Saturday, October 27, 2012

On the Other Side

We are on the other side of this sickness. We are praising God!

Thursday began the wash-everything day, which included: favorite stuffed animals, blankets, sheets, pillow cases, clothes, and anything and everything related to sick children.

Friday was back-to-school and back-to-fun day. And, of course, more laundry—blankets, robes, clothing….

It’s so wonderful (!!!) to see the children well and playing again.

In the midst of the very hard time we’ve just passed through, there were moments/hours of amazing blessedness. Here are some examples:

1. The night Andrew could not breathe when lying down and propping his head up on two pillows didn’t work could have been a truly horrible night. (This was Andrew’s second night sick, and Cherish was still well—so I was able to give him my complete attention.) That night I spent the night sitting up on the couch holding Andrew in a vertical position. He really enjoyed being with me. He hugged and hugged and hugged me! He loved to tuck his head into the spot between by shoulder and my neck. He hung on to me. The hours passed by with a glow of preciousness about them. It’s hard to explain, but I wouldn’t trade that night for anything! Such closeness! Such love! And, it was mutual. What a blessed memory!
2. When Andrew was so immensely sick, Cherish kept kissing him and cradling him—without a care that she would probably get sick. All she cared about was comforting him.
3. When Cherish and Andrew were both sick, they each wanted to spend long amounts of time simply cuddling with me. The bonding was immensely precious!
4. When Cherish was crying from pain, Andrew would go to her, sit with her, and “pretend cry” along with her—his way of showing her he cared.
5. They both gave each other the gift of laughter. When one was crying and couldn’t stop crying from the pain, the other would begin to “fake laugh” until they both ended up in true laughter. It helped momma’s stress level quite a bit!

The sickness and lack of sleep were very hard, but the precious bonding that came out of the time was priceless. Thank You, Lord, for the gift of two dear children!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sickness Hits Hard

Last Wednesday, October 17, Andrew woke up acting quite differently. Since July, he has been having periodic shaking and eye-rolling episodes. The “episodes” were on and off. Usually they occurred when he was really tired. They were completely unpredictable.

However, this particular morning was different. Andrew woke up having the shaking and eye-rolling episodes. Within the first hour I was with him, he had six such “episodes”. I called the doctor to report that something was very different and wrong with Andrew. The nurse asked, “Does he have a temperature?” No. “Does he have an appetite?” Yes. “Is he playing?” Yes. But I insisted there was something really wrong and different than the last few months. After consulting with Andrew’s doctor, the nurse called me back. She asked me to catch an episode on video and to make an appointment for a couple of days out.

I called her back about five minutes later. Andrew had crawled into my lap and was warm—with a 102° F temperature. It was strange! He had been fine minutes prior. The nurse consulted with the doctor, and since the doctor was headed out the door for lunch, she encouraged me to give him Tylenol and allow him to take his nap.

By then it was noon. So, I sat Andrew down at the table for Tylenol and some food. He began having his shaking and eye-rolling episodes. 3 minutes apart! I grabbed my camera and began to film. Within the first 20 seconds of filming, I had the episode on film.

I put Andrew to bed for his nap, and the nurse called me back around 2:30 p.m. Andrew was still sleeping, so she told me to simply “check him” when he woke up.

He had heard the phone ring and emerged from his room as I was hanging up the phone. Strangely enough, his fever was still at the same level. (I expected it to be gone after 2½ hours with Tylenol.)

I called the office back. (Yep, I’m one of those moms.) The nurse said, “Do you think he really needs to be seen today?” Yep! “Then, could you be here between 4:15 and 4:30?” YEP!

I called Derek and he was getting off work at 4 p.m. that day. He met us at the pediatrician’s office. After checking Andrew in, we sat in the waiting room and talked about what I thought Andrew might possibly have.

While we were talking, Andrew began screaming like he was looking at something immensely terrifying! The screaming grew louder as if horror was overcoming him. He was sitting in a chair, so I bent down in front of him to ask him what was wrong. His eyes rolled back and his body began shaking violently. I immediately knew he was having a seizure (his first).

I picked him up and was yelling for help. I’ll admit: I. was. terrified!!!!!!!!!

About seven nurses and office personnel came to usher us into a room—by that time Andrew was unconscious and blue. One of the nurses grabbed an oxygen tank at the same time Derek was yelling that Andrew was blue. Andrew’s doctor and the oxygen tank arrived at the same time.

One of the nurses took Andrew’s temperature and said it was 98.6° F. I was puzzled, as I had checked him before heading out to the doctor’s and it was still in the 102° area.

It took a while for Andrew to pull through from the seizure. He ended up with a 104° F temperature while in the office. Thus, the doctor thought it may have been a febrile seizure.

The doctor, however, requested to see my video—which I assumed was not necessary as we had all just witnessed what I had feared. After watching the 30 second video, the doctor said Andrew would have to undergo a sleep-deprived EEG to check for seizure disorders. He would be scheduled as soon as his fever was gone. (He still has a slight fever.)

She sent us home with the caution to keep an eye on him as he could seizure again in the night. She said to sleep close by or in his room.

That night Andrew’s fever went up to 106° F. Derek and I had to put him into the tepid bath. It was a long and nerve-wracking night.

Andrew continued to run very high fevers, and then he began to refuse food. All kinds. He can’t talk yet, so I couldn’t understand what was going on.

On Saturday, Cherish joined the “sick club”. Her fever went up to 105.3° that night, but it refused to come down. The same nurse from Wednesday was on call that night. She upped Cherish’s dosage of Tylenol and Motrin by ½ teaspoon—as Cherish’s weight was border-line.

Once again, we were on seizure-watch from the high temperatures. The night was only slightly rough. I was praising God!

By Sunday morning, Cherish was complaining of a sore throat. Then, I understood why Andrew was crying so much and refusing food.

By Monday morning, Cherish was refusing food and drink. I took her to the doctor’s. The poor girl has a mouth FULL of ulcers and a throat FULL of another kind of ulcers. Ulcers everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Andrew’s was the same.)

I spent Monday fighting dehydration knowing Cherish would be heading to the hospital if her current path continued. I learned about enemas (the only way to hydrate a person who cannot handle anything by mouth—which includes water, ice pops, etc. AIR ever hurts the ulcers!!!!!!!!)

So here I sit. Wednesday, 1 a.m. My daughter still cannot take anything in by mouth. Sadly, I have to be a bit forceful to get the Motrin in. It took us about an hour to get the last dose in. Thankfully, she washes down the Motrin with water (to wash the “sting” off the ulcers). That is all the liquids she is getting—other than a drip here and there when she needs to suppress a cough (both options are torturous for her).

Six nights now of barely any sleep. Often feeling like “zombie mommy”.

I pray continually for wisdom. I pray continually that my mouth would speak kindly. I pray that my mind would think thoughts that Jesus would think—especially when the crying goes on and on. I pray that my will would be yielded to the Spirit’s leading. I pray that my heart would only feel love, compassion, and understanding.

All this, moment by moment. Day and night. It’s all I can do. Without the Holy Spirit, this sleep deprived momma would be making this terrible illness (which the doctor thinks may be Roseola) worse.

I have to pray continually. In the middle of the night when all my aching body wants to do is to stay lying on the couch as another child cries out for my attention.

There are times I fail. But, I have seen time and time again when I didn’t have the energy to move, that as my heart prayed for Christ-likeness, my body moved in the direction Jesus would have moved. My mouth spoke words of comfort and kindness when I had nothing left to give. My heart felt compassion and pity when seconds prior I felt angry that the crying was unrelenting.

My prayer has been that through these long days and nights, my children would be experiencing Jesus with skin on. That in their torture, they would find comfort, understanding, and love.

So, I pray now as I lie down on the couch with my daughter tucked in next to me. May Jesus be on display if in five minutes my daughter once again awakens shaking with unbelievable pain.

May I be like Jesus to these precious children. And, may He heal them quickly if He so chooses.

Julie, the flawed one

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

On Monday, October 15th, Derek and I both had our physicals for our third adoption. We fasted and headed to the doctor's for our visit. After all the blood work, pricks, pokes, and prods, Derek's parents--who had been caring for the children--took us all out to eat in order to celebrate my birthday. Lunch was yummy!! (Now add breaking a fast, and let me tell ya, the meal was scrumptious!)
After we said our good-byes, we swung by the local pumpkin patch for some photos.
This sister-brother love is immensely real and constant!

Andrew was only tall enough to see out of Snow White's face,
so Cherish suggested he stand there.

I thought Andrew was acting a little "out of it"
toward the end of our visit due to being
very late for his nap.
Turns out, he was getting sick....
More on that on our next post....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Momma's Birthday

So, I was blessed to have another birthday. And, I was blessed with the opportunity to change decades. It was very cool. I was very glad!

Cherish made me a card and went shopping for my gift:

See how happy I am to be 40?

Derek treated the family to a hibachi-style dinner.
Here's Cherish with Grandma (my mom):

My sister, Jen, with her son, Sebastian:

 Aunt Maureen and Uncle Acie:

Dinner at the table:

Andrew finishing up my birthday dessert:

Good to the last drop!

My family: what a blessed gift!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Autumn Moon Festival

We once again enjoyed getting together with our local chapter of Families with Children from China (FCC) and celebrating the Autumn Moon Festival.

Here are some pictures in remembrance:

 Tuckered out:
Time to re-energize with a picnic supper:
Sweet friends:
Silly daddy!
It fits me!

Kickball on the beach...Cherish is "Safe!"
(These two wonderful dads worked together to ensure
that each child made it to at least first base.)

"Stop! Not another run!" =)
Taking turns pitching:

The Autumn Moon:

 What a great evening with wonderful people!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cherish and Andrew Grow Up

Cherish has been wanting to learn to ride her bike without training wheels all summer. For various reasons, it took us until last week to get it done.
So, off came her training wheels and off we went to the closest park--so she could have lots of space to ride without cars driving into or backing out of their driveways.
Big boy felt the freedom too!

"Cherish, this is how you balance."
"Actually, let me show you."

"Good! No one's watching me!"
 Derek holding her up by the bike's seat.
She is obviously completely dependent upon him.
"Hee, hee, hee. I'm free!!"
"Are you watching me?"
The "training" wasn't working. I prayed for God to give us wisdom. Immediately He did!
I remembered my precious niece Carolyn who taught herself to ride a bike by riding on the grass.
Brilliant! We wouldn't need to worry about Cherish getting hurt on the pavement, and Cherish would be free to ride without depending on us.
"Derek, take the camera and give me Cherish! I have an idea...."
Seconds later: 
After this, she kept going and going! One mom came to ask me if this was our daughter's first day without training wheels. (She probably figured so because of how crazy excited I was!) I told the lady it was indeed Cherish's first day! The lady said she had been trying to teach her son (about 7 years old) how to ride without training wheels for over a year. I told her about my niece's idea and told her that without fear of being injured from falling, Cherish literally took off! The lady told me she's going to try the idea. Thanks, Carolyn!!
We are so proud of Cherish
Each time she fell, she got right back up and tried again!
Now to practice starting and stopping....
Also, while we were in Pennsylvania and staying at various hotels, Andrew learned how to crawl out of his porta-cribs. So, in order not to take any chances of him crawling out of his crib at home and falling a long distance to the floor, I dismantled his crib and set up this bed for him.
The first nap he had, he cried from insecurity. I stayed with him singing to him the Bible verse: "When I am afraid I will trust in You." He soon calmed down and fell asleep.
Here he is waking up from his nap:

 "Mommy, I'm just so proud of him!"
 "Me, too, Cherish! Me, too!"
That night, he went to bed on his own without any hesitation or insecurity. Derek and I were completely surprised! He turned on his own noise maker and night light (push button), and then climbed into his twin bed using his step stool. He turned over and put himself right to sleep!

The next day, he begged to be allowed to sit in the big chairs at the table. So, I hooked up a booster seat and put away his highchair. Now he sits up to the table with us.
He's a big boy!
It seems he grew up overnight!
The crib and highchair have been packed away--waiting for Hope to come home.
Daddy and I are so proud of our children!
What a blessing they are!
And, how fun it is to watch them graduate to the next stages in life!