of my strong husband’s grief-stricken sobs. I have the image of my tiny baby girl hooked up to tubes and monitors burned into my mind. I remember the feeling of complete helplessness as I held my breath willing her chest to continue its rise and fall. I remember the feeling of stroking her little hand and crying silent, hot tears about not being able to hold her as she cried.

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At the same time, I remember the absolute joy I felt when I heard her cry for the first time. I remember the doctor telling us she had stabilized miraculously. I remember the Spirit whispering to me that she wouldn’t fall. I remember singing my heart out in that dark hallway even though I could barely move after the C-section. I remember when I was finally able to hold her again and how I would sit for hours singing to her. I remember panicking when a new orderly was unsure of why my daughter wasn’t in her normal NICU bed (she had been moved to the general room). I remember the absolute relief it was to call the hospital early every morning and hear the nurse say that Mariah was stable through the night. I remember belting out the song “I’m Overwhelmed” through tears of joy in that dark hallway after the doctors moved her out of the NICU. I could go on and on…

So as we celebrate her first birthday today, I know we are blessed. We have a little girl that can scream at the top of her healthy lungs, that can lick the bottom of her shoe and have her immune system kick in, that can express herself with that strong-willed personality that fought off death, and that can bring hope to others with her testimony.

Glory to God! He has entrusted a treasure to us  and we are eternally grateful for what He has done!

Psalm 66:16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.

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Short Trip to ‘Merica

Sorry I’ve been MIA recently… we decided to take a short trip to good old Ohio. October is a month of celebrations (which is making me very pensive and I will share why soon), so we kicked off this month with a few parties. First we had my beautiful cousin Sarah’s wedding where we danced it up in a sweet barn. My old-lady knees are still sore from too many rounds of Cotton-Eyed Joe in heels. Of course my Latino lover was a hit on the dance floor and was recognized for his mid-dance poses he likes to refer to as the “statue.” lol

Next, we celebrated my little cousin Grace (for whom my daughter Mariah Grace is named after) because she has finished her 2.5 long years of chemotherapy and is cancer-free. We are so thankful that the Lord healed her and so her parents threw a “no-mo-chemo” party to thank everyone for praying. Watching her take her last chemo pill that day made me want to break into song and do another few rounds of dance moves. She has fought a long battle and won. Praise God.

Besides that, we’re just doing normal ‘Merica stuff. I’ve eaten my fair share of Chipotle and Skyline Chili while haunting the aisles of TJ Maxx and Carters. I haven’t been home for fall in a long time so I am doing all things pumpkin. I had a minor breakdown in Meijer’s because there were SO MANY baby food options. Costa Rica has a whopping six kinds of premade baby food, so I usually make all Mariah’s food myself. When I got to the baby food aisle here, I literally stood there for 20 minutes deciding while other moms tried to maneuver around me in my dazed state. I couldn’t decide, so I bought a bunch to stock up for travel days, the beach, etc. I even got a bunch of those awesome little puffs for the plane. Here’s the best part: Mariah hasn’t liked any of it. She gags on the puffs (are you kidding me?? What kid doesn’t like puffs?), and she turns her head away from the baby food. Go figure.

While she wasn’t loving the millions of food options, she was loving shoe shopping with grandma and grandpa. I was loving it too because now she is stocked up for the next year and grandpa covered the bill (bless ’em).

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Finally, we did a little early birthday celebration because Mariah will be turning ONE! soon and I will be celebrating the big 3-0 soon. As you can see, she wasn’t a fan of the sombrero they put on her at the Mexican joint. She was, however, a fan of the guac and beans they served up and was far more excited about that than any sweet potato, turkey, and apple parfait that Gerber whipped up. Saludos!!

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