Fostering Through the "Storm"

7.26.2014

I suppose it's time for a little foster care update on this blog. It took a dramatic turn when Judah entered this world and the focus shifted promptly to him and his health, and to our survival as a family, sustained by prayers of those around us.

We need prayer again. B has court this coming Monday.

I cannot write specifics, of course. So, we ask for your prayers covering her and our family, and that God's perfect will be done in her life. Whatever that looks like.

I remember clearly almost a year ago getting that first phone call. A little girl. 7 months. Would we take her?

We held hands, prayed, and said, "Yes!" Even though the world would eventually tell us how crazy we were. For we knew just 2 days prior, that God was knitting together a little one made in His image.

We knew it would be hard to both be pregnant AND foster, but we went full on ahead, knowing God would work out the details. I don't think we realized HOW pushed to the limit we would be, but it was worth it. Every deep moment chasing deep moment.

Our deepest, most serious family portrait! Haha! (Photograph by Kelly Smith)
I remember when God breathed to my soul this verse for B.

"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" Romans 9:25 

For so long, I thought that meant she would be MINE. A mini-promise entailing God's chosen child for our family. But I was wrong. Throughout this journey, I discovered the reverse to be true. She was not MINE, but His. HIS promise over B, that she was His BELOVED. He was taking care of B. He had bigger plans than what I could dream for her.

The rush of the past 4 months, being in and out of the hospital with Judah, there were so many times when I just didn't think we could keep fostering our precious B, a little one we didn't want to be tossed around in the system, a little one we loved like our own! Time and time again, God allowed people to step up to help. And on one occasion, then many thereafter, Hart's cousins kept B for us when we needed them.

They fell in love head over heels with this sweet girl.

In the same moment where I knew I wanted God's best for one that I knew was His beloved, I knew that puzzle pieces were beginning to form where B was fitting perfectly with our extended family.

While we have continued fostering her through this "storm" of life, we could not have done it without Hart's family stepping up, saying, "YES!" to this unique and beautiful B!

Monday is huge. Our family will stand before a judge and ask that he allow B to become a part of our extended family forever. Truly the best of both worlds for her and our family! We would get to be a huge part of her life. She would still be a part of our family at large, and we could watch her grow up, still see her for Holidays, birthdays, etc! She would be truly, deeply loved! I know that full well!

We don't know what will happen. But, we can pray. We can ask that God works mightily in this little girl's life. That she gets a beautiful family that cares for her best interest! A place she can live life to the fullest! Hart's cousin's home is that! We want her there! The place she truly would be the happiest!

As a mother, a foster mama, I know, none of these children (bio or foster) are MINE, but His. I know that when we said, "Yes!" It meant we would grow. We would learn a ton about ourselves! As seasons of life change, we know that sometimes it's not always how we pictured it, that through the storms, we are refined. We are changed for the better, and we come out more like Jesus than ever before.

B's story is beautiful in Christ and we know God is writing a beautiful ending! Please lift her up in prayer!
 PhotosOf Grace Photography by Kelly Smith

Judah - 3 months

7.01.2014

This little butterball is 3 months old! He turned 3 months on the 20th of June! Life has been non-stop since his birth with all of Judah's health stuff! We are praising Jesus that his Neupogen is working for him and his ANC levels have been 1400 - 1700 the last month on it. Months 2 to 3 were uneventful health-wise for Judah and for that I am SERIOUSLY thankful! Thankful that all it included was weekly trips to the hospital for labs, running to a myriad of dr appts, and his daily shots! Our new normal! Every night that we give his shot, we pray that God would heal Judah, that the Neupogen would never give him crazy side effects, that his body would begin to make it's own neutrophils and that he would never develop leukemia, cancer, or other complications. Right now, we don't have have to worry about a bone marrow transplant while the Neupogen is working well. However, if it ever stops working for him, we will have to do the transplant. 

While having great levels, we will always be cautious with him! Continuing to wash hands, not be around anyone sick, wipe down restaurant tables, avoid major crowds and public swimming pools, or day-care and nursery type settings. It has altered life for us, but it's worth it to have him healthy and happy!
Enjoying his sink bath!
Judah is quite the miracle baby. His spirit is so sweet and tender and when I tell him about Jesus, he just listens with his whole little being. I know that it seems crazy, but I feel like Judah gives all of himself to whoever he is with. He listens and gazes and talks and focuses on you with all he's got. He truly amazes me with all he has been through, to love the way he does!
 He is SUCH a chunk! He weighed in at 14lbs 2 oz at 3 months, so you would think he would be a good little sleeper for me. NOPE! He is quite the opposite! He still wakes me up 1 - 2 (or 3 on rough nights) times a night! He is quite persistent or else I would ignore him. Okay, truth be told, I go to him pretty quickly, but I think with his SCN, it makes me nervous to just let him CIO, plus he is sharing with his brother and I don't want him to wake up Cai! His naps are kind of shoddy, too! I try everything to get him to sleep better! Cai was a much better sleeper at this point, but we are sort of behind the curve and there are times when I can TELL he is struggling with bone pain or just not feeling well, so he gets lots of extra cuddles, despite me being exhausted! All in all, we are making it, and I would love to sleep more, and hope to soon! (Right?!)
We just got word that Judah's ENT wants to do another ear tubes surgery on August 15th! We will be putting in a larger tube and doing a more extensive hearing test afterwards that will help us determine if Judah's hearing loss from his ruptured ear drums is permanent or not! We, of course, pray NOT!
 Now just for fun! Here's a little comparison of Judah and Cai at 3 months with Fievel! I wasn't able to get months 1 and 2 with Fievel for Judah, but we started at 3 months! It will be fun to see how he changes each month! I had Fievel when I was little and with Cai he was our largest stuffed animal, hence his month by month pictures!
And by himself with Fievel! 
 
And from months 2 (left) to 3(right).... I feel like he hasn't changed too much! 
And I will leave you with Cai loving on Judah baby! They have such a sweet special bond! I love it!

Embracing Full Time Motherhood

6.14.2014

 
This is me in the back of our minivan embracing my current stage of life in motherhood. Three kids is NO joke! Especially when 1 is a newborn and the middle is 17 months. Add in the 3 year old and it's a beautiful disaster every day! 
This is how I normally look these days! 

With all of Judah's health issues, we have decided I need to be home full time to care for him as we figure out his body and how he responds as a neutropenic. I won't be returning to teach my beloved fifth graders. It was such a hard decision for me to come to, even though I knew it was what I had to do and what made the most sense for our family! Hart is so supportive and God is so amazing in how he provides! Hart's real-estate work with The Mather Co. has been thriving lately and we give God all the glory that we can have me stay home without having to change too much right now. Although, we are down to just 1 car again! But the good thing is that we have Hart's mom's car on occasion and Charlie's Tahoe to go between. The other good thing is that I rarely go places during the week unless I have to, because dragging 3 small children anywhere is, again, a beautiful disaster! It's much easier to just stay home right now! 

But back to making the decision to stay home. I loved LOVED my job, but I am grateful to reduce stress in this already stressful stage of having 3 very small children!!! 
I know that being able to take care of these three little people well is where I need to be. This will afford more protection over Judah and allow us to figure him out as well!
Being a wife to this man is a gift from God! I am grateful he wants a not-so-stressed wife! Freeing me up to love our family better and focus on making our house a home!  
Praise God, that I get each day with my kids! I am so tired right now and constantly on the go taking care of everyone's needs, but it is worth it, even if you find me locking myself in the bathroom from time to time!!! Haha! I really do look forward to being home full time again, but at the same time, I do mourn the loss of my awesome job! I know God is in control and He always will be our Provider! 
For now, I know this is exactly where I need to be! Preferably by a pool simultaneously! Haha! 

1,470...

6.03.2014

No that's not an SAT score. That's Judah's ANC count! We got his weekly blood work done today and it went from zero to 1,470! Our Dr. said 1,000 would be a great number, so we are obviously ecstatic and praising Jesus! Thank you for the prayers. Please continue praying with us but also join in praising Jesus with us!

When we told Micaiah the news he asked 'Does that mean we can stop using hand sanitizer?' No buddy, it doesn't mean that, but like the nurse told us on the phone, it does mean we can make those plans for our beach trip!

Here's the little man when he found out the good news...

Here we are when we found out the good news...

One in a Million: Diagnosis Confirmed

5.30.2014

 This was a particularly emotional and hard week. That sweet, healthy looking baby boy right there had his diagnosis confirmed. We got the final genetic testing back and he is the carrier for severe congenital neutropenia. Literally 1 in a million people have this rare blood disorder that cannot make the first line of defense of your body's white blood cells, also known as, neutrophils.
 Normally, I would be sharing some silly comment about Cai's face here, but  instead I will tell you that Judah also failed both hearing tests in both ears at the ENT. It felt like 1 more thing added to the plate of things to figure out. Failing doesn't necessarily mean he can't hear. He may have some hearing loss, but there are a lot of variables as to what could have prevented from him passing. And he didn't fail terribly. The ruptured ear drum and the strong IV antibiotics could be to blame. It also could have been the way the tubes were situated in his ears or fluid. We will be monitoring it, of course. Judah also developed an umbilical granuloma(which completely freaked me out, but is normal. Then, it got infected. Not normal. So we are on antibiotics again. I too got antibiotics because I got mastitis.
 What is amazing to me, is that despite everything going on and the crazy that is happening around us, each day actually looks like this. Two brothers being sweet and adorable. Pictures I want in my mind forever! And even though it is so hard. I see pictures of God's grace, written all over my children's faces. Beautiful dripping with mercy, grace.
Each day is a day to thank and PRAISE God for Judah, Cai and B (who through all this we are still fostering).

Please be praying for Judah's Absolute Nuetrophil Count (ANC). It has stayed at ZERO week after week. We need it to be 1000. We went to daily shots last weekend. So far he has not responded to the nuepogen shots, but now that genetic testing is back, the drs can figure out his dosing better. Please pray that we will start to see an increase NOW! Judah has a lot of other white blood cells, and everything else is normal, so those are all good things.  Continue to pray protection over his health that he would not get more infections in the meant time. We are so grateful to be home-bound verse hospital bound.

Pray the the stress of all of this would not make us short towards one another in speech. We have noticed Cai having potty accidents and B has been so shuffled between family that she is having a hard time adjusting back to us and us to her, so prayers over all of that.


 Prayers as we are going to the dr each week to get blood drawn. And prayers that we will seek God through all of this. We are worn out and need people praying over us. We are so grateful for Judah's life, a constant reminder to give God glory and Praise, what his name means. Thank you for your prayers!