Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nine Months Later...

Some days I don't even recognize my old self. I've changed so much in the past year - and for the BETTER! I'm in awe at the work the Lord is doing in our little family! 

I clearly remember the day last February when the doctors and nurses at Amplatz Children's Hospital discharged us and sent us on our way saying "you've got this mom!"  Part way through our 5 hour drive home we stopped for lunch, but mostly to hook Charlotte up to her feeding tube. I vividly remember bursting into tears in the middle of the restaurant because I was struggling with her tube and pump. I was certain I was going to do something wrong and hurt my new daughter. 

Fast forward 9 months. Today I hear Charlotte fussing down the hall. Going to investigate I find her g-tube button on the floor with formula and blood dripping down her belly. Instead of bursting into tears, like I did 9 months ago just hooking her up, I merely hollered down the hall at Eden to bring me Charlotte's emergency kit. 3 minutes later she's all patched up, new button in place, and back to normal. Time to get lunch on the table. 

If someone would have told me all the twists and turns our lives would have taken this year I would have laughed and never believed them. I'm so glad the Lord didn't reveal it all to us in the beginning. I think I would have been too afraid to follow His leading in our lives. I am so thankful for His grace and strength in my everyday. 

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gettin' Up to Date...

Let me catch y'all up to speed on what's been going on with Charlie Jo.  This might be a long one.  I have been meaning to update for quite awhile, but time keeps sneaking away from me.  Most of the updates have to do with her medical needs, so let me get started...

One thing most of you are unaware of is shortly after arriving home Charlotte received a diagnosis of Hepatitis B.  We were pretty shocked in the beginning.  We knew very little about Hep B and didn't know what it meant for her future.  Our wonderful pediatrician here at Altru ran some more tests, answered a bunch of my questions, and made us a referral to a specialist in Fargo.  Unfortunately that appointment was 6 months out.  Yes, 6 months to wait to get answers.  Our ped ran blood work occasionally, mostly to monitor her liver function.  We read up on it, talked with other adoptive moms who had children with the same diagnosis, and learned all we could learn.  Fast forward 6 months and we finally met with the specialist.  He ordered a ton of test.  These were the tests that took 5 attempts to get.  Twice they didn't draw enough blood, once I requested they draw the lab while she was under general anesthesia during an MRI (more on that later) but the phlebotomist accidentally pulled out Charlotte's IV so they had to wake her up, once they just couldn't get enough blood and I made them stop.  Fifth time was a charm.  Poor baby!

Anyway, all the poking was totally worth it!  After multiple tests, it was determined that Charlotte does NOT have Hep B and it also showed that she never had Hep B.  Praise Jesus! Apparently there will be an investigation of the lab because false positive Hep B tests like the ones they did for Charlie are unheard of.  If nothing shows up in the lab apparently she may get to be a rock star of medical journals.  I'll chalk it up to a miracle.  

Another big test that occurred was testing for seizures.  Charlotte has always displayed an odd tick.  She will roll her eyes up and to the left.  I didn't think much of it, but apparently because the tick was always exactly the same it needed to be investigated.  She had an MRI and an EEG completed.  Thankfully both those tests came back unremarkable.  Yay! The neurologist said it still may be seizure activity, but it isn't causing any issues neurologically.  He said it will likely resolve on its own by age three.  He offered to start her on anti-seizure medicine, but we declined because it isn't causing any issues for her so why introduce a medication.  Thankfully our doctor felt the same!  It also ruled out any issues with her skull itself.  Charlotte's fontanelle is still open, which is odd for her age.  We are thankful that there aren't any noticeable issues and we will just have to watch and see what happens.  It is likely due to her lack of nutrition early on.  

Another big thing that happened was we had a little cancer scare. Because Charlotte has Trisomy 21 she has a 10-20 times higher likelihood of developing Leukemia.  We noticed that Charlotte had some petechia on her arms.  After a couple weeks I finally took her to her pediatrician.  He didn't think much about it at the time and told me to just monitor it.  A couple weeks later and it was not getting any better, it was actually getting worse and spreading.  Petechia can be a sign of Leukemia.  I took her back to the ped and he was now more concerned.  He ran some lab work and the results further concerned him.  He called down to Roger Marais Cancer Center and got one of their docs involved.  I visited on the phone with one of the cancer docs and he was concerned, but not overly concerned.  He had set up to have a bone marrow biopsy done the next day, but later that afternoon he changed his mind.  He knew we were coming to Fargo in 4 days to see the specialist about her Hep B so he ordered labs to be done at that time.  He asked us to just walk over to the cancer center after our other appointment.

  Ok, let's be honest here, being in a pediatric cancer center is pretty scary place.  Very scary actually.  It kind of shook me up a bit.  I don't like to think about the reality of having a child with cancer.  Those kids and parents are incredibly brave.  

We waited for a long time and he finally came back and said we were much too boring to be seeing him! Yippy!! It was determined that Charlotte had a very wonky reaction to a virus and likely has fragile platelets.  

I'm likely always going to get anxious about that darn petechia.  Leukemia is forever going to be in the back of my mind.  I will try not to worry about it.  I will pray frequently about it.  And we will just roll with it like everything else.   

I'm sure very few of you made it to the end of this incredibly long post.  It's been a CrAzY couple months around here.  But, the whole point of all this rambling is to say Charlotte is doing GREAT! She is healthy, happy, growing, eating a ton on her own, bonding, playing, talking, signing,  and on and on and on! She is a true delight!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Sweetest Sound

I put my five bigger kids all to bed and scooped Maisie Jane up in my arms. Secretly I was very much wishing I could just go put her to bed as well. I'm tired. I wanted to just sit quietly on the couch and attempt to organize the chaos that is my thoughts. But, I knew she wasn't tired yet, so I made the choice to continue putting one foot in front of the other and continue to do the next right thing (not that snuggling that sweet thing is such an awful chore, but y'all get what I'm saying 😉) and boy was I rewarded tonight. This little stinker is soooo stingy with her smiles. I thought she'd never crack that smile, but a couple weeks ago she FINALLY did!  Tonight she was locked on her momma's face soaking in every word I spoke. We were loving it and then it happened...her first giggle. The sweetest sound.  It was nothing more than just an outpouring of love. For those of you who say my hands are just too full of kids...if only you could just catch a glimpse of our hearts. All eight just pour over with love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Ten After Eleven

It's ten after eleven and I just changed the last diaper of the day and am sitting down to feed Maisie one last time before bed. Minutes ago I put up one more load of laundry and finished loading the dishwasher and pushed start. At night when I finally get to turn in for the night I always think to myself that I don't think I could possibly be more exhausted.  And then the next day begins...

I hear the words of the kind lady at Target telling me to enjoy these moments while the kids are young because they disappear so quickly. At first I think to myself that she blindly remembers only the bliss of a house filled with littles. Surely she doesn't miss the late nights. The endless diapers. The load upon load of laundry. The fact that someone is always hungry and therefore the dishes are never completely done. She certainly can't miss stepping on sharp little toys or refereeing countless sibling squabbles through the day. Does she really miss losing sleep because of worry over a child's heart and not knowing how to lead them? Or lying awake praying without ceasing when there's a health scare. Or just when the gravity of the reality that you are shaping a life...a real, live, breathing life that has been placed in your arms and you are 100% responsible for and you feel like you are making mistakes at every single turn. Surely she can't possibly miss these hard moments. 

The longer I thought about it, the more I realize that these are the EXACT moments she misses. Because for every one of these moments there are exponentially more moments that are joy-filled - moments that leave you breathless wondering what in the world you ever did to deserve such wonderful children. All these moments are exquisitely intertwined together. They are completely inseparable. They are motherhood and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I will NOT wish a single one of these moments away!

And now I'm off to bed because I don't think I could be anymore exhausted than I am at this moment... 

I'm back...

"Why aren't you blogging any more?"

This has been a question I've fielded frequently over the last 6 months.  Well, life got pretty CrAzY around here for me.  Just when I felt like I was settling into our new routines with the addition of Charlotte our sweet Maisie made her appearance and we were back to square one.  But, thankfully life feels soooo much better today!  So, that's one reason, but not the only reason...

One of the biggest reasons I've been so quiet is because of evil internet trolls.  Yuck! They drive me crazy.  These trolls are people who hide behind the anonymity of their computer and leave some of the most vile and hurtful comments.  Most of you reading this can't even imagine the things they've said to me and about our family (and NO I will not share them with you! No good would come from it and I refuse to ever verbalize them aloud!  Don't feel bad, I don't usually even tell Dave the specifics.  It's nothing but garbage and no one needs discussions about trash!) 
Edit: the trolls attack mostly because we adopted a special needs child internationally. There is a small group of people very loudly opposed to adoptions; specifically special needs and internationally. 

I needed to take a break from them.  I was newly home with Charlotte and pregnant and hormonal.  It was something I just wasn't in the place emotionally to be able to handle.  As I'm sure you may have noticed before, but that is why my blog comments are set to be moderated and why I don't/can't allow free commenting. So, feel free to comment away and I will happily approve all appropriate comments, but I just can't allow the horrific ones to be publicly displayed.  I will NOT give the trolls such power!

This blog is mine.  It's about my life.  It's my journal of sorts.  I love sharing our lives with y'all.  I love showing you what real life looks like for us.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  I love raising awareness for children with special needs and for orphans around the world.  So, what you'll read is life from my eyes.  Some might be funny, some might be scary or sad, some might be cute, and some might be boring to you.  I'm writing because I want to - because having a cup of hot coffee with y'all isn't possible but I want to share this life with you.  

So, welcome back to my living room! I've missed you!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We are HOME!!

It's been a whirlwind of a couple weeks.  Dave and Charlotte arrived home on Christmas Eve.  What a great gift and a Christmas we will never forget.  We are all settling in nicely and enjoying each other.  Aside from lots of doctors appointments, we've pretty much laid low at home.  Charlotte is adjusting well and is bonding more and more each day.  Each spontaneous smile or reaching up her arms is such a treasure.  

Waiting for their new sister's plane to land

Welcome HOME sweet baby girl!

Thank you to everyone who playing a part in getting our daughter home.  We will forever be grateful! We couldn't have done this without such amazing people around us.  Thank you so much! 

We've said this adoption is both the greatest and the hardest thing we have ever done in our lives.  We are looking forward to the future with so much hope!