Thank you for visiting my blog! If you are visiting because you have experienced a pregnancy or infant loss, let me say that I am so very sorry. I started this blog shortly after our Baby Grady was stillborn on November 12, 2008. Please visit the sidebar below called "Labels" to find the topic in which you are interested, or just read as your heart desires.

Friday, December 31, 2010

What You Didn't Know

My wife, in a moment of delirium, gave me her username and password to gain access to her blog. I am sure she will change the username and password very soon. I thought I would share with you some things you may not know about my lovely "Miss T":

1. Even though she maintains a blog site, computers are NOT her friend. More often than not there are cries of "Gib, this stupid computer....". Lord, don't let me have to inform her it is user error!!!

2. She truly is amazingly talented. I just did not know how talented of a writer she was until this blog came into existence! She is suppose to be a nurse by trade, but a writer she may become!? I think Yoda (for those Star Wars fans out there) would put it this way: "A nurse you are, a writer you will be"..Thank you ladies and gentlemen I am here all night..

3. She loves her children (but I guess she does a pretty good job of sharing that...ALL of that!!). This love extends to Grady. There is truly not a day that goes by that we don't mention his name is some way. Times like "I miss Grady", "I wish Grady were here", "Matthew your big brother sent us snow for Christmas" or simply "'Matthew GRADY' did you have to mess up another outfit!"

4. She loves to help others! I think that is why she is a nurse. A good nurse at that...but a better mother and wife! Jessica is picking this up.

5. She is also stubborn...Yes, that would be her picture in the dictionary next to the term. Emma Grace learned from the best.

6. She is social and has to be into EVERYTHING. The girls have this quality too. But, I think good old buddy boy Matthew is going to be the winner here!

So there are a few things about Miss T you may not have known. I am probably fired from getting onto her computer, so it was nice knowing you!

As we go into a new year, we are extremely thankful for the gifts we were blessed with this year. Our girls continue to grow into young ladies. We welcomed a new son into this world of craziness. OK, maybe a house of craziness!! I have a job which allows me to work with young people and rekindles the desire to get back into teaching. Just having a job these days almost seems unfair with so many wanting to work and not able to. But, whatever the future holds, I hope our family remembers that we ALL have a part to play in this grand plan of God's. This includes our Grady. We may not understand it, nor like the role we play, but someday we will get to see this blockbuster of a "movie" HE had all of us participate in. Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing everyone's starring role in this "film" of Life and of Love when it comes out!!

I am sure some time in the next year Miss T will talk to the Big Guy about demoting my role to just technical assistance from now on and making better choices as to who gains access to her stuff!!!!!..:)

God Bless..
G-

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A White Christmas

Yes! We had a white Christmas here in Georgia. I heard in passing that it was the first in 130 years. It started flurrying right as the sun was setting, but the heavy snowfall didn't start until after dark. We ended up getting about three inches where we live.

The girls were beside themselves with excitement. They were in and out on Christmas night. They were not dressed appropriately, but they didn't care. They were just excited to see the white stuff falling.






Gib took Matthew out as the snow started to fall. We all agreed that Grady sent the snow here from heaven for Matthew's first Christmas. *WINK...SMILE*



The snow was beautiful the next day. I didn't get many pictures this time because I was inside with Matthew. Plus, our camera is being very temperamental and is almost dead, making it difficult to take pictures easily. I'm just thankful I was able to get the ones I did. And I really should learn how to use Photoshop to enhance some of these. Oh well.






Having lived in Georgia all of our lives, we've never had a White Christmas. It was special for all of us!

And I have to post this because I think it's so cute. Here are the girls with their BFF, Sidney, from next door warming their frozen toes by the fire.



Love,
Tonya

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Digital ecard personalized with Smilebox

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tidbits from T

***I'm typing on a wonderful lap top that was given to me by very special family members, who shall for this purpose, remain nameless. They are so generous to think of our family when they get new things. Let's see, we've acquired a flat screen television for our bedroom, a printer/copier/scanner/fax machine, and now a lap top. I know we've gotten more nice things from them, but my brain is failing me. They knew our computer bit the dust and offered us this one that they were getting rid of. You know who you are...thank you! It works wonderfully!

***I started my post on expectations Monday and still haven't finished it. It's kind of long.

***Wrapped presents this morning and the girls can't wait to open them. And the anticipation of what Santa will bring is about to kill them. They asked for lots of expensive electronic gadgets, like an iPad, iPod touch, lap top, blackberry, television, etc. Even Santa chuckled when we went to see him. They also asked for a trampoline, new bike for Jess and new scooter for Emma Grace. Santa often knows what they need, so we'll see what they end up with...

Jessica was very sweet one night this week. When we were talking about what Santa would bring, I asked her if she would be really upset if she didn't get everything on her list. Her reply: "No. It's the thought that counts, so if Santa brings me anything, at least he thought of me". Sweet girl!

***The girls and I made yummy pretzel treats tonight. We put a Rolo candy on top of a small square pretzel and melted it in the oven for about 5 minutes. Then we gently placed half of a pecan on top of the Rolo while it was warm and soft. YUM!!!

Tomorrow we are making red velvet cake balls and chocolate chip cookies for Santa.

***We are still undecided about going to church tomorrow evening. One local church has a 4pm service, another at 6pm. I think we will do the 4pm, if we go.

***Much to my dismay, I decided not to send out Christmas cards this year after all. I found a card on smilebox.com that I'm going to email out for Christmas. I'm planning to take the kids' picture tomorrow and if I can, I will post the card here. Not exactly sure how that works yet.

***I heard from my friend who is working on Matthew's pictures, and they are almost ready. I'm trying hard to come up with a creative way to still send out an announcement of him, even though by the time I do, he will be at least 6 months old!

***Yesterday, we put together the exersaucer that has been in Matthew's closet for the last two years. It was another full circle moment for me. It was put together for Grady and has been sitting, unused, until now. He likes it but doesn't tolerate it for long. I have to put a blanket around his torso to help support him a little. I know it is making him use muscles that he hasn't used before. I think with time and practice he is going to love it.

***I'm worried that Matthew might be too fat. Babies are chubby, and most of the time, they work off that fat when they start becoming more mobile. I never worried about Jessica, who was almost as chubby as he is. And I wouldn't be worried about Matthew either if it weren't for Suzanne. She is a nutrition guru when it comes to preemies. She has told me that too fast of catch-up growth in preemies has been linked to diabetes and heart disease in those babies as adults. I don't know what's too fast and how much is too much. I also don't know if the same applies to Matthew since he was so big when he was born. What I do know is that he does love to eat!

***We actually might see some snow on Christmas here in GA. That hasn't happened in a very long time! It won't be big, and it probably won't even stick, but just to see some snowflakes will be nice on Christmas day.

***My stepdad put up a small tree this year. My mom was a big angel collector. He said he put an angel around his tree for each of his grandchildren. And he included Grady. That meant a lot to me.

***I've been thinking back to this time last year when I had the flu (pretty sure it was the swine flu), and I felt like I was going to die. I had just found out I was pregnant with Matthew and couldn't take much of anything. I took the bare minimum of Tylenol, Benadryl and Sudafed to feel like I might live. I'm so thankful to be healthy and well this year.

***I went to the store today and got things for our traditional Christmas breakfast. We will have bacon, eggs, biscuits, homemade chocolate syrup, and hash brown casserole. I only make chocolate syrup on Christmas morning to go with the biscuits. My step dad, brother and his family will come over to feast with us. We will all crash by early afternoon and need a nap from all those carbs!

***I got Matthew's stocking today, and I'm not happy with it. I thought his name would be monogrammed in white like the rest of ours. It appeared that way online and I was never given a choice to choose a color. I think I'm going to try to send it back. The only stocking that is different is Grady's. It is white and his name is monogrammed in red.

***I'm so behind on laundry it isn't even funny. And cleaning, too. Gib and I aren't giving one another gifts this year. I told him that a great gift to me would be for him to take on kiddie duty for two days. All I want to be responsible for is pumping milk and cleaning my house. I know it sounds crazy, but a clean house would do me a world of good!

***Can't think of much more to bore you with tonight. So long for now!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Matthew - 5 Months Old

***If you saw this post earlier on dashboard and then couldn't find it, that's because Emma Grace accidentally published it before I was done!***

One of these months, Matthew's monthly update is going to be just the way I want it! It just wasn't meant to be this time, though. Again! The printer was out of ink. I was going to hand write a sign. Then Gib said he would just photoshop "5 months old" into the picture I took. I tried to get a picture of him tonight, and I took a few, but none of them turned out great.

This picture was taken Friday while waiting to see Santa (the day after he turned 5 months). I do LOVE this boy!



This was taken tonight.



And I really want this one included because you can see all of him, but for some crazy reason, it flipped when I uploaded it. Just tilt your head to the right to get the correct view. And excuse his green socks with his outfit. This was not the outfit he started the day in, and since he was staying home, I didn't change his socks to match.



At this point, it is late, and I should be in bed. But I am determined to get this post up tonight because it was on this day, one year ago, that we found out we were expecting this sweet, precious boy. I remember very well the excitement mixed with fear and the dance in my heart between the two. I had absolutely no idea what God's plans were for this little one, but I knew I was thankful to even have the opportunity to wonder again.



On to the post itself...

Matthew's chronological age is 5 months, but his adjusted age is 3 months, 3 weeks. I include that because he seems to be developing all across the board. Some things are right on with his actual age while others are more on track with his adjusted age. I really don't care which way he develops, as long as he reaches his milestones!

Sweet Matthew, what are you up to these days?

Your personality is definitely starting to shine. You let your needs and wants/likes and dislikes be known, loudly! You love to look at us and watch our every move. You follow us around the room and will stretch your neck as far as it will go to keep your eyes on us. You really know Mommy's voice, too. We were at a family get-together yesterday, and you were in your grandmother's lap. I walked in the room, and when I spoke, you almost broke your neck trying to find me. That, of course, warmed my heart!

You smile all the time, and your cheeks are so big they look like they might bust with every grin! You smile almost every time you are spoken to and return our smiles with one of your own. You chuckled for the first time two weeks ago but you haven't really done it since...just one chuckle here and there, not multiple like you did the first time. You really are a happy baby boy. You mainly cry only when there's a reason, usually because you are tired or your tummy hurts (you are the pooping-est boy with the biggest blow-outs I've ever seen!).

You are very good at reaching and swatting with your left arm/hand. When you have a toy in that hand, you love to bring it to your mouth. You actually just discovered that hand a few days ago, and it's so cute! You look at it like it's the most interesting thing you've ever seen.

You are getting better with your right hand, too! You will now bring it to your mouth on your own, and you have started opening that hand a little to get those fingers in your mouth. A special friend, who we call MeMe, gave you a little Taggie car for Christmas. You absolutely love it! I gave it to you, and you immediately put BOTH hands on it and brought it to your mouth! I couldn't believe it. It made me SO happy for you!



I really haven't been too concerned about your right leg, but I have been watching it more. Cerebral palsy usually affects one whole side of the body, not just one extremity. You might move it a little less than your left but not by much. I'm trying to stay on top of it, though! You will start physical therapy in January, and I will make sure to keep your progress well documented. Hopefully one day we will look back and read this and see God's miracles and hands at work in your life! In fact, I know we will!

One thing you don't mess around with is eating time. You do love to eat! I am still pumping breast milk for you, which is your main nutrition. You average about 2-4 ounces of formula to fill in the gaps every day (but you didn't have any formula today!). You eat 6 1/2 ounces every 3 hours. Sometimes you don't quite make it 3 hours, and that's ok. Sometimes you go longer if you're napping well. I haven't started you on any solid foods yet. I'm still not sure when we will do that, but it is definitely in your near future. You are just now starting to watch us eat. That's my first cue that you're getting ready! You are certainly growing well. Two weeks ago, when I took Jessica for her check-up, I plopped you on the scale in the room. Granted you had your diaper on (which had just been changed) and your clothes, the scale read 15 lbs, 15 ounces. My guess is that by now you have surpassed 16 lbs! Go boy!

You can still wear some of your 3-6 month clothes, but you are quickly fitting into 6 month and 6-9 month clothes very well. I really did think I was set with clothes for you for a while, but if you keep growing at this pace, you will need more clothes very soon! You are still in size 1-2 diapers, but the next time I buy them, they will probably be size 3!

You are getting better and better at holding your head up by yourself. You're almost a pro! You are trying hard to start turning over from your back to you tummy. You love to practice when I'm changing your diaper! I make you have tummy time, but you don't like it at all. You have a hard time getting your right arm up under you. But when we start and I prop you up, you do very well supporting yourself. You are starting to try to sit by yourself, and you try very hard to get out of your bouncy seat. You stretch your neck up and grunt real hard to try to sit up while you are in it. Cute!

You continue to be a GREAT sleeper! You still take several naps, a long and short morning nap and a long and short afternoon nap. You don't stay awake very long after you first wake up in the morning, usually a little more than an hour. Your first morning nap is usually 1-2 hours; the next is only about 30-45 minutes. You follow the same pattern in the afternoon. If you don't get your daytime sleep, you do NOT go down easily at bedtime. You struggle more at bedtime than at nap time, even on a good day. For the most part, you go to sleep by yourself. Sometimes we have to rock you or stand and bounce with you, but we don't mind the extra cuddle time. You go to bed between 7-8 at night, and you get up around 6-7 in the morning. You go most of the night without your paci. You usually need it between 4-6 am, and then you go back to sleep. I'm so proud of you, and I appreciate you doing such a great job so I can sleep, too!

You fell asleep with your bottle tonight which doesn't happen too often. But the amazing thing is that you stayed asleep after you were finished. Daddy came in and took this picture of you. You remind me of your big brother.


You absolutely love to get a bath! I wasn't bathing you every day, but with your blow-outs lately, you've ended up getting one almost daily. You just sit and chill while I wash you, and it relaxes you right before bed.

You drool a lot and blow bubbles at times. Your favorite word/sound to make right now is "Geee". You still coo and "talk" to us which we all love.

I'm sure I've left something out, and if so, I will come back to add it.

I love you and am having a great time watching you grow and become your own little person. I just hate that the time is passing so quickly! I'm so blessed to have you in my life!

Love,
Mommy

Dear Lord, Thank you so much for this precious boy whom you knit perfectly and wonderfully in my womb. Thank you for the hope and healing he has brought into our lives. Thank you for the opportunity to have a living son here on earth as part of our family. He has stolen our hearts, and we are truly blessed. We praise you and give you the glory for him and all of our blessings. Amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

They Missed It Again!

It seems the CDC missed the correct strain of flu virus again in this year's flu vaccine. It's a three-in-one this year, including H1N1. But the strain that's covering up our small town is not one of those three. And neither is the strain Emma Grace came in contact with.

Yep. She has the flu.

SIGH.

I took her to the doctor yesterday afternoon. I almost cancelled her appointment because she was acting fine and her fever was down. Even after her Motrin had worn off. (It spiked back to 101 last night) But, I decided to take her anyway. Gib had made the effort to come home early so I didn't have to take Jess and Matthew. And honestly, I thought she might have strep. Her throat looked a little suspicious and it came on quickly like strep often does.

I have to hand it to my pediatrician's nurse, though. I gave her the history, and she asked to see Emma Grace's eyes. She then said she was going to swab her for flu. Dr. E walked in, and I told him that I almost cancelled her appointment. He said, "Well I'm glad you didn't because she has the flu".

Unbelievable! She has had a fever but that's it. Never would I have guessed it. Anyway, he prescribed her Tamiflu and said she should have a mild case between the flu shot and medicine. He was NOT thrilled to hear that Emma Grace had been around Matthew A LOT earlier in the day that her fever showed up. I'm praying SOOO hard that he doesn't get it. I'm loading up on my Vitamin C tablets and have added some garlic tablets, too. That's about all I can do. And pray.

Did I mention that I'm praying Matthew doesn't get the flu?

I'm a little concerned because he is still sleeping this morning. He almost always wakes up at 6am. He stirred but went back to sleep, without his paci. Since I didn't have to drive Emma Grace to school, I decided to let him sleep. But I never thought he would sleep this late. I'm going to check on him again as soon as I finish this post.

Hopefully one of our saving graces with the rest of us staying well is that Emma Grace isn't coughing and sneezing all over the place. We are washing our hands like crazy (mine are raw, cracked and bleeding but it's worth it!) and being very careful.

I have nothing else exciting to post today. Oh, except for the fact that coming home from the doctor yesterday we came upon a bad accident. No emergency vehicles were on the scene yet. We were about 10 cars behind where it happened, and I could only see one car to begin with. But as cars started turning around, I saw another van that had hit a tree. The thought crossed my mind to get out and help, but I didn't want to leave Emma Grace alone in the car, and I could hear sirens on the way. Gib asked me if I got out to help or not. It has been so long since I've done anything truly medical, the thought scares me. (Although part of me misses it!) Emma Grace and I prayed for those involved for it didn't look good at all. The two lane road was completely blocked with 5 ambulances, three firetrucks and multiple police cars. I didn't mind at all that it took us forever to get home. I was just thanking God that we weren't involved and still praying for those involved and their families. Reality always kicks in with me when we are so close to an accident scene. If we had left the doctor's office sooner or had not gotten stopped by a long traffic light, it easily could have been us.

I have a post about expectations that I'm hoping to get up soon. I've been pondering it for quite a while. Oh, and they did cancel the field trip to the Christmas Tree Farm today. Not that it matters for us!

Have a great day!

***Matthew is up and seems to be fine so far***

Love,
Tonya

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tidbits from T

*It's another cold, gray, windy day here in GA. We may even see some snow flurries later. Of course the kids are hoping for a real snow, but it's just not gonna happen this time. We are staying in today, but I will have to go to the grocery store at some point.

*Emma Grace woke up at 4am with a fever of 102. She has no other symptoms, but I'm worried about Matthew. She was around him a lot yesterday. I'm just praying that he stays well, along with the rest of us.

*Jessica spent the day yesterday with her 6th grade group from church. About 13 of the girls got together and had breakfast at Chick-fil-A. They walked to the dollar store and bought things for shoe boxes for local foster children. They went to one of the small group leader's house and assembled them, ordered pizza, watched a movie and ate smores. Turns out she was at the home of a Georgia Bulldog football player. A very good one, in fact. This made her Daddy very happy!

*Gib's Christmas party was Friday night. My sister-in-law, Cheryl, came to watch the kids. Thank you! It was nice to get out and have some adult time and conversation. The food was delicious, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I cleaned my plate...all three of them (salad, entree and dessert). It's absolutely amazing how hungry I am while breastfeeding. I can out-eat even the hungriest man, I'm sure!

I went shopping to find something new to wear. And struck out, as usual. I think I'm shopping in the wrong stores. I bought a pair of new black slacks, and I'm taking them back. They seemed to fit well, but by the end of the night, they had stretched so much that the waist band was falling off my hips. I borrowed a red shirt from a friend of mine that I was going to wear until I discovered it was missing the top button. Turns out it was a good thing that I wore one of my previous Christmas shirts because I splattered juice from my steak all over myself. Uggh. I would have HATED to mess up her shirt!

Not only did I splatter myself with steak juice, I knocked over my place card and the Principal's wife's place card. And I was only drinking water and diet coke! Since I couldn't blame it on the clumsiness of pregnancy, I blamed it on sleep deprivation. I was up all night the night before because my sweet friend, Jenny, across the street spent the night at the hospital with her husband (he is fine and home now). I, in turn, spent the night at her house with her kids, and only got an hour nap on Friday.

I've put in my order for a nap later today since I didn't get one yesterday!

*I mentioned that I spoke with the neurologist, Dr. S, again on Wednesday. I called back to get the measurements of the damage in Matthew's brain. I never expected Dr. S to call me himself, but he did. I was impressed by that. He explained that it is hard to get an exact measurement because fluid is communicating between the cavity and ventricle. He and the neuroradiologist estimated it to be 1 inch long and 1/8 inch thick. That's pretty big for such a small brain, at least it is to me.

I asked him if porencephaly really is as rare as the internet makes it out to be. He said it is uncommon but not unheard of. He said it is more common with larger brain bleeds, grade 3-4. Matthew's was grade 2-3. However, Dr. S wants me to get his images from his first cranial ultrasounds put on a cd and bring them with me to our next appointment in January. He wants to review them with a neuroradiologist that he trusts.

He was still encouraging, optimistic and somewhat confident that Matthew would be okay. He never said he would be fine, but he requested an invitation to his high school graduation and said he wouldn't be surprised if Matthew doesn't "have a great double handed backstroke if he plays tennis". He said we will know more about his fine motor skills around 9 months of age when Matthew develops the pincer grasp. Dr. S definitely has an interesting and very different personality, but I think I've broken through his shell. He called me a "highly intelligent mother" and told me to "be sweet" as we hung up. In his office at our visit, I told him we were going to work very hard to help Matthew be the best he could be. He said, "With you I would expect nothing less". I told him I would take that as a compliment, and he said, "It was meant as one". He seems to be knowledgeable, so for now, I'm sticking with him. He seems to be making an effort to answer my questions and even put me at ease a bit. Of course I appreciate that.

We can't get into physical therapy until January. I'm still working with Matthew on my own and am praying each and every day that he will be okay. I've even started praying for his right leg, too. Things seem fine for now, but it's hard to know at this point.

*The girls get out of school this Thursday for Christmas break, and I'm ready! I love having them home. Even if we don't do much, I just like knowing they're here, hanging out in our jammies and just enjoying each other. I started my Christmas shopping yesterday but still have a good bit to do. It has definitely crept up on me!

*I've got to find a time to take Matthew and the girls to see Santa. I surely do NOT want to do it on a weekend! I'm thinking maybe we will go out this Friday since most local schools will still be in session.

*I was all excited about doing Christmas cards this year because I didn't do them last year, but Gib shot me down this morning. I know it's expensive, and the postage usually costs more than the actual cards. I typically do them at Sam's and send out around 200. I was going to send an announcement of Matthew with them, but unfortunately I still don't have his newborn pictures from my friend. :( I'm sad, though, because I don't want Matthew to be the only one of our kids who doesn't have an announcement. Even Grady had one...

So, this morning I've been thinking of how I can share our news, life and a recent picture of the kids with everyone. I'm thinking of sending out an email to everyone for whom I have an email address and only ordering a few picture Christmas cards. That should cut down on the cost for us and will be more earth friendly by saving paper.

*My nephew, Sean, turned 21 yesterday! I absolutely cannot believe it! It seems like yesterday he was born. My how time does fly. I wish I had a recent picture of him to share, but I don't. I'm hoping he had a great, fun, safe time celebrating last night.

I remember when I turned 21, Gib and I went out to dinner. For the life of me, I cannot remember where we went, but it was somewhere in Buckhead. I ordered a drink and didn't even get carded. I was so mad! I told our waitress that it was my 21st birthday, and I couldn't believe she didn't card me. I went on to say that if I had come in the night before she surely would have asked for my ID. What happened next? She asked for my ID. HA!

*I still have my thank you notes to write. I HATE that it is taking me so long. I really have no great excuse, other than the fact that between pumping and feeding Matthew, playing with him and trying to keep up with daily chores, there's not much extra time. I will get them done, though!

*I can't think of much more to bore you with right now. It is now evening time. I tried to nap but more rested than anything. Still have to go to the grocery store. About to start dinner. We have had some snow flurries. And now Gib doesn't feel well. But Emma Grace has been jumping and playing all afternoon. Her temp has been up, but it's not slowing her down. She still has no other symptoms. The jury is out as to whether she will go to school tomorrow or not.

Her class is supposed to go on a field trip to a Christmas tree farm Tuesday. But I'm strongly considering keeping her home if they don't cancel it. It is supposed to be 13 that morning, windy and a high of 34. They will leave at 8:30 to head there. I cannot imagine that they will go through with it because they don't even go out for recess when it's this cold. We'll see.

Toodles for now!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chuckles - No Matter What

I am so very happy and pleased to tell you that on this very cold, gray day here in Georgia, sweet little Matthew chuckled for the first time! It was the most precious sound I've ever heard. Except for when Jessica and Emma Grace chuckled for the first time, of course.

He has been so close several times, and I'm not convinced that he hasn't semi-laughed before. Like just a little, heh. I really wish you could hear what I'm trying to say!

But earlier tonight, the girls were sitting behind me as I sort of dug my mouth just under his chin/cheek area, making a funny noise while doing it. He chuckled and then we scared him with our reaction. Poor baby! He didn't cry, but he was definitely startled. I did it again, and he chuckled again. Sweet, sweet! Oh, the joy. I've been waiting to hear that sweet sound!

Not long before that moment, I heard a song that I've never heard before. The title on the television caught my attention, and I turned it up to listen. It might be one of my new favorite songs, and I'm adding it to my play list when I have time.

It's called "No Matter What" by Kerrie Roberts. It absolutely couldn't be more perfect for our life, right now and in the past. The song speaks truth and straight to my heart. I'll let you google it if you want to hear it, but here are the lyrics from this site.

I’m running back to Your promises one more time
Lord that’s all I can hold on to
I gotta say this has taken me by surprise, but nothing surprises You
Before a heartache can ever touch my life
It has to go through Your hands

And even though I keep asking why, I keep asking why No matter what, I’m gonna love You
No matter what I’m gonna need You
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not, I’ll trust You no matter what, no matter what

When I’m stuck in this nothingness by myself
I’m just sitting in silence
There’s no way I can make it without Your help, I won’t even try it
I know You have Your reasons for everything so I will keep believing
Whatever I might be feeling, God You are my hope
And You will be my strength

Anything I don’t have You can give it to me, but it’s OK if You don’t
I’m not here for those things
The touch of Your love is enough on its own
No matter what I still love You and I’m gonna need You

No matter what I’m gonna love You, no matter what I’m gonna need You
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, if not, I’ll trust You
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, but if not, I’ll trust You

No matter what
No matter no matter what
No matter no matter what
No matter no matter what


Even if we hadn't gotten good news about Matthew, God is still good. No matter what, we would choose to trust Him. I'm so thankful and grateful for this blessing. I actually spoke to the neurologist again this morning about the size of the affected area of Matthew's brain. I hope to post about that tomorrow.

If you need some encouragement and want to hear a beautiful voice, look up this song and take 3 minutes to listen to it.

Love,
Tonya

Monday, December 6, 2010

Answers

Whew, what a day! Is it bedtime yet? Almost, and I'm ready!

So we went to the neurologist today. His name is Dr. S. I sure was glad to have the heads up about his bedside manner. I was NOT initially impressed at all. However, he somewhat redeemed himself toward the end of our appointment.

As for Matthew's diagnosis and prognosis, we left with the best possible news we could, all things considered. Basically, the brain bleed that Matthew had at birth has caused a "hole" or "cavity" to form in the area of brain tissue that was damaged. I wish I could draw it for you. Dr. S was able to pull up the actual image on his computer, and the area looked huge to me. My heart sank when I saw it. But, he categorized it as a small to medium area and went on to say, "we'll call it small for your anxiety level". I called back to get the actual measurements because I just want to know.

Basically, he said we need to think of Matthew as "a normal baby with mild cerebral palsy". I sure didn't want that diagnosis, but it could be MUCH worse. We went in to this appointment knowing things were not perfect, so we didn't expect to hear that he was fine. He assessed Matthew and said we needed to start some physical therapy for his right arm/hand. It really is too early for us to tell much because Matthew hasn't reached the age of many physical developmental milestones yet. Dr. S did say that intellectually, Matthew should be fine.

Dr. S said that Matthew has some extra fluid in his head, but that "it doesn't excite" him. He seemed to think it would go away. As long as his head keeps growing at a normal rate and size, he should be fine.

Dr. S said this is not something that will get worse. It is the way it is to stay. I was glad to hear that! I was worried that the area would grow, and we might start seeing more symptoms/side effects. He was encouraging that the stem cells in Matthew's brain could possibly compensate for the damaged area. He said he couldn't promise that Matthew would "grow up and text with his right hand", but only time will tell. He told me to think positive and even cracked a smile a couple of times. If I'm not mistaken, he even chuckled once.

Matthew will most likely have to have another MRI in the future, but Dr. S said it might not be until a year from now. We will go back to see him in a month and in the mean time, start physical therapy.

Our pastor and some elders of the church prayed over Matthew yesterday after the service. It was really special how it all came about. I'm too tired for details, but the prayer was awesome, and I really felt at peace.

Thank you SO much for your prayers for our sweet boy! I will keep you posted. And, by the way, I can already see much improvement with Matthew's right arm/hand with the things I've been doing with him. He is bringing his right fist to his mouth without help and several times today, he opened his right hand, also without help. I truly am encouraged with God's healing hand and physical therapy, that Matthew WILL be able to text with his right hand when he gets older. If not, it's okay...everything will probably be voice commands by then anyway! HA!

Love,
Tonya

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Up and Down

I've been up. And I've been down.

Emotionally that is.

One minute I feel encouraged and at peace, and the next, the heaviness sets in along with the uncertainty of the future. I know I have no control over it. I know God IS in control. Of all of it.

We did get an appointment with a neurologist for this coming Monday at 10:40am. I was very impressed by the doctor's biography on their website and felt pretty good about it. He apparently has published some articles on the high risk preterm infant and neurological complications. But I remained a bit skeptical of getting in so quickly. Maybe that is because this doctor isn't commonly called on for referrals...read on.

I received an email this morning from friend who reads my blog. She gave me the name of a great neuro that her daughter has seen and further in the email, she said "Try to avoid Dr. {blank}. He is cocky and does not listen." She had seen him with one of her children. Well, unfortunately this is the doctor we are scheduled to see. I know this is one person's opinion and everyone is different. But I trust her opinion as she is a nurse and a friend.

I am keeping the appointment because I want to be able to ask some questions and need some answers fairly quickly for my own sanity. If I hate him, I don't have to go back. I can make an appointment with another doctor and wait a while to be seen. Should be interesting. Gib is going to take off work to go with me which I'm relieved about. He has testing next week, but it doesn't start on Monday. And listen to this...

I was supposed to have jury duty next week. Right after I got my summons, I called and left a message to see if I could delay my duty. I told them I had a young infant who I was nursing (they don't need to know that I'm pumping...I'm sort of nursing...just not directly). I didn't hear back from them, so I asked several people to watch Matthew. I called back on Tuesday and actually got a person. She was the sweetest thing ever. I told her my situation, and she removed me from my duty! She even said that if my name gets pulled again and I'm still nursing just to call her back and she will take me off again. It all worked out with Matthew's appointment being next week. However, if I hadn't already asked to be relieved, I certainly would have called after learning of the appointment time.

That's about all for now. I have several posts brewing in my brain, but they are very time and emotion-involved. Thanks again for the sweet comments, emails and most of all your prayers!

Oh, and one more thing, I receive daily devotions via email from the Proverbs 31 Ministries. Yesterday's title was "Don't Overthink It". The verse was from Phillipians 4:6 (NLT), "Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all He has done." WOW! I needed that yesterday (and everyday really!). If you would like to read the entire devotion, click here.

Love,
Tonya

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Voice of Reason and Matthew's Song

The last 48ish hours have been hard. And that's an understatement.

I have yet to find anything positive about porencephaly online. I literally spent yesterday obsessing and pacing the floor. And praying, too.

I had a hard time putting Matthew down, so he paced with me in my arms. I spent lots of time on the phone with the insurance company and doctor's office. Hopefully, we will have an appointment Monday with a neurologist. I'm excited but a little concerned that we can get an appointment so quickly. Most pediatric neurologists are booked at least two months out. I'm just wondering if the one we are seeing is really that great (he was NOT my peds first choice). But you have to be pretty smart to be a neurologist, and I'm just counting it as a blessing and gift from God to have the opportunity to get some answers this soon. If I don't like him, I can always wait longer and get a second opinion from someone else. I love options.

My voice of reason spoke with me last night. Betcha can't guess who that is...

Yep, her name is Suzanne. Not only did I talk to her, but she talked to Dr. L, the neonatologist from the NICU. When she told him about Matthew, he all but blew it off and said it was common in preemies after a bleed, baby's compensate well and it should be no big deal. I know Dr. L isn't God, but I do have lots of faith and trust in his wisdom, knowledge and expertise. He is one of the smartest people I've ever met. I was able to breathe a slight sigh of relief after talking to Suzanne. She told me I was looking in the wrong places. That I should only be looking in medical journals for info, but I don't have the kind of access she does. I tried google scholar, but could only read a few abstracts. The size and location of this cyst/cavity is going to be a huge determining factor in Matthew's prognosis. The neurologist should be able to pull up the image/results digitally at our appointment and give us more info. No offense to radiologists out there, but I don't know the qualifications of the one who read his scan and gave no measurements. That's just not right.

Anyway, after I posted about the results, I went to prepare dinner. The whole time I was in the kitchen, and the rest of Monday evening, I just kept telling myself that God is bigger than this. Telling God that He is bigger than this.

When I went to bed that night, with my mind still wandering, a song jumped into my head. It is the song that gave me the most hope that Matthew would be born alive. The song that would bring me to tears every time we sang it at church. The chorus played over and over in my head. I have referred to it several times as "Matthew's song", but now it really is.

The song is "Our God is Greater" by Chris Tomlin, song number 22 on my playlist below. Here's the chorus:

CHORUS
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

And I love the bridge too:

BRIDGE
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?

(Lyrics taken from here)

As I paced and prayed, I repeated those words. I do feel a bit more at peace today. But it's hard to completely rest when something might be wrong with your child. And even though the bible tells us not to worry, I'm human just like everyone else. I trust God in His plan for Matthew and our family, and I'm praying for a great outcome from all of this. I know you will pray for us too, and you will never know how grateful I am for that!

I'm calling the doctor back today to see if we can get Matthew started on some physical therapy for his right arm/hand soon. I've been working with him and have seen some improvement. I can only hope that a professional will help even more. I will keep you posted on all of this in the days to come.

Thanks for always "listening" to me!

Love,
Tonya

Monday, November 29, 2010

Results. Seriously?!?!?

This will be short. Spoke with Dr. E. Matthew's brain bleed is gone with just iron deposits left behind which is normal.

What isn't normal is that he now has a porencephalic cyst in the area that was damaged. We will be seeing a pediatric neurologist about this. Of course I looked it up on the internet.

Guess what?

It is extremely rare!

Really?

You've got to be kidding me.

Most of the children with this have learning delays, autism, paralysis on part of their body, cerebral palsy, seizures and so forth. This only validates my observation that he uses his left arm/hand more than his right. I've been working with him on it, but we will definitely be starting physical therapy.

The radiologist who read the scan didn't give any specific measurements of the cyst or its exact location. We will have to wait to see the neurologist for this. I have no idea if these things can grow or what.

I know more MRI's will be in our future. And Lord only knows what else.

I know God is in control, and He has a plan for our precious boy. I love Matthew regardless. But I sure wish he could catch a break!

Isn't he just the cutest?!




Will post more later. I'm still processing this, but I'm already praying...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tidbits from T

*I'm sad that Thanksgiving break is over. Gib and the girls will be heading back to work and school tomorrow. This week flew by!

*We put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night. It is completely decorated, but the other decorations are still in boxes/containers. Someone needs to get busy!

*Gib commented last night about how great the girls have gotten along this week. And they really have. They spent time playing on the computer, reading, playing their electronic gadgets and making their Christmas lists. Yes, plural. For Santa and Mom and Dad. They have enjoyed staying in their pj's most every day, only to change into more pj's after showering. I will miss them tomorrow for sure!

*The girls and I were able to successfully fight off our cold/crud this week. But poor Matthew has succumb to the sneezes and stuffy/runny nose. I hate it for him. Gib and I were up all night (literally) last night with him in the rocking chair. He slept as long as we were holding him, but we didn't sleep much at all. Hopefully it is just a cold and won't turn into anything more. Insurance denied his Synagis vaccine for RSV. Uggh.

*This cold is going to interrupt his good sleeping habits, I'm afraid. He was going to bed at 7-8pm and sleeping until 6-7am. In his own bed! He was just settling into somewhat of a good nap schedule, too. Hopefully, he will get back on track when his stuffiness goes away.

*I was so mad Friday. I started calling the doctor's office at 10am and continuously got a busy signal. Then at noon I got the after hours paging service. I will post the results of Matthew's MRI tomorrow when I get them. They better have them!

*Matthew had his first taste of formula yesterday. I only gave him an ounce with one of his feedings, but he will get another ounce today. I want to slowly introduce him to it. I'm down to four bags of breast milk in the freezer. Sad! I anticipate that he will get anywhere from 3-5 ounces of formula a day.

*I had such a hard time keeping track of what day it was this past week. After Thanksgiving, it really got bad. I thought Thursday was Friday and Friday was Saturday. It doesn't feel like today is Sunday either, probably because we didn't go to church.

*I have more to say but Matthew is crying. Will post again tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Two Years Ago

This is the third time I've started this post. It started out entitled Thankful Tidbits. But as I started writing, it has turned into my reflections on my Thanksgiving two years ago right after Grady went to heaven.

So, that's where I'm headed.

But I do want to say that I'm so very thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For without Him, I would be nothing. I'm thankful for his love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I'm thankful for His promises. I'm thankful for the gift of salvation and hope of heaven that I have through my very own (salvation that is). I'm thankful for how He has been with me every step of the last two years.

I reflected on my Thanksgiving two years ago. I wasn't speaking to God. To say that I was mad would be an understatement. I had already lost my mom and dad, all of my grandparents, a miscarriage and almost Emma Grace. Now the baby who had lived and grown inside of me was dead, too. I really just felt like He needed to go pick on someone else. Maybe one of those people whose life seemed to be perfect (even though I know there's no such thing).

I didn't want to be around anyone. I couldn't stand the "elephant" in the room. Everyone wanted to talk about Grady and then they didn't. So no one would say anything. And he was all I wanted to talk about, but no one really wanted to listen because then they would have to talk and they didn't know what to say. A vicious, evil circle.

We didn't get together with our families, Instead we went to dinner at the Cracker Barrel and then to Lake Lanier to see the Nights of Lights. At the end of the lights was a mini carnival. We had no idea that it was there, but of course the girls wanted to play. So we did. It was fun. It really was a great memory-maker, but I couldn't help but think of how I should have been home with my newborn. I wanted to grab strangers and tell them that my baby had just died. We all (me, Gib and the girls) rode our first Ferris wheel together. It was fun, but the seat belt hurt my incision from my c-section. I remember being on the very top waiting for people below to load, looking out over the clear, dark, cold night and longing for my Baby Grady.

I remember coming home and after everyone was in bed, I watched my Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep DVD that I have of Grady and cried and cried. I couldn't talk to God, or rather I chose not to. Instead I got a brand new journal and just started writing. I thought maybe if I wrote my thoughts and feelings out, He would hear me still without me having to actually pray. (It wasn't until the end of January before I started speaking to God again. I'm not proud of that at all. I'm not boasting about it. It's just the truth. And believe me, I've asked for His forgiveness. I wish I could be as forgiving as Him. It's something I'm working on and something that I believe He's working on in me.)

I'm going to be very vulnerable and share with you what I wrote. I'm truly not sure why I'm writing this tonight, except that maybe I need to OR maybe someone needs to read it. Remember this was very early in my grief, just a couple of weeks after Grady's death. The pain was raw and real. Here goes...


Dear God,

I just don't understand! Why did you need Grady in heaven so bad? We wanted him here with us. I feel like you teased me with a pregnancy and a healthy baby and then cheated me at the end. We weren't going to have any more children. He was a surprise. I really felt like he was meant to be here & complete our family. I always would think of having more children but was so scared of going through the prematurity struggles again. I would always hear the words "ye of little faith" in my head. Lord, I trusted you and had faith that you would protect Baby Grady and bring him here healthy and safe. You did neither. He was alive in me one minute and gone the next. He will always be my son, my third child. I will cherish the 36 weeks and 5 days he spent growing inside of me - feeling his every move. But Lord it doesn't seem right and it's SO NOT FAIR! I know you have your reasons for taking him, but WHY HIM? WHY US? WHY ME AGAIN? Why did you take someone else that I love? Am I that bad of a person? Is this some sort of punishment? I just wish I knew! I try to remind myself often, even right now, that you have plans to prosper and not harm me, but it doesn't feel that way at this point in my life. There are people who don't want their babies, abuse them, even kill them. I am not one of those people. But you didn't take their babies from them. Lord, I'm hurt, heartbroken to the core, deeper than I ever thought I could hurt. I'm mad, confused, frustrated, feeling guilty and blaming myself for what I maybe could have done differently. Yet I am so thankful to you Lord for Gib, Jessica and Emma Grace - for the blessings that they are in my life. Lord, please don't take them from me too - PLEASE! I'm having a hard time praying right now, but I knew you would listen and know my heart even if I wrote it down. Lord, as much as I am hurting and blaming you for this - for taking Baby Grady - I do need your help to get through this. I can't do this alone. No one understands what I'm going through. This deep dark pit that I've fallen into and can't get out of. There's light all around me - Gib, the girls, the world keeps on moving - but there I am. Stuck. Lonely. Sad to the point of despair. It hurts so bad that it's hard to breathe at times. I know that time will make it easier but I'll never get over losing this precious baby boy. But Lord, I need help getting through this. The days are so long. My mind never stops. Everything plays over and over in my head. Now I'm starting to have regrets, but at the time we did what we thought was the right thing. I didn't want the girls to remember seeing their baby brother laying there lifeless. Now Jessica says she wanted to see him and my guess is that Emma Grace did too. We should have asked them - I feel so guilty about that. I was trying to protect their hearts as much as I could. I thought pictures would be good enough and then they could form their own images of him. Hopefully they will forgive me one day and I can forgive myself too. I wish that even though we took pictures, we didn't take enough. We should have taken more. I wish I had a picture of me holding him. I wish I had held him more, even though I was blessed to hold him as much as I did. I wish I had sang to him the songs the girls love for me to sing. Those are a few of my regrets. Most of all, I wish I was holding him right now or nursing him or wishing he would go to sleep because I was exhausted from being up all night with him. But instead the reality is, I'm writing in this journal, pouring my heart and feelings out to you God, desperately needing your help to work through this. In Jesus Name, Amen


So, I guess it was sort of a prayer, considering how I ended it.

It is amazing to see how far I've come in this grief process. I think about Grady and miss him every day. I always will. But there is no way you could have told me two years ago that I would be holding another baby boy who I'm madly in love with. I was never going to be pregnant again! I just knew my heart couldn't dare be set up for such heartache again.

But hold another boy I have been...And loving every minute of it! I'm so thankful God led us to the decision to try again. For if we had not, a true gift and blessing would have been squelched. I'm thankful for my whole family, and I'm thankful to be where I am right now.

Love,
Tonya

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quick Update

Hello all! I'm too tired for much tonight, and I almost didn't even get on the computer. But, I felt that I at least owed it to those of you, who read and pray for our family, to let you know that Matthew did great with his MRI today!

I woke him up at 3:30 to feed him, and he wasn't a bit hungry before he went in at 8:40 for his scan. Miracle! He barely goes three hours during the day between feedings without crying to eat! He cried minimally, mainly fussed, getting his IV, which did take two sticks. He didn't have any adverse reactions to the sedation. (He didn't fight it nearly as bad as Jessica did at age two when she had this done.) We were out of there and home by 11am, and the hospital is almost an hour away.

Overall, it was a good day. Hopefully we will have his results back Friday. We would get them tomorrow, but since it's Thanksgiving and the doctor's office is closed, we have to wait. I will post the results when I have them.

I woke up at 2:30 to pump and did get a two hour nap this afternoon, but I'm pooped and heading for bed now. Well, after I pump again that is. The girls and I are trying to get sick, I'm afraid. They have stuffy noses, and so do I, along with a scratchy throat. I just feel run down. Hopefully some good rest will do me some good.

Thanks again for the prayers!

Nighty night!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tomorrow

I can't tell you how I'm dreading tomorrow. I'm having such a hard time with this whole MRI thing. I'm trying really hard to keep things in perspective.

This is just a test. It's non-invasive except for the needle stick to start his IV. He isn't having surgery like so many babies have daily. This is really minor compared to what we could be going through. I realize that. And I also know that many parents wish their baby was just having a MRI tomorrow instead of something more serious.

But ...I have all sorts of crazy fears related to the procedure. I'll just share a few...

I'm afraid that he will have some sort of negative side effects from the sedation.

I'm afraid that he will have a hard time coming out of the sedation.

I'm afraid that he will reflux and aspirate while on the MRI table, even though he won't have anything to eat after 4am.

I'm afraid they won't be able to get his IV started without multiple sticks.

I'm afraid he will be cold while on that hard table (not that he will know it).

I'm afraid he is going to be miserable and screaming hungry before the test and there is nothing I can do about it.

And as much as I want to know the status of this brain bleed, I'm afraid of what the results might be.

The bottom line is that I need to just stop worrying and give it to God. I need to rest in the fact that he is in control of this whole situation. And it could be a whole lot worse.

Will you pray with us and for us?

Thanks.

I knew you would!

I will be so glad when it's all over!

Love,
Tonya

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Matthew at 4 Months



(See the bubbles on his chin just below his bottom lip? One of his favorite things to do these days is drool and blow bubbles!)

I say this every time I write a post like this, but I can't believe Matthew is already 4 months old! I really don't know where the time has gone. I just know it's passing way too quickly.

As usual, I'm late in getting this written. He turned 4 months on Monday, November 16th. I took him for his check up that day. He weighed in at a whopping 14 pounds, 2 ounces (35th percentile), and he is 23 3/4 inches long (10th percentile). For some crazy reason, my doctor is not using an adjusted age for his stats, so Matthew is holding his own pretty well. I bet his percentiles would be much higher on an adjusted scale. Dr. E is cutting him a little slack where his motor development is concerned, but praise God, not much has been needed.

For the life of me, I can't get any good pictures of him smiling at the camera. He always turns his head!



Let's see what's new with this little guy...

First and foremost, HE HAS STOPPED HOLDING HIS BREATH WHEN HE EATS! Praise the Lord! And it was like magic. I started to see a little improvement around his 3 month birthday, but one day something just clicked, and he hasn't held his breath since. You just don't know what a relief it is. I can finally cradle him in my arm during feeds instead of propping him on my leg with his head in my hand to give me better control.

He was holding his breath with breast and bottle, but I always said that once he stopped, I would try to nurse him again. And try I did. But only twice. As I expected, it didn't go very well. And I'm okay with it. I'm still pumping (about 30-34 ounces a day!) and he's still getting nothing but breast milk. If I'm honest, I kinda like the freedom it gives me. In a way, I'm still a slave to the pump, but I'm only pumping about 6 times a day. It's manageable.

I decided not to start him on solids just yet. If I can, I want to hold off until he gets his first tooth. With the way his appetite is increasing, I may not be able to wait that long, but we will see. He eats 6 ounces every 3 hours. Sometimes he doesn't make it a full 3 hours, and I'm not such a stickler...if he's hungry, I feed him! His last full bottle is around 6pm. He gets a little "night cap" of 2-3 ounces between 7:30-8:30 before he goes to bed.

Speaking of bed, he slept the whole night in his crib for the first time last night! It's such a mix for me. On one hand it's a YAY! On the other it's a BOO HOO! He's growing up! Call me a wimp, but I can't let him cry it out. I tried early in the week. I let him cry for 15 minutes and caved. I can handle the fussing, but not the pitiful cry and screaming. He was hoarse for two days afterwards! It broke my heart, and I felt like the worst mom ever. I've been trying to catch him before he gets overtired. I rock and sing a couple of songs and put him down drowsy but awake. Granted he has his paci to soothe him, but he has been falling asleep alone. And he spits his paci out within 10 minutes of going to sleep. When I put him in his crib last night at 8:45, I fully expected to transfer him to my bed later (he has been starting out in my bed and staying there). But that sweet boy didn't make a peep until 5:15 this morning. I gave him his paci, and he slept until 7:10. WOW! He has been sleeping like a champ in the bed with me, but this was the first time in his own bed. I'm anxious to see what tonight holds... (It is now Sunday morning and I'm trying to finish this post. Seems it wasn't a fluke...he slept in his crib from 8:15 last night until 7 this morning. I didn't have to give him his paci once. Big boy. Now, if he could get his naps to go just as well...)

Motor wise, he is holding his head up pretty much by himself with just a little bobbing. He has found that he can stand on his feet, but I don't let him do it for too long. He loves his hands, especially his left one. I'm a little concerned because he doesn't move his right arm/hand as much as his left. The only reason I'm concerned is because his brain bleed was on the left side. He has started swatting at the toys on the toy bar of his bouncy seat. He kicks his legs with equal gusto and strength which has become one of my favorite things to watch when I change his diaper. He gets so excited for himself. He likes to be in the swing and just last night found the mirror above him.




He hasn't rolled over yet, but he's working on it with some help from Mommy. He likes to be on his activity mat when we try this.




He has tummy time every day. Sometimes on just the flat surface of his crib or the activity mat. Sometimes propped up on his boppy pillow. He loves to look at himself in the mirror. His hands are the perfect snack to help him through his hard work!




He loves to "talk" to me and his smile just melts my heart. He will lock eyes with me for a long time, and we converse back and forth with each other. It is one of my most favorite things about him right now.

He is wearing 3-6 and 6 month clothes, depending on how they're made. I have had dilemma over sleepers lately. I'm so picky. I have found that I'm not crazy about sleepers with zippers because of the huge hump that it creates on his chest. I love the snap ones. The other problem is that his feet don't stay in the feet part, so when he stretches and kicks his legs, his toes get squished. Sigh. I try to think about what would be comfortable to me, and neither of those would be. One night he slept in a white onesie, soft pants and socks. I guess I need to find sleepers with snaps and without feet. Picky or what!?!?

He is in size 1-2 diapers. I think he will be a Pampers baby because leaks from these Huggies far too often for my liking.

I can't think of much more to update about him. He looks a lot like his sisters when they were babies, especially Jessica. Maybe I can get Gib to scan a few pictures to compare at some point. He's growing like a weed and is developing his personality nicely. He's still a very good baby. He has fussy times like all babies do, but I find that if I put him down for a nap soon enough, he's much happier. He had a few days of just plain ole being unhappy, and I realized he was overtired. He can only stay up for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours at a time.

His MRI is coming up this Wednesday, November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. Please pray for him and us. I will wake him up at 2:30 to feed him because he can't have anything to eat after 3am. We check in at 7am and his scan is at 8am. Please pray that he won't be screaming hungry, and if he is that his paci will soothe him enough to get him through. He was a hard stick in the NICU, so please pray that they can get his IV started easily. (I wish Suzanne could go with us and start it for them!) Please pray that he will do well with the sedation and not have any negative side effects, that he will stay still for the scan, and most importantly that the scan will be clear!

Dr. E also discovered that he has a hydrocele, which is fluid in one of his testicles. From what I've read it's pretty common and most of them close themselves. I think his is a communicating hydrocele because I notice that it's smaller in the morning and larger in the evening. This means there is still an opening between his abdomen and testicle and fluid can flow freely between the two. These more commonly require surgery than a noncommunicating one. Time will tell. I'm praying that it will close before he turns one and that it doesn't get worse or develop into a hernia. (I've read too much as usual!)

I hope to post about Grady's birthday soon. Have a great weekend!

Love,
Tonya

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Today.

Today.

Was.

Hard.

Harder than Friday by far.

This was the day that I was scheduled for my c-section with Grady. The day that, had he lived, he would have turned two.

This was also the day, two years ago, that I held him for the last time.

Kissed his sweet, soft, chubby cheek for the last time.

And told him goodbye.

For now.

I think it was harder this year because, in many ways, I don't feel validated in my grief anymore. I don't feel like I can really express my sadness over Grady. Even to my husband.

And for some crazy reason, every time I express grief or sadness, I immediately feel like I need to defend myself and proclaim my gratefulness for the blessing of my living children.

Crazy.

Joy and sorrow can co-exist. Grief and thankfulness can, too.

The End.

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Grady!

I spent the day reflecting on your life, death and birth. I wish they weren't in that order. I know you're safe and happy in heaven and for that I'm grateful. I rest in that truth. And as much as I long to see and hold you, I wouldn't wish you back here. I long for the day our family is together in heaven with you.

We released balloons, went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner and made cupcakes for your birthday. I hope you felt our love from here in heaven.

We miss you and love you bunches sweet boy!

Hugs and Kisses to Heaven,

Mommy


I thought of you today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence. I often speak your name. All I have are memories and a picture in a frame. Your memory is a keepsake in which I'll never part. God has you in his keeping, I have you in my ♥. ~author unknown~










You have no idea how much I love this boy. Amazing how such a strong love can grow in such a short time and how it will last a lifetime!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thoughts Today

I have no idea where this post is going or from where it is coming. I just need to write. So many things are floating around in my brain.

Yesterday, I couldn't get out of my mind the fact that it was the last full day Grady was alive two years ago. On said day, I was ignorantly blissful that we only had four days until he would be born. On this day today, we were down to three. Again, blinded as to what was to come. Excited about what was to be and who would be arriving in such a short time.

I can't help but think back to last year, too. So, to remember more clearly, I just read this post that I wrote a year ago. I was so thankful to my sweet friend Jenny for coming to give me a hug. For recognizing it was a tough time for me.

***Speaking of Jenny, she survived 94 days of bed rest and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on November 5th. Her name is Ruth, and both mom and baby are home and doing well.***

It's tough this year, too. In some ways, I think it's harder than last year. I attribute that to the fact that my beautiful Matthew is here. Let me be very clear that he is his own person. Not one second do I mistake him for Grady or wish he was Grady or think he is Grady. However, Matthew is a living baby boy. Praise the Lord for the gift of his life! He is living, and as much as I would love to deny it, I can't. He is a reminder, in many ways, of who is not living. A reminder of someone who never had a chance at life outside of my womb.

And even though I've said it many times before, I will say this again...

I cannot imagine my life without Matthew!

Yet, I still grieve Grady.

And I know, truly know, that if Grady had lived, Matthew would not be here.

Gulp.

I can't choose between the two in my heart, nor do I want to. It becomes gray and cloudy. It is not black and white when it comes to my love and feelings for my two boys. Just like I could never choose between my two living little girls.

What IS very clear is this...

God's plan included Matthew as a living part of our family. God's plan for Grady was for him to live only inside of me. Grady's purpose was fulfilled in the 36 weeks and 4 days that his heart beat inside of me.

I can't tell you the number of people who have looked at Matthew and said, "See, everything happens for a reason." It happened just yesterday. It doesn't make me angry, but it does make me want to shout the importance of Grady's life and that Matthew doesn't take his place.

I know I'm a broken record. So, I'll stop.

I doubt that I will be able to retreat and journal to Grady this afternoon between 4:30 and 5 like I did last year around the time he died. In fact, it has been a very long time since I've written in my Grady journal. I will, however, sit at the dinner table and probably remember that's where I first suspected something wasn't right. I couldn't sit at the dinner table last year on this day.

Other thoughts to share...

I had an amazing "conversation" with Matthew a bit ago. He "talked" to me in his sweet, baby voice and flashed his cute smile, and I wished our video camera was charged. How terrible...we haven't videoed since we left the NICU. BAD MOM!

I am finally reading "The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer". I've had the book since Emma Grace was a baby. I went looking for my Dr. Sears "The Baby Book" and found that one instead. Seems I got rid of the other one. The book talks a lot about respecting your babies. I've always tried to respect my children, and I've been thinking a lot about those who don't.

Speaking of, as I was taking Emma Grace to school this morning, we came up to a stop sign to see an unpleasant exchange between a young boy and his father. This boy was clearly upset, trying to fight back tears. His father was angry and the boy snatched his book from him just as the bus came. As the father walked away, the boy yelled something across the street. My heart literally broke for that boy. I prayed aloud for him as we left the subdivision. I don't know details and the boy could have clearly been in the wrong. But, as parents, we set the tone for our children's day. Don't get me wrong. There are definitely mornings when things don't go as smoothly as I would like. But I always try to send the girls off with them knowing I love them and with things resolved so they don't dread coming home or carry the situation with them throughout their day. I'm afraid that young boy isn't very happy today nor is he going to want to go home this afternoon...

I'm trying hard to get Matthew to love sleeping in his crib. He struggles to go to sleep, and I've never been one to let my babies cry it out. He will go to sleep, but he won't stay asleep. I haven't tried at night yet. I'm just still trying to get him to nap well in his crib. He's having a bit harder of a time than the girls did. I'm open to suggestions!

I've always loved the ultimate crib sheets for babies. It was my most favorite baby product with the girls because I never had to change the fitted crib sheet. But I noticed with the two new ones I have that they smell awful. I wash them, but there is a "chemical" smell to them. Well, turns out the lining on the new ones is now made of PVC. I don't even have a PVC shower liner in the girls' shower! It is still on Matthew's bed for now, but rest assured it won't stay. As I was feeding him last night, I got the idea to make my own. They can't be that hard, especially if using the current ones as a guide. I'm hoping to enlist Aunt Barbara's help, and if she can't help me, I'll have to find someone else who can sew. I can't stand the thought of Matthew inhaling those chemicals.

I think we will make cupcakes this year for Grady's birthday. I don't think I'm up for another rainbow cake. When making cupcakes, I usually go for white cake with vanilla frosting. But, I really love yellow cake with chocolate icing. If I make those, we can put blue letters on top of them to spell his name and whatever else we would like to say. Well, within 24 characters at least. We talked about going out to dinner. We'll see...

I wonder if this day is celebrated in heaven? The one when someone enters the pearly gates to sit/stand at Jesus's feet and walk streets of gold... If so, I'm sure it's an amazing time. I can only imagine!

Love,
Tonya

Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Unexpected Turn

Yeah, I know. I need to complete my pumpkin patch post. And I will.

But this is easy to post because it's just words. No pictures.

I went to a Pampered Chef party yesterday at my friend Amy Ellen's. I had been looking forward to it for a while and was super excited about ordering one of their can openers. Toward the end of the party, I was in the kitchen talking to several of the ladies. Somehow Grady was brought up. I honestly don't remember how his name was mentioned, but it happened naturally.

I knew one of the ladies from the preschool when she would pick up her granddaughters. She started asking questions about him and soon everyone was listening to the story of Grady. I loved it. And yet, I didn't. I always love talking about Grady. Honoring him by talking about him. Remembering him with others who didn't even know him, or me for that matter.

As the questions continued, Amy Ellen quietly got up and opened her cabinet. She pulled out Grady's birth announcement.

Wow!

I couldn't believe she still had it from two years ago. I can't tell you how that touched my heart. (Thank you AE!) She handed it to the grandmother who then passed it around to the other ladies. I'm not real sure how they felt about looking at a dead baby, but tears welled up in their eyes as they gazed upon him.

I can tell you that I was feeling quite proud of my Grady in that moment. The beautiful boy that God created so perfectly inside of me two years ago.

That really wasn't how I pictured the party in my mind in the days leading up to it. It definitely took an unexpected turn, one that I'm not sure was okay or not. But it was what it was. They encouraged the conversation to continue. But I guess I needed to talk about him, too.

It is amazing how strong these feelings of grief still are...

And it's amazing that I'm feeling like this year might be harder than last when it comes to his heaven day and birthday.

Sigh.

Love,
Tonya

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sneak Peek

I have a post written about our family day at the pumpkin patch and Halloween, but I haven't been able to upload the pictures yet.

This morning I had an email from April who came to my house and took Matthew's newborn pictures. She sent me a sneak peek, and I wanted to share them with you.





I can't wait to see the rest!

I'm so proud of his growth, but it makes me sad, too. The time is absolutely flying!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tidbits from T

**How'd ya like those super cute pictures of sweet Matthew smiling yesterday? He was "talking" to me while in his bouncy seat yesterday morning and wouldn't stop smiling. I grabbed the camera and was finally able to capture more of his cuteness. He turns his head every time he smiles like it's just too much for him to handle.

**I'm loving the fact that I've found a way to pump milk and use my husband's laptop at the same time. I'm all about multi-tasking these days! Speaking of milk, I somehow managed to pump 30 1/2 ounces of milk for Matthew yesterday! I think that might just be a record. I didn't do anything differently...I'm hoping my body keeps up the good work!

**Jessica had a fantastic time on her weekend youth retreat with our church. They went to a beautiful place in the North Georgia mountains called Sharptop Cove. She had a busy weekend that included a mile-long zip line and a huge slide that dumped her into a lake. They had great services, and she made some new friends. Lots of kids accepted Christ into their hearts. What more can you ask for?!

I did have to take her back to the doctor yesterday, and she is being treated for asthma symptoms. A couple of weeks ago, I took her to an urgent care center for a terrible cough. She completed her antibiotic and steroids and seemed to be better. But after her weekend away, she came back and her cough worsened to as bad as it was to begin with. She is now on an inhaler and another steroid for five days. Dr. E doesn't think she has asthma, but she has acquired these symptoms that need to be treated and hopefully will go away. I've been praying like crazy that Emma Grace and Matthew don't get sick.

**Gib completed his half marathon in 2 hrs and 12 minutes. This was a great time for him because he didn't really do any specific training, and he said it was very "hilly". He and his buddy celebrated afterward by hitting The Varsity. Too funny!

**I've been able to get dinner on the table earlier this week which has helped tremendously with getting me out of the kitchen at a decent time. I've also made the decision (albeit not a very "green" one) to put the bottles (BPA free) and pumping stuff in the dishwasher and run it every night. It saves me SO much time, especially since I'm using Dr. Brown's bottles and each one has five pieces.

**I'm having coffee this afternoon with a friend whom I haven't spent much time with in a long time. I'm looking forward to catching up.

Speaking of friends, my friend, Tessa, had her twin boys on October 15th. (I asked y'all to pray for her and my friend, Jenny, a while back - thank you!) She made it to 36 weeks and each baby weighed a little over 5 pounds. They came home with her and avoided NICU, praise God!

Jenny is doing well also. She is now 36, almost 37 weeks, with her little girl. She is scheduled for a c-section on November 6th. All these weeks of bed rest have definitely paid off!

**Hopefully this weekend we are going to get our pumpkins. I hate that it's so late, but we just haven't had time until now. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. I'm just hoping it won't be too chilly for Matthew. We might go to Washington Farms this year where we can pick our own. I will have to call before we go to make sure they still have some.

**I've got to get my hiney in gear and get my thank you notes finished. I originally set a goal of writing five a day and did good for about three days. Then I slacked off and haven't pulled the stuff out again. I know people who gave us gifts and brought us meals must think I'm rude, but I will properly thank them. It just might take me a while.

Sigh.

**I've been anxiously waiting for Matthew's newborn pictures from my friend, April. She came to do them in September and told me it would be a while before she could get them edited and to me. She has a family, a full-time job and is in school full-time. I saw a few peeks on her camera, and I just know they are going to be great. She is so very talented, and I'm so thankful she will still photograph my family. My girls take the best pictures for her!

I wanted to send out birth announcements, but since the time is passing so quickly, I might just send something out with our Christmas cards to save on postage. I didn't send a single Christmas card last year, which was a first in 10 years. I am planning to send them this year, though. Sad thing is that the postage will cost more than the actual cards.

**My heart is so sad, and I feel the attack of Satan all around me. It seems that every time I turn around, someone is getting divorced. And if not divorced, infidelity has occurred and marriages are in turmoil as a result. I remember in our newly married Sunday School class, our teacher (who happened to be Gib's cousin) told us to always keep our eyes open and our guard up. That no matter how strong our faith is, Satan will do everything he can to break up the home. I'm seeing that truth all too often lately.

That's all I have time for this morning. Nothing too terribly exciting going on right now. Hope y'all have a great day!

Love,
Tonya