Thursday, September 30, 2010

a little bit of good, a little bit of bad

Good:  muscle tone is improving and much closer to normal.  We still need to keep an eye on it, and James will still have to do physical therapy, but his daily examinations and his physical therapist think he's doing better.  Please continue to pray for normal muscle tone.

Bad:  Today he had a cookie swallow, which means they x-ray-filmed him taking bottles with different thicknesses of milk.  He did best with the milk that is as think as honey, but he still aspirated on it.  They are going to continue with the feeding tube (now in his nose) through the weekend and will do another cookie swallow on Monday or Tuesday.  This gives us 3 good days to pray for this specific intention:
- James needs to take 30 ml of the honey-thick milk with no aspirations at the next cookie swallow, with continued success, so his feeding therapist will okay him having a bottle.  This will put us on the path that leads to him at home without a feeding tube.  It also leads to normal eating for the rest of his life. 
This will be another mini miracle as the feeding therapist said it was one of the more severe cookie swallows she has seen.

Clarification:  I don't know if I misunderstood this on purpose or accident - if that even makes sense! - but when James' doctor told me about the pathology report on the placenta she said there was "one true knot" and then said something about the midwife putting it there.  So I believed that my midwife had tied off the cord.  But I asked my midwife and learned that she did not tie off the cord, meaning the knot happened naturally, in the womb, and is probably the reason James had the trouble he did.

Scary thing I learned today:  Jenny, our nurse friend who attended the birth, told me today that as soon as James was born she was worried.  She said, "the only other time I've seen a baby that color was when I was carrying one to the morgue."  Oh Lord God!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Special Needs

I originally wrote this post in June of 2007, when I was working in the Admissions Office of my alma mater.  I've been thinking about the men in this post a great deal since James' birth.  I've been thinking about my conclusion, too.

Here at the college we have a program where our deposited kids come to enroll in their fall classes.


Earlier one of my deposited students, S, came with her parents and autistic brother. At lunch I went over to S's table and introduced myself to her parents and chatted with her. I didn't say anything to her brother, nor did I ask about him. Later, I was talking with S and her brother was right at her side. However I never shook his hand or asked his name. I never acknowledged that he was there. I didn't really realize I had done this - basically ignored his presence - until I was reflecting on it later. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't do anything. (I would have with any other sibling.) But, frankly, I was a little afraid to.

Then I had another family come, this one for an individual visit where I would need to walk them around so the girl, M, could get enrolled, etc. She too has an autistic brother and I vowed that I would not ignore him the way I had S's brother. I found myself waiting with M's brother often as M took care of business. At one point we waited for 50 minutes and M's brother talked to me the whole time.

It was exhausting. He changed topics in a snap and spoke with great detail about helicopters, politicians and dates. I knew little of what he was talking about but I tried to follow despite his slurred speech and the speed at which he spoke. He had incredible energy, a loud voice and got closer and closer to me as he talked. He stared at my chest the whole time. By the time I was done walking them around I was so drained and overwhelmed I almost broke down when I got back to the office.

Both of these experiences have left me wondering about the families of those with autistic children. A Catholic man I studied under once said that having an autistic son has made everyone in his family better people, he is a better father, his wife a better mother and his other children better siblings, but that he would never wish it upon anyone.

I was drained after 2.5 hours with one and overlooked another. I have often thought that I am not a strong enough woman to handle having a special needs child, but after these encounters I wonder if anyone really is when it happens to them. You either get strong or die trying.

EEG results

Yesterday morning James had his third EEG.  The results came today, and the nurse practitioner said they were "quite abnormal."  This is a bit of a blow for Trav and I.
Travis called James' doctor and was told that the results weren't what she had hoped they would be, but there is still no way to say what the outcome will be.

This afternoon Lydia was talking about the Holy Hour last night.  "We drew pictures in the pew for Baby James.  He's my brother.  We healed him, didn't we?"  I guess that's faith like a child, huh?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

an apostle for the Lord

Our friend, Jenny, told us early on that James is an apostle of the Lord. 

Several friends have told me that James is allowing them to serve and love.

Tonight there was a church filled with people, many of them children, all praying for a miracle for my son.  Little children, whose names and parents I barely know if I know at all, asking Jesus to heal Baby James.  They drew pictures and wrote notes and prayers, encouraging us. 
The mother of a childhood friend was there - I was amazed to see her and so, so honored that she came.
Distant relatives were there.
Friends of my mom's.
Close friends, old friends, moms I sorta know - they all came and prayed for my son.

People drop off meals, groceries, toilet paper, cards.
Every day in the mail we get cards with kind words and prayers. 
People I haven't spoken to in ten years are reaching out to us.
Atheists are asking their Christian friends to pray for James.
Someone came during the day today and mowed our lawn.
Someone took up our sidewalk chalk and wrote "Praying for James" amidst Lydia's pictures.

My friend reminded me recently of a song we used to sing.  One line says, "We are one Body, the Body of Christ, and we do not stand alone."

My little apostle, with his feeding tube, his tremors, his brain damage, my little apostle has been the vehicle through which that lyric became more than a cutsie warm fuzzy.  James' 12 days of life have shown us that we do not stand alone, that we are part of this huge, caring community.  He has shown us that people want to believe, that they want to give of themselves, they want to put others first, they want to pray, they want to teach their kids to pray, they want to hope.

I think James has made parents thank God for their healthy children.  I think James has made some people pray more than they ever have before.  I think James has shown people that God is still in our midst, still working in our lives.  I think James has made people's jaws drop and heads shake in disbelief as they hear of the miracles that have already happened in his life.  I think my little apostle has predisposed people to God and allowed them to open themselves up to His grace.

I will never be able to express how grateful I am to you and to the Lord.  As hard as this is and has been, it is surely an honor to be here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

this is how we're doing

Travis:  He's doing okay.  He's got work (high school physics and chemistry), a masters class, bills to pay, a lawn to mow, a wife to tend to, James to visit, and Lydia and Bennet to love on.  It's a lot for any man to handle but I think he's doing a good job.  I think he was greatly recharged by a Friday night with his dad and a Saturday fishing with his brother.  People keep telling me that my husband is worth his weight in gold.  I already knew that, but it's wonderful to hear others speak so well of him.  He's an outstanding man and I wouldn't want to go through my life with anyone else.  Especially this part.

Bennet:  He's doing okay.  He has no idea I had a baby, he just knows that I'm gone a lot more.  He misses me and it was really hard on him when I couldn't pick him up for a week.  Finally, late last week I put him to bed for the first time in awhile.  He was so tired, but after he finished his bottle all he did was look at me, with his hands behind his head while he giggled and smiled.  He was so happy to be in my arms again, listening to me pray and tell him how much I love him.  Now that most of our mornings and nights are back to normal he seems to be a happier boy.  Oh!  I should also say that he grew a ton in the last two weeks and he has a bunch of teeth that are ready to pop through.  And he is so. cute!

Lydia:  She's doing a lot better than she was.  It's hard on both the kids to have Trav and I come and go to the hospital so much, but it's even harder on her.  Lydia doesn't understand why she can't go to the hospital (she's not allowed in the NICU), but she desperately wants to come with us.  She'll talk about when I was "sick" - right after James was born - and she'll ask if I'm all better now.  She'll ask about James, though I don't know if she really gets that she has another brother.  More than anything she is helpful.  She would help me to the bathroom when I was too weak to walk after L&D.  She would even help me get dressed like she saw her Grandma do the couple days after James' birth.  And she loves to help me pump.  "Can I help you?  Look, it's coming out!  It's filling up!  Is that for baby James?  I love your milk."  Maybe I just weirded you out, but I think it's incredibly cute.

Me:  I'm tired.  Pumping is going well.  My body is healing very well.  I sway back and forth between worry and blind hope.  If it's silent long enough I find myself apologizing to James, either in person or in my head, damned by the thought, "What did I do to my son?"  I keep thinking about the passage, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," and I wonder how who James was will compare to who James will be.  I remind myself that God clearly wanted us to have James and that we have no idea why his heart stopped beating.  I wonder if this is all part of God's will - the stillborn birth, the 61 minutes, all the damage, all the healing, all the praying, and all the unanswered questions.  I constantly pray to God to heal my son.  I wonder what the nurses say about me.  I eat a lot, not because I'm hungry, but because it's something to do that's normal.  I wonder if I'll be fat forever.  I wonder if we'll have more kids.  I wonder how Lydia and Bennet will be around their brother when he finally comes home.  I wonder if James will even like it at home.  I wonder if I'll be tired forever.  I'm tired.

James:  Nothing new to report.  In many ways he's doing very well.  The attempt to feed him with a bottle did not go well.  Will you please pray that when they try tomorrow it will?  His suck is pretty good, but his gag reflex isn't great and so milk goes into his lungs instead of his tummy.  His doctor said that he's made so many improvements in the last 7 days that it's okay for him to rest and take some things slow, but I'd like him to come home in 2 weeks on a bottle, not with a feeding tube surgically placed into his stomach. 

In 3 days he'll be done with his antibiotics, which means the iv into his groin comes out, which means I will finally get to do some Kangaroo Care.  Skin to skin contact between mother and baby is so important and I hope it helps him heal. 

His muscle tone is still not good.  Please pray for normal muscle tone.

Lastly, we met with the developmental pediatrician today.  He was also concerned about the feedings and muscle tone.  He wasn't able to tell us anything with certainty, besides that there was brain damage and James is at risk for disabilities.  How deep is the damage?  We don't know yet.  Will James have cerebral palsy?  Maybe.  Will it be mild or severe?  We don't know yet.  Will his body function normally and let him run, walk, dance, and play normally?  We don't know yet.  Will he be severely mentally retarded or just have ADD or nothing at all or something in between?  Yes, it will be one of those things, but which we just don't know yet.  The good news is we still have reason to hope.  The bad news is we could still get the absolute worst.  Please pray that God will heal James' brain.

Please pray for all of us.

Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Family Holy Hour for James Fulton

I was amazed to open my email last night to find a message about a Holy Hour that has been planned for my son.  Travis, Lydia, Bennet, James, and I would all be honored if you could come.

"Let the Children Come to Me" Holy Hour for James
Tuesday, September 28th
6-7 pm
St. Mary's Catholic Church, Metamora

The Holy Hour is aimed for families so please bring your kids.  I know that many of my friends have gotten their children, parents, and other friends and family members to pray for my son.  Please invite them all to come and spend a little time - as much as can be spared - before Christ, begging for my son's healing.

Of course, if you cannot be there I ask that you help us storm Heaven from 6-7pm central time.  And also remember to ask for Archbishop Sheen to intercede for us.

I've copied the email below if you'd like to read it.  Thank you again for all your love, support, and prayers!  We thank God for you!

...  Sweet baby James needs his brain to be healed. And as so often mentioned by Christ in the Bible, it's faith that is necessary for miracles to occur. So this is where you come in.


Your children (and you of course) are invited to join us in a "Let the Children Come to Me" Holy Hour for Baby James.  You see, the older I get, the more convinced I am that the greatest in the kingdom are truly kids!! They have an amazingly simple faith.....they simply believe. And right now James and his family need their faith. Yes, our faith is good....but right now James needs exceptional and our kid's are exceptional. Please help me in packing St. Mary's with your kids.....babies, toddlers, school-aged kids and teenagers are all encouraged to come sit at the feet of Christ with me as we insist with 'holy boldness' that God heal James fully and completely, once and for all. Please sacrifice bedtimes, routines, homework, dinner, busy schedules and join us as we show God that together we have the faith to move this mountain for Bonnie and Travis and James. Below are the details....


"Let the Children Come to Me" Holy Hour for Baby James Engstrom
Tuesday, Sept.28th
6 - 7pm at St. Mary's Church in Metamora


All children will be invited to sit up front on the floor with me at the 'feet' of Christ as we talk with Him about James. Please know that while maintaining a respectful time of prayer, your kids can be kids. God knows better than anyone what kids are truly like and He told the apostles not to stop them from coming to Him. I will be there to lead them in prayer, answering and asking questions, singing songs to Jesus with them. If you've never done anything like this before, please do it now....for Sweet Baby James!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

MRI results are in


Look at this beautiful boy. 

 Today they took his cannula (that's the oxygen in the nose thingy) off of him.  Really he took it off himself, pulling it down and breathing perfectly well all on his own.  This is a big change for a boy - and his parents - who we thought might never breathe on his own.

Every time I write, speak or think a sentence like that I follow it with "praised by Jesus Christ."  Seriously.

His breathing is kinda shallow and funky, though, which is one part newborn + one part trauma.  God has answered our prayers time and time again, let's keep asking that the breathing gets better.  :)

Other promising news:  He's been doing a great job with oral therapy and is a great sucker!  Yay!  Also, he is doing really well with his feeding schedule and digesting my milk.  Yay!  And his gag reflex is getting stronger and more consistent!  They are even going to introduce a bottle to see how he does with it.  And very soon (like tomorrow maybe) we will get to start doing non-nutritive sucking after I pump.  His eyes are responsive, too, and all this combined means his brain stem is probably in good shape.  Yay!  Yay!  Yay!  Please pray for continued success in feedings.

His muscle tone, though, is still not in good shape and it's looking like a possibility for cerebral palsy.  Please pray for normal muscle tone. 

I don't know if I told you this already, but the hospital found the blood cultures taken in the ED.  They came back negative.  We also have the results from pathology on the placenta:  everything was normal and healthy.  We still don't know why James' heart stopped beating.

And now, the results from the MRI.  There were signs of "subtle changes caused by probably low blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain."  Our doctor was expecting worse results and was pretty pleased with these.  We will have to wait for James' brain to develop to know how those "subtle changes" will affect his life.  Or we will just have to pray them away.  The human brain is an amazing thing and it is within God's power to heal these changes or have the brain compensate for them.  If it be God's will...

So to reiterate:
Please pray for
- normal muscle tone
- normal breathing
- continued success in feedings (this includes good gag, sucking, tolerance of breast milk)
- healing of James' brain

Friday, September 24, 2010

Generosity



At times Travis and I feel completely overwhelmed by the circumstances we are now in.

However, we are also overwhelmed by the amazing generoustiy of friends, family, and strangers. People all over the world are praying for my son. I keep hearing about churches who have us on their prayer chains, Newman Centers who are offering Holy Hours, Bible Study and Mom Groups who are lifting us up before the Lord. It too is overwhelming. But instead of making me feel like I am drowning I feel like I am being carried along. Such a small act of love has such huge results.

We have also been deeply touched by people who have given to us: meals, groceries, gas cards, money, gift cards, babysitting, cleaning. We will never be able to repay such thoughtfulness, though I know that is not why these things are offered and given.

I was asked to put the link to sign up for dinners on the blog. It's on the top of the column on the right. You may have already noticed that the prayer for Archbishop Sheen's intercession and a miraculous healing of James is on the top left. Please join my family in praying that prayer every day, throughout the day.

I know my words are small, but THANK YOU!

Generousity

At times Travis and I feel completely overwhelmed by the circumstances we are now in.  However, we are also overwhelmed by the amazing generoustiy of friends, family, and near strangers.  People all over the world are praying for me son.  I keep hearing about churches who have us on their prayer chains, Newman Centers who are offering Holy Hours, Bible Study and Mom Groups who are lifting us up before the Lord.  It too is overwhelming.  But instead of making me feel like I am drowning I feel like I am being carried along.  Such a small act of love

Thursday, September 23, 2010

EEG

I don't even know what those damn letters stand for, but so much of our family's life is hanging on them. 

The EEG measures brain waves, brain activity.

James' first EEG came back with little activity, barely any.  This was to be expected since he was on the cooling pad.

We got the results from the second, post cooling pad EEG today.  There was some activity.

Normally, the more time between the initial injury and the EEGs the more brain activity there is in a baby.  However, we have just as good of a chance that the next EEG (to be done Tuesday or Wednesday) will stay the same - only some activity - as we do that it will improve. 

An MRI will also be done in the next week or so.  This will show how deep the brain damage is.

Because they have taken him off the pain medicine we now know that his muscle tone is very poor and his brain cannot control his muscles the way a normal 1 week old's can.  We also know that his pupils only dilate sometimes.  We also know that his gag reflex is inconsistent. 

I ask you to beg God to heal James' brain damage and restore him to full health.

You've been praying hard for 7 days and we are very grateful.  Let us put our hope in the Lord.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


James on Saturday.  He's carrying about 2lbs of water weight.
A picture Lydia made for her baby brother.
What Bennet did while Lydia made James' picture.  :)
Last look at James with the ventilator tube.
Practically wireless!
Surprise visit from Fr. H.
Getting to hold him for the first time since he was born.
It was awesome.
Really, really awesome.

Today brought some really great events and some potentially scary news. 

The great event, of course, is that I got to hold James!  I have been craving this since they took him out of my arms to begin chest compressions and mouth to mouth Thursday morning.  He was finally stable enough and without enough wires for me to hold him.  It felt so good to have him in my arms, comforting him and loving on him.  I am so grateful to the staff who made it happen, and for God who has healed him so quickly that I only had to wait 6 days.

Please continue to pray for James' breathing.  He's still off the ventilator, but they've had to turn up the oxygen and they are keeping an eye on it.

The worst part, though, is that his gag reflex is inconsistent and the doctors are a bit concerned.  Sometimes James gag when he should and sometimes he doesn't.  This might just be because of the pain medicine he is on.  However, this might be because his brain stem was damaged.  The brain stem is what controls our most basic functions and if that is damaged... well... it could mean the worse of a lot of things.

I continue to have hope that his brain damage is very limited simply because the body protects the brain and heart over every other organ, yet every other organ is doing very, very well. 

I also have hope that God will miraculously save my son and spare him any brain damage.  I believe my God is mighty to save, and that He will answer a persistent pray-er.  I have been told that there are thousands of people praying for my son, and it seems to be true.  Around the country and around the world there are people who are petitioning God on James' behalf. 

God's Will will be done, and I can rest peacefully in that, and I will look to His Face with trust and courage.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yesss-uh!

Today James pooped a ton, he peed a ton.  His catheter came out.  His ventilator was replaced by a nasal canulla (breathing tube in nose).  The line into his umbillical cord / artery came out.  His blood pressure is good.  His kidney levels were slightly high, but still rather good.

Prayers are still needed for his healing, especially that the Lord will spare him any brain damage.  We also need prayers that there will be no regression in the progress he has made.

But most importantly, the prayer request I make tonight is that you
PRAISE GOD!

The Lord has been good to us and to James.  Praised be Jesus Christ!

Monday, September 20, 2010

shockingly good news

Today we pieced something together.

The nurse we had yesterday, the one who said unpleasant words like "blind," "feeding tube" and "can't go home", well we think she's not a very big fan of home births.  And we think she gave us every possible worse outcome as some form of punishment. 

Because today James' doctor and multiple nurses all had wonderful things to say.  They said things like:
- he's greatly improved since they saw him on Friday.
- that his right leg, which many NICU staffers thought he would lose partially or totally (we were shocked to learn this), his right leg has healed in a way that is very "impressive."
- that they were pleased with his progress.
- that all his organs (skin, liver, kidneys, heart, lungs) were working well.
- that he was mostly breathing above the ventilator and may be off it in 24 hours.
- that his catheter may come out tonight because his kidneys are working so well.
- that his pulmonary hypertension is healing like it would in any normal, healthy baby.
- that they will begin weaning him off the blood pressure medicine.
- that the issues with his eyes were most likely caused by his medicine

Of course we still don't know about his brain, but Tuesday or Wednesday they will be doing an EEG (some kind of brain testy thing) and then later they will do a MRI.  Once that data has been collected we'll have a better idea of what's to be expected with his development.  And of course, there is still reason to be hopeful that the brain will "heal itself."  Since an infant's brain is still developing it is common for an undamaged area to do a task that a damaged area was supposed to do.

And then, of course, there is the miracle factor.  The Great Physician has already been healing my son in amazing ways.  Thanks be to God!

And thank you for praying!

St. James the Greater - pray for James!
St. Linus - pray for James!
Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen - pray for James!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

James enters the world

pushing
clueless
my God, how the empty bassinet makes me want to cry every time I'm in our room
4 hours old
being confirmed by Msgr. Bliss
James Fulton Linus
his right leg had a lot of tissue damage due to medication leaking. 
amazingly it has healed almost completely.

today was a hard day

I just returned from spending the afternoon at the hospital. 

This morning James peed out of his catheter, which is good, and his kidneys have maintained a healthy, steady rate of voiding.  There seems to be no problems with his heart or lungs. 

The warming up process is well underway.  He did have a seizure today so his anti-seizure medicine had to be upped again.  He had some blood in his mouth but we're not sure where it's coming from.  His eyes were wide open, until they increased is seizure med, and he was looking around and moving a lot more.  However, his pupils do not dilate, his eyes do not focus on anything, and when the nurse moved her hand close to his eyes he did not blink.  For me, his eyes made him seem so sick, and it seemed like a little dose of reality.  However, there is still room for hope since we don't know if they eyes mean he's blind, severely brain damaged, or just doped up.  That spectrum is just overwhelming.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Today, as we were leaving the hospital, a girl I went to school with my whole life, and haven't seen for 10 years showed up.  She was coming to drop off a card from her and her mom.  They gave us a gas card and a gift certificate to a local, awesome pizza place.  The manager at the restaurant went to high school with us and when she told him about James he donated the gift certificate she was trying to buy.  It's all so humbling and beautiful.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Quick Update

Thank you to everyone who has been praying with and for us!

We had a wonderful turn out for the holy hour and Mass - which were blown away by - and we are so humbled by all the other people around the midwest, nation and even world who were uniting their prayers with us this morning.  An extra benefit was being able to reverence a relic of the True Cross of Christ.  It was so beautiful, and we are so grateful to our friends Jenny W., the Carrs, and Fr. Nathan for organizing everything for us.

Also, I wanted to tell you to keep up the prayers!  James has been peeing like a madman and his heart and lungs are healing up exactly like they should.  His blood pressure has been wonderful!  The nurses were able to lower the amount of oxygen James is receiving - which is GREAT - and in 45 minutes this morning he peed 61ml when all we need him to do is 20 something.  (I'm not very good with all these numbers and science-y things, so I hope I got that right.)    He even pooped!

The next goals we have are #1 for him to pee out of his catheter, so that they can remove it with the knowledge that his kidneys will be working well and on their own.  This shows us that not only are his kidneys okay, but so is his heart, which is pumping the blood to the kidneys so they can do their thing.  #2 goal is for his median blood pressure to stay around 55.  #3 goal is for his lungs to continue to improve so he can be weaned off the ventilator.  #4 goal is to have no more seizure activity.

Lastly, early tomorrow morning they will begin to warm James back up.  We need this to go well.  Our hopes are that his organs, and especially his brain, will have been preserved while his body temp was lowered.  Please God that he does well with the warming!  When his temp is normal again we can begin doing MRI's to find out the extent of the brain damage.  At this point it could be anything from a learning disability to mental retardation to cerebral palsy.  However, because he is so young the brain can adapt and make new connections around the brain damage, allowing a "normal" life.

We continue to pray to the Great Physician for a miracle!  Please join us! 

Our little boy was without a pulse for 61 minutes.  It's a miracle he's alive.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Urgent Message!

This is very last minute, but we wanted to be sure you know that tomorrow, Saturday, September 18, there will be a special Holy Hour and Mass for our son, James Fulton, at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. The Holy Hour will be 10-11am with the Rosary at 10:30am. Mass will be celebrated at 11am, followed by a prayer asking for the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, for a miraculous healing of our son.

You are welcome to come and go as you need. Also, I realize that some of you are far away or have obligations tomorrow morning. For those of you who cannot be with us physically, I ask that you please remember James in prayer during 10-11:45am Central Time. Below is a copy of the prayer we'll be praying at the end of Mass, and who knows - maybe James' case will be the miracle needed for Archbishop Sheen to become a saint!

Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support. We are humbled and grateful.

God bless you,
Bonnie, Travis, Lydia, Bennet & James

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit. If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Fulton Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession that James Fulton's organs heal and function normally and that he is spared any brain damage. I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Update on James

First -
Thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers.  I've often heard people who have come through a crisis talk about being lifted up in prayer and how they could feel it and what a difference it makes.  I now know exactly what they mean by that.  It is truly awesome to hear of all the people who are lifting us up in prayer.  We thank God for you.

Second -
Some of you prayed for poop for Charity Blanchard.  Well, we need you to pray for pee for James Fulton.  Right now it is very important that his kidneys begin to function better.  Once that happens they can give him more "good stuff" including nutrients.  Specifically, because he's puffy, we need him to pee 5 ml per kilo per hour until he pulls through.  Then he'll need to pee 2 ml per kilo per hour.  I ask you to specifically pray for that.  Storm Heaven.

Third -
Pray that his pulminary hypertension is healed.  Basically, things in his heart and lungs need to seal up that haven't yet so that he can breathe better.  This is really important.

Fourth -
Once these two issues are cleared up the doctors and nurses can move on to treating other issues much more actively.  Also, once James' body is working normally in these areas he can focus more strength to healing everything else.

Fifth -
Our friend Lisa has offered to arrange for meals.  If you are interested in helping out please contact her.  Um, Lisa, can I have permission to post your email address on this blog - perhaps in the comment box?  Or how would you like to handle this?

Sixth -
Many people have offered babysitting services for Bennet and Lydia.  This would be really great - especially next week when my mother-in-law has to go back to work.  Thank you very much for offering this.

Seventh -
My post partum "weepy" time is about is hit.  Please pray for me throughout this hormonal shift.

Eight -
Our friend Jenny is trying to arrange a Holy Hour for James.  We will be praying for a miracle through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  Hopefully these arrangements can be made.  We'll keep you posted via this blog and f/b and email.

Nine -
I don't want to sound greedy, but many people have asked how they can help, beyond childcare and meals.  Other things that would be helpful are: 
-coming over for some light cleaning, bathroom sinks, sweeping, folding laundry
-gas cards to help with all the trips that happen between Peoria and Goodfield every day
-spreading the word about our son and asking for prayers - this is the most important!

Ten -
Visitors:  We appreciate and enjoy having visitors.  If you want to stop in please feel free.  Please know, though, that if you have any sign of sickness you cannot come into the NICU. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

James Fulton

After an 8 hour labor I gave birth to James Fulton at 1:48am on Thursday, September 16th - my younger brother's birthday.  James weighed 9lbs 12oz.  The labor was the best I've ever had.  My water broke while on a walk around the neighborhood with Travis - right in front of the AC church during their Wednesday night service.  My apologies!!!

James is a family name on my side, my bil's middle name, and one of my patron's - I was born on St. James the Greater's feast day.  Fulton, of course, is for the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

James, who did very well during the labor, was born without a heart beat.  After a few minutes of giving him oxygen and chest compressions, 911 was called.  Tavis also baptised him.  We are very grateful to the men and women EMTs and paramedics from Goodfield, Eureka and Congerville who came very quickly and transported James and I to the OSF.  We are also grateful to our friend Jenny W. who attended the birth as a photographer but pitched in as a former pediatrics nurse when things got hairy.  She also rode with Travis and James in the ambulance.

Fortunately, I did not need any stitches and my postpartum bleeding has been very light so I was able to go to the hospital and see my son very easily and quickly.

Another blessing was having Msgr Bliss, the hospital chaplain, and Fr. D, my spiritual director and former pastor, waiting for us at the hospital.  They arranged for James to be confirmed, we chose for him the name Linus.

Without going into all the details of what is, or might be wrong, with James I will say that he is in stable yet critical condition at the NICU at OSF.  At this point they are running tests, keeping him on a cooling pad to help with any possible brain and organ damage, and he is currently sedated.  We probably won't be able to hold him for 3-5 more days, which is incredibly difficult, as I'm sure you can imagine.

The rest of us are all doing fairly well, albeit tired, worried, and sore (me).

We would like to publicly thank our many friends who prayed for us throughout the labor and are praying right now.  Thank you also to Katie, our incomprable friend, who made us food, stayed with the kids while we were at the hospital, and helped me through afterbirth pains today.  Our moms have also been tremendous helpers and generous givers.  Thank you to my sister-in-law who also has helped with Lydia and Bennet.  We are so very, very blessed.

And now we ask that you will pray for our son.  Please pray through the intercession of St. James, St. Linus, and Archbishop Sheen.  If James comes through with no problems we will defintely attribute it to a miracle for our local saint. 

PLEASE PRAY!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My labor so far

I'll keep this pretty short and sweet - and I'm not gonna worry about grammar!!  So sorry for mistakes!

First, I started having some fairly mild contractions last night.  A couple woke me up and a couple I felt while tending to the other kiddos, but none of them hurt very much at all.  I have been hoping and praying for a good night's rest and then labor in the morning for this one, instead of laboring at night, so I was feeling pretty good when I woke up at 6:30, Bennet was still asleep, Lydia wanted to snuggle, and I was still sleepy and still having contractions.  I got to sleep in until 8am, enjoying one last morning of snuggling with my little girl before our family dynamics changed.  It was wonderful!

At 8:30 I called my mom and asked her to come over, saying I thought labor would be today.  But by the time she got to our house (9:30ish) my contractions were pretty few and far between.  Boo.

I scrubbed the bathtub and went for a walk.  I went upstairs and downstairs.  They eventuallty came back enough (thanks to an episode of Glee) for me to call Travis and my midwife. 

Mom took the kids for the evening, and when Trav and I got home we decided to go for a ride in the car.  The car ride was what did the trick.  The contractions are here, and they are longer, stronger and closer together.  For sure.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

preparation for big events

- homemade pizza with sausage and pepperoni  CHECK
- IBC rootbeer  CHECK
- Dr. Pepper  CHECK
- guacamole and chips  CHECK
- Reeces PB Cups  CHECK

We are ready for the first Bears game of the regular season


- clean hand and bath towels and washcloths, 4 of each  CHECK
- 2 flannel backed vinyl tablecloths  CHECK
- cleaned ice cream bucket  CHECK
- olive oil  CHECK
- hydrogen peroxide  CHECK
- clean sheets  CHECK
- 4 large gargabe bags  CHECK
- electric heating pad  CHECK
- sterile gloves  CHECK
- stopwatch  CHECK
- clean clothes and blankets  CHECK
- recipes marked in cookbooks  CHECK
- size 1 diapers  CHECK

We are ready for the home birth.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm still pregnant

And in other news, here's how Lydia prays the "Hail Mary" as she kneels on the steps:

Hail Mary, full of God,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed mumble mumble
Mumble LORD JESUS!
(repeat)


Okay, and now that I've posted this picture of Lydia and St. Therese I have to tell you this story. 

A few weeks ago she was holding St. Therese, cuddling with her and giving her a bottle.  Then she went into the playroom, the Little Flower in hand, and after a moment came back out alone, shutting the door behind her. 

"Shhhhh," she said to me, "St. Therese is sleeping." 

When we went into the playroom later there was St. Therese, napping in the pack and play.  :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bennet's 1st Birthday - the recap

Invitation, made with the help of Crafty Katie.
It got to a point, around 6 hours of shared labor and 35 cards, where I decided everyone else would get an email invite.  Not that I love those of you less!
To pull off the theme I served all the food the Very Hungry Caterpillar ate through.
I also printed off pictures from the book that I found online, adding text to go along with the menu.
This fruit salad consisted of the VHC's menu on Monday-Friday.
The salami, pickle, swiss cheese, sausage, and nice green leaves -
aka cilantro. 
I also threw in some marble cheddar cheese and crackers.
Cherry pie - made from scratch by my mom. 
(Isn't it beautiful?!)
The VHC ate through a cupcake - I made a funfetti cupcake caterpillar.  This was inspired by different cupcake caterpillars I found online.  The Skittles are supposed to mimic the colorful dots on the title page of the book.
Chocolate butterfly cake. 
Made by my wonderful mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It was soooo yummy!
Singing "Happy Birthday" while Lydia chomps on the lollipop.
Bennet did really well when all 60ish people sang to him.  :)
Friends from high school who came to celebrate. 
Friends from Newman who came to celebrate.
Friends from church who came to celebrate.
(this is not a good picture of me - bad angle - but look how pretty V and L are.  And L is having one heck of a good hair day!)
Friends from my Catholic mom group who came to celebrate.
We are really, really blessed by our great friends.
Beautiful weather meant people could hang out inside or outside.
Bennet and his birthday cupcake. 
Okay, really he found the cupcake, half eaten by a 2 year old friend, picked it up and ate it. 
Whatever.
The sign on the front door. 
Lydia helped me make it - she dispersed the glue, cut the grass, and colored where I had (4 times) specifically told her not to.  She went to time out for disobeying.
Opening presents didn't excite Bennet too much.  He ripped open about 4, and then there was a wave of little kids who wanted to help.  When this dinosaur was opened there was a collective gasp of awesomeness by all people under the age of 9.  Bennet then sat with his lovely godmother and played with the cool new toy.
My mom and my aunts.  I like these women.
The cake bakers.
(I have really great in-laws.  Seriously.  They rock.)

It was an a great day.  There were a lot of people, but it seemed to me that everyone had a good time.  There was enough food and drink, and plenty of helping hands for set-up and clean up. 

Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate my son's life!
We love you very much!

And thank God for the awesome weather!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

nesting + party prep

My mom and I have been working on getting the house ready for Bennet's big, upcoming birthday party.  But I also think that some of the work we've been doing is more about nesting for me than the party.  I mean, we've hosted events when our bed was in the living room...  the following has to be about the baby coming.

So here's what we've done:
#1 - kept a running list on the kitchen white board of all the things we need to do.  This is the second list, by the way.  We accomplished all the tasks that were first listed here.
Oh yeah, see the list on the left - that's the invite sheet. 
It's gonna be a packed house. 
 Good thing soda was on sale.


#2 - Mom stained and prettied up this old buffet.  It sat in their basement for years, beat up and covered in junk.  I love this thing because it a) makes our embarrassingly large tv look smaller b) holds and hides all our vhs tapes and dvds c) has drawers that are too hard for the kids to open - thus they are filled with all kinds of things I don't want them messing with, and a lot of junk that I don't want you to see.
 

#3 - We were able to move the all my books to the bookshelf, which once housed the movies.  Bennet and Lydia decided together to one day pull all the tapes out of the cardboard boxes and then smash the boxes.  Lydia was so proud.  But now it won't happen anymore, and believe it or not, they don't care so much about the books.
Don't we look so learned with all these books?  ;)


#4 - we rearranged the master bedroom (which still needs to be painted, I know - I hate all the white).  The black desk on the back right used to house the tv and looked like junk.  Now Trav and I have a place to work on things in private with our laptop when we need to get away from the kids.
We also moved the bassinet upstairs...  the baby is coommmming...!
(but not right now.  I am not in labor right now.  Just to clarify.)


#5 - This bookshelf used to be in the nursery / playroom on the first floor.  It is now in Lydia's bedroom, a move I hope will give her and Bennet things to do while we get up and ready in the morning.  I opted for mostly quiet toys and books to help with nap and bed times.  *fingers crossed*


#6 - We moved the entertainment center out of the dining room and into the nursery / playroom.  We took the glass door off the left side and housed the "fun" and educational books and toys here.  This is the best the entertainment center has looked in a looooong  time.


Possible #7.
This is the area of the dining room that used to house the entertainment center.  It now seems huge and empty.  Does anyone have suggestions for how to fill it?

God bless my mom for helping me with all this.  I wear out so easily now that I'm 38+ weeks along.  She's not only helped with this, but she's also helped with the kids and even taken them home so I can sleep better at night.  She's amazing and I'm so grateful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"the upcoming birth", or "I am so not ready for this"

One week and five days until the due date of my fourth child.

Have we been preparing for this? 

Heck no! 

We've been remodeling and rearranging a house.  We've been going  back to school.  Dealing with a teething almost one year old.  Cuddling with the most cuddle-craving two year old I've ever met.  Preparing for a birthday party.  Trying to nap, rest, just sit down!

Do I have my birthday cake picked out?  No.
Do we have names picked out?  No.
Do we have the homebirth supplies assembled?  No.
Do we have the bassinet set up?  Newborn clothes out of the basement?  Diapers purchased?
No.  No.  And no.

This kid better not come early.

But more than not being physically ready, I just don't feel ready.

I've been too busy with life to think about another person joining our family, and when I finally did, all I could think of was the labor and delivery.

I was not afraid going into Lydia's birth.  I felt confident in my body and its ability to do what it needed to do.  I also felt confident in my midwife and husband, and their abilities to comfort and support me through the labor. 
That labor lasted for 21 hours and included lots of back labor.

I was not afraid for Bennet's birth.  I knew what I had done for Lydia and felt like I could do it again.  I also was reassured by the general rule that second labors are shorter than first.  And I loved the care I was given by my midwife and her assistants during Lydia's birth.  I knew that being at home was a great option and I relished in the care, attention and comfort. 
That labor lasted for 17 hours.  Pushing was difficult and Bennet's shoulders were stuck after his head was born.

For the first time, I feel nervous about giving birth.  I'm a bit scared of another long labor and another big baby.  I feel worn out from being the mother of two small kids and when I picture hours of pain I don't know if I can do it.  The confidence I once felt in my body's ability to birth naturally - heck to just give birth! - has diminished.  I've forgotten how to trust my body.  When I think of an epidural (no pain!) I want to go straight to the hospital. 

I won't, though.  I won't go to the hospital.  Because the epidural - which isn't even a 100% guarantee of a painless birth - isn't enough to negate all the perks of a home birth.
Bernice as my midwife.
Not having to fight for what I want.
Being home, in my own bed, cuddling with my whole family.
Smelling my birthday cake as it bakes, knowing it's waiting for me.
No transitioning from home to hospital and back again.

I'm sure to those who have never given birth at home this list seems silly.  But I assure you they are not.  They are wonderful things.  Things that helped make my birthing experiences very good experiences.

But I'm still a little worried about this whole L&D thing. 

So do me a favor, would you please?  If you are a home (or natural) birther, remind me that I can do it.  Cheer me on.  And PLEASE pray for a labor that lasts ten hours - at most!