Day 2, Part 2 – The Adventure Continues

So, you know how I told you I was hungry and had to figure something out on the train? I talked my sister-in-law into going back there and picking something. A little cowardly I guess. But it was delicious. I don’t really know what it all was but I’d eat it again for sure.

We met up with our group and our guide at the train station and boarded a bus through Jinan to exchange money and check into the hotel. Jinan is considered a small, rural city of a mere 4 million people. The entire Shandong province has nearly 100 million. That’s almost a third of the population of the US just in one province of China. Crazy.

We walked over to a nearby mall for food at the suggestion of John, our guide. We found this noodle place. And you guys… I think I hit a wall. Again, no clue what I’m actually ordering. Thankfully our waitress spoke enough English and had a good translation app on her phone that we could communicate. But it started to really stress me out. There were heating plates in the tables and she kept bringing out food and it was all VERY spicy and there was no way to eat it and the kids were laying down. It felt like dinner was spiraling. The sheer amount of food, in the US would have equated to a $200 meal. I kept trying to send food back because I thought it was more than we needed and it was gonna cost WAY too much. I kinda lost my composure a little and had to walk outside for a minute. I’m not gonna lie, this was a challenge for me. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I felt out of control because I can’t read the menu. Maybe I was embarrassed because I’m just guessing and pointing and saying, “xie xie” to everything because it’s basically the only phrase I know and at least I can be polite. Our waitress was compassionate and kept checking in on us. She brought us everything we needed for this final meal as a family of five. And when it was all said and done, that spread of a meal cost us about $50 USD.

I don’t know why things got so out of hand. I don’t know. But I do know in 12 hours from now we’ll be holding our beautiful baby girl. We will head to the orphanage first thing in the morning and there she will be. We will be hers forever.

They rolled a crib into our room tonight. Kelley packed a diaper bag of formula, diapers, baby clothes and accessories. Tonight is the last night we sleep as a party of five.

Tomorrow is officially Gotcha Day.

Advertisements

What A Week

Sunrise-and-Clouds

Last Friday night we took a ginormous leap for our family and submitted our preliminary application for a baby girl that Kelley found out about through an organization that helps match parents with waiting children who have Down syndrome. You can read a little more about that here. Saturday morning we woke up with plans to go to Busch Gardens with some friends, excited to share the news of this baby girl. I looked out the second-floor window as I was getting some clothes for the kids and realized that our car was missing. I ran downstairs thinking maybe I’d parked it down the street and just forgot. I got outside to realize that indeed our family car had been stolen. We had both sets of keys in the house and our car was gone. Kelley and I both looked at each other because we had no words. I called the police. I called the insurance company. I called the bank. We texted some friends. And then I sent a message to a couple of friends of our who are police officers in our city.

I’ve really had to fight back being angry at this thief. I haven’t done a great job at it. What really got to me was what he took from our kids; their security and safety in our home. They felt fearful.  “Why would somebody do this,” they’d ask. We don’t know. But, what we can say is that when we let these things distract us — fear, worry, anger — specifically anger over replaceable, temporary things, those things begin to control the conversation. We knew we couldn’t let the gloomy story of our car getting stolen overshadow the beautiful, bright story unfolding with baby Adina.

All weekend we wanted to point the conversation to this little girl. Stay focused on praying for her. The police and others involved will take care of the car. We need to focus on Adina. We prayed for her all weekend that God’s presence would be tangible wherever Adina was. That she would feel God’s loving presence. That He would guide her caregivers, the nurses and doctors, and that this little girl would know she is loved and wanted, and we prayed that we’d hear from the agency on Monday.

Monday came and went with several automated responses from the agency. We were granted log in authorization and were able to view more pictures of this beautiful baby girl as well as her limited medical records. But, we never spoke with a live person and waited eagerly to hear specific news of Adina. We received several phone calls Tuesday. The first from our local agency office, calling to invite us to meet with them next week and they gave us an overview of the process. We were also given more forms to fill out. Later in the day Kelley received a call from someone on the ‘China 180’ team. She (enthusiastically) reviewed the information we already had and promised to be in touch with additional documents we needed to sign and return to her ASAP. Kelley and the kids were in the middle of a tea party when she was copied on an email sent to the ‘China 180′ team. In the email our intake coordinator shared that she’ d spoken with Kelley and that Adina was still available!

So what now? We passed the preliminary application and were invited to fill out the formal application (which will be completed in the next hour and submitted to the agency). There’s still lots to do and we’ll do our best to keep you updated here and on Twitter and Facebook. But what we want you to know is that the most important thing we ask of you is to pray, because prayer connects us to each other in ways that we can’t always know or perceive. Specifically, we are praying that her medical issues are stable until she can receive specialized care and that we can move through this process quickly, because if Adina is in fact the baby God has for us, we want to bring her home NOW. It’s painfully difficult to think that our baby is in another country and we can’t see her, talk to her, hold her, care for her…  So please pray!

We believe that the family is a picture of what it’s like to live with God – to be nurtured and cared for, provided for and protected by God. Our prayer is that every child has this. We are grateful for good families that loved us, loved each other and loved God. We don’t take that for granted. God has called us to define family as more than just biology and to open our arms and hearts, just as He did for us.

It’s Difficult to Breathe

It’s been a very tough weekend for us. We appreciate the extensions of love and care. But it is painful to tell the story over and over again so we thought we’d share it here and invite you to read it.

While Randall was in Guatemala, Kelley made an exciting discovery. Something to the tune of six pregnancy tests confirmed that we were having a baby. I came home from Guatemala and found a wrapped gift waiting for me that contained a tiny baby onesie that read, “3 is for quitters!”. We were thrilled. Shocked, but thrilled. And, after a few days of secret keeping, we decided we were just too excited to keep quiet and shared the news with the kids (who were ecstatic) and our families.

The week went on. We immersed ourselves in baby prep – apps, websites, magazines, etc. – started talking about names, discussing where we’d deliver. Weird cravings, nausea, newly-pregnant-mommy stuff… The kids would kiss the baby goodnight and tell everybody how they weren’t supposed to tell anybody about the baby yet. Rosie’s famous line was, “I can’t tell you that my mommy’s gonna have a baby.” She’s not great at keeping secrets, but then again… no female in this family is.

The last couple of pregnancies have started with scares. Spotting. Emergency room visits fearful of tragedy. Both Grady and Rosie are here despite those moments. They were able to fight through to become healthy babies. Eli too. His life was in peril before he came into this world, as most of you know. We are so grateful for the health of all of them.

Midway through the week this week, the spotting started. We kind of expected this. But it continued to get heavier. And on Thursday it became concerning. We had friends coming in town. As soon as they arrived, we left our kids with them and met the doctor at the hospital to see if we could get some insight into what was happening. The ultrasound showed a little blood in places there shouldn’t be blood. But really, it didn’t show what we were looking for. Which was a tiny little baby. Kelley had some bloodwork to check her levels of pregnancy hormones. The doctor called us later and said her level was 33, which was low. Very low. We knew we were losing the baby.

Our amazing friends stayed the weekend. They cooked dinner. They played with our kids. We sat around a fire, listened to music, drank beer and soaked up the time spent with our dear friends. Kelley was sick all weekend. Friday night was the worst of it. She had intense labor like pains (I guess it was labor). But we held out hope that the follow up bloodwork would show a miracle.

We went to church this morning, which was difficult to say the least. Not many people knew what was going on but it was obvious that we were sad about something. We weren’t ready to say anything until we had gotten the results from the follow up labs. But Kelley knew this morning when she woke up that things had changed. She recalled not feeling pregnant anymore. And this afternoon, the test results confirmed it… we’d lost the baby.

We told the kids that sometimes babies are sick. So very sick that it’s better for them to go on to Heaven. And even though it’s sad for us now, because we wanted to meet this baby and to hold this baby, we get eternity together in Heaven, reunited with our Father.

Eli took it the hardest. We wondered if we should’ve told them about the baby. But, here’s the thing. This baby is a part of our family story. We can’t ignore it. Life is joy and sorrow. Today our family was reminded that our Father is the great comforter. That he is able to reach into our darkness and pull us from the depths.

I’m not real sure where we go from here. We don’t know how to feel. Overwhelmed, for sure. Feels a bit like drowning. Like in ‘How He Loves’… if grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. It’s difficult to keep breathing some moments. Partly due to the pain and mostly under the influence of the love of our Father.

Over the next few days we’ll be taking some time as a family to begin healing. If you find yourself in a moment where God brings us to your mind, take a second to pray for peace and that Kelley’s body heals without the need for surgery.

We love you very much. We are thankful for your concern and care for us and for your sacrificial love for us, especially to Jeff, Jodi, Beth, the Grove Elders, Dr. and Mindy Castor, Kari and Mitch, the band and our families. You are special to us and we are grateful.

Don’t Freak Out

We had our follow-up with the doctor today.

Everything is looking pretty good. She’s lost a little weight but she doesn’t seem dehydrated. We’ll need to follow with him again in a week to be sure she isn’t still losing weight. She still has a little junk in the upper portions of her lungs but she’s responsive, active and eating well.

The company I work for is amazing. One of the provisions of my benefits package is that I’m allowed time away to be with family in times of illness or other extended family emergencies (like this one). I have some paperwork to fill out. To this point the papers have moved between my agency and the doctor’s office. I got the papers from the doctor today but before he handed them to me he said,

“Don’t freak out when you look at these.”

Mmhmm…

There’s a portion in the documentation that asks the official opinion of the medical provider whether he thinks this condition could worsen. He says she could still have episodes of wheezing that, at its worse, could require CPR.

Well crap. Thanks for that confidence boost, there doc.

What else am I supposed to do with that other than freak out?

C’mon, man. Really. Haven’t we had enough drama? Let’s take a little break.

It is very rare that this could happen. But he wanted us to be aware. The best way to prevent this is to keep her away from any allergens; no pets, no mold, no dust, no smoke – no matter what. Or she could relapse.

Duly noted.


The boys and I went and finished up our Christmas shopping for Kelley this afternoon. They both grabbed the same thing at the same time. It’s pretty cool. I took it as a sign that if they both picked the same thing it must be right. So we got it. I think she’ll like it. They have pretty good taste.

Presents to wrap and cookies to bake and decorate. Merry Christmas.

A Little Bit of Good News

She did better last night.

Still not checking out of Hotel Children’s any time soon but this sickness is getting further and further behind us.

Doctor came by this morning and felt like the reasons we moved her to SCU have all been relieved and believes she could safely be moved back to a private room. However, as of 9 AM today there are no vacancies anywhere in the hospital.

So, for all of you who are offering prayers, here is our immediate request.

We need to get Rosie out of SCU and into a private room where we can provide for her more readily.

She is not comfortable here and neither are we. The visiting schedule is so fragmented that sleep hasn’t come easily for any of us. Kelley and I did trade off a bit of sleep last night and this morning. But it would be so beneficial to get us all back on a more regular schedule.

So, if you’d like to pray for something specific, we want to move into a private room today. To do that, someone(s) will have to be discharged; add them to your prayers as well.

We love you all so much. Thank you again and again for the letters, emails, comments, re-tweets, texts, gifts, food, coffee, hotel room, clothes, prayers, visits and conversations.

There is no unit of measure to quantify the love and appreciation we feel toward each of you.

Your support is our strength.

Prayers

First// let me say a very broad and widespread ‘thank you’ to each of you around the world who have spoken Rosie’s name in a prayer.

For you, let me be the first to tell you that she is showing some improvement. This morning, the doctor had a brilliant hypothesis based on the two things we know for certain; she has RSV and she had a metal scope in her lungs. The RSV, being a virus, has no cure other than waiting and no treatment besides oxygen. The aggrivation from the scope though could be contributing to the labored breathing Rosie has been experiencing. He ordered a steroid shot for her and about an hour later she was exhibiting noticable improvements.

Now, she is by no means all better but there is no doubt she is improving.

I know there have been countless Pray-ers authoring petitions to heaven from all points earthbound. I know of a parish in Des Moines. A hamlet in San Francisco. Urban neighbors in Raleigh. Townships in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. And those are just the ones from the past 24 hours. The outpouring has been encouraging.

Our next request is that we get moved back out of Special Care Unit (SCU) and into a room tomorrow. The doctor is hopeful after checking in on her this afternoon that we’ll be out of SCU and into a private room again by morning. She is not fully recovered but getting through tonight without incident and with continued improvement will move us back into a room and back on track to her recovery.

So, again… thank you, each of you for all your prayers.

Next// I’d like to invite a bit of interactivity. I’ve talked with some of you at different times regarding prayer. And just about everyone had a different perspective on the reasons and the methods and the benefits of prayer. Some say, ’It’s easy. Just as natural as conversation.’ Others say, ‘Prayer is a way to bombard the gates of heaven and fight against the evil forces of hell.’ And still some say, ‘It is the opportunity to participate in something larger and beyond ourselves.’

Prayer, at times seems so logical. And at the same time so mysterious it refuses logic.

So, I’d like to put it to you//

What is prayer to you?

Why is it important to pray?

What are the benefits of prayer?

Love you all.

We’ve Moved

She didn’t really improve last night. She was on oxygen all night and stayed stable. But there was no improvement. And really her breathing became more and more labored throughout the night. And she’s still throwing up constantly.

So, we’ve been moved to the Special Care Unit. Which is good for her and for her recovery but it is hell for Kelley and I because we aren’t able to be with her except for spotty times throughout the day.

She’s so pitiful right now. And there’s nothing that we or the doctors and nurses on our floor have been able to do to make her better. All we can do is make our best efforts to comfort her.

It’s emotionally wrenching.

We just handed off our little baby girl to a group of strangers as they walked behind closing doors while we are forced to sit in a waiting room with strangers huddled up in make-shift beds of paired-up chairs, hiding under blankets and coats waiting to hear something good.

A doctor just came out to have a conversation with another parent about her RSV stricken child. His words to her: “He should get better.” Really? Should? That’s not what I want to hear.

Oh, wait… they’re calling us back.