Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Visit Home, A Celebration and really, REALLY BIG News!

Yes, this post contains possibly the biggest news we've ever gotten...but you'll have to wait until the end! :)

We had a wonderful few days visiting family back in Owensboro. We were able to visit with lots of family and get in lots of squeezes and hugs! Since Owen is have surgery on December 6 we will miss Thanksgiving with our families. In an effort to keep him nice and healthy before surgery, we won't be going home. :(

Here are some pictures from our visit. Owen's personality is coming out so much and is loving visiting with friends and family!

                                                                     Visiting with Nanny. :)
                                                Tummy Time with his BFF (and cousin) Axell!
                                                    Playtime is the best with Uncle Will!
                                                       The boys dressed out for UK. :)

In honor of Owen's 1 year Anniversary of his homecoming we took Owen to see his favorite friend, ELMO!!

Owen has fallen head over heels for that silly, furry, monster. Before I had kids, I never wanted to be a part of the whole "licensed character" thing. I just wasn't a fan of the T-Shirts and paraphernalia. BUT Daddy blessed Owen with a Rock n Roll Elmo while he was in the hospital and it was love at first sight. There was no going back....Owen was smitten! Now Owen will reach, grab, and cry to hold anything with that red critters picture on it. We have Elmo books, stuffed animals and PJ's. All in the name of love, right? :)

Well, Owen LOVED Elmo Live! We had very close seats and his eyes were GLUED to the stage. The show was quite long and I was impressed at how well Owen made it through the show. He got a bit wiggly after intermission, but then the characters started coming into the audience...and Owen went crazy! He LOVED touching and hugging them. He wasn't scared one bit. :)

 So we had one minor major meltdown....the confetti canons were WAY too loud for sensitive Owen!

Celebrating the year anniversary of Owen's homecoming warms my heart like no other. When I think back to our 3 1/2 months in the NICU, for the most part I think of happy, joyous moments. EVERYTHING is a big deal in the NICU and we celebrated every tiny, little accomplishment Owen had. And when I say "we" it wasn't just Michael and myself. It was our wonderful doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners. All of which fell deeply in love with our sweet boy and still remain in contact to check on his progress.

We are ever so grateful for the care Owen received in the NICU. Those first months were hard, but we made it through, gliding on the prayers of so many and being "trained" to care for our boy by some of the best in the nation. Our house is filled with laughter and giggles from a sweet miracle who is changing so many lives. A lot has changed in one year, but one thing remains: I continue to daily be in awe of the greatness of our God and the miracle that he performed before my eyes. I fall in love all over again every time I look at those big blue eyes. :)

Leaving the Hospital. November 15, 2010

                                                         First time sleeping in his own bed!

                                                       One year later and such a HAM! :)

Okay, so you've been patient thus far, so I guess I can share our *little* bit of new with you....


The day we have been waiting for has arrived. Michael's sister, Carrie has been approved for kidney donation! Carrie matches as well as a parent (in theory) would match, 3 out of 6. She has been through the initial testing, CT scan and physical and she received that long awaited phone call last week. We are SO blessed to have such a loving family, with many who were willing to give Owen a new life.

Words cannot describe how grateful we are to Carrie and her willingness to make a sacrifice for Owen's life. Donation is harder on the "normal" life. She is giving him the gift of life that he would never know, had it not been for her decision to be tested. Our hearts are overflowing with joy for her decision and we are forever grateful to her.

Having Owen has truly showed me the love of Jesus. I can say in confidence that if it would save Owen, I would give my life for him. It breaks my heart that I am unable to donate my kidney to Owen, I would have done it yesterday if possible. But praise God for His mighty plan. That before even Carrie was created, he specifically created her with a kidney that would be perfect for Owen.

Please be in prayer for Carrie and Owen. That the Lord is preparing Carrie's body for donation and that she will remain healthy and steadfast in her decision to donate to Owen. Pray that the Lord is preparing Owen's body to receive her kidney and that our doctors and family we be able to schedule the surgery quickly and the healing and recovery time will go smoothly.

Thank you for your prayers. Continue to pray for wisdom for our doctors, in decision making and scheduling the transplant in making sure Owen's body is completely healed after his upcoming surgery. Continue to pray that Owen will remain healthy until surgery and will heal quickly and be on the fast track to transplant. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Owen's Story

I was asked by a fellow NICU Mom to participate in a wonderful idea she has created to serve mothers caring for their babies in the NICU. Her idea is to create a journal to give to new moms in the NICU. The journal will have pages to fill out information about their baby and of course, blank pages to record their thoughts during their stay. However, she has also asked those who have had babies in the NICU to tell their story on paper. To give hope to those who may feel lost and overwhelmed. The stories will be placed throughout the journal for moms to read as they write their own story. Having a baby in the NICU is beyond stressful. As a mother, you feel it is your job to protect your new baby from sickness and harm, and the feeling of helplessness can quickly over take you.

Please visit Mommy's Notes on facebook for more information!

I am honored to share Owen's story and it is my prayer that his story will tell of the grace and mercy poured over us during a time when it would have been so easy to completely fall apart.

Owen's Story:

My family’s journey through the NICU started long before my son was born. Our story is one that is laced with fear and anxiety, but overwhelmingly covered in grace and mercy from a Savior who not only chose to perform a miracle in our son’s life, but forever change the lives of those who know Owen and hear his story.
                At 20 weeks gestation complications in the development of my son’s kidneys were found on a routine ultrasound. It was later discovered that there was a blockage in my son’s bladder which did not allow him to empty his bladder. This caused his bladder to become completely full, backing up into his kidneys and causing irreversible damage. Not only were my son’s bladder and kidneys at stake, his lung function was the main concern of our group of high risk doctors. When babies are developing, the “urine” they empty is actually the amniotic fluid that is essential for lung development. Babies actually swallow the amniotic fluid, which is crucial in the proper development of lungs.
                At 21 weeks gestation my husband and I made the decision to undergo a fetal surgery in hopes to allow Owen’s bladder to drain. A shunt was placed into his bladder and left kidney to allow them to drain. At this time, doctor’s hopes for Owen’s survival were very minimal. They made it clear they were not performing the surgery to save his kidneys, the damage had been done. They were doing the surgery to give him hope to develop lungs to sustain life outside the womb. As time went on, Owen would need yet another surgery at 27 weeks, and then would spend the rest of the pregnancy without any measurable amniotic fluid.
                At 28 weeks I was admitted to the hospital (1.5 hours from our home) for the remainder of my pregnancy. Since I had no measurable fluid there was a danger that Owen could compress his umbilical cord, stopping blood flow and oxygen to his body. So we were monitored 3-4 times daily to check his heart rate and twice weekly ultrasounds were performed to check umbilical cord flow. I will tell you that this was the most precious time of my pregnancy. During this time I spent time with the Lord and felt His presence more than ever in my life. He was covering not only me and my husband, and relinquishing our fears of the future, but holding our unborn son tightly in the palm of His hand. My journaling during this time is filled with hope and scriptures telling the many miracles performed by a God who delights in blessing His children.
                During my time in the hospital our doctors made it very clear that there was not much hope for Owen’s survival upon birth, should his lungs not be well developed. In their eyes we would be “lucky” to be able to work with his low functioning kidneys, barring that he had the capability to breathe on his own. Having lung issues was far worse than kidney problems. Little did our doctors know that The Great Physician was carefully and precisely knitting each and every cell in Owen’s body and it would be used to bring glory to His name, both trudging through valleys and soaring on mountain tops. We met with many members of the NICU team and toured the NICU at the Children’s Hospital nearby, where our son would be transferred after birth, should he need surgery.
                I went into labor on Thursday, August 5, 2011. I was exactly 34 weeks pregnant. Our doctors were convinced that the longer Owen stayed inside me, the better. So, countless efforts were done to stop my labor. By Friday afternoon I was feeling pretty good and thought Owen had decided to wait a bit longer. Then Saturday rolled in. After heavy contractions on and off all day, I finally asked the doctors to check me around 11pm that night.  It was time. Within 30 minutes I was prepped and ready for my C-Section delivery. I had memorized several verses of Scripture to recite during my delivery. One of these verses was 1 Samuel 12:16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!” I cannot tell you how power that verse was during that time, and continues to be as I raise my blessed son.
                As I waited to hear that anticipated first breath and cry from my son, all I heard was the deafening silence surrounding me. There was no breath. There was no cry. As my heart began to sink, the peace of the Lord covered me and lifted my weary soul from the pit I was quickly falling into. All of a sudden, I wasn’t scared. There was no need to fear. My son was created for a purpose. His kidneys are “broken” for a purpose. A purpose greater than I will ever know, but can bow in reverence to The King who carefully planned out Owen’s life and the legacy he continues to lead.
                Owen was placed on a ventilator to help him breathe immediately after birth. Doctors predicted Owen would be on the ventilator for about 3-4 days.  He was breathing completely on his own in about 12 hours. This was the first of many moments in which the hand of God was clearly revealed in Owen’s life. A perfect 5 lb. 14 oz. miracle was about to change our lives forever.
                In Owen’s first week of life here on earth he endured two major surgeries. One at 2 days old, the other at 5 days. Both surgeries were completed in efforts to help his body compensate for his failing kidneys. As time continued, Owen developed and thrived in the NICU. We were living in the Ronald McDonald House and my husband returned home periodically to pick up bills and check on the house.  Our lives were to some “turned upside down”. Our dogs were living with family, I had not returned to our house since June and there were no “close” plans to returning home. After 1 month of NICU life my husband had to return home, as he was finishing his 3rd year of medical school. This left me by myself caring for our son in the hospital. During this time I acquired a new family. Nurses that loved and cared for my son became like mothers or sisters to me. I leaned on them for support; I laughed with them and cried with them. It is my prayer that I exuded the light of Jesus in my suffering and in my hope during this time.
                Owen was in the NICU for exactly 100 days. I will never forget the day we were discharged. I can remember walking him around his bed to place him in his carseat and being so excited that I wasn’t tangled in cords. That I could walk wherever I pleased, while holding my son. My husband carefully packed our car and prepared to load his family whole in for the drive home. As I rode down the elevator with our beloved nurse tears streamed not only down my cheeks, but her’s as well. She was and remains my family. She loves my son and goes out of her way to visit him when we are at the hospital for checkups. It was a moment I will never forget and I am so blessed to have shared it with her. Her love for my son was clearly evident and I praise God for placing the knowledgeable, caring nurses in our lives.
                I can remember every minute of our first night at home- most likely because I didn’t sleep a wink. I was so in awe of the miracle sleeping before my eyes, in his own bed, in our house. Together, as a family, finally. Owen’s story isn’t over. Our road is still long, but we can praise God in knowing that He is paving the way before us. But we suffer and fear in the name of Jesus. We are brought to our knees in gratitude for a life that many doctors deemed impossible. Praise God for His plan and His sovereignty over Owen’s life.  My life has been forever changed by this gift of life. My time in the hospital preparing for Owen’s birth and the time spent caring for him in the NICU prepared me to be the mother Owen needs and deserves. NICU mothers are warriors. They have been through obstacles and endured more than many will endure in a lifetime. NICU mothers have strength to fight for the lives of their precious miracles and stand strong when their lives are raveling at the seams.
                I encourage you to use this journal. You may not see it now, but this time in your life is preparing you and molding you to be a stronger, more loving parent with a perspective on life that many do not have. Reading through my journals from our time in the hospital brings such encouragement to my life now. We have overcome what many thought would bring us down. Your baby needs you. Your baby needs to know you have hope. Your baby needs to feel your strength. Use this journal to pour your heart and soul into these blank pages. You have a new life in front of you. Essentially a “blank canvas”- how will you work on your masterpiece? You will get through this. And no matter what, it will be okay.
                It is my prayer that you seek the Lord and honor Him through this time. He will bless your suffering and bring you out of the pit. Your precious baby is safest in the arm of The One who carefully planned out the life before you. It is His plan that you take this journey. It is up to you to bring Him glory through your suffering.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
-Psalm 139:14
For a peek into our life outside the NICU please visit knowinowen.blogspot.com and enjoy updates on our bubbly, babbling boy!

                                                    Just look how far this miracle has come!