This is our first look at ultrasound images of Emma Kate. There are two of her precious face and one of her perfectly beating heart!!! I know you may think the face pictures are more exciting for us, but I think the heart picture is GORGEOUS!!! We are so in love with her already...can't wait to meet her soon!!!
I've said many times since Wesleigh Anne passed away that I had no inspiration to blog anymore. Well...I found some. Or rather, she found us. Her name is Emma Kate Greene and she will be born sometime between now and Sept. 10th. She will be our first adopted child and we are greatly anticipating her arrival!!! With her arrival comes the need for a nursery, so I thought I would post some nursery pictures to hopefully get back in the blogging swing. Here's her room...
Again I find it's been far too long since I've updated the blog. I have an incredibly hard time finding things to talk about that might be interesting to someone or that anyone would want to read. The last few weeks have been busy indeed. We moved into a rental house here in Conway. Its a nice little three-bedroom house and has plenty of space for us to entertain friends and the students. It is also a great opportunity for us to start over a little bit after the events of last year. Here is a picture of our new home (in the SNOW!!!)...
We also met with some doctors in Charleston to explore any other options, besides adoption, for having a child in the future despite our genetic issues. After a lot of scare numbers and a lot of prayer and searching for God's will, we have decided not to pursue in-vitro fertilization for now. They have the technology to allow us to do IVF and have a healthy child, we just don't know that we are ready for the medical process or emotional consequences of pursuing this choice. So, we are forging ahead with adoption proceedings and hope to be through with the paperwork and actively waiting for a child by the end of the summer. Please continue to pray for the expectant mothers wrestling with the decision of allowing their children to be raised by another family. Also, pray for the children that they would be strong and healthy. If you want to learn more about adoption, and specifically the agency we are using, check out www.bethany.org
Lastly, I have a tremendous prayer request for you. We have some friends from Trey's time in seminary that we had unfortunately lost touch with over the last year or so. A few days ago, we learned that their two year old little girl, Leah, needs a heart transplant. Of course this is very close to our hearts and we ache deeply for this family. Leah's mother is a stay-at-home mom with her and her brother, Jacob. Her father is a full-time PhD student at Baylor and also works for the university. They knew Leah had heart difficulties before she was born, but she had been doing well with frequent check-ups until recently. Please pray for this wonderful family as they go through the emotional strain of the transplant process. Also pray as they seek the financial means to have this life-saving operation for their little girl. We know that God will provide everything they need through some means. Lastly, I know many heart families and heart nurses/doctors may still read this blog...I would ask specifically that you especially pray as you know the burden they are now carrying. Also, if you feel led to, please leave them some encouraging words or advice on their blog. Their link is: http://parkerlife04.blogspot.com
I've been trying to get back into the habit of blogging. Words seem to flow much more naturally when Wesleigh Anne was alive and I didn't have the stress of working to keep me from thinking of things to say. So, I'm trying to write at least once a week or so to get back into it.
These past two weeks have been crazy for us. First, we took our youth to ChilliPepper in Gatlinburg, TN. If you work with youth and have never been to ChilliPepper, I highly recommend it!!! We got to see Fee, Rush of Fools, StellarKart and Derwin Gray. They were all absolutely amazing! I think it made our students really think about their relationships with God and each other. On Saturday, we also got some time on the ski slopes. I was super excited to ski because it had been two years since I had been able to do so. Unfortunately, my time on the slopes was cut short due to one of the youth breaking his leg. I felt so terrible for him because I know he must have been in terrible pain, but he was such a trooper. He dealt with going to a strange ER 8 hrs away from his family and letting the nurses do whatever they needed to to set his leg. He got a temporary cast and his parents came to drive him home so that he wouldn't have to ride in the church van. As an update...he got a new temp cast when we got home and expects to get a permanent cast on Tuesday, which I hear I get to be the first to sign!!! He really is a champ!!!
This past weekend, we traveled back to TN to attend the Southeastern Conclave. This is a gathering of 6 baptist state conventions to provide a HUGE youth ministry conference. We have been planning to attend since September, but had no idea at the time how much it would mean to both of us to be able to get away for a weekend. Fee led worship (yup...two weeks in a row of Steve Fee!!!) and Ergun Caner, Ed Stetzer and Clayton King were the main speakers. There were also a ton of break-out sessions and an exhibit hall. We got to hang out a lot with the guys from Concoxions (they do SeeSalt and ChilliPepper) and really enjoyed spending some time with them. Unfortunately, we skipped Clayton King on Saturday morning to get back to SC before the roads got too bad.
I know it sounds like we would be exhausted after all this traveling, and we are, but I think we are also really refreshed. Quality time with our students is an amazing gift, one that I missed for the greater part of last year. I also missed getting to spend quality time with Trey as he was rushing back and forth from Conway to Charleston each week. So really these last two weeks have felt the most normal of any we've had since Wesleigh Anne was born. Of course her death still hurts, especially in the wake of Josiah's passing, but it's more like a back injury to us now. It hurt like crazy at first and we didn't think it would ever stop hurting. But, now we are noticing that we have good days. Then we get kinda comfortable after a couple of good days and something funny twists and it hurts all over again. I have a feeling we will be in this up and down process of healing for quite a while. But, we did get the opportunity at Conclave to meet a man whose wife had died of cancer, leaving him alone to care for two small children. He said that he was very angry for a long time, but that once he was honest and admitted that he was angry, then he was able to heal. He said it's still a process, but that he wakes up every morning and chooses to be joyful. I had never thought of joy as a choice before, but more as something you just had. It really put a different spin on it to think of choosing to be joyful. So, that's what we're trying to do...choose joy!
Once again, I ask you to pray for the amazing Wilson family. Milo and Erin said goodbye to Josiah as he went to Heaven yesterday. As we did with Wesleigh Anne, we celebrate the fact that Josiah's heart is whole and that he is now healthy without tubes or wires. However, our heart breaks for his precious family. Please pray for God's love to engulf them and for His peace to dominate their hearts in the days to come. Erin has always signed their blog "a heart that holds on" as a dedication to God and in reference to the song "You Never Let Go". Therefore the thought that has dominated my mind since yesterday afternoon is part of that song... "I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on, a glorious light beyond all compare. And I can see an end to these troubles, but until that day comes, we'll live to know You here on the earth." Erin and Milo certainly live their lives so that everyone around them can't help but think of God and I know that Josiah has encountered a glorious light beyond all compare....
For months, many of you have read about a whole lot of emotion from me. In case you may have thought that all this emotion was caused by Wesleigh Anne's illness or the trauma that our family has gone through this past year, it wasn't. I am an emotional person...some people might even say dramatic. I prefer to use the word passionate. The past month has been no exception.
We started January 2010 much like we started January 2009. We went and watched fireworks at The Skippers' and then in the next few days I started work at Grand Strand. It should feel like business as usual. However, a week or so later, it wasn't. We learned that we are carriers for the translocation that caused Wesleigh Anne's Down Syndrome. What that means is that one of us is has a "balanced translocation". Much like carrying the genetic material for blonde hair or blue eyes, although with much different consequences. I am not a doctor and certainly not a geneticist, but with everything I read it seems that the chance of passing the translocation on again is 50-50. Not good odds. Certainly not chances we are willing to risk. If we could ensure that any future children would only have Down Syndrome and not other health consequences, we might would be willing to think about it...but with Down Syndrome frequently comes heart defects, bowel defects and other health problems. We can't imagine going through that ordeal again, nor can we be responsible for making another child suffer. Therefore, our options...please keep in mind that we are still doing research and still learning about new options as we go. Our major thought is adoption. There are many, many children who need loving homes and we are desperate to eventually have a child that we can love and raise. This is certainly the option that we have considered the most frequently. Other options that we know about, but are not even sure we want to consider, are...embryo adoption followed by in-vitro placement, genetic selection and many others. While these options would allow us to carry and deliver another child (a probably healthy child), we aren't sure how we feel about them. We don't have moral objections to embryo adoption, but aren't sure we want to risk the in-vitro not working. Genetic selection brings some pretty serious moral objections.
I know in reading this it seems like we have made a decision. Just to put things in perspective, I could go through the list of everything we have "decided" in the last few weeks...we "decided" (and were very confident about...at least for a day or two) to build a house, buy a house, rent a house, adopt through DSS, adopt through private adoption, and adopt through Bethany Christian Services. Also in there were thoughts of adopting from a foreign country and using a gamete donor. So...as you can see, we have been on an emotional roller coaster of "decisions" lately. The only thing we know for sure is that we are more determined than ever to somehow have a family including children someday.
I have said to many people that this latest news has been harder to accept for me than having Wesleigh Anne pass away. I know that sounds shocking, but please let me explain. We spent almost 6 months fearing that we would lose Wesleigh Anne every day. Somewhere in that process, I feel that God gave us acceptance of that situation. So, by the time she passed away, we had already accepted that it would possibly happen. However, we also always felt that we could and would eventually have another child of our own. Now, not only are we mourning the loss of Wesleigh Anne, we are mourning the loss of the possibility of other children that are direct, genetic descendants of our own. It's not that we feel that we couldn't love an adopted child as much, or possibly more than, our own child...we can and I know that one day we will get lucky enough to have that experience. It's just another loss. But, we will eventually adopt (right now we are saving money towards that) and we will know the joy of loving another child or two. So for now, we are praying that God will have the perfect child with a mother whose heart craves what is best for her child and will make her brave enough to not consider abortion, but to turn instead to allowing another family to raise and provide for her child. We are praying that this child will be healthy and strong and will know that whether or not they came directly from us that we will love them more than they can imagine. We are also praying that we will have a confidence about which adoption route to pursue.
Enough about us...I have another massive prayer request. For months I have asked everyone we know to pray for the Wilson family. We got to meet Erin and Milo (the parents) and their amazing children Daylia, Hazel and Josiah when Josiah was admitted at birth to the PCICU. For a while they were our neighbors in the unit and they have become great friends of ours. They have spent more time than we did in Charleston and it is much farther from their home in Greer than it was from our home in Conway. They also have Daylia and Hazel, two adorable preschoolers, to consider. We celebrated just after New Years when Josiah went home for the first time. However, he is now back in Charleston and in need of some serious divine intervention. Josiah had a heart cath last week that said he is not strong enough for the second stage of the HLHS surgery that he desperately needs. The family is researching their options and need prayer for clarity of mind and peace in their decisions. Please pray for this incredible family as they consider the next steps in their journey. You can read more about their story at www.thewilsonheart.com
Today I'm packing up Christmas. Normally, I would wait until after New Year's Day to pack up Christmas, because I love the decorations and lights and cheer. Understandably we aren't too cheerful this year, so I'm packing up early. It's a good thing though, because our tree's dried up and Trey says it's a fire hazard. With packing up, it hit me today that a new year will be starting soon. My dad and I have said many times over the last few weeks that at least we know 2010 will have to be better than 2009, because nothing could be worse. However, that's not entirely true. 2009 has been the best and worst year of our lives. We got to experience the joy of having a child, but then had to endure losing that child much too soon. We got to meet new families that have become great friends of ours and have gotten to cheer them on through some amazing successes. Unfortunately, we've also had to sit with them through some terrible times. We have met and become friends with one of the most incredible teams of physicians and nurses that I have ever had the pleasure of encountering and have seen them at their finest. We also learned alot about what it means to be loved and cared for like we never have before. Overall, it was a year of ups and downs. According to which day you look at, there may have been more of one or the other...but overall I don't think I'd trade this year for the world. I think that the joy we experienced can't be replaced and that the sorrow and grief brought us closer as a family and closer to God. So...what does the new year hold? We are currently waiting for our results from our genetic analysis to see if either of us is a "balanced carrier" for a Robertsonian Translocation. That's a big, fancy way of saying that Wesleigh Anne inherited Down Syndrome from one of us. A small percentage of children with translocations are "de novo" cases....meaning neither of their parents is a carrier. However, a large portion are inherited and 88% of those come from the mother. Not a very comforting thought for me. However, we have chosen not to find out who the carrier is...just that one of us is or hopefully that neither of us are. We can then make decisions about whether we will ever have children of our own or can adopt. That sounds like a funny way of saying it, because if we are lucky enough to adopt, I know that child will be loved as if or possibly more than our own. To that end, we are also beginning to work on a book to give mothers who are putting their children up for adoption to "sell our family" to them. We will tell about ourselves, why we want to adopt and how much we would love to have children. Hopefully we can be good salesmen and convince a mother that we would treat their child at least as good as anyone else (although I'm pretty sure they would be the most spoiled and loved child on the planet). Also, this year brings me going back to work at the hospital. I'm going back as a "flex" employee which means I set my own schedule and rotate through all of the critical care areas. This gives me a little more freedom to help Trey with the students and allows me to work day shift. Lastly, we are looking at some housing options here in Conway and hoping to get into a new house this Spring. That means we need a lot of people to pray really, really hard that someone in Rocky Mount will buy our house. If you live in RM or know someone moving to the area, it really is a great house!!! And, we did all of the remodeling work and put in new carpet and a new deck and new appliances....it really is a pretty good deal!!!
In closing, I hope that each of you and your families are incredibly blessed and happy in 2010. Each of you has been such a blessing to Trey and I through this most difficult year, and we hope that you reap great rewards for the love and kindness you have shown to us!