Friday, February 27, 2009

Jake and Kate update

We took the kids to the doctor today and they both have ear infections, but nothing more serious. Kate tested negative for flu and RSV. I was rather surprised by the flu coming back negative and now think that most of us have her illness to look forward to. I was hoping it was influenza because we have all had flu shots, so I thought I would be immune. Drat.

Kate is so blue and coughing incessantly, despite giving her cough medicine. Her lungs are clear, though. Her blood oxygen levels were at 77% today. Poor baby.

Jake is doing fine today, thankfully. The doctor has decided to take a wait-and-see approach with him. If he has febrile seizures again, they will do a complete work up. For now, since febrile seizures are not uncommon in toddlers with high fevers, they will not do any further testing.

Four sick kids just wanted to lie on Mommy.

SaraGrace started running a fever tonight, so here we go again.

And now to change the are some random photos I took of the icicles on our bushes the other day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Heart Cath post-poned :(

Unfortunately, Kate started running a fever again tonight, so we had to cancel her heart cath for tomorrow. It is very disappointing, but we know God must have a reason for the delay. She will be going to the doctor tomorrow to see if she has bronchitis or something. She has had pneumonia in the past, so we want to stay on top of her condition. I suspect that we have influenza running through our family. We all got flu shots last fall, and Kate got one in Jan., but they must not have been too effective on our little kids. The four youngest have all been miserable this week with high fevers and extreme congestion. And they all want Mommy to hold them. Jeff had to be out of town from Monday afternoon until tonight, so I was oh-so-glad to see him walk in the door!

Jake scared us badly tonight when he developed febrile seizures from his fever. It is very frightening to have your child's body jerking and not know for sure what is going on. We will be taking him to the doctor tomorrow with Kate.

On that note, I'm heading to bed, thankful for doctors and medicine.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Zoey Visits the Orthotist

I took Zoey to have her foot and leg fitted for her brace today. She was such a little trooper. Her leg was casted to make a mold so that they can make her brace. She cried when the cast was cut off and I don't blame her because it was pretty scary to have that blade so close to her leg. The guy was very nice to her and was very touched to hear that she had just been adopted. At the end of the visit, he gave her a balloon and then told me to wait a minute while he ran to the back and got a second balloon. He thought it was cool that he was the first to give her a mylar balloon and wanted to show her what would happen if you let one go. He had an old left-over Christmas balloon, so we went outside and he helped her let it go. He was more excited than she was. She kept looking at the balloon, then looking at him anxiously. I think she was worried that he would cry about losing his balloon!

Her brace will be a molded plastic that will go all the way up to her knee. This will not do anything to help her leg length difference (which is about two inches). The brace is to try to bring her foot under her leg as much as possible--rather than being totally sideways like it is now. The ligaments are tight, so they can't pull it all the way under her to make it straight, but it will be better than it is now. After they get her fitted with the brace, they are hoping to add a lift of some type to her shoe to help with the leg length. He said it is taking a tremendous amount of energy for her to walk with her longer leg bent so far. He was pretty amazed at how well she walks, though. That's our girl! I told him how she runs, climbs, and jumps off the furniture and he was quite surprised. He told me I might not like how much easier it is for her to be mobile after she has her brace and shoe lift! I will just be glad to not see her struggle.

Sitting patiently in the waiting room.

I just can't smile with this thing on my leg.

All done and ready to go home!
While I was there (an hour away from home) my cell phone rang with the news that Molly had thrown up on the playground at school. ARGH! She was home all last week with a stomach ache and a bad cold. I couldn't believe she was sick again! Enough with the stomach flu!! Taylor was babysitting and he called a friend who was kind enough to go pick Molly up so that she didn't have to wait an hour for me to get there. Thank you, Susie!!

Kate's heart catheterization is Friday and I am praying, praying that she doesn't get the flu. She has had a bad cold with a 102 fever for two days but seems slightly better today. She can't have a fever the day of the heart cath, so we are praying about that, too.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

No spring in sight

Just when we were seeing brown grass and no more snow, we received this little weather gift...

It was a heavy wet snow, so the kids were able to roll this huge snowball. They hoped to build a snowman, but the balls were so huge, they couldn't be lifted. Now we have three huge balls of snow in our yard!

Jake is unaware of the pitfalls of not being able to read...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

Just when I thought the stomach flu bug had left the premises, Jordan barfed all over himself this morning. Argh. He was nice enough to do it in the kitchen for easy clean-up. He is the first of the little kids to get it, so I suspect we will have another round of sick kids. Poor Jordan--he has a cold AND the stomach flu. All the little kids and Mommy have colds. Yee-ha... I hate winter!

So....I have a prayer request. Can you please pray that God will either make the virus leave our house, or hurry it up and have the little ones all get it over with before our round of doctor appointments next week?

I have to take Zoey for her fitting to order a brace for her leg/foot on Wednesday, and we were just notified that Kate is scheduled for her heart catheterization on Friday. We were happy to get that date so quickly, and we really want her to be able to go that day.

Some people have expressed confusion over Kate's diagnosis from last week, so I will try to clarify without making you more confused! The news we received was GOOD! Her medicals from China seem to have been incorrect and we are trying to figure out if it was a clerical error or something else. At any rate....instead of her only being able to have a heart that was always operating at less than full strength (with unknown prognosis), it looks like she will be able to have a FULL REPAIR, with a basically healthy heart! Like SaraGrace, she will need valve replacements as she grows.

Her heart cath on Friday will be a two hour procedure where they go into her legs and groin with catheters that will be threaded up to her heart. After that, we will know exactly what her heart anatomy is--although the doctor didn't expect any new surprises.

Is anyone besides me longing for spring?!

Not a robin, so I guess we have to wait awhile longer....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Update from the sick bay

Two more of the older kids have the stomach flu, and the four youngest ones have copious amounts of snot flowing out of their noses. Gross! Poor little Molly has been sick with the stomach bug for three days. She just lies on the couch moaning that her stomach hurts. Ryan is our other sick one. Since his room is in the basement, he has been texting me to let me know when he throws up, needs water, or if we have anything that will help his stomach feel better. I guess texting has replaced ringing a bell when you're sick and want something! It is a really bad flu...they are miserable with bad stomach pain, headache, and leg aches. I feel so bad for them.

Jeff is feeling weird but isn't sure if it's psychological. ha. I just keep praying that we won't all get it.

Baby Girl

While we were in China, we visited several orphanages. It was cold, and in one of the orphanages, the heat was inadequate. I shivered as I walked over to a row of cribs, where babies were lying beneath layers of quilts. I was immediately drawn to a tiny baby who was only a few weeks old and had an amazing head of hair. I stroked her silky head and asked for permission to hold her. The staff wanted the children to stay tucked into their beds, so they said no. Disappointed, I looked over to the next crib where another motionless child was lying. I patted her tummy and was surprised to get a beautiful smile in return. I patted her again...and was again rewarded with a huge smile. My heart turned over. I wanted to pick her up so badly, but all I could do was stand at her bedside and pat her tummy. She was so precious. There was just something very special about her. She was lying in a cold room, unable to move around due to the cold, and yet she was still able to give me a blinding smile just because I touched her tummy. Eventually, I noticed that her eyes crinkled up a bit more than normal when she smiled, and I realized she had downs syndrome.

This sunny little one has the possibility of being placed into a foster family. Would you please pray for the details to work out? God knows what they are. This little girl could fill someone's home with joy. She is a little sunbeam, and she needs someone to love her.

Baby Corrie

When we were in Beijing a few weeks ago, we had the privilege of spending the day with our friends, Bill and Lynsay. They are in China with the hopes of starting an orphanage for children with special needs. Currently, they are in an apartment with their two daughters and are fostering their first Chinese baby...little Corrie.

Corrie has multiple special needs, some of which aren't even diagnosed. Her most urgent problem is that she does not eat well. She has been on and off a feeding tube, but Bill and Lynsay are trying valiantly to get her to drink from a bottle. Throughout the day that we spent with them, I watched Lynsay painstakingly feeding Corrie drop by drop. It is a long arduous process to get even one ounce into her. Corrie is almost a year old but looks like a newborn. She has been with Bill and Lynsay for a little over three months and has gained weight, but it's been a struggle. She has been in and out of the hospital for various reasons and has just returned to them after a bout of pneumonia.

It was my privilege to hold little Corrie and squeeze her tiny hand.

Please consider visiting their website 'Hearts for the Fatherless' and click on the Morning Star project. They are currently in desperate need of a vehicle--especially when Corrie needs to get to the hospital.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Still in awe....

Jeff and I are still in awe about yesterday's news regarding Kate's heart. We are scratching our heads a bit, though, about how her China medical report said she had a single ventricle. She had open heart surgery in China. It's not like they gave her a diagnosis from an echocardiogram and just missed the ventricle. They opened her chest and did a surgery--which was successful in saving her life. Her doctor at U of M, thought maybe they chose that particular surgical procedure because her heart was so tiny and it was the only thing they felt they could do with any success.

So..I speculate further to say that to do that particular surgical procedure, they had to decide whether to sacrifice the use of the ventricle to save her life. I know that they didn't want to wait a day longer because they were so concerned that her high blood pressure would permanently damage her heart. There is a window of time that the heart needs to be repaired. She had other issues (infection/illness) that made the surgery extra risky, but they had to move forward or miss the window.

Perhaps after the surgery, they wrote 'single ventricle' on her discharge papers because they thought there was no way to undo what they had done and the ventricle would be forever rendered unusable.

At any rate...we are in awe of what God has done!

In other news...
Two nights ago at 2:30AM, a voice interrupted my sleep. I kept hearing, "Mom..Mom..." I finally realized that I was not dreaming and that there was a shadowy little figure standing next to my bed.
"What, honey?"
I then heard the words that no parent ever wants to hear.
"Mom...I barfed in my bed."
It was Jillian. I went to her room and just stared at the mess. My groggy brain could not figure out what to do. I eventually DID come up with a plan and got it cleaned up. So gross!!
Jillian and Molly share a double bed, but earlier that night, one of the little kids had been crying and woke Molly up. She had come into our room to sleep about an hour before Jillian barfed where Molly's head would have been. Ewwwww.....!
I did my best to quarantine Jillian, and we are praying that the rest of us don't get sick. I really don't care to repeat that night nine more times.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Miracle Kate

Kate, getting her Echocardiogram

"For you created me in my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." Psalm 139:13, 14

Kate was dubbed, 'miracle baby' in China because of all the times she almost died, and then pulled through. Her miracle continues...

We saw the cardiologist this morning at the University of Michigan. During her echocardiogram, we were shocked to be told that she has TWO ventricles--not the single ventricle that is on all of her paperwork from China! Not only are there TWO, but both of them are big enough to be usable!! I got very emotional when they told us the great news!

Later, the cardiologist told us that she is scheduling Kate for a heart catheterization very soon. If Kate's heart anatomy is the same as what the doctor can see from the Echo, she will approach the surgeon to see if he will do a FULL REPAIR! She thinks it is possible--and very likely! The surgeon she plans to approach is the #1 pediatric heart surgeon in the country!! Her surgery will likely take place this spring or early summer, since she does need it done fairly soon. Her oxygen level is only at 80%, which is why she has a blue tinge to her skin. For that reason, they would like to repair her heart and get her oxygen levels higher.

If he is not able to do a full repair, Kate is still a good candidate for what is called a 'fontan' procedure, but that would leave her with single ventricle function.

Kate's little heart is on the wrong side of her body and is also turned totally backwards. She has a large VSD, no pulmonary artery and one ventricle is not being used, due to the Glenn procedure she had in China. The doctor called her heart, 'very complicated,' but she still has great optimism that Kate can have a full repair, with only valve changes as she ages (due to size). SaraGrace, will also need valve changes as she ages, so we are familiar with what that entails.

We are soooo excited about this new possibility for Kate! We truly believe that she had the horrible diagnosis in China as a way for God to bring her our family. You may not remember, but one of the US doctors who reviewed her medical information said that she would need a heart transplant and had a very uncertain future. For that reason, many families turned down her referral. Because of our situation (already in process to adopt our 9th child), we would never have been considered as a potential family for her, if her diagnosis had been correct. She no doubt would have been chosen by another family if her medical report had looked more promising.

It is sooooo humbling to us that God went to this effort to get her into our family. Throughout the entire process of Kate's adoption, we were awed by all that swirled around us. We felt like we were flies on the wall, watching something huge unfold before our eyes. We continue to be amazed at what God is doing in little Kate's life and feel privilged to be a part of it.

SaraGrace went along to show Kate the ropes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kate is going to the Cardiologist

We will be taking Kate to University of Michigan on Thursday morning to see the cardiologist. She will have an echocardiogram first thing and then will see the doctor afterwards. I think we will take SaraGrace along since she goes to the same doctor. We are expecting to hear that Kate needs an open heart surgery as soon as possible. Maybe we will be surprised with better news. Whatever the news, we know that God has everything under control, and will help us deal with whatever Kate has to face.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pictures say a thousand words...

...or at least a blog post, when I have no amusing stories to share.

Big Sister, Little Sister

"hmmm...I've always wanted to try on these silver shoes."

"How do girls walk in these things, anyway?"

"I see nothing wrong with wearing white socks and flip flops."

Jordan is following in SaraGrace's footsteps by randomly choosing two non-matching shoes.

"Let me in...let me in...I'm really cute!"

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...

I'll cry if I want to
...'cause my husband's in Boston
You would cry too, if it happened to you.

haha...that song has been running through my head. It just cracks me up to think that if you had told me 10 years ago that I would be spending my 45th birthday at home with my 10 kids, I would have fallen down laughing. God is so funny!

We already celebrated my birthday on Saturday, so I was already treated to my favorite dessert ever... cherry cheesecake. My sweet hubby made two of them, so that the kids wouldn't devour it all. My parents also came over, so it was a nice day. I wish my mother-in-law could have come and shared the cheesecake with me, because it's her favorite, too!

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

It was sunny and warmed into the 40's today, so we took the kids outside to play. The big girls were excited to show Zoey and Kate our riding toys. We had a hard time getting Kate to come in for her nap.

After their naps, I was playing around with my camera and asked SaraGrace to dress up so I could take her picture. Some of the other girls wanted to have their photos taken also, so here is what we spent the afternoon doing.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Sweet Jordan

It was sunny the other day, which means our sun porch will warm up enough to be out there. We can pretend it's not February if we don't look at the snow. Anyhoo...the lighting is great and I have white curtains that I can use for a background so...wah-la...instant studio. Here are some pictures I took of my sweet little guy, Jordan.

Crying for China Mama

Kate and Zoey had a tough day. I don't know what triggers their grieving (usually it is when we say no to something they want), but all of a sudden they will start crying and wailing. Kate had a meltdown this morning and started yelling 'bu yao' and pushing me away. Then she started yelling, "Mama, Mama," and I knew I wasn't the Mama she was crying for. My heart was breaking for her as she grieved for her China Mama. Afterwards, she hugged me and cuddled, so her rejection is very short-lived, thankfully.

Tonight it was Zoey's turn to have a meltdown. As I held her, I thought about how hard it must be for them to have lost all that is familiar. We communicate on a simple level, but there are many Chinese words that I don't know. This has to be frustrating for them. The language spoken all around them is unfamiliar, the food is different, WE are different. The people who loved them in China are no longer a part of their lives. At times, I think they just get overwhelmed with it all and need to have a good cry (or major hissy fit!).

It also made me think of times that God has to say no to us so that He can give us something better. In the short-term, it still can be so very painful. For Zoey and Kate, they have lost something they held dear (their lives in China) but gained something better--a permanent family to belong to. At the moment, that probably does not always seem like a good trade because they don't see the full picture. With patience and love, hopefully, their little hearts will heal.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Zoey's visit to the orthopedic surgeon

I took Zoey to the surgeon today and the report was pretty much as we expected. Her leg and foot are currently in the gray area between amputation or reconstruction. We are going to get her a foot brace for the next four months to straighten her ankle a bit, and then the doctor will measure her legs again. This will give him a good idea of how each leg bone is growing and be able to predict what her leg lengths will be when she is done growing. If the short leg is over 30% different than her normal leg, there is no way they can save her foot. If it stays where it is now (20%), then we have a decision to make. At 20%, she is looking at a minimum of 10 surgeries if we go the reconstruction route, and still never having a normal looking leg/foot. Her knee is also missing a major ligament, so it would be unstable and possibly unable to support all the bone reconstruction. That would necessitate a total knee reconstruction. If we choose amputation, she will have one surgery and a prosthetic. They would be able to leave enough of her leg that she would be able to get to the bathroom during the night without strapping on a prosthetic or having to hop. The doctor got emotional when he told me that if it was his daughter, he would probably choose amputation to spare her the trauma of so many surgeries. He insists on us getting a second opinion before he would perform an amputation, though.

None of this was a surprise to us, so I think he was relieved that I didn't freak out in his office. It IS very hard, though, to think of making the decision to cut off her cute little foot. We will have to pray a lot for the wisdom to make the correct choice for her. Zoey was a trouper throughout all the examinations and x-ray's. She smiled through the whole thing. We then met Grandma and Grandpa for lunch which was oh-so-fun! Zoey was so cute, enjoying her day out with Mommy. It was a 45 minute drive to the doctor and all the way there, she kept yelling excitedly and pointing out the window, 'Mommy, jabber, jabber jabber (in Chinese)!' I wish I could understand what she is saying. Whatever it was, she was very excited about it! It is so fun to see the world through her eyes because I don't think she ever left the orphanage before we adopted her. Everything is so amazing to her. All of it makes her eyes widen in wonder.

I know I am biased, but I think she is just so stinkin' cute!

If you are grossed out by poop stories, please read no further. Yep--I have another one.

Yesterday, Kate needed a diaper change after she cranked out something the size of a baseball. As I headed toward the bathroom, a little voice in my head warned me not to try to flush it. I foolishly ignored the little voice. I flushed. It jammed. I tried to plunge it to no avail. There was no way it was going down. It became apparent that it would have to be fished out. Gross. I contemplated several options and finally yelled down to Taylor, "Please go outside to get me a stick!" After some questions, he complied. He brought it up to me as the phone rang. Absently, I answered it but remained fixated on getting the thing out of the toilet. I stabbed at it. It eluded me. It was hard to concentrate on the phone conversation as I continued to try to snag it with the stick. After several attempts, I finally speared it. Ah-ha!! I suppressed a shout of triumph, disposed of it, and finished my phone conversation. I would like to think that the person on the other end was none the wiser...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Can Be a Good Thing

It is amazing how fast Zoey and Kate are picking up English words and our family's way of doing things. Yesterday, Jillian and Molly decided to teach Zoey and Kate how to rock their 'babies.' J and M carefully wrapped up two dolls in baby blankets and helped first Zoey, and then Kate, climb into the rocking chair. Soon Kate was rocking her baby and singing, "Deep and Wide," a new favorite that Jake has requested often. After only a few days of hearing it, Kate picked it up and can sing the first line. Both girls enjoyed rocking their babies, although they soon chucked them onto the floor. Ok--we have to work on that a bit!

Each day they add an English word or two to their vocabulary. Although they don't speak much English yet, they understand a lot of what we say. "Snack" is a big favorite! Zoey is very verbal and jabbers away in Chinese quite a bit. She also mimic's us, and can repeat most of what we say. Yesterday, the girls were mad at each other about something and yelled at each other in Chinese. I was dying to know what they said! They don't coverse much in Chinese, though. I think it is because Kate tends to be a quiet little thing.

Despite being quiet, you don't want to get between Kate and a brownie. The other night, after she had one, she wanted another. I told her she could not have a second one and she started flipping out. I offered her an apple, which she accepted, but she was ticked about the brownie. I handed her the apple and she glared at me when I told her she had to say 'xie, xie,' (thank you). She says it all the time, but she gave me a look and refused. Little stinker. At that point, I was in a power struggle, from which I knew I could not back down. Drat....I hate it when I do that! Suffice it to say, that after 20 minutes of her screaming while I held her, she accepted the apple with a smile and said very loudly, 'XIE XIE!" Now, every time I give her something, she smiles sweetly and says, "Xie xie." Her foster mom was so kind to her, but it is pretty common to give the kids candy when they cry--or just give in to their demands. So, Kate is having to learn some boundaries, but she is responding well. Zoey has had a bit more discipline, so she usually obeys pretty quickly when we tell her something. Last night at dinner, they wanted dessert before they finished their dinner. I motioned to them and told them that they had to eat their dinner first. Kate pushed her bowl away and frowned. Zoey started scarfing her dinner so she could have dessert! Too funny! Kate eventually realized that she needed to comply, so she pulled her bowl back, ate, and then was happy to get her dessert.

Last but not least, it was brought to my attention that my family room looked way too clean in one of the last pictures of the kids. haha... The truth is that Jeff cleaned it! Just so you don't think I have it all together, I will post this picture of what our kitchen looked like last week when I was sick. The kids grazed and dirtied dishes all day and I felt even sicker when I looked at the mess. haha...

Monday, February 02, 2009

I would love to say that things are settling down around here, but the truth is, they are not. We are just in survival mode as we do our best to help Zoey and Kate assimilate into our family. They are doing very well, all things considered!

What do you get when you combine a two year old boy with a two and three year old girl? Lots of fighting! Kate and Jake are still going at it and sometimes Zoey gets in on the action. Calgon...take me awaaaaayyyy....!

Then you throw in another three-almost four year old boy who is a sweetheart but is very particular about his 'stuff.' As long as no one touches it, he is fine. We all know when his stash has been raided by the high pitched screeching that fills every corner of our house!

Added to this pack of rascals is SaraGrace, who has been astonishingly well-behaved since we came home. She does, however, slip into the bossy older sister routine quite often. The other day, she had a wand and was turning all the 'kids making bad choices,' into ducks. Not sure why she chose ducks?? At any rate, she said in her most stern of voices, 'You are ALL making bad choices! I'm turning you into ducks!" I listened for the response, hoping in a bad mommy sort of way that her scolding would produce results. Within seconds I heard a sarcastic, "Quack, quack, quack!" I cracked up as I heard her audible sigh of dismay. Not easily discouraged, she said, 'OK...I guess I will have to turn you into pigs." That threat must have worked, because I didn't hear any grunting.

Miss Kate has been taking her diaper off every time she wakes up in her bed. ugh. She will be getting the duct-tape-on-the-top-of-her-pj's treatment. Yesterday, she took her diaper off, pooped in her bed and then screamed hysterically because she was so grossed out by it. Yeah...she should try being me and having to clean it up!

All dressed and ready for church. Several minutes later, hairbows were gone, and their shoes and socks were off and spread all over the house. argh. We have decided that in the future, the hair bows, shoes and socks will not be put on their squirming little bodies until two minutes before we leave.

Truly...I have no regrets because they are absolutely precious! I was just thinking today about how sometimes God asks us to do something that is uncomfortable..or downright hard. This is hard. But He is good. It will not always be hard. I feel Him helping me and I know that "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:16) This is especially put to the test on the days that Jeff is traveling!