Our Thanksgiving Baby is Here!

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Say hello to our sweet baby, Uriah Lee, who arrived November 21st around 4 p.m. He has certainly had an adventurous beginning. 7 weeks early and surprising everyone as they all thought my labor pains were only Braxton-Hicks (I told them!). However early he was we are so thankful I was able to stay pregnant for so long after my water broke at 24 weeks (God gave Uriah 63 extra days to grow!).

We are so thankful God has given us this little boy. It took the NICU team 8 minutes to encourage Uriah to take his first breath (thankfully, they had oxygen on him the moment he emerged so there is no damage from that delay). That was a difficult, precious time as Dalton held my hand while he watched through a tiny window the team’s work. We both rejoiced when he told me it looked like the team was smiling and still using their stethoscopes, two signs of continued life. I focused on singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” to myself as that has been a favorite song I’ve sung to Uriah throughout our pregnancy. I can’t tell you how happy I was when they emerged with a breathing boy moving him to the NICU.

Currently, he’s two floors below us — we love finding our way to his room (although it is hard not having him right in my arms!). The brain diagnoses are still standing (Lobar Holoprosencephaly and Hydrocephalus) as well as a few new discoveries (an esophagus that is closed off, his trachea has an extra opening, and a heart valve which hasn’t closed properly, although they believe it will as many children deal with this issue which heals naturally).

Your continued prayers are important to us! If all goes as planned, Uriah’s first surgery will be this Friday (it is to open his esophagus and close the channel in his trachea). This will be followed by an eventual brain surgery where they place the shunt to drain the fluid surrounding his brain. Please pray for our special, delightful man! We are so honored to be his parents and walk this road with him. He really is the best!

My favorite things so far involve staring into his incubator and looking at his lovely, brownish hair. I love watching his eyes open and talking to him softly through the glass. Also, his little butt-chin makes me smile and he has such beautiful skin color! And honestly, his head isn’t that big! By the way, he weighed 5.35 pounds and measured … I’ll have to ask the NICU team. Some things go over your head during a c-section! 😉

We’re already smitten! God is SO good in giving us this baby boy and we thank Him for walking us through this path!

Love from a new Momma,

Frannie

One Month Ago Today: Hospital Anniversary

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It’s amazing to think that one month ago yesterday I spent the morning frantically changing my outfits not sure which would be best for our day out and our appointment with our midwife. I knew this wasn’t going to be the traditional check-up; we had recently gotten news of Uriah having Hydrocephalus and my midwife (being the awesome lady that she is!) had asked to continue seeing me (free of charge!) so that she could keep up with my health and be a soundboard for bad days or questions (as we’d be moving my care to a specialist).

Dalton and I drove the 30 minutes and had a hundred questions answered and someone willing to listen to our concerns. What do we do with finances? Which hospital would have the most experience? How could I best prepare for a c-section? The list was a mile long and the 20+ years of experience Susan had definitely came through. We left her home feeling hopeful and glad; we can do this. We can do this.

It was date day which means all sorts of fun in our home. We visited several Mennonite-run stores gawking at the low prices and great variety. Lunch included handmade sandwiches and trail-mix. Dalton had never been to these stops before so that always make the adventure fun. Our last stop was a shop with gorgeous pumpkins of all sizes. We were in the check-out line with a bag of brown rice and a lump of blue cheese when I had to find the restroom.

In that tiny room my water broke. I wobbled out, stood by Dalton as he finished the transaction, mentioned that I think something weird happened, and smiled when he still remembered to ask the cashier for three pumpkins. Before we hopped in the car I picked out the most adorable dwarf pumpkins and Dalton found a large, blue-ish-green specimen he loved.

One month ago yesterday, my water broke. Today is the one month anniversary of our being in the hospital. Thirty-one days of monitoring, pokes and prods, and the ever impersonal, funny question, “Have you had a bowel movement today?”

One month of unknowns, new diagnosis’, nurses, doctors, and getting to know the staff who bring me my meals and clean our room with smiling faces. One month of being more social than I have been in my life, feeling more loved by friends and family than I ever knew, and getting dressed earlier in the morning (quick, put the bra on before the nurses arrive!) than I knew routinely possible. (In normal life I get dressed after Dalton heads to work … at 9 am.) 😉

And we have been so blessed.

Since my water broke God has graciously given Uriah 32 more days to grow, thrive, and develop in my womb. Plus, with no major contractions, it looks like He may be giving us more!

Since my water broke we’ve had countless cards, goody baskets, surprise packages, promises of prayer, and financial support pour through the mail system and into our little room.

Since my water broke I’ve connected with families who have experience with Hydrocephalus and Holoprosensephaly. Amazing families who love their children without conditions or questions. People who give me hope and let me know that children with special needs are still children and worthy of every ounce of love we can give. People with children who defy doctor’s prognosis’ and expectations.

Since my water broke I’ve lived in two different hospital rooms; one for labor and delivery and the other for maternity. I’ve met so many people. Dr. Mohammed, Letensie from Eritrea, Africa, and Rita from India. Not to mention the nurses from more local areas. They all have a story to share; one had an arranged marriage which is 35 years strong and experience serving in her once war-torn country, one raises alpacas and rescues puppies she find on the street. Another invites me to the Christian church in Columbia when I’m able. Then there’s the sweetest housekeeper who raises horses and asks me questions about my Christian walk no one has ever asked before.

Since my water broke I’ve drank more water than ever before. In an hour I down 30 ounces or more. My complexion should be beaming before this is over! 😉

Since my water broke I’ve had more people see me in my jammies than I ever thought possible. But these are the people who stop by and pour their love on our family. These are the folk who take time out of their day to sit on an uncomfortable couch and ask about Uriah and his latest news.

Since my water broke Dalton has made this hospital his home. Our days have developed a routine. He heads to work early to beat the traffic and change into his uniform at home, works his 10 hour shift, drives home for a quick shower and picks up the mail and fresh laundry, then heads back to the hospital by 8 to 8:30. He pulls “Lawrence” close to my bed and we watch “Whose Line” reruns while we eat dinner. Then, he helps set up the monitoring equipment so we can hear Uriah’s heartbeat; most of the nurses are impressed with his ability to work the machinery and how much easier he makes their job. I’m just grateful because I like him snuggled so close to me. Afterwards, I get my heparin shot and we both fall asleep faster than I think possible for a bed rest patient and her easily-woken husband. He’s does this without complaint or grunt. Our weekends are full of quiet, relaxing times full of wheel chair rides outside, a special dinner, movies, and Minecraft.

Since my water broke I’ve gotten to lean closer to the Lord than ever before. Oh, I’ve had times where I’ve leaned into the Lord but there is something urgent, something necessary about drawing close to the Lord in the unknown. Since my water broke my God has taught me:

That He does, in fact, answer prayer. 

That His Word really can bring comfort and healing to the soul. 

That He is, indeed, very present. As in, He is in this room with me. 

That He cares about every need, the big and small, in our lives. 

That He does carry the pregnant woman and child like a Shepherd carries His sheep. 

That sometimes praising Him is the only way to defeat anxiety and fear. 

It’s been amazing how fast a month can pass by. When the doctor first recommended my staying here for 10 weeks I nearly choked. But time passes pleasantly, I am able to stay busy, and I’ve gotten the perfect time to bound with little Uriah before he even enters the world. Plus, this has taught me how to best be with people when I have nothing to offer them. And I’ve discovered, again, that my and Dalton’s marriage and friendship can run so much deeper; we just have to be purposeful.

Thank You, LORD, for this good month. Thank You for carrying us, like small, fragile sheep, through the wilderness. Thank You for being with us every step of the way. You are trustworthy, faithful, and full of mercy. “I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth will show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the LORD God …” (Ps. 71:14,16a)

God is so very good, my friends.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Thankfulness and Hospital Updates

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Today I am thankful for …

Day 25 of still not going into labor! My water broke 25 days ago at 24 weeks and, praise the LORD, Uriah is still safely within my womb at 27 weeks and 4 days. That leaves about 46 days until the doctors feel he would be grown enough to meet the world at 34 weeks; time is flying by!

A hospital room with a beautiful view; I can see the leaves changing and the sun rises on this side of the building.

Nurses and doctors who are both kind and professional.

Dalton Duncan … he is so much the best ever. He had a long, four-day weekend with me and every moment was a joy. We’re in the process of applications and he willingly went home and dug around in our files searching for every article necessary. He washed laundry so I’d have fresh jammies. He fluffs my pillows and makes my bed. Wheelchair rides with him are fun, special, sunshine filled moments. He surprised me with a (delicious!) cheese burger and order of cheese fries (which I’d been craving). He prays over me and talks to Uriah every day. I am so, SO blessed to have such a dedicated, loving man. Thank you, Lord, for my husband!

Uriah Lee Duncan … is also a real joy in our lives. Even though we haven’t met this little man we are so excited as we dream of his eventual birth. What color will his hair be? Will he be a quiet baby or a crier? How much time will he need to spend in the NICU? I dream of bringing him home, outside picnics, and watching him experience grass, snow, and summer heat for the first time. I’m excited that he will be with us for Christmas this year … even though he’ll be in the NICU (most likely) we three can celebrate our Savior’s birth together!  We both yearn for the day when we can take him home and introduce him to our cozy nest and begin finding a new normal of life with a baby; one day, we can take him on our weekly trip to Aldi. Maybe one day we can take him on a cruise.

And while we do not know the extent of his abilities or disabilities we are looking forward to watching him grow, helping him be all that he is meant to be. I’ll focus on stimulation, reading, and daily working in books and audio into his life. Dalton will focus on exercises, stretches and at-home physical therapies he may need to strengthen and relax his muscles. And together we will love, cherish, and enjoy this little boy, one day man, God so purposefully placed in our lives. He is the child we prayed for and we cannot wait to meet him.

Finally, I am thankful for how good God has been to us. Our entire pregnancy has been a bit abnormal but I’ve seen how God has carried us through every moment. I used to wonder why I experienced a misdiagnosed miscarriage and the scariness of bleeding/spotting early in our pregnancy; what purpose could God have had for those experiences? Now, I am thankful for it; the pain and sorrow of those times prepared me for the pain and sorrow and trauma of being told our son had brain abnormalities. I have experienced very little pain in my life; it’s mostly been sunshine, and rainbows, and beauty. So, the two weeks of a misdiagnosed miscarriage toughened (in a good way) the soft skin of my heart enough that discovering Uriah had Lobar HPE and Hydrocephalus wasn’t as difficult a blow as it could have been. At least I still had my son and God has a tremendous purpose for his life; nothing is an accident with the Lord, everything is planned and ordained.

There are countless other ways we have seen God walk with us during this time. Encouraging notes and gifts from family and friends. When I was first admitted to the hospital it was during Dalton’s weekend and he had an extra day off; a huge blessing during those first scary hours! My fluid is very low but I keep producing (some weeks I’m even higher than others!). I’ve been able to connect with real-life families who have children with Hydrocephalus and Holoprosensephaly (which is super helpful as Googling only presents the worst-case scenarios). Our applications for financial help have been processed and begun. And countless, countless other gifts make it known to us that we are not alone, not forgotten, and not misplaced.

God is so very, very good and we love Him.

What are you thankful for today? How have you seen God working in your life lately? Share in a comment below; I love hearing from you!   

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Scriptures for the High-Risk Pregnancy

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Across my medieval hospital desk I have index cards with various Scriptures written across them. I intended these to be read to me while I labored and birthed Uriah in our cozy home, with Dalton next to me, and a trusty midwife helping us along.

Now, the verses bring comfort in another way. My water has been ruptured for 19 days now and this is our 18th in the hospital (with 8 weeks to go, Lord willing!). There have been days when these verses were constantly being browsed over; during the first week especially I needed reminders of God’s goodness, control, and love.

Below are 5 verses which seem to always be finding their way from the plastic, gray drawer and across the fake wooden top of the desk. These are the top 5 verses I have found comfort in during our high-risk pregnancy.

“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defense.” Psalm 59:9

I love this verse; the whole chapter is of David spilling out his woes, fears, and impressions of his enemies, yet, in the end he determines that he will wait on God because He is his defense. Realistically, I don’t have enemies; I’m not being hunted by villains or persecuted by crooked family. But I do have enemies of the heart: fear, doubt, and faithlessness constantly harassing me. Simple, ordinary fears pummel high-risk pregnancy (fear of labor, fear of the unknown medical questions, fear of the worst case scenario). Because the strength of my enemies I will wait on You, LORD God, because You are my defense and so much stronger than the strongest foe I face. 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I know that 10 weeks of bed rest is the perfect time to bond with my little, rest, and prepare for the upcoming labor and life to follow. But it is so easy to let the days be consumed with the spirit of fear! I love that God has not only not given us fear but He has given us power, love, and a sound, controlled mind. As Christians, we can literally say to our mental minds, “Is this thought powered by fear? Because, if so, it is not of God and it no longer needs my attention.” We can confidently enjoy God’s gifts of power, love, and a sound mind; we don’t need to be a doormat to fear-filled thoughts.

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1 

I love this verse because it is simply so simple. The very first birth of the entire world was followed by words spoken by a woman who had never before experienced labor, never talked with a doctor, and never even heard the term “breech position.”

And at the end of her experience she said simply, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” By His kindness, by His great creativeness, by His power, and by His help, she received a man-child.

And guess what, sweet, preggo person? So have you. It’s the very same Lord Who walked with Adam and Eve, Who gave them a child, and Who helped her through labor that is giving you your child.

During my high-risk bed rest, labor and pain, and all the unknown days ahead I want to remember, “I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.”

“I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth will show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the LORD God: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. ” Psalm 71:14, 16

This has been one of my go-to verses from the moment we discovered Uriah may have health issues. And once I was admitted to the hospital for an early membrane rupture I again turned to this verse (I was actually repeating it to myself as we drove to the hospital).

Why? Because it gives me purpose. I will hope continually (as in I will keep on hoping when hope seems ridiculous). I will praise You more and more (because You Lord are worthy of praise even in what looks like our tragedy). I will speak of Your righteousness and salvation all day (because these are the only things worth speaking of and there are people in this hospital Who need to know you and the numbers of them are unknowable!). I will go (to bed when I feel restless, to the ultrasound when I don’t want to hear bad news, to get another heparin shot …) in the strength of the LORD. I will make mention of Your righteousness only (because it is this righteousness which makes our lives worth living).

See how deep, how real, and how applicable these words are? They’re life-giving and doable and beautiful.

“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Psalm 25:10

Finally, a last reminder of God’s amazing purpose and kindness in our perfectly imperfect pregnancy. From a human standpoint our pregnancy has looked riddled with “mistakes.” A misdiagnosed miscarriage, a 20 week diagnosis of Hydrocephalus, an early rupture at 24 weeks with a following discovery of Lobar Holoprosensephaly, topped with 10 weeks of hospitalized bed rest and countless unknowns until our little miracle makes his appearance.

From a human viewpoint, it looks bad.

But, sweet people, it is anything but. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth. All of them. From the moment Uriah Lee was conceived, fashioned in the image of God, and formed with the Creator’s own hands, his path has been covered with God’s mercy and truth.

This isn’t a mistake. This isn’t an oversight. This isn’t a punishment. This isn’t bad. This isn’t the end of the world. This isn’t something to change or even wish away.

This is a path God has given us and it is filled with mercy and truth. Every day is filled with His grace. Every moment I spend in the hospital is overflowing with His goodness. Every hour Uriah remains in my womb is a gift. And every day following his birth, whether hard or easy, healed or disabled, is full of mercy and truth and graciously given by God.

And it’s the same for you, preggo Momma. I don’t know what sort of pregnancy you’re experiencing. I’m not sure if you’ve been labeled high-risk or are experiencing some trauma.

But, God’s Word is true. And every path He lets His people walk … you can guarantee it’s covered with mercy and truth.

What Scriptures brought you comfort during a hard season of your life? Share with us below in the comments — I love hearing from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Hospital Adventure: Week 25 and a New Diagnosis

Join us for our hospital adventure with baby Uriah @ AuthenticVirtue.com Hello, sweet readers! I realized that I shared our latest hospital update with my Facebook friends but forgot you lovely souls. We met with the doctor on Monday and got a little more info on what they think is going on.

Uriah does still have Hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) pretty significantly but they think it has been caused by him having Lobar Holoprosencephaly (where his upper front brain didn’t divide as it should).

Now, the good thing is that the “Lobar” version is the most mild version of Holoprocsencephaly.

We will not know what the outcome will be because there are so many factors with both Hydrocephalus and the Lobar Holoprosencephaly. Many kids can develop normally, some have medium learning disabilities, and some can be far worse.

But the good news is that it they think it is the “Lobar” level (the mildest version) and his other organs look good.

So, some very possible things we will have to deal with are: intellectual and mental delays or disabilities, seizures, disabilities with his motor functions (muscle control and such), possible optic problems (his sight), and he will still need a shunt placed to drain the fluid.

But, even though those may sound bad, this was good for us to hear! It will be hard but we can work with Uriah on these issues. He may never be a “level 10” intellectually (or he totally could be!) but that doesn’t mean he has to be a “level 0.” We are both dedicated to helping him grow through these things even if they take much longer for him than for other kids. We can help him by being hands-on, getting him therapy, and working with his muscles.

At least we know that he has a good chance for survival and has the mildest form of the “Lobar” level.

Plus, its been 10 days since my water broke and no contractions or labor so I’m cleared for wheel chair rides, eating lunch in the cafeteria, and going outside. 🙂 The doctor feels I have a good chance of carrying Uriah to the 34 week mark (although things can always change especially if I were to get an infection). Dalton’s already wheeled me outside into the sun and around the cafeteria (he’s still the best).

That’s our latest news. To some people this could sound bad but we actually feel hopeful again. Thank you all for your love, prayers, and support. We SO appreciate you!

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie