Ten Minutes

Two nights ago, I was crocheting in my chair like the little old lady I am inside and Derek was jogging on the treadmill when I heard a strange sound.  I was immediately suspicious and immediately anxious, but brushed it off.  A few seconds later, I heard it again, but louder, so I called for Derek to shut it down so we could listen together and try to figure out what we were hearing.

Subconsciously, we knew, but our brains had not yet caught up.

Let’s back up the truck.  Earlier this year, we determined that we were not going to add to the noise of being parents to kids with special needs.  Sure, there were and are some things that inevitably come up and we discuss openly (within reason) or will answer questions as we see fit.  But, as far as our children’s physical health goes, we know we’ve jumped the hurdles and left them way behind in the dust.  It’s been over two years since any sort of emergency room visit, and all reports for our son bearing his brave scar come back great.  Rock solid, one may even say.  Up until last week, both our kids had perfect attendance at school (it’s preschool, but perfect attendance is perfect attendance).  Unprecedented for our family.

Then last week, Jet got a nosebleed at school–the kind not caused by picking, and the kind that because of his special combination of him and his meds lasts for almost an hour.  The kind that used to be a precursor to illness.  Surely, that was just a coincidence though.  Weird, random, no big deal.

Over the weekend, Jet sneezed more than anyone in the family.  It’s not allergy season.  He wasn’t stuffy or congested and didn’t have a cough.  Again, these sneeze attacks used to be a precursor to the bad colds.  Not those kind, I mean the really bad ones.  But we’ve not had one of those episodes in months.  He probably doesn’t even have asthma.  His pulmonary hypertension is basically nonexistent.

Now it’s Tuesday night, and we suddenly hear barking and gasping and hysterics.  What in the world…?  Our bodies were in action before our brains were.  We haven’t heard a cough that bad, a wheeze that bad, in actual years.

And the routine comes back in an instant.  Sit him up.  Grab the rescue inhaler and backup nebulizer.  Hand over chest to count breaths, feel the heart beating and lungs contracting, retracting.  Phone in other hand with 911 dialed but not connected, just in case.  Shoes on, wallet and keys in reach.  Waiting, waiting, waiting…is it going to get better?  Worse?  Do we connect the call?  Are we overreacting?  Hold it together, don’t cry.  Stay calm.  We’re the adults.

Just like our subconscious recognized what was happening before our thoughts could catch up, Jet’s did too.  Except this time, it’s different.  We have an audience of one scared brother who has never witnessed this before while the other is old enough to panic, old enough to be aware of the crisis, to realize this is beyond his control.  It’s all beyond our control.

And then more decisions.  If we can just get him to breathe.  In and out.  Five times.  And repeat.  It’s not working, and we still have the phone in hand and try to decide what to do.  Stay calm, stay calm, stay calmGod, it’s not fair!  We are past this!  We should be past this!  Knowing that what we do next is going to have lasting effects, we do it anyway.  One of us has to hold him still, restrain his thrashing, panicked movements, and the other has to hold the rescue medication in place.  And he still isn’t taking in enough of the medication to ease the barking, wheezing cough.  He’s breathing too fast for it to work.  Stay calm.  We can do this.  God please, help him breathe! 

Until finally, finally, he takes one breath.  Slow enough that we know the medication will start to work.  Four more.  You can do it!  Here comes another coughing fit.  Move the device and grab a towel because it sounds like something is coming up from his lungs.  If that happens, we have to call, but it doesn’t.  Relief.  Then terror, again.  Phone in hand, again.  Restrain, mask over face, and deep breath.  Too fast.  Try again.  Again.  And now it’s working, slowly but surely.  Then finally, he’s calm.  Oxygen is up to 98.  And he falls asleep with the pulse ox still on his finger.

We leave the room, put our phones down.  One of us hops in the shower just in case.  Laugh with a tinge of hysteria about looking forward to hospital breakfasts.  Fill some prescriptions to pick up in the morning for an extra boost on those lungs.  Sleep a restless sleep waiting for the next episode…and it doesn’t come.

IMG_5892Today is Thursday, and he’s better.  We spent the day yesterday having him practice holding the device during his treatments, every two hours while he’s calm, because he’s old enough to learn how.  Knowing that giving him some measure of control during one of these episodes may help keep him calm.  Showing him old photos of him chillaxing with nasal cannulas and breathing masks that look like duck bills.  He’s totally got this. 

The cough started again mid-late afternoon yesterday, but we’ve got this.  Fresh, cold air to calm down the airways.  Warm bath to loosen up the crud building up.  Lining up all the equipment that had been buried in the cabinet, putting some in each room because we’ve accumulated extras over the years.  Checking on him before we go to bed, no fever, no wheeze, no words…but a look of gratefulness and awareness in his eyes that wasn’t there before.

Ten minutes, tops.  From start to finish, ten minutes is all it took to pop the bubble we’ve been living in.  That even after three and a half years, this is still, occasionally, our reality.  We’re so grateful, so thankful, that this isn’t our daily life.  We know that CHD is so much worse for so many kids and their parents.  His heart is repaired and we are so grateful to his doctors, surgeons, God.  We don’t know why his heart was able to be repaired, giving him the ability to live a full life but others are not, and we don’t take that for granted.  And while our ultimate goal is to not give any sort of special treatment because of his condition, these ten minutes proved that sometimes, we can’t.

But this time gave us something extra, outside of the weird PTSD parents of heart warriors get.  This time, it took ten minutes for our almost five year old son to realize this, this, is what having a brave scar means.

 

The Biggest of Changes

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we have to make hard calls that mean major changes.

In this particular instance, we’re making the biggest of changes to make room for the smallest of people.

As I’ve written about before, when we applied for our third international adoption in September, we did so wholeheartedly. We were all in. I won’t rehash our entire thought process when changes were brought to light, but you can read about it here if you want. We planned to simultaneously apply to two separate international programs, and see what happened next.

Well, what happened next was not what we were expecting. We planned on adding to our family at least one more time via international adoption (and someday maybe we still will), but God, once again, showed us he had other plans for our family. There are a variety of factors that contributed to this change of plans, but ultimately, what you need to know is this: once we changed our course, once we went into complete and utter unfamiliar territory, all those feelings of doubt and frustration disappeared. The weight we had unknowingly been carrying for months lifted off of our shoulders, and we finally knew we were moving in the right direction. The right door had opened.

img_8718And so.

Moving forward, onward and upward, we are now pursuing domestic adoption through Christian Adoption Consultants. Our home study will be complete by the end of next week, and we hope to be presenting to expectant mothers by the middle of March.

This is brand new territory for us, since our experience has only been limited to international adoption (NOT with infants either). However, we’re very excited about these new plans and hoping for a baby girl, a sister for some rock star big brothers who have already told me that they will change their baby’s diapers, feed her, and “rock her like this”. All of those things will not last long I am sure (and in the last instance, will be heavily supervised).

Why domestic? Why not another country? Why not “wait it out” with the existing country?

All I can say is each family is responsible for their own decisions and actions following prayer and consideration, and this is the direction we are taking. Our end goal is still the same. We are growing our family through adoption, the way God has adopted us into his family. While we mourn the could have been, we also celebrate that this little girl will still wear her PomPom the Panda shoes, because they are a part of her big brothers’ culture. We are each our own person, and we will continue to celebrate all of the cultures, ethnicities, and identities in our home.

 

When Derek was born, his birth mother chose life. We know, from her own words, that she refused to consider abortion. We pray for an expectant mom right now in whatever circumstance she’s in and whoever she may be, considering those same options, that she too will choose life and inextricably be woven into our family.

Because we are using an adoption consultant, we anticipate being matched sooner than later. You also might be surprised to know that domestic adoption is about one and a half times more than each of our previous international adoptions because of agency fees, lawyer fees, travel fees, hospital fees, prenatal care, etc. We have never believed that finances should stop you from adoption, because then we wouldn’t be trusting God to provide what we need–when we need it.

While we will anticipate being able to cover much of the cost ourselves, we once again are asking that you prayerfully consider helping provide toward our remaining need to our tax deductible AdoptTogether account. By using this account, all financial assistance will go directly to our agency. Unlike international adoption, where you pay in increments (almost like trimesters!), we need to have the full amount as soon as we are matched–which could be April or it could be August. We simply don’t know, which is why we need to be prepared.

As part of a video for our church this morning, our family contributed a small voiceover that I’d like to share with a bit more detail.

Adoption costs. It costs in more ways than you can ever imagine. It tests everything in you: your strength, your finances, your heart, your faith.

Yet there is not a dollar amount high enough, a hospital stay long enough, an amount of sleep deep enough, that will ever be greater than the life of a child.

When tested, the balance will never show that our personal cost is more important than having an impact on the eternal soul of a child.

Because of this, our family will always choose life. We will always choose hope.

No matter the cost.

 

 

 

The Boys’ Room 2.0

When we moved to this house, we knew our number one priority would be fixing up the boys’ room so that it would be as seamless of a transition as possible.

The problem is, we spent hours…days…weeks…making their room at the old house what I like to call magazine worthy.

 

Just about the only thing we didn’t change in that room was the flooring, since we put that carpet in around 2014 or so. Derek built the toddler beds, the top for the grouping of three Ikea Malm nightstands, and the wainscot on the walls. We painted that room twice since the first coat of gray wasn’t quite dark enough, we specially framed that animal map of the world from Etsy, bought special bedding from Land of Nod before it becameIMG_7097 Crate & Kids, and bought three sets of curtains before deciding on the ones that are pictured…that we had to leave at the old house when we moved. The whole room was a huge labor of love, to first welcome Jet home and then later Jude.

Basically, we had a lot to live up to if I wanted it to be even remotely similar.

Then, after we moved in, making the boys’ room took a backseat to helping them adjust to another new normal we had tossed at them, which I think we are finally pulling out of.

Plus, we were tired.

Also, their new room is the biggest bedroom in this house, so no pressure or anything.

May I present to you, the before pictures:

 

Lots of space. Lots of walls. And since we’re on the adoption budget, building our own wainscot again was not an option, and neither was hiring a painter.

We tossed around wallpaper for the window wall so that the shelves we bought to hold their growing collection of books would pop, but that wasn’t in the budget. We debated switching them to twin beds but these aren’t even a year old…and the boys still fit perfectly fine.

Just about the only thing we agreed on was the brand of paint, and thankfully, Sherwin-Williams always comes through for us since they saved the color we used in the old house for the boys’ room. Fun fact, this entire house is painted the same color; the ceilings, walls, and trim are all a neutral greige that we can live with but we know we will be updating soon.

IMG_6990 (1)And so, late last week we stopped and got three buckets of Lattice (the perfect neutral gray in my opinion) and a few gallons of ceiling white so that we can paint both the boys’ room now and the other bedroom in the future. Plus, this time around, we had four extra hands (that worked about five minutes but help is help).

Regardless, I think this was the absolute fastest we have ever painted a room. We decided not to use painter’s tape because with the right brush and a slow and steady hand (that would be Derek), there’s really no need for it. We started during nap time and finished by dinner–including the extra “help” we got along the way.

I also upgraded the boys’ curtains from a gray and white stripe linen to a thermal black and white stripe, courtesy of Amazon. I’ve been really impressed with a lot of the home stuff we’ve found on Amazon, whether it’s curtains or bedside tables or lamps or planters. I also look on Wayfair regularly for deals on home decor, but I had Amazon gift cards this time around! I picked a black and white stripe because I felt like it made the room just a little less babyish and a little more boyish. I don’t anticipate these curtains lasting until their teens, but it would be nice to not have to change them out in a year.

We hung the shelves, hung the framed poster, and I spent the day cleaning their room and semi-organizing it. May I finally present to you, the finished product!

IMG_7085

Because it’s such a big space, we knew their bedroom would also serve as a playroom since the rule in this house is they aren’t allowed to leave their room until Derek gets up for work (anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30). They got a Melissa & Doug Town Rug, along a matching wooden town play set and wooden town vehicles (not pictured). They also can use the top of their dresser as a train table if they so desire.

 

Like I said, it’s a really big space, so our shelves (which are actually Ikea picture ledges) are quite a bit bigger to hold and display all their books. If there are two things I’m particular on, it’s the quality of children’s books and toys. I don’t know what that makes me, but I don’t think it’s impractical to want books that teach some sort of lesson or to ask for toys that won’t break easily. (In this house, toys that don’t break easily are a must!)

IMG_7089The last little addition to the room is a more spacious reading nook with their little chairs, some board books I trust them with, and a play tent. Because of the tent’s stripes, I skipped curtains for the little window on that side of their room. I also did a massive stuffed animal clean out and kept only the meaningful ones (gifts) because with every blood draw, needle stick, or hospital stay we’ve gotten at least one stuffed animal (and in one case, a dog toy). They aren’t gone for good, just hiding in the closet.

Speaking of closets…that’s something you aren’t going to get a picture of, because that’s next on my list of things to organize. Their closet is massive. I’m thinking of putting in little wall push lights and bean bags for reading nooks once they outgrow their tent and chairs. Thoughts?

Anyway, that concludes the boys’ room upgrade, 2.0. Not even a year ago we were frantically changing Jordan’s nursery to a bedroom for two toddlers, and now we’re in a new house…and I can finally say one room done!

Just seven to go.
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Stay tuned for more room updates. Next is a playroom overhaul. We have a reason for our madness, and can’t wait to share more with you!
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I tried to link everything that we used, in case anyone was interested. Out of everything, I think the shelves from Ikea were my favorite purchase (and we bought those way back in July when we moved in)! Plus, of course, huge shout out to Derek for building the toddler beds and Ikea hacking the dresser. If you need something built, he’s your guy!