Distraction…

So believe it or not, while all the previous posted events were unfolding in our lives, we were actually on vacation at Jason’s family cottage on the beautiful shores of Lake Huron.  And far from ruining our vacation, we could even see God’s hands in arranging to have us up there as opposed to being at home while everything happened.  A beautiful distraction in the midst of a storm.

And looking back, it was a wonderful time, a chance for Jason and I to grow closer together and to just enjoy the four beautiful healthy children God has already given us.   And knowing that we have a rocky road ahead, with the crazy balancing act of caring for kids that we already have, while dealing with a child with a heart problem, we enjoyed the opportunity to make some memories and pour out some extra attention on them now.

Here is Erik waterskiing… he’s crossing the wake now and we’re so proud…

We don’t get to ski that often, Lake Huron is barely ever calm enough, but when it is, watch out, you can bet Jason will put a boat in the water quicker than you can  say ‘motorboat’.

Jason really wanted to teach William to ski this year, and he got up!  He didn’t stay up though, that whole instinctive pulling his arms into his chest was his down-fall each time, but at least he got out of the water thanks to grandpa coaching him…

Sarah is still content to just go tubing…

And Soph loves her boat rides…

This is one of our favourite parks…

Sophia opted to get her face painted one morning in town, our little butterfly…

Oh Sarah, our resident rascal…

Good thing I got a picture of Erik’s card-house before it fell…

The kids enjoyed some quality time together playing cards under the awning…

Sarah made some lunch for herself, with everything neatly laid out… all she’s missing is the banana for her wrap!

My brother and his wife and two girls stopped by one morning for breakfast one morning on their way through…  sweet little blondies…

And who can resist a baby… not Sarah!

A dad and his kids…

And a mom and her girls…

Thank you Lord for such a wonderful time together, a shelter from the storm and for the 4 healthy children you have already blessed us with!

Be Still….

Be still, and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10.

If you’ve read previous posts, you will know that our unborn baby has a critical heart condition, critical aortic stenosis, and  that we were able to go to Toronto where they did a procedure on her heart Aug 16th to open her aortic valve which was had been so small her heart couldn’t pump blood through it and we were rejoicing.

But things have taken a turn.   We went back to Toronto this past Friday – the 24th so see the cardiologist for a check-up and what he saw after the technician took 79 pictures of my baby’s heart had him disappointed.  Her valve is open, but crazily enough, it’s now too wide open.  Her poor weak and swollen left ventricle doesn’t have the strength to push the blood out to the rest of her body without the help of the valve and so blood is coming back in – ‘regurgitating’ they call it back into this left ventricle.  And this means it hasn’t been able to heal at all.   Thankfully they couldn’t see more damage then they saw before, but certainly didn’t see any improvement in it.    So we are sad.

But all is not lost!  An open aortic valve is still far better than a closed one and if that valve could shrink just a little to help stem the flow of back-ward blood,  her left ventricle may still have a chance at healing and as we all agreed, the procedure had just been a week before and we just need to give it more time.  More time and lots more prayer.

And this is where faith kicks in.  Faith in God when things just don’t seem to be right, in fact in human terms they seem to be going wrong.   Sure it’s easy to rejoice and trust in Him when things look promising and we are hopeful things will turn out the way we want them too,  but how about when faced with the possibility that things might turn out exact opposite of what we want?   What if this baby still will lose the left side of her heart and have to have a palliation of her heart done where they turn the right side of her heart into a duo-purpose pumping machine and I have to spend weeks with her in the hospital, perhaps months away from my other kids and miss Christmas and New Years?  Honestly that thought breaks my heart.

However, again, even though I’m sad, I still I have hope.  I know God can still heal her, and even if that takes surgery and months of healing, I’m still completely trusting Him.  I’m not broken, maybe somewhat bruised, but definitely not abandoned.  And the Bible is full of verses to comfort me, starting with being still and just knowing that God is God.   I think John Piper once said that the things God does may be confusing, but God himself is Not confusing,  I love it because it’s true.

And as Jason pointed out to me, maybe His whole plan here is not to heal her, it may be to do some greater work which we can’t see,  which would be amazing as well.  God doesn’t give us all the answers, nor does He let us see the whole picture, but He does offer peace and hope and strength.

Here is the passage I’m clinging to right now…  Isaiah 40 27-31…

Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  (emphasis mine)

Even as I read that I can smile (even with a few tears in my eyes).  I can’t question God,  He hasn’t forgotten me, and if I wait on Him,  He will renew my strength.   In fact if you really want me to cry quote a verse from earlier in the chapter, verse 11…

He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Wow, that can just make me cry like that! 🙂   He knows I’m extra vulnerable right now (and let’s be honest, more emotional) but praise the Lord,  He is gently leading me and what ever happens with our precious baby girl, God will never forsake us.  Amen.

I’ll keep you posted.

Alot to be thankful for…

Wow – so if you have read the previous post (which I recommend) you will see that my dear friend Christa has posted our most recent news – that our unborn baby has a serious heart condition called critical aortic stenosis. 

What a shock is just putting it lightly.

After 4 healthy babies to find out news like this was the last thing we expected.   I expected to have the same kind of pregnancy as always, straight-forward and uncomplicated.  But just like getting pregnant with this little one in the first place, God clearly has other plans for us.  And even though this road ahead seems rocky at best,  God has been our strength through this time, and to show you just how faithful He has been, I think I will show you a time-line of the events that transpired since we found out our news Tuesday morning.

Tues, Aug 14 – After making our way home from the hospital and being prayed for by a wonderful friend who is also a pastor at our church, we made our way back up to the cottage, bewildered and numb.  My mom had been staying with the kids while we were away and although it was nice to be reunited with our family, we knew we had some big decisions to make.   We called our contact from the cardiologist we had just seen to tell her we wanted to go talk with the cardiologist at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto to find out more about the procedure that could be done on the baby now.

Aug 15 – 9:00 am We receive a call telling us that the Cardiologist in Toronto – Dr. Jaeggi –  was very interested in seeing us, as he thought he could do something for our baby, and could we possibly come in that afternoon or the next morning to meet with him.  As we had to make arrangements we opted for the next morning and started making arrangements to leave that night.

Aug 16 – 8:00 am, we were waiting in Sick Kids hospital in Toronto for an echo-cardiogram
9:30 – Met with Dr. Jaeggi after the scan who is the head of the fetal cardiac program.  He explained the procedure, how they could go in now and do a balloon dilation on our baby’s aortic valve.  This would in theory open up that valve, which could then save her left ventricle, which was already showing signs of damage from trying to pump blood through a closed valve.   If her heart continued to be damaged, she would end up with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means she would be born with a non-functioning left side of her heart at birth – obviously NOT good.

10:00 am- With God’s peace flowing through us, we told him that we wanted to go ahead with it.  It was the baby’s best chance at saving her heart,  and even though the procedure comes with a high risk to her, we felt that if it were her time to go, that was in God’s hands not ours.  He was surprised that we had already made our decision,  and told us that the next step would be to go over to Mount Sinai hospital to go see the OB that was part of the procedure team.

10:30 am – We started waiting for the OB.   We waited and waited and waited…

12:15 pm –  Finally saw his nurse!  She wanted to do an ultra-sound to measure the baby’s weight to see how much anaesthetic she would need for the procedure, she told us she thought the procedure would be today – we were surprised, but still not really thinking it would happen that quickly as we had been told it might happen Friday or Saturday.   She explained that the  biggest concern was that the baby had to be in the exact right position for the procedure – and this was as the baby was doing flips and somersaults while she was trying to get her measurements.   And she also said they sometimes they had to wait hours for the baby to co-operate.  We started praying then that God would put his hands on this busy baby and position her correctly when the time came.   I had to stop eating and drinking and she told us we would be waiting again.

12:30 – 4:30 – Waited and waited and waited some more… we were very bored and very keyed up, not a good combination. 🙂

4:30 pm – Finally got called to see the OB!  Dr. Ryan who is the head of the fetal medicine unit at Mount Sinai – started the ultra-sound on me, right away said she was in the right position, and we should go ahead with the procedure now!   Praise the Lord!!!!   We sent out the word to pray that she would stay correctly positioned.

4:45 pm – People went into action like you have never seen, Jason went down and got me admitted, the anesthesiologist was called, the cardiologists from Sick Kids that help with the procedure were called over, nurses prepped, I changed into a hospital gown praying and praying that the baby wouldn’t move.

5:00 pm –   Dr. Ryan checked the baby again, was worried she was going to make a fool of him as she had moved, but we kept praying and trusting God and when I got on the bed in the procedure room and they checked me again, she was in a great spot and still asleep, or at least not doing flips… my IV went in and a sedative given, they prepped and talked and made final adjustments to her position by externally manipulating her, something they could easily do since my previous 4 children had made things nice and roomy. 🙂   God is good, He held her there, what an incredible answer to prayer.

5:24 – Jason left the room and they started – they punctured my belly with a needle and gave the baby her anaesthetic and pain killers and then started the procedure, going through my belly again with a needle that had a wire and balloon inside…. putting the wire into her aortic valve, inflating the balloon and drawing it back through so that her valve would open.

5:33 pm –  The procedure was done!  9 minutes!  Incredible, absolutely amazing!  The cardiologist did a scan and could see that the valve had indeed opened, God is so good!

10:30 pm – Jason and I were walking back to the hotel room, praising God and rejoicing that it had been done already, what incredible timing!!!   I had been given something so that I wouldn’t go into labour, but I had God’s perfect peace that the baby would be OK.

4:30 am – Woke up in the middle of the night and felt the baby moving again!  She had come out of her anaesthetic, how amazing and wonderful, she was still alive, praise God!

Friday, Aug 17 – 9:30 am – We met with another OB at Mt. Sinai for another ultra-sound and everything looked great.  The baby seemed fine, blood flow to her brain was normal, and best of all that valve was open and they could see blood flowing through it – something they hadn’t been able to see before.  Now we just had to start waiting to see if that left ventricle will heal and shrink like they hope it will.

11:15 am – We were on our way back home!  With such a sense of joy and peace that God had been so gracious to us,  had wrapped His loving arms around us and orchestrated everything so perfectly that even the OB that morning had said it had all been surprising that everything had come together so well.  Dr. Jaeggi was supposed to be on leave, but had come in that day for us.  Dr. Ryan did this after his shift was over and the nurses even stayed late for us.  God brought them all together for His plan and purpose and no matter what happens from here on in, I will never forget that incredible display of God’s mercy towards this baby and us.  

So now we are back up at the cottage, but this time we are able to relax and know that whatever comes next we have so much to be thankful for.   We will be going up to Toronto again on Friday, so please keep us in your prayers as we hope to see some progress with that ventricle showing that healing has begun.

We want to especially thank our friends and family for their support this past week through emails and texts, thank-you, your encouragement was wonderful…
Thanks to my mom for staying with the kid while we were in TO…
Thanks to Jason’s parents – his dad for making hotel arrangements for us and paying for them..
Thanks to our church family for praying without ceasing for us…
Thanks to our friends who stepped in to help my mom with the kids at the cottage…
And the dr’s and staff at both Sick Kids and Mount Sinai hospitals, who although they didn’t even know us, sprang into action to do what they could for this little unborn baby girl.

All we can say now is that GOD IS GOOD and even though our journey is just starting we know we can trust in Him completely!!!!

All the days ordained for me…

Lisa is going to be updating their story here in the next few days, but she asked if I could share my recent blog post chronicling how it began for them in the meantime.  

Love Christa

_________________________________________

Somewhere around 18 weeks ago, I stood on my back deck crying on the phone with one of my dearest friends as we celebrated and shared together in the shock and wonder that a new life was growing inside her. I remember us both agreeing that this sweet surprise was obviously God’s plan, and that He knew every one of her days and her purpose before we even knew of her existence.

And today, that same dear friend and I cried together on the phone repeating those words… that God had planned this little girl’s life, that her body was crafted by Him, without mistake, and that each of her days were planned and numbered before any came to be.

3 weeks ago Lisa Colley texted me following her 20 week ultrasound to tell me that she had fallen madly in love with her baby GIRL! The very next day the midwife contacted her to say they had seen something during that ultrasound, an abnormality with the baby’s heart, and could she please schedule a fetal echo-cardiogram. She did, and we began praying. One special friend even committed to fast a day each week in prayer for this new life.

Yesterday morning while I sat in the hospital waiting for my own little girl who was in surgery (for tonsils and adenoids), I received a text saying they had finished the ultrasound and were waiting for the results, but that the abnormality (a narrow valve coming off a ventricle) was definitely apparent- even to her and Jason (her husband). They were currently waiting to meet with the doctor to hear what the results meant.

It’s weird, as pessimistic as we all can be sometimes, and how easy it is to google the worst case scenario, you still somehow expect to never hear it. The worst case scenario is always for someone else. I know I expected to hear that upon closer inspection- the baby’s heart looked just fine! Or perhaps that they’d need to closely watch to make sure she would outgrow it, etc etc. But even though this is still kind of beyond comprehension, they heard instead, “let me show you a picture of a normal heart, and now let me show you what your little girl’s heart looks like…”

Critical Aortic Stenois.
In Lisa’s words,
“Our baby has Critical Aortic Stenois which means
that the valve coming off her left ventricle is way too narrow, and at birth
would not be able to allow enough oxygen-rich blood to pass through to
sustain her life.

So she will need some serious medical intervention, either now while she is
still in the womb, or immediately after she is born. There is also a
possibility her heart could fail her now or at anytime, so as you can
imagine Jason and I are feeling like we have been hit by a Mac truck.”

And yet despite this, Lisa and Jason are already looking for and sharing evidences of God’s grace. Acceptance of God’s control and His plan. A supernatural peace in knowing that all things are filtered through God’s hand and the comfort of His presence. I’m kind of totally in awe. So encouraged by them. And so thankful for them, their testimony and faith and God’s great grace.

Tomorrow morning at 8am they will meet with a surgeon in Toronto who will hopefully find Lisa and their baby girl to be a good candidate for surgery while she is still in the womb. If so, this surgery could be done as early as friday or saturday. The surgery is experimental and fairly new in Toronto, but holds the best chances for their daughter’s heart to grow healthy instead of to continue to damage itself further each day.

I’ll include an email below that explains a bit better (my brain is currently struggling to function after a night of little sleep with my little tonsillectomy patient), but I wanted to ask of anyone who reads this- to please please pray. And also, if you know Lisa and Jay and have their email address, please let them know you are praying. And if you want their address, email me and I will forward it to you. Let’s cover the Colley family over and over with our love and support and prayers.

Here’s the email sent out after one of our pastors met with them…

Hey All,

Just wanted to give you an update on Jason and Lisa Colley. I just got back from a pastoral visit at their house and its been a rough day for them – asking that you’d pray for them, and that we get them into our prayer channels. What a joy to pray with them today.

They were told today by the Pediatric Specialist at the Hospital that their baby girl (due date December 15) has pretty significant heart problems in the left ventricle. I won’t go into the details they were telling me about whats not working, but suffice it to say that its as serious as serious gets in the world of cardiac issues. What they are dealing with as of today from the medical community is that the baby could die at any time now up until the estimated delivery date; and that even if she makes it, she would be rushed into urgent heart surgery right away for a procedure that won’t actually fix it…more of a temporary intervention that could prolong the years and hopefully set her up for a heart transplant mid life. Its really quite overwhelming news to get. They have to make some decisions about seeing a specialist in Toronto who is working on an experimental procedure that would be done in the womb soon, but only has a 25% success rate.

Praise God that we have hope in Jesus Christ who has a sovereign plan for this girl, a plan that won’t be thwarted for any reason; a High Priest (Hebrews 4:14ff) who has called us to pray boldly and come to his Throne for mercy and grace in our time of need and who has called us to pray persistently (Luke 18:off). I am reminded of the fact that as parents we are stewards of these children for the Lord’s glory. So, just wanted you all aware so we can be an encouragement to them and be praying alongside them. Id encourage any of you to reach out to them over the next few weeks as the waiting gets hard.

Leo

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me were written
in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

I have energy but I don’t know where it is…

That could be my life story right now, but it wasn’t me who said it, it was Sophia.   I was remarking to her one evening that I didn’t have any energy and asked her if she did and she said she did, but didn’t know where it was.  And that’s probably the truth for her as  I would never call Sophia a rambunctious child.  Loud yes, bossy yes, but not an over-expender of energy like some other children in this house such as William.

So I’ve been asking myself a crazy question all week and it’s been this… why not sandbox?   Why isn’t sand sculpting part of the Olympics?  you see,  I’ve enjoyed watching the bits and pieces of the Olympics that I’ve managed to squeeze in.  And it seems that most of the sports are all just glorified things that we grew up doing in our backyards, such as trampoline, swimming, running etc.  But as far as I’m concerned there is a huge hole where sand sculpting should be.

I personally would love to tune in to see Canada in line for the gold in the final sculpting competition, who wouldn’t?  But I know, I know, it’s never going to happen, and I’m kinda dumb for even suggesting this,  especially when there is no real athletic ability involved in sand-sculpting.   Well except for stamina when completing an extra challenging sculpture, and then there is the strength needed to carry big pails of damp sand and then you need to be agile to reach and sculpt.   See, it could work.  And then there is the artistic element involved just like in synchronized swimming, which has is traveled leaps and bounds from girls swimming together in  a pool to costumes and lots of make-up, obviously there are stories that need to be told.

I just think I would enjoy watching it, that’s all.    And then I could say that these were my little athletes in training…

This is where they started in the morning, but by the afternoon it had progessed to this…

With a shoulder hug and everything.  Well on their way to gold in my books.    But if sand-sculpting is just another  Oylmpic dream that will never come true… a sport that will never rub shoulders with the likes of bike racing, fencing or beach volley-ball,  maybe a little friendly sidewalk chalk competition?

Well it’s a mute point in my book anyway, I’m still out looking for my energy.

Half way there…

So I am officially half way through this pregnancy!  Where is the time flying off too?   It feels like just yesterday I was taking that test and feeling shock waves through my entire body and now I’m realizing I’m half-way to meeting our new baby!

And God is very good because I’ve gone from being blown-away and perhaps slightly resentful about being pregnant again, to embracing this whole baby business and figuring out  that going back to the beginning isn’t going to be as crazy or as difficult as I always thought.

In fact, when I had my ultra-sound a week-and-a-half ago, and the technician showed me the baby on the screen –  I fell in love.

Completely and utterly.

And the technician was so kind to tell me that she figured I was at least 4 days ahead, which puts my due-date at December 15, which does seem just so much more manageable to me than December 19th, being that much further away from Christmas and all.  But this has yet to be confirmed by my midwife, but it makes sense in many ways to me.

Too bad bending over is already becoming an issue for me.  Good thing I have four little people here who have no qualms or difficulties with bending over.   And really, when I stop to think about it, most of the stuff I’m bending over to get actually belongs to one of these little people so they should be the ones picking this stuff up.   So really,  I think I just might be able to make it through the next 5 months with ease.  That is if I can continue to wear flip-flops right into December.

And when I’m pregnant I’m always drawn to Psalm 139 in the Bible, where King David talks about how God has searched us and He knows us.  And then he goes on to say…

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

God made me.  God made this baby.  God choose me to have this baby and be its mother.  It’s being knitted together by God and I’m so grateful and so happy that I’m already half-way there!