Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 2010 Update

Just in case anyone still checks Braden's blog, we thought we really should update it! Braden is almost 22 months old. He is the happiest, busiest little guy ever. He runs everywhere and climbs, jumps and dances. What a miracle. He keeps us busy trying to out-think him. Thank goodness for nap time.

Braden has finally started becoming more verbal. He "talked" before, but gibberish, with lots of facial expression and gesturing. Now he is saying numerous recognizable words and parroting everything his sisters tell him to repeat. They like to follow him around with pencil and paper and jot down his pronunciations. Also new, Braden has started singing. So sweet! His favorite songs are "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Winnie the Pooh".

Next week is Braden's every other month call-in pacemaker check. It is a reminder of his dependence on that unit, but we really take it in stride these days. Originally, we were told to be cautious of the unit placed in his abdomen, and we are, but he is a BOY, rough and tumble, active every waking moment. All he knows is the pacemaker in his tummy so for him it is normal. He flops on his stomach, somersaults, slides headfirst, no problem! Still, we are thankful he has had no major falls. At this point our concern has been the antibiotic he has to take for cuts in his mouth, due to the residual shunting from the VSD repair. Usually Braden falls and cuts his mouth when we are away from home or in the evening after hours, but thankfully we have refills at the pharmacy and it hasn't been a huge problem. It ends up just being an inconvenience.

We continue to delight in all that Braden IS that he "wasn't" supposed to be. According to the experts, he was a "decision to make" at the first medical appointments, once the heart defect was detected; he was high risk to be Downs or Trisome 13, and delayed physically and verbally. God had different plans for him and we would have missed out on the biggest joy in our lives if we had followed any other plan. We love our Braden boy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy 2010!

We are in the new year and life is good! Braden is doing sooooo well! Our Thanksgiving at home and Christmas with family were both wonderful times of celebration and times of thanking the Lord for his faithfulness over the past year. And now, here we are, in the new year.

Life is full speed with four kids. I half jokingly mentioned to a friend that I am still getting used to being mommy to four, but seriously, the first year with Braden was so intense with surgeries, hospitalization, recovery, and doctor visits. Nothing felt "normal". Now we are busy again with school and church activites. Braden even gets to come to Sunday service now, but he still gets his hands washed frequently to avoid illness. That being said, he has been extremely healthy.

Braden is walking (running) now and into EVERYTHING. He's making mommy a little nuts! He really misses his sisters during the school day and that is actually when he gets into things the most. He has discovered the kitties and dog and they have learned to avoid him. We are working on "nice hands" with the pets and the patting becomes slightly less painful looking. Braden has also learned to straight-arm his sisters when he has had enough mothering and kisses. Most of the time he is very affectionate.

Check out our most recent pictures at Love that boy! We are blessed with wonderful kids. God is good.

-Darth & Jenni

Friday, November 13, 2009

6 Month Cardiology Check

Braden had his six month cardiology appointment on Friday at the outreach clinic here in town. He weighed 17 lbs. 11 oz. The cardiologist listened to Braden's heart and thought it sounded great, no murmur. The lungs sounded good too, with even breathing on both sides. We asked to check the October x-ray from Children's to see if Braden's diaphragm had gone down. Though still elevated some, it is better than the last check. The good news is that it obviously is not interfering with activity or breathing.

The appointment went so well that the doctor feels Braden doesn't need another cardiology appointment until next year at this time. The pacemaker checks will continue more frequently, with call in checks every 2 months and actual clinic visits every 6 months. Except for the pacemaker, his heart is fully functioning. Praise the Lord for the good reports. We are so thrilled!

The holidays are coming up and we are looking forward to celebrating our blessings at Thanksgiving. We have so much to be grateful for. It will never cease to amaze us how different this year is from last. Life felt so fragile last year, and it is, but at least this year we feel we can breathe. We aren't watching Braden like a hawk. We are living again. It feels good. Thank you God.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday!

Our baby boy turned one on Sunday, November 8. We can't believe a year has gone by since his birth and all the adventure his life has brought to ours! Our celebration included a bouncy castle to keep all the cousins busy and happy, a salad lunch balanced with yummy desserts and coffee, and a very chocolaty one year old boy who thoroughly enjoyed his first cupcake. It was a very joyful day for our family, immediate and extended, as we remembered how far the Lord has brought our little man in the course of the past year. We put out a photo album chronicling the journey. There were some tough pictures in there, post surgery heart-wrenchers. It is good to remember though because to look at him today, you'd never know. His chest scars are still quite significant of course, but looking better all the time.

Here are Braden's latest accomplishments:

Fake sneezing: He says "Ah Ah Ah, Ahmmm!"; Waving bye-bye "Bah"; Signing please and up; "Mamma"; Fastest TP Unroller in the West; Crawling up stairs and walking the furniture.

The 12 month appointment went well with our pediatrician. Though still on the "mini" side in terms of weight, his length and head circumference actually are on the growth curve. Go Braden! Since little guy is so active and energetic, his weight is not a concern, it just appears to be normal "Braden".
We are grateful to Jesus for walking along side of us on our journey over this past year; it has been harder than anything we have ever faced before, really stripped us down to the foundation of our faith. We've learned that we can trust Him even when we don't understand what He is doing or why. Because we know Jesus is in control, we look towards the future with hope. There is a feeling of anticipation as we consider the great things God will do in Braden's life and in the life of our family. God is good and He is faithful! Thank you Lord for Your miracles and for teaching us to trust You in ways we never knew we could.
Enjoy the pictures of our wonderful son!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pacemaker Check

Braden had his 6 month pacemaker check at Children's today. His pacer is still checked over the phone every other month, but we get to go to Seattle for these bi-yearly checks like we had today. It was strange to drive onto the property this morning; Darth and I experienced a flood of emotions. We had our middle daughter and Braden, the other two girls had colds and had to stay away with their germs (they shared them with Darth's mom instead!). After checking in, we had a delicious cafeteria breakfast and headed down a floor to wait. (The breakfast actually was great, there is a lot of variety to choose from. We just had to eat there SO MANY TIMES during the hospitalization that it has taken us a while to want to eat there again.) Sissy went to the sibling playroom and Braden, Darth, and I started off the series of appointments with a chest x-ray. So grateful for Children's. They are so geared for kids (obviously), that it was a relatively quick and not-too-upsetting experience for baby. We have had our share of x-rays with Braden so this time was much appreciated.

Next we went in for the vitals: weight, height, blood pressure. I think he was somewhere around 17 and a half pounds. It was in kilograms and I don't make that conversion in my head yet!

Now off to the exam room. We had an amazing tech do the speediest EKG ever. It was over before it began. Darth and I were watching her get out all the wires and both thought, "How is Braden going to do with this?" He has such busy hands now that we envisioned him pulling off the leads as fast as she placed them.

Another tech came in to do the pacer check: more leads, more holding still. Braden did great with this test too.

The cardiologist came in to debrief with us. Basically, all looks great. Braden's pacemaker battery is full, meaning that he isn't using up a lot of battery at this point. Good news because it puts battery replacement that much farther away on the horizon. The test results showed that he still has an underlying rate, but it is very slow, more like a sleeping rate than an activity one. This has shown up in the past and was confirmed again today. It is a comfort to know that even though he needs the pacemaker at this point, the heart could still beat without it. The communciation just isn't working from atrium to ventricle. Still praying . . . !

Thanks for all your continued support. God is still getting the glory from this little wonderful Braden boy! We are grateful for His blessings.

-Jenni & Darth

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall News

We are living at full speed these days. Braden is enjoying going to all his sisters' soccer games and school events. Soon he will be more quarantined as the "buggies" and viruses start emerging. Since he is crawling and putting everything into his mouth, keeping him germ-free is a challenge. Braden did pick up a small cold, but has remained his happy-go-lucky self. He can be up at all hours of the night and still be sweet and active the next day. Can't say the same for mom and dad.

Braden has popped through both top teeth, with a sizable gap. It will likely resolve, but he has a slight hill-billy look. Very cute. He has also become very chatty with his adorable baby vocabulary. Just this week he started signing "please" during meal time. I think his "please" was to have another bite of mommy's ice cream birthday cake.

Pacemaker checks and routine well baby appointments are all the excitement Braden has had lately. We are definitely enjoying the normalcy. Braden has a pacer check at Childrens' Seattle on Monday. Please continue to pray with us for a miracle healing. We know God is able and are praying that He is willing. This pacemaker issue continues to stretch our faith in the trust department.

We aren't sure if Braden will qualify for the RSV shot again this year. He is doing so well it is not likely. We are just continuing to pray that the Lord will protect him this fall and winter from sickness. It is definitely more challenging to have a mobile baby stay germ free, a rather overwhelming undertaking. So glad we can take these concerns to Jesus. We are doing our part to keep exposure down, but we do have to keep living life as normally as possible. The fact is, he is going to get a hundred kisses daily from his sisters and there's not a lot we can do about that. The girls just can't help themselves. Oh, Braden is also giving kisses now, super wet and slobbery ones. Adorable!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Braden is turning 10 months old in just days---so much to report! He started crawling several weeks ago and is super proud of himself. FREEDOM!!!! He is eating finger foods and enjoys them much better than yucky baby food. Currently Braden weighs somewhere between 16-17 pounds, continuing to be on the small side weight-wise, but comes in more on the average side in the length category. Just this past week, he has been pulling himself up on EVERYTHING, actually getting "stuck" standing in his crib, crying, because he should actually be sleeping. "How do I get down?!" Teeth! The bottom two are in and the top ones should be breaking through any time. "The better to bite you with, my dear . . . "

Personality wise, Braden is still a happy camper, quick to smile and laugh, very content and mellow. He is such an easy baby. Right now we are working with him on sleeping through the night and he is showing great tenacity for how long he will fight to wear us down. We are confident he will get it, but we miss sleep. At least I think we do . . . I seem to remember feeling rested at some point in my life . . .

A sad first to report: Braden got his first bee sting several weeks ago. He was in his stroller and all we can figure out is the bee landed on the stroller tray and Braden grabbed it. The bee was gone, but the stinger still in. SAD!!!! No allergic reaction though, thankfully. His finger got pretty swollen, but even with the discomfort I was amazed at how he "took it like a (little) man". What a trooper!

This summer Braden went to the beach, the water park, the water slides, both grandparents' houses, Orcas Island, my brother's wedding, a petting farm, and Leavenworth. It was a "let's stay close to home and do little short trips" kind of summer. We enjoyed celebrating life together as a family of six, all the while being especially thankful for our healthy, thriving baby boy.

As we approach the fall, we are gearing up for how to keep the family and specifically little guy healthy. Looking forward to those flu shots . . . A scoop of ice cream for every shot seems to work as a great motivator for little girls. It works better than "let's do it for Braden", though that will come into play. Baskin Robbins anyone?! We hate being paranoid about germs but it is a definite reality with all the fun bugs going around. This is an area where we have to do our best and just trust the Lord with every day. Some things we can control and some we can't, but we do have to LIVE LIFE and not be completely house bound! This would be an area to pray for our family and especially Braden: a healthy fall and winter, spring for that matter too!

Thank you for your continued prayers, well wishes, and interest in Braden progress. We are amazed by our miracle baby and our amazing, loving God. His mercies to our family still awe us. Concerns for the future all filter through the Lord's faithfulness of the past. He was with us then, and will be with us today and tomorrow. It is good to live with that peace of mind.

-Jenni and family