Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Breaking news...

Mike has a job!!! We are so thankful to our precious Heavenly Father for providing a job! Thank you to those who have prayed about this.

While my "preference" would be a job in Plummer, the job he has gotten is in Spokane. Which, in reality will be really good once the baby is born. He will be close by while we are at the hospital.

If you are in the area, and are thinking about buying a might want to get ahold of Mike! :-)

Please join us in praising the LORD!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Latest

Yesterday we had appointments with the cardiologist and the OB. The cardiologist had also arranged for us to meet with one of the neonatalogists that will be caring for Jethro. We like the neonatalogist, he was very open in answering our questions, and seemed to be very upfront about what will be happening with the baby if things continue the way they are. I was asking him about Jethro being able to wear his own booties, hats, etc. And he was saying, yes, he could have his own things, and they encourage blankies from home, favorite toys (do newborns have favorite toys?), etc. He made mention of a favorite stuffed animal. I said, "A pistol?" He answered with, "Well, as long as it doesn't have live ammunition, we could probably do that." That may seem like a rather random toy to ask about, but those of you who know us, know that our little boys are almost always armed. :-) And, there is a story behind the question...

I was on the phone with Mom the other night, and Josiah ran up and put a pistol on my very pregnant belly. I said, "Oh, is this for me?" He just looked at me and said, "It's Jethro's." LOL It's one of the reasons I like to know ahead of time if we are having a boy or girl. We can give them their name, and it just helps make that baby a little more "real" to the other children before they are actually a presence in our home.

So, after meeting with the neonatalogist, we had another echo done on Jethro's heart. We met with a different cardiologist than we have been, and it was "nice" to get a little different perspective. Besides having Ebstein's, Jethro has what they are referring to as "functioning" Pulmonary Atresia. From the reading I have done, it is common for there to be problems with the pulmonary valve when Ebstein's is present. What this means for Jethro is that the Pulmonary Valve is not functioning, but it is allowing blood flow in the wrong direction. Which tells us that the lower right chamber of his heart is not pumping hard enough to push the blood through in the right direction. The Pulmonary Atresia really complicates things. That valve can be replaced, but it is a short term fix at best. There apparently really is no "real" fix for Pulmonary Atresia.

We were at the cardiologist's office for over 2 hours ~ much of which was spent on my back, while they did the echo on his heart. So then we were late for my OB appt. When we got there, we found out that I didn't "pass" the glucose test I had to take last time. Now they want me to do the 3-hour glucose test ~ and do it right away so if there's a problem, we can do something about it. :-/ Only it wasn't so urgent they couldn't wait 2 weeks to let me know that I didn't do so well. Have I mentioned how frustrated I am with seeing an OB? Once again I will say that the care is just sub-standard to what I am accustomed to receiving. Midwives may not be able to offer the "high-tech" care, but they offer much more than that! I am so tired of feeling like I am nothing more than a chart and a paycheck.

One bright spot is that Jethro is once again head-down! What a good baby. :-)

Prayer Requests:
  • That Mike and I would have wisdom. We are dealing with several different doctors ~ not all of whom are very communicative with us ~ and there are lots of things to consider and make decisions about. In most cases, we know what the dr.s want, and we know what we want ~ but we need wisdom from the One who *knows* what is best for Jethro and me.
  • For the Pulmonary Atresia. Please pray specifically that God will heal Jethro's Pulmonary Valve. We are asking for a miracle. It's pretty well documented that the valve is not working. It is not something that will "heal" or "fix" on it's own. The Ebstein's is serious enough in and of itself, but the Pulmonary Atresia truly complicates things. It would simplify them greatly if God would choose to take that out of the picture.
  • For my emotional well-being. I manage to keep my eyes uplifted most of the time. I do trust my Heavenly Father and I am walking in faith. However, it feels like every time I turn around in this pregnancy, something else is going wrong. I know that God doesn't owe me anything ~ He has already blessed me beyond measure, but at the moment I am struggling with all the "little" things that aren't "right". I know that when I am weak, He is strong...I'm just having a real hard time dealing with the weakness right now.
  • A job for Mike. My darling husband has been out of work for almost a year now. He has not sat idle for the past year, but there has been no "job". He did have an interview last week, and we are still waiting to hear back from them. It is hard for a man not to be able to put his hand to the plow and provide for his family. I am specifically praying for a job with good benefits, so that as soon as Jethro is born, we can get him on insurance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Greetings, Loved Ones ~
I cannot believe that once again it is time for a Christmas letter! I had one all typed out and printed last year, and then time got away from me and only a few of them got sent. It has been another busy year, and a year full of testing our faith and watching God’s faithfulness.

In January, Mike was laid off. This started a journey of faith for us that has been incredible. We have seen God provide month after month ~ sometimes through odd jobs, sometimes through short-term employment, and often through generous gifts from unknown folks. In July, there was no money for our house payment. I began to pray, “Lord, I know that you can provide the funds we need. I don’t know how You’re going to do it, but I know you can.” One morning at church, our pastor approached Mike and told him that he needed our mortgage payment information. Someone wanted to make our house payment for us! What an incredible answer to prayer! Although it has definitely been a stretch, and we are more than ready for Mike to have regular employment, this past year has been such a blessing as we have watched God meet our every need. We have always known that it is God who provides, but when all pretense of self-reliance is taken away, then you know that it is God who provides!

We graduated Will from our home school this year, and he moved out. He has been working at the local post office for a little over a year, and is now thinking about Bible school next fall. At this point, he believes that the Lord is leading him to become a pastor. We have stood in awe at what God is doing in his life. He is blessed with a unique ability to share ~ both in writing and speech ~ what God is teaching him. Last summer, the youth did a “local” mission trip, reaching out to 5 local communities. Will did the gospel presentation at least once in each community, and it was very powerful to listen to. I am so thankful for the call that God has put on his life.

Levi is a senior, and seriously considering going on to college next fall. He had another great football season, and one of the coaches is really encouraging him to go on and play college ball. He is a really good running back, and it’s exciting to see him prepare to go on to the next level. He is a really good big brother, taking lots of time to play with the little boys ~ often he can be found in the middle of a gun fight with them, or sitting on the couch reading (“Just this one. Okay, one more.”), or with two little boys attached to his legs as he drags them around the house. He is also quite the cook! Well, as long as it involves meat. ;-)

Garth is now 15, and chomping at the bit to drive! He is currently saving his money so that he can take driver’s ed. Garth had a really good football season, starting in almost all the games. He even got to play starting QB against Mullan! He did a really good job. We have seen a lot of growth ~ physical and spiritual in Garth this year. He also went on the mission trip, and then to Creation in July. He is now heading up the “games” section of the youth worship service, along with a friend. It’s exciting to see the enthusiasm for participating in worship.

Logan turned 13 this summer. He spent a week at Camp Elohim in July, and really enjoyed himself. He is starting to attend youth group, and is involved with the drama team. More and more I see glimpses of the young man he is becoming and less of the boy. Logan has a great capacity for being loving and considerate, but does need to exercise that “muscle” a bit more.

Kathleen and Laura are now 9 and 7. They are a constant source of chatter around here. This summer they got to go to Yellowstone with Grammie and Pak ~ and we had a weekend of QUIET! It was very exciting for all involved. ;-) They are very enthusiastic about learning to cook and bake, and are learning to be more and more helpful around the house.

Josiah and Ezra (3 and 19 mo) are a source of joy and laughter in our home. These two little boys keep us on our toes! I don’t remember the older boys being so busy when they were little. We can’t decide if these two are really that much more of a challenge, or if it’s just that we’re that much older! :-D They love to play football, and will spend inordinate amounts of time kicking, throwing and running the ball ~ especially if there is a big brother to play with them!

The Lord has chosen to bless us once again ~ this time with a Valentine! This pregnancy has been a challenge; I have been fighting high blood pressure, and that along with my “advanced maternal age” has made this a high risk pregnancy. I spent some time in the hospital in October, and at that time we found out that our son has a congenital heart defect. Known as Ebstein’s Abnormality, it only occurs in 1 in every 210,000 births. The pediatric cardiologist believes that he will be severely affected by it, as his heart is already enlarged. There is a possibility he won’t make it to birth, and if he does, he will likely be a very sick baby and immediately take up residence in the NICU. We would greatly appreciate prayers for baby Jethro’s heart. I want to share how thankful we are to have found out about his heart ahead of time. We can make preparations for an NICU stay after the birth, we were able to change what hospital we are delivering at, so I won’t be in a different hospital from the baby, and we can prepare the children ahead of time as well. God is FAITHFUL and we know that He will carry us through this, whatever His will is.

We pray that this finds you healthy and joyful, rejoicing in the ultimate gift of a Savior. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Monday I had an appt with the OB and yesterday I had perinatalogist and cardiologist appts. A couple of long days made worse by my fall on Sunday. :-(

Everything looks pretty good. I have cut back on my BP meds, and my BP is still lower, so that is wonderful. I am not nearly so totally wiped out at the lower dosage which has been great. I don't know what it is, but our boys do not like being listened to, and Monday, when the dr. tried to listen to Jethro's heart, he pitched a fit. It was really kind of amusing, he was all over the place, kicking and throwing his arms ~ he absolutely did not want to be listened to.

I am finding myself more and more frustrated with not having a homebirth. Obviously, that is just not a possibility this time around, but midwives are just so much better than OBs! Every single appt, I have to ask, "What am I measuring?" "What is the baby's heart rate?" There's not even any point in asking anything about the baby ~ because drs don't know how to do anything ~ like palpate a baby.

So, yesterday, we get to Deaconess for the appt with the perinatalogist. Which means an ultrasound. I was not looking forward to it. My tailbone is extremely sore, and the thought of two long u/s on hard tables was not my idea of a good time. Well, we ended up in one of the post-partum rooms and it had a wonderful, soft bed! I was very comfortable during the u/s ~ it was one of those things that I like to call a "God hug". :-) Just a little thing that let me know that God knows I'm hurting and cares. Then the u/s tech wanted to know if this baby has been breech. I said, "No. Is he breech now?" Yes, he is. Very frustrating. I told Mike, if I had had an appt with my midwife instead of an OB on Monday, we would have already known that the baby was breech. Right now, he's apparently 2 weeks ahead in growth, but I don't really pay a lot of attention to that kind of thing, because babies in utero have growth spurts just like they do after they're born. And we don't tend to have "little" babies anyway. After the u/s was done, they couldn't locate the dr., so they sent us on our way with instructions to call the drs secretary today. Baby looks good enough that we are done with the perinatalogist! So that was definitely good news.

After lunch we went over to the cardiologist's office. They were running about an hour behind, so we were able to get a tour of Sacred Heart's L&D, post-partum, NICU and PICU. Even though it was just a walk-through, it still provides a little familiarity for when Jethro is born. The co-ordinator that gave us the tour made sure that we knew we can call anytime with questions, and she will get back to us ASAP with answers. I was thankful to find out that vaccinations are not going to be an issue as far as the younger children being able to visit the baby, and especially if it looks like he won't make it, they will do everything within their power to make sure we have time together as a family. I don't think I have the words to express what a comfort that is to my Mama heart. It is definitely something that has been weighing pretty heavily on my heart.

After our tour, we went back up to the Center for Congenital Heart Defects and had another ultrasound. These u/s are totally centered on his heart ~ they don't really look at anything else. The cardiologist was encouraged that the growth of his heart is not over and above his overall growth. She is still very cautious, thinking that he will be severely affected by this defect. We are also likely dealing with Pulmonary Stenosis along with the Ebstein's. Although we probably won't know for sure until he is born. Once he is born, they will do an echo on his heart to have a better idea what exactly we're dealing with.

The cardiologist would really like to see labor induced at about 38 weeks, so everything can be "controlled". She is very concerned that we live an hour away from the hospital. I tried to tell her that after giving birth as many times as I have, the likelihood of labor catching me by surprise, and us not making it to the hospital probably isn't real likely. She suggested that we might want to stay in Spokane the week I'm due, but I know I will be gone from the children after Jethro is born, so I just can't be gone ahead of time as well.

This is something we would really appreciate prayer about. I do not want to be induced as it will increase my chances of a uterine rupture, it increases the chances for another c-sec., it means that they would have to constantly monitor the baby, so I would be tied to the bed instead of being able to move around. There are just many reasons why I would much rather go into labor on my own. We obviously want to do what is best for this baby, but within that, I want things done as naturally as possible. I hate being messed with during labor; and pretty much nothing has gone right in this pregnancy, so the thought of them "managing" or "controlling" labor makes me very leery ~ I just don't think we would have a very good outcome. So, this is something that Mike and I will be praying about quite a bit, seeking wisdom.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Update later this week

Just a quick note. We have a perinatalogist and cardiologist appt on Tuesday. Hopefully we will find out more, and prayerfully, Jethro's heart will look better. I'll post and update either Tuesday or Wednesday to let everyone know what we found out.

I'd appreciate prayers for these appts. I'm sure they will both entail ultra sounds, and that makes for a long, sore day for me. To further complicate matters, I slipped going down our bedroom stairs this morning and went down on my tailbone...all the way to the floor. I am extremely sore and afraid I have broke my tailbone. It's going to make being on my back for extended periods very difficult.