Thursday, September 4, 2014

older than he should be

My son turned six today.  Okay, he actually turns six at 1:51 pm.  But for all intents and purposes Nick is six.  At about the time I'm writing this, on the day he was born, Katy and I had arrived at Cottage Hospital and she was being hooked up to monitors.  We were both expecting to be sent home shortly as he wasn't due for another three weeks.  Like the rest of his life, he exceeded those expectations and was born before he medically should have been.

Some parents say their kid acts/looks/seems older than they actually are.  That may or may not be true, but for Nick, it is one hundred percent accurate. I know you're dying to know why, so let me relieve your anxiety.

Let's start with his stature.  While born on the smaller side, it took less than a year for him to break into the 90th percentile, and upon reaching that status, has yet to leave it.  He's definitely a "big" kid and while there are many, many boys and girls who are skinnier than he is, we're not concerned. For one, he never stops playing hard and as a result never stops sweating so again, we're not concerned. He and I were picking up dinner for Katy on her birthday back in May and the cashier said hi to him. He replied back with hi. She asked his name. He said Nick. She asked him how old he was. He replied, "I'm five...I weigh 62 pounds." As the girl was placing her eyeballs back in their sockets she stammered, "But I'm only 85 pounds and I'm 19!" Granted, she was maybe, MAYBE, four foot eleven. Still. That's my boy. Blowing people away.

The same is true of his height, reading ability, intelligence, strength, hand-to-eye coordination, and many other traits.  All are beyond what we thought it should be for his age. He's one of the most polite boys we know, a sensitive soul, and in love with anyone who will play board games with him.

There is a flip side to this huggable cuddly boy.  He is a sinner. He can lie, disobey, stall, disrespect, and sneak with the best of them.  He exceeded our expectations of these as well in that for each sin that manifested itself, we thought he was way too young to display those tendencies.  But in this matter, he is exactly like all of us.  Way ahead in our ability to sin than we should be.  Exploring and testing the boundaries of our Father's patience and tolerance daily on an exponential level.  Are we surprised by his ability to violate God's law?  Absolutely!  But not because he's able to do it, just that it points to our own sin so vividly in both dealing with it and displaying the traits he inherited from both of us. Again, breaking all of our expectations about himself and inadvertently showing us our own in the process.

The most important and heart-wrenching way in which he's older than we feel he should be, has been emotionally.  In the few short years he's had on this earth, he's seen his dog Lucy bolt between his legs as he accidentally left the front door open, only to be in the car when his mom discovered Lucy's broken and twitching body up the street.  He has and is enduring his new dog Hobbes scratch, destroy, and tackle him.

He was placed in Kindergarten early out of necessity for the multiple births to come, conquered the accelerated program presented before him, only to be switched to a different school for the following term.  His mother was put on bed rest and unable to help him with tasks he was so used to having help with.  This boy, has lost three brothers.  Two to a broken social system that caused him to believe it was his fault they were taken away.  The other died a premature death in a hospital room five feet away from him.  He was essentially an only child for five years with all the attention he could desire being paid to him by both his parents until both of them diverted their focus to two very needy infants.  He's watched his parents cry night after night in the weeks that followed his brother's death, been to his own brother's memorial service, had to endure two sleep-deprived adults who have all too often neglected him or at the very least paid him a minute amount of attention compared to the previous five years.  His trips to Disneyland went from almost monthly to virtually non-existent, as did park excursions, bike rides, and any other outside-the-house-fun-activity imaginable.  All the while, all around him his friends have been gaining sibling after sibling, close enough in age to have an at-home friend and playmate.  All in all, it has been a trying life so far for this little guy, and I'm sure in his little heart these are just the tip of the iceberg.

There have been times when the bewilderment on this boy's face has been emotionally overwhelming for Katy and I.  And yet, at the same time, extremely frustrating as he's been trying to figure out how to cope with his own emotions by acting out or seeking our attention in ways we wish he wouldn't.

Realistically, I realize and understand that there are kids the world over that have been through infinitely worse than Nick has.  But how much this kid can handle leaves us in awe.  Through everything, he doesn't appear to hold any resentment toward us and, more importantly, absolutely zero toward his baby brothers.  I would suggest there isn't a kid in the world who loves his siblings more than he does.  He lets them pull, drool, slap, interfere, delay, and demolish his life.  Yet every morning he sees them, every day after school, every time he has been outside for more than ten minutes and was able to forget about how they changed his life, the next moment they come into his peripheral, he has a grin from ear-to-ear and calls them by whatever nickname he's trying out for them at the time while gently grabbing their hands.  If given the choice, he will put off almost anything for the opportunity to make them laugh or help us out with them.  He is a GREAT big brother for "his babies" whom he has waited five years for.

I'm well aware of the possibility that all of this is temporal.  But for the time being, I needed to document not to the world, but to our family, what we are witnessing in this little boy: a five-year-old who is years beyond his age in experience, emotion, and, with his brotherly interactions, maturity.

I could write all night about this kid, but after awhile I'm sure it becomes redundant and overly wordy if it isn't already. At the end of the day, what I've learned is my son's age can't be measured in earthly restrictions like years and days.  My son's age is measured in the love he has in his heart for his parents, brothers, family, and Christ, and if that's the case, he is already an old soul.














Sunday, July 27, 2014

remember

My cousin Amanda called me the other night out of the blue, as she had passed by her fridge and saw our birth announcement on it.  She told me she was thinking of us as she is giving birth to her second son tomorrow.  It reminded us there are many of you still regularly thinking of us and our trial which was now over nine months ago.  It also caused us to reflect, once again for the ten billionth time, on how much we miss our son.  Amanda chided me for not having any recent pictures of the boys and I admit, I am without excuse.  I'm sorry we don't post more, or any, depending on your viewpoint.  We're lucky to get our phones out quick enough to even grab a quick pic of something cute they're doing or some new milestone.  I'd like to say I'll be better about it, but that would be an empty promise.  We post when we can which is obviously few and far between.  The night Amanda called, we were playing on the floor of their bedroom with them and listening to my iPhone on shuffle when a song by Chris Rice came on entitled "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)."  That night it held a deeper meaning and after a few days and many tears, I was able to put a photo montage together of the life and death of Joshua.  I feel like I shouldn't have to say it after so many other posts where the disclaimer was necessary, but I will anyway. Don't watch this video if you're concerned over people seeing you cry or if you're in an emotionally fragile state, as it will most likely evoke feelings you don't want to come out. With that being said, please enjoy a glimpse into our youngest son's life we aren't always able to properly describe, but feel this video does a small bit of justice.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

homecoming

I was browsing for some examples today of multiple birth announcements and came across this blog called Perfectly Peyton.  It's this woman, Stacey Skrysak, a tv news anchor in Illinois, who gave birth to triplets at 22 weeks 6 days. Shortly after giving birth, one of her triplets, Abigail, passed away. A month and a half later, her son Parker, also one of the triplets, passed away too. After 116 days in the NICU, they were able to bring their daughter Peyton home. I told Katy about this inspiring family and how Stacey had been blogging fairly consistently throughout. I expressed guilt at not having kept up our blog for the numerous people praying and thinking about us during our experience. Katy reminded me of my post regarding the NICU staff and how she had posted just over a month ago about how the boys were doing. I shrugged both of those off in light of Stacey's ability to continue posting throughout, what seems to us, overwhelming loss. So for hibernating, I do apologize.

That's what this post is going to be. Strictly an update. If I have the emotional energy, I may try and tackle a thoughtful post afterward. Without further ado, here's what's been going on since November 10th, the date of Katy's last post.

On November 13th, Samuel came home. All of us, especially Nick, could not have been more excited




 Even Lucy got in on the action. She was unsure, but at least she didn't shun him like she did to Nick for the first three years of his life. 


It was a long first night, but so, so, worth it. For the next nine days though, we struggled with spending too much time at home taking care of ol' Sam while not spending enough time at the hospital with David. We found ourselves splitting our time with David, rarely going as an entire family, trying to balance raising Nick and Samuel at home and getting quality time with David. Wrestling with guilt over getting to know Samuel so well at home and missing out on the same experience with David. We were faked out two days after Samuel was discharged when the NICU staff removed his o2 nasal cannula. 


They ran him through a car seat check, sitting him buckled up in his car seat and monitoring his levels for two hours. He passed the test with flying colors! That night however, he "de-sat'd" and was put back on o2 for a few more days. That was a tough one to swallow, especially since the 17th was their one month mark and they weren't living in the same place.


Soon it was over though and on November 22nd, our family was within our four walls, united at last. 



Having both of the boys home before Thanksgiving was amazing


We obviously can't say enough about the staff at Marian. They were amazing and will always have a special place in our hearts. That being said, we didn't realize how much of a toll it was taking on us emotionally to walk by the place where all of our triplets lived and where one of them died. We walked by the exact room where Joshua entered into heaven sometimes three times a day. We passed the operating room where we saw them come into this world. We sat for hours a few feet from where we saw Joshua failing to breathe. We daily saw the faces of the loving people who cared for Joshua in his few hours. These situations and associations were unavoidable and we wouldn't change what we went through by walking down those halls every day for 37 days. That number seems so small when its written out. Especially in light of the Skrysak's time in the NICU and especially our friends the Kostjuk's. But to us, it felt like a lifetime.

Well, life got in the way and although this post began shortly after Thanksgiving, it's concluding in January. 

The boys are amazing. We celebrated Christmas with both sides of the family, dedicated them at church this past Sunday with family and friends, and they're both double their birth weight now! They smile regularly, poop disgustingly, cry incessantly, and we love them unconditionally. I'll try and get Katy to post some pictures from the past month in her own post soon. Thank you for your prayers during our hiatus. Sorry it took so long. Taking care of two babies takes up a lot of time ;) 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

three not two


It's been awhile since I've cried. The last time I did was during Joshua's memorial service. That was until three days ago. I know many of you may not agree with what I'm about to say, but we claim our children on our taxes. In order to claim them as a dependent, they must have a social security number. Well apparently when a child only lives for a few hours they don't issue one. So off we went to the social security office in search of this elusive number. Upon arriving at the friendliest place on earth, we were informed Joshua would never receive a number as he would never receive social security benefits. We were instructed to walk our behinds over to the IRS office and request a tax payer identification number. The equally sociable IRS agent (imagine a modern day Zacchaeus) declined our request and suggested we walk our behinds over to the social security office and request a number. After somewhat politely informing him we had just been there, he suggested we submit our taxes with a birth or death certificate to prove he was born this year. Thinking it would be a good idea to get birth certificates for all of the triplets, we journeyed to the county clerk's office where we met for the first time that afternoon a "civil" civil servant. After receiving all of the papers, we made a shocking discovery. Unbeknownst to us, and probably most people, when someone dies a person at the clerk's office stamps the word "deceased" in big red letters on their birth certificate. Apparently this particular government employee decided to make Joshua's birth certificate into a work of art by stamping it six times. Fast-forward to two days ago when I sat down for my yearly venture into the amazing world of Turbo Tax. After entering the other three boys' socials, I got to Joshua's info. I was fine filling it out until the last box where I was asked to type the word "died" in the blank space. At that exact moment, the song "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?" from Disney's recent movie Frozen came on our iTunes. If you're not familiar with the movie, this little girl named Anna is singing to her sister Elsa, or, as it was in my head, two little boys to their missing brother. The lyrics go like this:

(Anna) Do you wanna build a snowman? / 
Come on let's go and play / 
I never see you anymore /
 Come out the door / 
It's like you've gone away

We used to be best buddies / 
And now we're not / 
I wish you'd tell me why

Do you wanna build a snowman? / 
It doesn't have to be a snowman / 
(Elsa) Go away Anna / 
(Anna) Okay, 'bye

It didn't help that earlier that day while on my newly adapted public bus ride home from work, I had been looking out of the window at the passing scenery, realizing I'd never get to see the excitement on Joshua's face the first time he saw the ocean, a field full of cows, sky-reaching mountains, and the like.

There are days I don't think of him too much. Then there are days like the above where I can't stop thinking about him. We only knew him face-to-face for a few hours, and yet I'm reminded of him everywhere. He's in his brothers' smiles. He's in the way they sleep. He's in any giraffe I see, as the stuffed animal waiting for him at home with his name embroidered on it was a giraffe. He's in the bright blue of the blanket he was wrapped up in. He's in every bath we give our boys as I remember Tara washing his hair after he passed away. He's in the grip of our sons hands, the way Katy looks in certain light, or the shirt Nick or I wore that day. He's everywhere.

I don't mind talking about him. In fact I enjoy doing so. It helps me feel like I'm remembering him and not forgetting who he was. It reminds me I will see him again one day by the promises of Scripture.

And yet, there are times I don't like being reminded of him. Times I'm caught off guard and feel guilty for not thinking of him enough. Times I feel like I'm dishonoring the memory of him by not acknowledging his existence.

By this I mean when people use a certain word to describe David and Samuel: twins.

Ninety-nine percent of the people who call our earthly boys "twins" are well-intentioned and merely curious as to why there are two babies who look and dress similarly. We always get looks when we go out in public. Looks that seem to be saying, "Are those...yes they are!" or "That man and woman are carrying the same style infant car seat...wait a minute...could it be?" or my favorite with an open mouth "Ummm....huh? What's going on here???"

Part of me wants to be sarcastic when the question comes, creatively quipping something similar to what Bill Engvall would say and conclude with "here's your sign." But I haven't...yet.

So here's a typical response when we're out and about: "Are they twins?"

The first time I heard this I didn't know what to say. I was not prepared in the least bit for dealing with this question. I'm pretty sure, but I could be wrong, that a family who lost one of their twins don't get asked, "Is your baby a singleton?" It seems to me this awkward question is solely reserved for parents of more than one. No one told us that it was coming until it did. My initial response to this innocent inquisitor was, "No, they're triplets." Fortunately, the curious stranger just gave a quizzical look, said, "Oh," and walked away.

We have since dealt with many who are not-so-easily swayed. The question that usually follows after a silent head count is, "Well where's the third?" or "Is the other one hiding?" We used to go into way too much personal detail with the first few who asked, explaining exactly what happened to Joshua. We quickly realized we didn't want to make this innocent bystander uncomfortable so we began answering, "yes," to the question of twins.

Then the guilt settled in. We didn't have twins. We had triplets. They will always be triplets. Just because they lost one of their number does not change the fact that when they were born, Joshua and Samuel were identical and David was a fraternal triplet. Their birth certificates all read triplet. Every piece of hospital paperwork reads triplet. They are three, not two.

But how do you say this to a complete stranger? Do they really care? They're the ones who opened their mouths, attempting to be polite and engage the tired couple of two babies or just wanting to comment on a rare curiosity. We googled what people of multiples who lost one or more say. Some just succumbed to the new title. Others were sometimes rude about their response to these inquiring minds. One label stuck out to both Katy and I. It became our new answer.

Surviving triplets.

It seemed self-explanatory to us. Apparently it is not. This term has required us to go into more detail than when we used to just say they were triplets when asked. Katy is still using it frequently. I've taken a more direct approach.

When asked if the boys are twins, I politely say no, and continue about my business. It has worked brilliantly. Is it a little short? Sure. A little rude? Possibly. But I haven't made things awkward between the stranger and I and there is no guilt in claiming the boys are twins causing feelings of guilt for not discussing Joshua when given the chance.

There are times where I will talk about his passing, if the stranger is kind enough, but not often.

What we've learned from this debacle is that people are going to dig into your life, even when they shouldn't. It can't be helped. We can't change them, can't correct their behavior, all we can do is be kind to them and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Except in the case of a middle-aged woman Katy had the privilege of dealing with in the Costco parking lot.

Walking in opposite directions but close enough to speak to one another, the lady asked the customary, "Oh, are they twins?" Now what you must remember, is having two babies at home does not allow much room in the sleep department. When that is coupled with attempting to navigate Costco while also reigning in a five-year-old and comfort inconsolable screaming hungry infants, it makes for a not-so-patient momma. Katy, in her grace and mercy, answered the woman as she always does, by stating, "No, they're surviving triplets," and continued her expedition to the car. The woman, smarter than she spoke, realized what the term meant and, while turning to walk toward the building mumbled just loudly enough for Katy to hear, "Well that was awkward." Without missing a beat, the love of my life peeled off her normally kind-hearted spirit, turned on this unsympathetic human, and quipped, "Not as awkward as having your son die in your arms three hours after he was born, but hey, thanks for understanding."

I love my bride. Especially when she says things I would say.

The final piece to this enigma is interacting with friends and family who know what our situation is and call the boys twins. We know Joshua dying made you feel weird. It made us feel weird too. We also know most of us have never dealt with a family who gave birth to triplets and had one of them die. There's no right or wrong response to how the survivors would be labeled. It really will vary from family to family. Whatever the parents and eventually the survivors want to be called is what they should be called.

This whole ordeal has made us realize we can't judge those who have dealt with the loss of a child. Whether that loss was when the child was 60 and they were 80, or the child was 19 and the parents still had another one to love, or the mother miscarried, or the first ultrasound showed twins and a month later one "vanished." People have different ways of dealing with loss, grief, and sadness. If a family who's twin vanished called their babies twins for the rest of their lives, we have no room to judge. If another family next week had triplets, lost one, and wanted to call the survivors twins, then hey, that's what we should do.

It could be it hit us so hard because Joshua and Samuel were the identicals and the ones we thought we might end up calling the twins, and Samuel and David look similar but not exactly alike. I'm not sure. Either way, whenever someone calls them twins, we are instantly taken back to the hospital and are faced head-on with the grim reality that we don't have three living babies. We recognize we are extremely blessed to have two healthy baby boys at home and we try not to take that for granted, but we greedily and selfishly wish we had all three here on earth. We're thankful for the time we had with all of our boys, but wish that time was longer.

That being said, we aren't upset with people who have called our boys twins. We know it has never been to hurt us and we've never clarified what we want to call them so how could anyone know what was right and wrong to say? (One point of clarification, this post was originally written on Friday night, long before my conversation with anyone at church and I told them as much this morning, just so there is no misunderstanding) Our label for them, when talking about David and Samuel, is "the boys." If you want to call them the boys or the triplets that's fine with us. Both work. It may be confusing and we're sorry for that. You may disagree with us, but the fact of the matter is they will always be triplets, even if there are only two of them left. But for now, until we are all reunited, they are our boys.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

perfect - 11/10/13 - 3w3d

I started to write a post that included some of my thoughts on my grief and sorrow over our loss of Joshua, but realized I had so much to say and it was so scattered that it needed some fine tuning. Instead, this is merely an update on how our boys came into this world and how they are now. 

On a day three weeks ago, I was not only blessed to meet little Josh, but I also got to meet his two womb-mates. They are perfect and while they have had to spend their days in the NICU, I am very excited for the day they will get to come home. 

At 11:04 am, on October 17, 2013, David Adam entered this world.


I heard him scream right away and then he was taken into a small room off of the O.R. called the resuscitation room. Rob assured me that he was ok just in need of some respiratory support. After surgery, the wonderful staff wheeled my bed into the NICU where I got to see my babies for the first time and at that time David was just getting oxygen thorough a nasal cannula.



Later that day he showed signs that he needed even more help breathing so he was intubated.


The nurse that night had her work cut out for her because she had the very unpleasant job of keeping me in bed to recover and away from the NICU and my babies. Rob spent the night trying to assure me that he would make sure I could see my babies first thing in the morning. So the next day when I finally got to go, I was very disappointed to hear that I could not hold David, only touch his head because he was too sensitive to touch. All we could do was standby and hope for the day we would be able to hold him. While I was being discharged, Rob sent me this picture:


He had been extubated! He was now on a cpap which looks brutal but in reality is just a cone that covers the nose.

That day was my last day staying in the hospital and we would start traveling to and from the hospital to see our precious babies. It is now three weeks later and David has made vast improvements. He went from the cpap to just a nasal cannula and from a central feeding line that went through his umbilical cord and allowed for a small blood transfusion, to an IV, down to nothing. He also went from a closed isolette where we could only stick our hands through to touch him to a regular open air crib where we get to hold him any time that we want.

This is my beautiful David today:


 At 11:06 am, on October 17, 2013, Samuel Abraham came into this world.


He did not cry right away but after some vigorous rubbing he perked up and let out one of the most wonderful sounds. They were able to keep Samuel in the O.R. as he did not need much lung support so Rob got to take pictures with him.


I was able to meet him before he was moved to the NICU.


After being taken into the NICU where I got to look at David, the staff moved me over by Samuel's isolette and I held him for the first time.


When we left the hospital, Samuel was receiving oxygen through a nasal cannula.   


By the next week he was taken off the oxygen, had his IV removed, and moved from the temperature controlled isolette to an open air crib. He is currently staying in the NICU only until he can take all of his feedings by mouth and not through the feeding tube. Currently this is what our little Sam looks like:

The boys are all perfect. They were on the day they were born...


And they are now...


They don't always get to be in the same crib, but we snuck them in to get a shot of three of our boys.

We'll try and post soon about our memorial service and how we've been dealing with our loss, each in our own posts but in the mean time, thanks again for all of your continued prayers and thoughts. They are definitely helping us to keep going.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

a staff like no other - 10/20/13 - 0w3d


Three hours and six minutes. That's how long we knew Joshua outside of the womb on this earth. 

Eternity. That's how long we will get to spend with him when God calls us home too. And we can't wait. 

Katy's operation began on Thursday morning at around 10:45 am. I was brought in just after 11:00. Shortly after, I met my second son David, then my third son Samuel, and finally my fourth son, little Joshua. David cried right away, Samuel right before he was laid on the resuscitation bed, and Joshua never did. While sitting next to my wife's covered body, we did the only thing we could in that moment: we prayed. While Joshua never did take a breath on his own, he did live longer than we thought he ever would. Both of us deep down were concerned we'd only get five to ten minutes with him. By all accounts, we should have. No amniotic fluid, no evidence of any kidneys, no lung tissue. And yet, somehow he survived off the ventilator for three hours while only gasping on average once every fifteen minutes. Joshua's tiny heart was pumping enough blood-carrying-oxygen to sustain life for 186 minutes. He wins the world's longest breath-holding contest hands down. 

There are so many details that I could document about those three hours and maybe I will in the days to come. All I want to do in this post is talk about how much love we and our boys, especially Joshua, received on Thursday and the days that followed. 

Let's start at the top. Katy's OB, Dr. Yin, came in to the OR and could have let the nurses be with her through her spinal, but instead hugged and consoled her through each stick, all the while assuring her of the process along the way. The tears she shed as she checked on Katy in the recovery room, even when she knew for the past 19 weeks the probable outcome. Her hugs and constant condolences in the hours and days that followed were not ones we expected from a doctor, but a friend and concerned advisor. 

Our perinatologist, Dr. Shields, normally doesn't attend the Caesarian and yet at our request, gladly was Dr. Yin's assistant, not hesitating when we asked if he could be there that morning. Our OB with Nick only checked on Katy once after he was born and yet we saw Dr. Shields everyday while in the hospital as he made a point to check on our well being even though his job was done. 

Marilyn, Dr. Shields' lead nurse, who had helped us through each weekly appointment and our endless questions, volunteered to don scrubs in a department she used to run, not to do her old job, but merely to support us by using our SLR camera to take pictures in the operating room. She answered our questions while the procedure was going on and in the NICU after, acted as a relay between our parents, and prayed with and for us and our sons in the turmoil that followed. While Joshua's team pushed oxygen into his lungs, she weeped as she put her arm around my shoulders and cried out to God for His will to be done. She took time before and after work in the days that followed to come over to check on how we and our boys were doing. Always smiling, always comforting. 

Dr. Turbow, the junior neonatologist on the team with 20 plus years experience in neonatology, counseled us around week 24 about what to expect right after delivery. He gave his most sincere gratitude to us as we explained our desire for Joshua to be a donor if he could, even though he ended up not being able to. His willingness to come in on his day off and electing to take on the greatest burden, the lead doctor on Joshua's resuscitation, knowing full well he would probably not make it. He never grumbled and was nothing but kind, professional, and genuine. He saw us in the hallways during the days after and always stopped to give us updates and if he couldn't would promise to follow-up with us when he saw us in the NICU in a while, and he always did. 

Nurses like Joan, who worked on Joshua and held it together until I put my arm around her to say thanks and her eyes closed as tears fell. Anne and Frank, who were instrumental in Samuel's survival. Mary, helping David's intubation to go smoothly and allow him to breathe. The floor director Ria, who left the NICU during the procedures because she could no longer hold it together while her staff labored so intensely to provide for our triplets. Labor and delivery nursing staff like Lindsey, Charley, and Mary who were so positive with us even if their experience told them the probable outcome.  Katy's nurses in post-partem, Lauren, Helen, and Chelsea, always firm but kind, smiling, and with Katy's best intentions at heart. All of the respiratory therapists, Katy's anesthesiologist, ultrasound techs and doctors, and x-ray techs. So many people, so many names that we could hardly begin to remember them all.  

Amazingly enough, one stood out above all others: Tara King, Katy's labor and delivery nurse for most of our stay. Aside from being assigned to help Katy everyday she was confined here before giving birth except for one, she went above and beyond in her effort to get to know her. She always spent extra time outside of her normal parameters to care for and just be a friend to Katy. We came to find out she knew our friend Rebecca and had her teeth cleaned by our friend Caitrin, further solidifying the connection between her and Katy. As the days went on, she made it clear that while she was not supposed to be in the operating room as she served no real purpose there, she was determined to get inside, not to help the other doctors or nurses, but to support Katy. And she succeeded. Two days before the surgery was scheduled, as she was getting ready to go home, she came in beaming from ear-to-ear, hardly containing herself as she informed us she would be there in the OR. She came in the morning of, got Katy all prepped, helped her do her hair, calmed her nerves with her ever-present smile, and was there for her every step of the way, never leaving her side the minute she entered the OR. The consummate professional, she didn't get in anyone's way, but made sure to help Katy out by keeping her calm and in the loop every step of the way. As we came to the conclusion that Joshua would not make it, tears fell down her cheeks. The hours we got with him she was minimally in the room, allowing us to have our time with him and our family. When Joshua passed away into Christ's arms, she assured us we could have as much time as possible with him and when we said we were ready she double-checked to make sure we actually were. When we decided to move Katy into her recovery room so Joshua's first and final bath could be done in the labor and delivery room, she got noticeably quiet. When asked why, she related how by moving Katy over to recovery, she wouldn't be her patient anymore and she wasn't ready to let her go just yet. I stayed with her as she washed Joshua with the greatest of care, treating him as if he was still alive with her gentleness. She kept me informed every step of the way with what would happen to him next in the death process. She combed his hair, what little he had, shaped it into a faux hawk like mine, allowed me to take what pictures I wanted, and gave me all the time I needed with him. She took her time setting up and creating a memory box for us, getting his hand and foot prints, a lock of his hair, his hospital ID bracelet, and his NICU blanket. Once she was finished getting him ready to take to the morgue, she asked if I wanted to take him into the NICU to get pictures of him with his brothers. I told her we had asked the NICU staff if that could happen and they politely informed us David was not stable enough to do such a thing. Tara was disappointed, but nodded her understanding. I said a final goodbye to Joshua, and Tara told me she would stop by before the end of her shift to see Katy. 

A few hours later, while Katy and I sat quietly in the recovery room, Marilyn walked in. She gave us hugs and asked how we were doing. While catching up on the whirlwind of a day we had had, Tara walked in beaming. She pulled out our camera and explained how I had left it in the NICU when I went to check on the boys after Joshua died. She turned it toward us and showed what she had done. Somehow she had finagled her way into the NICU on her way to the morgue with Joshua and convinced them to put all of our boys together in the same incubator. They moved Samuel's monitors next to David's and placed Joshua in between his brothers. Then Tara took pictures of them together, one final time. There were multiple shots, most of which contrast the red-life-filled skin of David and Samuel with Joshua's once similar and now opposite lifeless one. But in the pictures is a tenderness that while probably fictitious, shows two brothers, saying goodbye to another, turning toward him in a final display of affection, and reaching out to him as if to say, "See you again one day."

Katy and I can't ever repay the staff here at Marian Medical Center for what they did for our family. No words or presents will ever fulfill or display our sense of gratitude we have for the gift they gave us of these three boys. We won't always remember their names or even their faces in the not-too-distant future. From the very depths of our soul, we will forever be grateful for what they've done, are doing, and will do for us. They will always have an oh-so-special place in our hearts. They will never know what they all mean to us and we can never fully express the love we have for them. All we can say, is thank you. 

Thank you. 

Thank you. 

Thank you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

fear - 10/17/13 - 33w0d

     

At 10:30 am PST Katy will be having a c-section. We are just over 8 hours away from delivery. When we were this close with Nick, I was so excited I couldn't sleep. The anticipation of being a father, the excitement of all we'd get to do together, watching the love my bride would have for her son, was something I could hardly wait for. It's a lot different this time around. Our friends the Patterson's are two doors down and just delivered their second child, first boy. I know my buddy Jimmy is having a lot of those same thoughts as he watches his bride and newborn son. It's not that I'm not looking forward to those things. It's just that I want them to happen. I know there are lots of people, like us, who have struggled to have children. I know it may seem selfish of me to think the way I do, but I want those things with ALL of my boys. Not just Nick, David, and Samuel, but Joshua too. It's so much different this time. I have a hard time being excited. 

A few days ago I realized something that may seem pretty obvious. I'm stressed. I don't know why it took me so long to realize what should be so obvious. But I finally got to the root of why I'm stressed; I'm terrified of what the morning brings. It's not even so much the probable outcome that scares me. It's the unknown. Not knowing is the scariest part and I know it's my own desire for control that drives the fear. Sure I'm sad and if he does pass away I'll be a wreck. But deep down, I know the unknown is what is eating me up. 

On a different note, having Katy on bed rest this last month and in the hospital this last week has opened my eyes to a lot. First, I don't know how single parents do it. Working full time and coming home to a second full time job is exhausting! How they have time for anyone other than their kids is beyond me. It also made me appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to have Katy be a stay-at-home mom. The little things she takes care of throughout the days of the week made my life so unknowingly easy. Having to work and then come home during the week and on the weekend just to do those little things has been enough to almost drive me insane. Aside from the obvious reasons my love for my bride has gone up during this pregnancy, realizing all she does for our family without complaint raised the bar even higher. 

When people take care of you, it usually makes you happy. But when people take care of the people you love, it warms your soul. Every time I came in to the hospital to visit Katy and saw a new note or package I was elated. Whenever she told me someone had stopped by to visit or I walked in on a prayer time with friends, I was comforted. There's a sense of guilt you get when your spouse is laid up in a hospital and you aren't with them 24/7. So to know others were caring for her when I wasn't, was awesome. Thank you to everyone who came, sent a card, made a call or text, mailed a care package, or just prayed for us during this time. Your love was overwhelming! And if you want to come visit us while we're here the next few days, please do, just not after 9 as we will be passed out!

Our God is a god of truth. He makes promises and keeps them sustaining the trust in our relationship with Him. When you lose that trust, a relationship is broken. I know there are so many people who don't trust God for any number of reasons, but it seems as if many of them are self-imposed promises thrust on Him that He never made. If we look at the promises of scripture, He hasn't broken one. Sure some haven't been fulfilled yet (Christ coming back) and others took forms that were unexpected but ended up being better (Christ coming to overthrow a spiritual enemy not a political one), but He always keeps His promises. We've known a few friends over the years who have sadly lost children either through miscarriages or complications post-partem. These friends have all said that their babies were in a better place and they knew in their hearts they'd see them again. Some of these friends are Christians, some not. Both are right in where their children are now. The neat thing for us is, that if Joshua dies, we truly know where he will be, that we'll see him again, and he'll immediately be in the presence of Christ. We know this, not because it feels or seems right, but because of our God who cannot lie telling us so in His Holy Word. There's an overwhelming peace that comes with that kind of assurance and guarantee, and it's one that passes all understanding. 

Tonight on the way home from AWANNA, Nick said that Joshua was probably going to die. My mom began explaining to him how that might happen and we would be sad if it did, but we were praying it didn't. He calmly looked at her and said, "Why would we be sad? Joshua will be in heaven with Jesus." Out of the mouths of babes. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

admission - 10/10/13 - 32w0d



Yesterday Katy was admitted into the hospital. We've known it was coming since our appointment on Monday with Dr. Shields. The boys were measured and their weights calculated, which led to the admission. David and Samuel were each over four pounds (4 lbs 2 oz each) while Joshua was just over two and a half (2 lbs 9 oz). The boys are starting to pull away from each other and Joshua is leveling out, hardly growing at all. The thought process was that if he isn't going to be growing much more inside Katy, best to get him out soon. So they admitted her yesterday after her appointment with Dr. Yin for observation and general monitoring of the triplets. If anything goes awry, they'll pull them out within a few hours. The bummer of it all is that Katy feels and looks great and the boys are all moving like crazy. It makes it hard to imagine anything is actually wrong inside such an active and healthy-appearing womb. 

That led to our delivery date being set. The c-section is scheduled for next Thursday morning, October 17th. All of a sudden the day is looming out there. The time is soon coming when decisions, life-changing decisions, will have to be made by us for our triplets. And not just them, but for us too. Even for Nick. We may be setting up some of his earliest memories on the choices we make in these next few days. We've contemplated whether or not he should get to meet Joshua if he were to pass away from this world into the next. Will a five year old remember meeting his brother for less than ten minutes? Will he thank us? Curse us? Be indifferent? Will it make a difference later on down the road in his own walk of faith? All of these questions run through our heads and at least at this point, we've decided we do want him to meet his brother. Why you may ask? The short of it is, because if we had lost a sibling early in our lives, we would want to know that we were given the opportunity to say hello/goodbye to him or her. We feel like Nick should be give that same chance. Who knows? It may end up being the wrong call, but at this point, with everything else going on, this is what feels right for our family in this moment. We'll see whether this one butterfly wing flutter changes our lives further on down the road, for better or worse. Either way our answer will be the same. Blessed be Your name. 

A buddy of mine asked me recently how I was doing. I tried to explain that it felt like. Knowing you were about to have overwhelming happiness while at the same time dealing with the potential for extreme sadness. How do you have joy while experiencing sorrow? I answered with one word. Hope. Not just the hope that Joshua could live, but the hope of a promise for eternal perfection. The knowledge that our Creator ordained our every step and knows our every breath. That he works all things for good to those who love him, not in a "health and wealth" kind of way, but in a "looking out for our best interest even if we can't see it in these mortal bodies" kind of way. That he promised to save those who don't have the capacity to understand their sin by bestowing His grace on them when they need it most. I tried to explain all this but it only came out in that one, powerful word. We hope in the knowledge that any strength we have comes from an immortal God who exists, not in our imagination, but in a spiritual realm man only caught a glimpse of two thousand years ago. When a Man who knew no sin took our place on a bed of nails, enduring the eternal wrath we deserved that we might be justified before His throne and bow down one day only to be told, "Rise, my sons and daughters, for my Son has imputed you with His holiness and you stand before Me clean of all your debt and sin. Not because of anything you have done, but because of all Jesus has done for you. Welcome to my kingdom." And on the day we enter into God's presence, if we do lose Joshua in the days or weeks to come, we will see him again. Not as he was here on earth, broken, needy, helpless, lifeless. But in a state of perfection. In a body that will not fail him. Being wrapped up in the arms of our God who promised to never forsake him. Knowing he was always our Lord's son first and finding everlasting joy in the promises He made.

I'll step away from the pulpit though and let you see a few of the Godsends I am blessed to call my family. Our friend Sean Troeger took these pictures when Katy was exactly 27 weeks. He is amazing and we are always pleased with the work he does. Here's a glance into a few of our favorites, but its tough when every shot is a favorite!




Thank you all for your continued prayers and thoughts. While there was and may be again a time when the phrase, "We're thinking/praying for you," just didn't provide the comfort we needed, that time is not now. We can't explain the emotion and comfort it gives us to know so many have been lifting our family and specifically our boys up in prayer and even just thinking about them throughout their days with everything that's going on in their lives. Thank you for setting aside your time for our family, even if it's just to read this silly blog. We can't wait to show you the result of your thoughts and prayers in this next week. I know Katy would love for visitors to come by and just say hi so if you have time and like hanging out with her, feel free! She's got time, trust me. Please continue to life us up as we prepare to meet our next three sons!




Thursday, September 26, 2013

thirty weeks! - 9/23/12 - 29w4d

I am thrilled to be here! I remember a time, not so long ago, when this day seemed to be an impossibility. When we saw the doc this week he seemed to share in our enthusiasm at how far we have come but, at the same time he was hoping for a few more weeks. Dr. Shields made it very clear that his perspective has changed and the longer Joshua stays in the womb the better it is for him. In talking to Dr. Yin she believes that Joshua will be the one to pull the trigger by losing his heartbeat and as such we would have no choice but to deliver.  Rob and I have talked and I think that we fall somewhere in the middle. Selfishly I don't think I could carry around a deceased baby but, as long as things stay "status quo," then we want to let all three boys bake as long as possible. Regardless, Dr. Shields will admit me to the hospital by 34 weeks so that he can monitor me daily (that's if I haven't delivered yet).

Truth be told however, I believe it will happen at 32 weeks. This might be due to the fact I have had this number in my head for a while now or because I am measuring 39/40 weeks and am just not sure if the human body can stretch much more. It might also have something to do with the fact we are starting to feel mentally exhausted. This has been such a medical pregnancy with all the doctors appointments and now to add on bed rest and bi-weekly non-stress tests. So, we would like to see what you think. Leave us a comment, if you would like, guessing the day and time from now until the 7th of November as at that point triplets are considered over due.

Now to address the elephant in the proverbial room or possibly it is just the thing I have been thinking about all week. I know that last week Rob wrote a very long sappy post about me and I wasn't sure if I should praise him publicly because that's what he did for me or not. I decided that instead of tooting his horn in a long dialogue about the wonderful man he is, I would just leave you with this: that God doesn't make mistakes. While I might be Rob's earthly hero, God formed us to fit together and I am a human with lots of problems. All that to say God gave me this perfect fit in a man who can balance out my crazy and then still look on me with love and somehow see something good. I don't know about you but I think that's amazing. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

restraint - 9/16/13 - 28w4d


Samuel Abraham

This will be a double post. Last week not much happened. Our ultrasound tech was the sort of abrasive one who seems to rush through, puts Katy flat on her back, and barely allows us to get a word in edge-wise, but whatever. At this point I feel like we have a pretty good grasp of what we're looking at and could almost manipulate that machine myself if they let me. In any event, she did measure all the boys and here's where they stand at 28 weeks 4 days:

David - 29 weeks 4 days, 2 pounds 13 ounces
Samuel - 28 weeks 4 days, 2 pounds 9 ounces
Joshua - 26 weeks 0 days, 1 pound 11 ounces

Once the doc came in, there wasn't much more to say. He asked about our previous meeting with Dr. Turbow, the neonatologist, and we explained what we had learned. What Katy failed to mention last week was that her blood pressure (BP) was slightly elevated so the staff took the time to do a mini-ekg on her to make sure there were no signs of preeclampsia developing. Everything looked normal so that was a plus. At this particular appointment they didn't even concern themselves with it. She saw Dr. Yin later that day and they did check her BP twice as it was somewhere around 130/82 or something like that, but it came back normal the second time. 

Yesterday was the other appointment I'll bring you up to speed on. Same as all the previous one's but for one exception. Dr. Shields spent quite a bit of time analyzing Joshua's brain and came to the conclusion that he has what appears to be at least one, maybe more, small cysts on the inner layer of the sac that surrounds his brain. He didn't seem concerned at all though, strange as that may be. When I asked him how serious it was in comparison to the kidney/lung issues, he made some comparison that completely came out of left field. He said it would be like me seeing someone going 66 in a 65 MPH maximum speed limit zone, no big deal. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about and that I go after all the speeders as all cops do of course.

Again, prior to Dr. Shield's appointment Katy had another one with Dr. Yin. Sorry about the lack of chronological order in this post, I do realize it's quite sporadic. Anyway, on our way in to Dr. Yin's office, we actually rode up in the elevator with her as she was on her way back from lunch. We happened to have just finished eating Chipotle and had a bag of chips that Katy was munching on as we walked in. I joked with Dr. Yin that this was how we made Katy seem like she was gaining weight at the rate she wanted her to. Katy quickly jumped in and defended her eating habits, particularly in the past week, claiming she believed she had gained at least five pounds, probably more. Dr. Yin skeptically looked at her and then gave me a look. I said I didn't think so and it was probably only one or two pounds that the babies had gained in that time. Dr. Yin laughed and said we'd have to see. Well, one pound later on the scale, Katy was none too happy once she sat down on the table in the doctor's office. As such, or so she claims, her blood pressure was even more elevated to 140/80. As Dr. Yin was reading her chart, she immediately informed Katy she was now on at-home bed rest consisting of potty breaks, one shower, out on the couch in between and then in bed and if necessary, taking Nick to and from school. No cooking, cleaning, errand running, or anything else outside of this scope.

I have to say that while this wasn't the most welcome news, we were both pleased with how far she had made it without being put on bed rest. That didn't stop Katy from petitioning like a flailing politician in a lost race. She pulled out all the stops and did everything possible with her rhetoric that she could to convince the doctor to not put her on it yet. Dr. Yin quickly put a stop to the debate when she asked Katy if she'd rather be at home or in the hospital. Obviously her answer was home and therefore, the doc said, she could rest at home or lie on a hospital bed for up to five and a half weeks. Katy gave up at this point, at least with Dr. Yin. At the appointment talked about above with Dr. Shields, she held onto a pointless hope that she could convince him to retract Dr. Yin's orders. That obviously didn't happen.

So, here we are. Just shy of 29 weeks and Katy is confined to the house except for doctor's appointments. It probably didn't help that the day before, Nick brought home a picture he drew from Sunday school in which he was asked to draw the paralytic that Jesus healed and he drew a stick figure with a big belly with the word "momma" written above it. 

That's the update, so if you want to stop reading and not read my soap box sappy monologue below, feel free, but I'm going to write it anyway.

I've said before, whether in a blog or small group I don't remember, but my wife is my earthly hero. When she was a junior in high school, excelling in swimming and water polo and with a high probability of going somewhere on scholarship, she came down with spinal meningitis and encephalitis. Fortunately, it was not the bacterial kind, merely viral, for if it was bacterial she wouldn't be with us now. The sickness completely incapacitated her, taking away most of her fine motor skills, including writing, coughing, swallowing. It slowed her speech, impaired her movements, and put her through a rigorous recovery process that included months of speech, occupational, and physical therapy. And yet, she came out through it all, not giving up, willing to keep pushing and fighting. There are still residual affects that she suffers from, namely her speech and some lack of control in her balance and hand-eye coordination. And yet, in spite of all that, she graduated high school, went to community college on her own, got two AA's, graduated from Sac State with a BA, all in the face of taking at least three times longer than the average person to write, type, read, and anything similar. My wife is my hero because I don't think I could have done it and maintained the faith that she has. I would have easily been drawn into a world of self-pity, frustration, and anger, and yet Katy came out of it thanking her Father for letting her get sick, for without it she wouldn't have met me, gotten married, have the friends she has, the church she loves, given birth to Nick, been a foster mom to Matty and Zane, and carried David, Samuel, and Joshua. She looked at her adversity as a blessing, not a curse, and did what we all should do, trust that the God of the universe will work all things for good to those who love Him as He promised He would. 

I say all that to say this. My wife is amazing. Here she is carrying three babies with joy. Excited at the possibility that God has for her to be a mom to four boys. Never complaining that she didn't get the girl she always wanted. Never complaining about the puking, lack of appetite, sneezing accidents, none of it. Even as we've been trying to figure out how we are going to handle the strong possibility of our son's demise, she maintains a steady course and steady faith. She is the most amazing woman I have ever known and I've known quite a few, but she takes the cake. She said to me tonight as I was packing Nick's school lunch that I needed to slow down or I would get burned out, and yet she had no idea that it's her example of strength in Christ that keeps me motivated daily just to keep up with her. If she begins to waver I will crumble like a house of cards, but I know that won't happen. She is my anchor, my best friend, and the most unbelievable thing to happen to me outside of my salvation. The amazing part is, she is too humble to admit any of this and thinks I exaggerate. That is normally true, but not in this description of her. 

The other day, my buddy Kevin and I were talking about marriage and the idea of whether or not we found our identity in our brides. We both sheepishly looked down and admitted we did. Then one of us asked the question as to whether we would be closer to God without our brides and we both confessed we probably would be farther away. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing is a topic for another blog and another day, but the point is that I do find my identity in Katy. She helped mold me into the man I am today. But don't blame her for the bad, immature, and improper parts, she is only human and I am still a work in progress.

My bride is who I aspire to be. The one I see Jesus in. The one I thank God is raising my children. And the one that I don't know how I could do all of this stuff we are going through without, but I'm glad I get to.