Monday, December 17, 2012

A Date on a Timeline....

Christmas gifts under 26+ trees that will never be opened.
The beds that are unmade and sheets that are wrinkled from embracing and warming tiny bodies night after night after....
The clothes in the washing machine and dryer.
Reminder calls from doctors and dentists for appointments that have been scheduled for months.
The plane tickets that were purchased weeks ago for a long-overdue Christmas vacation.
Dance classes. Basketball games. Piano lessons.
The dogs that wait by the door at the same time every afternoon.
All on my mind this morning....
As we come out of the fog of last Friday and the tragedy it will always be remembered for, our Facebook and Twitter feeds, the news, magazines, and general chit-chat remain saturated with prayer, speculation, well-wishes, questions, love for those who are close to us and for those who aren't, for family and for strangers, and tears... the news, magazines, FB, and Twitter will eventually find something new to discuss...
Friday, December 14, 2012 will become an event on a timeline.
Our children, many of them 5, 6, or 7 years old, will talk about December 14 for a few minutes in their high school History class. Our grown children will analyze the day's events in their college Psychology course.
Friday, December 14, 2012 will become a 'September 11, 2001' or an 'April 20, 1999' or 'April 19, 1995' or 'January 8, 2011' or 'April 16, 2007' or 'July 20, 2012'.
Do those dates stand out to you? Besides 9/11... do you remember the others?
They were devastating. I'm sure the majority of us remember where we were and what we were doing when Special Reports and show interruptions first aired. Now, they're all dates on a timeline. In History books. Adults remember them and our children will learn about them.
We learn to play the blame-game at an early age...
"He did it!"
"No! She did it!"
"But the other kids did it, too!"
And we never really grow out of it....
"I've asked you a million times and now look what happened!"

"If you had just listened!"

"I tried to warn you!"
We place blame for bad behavior.... but take credit for good.
We place blame for mistakes.... but take credit for our selflessness and good intention.
We administer blame for things we don't understand.... and boast about what we do.

And when disaster and tragedy strike and we are left confused and angry and scared we do what we learned to do at a young age...

We blame personality disorders....

Or medication....

Or insanity....

Or parents....

Or guns....

We feel the devastation of a tragedy like the one at Sandy Hook and once the devastation and shock start to fade, why must we find someone or something to blame when the answer to every question is clear... and has been clear since the very beginning of time...

Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned.
Romans 5:12


Nothing explains or excuses the choice a person makes when he or she takes lives.
Nothing will ever make that ok.
Nothing will ever ease the pain for those of us who are left behind... who have to live in the aftermath.

Whatever form it comes in is painful, but death is no surprise.

'Sin' feels like such an abstract concept to many of us but the truth is that sin is one of the most tangible concepts one can imagine...

we're surrounded by it.

Some sins are emotional and affect us from within.

And some are physical and affect the people and things around us.

But it's all sin.

What's our goal in this game we play?

Are we trying to understand something?

How will we ever understand what could push someone to do something so unthinkable?

Are we trying to fill the huge void that we're left with?

It can't be filled. It shouldn't be filled. Those sweet babies and their teachers deserve to keep the space they've left behind... we can't take it away.

Are we trying to prevent such tragedy, such an enormous loss of life from happening again?

Cars kill more people each year than handguns. We can't prevent death. While it's natural to want to try and prevent *this kind of death*, just like trying to prevent death from Cancer or anything else, arguing and blaming and pointing aren't the answers.

We have to stop.

We have to stop turning tragedy into conflict and a date.

We like to say that these tragedies bring us together ...

Do they? For how long? A few days? Because here today, 3 days later, all I see and hear is conflict and arguing and blaming when I turn on the TV, Internet, or radio...

Not unity.

Tragedy is inevitable and something like this will happen again... no matter what laws change or how medication is controlled.

It's a harsh reality.... one that brings us no comfort.

And maybe hearing it today, on December 17, 2012 stings more than it would have on December 13 but it's still our reality every day.

What CAN we do?

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace
Romans 6:8

We can decide that we will spend OUR time, the time we have left, teaching, speaking, and breathing HOPE.

Sin + Earth= Death
Sin + Hope= Heaven

It's a simple equation, really.

It won't prevent sin and it won't prevent death.

But it will save lives.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.
John 3:16

I wish we could rest in HOPE as a nation.... one that's grounded 'under God'.

It can be enough.

It is enough.

No more arguing.... no more blaming... no more questioning...

just hope.

Just taking comfort in the promise that, though sin is inevitable no matter how hard we try to prevent or diminish it, and death will come....

that there's still life to live...

and life to look forward to.

Turning tragedy into HOPE does not in any way symbolize 'moving on' or 'getting over it' but it does symbolize healing and understanding, which I believe are what we are desperately reaching for in our blame-game. Healing.

We can't change what happened....and we can argue about changing the laws and changing security and changing limitations... but nothing will change what's done.

I know that hurts.

Christ offers healing;

Whether one dies in a car, in a hospital, on a plane, at work, at school, or at point-blank range... or whether One dies hanging on a cross with nails and thorns through His flesh...

HOPE can result from death.

And without HOPE.... there is nothing.

I will choose to take comfort in knowing that while we lost precious lives in a horrible tragedy, that LIFE is the final result. And I will choose to pray for my children every day. I will pray for 20 parents... that they can find HOPE through Him... through God who is difficult to understand and is even hard to love, at times... but who holds their children, their lives, safely in His arms.

We will see death again... we will be surprised by it again... we will cry again... and argue again... and blame again...

And then we have to choose HOPE again.

Lives have been lost. Precious, innocent lives.

And lives can be saved...

through change? maybe

through new laws? maybe

through HOPE?


If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9


Choose HOPE. Hold your loved ones close. Grieve for the lives lost and the tremendous suffering left behind. Pray for our leaders as they try to make sense out of senselessness. Remember those precious children for what all children represent; innocence, trust, and purity. Don't turn December 14 into a dot on a timeline... turn it into HOPE.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Go to Hell. There's No Room for You Here...

Like my title?
Rough day.
I learn lessons every single day from our son. I learn them from Hannah, too.
Hunter has rocked my world.... he challenges me, makes me explore myself, pushes my limits, strengthens my faith, and never fails to make me smile.
In the 7 months since meeting Hunter, 'bad days' have a new meaning to me. No longer does flat hair, a broken nail, a stubbed toe, a sore throat, a dead battery, or getting up 30 minutes late cause me to pause. I don't have time, #1. #2, those things take a back seat (as in, the back of a full-size bus, seat) to the 'what if's' and 'maybe's' that 'could' creep up at a moments notice.
I imagine this is true for the parent of any preemie or special needs child.
And we've had some truly bad days.
BUT, our kids are home safe and sound with us tonight.... unlike the 16 year old girl who went missing just 2 miles away from us on Sunday night :-(
Our kids are HOME.... and not in critical condition or living out their last few days in the hospital or on hospice :-(
Our family is whole and not divided by distance, emotion, or circumstance.
So a 'bad day' isn't really all that bad.
Today wasn't all that bad. Actually, nothing about today was bad... it was a great day!
Still, some days are rough. Not bad. Just rough. Emotionally, physically, mentally and any other 'ally there is.
So today was a rough day.
We realize that we haven't given you a clear picture of who Hunter is today.... of his health or his growth and development. It's coming, I promise. There's more to Hunter's story we feel that we need to share before we can introduce you to the Hunter we know today.
For now, tonight, the lessons I've learned today have left me exhausted... physically, emotionally, mentally.... and a few more 'ally's. 
Hunter had 3 doctor's appointments today. If you know any detail at all of the past 7 months of our lives (if you don't, you soon will), you know that 3 appointments in one day is NOTHING. I know this. I haven't missed one of them.

As hard as I try to stay positive and think only of the MANY miracles God has done in our son's life... in our lives.... there are still days when Satan manages to push past every miracle and every ounce of strength I have left. He gets in.
I let him get in.
Because some days I'm just tired. Because my cup of strength and optimism and faith is nearing 'empty'.
It's no one's fault but my own. I know this, too.
Our 3 appointments today were great appointments.... Hunter IS growing and progressing and his doctor's continue to be amazed at is strength and will to fight.... to win.
But there are still things he's fighting. And if you're a parent, there's nothing in this world that is harder than to watch your child fight... a bad habit, an illness, another person, being sick, exhaustion, their past, their future. It is what I only know to be, so far, the hardest part of being a parent.
The only things I can control on a daily basis in our 'new normal' are how often I hug my kids, how many times I pray for them, my attitude when talking to 'difficult' doctors or nurses or receptionists or insurance companies, and what memories of the day I choose to take to bed with me....
And what 'what if's' or 'could be's' or 'maybe's' I tell to 'go to Hell'. Literally. There's no room for those here.
Satan always seems to work his way in.... to our marriage, finances, families, promotions, and doctor's appointments that are full of good news. He gets in.
We let him in.
Today was a good day..... it had rough parts....
It contained elements of worry and doubt and fear and de ja vue but it ended with bath-time, pizza delivery, funny jokes from Hannah, and books at bedtime... and a milestone we will never forget.
It was a good day.
What?! You want to know about today's forever-memorable milestone?
I thought you'd never ask... ;-)
Make sure you've read about Miracle #3; the day Hunter stopped breathing....
And  then I'll let the picture do all of the explaining...
Today, Hunter graduated from the Infant Apnea Program!
Translation; By all medical terms and definitions, Hunter no longer has Apnea! He has learned how to remember to breathe.
Today is a HUGE day for him... and, as you can see, he's quite proud of himself ;-)
So.... Today was a good day... a rough one.... but a good one...
Those rough parts?
They can just go to Hell.
Joey and I want to thank every single one of you who have shared Hunter's story.... on Facebook, Twitter, by email, or by word of mouth. His story is greatly impacting people's lives and God's Kingdom. Seeing your 'shares', 'likes', 'tweets' and reading your emails and comments really do keep us going and wanting to continue sharing his story....
For God's glory alone is why we share like we do.
Please keep sharing and tweeting and commenting and liking.... you never know who needs a little 'miracle' in their life tonight...
After all, who out of all of us doesn't need a miracle?!
What was your 'what if' or 'maybe' or 'could be' today?
Tell it to go to Hell.
God's got this. He's got us. He's got YOU.

And when you think about it.... today really was a good day!
Thank you, friends. We wouldn't be where we are without your support, prayer, and 'shares'!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Miracle #4 (Part I)~ Guest Post by Joey Smith; Audacious Faith

2012 is a year I will never forget.  There aren’t many years in my life that really stand out, but 2012 is a year that does.  2012 is the year I met my 2.5lb inspiration.  You have already read Lindsay’s posts about Hunter’s birth and how difficult things were.  We moved, lived in the hospital for a few months and lived apart from each other as we did what we had to do to keep our family together and moving forward. 


I’m going to fast forward through our two and a half months in the NICU to one of the toughest things I have ever experienced.  The day we were supposed to bring Hunter home from NICU number 1. The day they told us he was going to die.


As we got closer to the day Hunter was supposed to go home, we became more and more excited.  We had seen Hunter overcome so much and in our eyes he was growing and doing great.  The day Hunter was supposed to be discharged Lindsay went to the hospital early in the morning.  I got to there late the night before so I slept in that morning.  I had just gotten up and got moving when I received Lindsay’s text.  “You need to get here right now”.  All I could think was, something bad happened to Hunter.  Lindsay had been essentially living by herself for the past 6 weeks so she could be near Hunter and she had been so strong. I hadn't gotten a text like that from her so I knew something was really wrong.
When I got to the hospital I went into the NICU and Lindsay was sitting there crying with Hunter’s doctor standing in front of her, his hand on her shoulder.  I walked up to the doctor and asked him what the problem was.  He began to explain that he had discovered something with Hunter’s most recent medical tests that he had not seen before in Hunter's tests and had only seen a handful of times in his career.  He  proceeded to tell me that Hunter would live a short life and his quality of life would slowly decrease  As Lindsay was trying to hold it together I was trying to understand where this had come from, why it had not been seen before and I felt desperate for more details about this diagnosis.   The doctor left, saying that he would call a meeting that morning with us and all of Hunter's specialists, and that we would learn more then. Lindsay had run out of the NICU already and before I could find her I had to collect myself. I picked up Hunter, kissed him on the head and laid him back down. I walked out of the NICU as fast as I could as I felt myself falling apart.  I did not want Lindsay to see me.  I had to hold it together.  I walked into the courtyard and called my mom.  I explained to her what the doctor said and she started crying on the other end of the phone.  I asked her make the trip to come help us.  I didn't know what we needed but I knew we needed family there. I also know my wife and I knew she was already on the phone with her mom. I knew her mom would come as soon as she could, too.
All I could think was “We have to get home.”  I had to get my family and son home to some kind of normal life and to some of the best specialists in the country. After I hung up with my mom I called our adoption agency. Hunter was in their custody until discharge and they needed to know the latest news.

Our agency is small and we have built a great relationship with everyone that works there.  When I called 'D' (the agency director) I explained to her what the doctor had just told us. 'D's response caught me off guard. "You don't have to keep this baby."  Bad choice of words. Still, she was in shock, too and her intentions were pure. I don’t tell you this that to be negative.  I say that to tell you that she was willing to do whatever she could to support US and what we thought was best for us and our family.  We had another child to consider.  We had to decide what was best for our family.  I immediately cut her off and without thinking, the words just came out…”This is our son and we aren’t going anywhere.  We are not leaving him.  I just have to figure out how to get him home. Quickly.”  Hunter had fought so hard to get to this point.  What kind of person would I be if I gave up on him now?  How could I look at myself every morning or explain to Hannah what happened, what WE did, if we quit on him?  I have never had to make a decision like that.  One that involved life or death.   Lindsay and I didn’t need to discuss it, we were both on the same page.  This was our son.   I said it the first time I held him and I knew she felt the same way.


I hung up the phone and reaction mode kicked in.  Now I have to figure out what to do.  I have to get Hunter to home.  That is where we have support, friends, family, church and that is where one of the best children’s hospitals in the country is.  It’s time to be a man and make big decisions.  I pulled myself together, got a drink of water and went back into the NICU.  Lindsay was already back with Hunter, holding him.  I couldn't make eye contact with her yet. I looked at the doctor who had just given us Hunter’s death sentence and told him to call the hospital closest to us and arrange transportation.  By this time, some family members who had connections at that Children's hospital had already called and spoken to the hospital administrator.  They sent a jet and team of people to pick Hunter up.  Hunter was on the plane and in his new NICU in less than 2 hours.  (Read Lindsay’s post about the first time Hannah met her brother).  We cancelled our meeting, requested that every single medical record be sent IN PAPER to the next NICU, and we loaded up the cars and made plans to get home as fast as we could. 

In my hurry to get to the NICU that morning, I had grabbed my ipad on the way out the door.  After the phone call with our agency I picked up my iPad and opened Pastor Steven Furtick’s book “Sun Stand Still”.  I had read the book three times before and I always got something new out of it.  This time I was reading for specific phrases.  I was looking for a promise that everything would be ok.  I read the same verse over and over again....


Joshua 1:5 5 “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 


I have loved this verse since I was young.  I like to consider it my life verse.  But this time it had a whole different meaning;  Whatever the outcome, good or bad, God was going to be with us.  He alone would get us through anything.  I had a responsibility to trust him and listen. He would tell me what I needed to do to help my family. To help my son. He had brought us this far and he would take care of the rest.  He would never leave us or forsake us.  This was His plan for our lives at this moment and that was all that mattered.  Everything else was secondary.  It was like God kept telling me to be still…just be still.  Then I read another verse...


Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still”.


Hunter would be ok. I didn't know what that looked like at that moment but I had to trust the God who had already saved my son too many times to count. He would be ok. 
There is something very special about both of our children. Hannah has the sweetest heart of any child I have ever known. She is an angel. Hunter is tough as nails. He is a fighter. He is not going to give up. God brought him this far and he didn’t bring him this far to let something bad happen. He didn't bring him this far so he could die. I like to think I realized all of this the first time I held Hunter, but the truth is, I had thought about it, but I didn’t really believe it. I didn’t have enough faith to truly believe it. I couldn’t guarantee that something bad wouldn’t happen. I didn't find that guarantee but I did find God's promise to never leave us and to fight for us. Hunter had fought hard already but now I knew with all my heart that God was in the fight with him.


As you know now, Hunter is growing and thriving.  I'll let Lindsay finish the story of this miracle in another post. As a husband and father there are no words to describe what it’s like to see your family in turmoil.  The worst part is that you are expected to be the strong one and the one who holds it together for everyone else.  I have bared the weight of that responsibility since I was a kid.  I have to tell you, I have never prayed and trusted God more at any other time in my life than I did when we decided to take our son home. To top it off, we were taking him home against the advice of the doctor's who had known him since birth.  I was terrified.  What if Hunter doesn’t make it?  How are we going to explain all of this to Hannah?  How is Lindsay going to hold up through all of this?  How much more can she take?
Then I realized….we don’t have time to worry about these things…..and we don’t need to.  God was telling us to trust him and let him show the world how big He is.    


“….… don’t you dare let the magnitude of your fears send you back to dry land.  Keep moving out deeper.  Keep reaching up.”

I have learned more from Hunter than he may ever learn from me.  He is a strong young man with determination, fight and perseverance.  He will go far in life.  I have no doubt about that.  He will accomplish whatever he wants in life.  I will never forget the late nights I would go to the hospital and hold him because I had been gone all week and just wanted to see him.  I would have held him all night if I could.  I always told him to keep fighting and that Daddy was here and I would do anything I could to take care of him.  The thing I didn’t realize is that I needed Hunter more than he needed me.  Hunter personifies the faith of a child.  The faith God calls all of us to have in Luke 18:17.   God had placed his hand on this baby and promised him a future.  Now God was using Hunter to show me that he had a plan for us.  His plan would grow my faith to levels I have never experienced and he used and is still using Hunter to do that.  I prayed Sun Stand Still prayers many times when Hunter was in the hospital.  I prayed harder than I have ever prayed for anything in my life.  I tried hard to hide any emotions from Lindsay and Hannah because I was afraid if they saw me worry or be afraid it would bring everyone down.  I had to remain positive and upbeat even when we were all physically and emotionally exhausted.  But I also had to learn how to be vulnerable. The emotions were real and I needed to feel them. I learned that Lindsay needed to see me feel them, too. Then I would go to the hospital by myself, hold my son and pray.  Pray for him, pray for strength, pray for understanding and pray that God would get us all home soon.  To whatever 'home' he chose.


Every time I hold Hunter I think about where he came from.  I still see that little boy fighting for life.  But the thing that will always stand out to me is the audacious faith that Hunter has in him and the faith he has brought out in everyone who experienced this time in our lives.  I've seen Hunter's story bring out the faith of people who read this blog, too. Hunter lives a Sun Stand Still life. God used this 2.5 pound miracle to turn my life upside down and radically alter my faith. 


Through all of this, the biggest thing I have realized is that God isn’t the one who tests our faith.  People and circumstances test our faith.  God never changes.  He never has and never will.  He has promised us that.  Faith is believing that our God is bigger than any circumstance.  The hardest part of faith is remembering that when you are staring your circumstance in the eye, God won’t blink. 


I would encourage each of you, no matter where you are or what you're going through to read Sun Stand Still by Pastor Furtick.  I hope that at some point in your life you experience a time that will be etched into your memory as a time that grew your faith exponentially.  If you have already experienced that time, I hope you will continue to build on it.  Never forget the promise we have been given...


Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still”.


God doesn’t promise that everything will always be “ok”.  Sometimes the outcome isn’t what we want but it is the outcome God wants.  I had to be ok with that, too. Despite the circumstances or outcome he will never leave us.  He is always there and will always fight for us.  He fought for Hunter and he will fight for you.  Not only did he fight for Hunter, he brought Hunter home and at the same time he brought me home.  So when you feel like you have gone as far as you can and the world is testing your faith….LET IT!!  Because the more your faith is tested the more God can show off.  Keep going, keep moving forward and you may just witness a miracle.   


-          ~ Joey

**   I am very proud of my wife and the thousands of people she has reached through this blog.  Lindsay is blessed with the gift of writing and reaching people through her words.  I know God is using her in mighty ways. She is a wonderful wife and such an amazing mother. I am very lucky that God chose her for me. **

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest Posts; Stories

My next 2 guest posts come from very different perspectives... my first post is written by Christa. Christa's in laws have started an adoption foundation and she has written about her favorite adoption story from outside of the immediate adoption world. All adoption stories are unique and miraculous but this one touched her specifically... and it's not hard to see why;
My favorite adoption story to date is actually a story of several adoptions within one growing family. The Longstreth's, a middle class white couple living in Florida, decided approximately 8 years ago to adopt a little African American baby girl. A couple years later when they found out her birth mother was pregnant again, they adopted #1's biological little sister. Daddy Longstreth is a professor at a small private Christian college and is also a full time Preacher. This family made the conscious decision to serve God in their daily lives and to teach their children to follow suit. As the girls grew older, they knew that God still had big plans for their family. 3 years ago almost exactly, a baby boy was born in Northern California and he has Downs Syndrome. Many people would have considered this baby not the "right fit" for this reason alone, but not this family. He was the perfect fit for their family and although he was in the NICU for several months, they took turns flying out here to CA to be with him for weeks at a time, knowing he was their son and that he'd eventually make the journey HOME to Florida. When #3 was 5 months old, he got to go home! He was on Oxygen and they had to fight with their insurance to pay for his medi flight to Florida but eventually they did, so this family could have their son with them.
About a year ago exactly they heard of another baby to be born whose ethnicity could not be confirmed by his birth mother. She thought no one would want her baby when people didn't know what skin color to expect. Do you see a problem here folks?Nope! This family didn't either. They welcomed #4 with open arms and in May of this year, he was born and they brought him home. Thinking this time their family was complete, God showed them they were wrong! Never having been able to conceive on their own,In September of this year the Longstreth's celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary! On their anniversary, Mommy Longstreth confirmed at her Dr's office that she is in fact pregnant! #5 being due in March 2013. This means #4 and #5 will be just 10 months apart! They aren't scared or worried at all. They are ecstatic and excited to continue down this road God sets before them. I continue to be amazed and proud of the exemplary life this family leads. Their values and love shine through each of these babies and I can't wait to see what else is in store for them.
~ Thank you for sharing, Christa... the Longstreth family is living an adoptive family's dream! What a special family God is continuing to build!
My second guest post is written by Stacy. Stacy and I have gotten to know each other through our blogs over the past couple years... we also brought our babies home through the same agency! Stacy shared their story of bringing home their sweet son, Will;
My name is Stacy and I am an adoptive mother to a wonderful little boy named Will. Will was born on May 13, 2011 and has been with us since that day. Adopting Will has been life changing for my husband, Bryan and I. We can not imagine life without Will. Everyday, we praise God that he chose Will to be our son forever.

Leading up to our adoption, Bryan and I had a very rocky road with infertility issues. I have had four miscarriages and lots of different types of fertility treatments. Nothing seem to be working and I was so tired of being disappointed every single month. Adoption had always been in the back of my mind but nothing we had discussed openly. Finally, I just couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't go back to the doctor and I couldn't keep up the cycle of trying to get pregnant. Bryan and I had a very serious conversation one day about quitting all treatments and taking a different route. Adoption was the topic of our conversation and we decided to pursue it. We talked about the fact that we just wanted to be parents and love a child. We were just going to have to build our family in a different way and that was ok with us.

The adoption process can be very scary and we had no idea where to begin. So, we knew some friends through friends that had adopted. We contacted them and they met with us one night. They were open books and we could ask them anything. Nothing was off limits. They were such a wonderful resource and got us started in the right direction.

The next year and a half seemed to creep by but in a nutshell: we decided on an agency, completed all paperwork, home study, and required classes and trainings. We finally became officially waiting and that was the best part and the hardest part of the process because we had nothing to do but just wait. We tried to stay busy with other things in our lives but we jumped every time the phone rang. Just waiting and waiting and waiting for ten months. Now I know you think ten months is not a long time but when you are waiting on something so special it seems like forever!

Finally, one day I had a message from the agency. They wanted us to meet with a birth mother on a Friday afternoon. Of course, we both took off work, didn't sleep a wink the night before, and were almost sick to our stomachs on the way. Surprisingly, when we met our birth mother a peace come over us. She was just as nervous as we were but after just a few minutes of talking, everyone relaxed. She was great and we were so fortunate to be able to meet with her and get to know her before Will was born. Before we left she told us she chose us to be Will's parents. That was a surreal moment for Bryan and I. We had wanted something for so long and we were finally going to have the opportunity to be parents.

On a funny note, the agency never really told us how far along she was, they just told us she is really pregnant! Well, she was due in a week! So not only were we going to have a son but we were going to get him a week!

Right on schedule, the following Friday the agency called us and told us that our son Will had been born early that morning. Bryan and I called work, made arrangements and headed to the hospital. When we got there, Will was still in the nursery being fed and was being checked out. We had the absolute best hospital experience. They assigned us our on room so that we could stay with Will overnight. The nurses and staff were absolutely amazing! Our birth mother was in a different room and Bryan and I each went to her and spent some time with her before she left. We promised her that we would take absolute great care of him and that we were so honored that she chose us to be his parents. She was so strong and supportive of us and her decision.

Will was perfectly healthy! We stayed with him in the hospital till Sunday when we were released to go home. We did all the feedings, changing diapers, and just holding him. We bonded with him immediately and we were absolutely in love!

We brought Will home on May 15, 2011 and everything has been absolutely perfect! Will was a great baby and is growing into such a wonderful child. We finalized Will's adoption on November 21, 2011 during National Adoption Month.

We have a semi-open adoption with Will's birth family. We send cards, letters, and pictures to the adoption agency and they send them to the birth family. We love sharing with them how Will is growing and changing. I think they know that Will is part of such a wonderful family and has so many people who love him.

Adoption has changed us. Our hearts are bigger now and we never imagined we could love something so special. We know that God had all of this planned out for us we just had to be patient. He had the perfect son already chosen for Bryan and I. We feel like the special ones because we get to be Will's parents.

Bryan and I have a wonderful adoption story and we love sharing it! Thanks Lindsey for hosting our story on your blog. We love our adoption families and we have something wonderful in common: the gift of adoption!

You can read more of our story and see pictures of Will on my blog!

~ Thank you for sharing your story, Stacy... I have loved watching your journey to Mama-hood and your Will is precious! I'm anxious to find out if there will be a Baby Pruitt #2 at some point in the future ;-)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Miracle #3; Dear Baby Boy, Today is the day you stopped breathing.

I started a new blog during our 6 weeks away from home while Hunter was in the NICU. Such a small number of people were allowed to know about our sweet baby boy and those 6 weeks were so rough that I needed an outlet. I know we could never wear out the shoulders (or ears) of our moms but after hours and hours and weeks and weeks of crying on the phone to them... happy crying AND sad crying, of trying desperately to shake the raw emotions we were travelling through on a daily basis... I needed more.

So I did what I do.... I wrote.

I wrote Hunter's Story. Hunter's blog.... his private blog.

I've been hanging Miracle #3 over your heads for weeks, I know... out of all 3 miracles, #3 has been the hardest for me to write. Maybe because it's so fresh. Maybe because it was traumatic.


Maybe because it happened on my clock.

Maybe because I thought I had moved on and really, I'm still hanging on.

One of the things that kept Hunter in the hospital for a full 10 weeks was his apnea. Most preemies struggle to remember to breath in their first few weeks and months of life. In the hospital, an alarm will sound when a baby stops breathing... nurses run, shaken baby syndrome is forgotten ;-), oxygen is administered, and baby remembers to breath again. If baby doesn't start breathing, it's ok... you're in the hospital!

Taking home a baby who forgets to breath is challenging. Hunter came home on caffeine... yep. It is what I said it is.... small doses of caffeine administered to him by mouth daily. The caffeine keeps his brain alert enough around the clock, to remind his body to breath. We also brought him home on an apnea monitor. A foam strap wraps around Hunter's chest and holds electrodes snug against his skin. The monitor sounds alarms for various changes in his breathing and heart rate patterns. Much like the one in the hospital, our portable apnea monitor will sound a very loud alarm if Hunter stops breathing for 20 seconds or more.

If and when the alarm sounds, we run to him... and by 'run' I mean RUN.... or pull over.... or stop in the middle of the road.... or drop the phone..... you get the point. When an alarm sounds, first we look at him... we check out his color; is he pink, purple or blue? We look at his chest; is it rising and falling? If he's blue or purple or not breathing, we stimulate him... shake him gently, tap the bottom of his foot, reposition him. If moving and stimulating him doesn't wake him up and doesn't stop the alarm so we know he has started breathing again, we call 911 and begin CPR.

It's as scary as it sounds.

In order for Joey and I to be allowed to take Hunter home from the hospital we both had to take a CPR class... and we took it twice. We had both been certified in the past but when you take the class knowing full well that what you're learning could one day help you save your child's life.... well, you pay a little more attention.

Leaving the hospital, we were told that 'most' babies outgrow their apnea quickly and their monitor is only necessary for a few weeks at home.

Hunter is not 'most' babies.

Finding out if baby has outgrown his apnea is completely trial and error.... you stop their caffeine, which has a 3-5 day half-life. If there are no alarms after that 3-5 days it's safe to say that baby is old enough and mature enough to remember to breath on his/her own and the apnea monitor is no longer necessary. If alarms continue to sound after the caffeine's half-life, caffeine is started again and it's assumed that baby needs more time to grow.... and then you try again a few weeks later.

Keeping baby on his monitor is key to finding out if he has outgrown his apnea.... and I took it very seriously. Hunter was on his monitor 24/7 with the exception of when he took his bath. Awake, asleep, playing, in the car, being held... he was ALWAYS on his monitor.

We had hundreds of alarms in our first couple months home with Hunter. He slept in our room for a LONG time so he was within arms reach should his alarm sound. We used a special carseat called a Car Bed for quite a while so he was laying down in the car and not upright where his neck could fall on his chest and make breathing even more difficult for him than it already was.

He napped downstairs where I could see him at all times. Everyone who might even possibly be in a room alone with him at any time was given a mini lesson on the basics of CPR.... and the basics were posted on our fridge (and still are).

We were the ones you wanted to be around if you were going to stop breathing....

Miracle #3 has 4 drafts in my post list.... 4. As many times as I've written it out, I still can't get it right. And it's hard still, to get through it.

So... I think the best thing for me to do is to share with you the letter I wrote to Hunter in his private blog on June 29th, 2012...

The Day You Stopped Breathing

Hi Baby-Boy~

You stopped breathing today. Oh, you've done it before but today was different. Like, the turn purple, black rings around your eyes, start CPR and call 911 kind of stopped breathing.

I'll never forget today. Ever. And I pray that it will always remain the worst day of my life.

You were anxious today and more fussy than usual... I gave you a bath to calm you down. The problem with the bath is that you're amazingly calm and zen-like IN the bath but when the bath is over, all hell breaks loose.


wrapped up your screaming, cold, angry self and plopped you in the swing so you could warm up and calm down. You hadn't had an apnea episode in 3 weeks so...

I didn't turn your monitor on.

I stripped the beds, started a load of laundry and thought to myself, "Finally... he's quite. I can get some stuff done."

And then I stopped. Something... someone told me to check on you. To hurry.

You were about 30 feet away from me in your swing... I turned around and looked at you...

Purple. Black rings around your eyes. Not moving.

Not breathing.

I started screaming. Loud screaming. Panicked screaming. Desperate screaming. Screaming your name.

I picked you up and I was rough... I wasn't gentle. I was desperate. I shook you... and was still screaming.

You didn't respond.

I remember thinking, "This is what a dead baby looks like."

I prayed. "God, PLEASE. PLEASE!"

He knew what I was asking.

Ms. Allison was there that day helping me with fussy you and active Big Sister. She had looked over from the kitchen and yelled, "he's purple!" She ran to us and I opened my mouth to tell her to call 911 ...

the smallest sound.

No moving... just sound.

I don't know how I heard it over my screaming.

I grabbed you and held you... tight.

It took about 10 seconds that felt like 10 hours for you to start crying... a strong cry. But you did it. I cried. I sobbed.

I handed you over to Ms. Allison..... you were safer with her.

I called your doctor. I told the receptionist to call your doctor... not the nurse, not his voicemail, THE DOCTOR. "Go get him yourself if you have to.... I need to talk to him RIGHT NOW." She paged him. He called me 2 minutes later.

We started your caffeine moments later and upped your dose I promised to keep you on your monitor.

I didn't have you on your monitor.


The thing is, Baby Boy.... 5 more seconds and I wouldn't have been able to wake you up.

But 5 seconds sooner than too-late God told me to check on you. He didn't push me or scream like I did... He told me. Gently. And I listened.

Thank God I listened.

I know that I have to get past the blame game... Your Daddy, Ms. Allison, your doctor... everyone has told me I didn't do anyting wrong but I did... I didn't put you on your monitor. That's just the truth. I knew better.

I'm working on that part.... but there's one thing I can't I can get past;

That... what happened to you... that's SIDS. Parents who finally have a chance to get things done, realize their baby has been quiet... too quiet... and it's too late.

5 second too late? A minute? An hour?

I know they ask those questions.

I read their blogs.

I've wondered so many times since bringing you home why EVERY baby can't come home with a monitor.

'Autopsy is inconclusive.'

'Reason for death unknown.'

"If I had only checked on him a few minutes earlier... would it have made a difference?"

"I never should have let him sleep that long."

I know those mamas and daddies ask themselves those questions...

I'm so thankful that I don't have to.

But my heart hurts for those mamas and daddies... because today could have ended so much differently than it did.

Baby-boy.... I've never met anyone quite like you. I've always believed that God is capable of performing miracles.... not just Bible miracles but today miracles. I know I've witnessed them... but never like this. Never like I have since God brought you to me. You're a miracle over and over again.... your life, your story, your growing testimony.... miracles.

You have wrecked me. In the most beautiful, scary, miraculous, terrifying way, you have wrecked me.

I refuse to worry about you, sweet boy because God has you so firmly held in His powerful grip that nothing can get to you.

He held you today and he'll continue holding you... just like He did today.

Just breathe, Baby-Boy... Please just breathe.

I love you more than life itself,


Miracle #3 happened on June 29. Since then, Hunter has only had 2 significant alarms.... both alarms were apneas that he brought himself out of before Joey or I needed to intervene. By medical terms, he has outgrown his apnea.

Not in Mama Terms.

Hunter's doctor has been more than understanding as I sit in his office every couple weeks and stare him down, daring him to try and take that monitor away from me.

He is so gracious.

He has 'fudged' every report he writes so he can find one tiny little reason for insurance to believe that Hunter's monitor is still 'medically necessary.'

As if 'Mama's sanity' isn't reason enough.

He gave me his cell phone number.

I will never take my children's lives for granted. My mistakes or not... God has them in His grasp... and that's the only place I want them to be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post; Get Out of My Way. I'm Bonding!

Kate's Mom responded to my quest to find guest posters to help me acknowledge November as National Adoption Awareness Month... and I am SO glad she did! She and I haven't met but I felt as if I was reading my own thoughts as I read her amazing post. I've touched on bonding before... it's something I take seriously with my children. Hunter is now 8 months old and I am completely possessive of my time with him... feeding him, changing him, putting him to bed; it's me or Joey. That's it. Kate's Mom gets it. And I love her for her honesty!
Get Out of My Way. I'm Bonding!

This is something I don't like to talk about with friends and family because I don't want to offend anyone, but I think it's something that waiting or newly adoptive parents could benefit from. So I want to thank On Loan from Heaven for letting me post these somewhat private thoughts on her blog! I do want to say that I'm not going to be careful to use totally PC terms, because I'm just telling my story. I'm sorry if any of it seems strange; it's just an honest account of what I went through for the first few months of motherhood. It's also going to sound completely irrational -- it did as I was writing it -- but isn't that what all new moms experience? Irrational feelings and thoughts? Yes, I think so. :) I did add a couple of rational thoughts as footnotes, just so you don't think I'm all kinds of crazy.

First of all, a little back story on our family. We adopted our daughter, Kate, as a newborn. I was lucky enough to be in the delivery room when she was born, and we camped out on an air mattress at the hospital for two days while we waited to bring her home. She was born in our home town, about 2.5 hours from where we lived, and we invited a lot of our family members to come see her at the hospital while they had a chance. After that, we wanted at least a week at home with no overnight guests. I didn't give birth, so I did NOT need anyone's help. (1)

Here I am, a woman who was just given a child by another woman. Here ya go, you're her mom now! (If you step back from all the bravery and heartbreak and other emotions involved there, that's really how it was!) It didn't matter how much love for her I had in my heart, I felt like I was playing the role of a mom. Aside from some legal documents, taking care of her was the only thing that made me mom. Not genetics, not nine months of keeping her all to myself, not the experience of giving birth, and not the opportunity to nurse her. All I could do was be there with her, feed her, change her, hold her. Those things were invaluable to me! Those simple tasks made me Mom and made my husband Dad.

But "playing mom" is something all women like to do when they are around a baby! When was the last time you saw a newborn and didn't want to immediately hold him of feed him or babysit alone? I had always thought that bonding, which naturally is a little different between adoptive parents and their children, meant feeling an attachment with the baby. You know, warm fuzzies. But anyone is going to feel warm fuzzies when holding a tiny, sleepy newborn!

And that, my friends, was the problem. Anyone could "bond" with her. I found that to be terribly threatening. Here are some examples that, at best, made me panic, and at worst, made me cry uncontrollably.
  • "Here, let me take her!" There's no question being asked there. When anyone would take her out of my arms my heart would start racing. I hated it. Handing her over on my own accord was no biggie, but I could not stand it when someone walked up and grabbed her. In some ways maybe it was my guilt for having "taken" her away from her birth mother, who was naturally still grieving

    • "Here, let me feed her!" No. Usually I had the courage to say no, especially to friends, but it was much more difficult with family members who didn't take no for an answer. Feeding was either my job or my husband's. If I were nursing, no one would offer to do it for me. They would sit there while I walked into the other room and let me feed the baby in private while we bonded. But people are not willing to offer privacy to a mom who isn't nursing. What's worse, sometimes they even wanted privacy during feeding time, leaving the room to do it.
    • "You need a break." I most certainly do not! It particularly difficult for me with a certain family member who, whether we were visiting them or vice-verse, constantly tried kicking me out of the house on order to care for the baby alone. At one point, when I felt like I wasn't welcome to stay even if I wanted to, I got in my car and drove around the neighborhood sobbing. I had no errands I needed to run. I just waited until my face got back to normal and went back inside.(2) In another example, a neighbor who I hadn't seen in more than a year yelled over the back fence that she heard a baby crying and of course, "I didn't know you were pregnant!" After briefing her, she stated that she would come over once a week and sit with Kate while I got out of the house. That was such a sweet offer, but I was totally caught off guard and didn't know how to respond! What was I supposed to say? I don't need to get out of the house. You don't need to keep my baby who you've never even seen. (In an unrelated anecdote, the next time I saw that neighbor was the day before we moved out of our house. They drove by, saw the moving truck, and came to the door. Kate wasn't home and she said, "Well I never even knew what she looked like!" After showing her a picture, I realized that she meant she didn't know what race Kate was. People.)
    This really lasted about five or six months, which incidentally was the amount of time it took for the adoption to be finalized. And it actually took me that long to realize that it was just a psychological thing that was part of my bonding process. Bonding, for me, wasn't warm fuzzies. It wasn't our relationship -- the baby and I definitely knew who we were to each other. It was feeling secure enough in my own motherhood to accept help from others.

    Who knows -- maybe no one else has experienced this. I'm sure bonding is different for every family, as adoption is different for every family. But maybe my experience will help some of you prepare yourselves and your friends and family members for feelings that may come up, avoiding any awkward "no thank you, I don't need a babysitter" moments. :)

    Thanks for reading, and for letting me finally get this off my chest!

    ~Kate's mom

    1. I'm sure our moms had dreamed of sleeping over to help after their grandchildren were born. I feel really badly about that. Unfortunately, infertility doesn't just affect the couple, it affects the whole family.
      2. It really is important for all family members to get a chance to bond with their grandchild/niece/cousin/etc., especially when we're lucky enough to have a family who sees no difference between a biological and adopted family member. I should have been grateful for so much love that surrounded her early on.
    Kate's Mom~ You rock :-) Thank you for openly and honestly giving a voice to the raw emotions most adoptive moms go through in their first few days, weeks, and months (or if you're me, years) home with their babies. Yes, bonding with other family is important... but you'll NEVER regret being a little crazy about your baby :-)