Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, the first in Darth's and my married life. It was fun to put together the whole meal for once. We even got some leaves raked and bagged and watched Miracle on 34th Street. It was different (the theme of this year!) but nice.

Braden mostly hung out in his baby swing and slept the day away. He wasn't overly impressed with the holiday. It sure was a blessing to have him with us though. As we went through our "thankful" list as a family, everyone listed baby Braden. We have much to thank the Lord for!

We have had numerous check-ups each week, between our pediatrician and the Children's cardiologist that visits Wenatchee. Braden's weight is still not up to his birth weight, so we are giving him extra calories using bottle-fed milk with formula added. Hopefully he will gain significantly in the next week and a half. Our pediatrician wasn't overly concerned by it and says Braden is looking really well. Still, the doctor does want to see more growth. Braden had a stuffy nose the past several days and it made feeding and keeping it down a bit harder. He sounds great today and has done well so we are encouraged.

It has been a joy to have Braden spending some more awake time, just focusing on faces or checking out his surroundings. He likes to focus on his black and white stuffed cow and really likes a wall-hanging by the changing table starring Winnie the Pooh characters. Eeyore's tail is a high-light; He just stares and stares at it. Braden has beautiful deep blue eyes and the cutest dimples! We love to sit and admire him.

The surgery date is quickly approaching. December is around the corner and we dread it in part, but look forward to getting on with it all. We just so badly want Braden to be well and have all this behind us. Before, we were looking forward to the birth on our Seattle trip. This time the surgery is the all-encompassing focus and it is overwhelming. But the amazing thing is this crazy peace that covers us. We really should be freaking out at this point. Part of me wants to, but Jesus in His love and mercy won't let me go there. He has put this confidence so deep in my heart that He is in control. How many people face open-heart surgery with their newborn? So scary, but we know Jesus is near, He has not brought us or Braden this far to drop us now. How do people cope with life without the Lord? I never want to know. It is great to celebrate and give God thanks in the good times, but absolutely necessary to know that He will never leave or forsake you in the hard times.

We have heard from so many of you that are praying. Bless you for your diligence and compassion for our son. God has a plan here and we are trusting Him with the results. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Jenni, Darth and girls

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank Heaven for Little Boys!

It has been almost a week since Braden came home. What a wonderful week! He has happily settled into life as kid number four, sleeping through all the numerous hugs and kisses from doting sisters.

Braden went to visit our pediatrician on Monday and sees a Children's cardiac team doctor tomorrow for his weekly echo cardiogram. Darth and I feel so good having him home, while still getting such great medical care. As wonderful as Children's Seattle is, it is so good to be home waiting for surgery rather than at the hospital. Braden is healthier for it, getting good sleep and feeding on a regular schedule. He is away from germs and the noise. Of course we have noise galore at our house, but he's used to that, from months of exposure. It just is not so muffled now that he's born. He just sleeps through it anyway.

Baby and I have been basically hibernating at home. That is a drastic change of pace for me since I am usually so involved at the girls' elementary school and with teaching piano lessons. I have to say I am enjoying it! Being forced to just "be" for this period of time is good for reflection and for being able to focus on our wonderful son. He is amazing, such a fighter. Praise the Lord for so many answers to prayer already.

From Braden's Mommy

Friday, November 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We are home! It is beyond our comprehension, but yesterday we were discharged. Braden has done so well that the team of doctors decided it was in his best interest to go home and to allow his heart to grow a bit more. Surgery has been rescheduled for December 9. The VSD (ventricular septal defect) is larger than we realized. If his heart is allowed to grow, it will give the doctors more to work with in making that repair; the VSD will remain the same size. This is still a good thing though with the Transposition of the Great Arteries because his blood is getting the oxygen it needs through that large VSD.

We will be meeting weekly with a Children's cardiology team while back home waiting for surgery. Even though it was scary leaving the hospital with a newborn needing heart surgery, we are beyond thrilled to have Braden with us. Can we just say how incredibly awesome it is to have all the wires and monitors off our precious baby boy?! Every time we held him, some beeper would go off because a monitor patch had come off his chest or his heart monitor slipped off wherever it had been placed at the time. His IV is out and the bandaid on his head is the only reminder of where it was.

While still at Children's, we were able to spend a lot of time with Braden once he was moved to the floor, Tuesday the 11th through Thursday the 13th. It was certainly different than NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). He was in a HUGE bed and shared a room with a teenage boy. We had great nurses, but it just felt so strange to have a newborn in that room, looking so small and helpless. It was hard to leave him there. Darth and I took turns sleeping overnight with him, but of course one doesn't really sleep in the hospital. We are pretty much exhausted.

Now that Braden has been discharged, our girls have been smothering him with love and kisses. They beg to hold him all the time; he is in great danger of being spoiled. Oh well. It was fun to bring him in for bedtime prayers with the whole family. We are blessed.

It is hard to think of having to head back to Seattle for surgery, especially so close to Christmas. Darth and I just keep saying, this is God's thing, not ours. He has had his hand on us from the beginning and we will continue to walk in faith and trust and to hold on to what we know is true. And in the meantime we keep praying for that miracle healing, though we admit we have seen huge miracles in the way things have gone even this far. Braden is just doing so well!

Please keep praying!

Darth and Jenni

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Braden!

The Journey...
On Tuesday, November 4th, our doctors decided to send us to Seattle. They wanted to perform daily NST's (Non Stess Tests) on Braden to make sure his heart was handling the contractions well. So we had a couple of hours to pack things up and head out of town. The University of Washington was expecting us Tuesday night for the first test. Everything was going well, then on Saturday morning, Jenni's water broke. We checked in at labor and delivery and after many hours we welcomed Braden into the world at 6:38 PM. His weight was 7.2 oz. and his length measured 19 1/2 ''. He is absolutely beautiful. Jenni was able to hold him for a little bit before he was sent to NICU. Once there, Braden was prepped for transfer to Seattle Children's Hospital. After we had a chance to say goodbye, I followed Braden down to the ambulance. It left at 8:30 PM and I followed later after the Husky football traffic died down. I was able to spend some time in Braden's room at Children's.

Jenni was amazing, I have such a respect for mothers!

- Darth

Note from Jenni:
What a crazy time! It was not convenient to pack up and leave mid-week like we did. We threw our things together in a matter of hours and headed to the UW on election night of all times. Our girls have been completely off schedule for days, but are showing their skill at being flexible. We do not regret pulling them from school to be with us, except occasionally when they are whining or bickering with each other!
Some really good things to report:
  • We were in the Seattle area early! We were supposed to drive over on Saturday for a Sunday inducement, but my water broke on Saturday. Thank you Lord for taking care of those details.
  • Braden only had to be on Prostaglandin for a short while. This means his blood is getting the oxygen it needs without Braden having to be on that medicine and experiencing its side-effects.
  • Braden has been nursing and taking bottles with pumped milk or formula!
  • He will be transferred out of NICU today (11/11) to go to the floor because he is doing so well. Unless there are complications, he will remain there until surgery.
  • Our housing issues are settled and the big sisters are getting used to their new home away from home.
  • We have had wonderful help from family, with childcare, laundry, grocery shopping. We could not have done this without them.
  • We have felt the Lord's peace every step on the way and know people are praying.
We love and appreciate you!

Monday, November 3, 2008

November Update

November is finally here and our excitement is growing. In just a matter of days we get to meet Braden. He is busy wiggling and squirming these days, trying his best to keep mommy from sleeping too much. The girls all agreed tonight that mom's tummy is a watermelon. Thanks! They are counting the days till little brother comes.

We have been so blessed in the past few weeks with showers of love from our church family and friends. The Lord has amazed us again and again at providing for seemingly insignificant things that are really so huge in these stressful days of preparation. Housing is coming together for our stay in Seattle. The financial pressures are being eased with amazing programs we never knew existed. In our gratefulness to agencies and individual personnel, we keep coming back to the realization that God is our Source. He can do anything. We know it in our heads and yet when He comes through in these amazing ways, it floors us with humility to think the Maker of the Universe knows and cares about us, His Children.

The teachers at the girls' elementary school have been fabulous, really rallying behind them, making them feel loved and prepared for the long absence. The materials gathered by those teachers will give us the benefit of homeschooling without the hours of prep. The teachers did all the work! God bless them!

The next post will contain news of Braden's arrival. We will keep you up-to-date to the best of our ability and have pictures as soon as possible.