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

Joy V. Happiness in Marriage, Pregnancy, and Daily Life

Joy v. happiness in an unknown pregnancy with a subchorionic hematoma with AuthenticVirtue.com

It’s happening again, the waters are rushing over our heads and I’m struggling to keep up. Being pregnant with our first has been one of the most delightful and trying experiences of our lives. Having a subchorionic hematoma is commonly low risk but tell that to the momma who’s bleeding, making ER trips, and being told the area her placenta needs to implant is filling with blood.

Then, suddenly, it doesn’t feel low risk any more.

But that’s the nature of a blood pocket in your womb. You never know what it’s up to, what it means, and what it could lead to. You simply wait. Monitoring helps (sometimes) unless you get news that it’s grown larger (as is my case). Then, waiting becomes more dreadful and more difficult to accept.

If you can tell life isn’t very happy right now but it is still very full of joy.

Dalton and I have been meaning to collaborate and write a post on the differences between joy and happiness. (As in I should have written it 5 months ago). But now is the perfect time to write because I’m experiencing it tenfold.

Happiness is temporary. It’s bliss. It’s me resting in bed on rainy afternoon with a cinnamon pecan candle burning in the light finishing a long book. Happiness is my husband bringing me dinner and then washing the dishes afterwards. Happiness is the fleeting feeling I experience after finding a good subchorionic hematoma story.

But happiness, however sweet and nice, eventually leaves.

And after the emotion leaves I’m still left with unanswered, scary questions. Will I have this baby? Will baby be hurt? When will I know? If I lose baby will I ever have more children?

Reality sinks in and the weight of it pushes the temporary feelings yummy candles, good meals, and a rainy afternoon brought.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22,23

This is where Jesus and my Heavenly Father changes things. This is where joy take over. God’s Word promises the fruit of the Spirit includes joy and that I as a Christian can have it. I cannot create this fruit; I can prohibit it but I cannot force it in my life. It’s God working in me. It’s similar to real life planting; I could place vile and damage the root system around an apple tree and expect its growth to be affected. But I could never actually create an apple — I can only enjoy that it was made, given, and satisfying.

That’s joy — it’s present in the lack of happiness. It’s God given. It’s there when I’m dreading our future; it’s present when it’s 3 am and I’m having blood drawn and being wheeled away from my husband to an ultrasound room by a tech who isn’t happy to be working.

When I’m not feeling happy joy remains.

I do get overwhelmed with the unknowns of our pregnancy. I get tempted to fall headlong into fear and the sickness of dread. Happiness sometimes eludes me. (Which is scary for a sunny-disposition person as myself).

But during those moments when the sickening questions fill my head I’m reminded of God’s promises,

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

If I lose baby God is still good. If I am in limbo from now until week 40 God’s thoughts toward me are still good. If I have to live with unknowns until I deliver this baby God’s ways are still for Dalton and I (and baby). If my next pregnancy resembles this one I am still in God’s vision and His plan is good.

And that is joy. God’s Word and promises are joy. God’s loving will is joy. Living life open-handed, as much as it hurts and as hard as it is, is joy.

Joy is peace, God’s presence, and the knowledge that despite the outcome of our lives God is still good.

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Don’t Dig Up in Doubt What You Planted in Faith: Coffee Series

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith with AuthenticVirtue.com

In life we’re given the choice to simply trust and obey or grow faithless and fearful.

In our current situation, I’m constantly challenged by fear. Every belly cramp, sign of blood, or internet search weakens my faith and I begin to dig up in doubt what I had planted in faith.

Last week was no different. My Beloved came home, exhausted from the previous night’s trip to the emergency room, the extra work he had done over the weekend, and being out-of-town. My normally calm and collected Dalton was stressed and worn out. And instead of  helping ease his weary heart I made it heavier through my nervous, worry-edged tone.

Even though we had just been to the doctor who informed us that baby was well, growing and the spotting/bleeding appeared to be low-risk, every hour of the day seemed grow my anxiety and fear. It’s like I need to be jellied up and sitting next to an ultrasound every moment of the day for me to have any peace and rest.

Friends, learn with me. Don’t dig up in doubt what you’ve planted in faith.

Life is full of unknowns.

Thankfully, we can know that God is good and kind and exceedingly present in our time of need. He is faithful to His children, their needs, and He hears their pleas.

Dalton reminded me that besides our false alarm miscarriage, our pregnancy has really been quite problem-free. Yes, I spot but so do a thousand other women who have healthy babies.

So, here’s to Fridays and learning to live life in faith. Here’s to less worry and more trusting and obeying.

What are you learning to let go and trust in? have you any advice or insight in how to conquer fear and anxiety? Let’s grow together and share our hearts! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie