Sunday, September 30, 2012

Celebrating (times 2)

The last few days have been a time of celebration for us.  We have so many things to be thankful for in the midst of current craziness and we don't want to forget that.  Friday held a very special meaning for our family.  We celebrated the anniversary of Reese's adoption.

One year ago, after 3 long years of waiting, we sat in a courtroom and heard the Judge officially declare Reese ours.  He had been ours long before that, but to get that final decree was a huge blessing!  Our lives have been forever changed by adoption and foster care and we LOVE to tell our story.  (If you know anyone considering adoption or foster care feel free to give our names.  We love to talk to people about this gift!)

To celebrate Reese's special day we went to his favorite place to eat... Red Robin.

As you can see, he is quite the ham and not the least bit shy about having his picture made!  (The visit was made even better by the fact that my meal was free since I had a birthday this week.  Thanks Red Robin!)

That was not the only milestone that we celebrated though.  Our sweet Brinkley hit some milestones of his own this week.  Monday he officially made it into the 4 lb club.  Thursday he turned 3 weeks old and he took his first full bottle!  You may remember that completing his bottles is the final check point we are waiting to meet before we can bring him home.  This was a MAJOR accomplishment!  Not only did he complete one, Friday and Saturday he completed both of his bottles for the day.

He did a little celebrating of his own!  Today we will move up to taking three bottles and are one step closer to have the tiniest Mr Holder home!

On this journey we will face many frustrating and difficult circumstances, in a lot of ways we already have.  It is really important to me to remember that there is joy in the journey also and to take time to celebrate the victories, no matter how small they are.  Brinkley IS a blessing and he and Reese are reason enough to celebrate!  It just makes it that much sweeter when we have these special moments to celebrate with them.

*Many people ask about the superman shirts (we all have one).  Here is a link to the shirts:

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Happier Birthday

Two years ago today (my 32nd birthday) I drove into this parking lot with Bryan excited about the surprise we had gotten just eight weeks before.  After nine years of marriage we were finally pregnant!  That excitement didn't last.  Not long after starting the ultra sound the Sonographer left the room and came back with the doctor.  The baby had no heartbeat.  Not exactly my idea of a great birthday.

This morning I drove into that parking lot again, this time for my two week follow up.  It was a much different experience to say the least.  After my exam, I made my way to the hospital to spend time with Brinkley in the NICU.  I couldn't help but think of how thankful I was to be going to the NICU.  Thankful for the NICU?  To most people that probably sounds ludicrous.  No one wants their baby to be in NICU.  But today the NICU was a reminder of God's faithfulness.  

Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  That is a promise, one that I have always wanted to claim.  My desire has always been to have a family.  God was faithful to bless us with Reese through adoption (we finalized September 28, 2011) but our family still didn't feel complete. 

Losing our first pregnancy seemed like God had forgotten my desire, like He didn't care.  Had I not delighted in Him enough?  Had I not done this or that?  What had I done wrong?  It didn't make sense and I didn't understand why this had to happen to us.  That was such a terrible experience, I didn't think I wanted to try again. 

Leaving that doctors office and driving in to the hospital this morning was a reminder that God hadn't forgotten my desire.  Looking into my sweet Brinkley's eyes in that NICU room was all that I needed to be reminded that my God is faithful.  I would have never imagined when I pulled out of that parking lot two years ago that I would be coming back today the proud mom of a beautiful tiny baby boy.  My quiet day in the NICU today just may be one of my happiest birthdays ever.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Trade In

A few years ago we traded in the Volvo that we had for the CR V that I currently drive.  Yes, the Volvo was a very nice car, it looked great and had some really nice features.  However, there was something better for our family.  Our CR V is not fancy, but I love it! It is sporty, reliable, decent on gas, and cheap to maintain.  

So many times in our lives God asks us to "trade in" the nice, the comfortable, the fancy, and the seemingly good for something that is better, something perfect.  In the gospels Jesus shares a story about a rich young man.  The man comes to Jesus and asks what he has to do to have eternal life.  In Mark 10:21 this is Jesus' response: Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, "There is one more thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."  In essence, Jesus is telling him to trade in his possessions.

Last night as I was scrubbing in to visit Brinkley in the NICU, I looked down at my wrist and realized that I have been asked to trade some things in too.  

The things that we wear on our body tell the people around us a lot about who we are.  For instance, the beautiful diamond ring and bands that I wear on my left hand tells people that I am taken.  The watch you wear may show how many zeros show up on your pay check each week.  Like a wedding band or a fancy watch, my current adornments (or lack there of) tells a lot about my current place in life.  

Three weeks ago today I took off my rings (due to a lovely side effect of pregnancy, swelling) and put aside the bracelets and other cute pieces of jewelry that I like to wear as I checked into the hospital. On Thursday, September 9th at about 5pm, those things were all traded in for the stunning white bracelet that you see in the picture above.  Like any other jewelry, that white bracelet tells a lot about me.  Literally, it says that I am Crystal Holder mother of a baby boy born 9/6/12.  More importantly, it says that I'm a NICU mom.  

The story of the Rich Young Ruler is found in all three of the gospels, but I chose Mark because of one word... Love.  Jesus looked at him and loved him.  It was because He loved him that He asked him to put good things aside to receive better things. As much as I love cute jewelry and the beautiful rings that my husband chose for me, I know that for this time in my life I have to trade those good things in for something better. (In the NICU you can not wear any type of jewelry on your hands or arms for germ control purposes.)  

Looking down last night I saw that white bracelet in a whole new way. Trading in my jewelry for a NICU bracelet is a temporary thing for now, but there will be many permanent trade ins that we will make on this journey of raising a special needs child.  I know that every one of them will be a blessing and that God is preparing us for each one.  I know that His plan is far better than any plan I have now traded in on this unexpected journey. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet Brinkley

Brinkley James

If you are curious about his name: Brinkley comes from a place that has been very influential in both mine and Bryan's lives over the last few years and holds a very special place in our hearts.  The people of this church and community are a wonderful picture of faith, hope, and love.  I pray that my son and my family could make the same kind of impact in the lives around us that these special people have made on us and their community.

James comes from my Grandaddy, James Hall.  He was an incredible man that made a huge impact on my life and whom I miss dearly everyday. He was a strong and loving man and I pray that my son will be the same.

Change of plans...

I always find it funny how God takes my plans and morphs them into something totally different.  (Ok, so maybe it is really more like me finally seeing what God really intended verses my version of what I thought He intended.)  I opened this blog nearly 3 years ago with the intention of using it as a way to share the information I was learning about living with my son's food allergies.  I did well for a week or two and then things fizzled out for any number of reasons.  A lot has happened over 3 years (a miscarriage, finalizing our adoption, and starting a new church to name a few things) and I am back with a new mission.  

After having a miscarriage is September of 2010, we waited a while before deciding to seriously try again for another pregnancy.  We found out in February of this year that we were expecting.  We were elated, but very careful not to talk about it too quickly after the first experience.  After 8 weeks and a successful ultra sound, we told our family and waited until the 12 week mark to be public about our news.  Because of the miscarriage, Dr Frederick (she is WONDERFUL!) followed us very closely.  At our 20 week ultra sound things took an unexpected twist.  We found out that it was another boy (I always said I would be a mom of boys because I wouldn't know what to do with a prissy girl) and that something didn't seem quite right.  Dr Frederick suggested an ultra sound at a high risk office at our hospital and some blood work that I had previously declined.  

To make a long story short, we did the blood work, an ultra sound, and an amniocentesis to find out that our son was positive for Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down Syndrome.  This led to more testing and ultra sounds to look for common complications and conditions that can come with Down's.  Within another 2 weeks we also knew that he had a congenital heart defect called Tetraology of Fallot.  This was a lot to take in to say the least.  A pregnancy that we were so excited and hopeful for had just become one we were confused and scared to death about.  (I am sure that I will share more about that journey in another post.)

This pregnancy was rough!  Not only were we dealing with the shock of having a special needs child, I was incredibly sick up until about 30 weeks.  Aside from being sick, each visit to the many specialist we saw brought some new twist to the plot.  Our last appointment with the high risk specialist was on Tuesday, September 4th. (I was seeing them 2-3 times a week at this point).  At that appointment I was 34 weeks and the Dr decided that things had gotten to a critical point and sent me straight to the hospital to be admitted.  I laid in a hospital bed for a few days on pins and needles with the team of specialists (for me and the baby) and my OBGYN going back and forth about what to do.  On Thursday the 6th around 1pm my nurse came in the room and told me to get ready they were coming to get me to do surgery within the hour.  Thanks for the notice Dr's! (They had left us under the impression they were planning for Friday.)  I was at the hospital all alone as my husband had gone to pick our son up from preschool and spend a little time with him before sending him off to the next family member's house.  

Our Brinkley came at 4:32pm by way of C-section weighing in at a whopping 3 lbs and 2.2 oz.  To the amazement of everyone involved in the delivery he came out crying like any other healthy baby!  I never thought the cry of a baby would be such a beautiful sound.  I know that all parents probably feel that way, but to be told that your baby will require manual resuscitation and the assistance of a ventilator to breathe normally for the first part of his life made that sound a miracle in our hearts!  

From that moment we have seen God do one thing after another in our sweet Brinkley's short life.  I can't imagine what God has in store for this little guy, but it must be big the way that he is amazing everyone around him.  God is good even when we don't understand and when his plan is different than ours.  I never imagined that I would be the mother of a special needs child, but I think that I already see him doing so much more for me than I could ever do for him.  He is a strong little guy and everyday I tell him that he is my little champ!  A few months ago I saw a verse that I had read many times before, but it took on such a new meaning for me.  The Lord gave me a peace to know that this is what he says to my little Brinkley.  

Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;

Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)

 “Before I shaped you in the womb,
    I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
    I had holy plans for you:

I'm not sure what he has been set apart for, but the Lord knows and it is my job to pray for him and to teach him to trust and listen to the Lord.  It is my prayer that despite the obstacles that he will face in this life that he will know above all else that he was set apart and that he will diligently seek out that purpose for which he was set apart.  I look forward to that journey and already feel blessed to be a part of it.