Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Removing the Cast and Pin

"For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!"
Psalm 117:2

Today Cullen got his cast and pin removed.  Our appointment was early, 10 am.  But he also had to get x-rays, which meant we needed to be there around 9:45.  My mom went with me and we needed to leave the house around 8:45.  We got out late, not leaving until almost 9.

We did not get far down the expressway when the traffic slowed and almost came to a stop.  The cars were bumper to bumper as far as I could see and we had JUST passed an exit.  So, there was no hoping to get off and get up to Michigan another way.  I was trying very hard to not be angry.  My mom reminded me that there is a reason for everything and perhaps in those 10 minutes of us leaving the house late, we were spared from the accident we were sure was up ahead.  We crawled along for about 10 minutes.  When we finally got up to the accident site, the cars were pulled along the other side of the road and the traffic moving South was also backed up as far as we could see.  It looked bad, but once past, we all got moving along at 70 mph.

We got to Mott's at 10 am.  I checked us in and Cullen got his x-rays.  He did great, not much squirming and he did not have to have any of the x-rays retaken.

We checked into the Ortho office and waited.  They were busy!  We got taken back into one of the rooms and they told us they would have to cut off the cast this time.  This was a first for us and I was totally unprepared.  Every other cast he had had just unraveled off.  They let me hold Cullen and he did a good job sitting, really just interested in the loud noise and cutter.  About the last 2 inches he decided to really wiggle and start crying - he was done being held still!

They pulled off the cast and the cotton.  Dr. Li took a pair of pliers and just slide the pin out of his foot.  It was as smooth as a hot knife through butter.  And Cullen didn't cry or bleed!  I was amazed.  But it only lasted about 30 seconds.  Then you could see the pain creep into his face and that baby just wailed.  He cried and squirmed and tried to move, like he was trying to get away from the pain.  I just held him and rocked him, and tried to soothe him as Dr. Li explained the exercises for his foot, and some things to expect in the upcoming weeks.

We left to go down to orthotics to get Cullen's Ponsetti bar.  A Ponsetti bar as two little boots, with straps, to strap the child's foot into and then a bar that hooks the two boots together.  Cullen will have to wear this every night until this entire process is over, about a year from now.

We got down to their office (AAAALLLL the way on the other side of the hospital) and we were waiting behind a couple.  They had a beautiful little girl in a stroller and Cullen was mesmerized by her!  My mom started talking with them and we learned that this little girl had had quite the battle from birth.  Her mother had been on prescriptions during her pregnancy, so when the girl was born she had to detox from the meds, but in addition to that, she was lactose intolerant,  but the hospital couldn't figure that out and so she had spent many days in the NICU struggling to eat and keep her weight up.  She was also born with hip dysplasia.  When her mother said that it was like being electrocuted   I don't know how else to explain it.  My inside quivered.  My mother and I looked at each other and she said, "Should we tell them the story?"  So, we proceeded to tell them about Janice and her daughter Aubree and the salvation Janice experienced and the healing Aubree experienced on the day of Cullen's surgery.  The couple was amazed.  We asked to pray with them and they were very happy to let us.  I prayed for them and for their daughter's healing.  We talked with them for a long time.  Yes, they were saved.  Yes, they believed that God could heal.  They had seen God heal the mom's uncle (?) from brain cancer.  He went in for surgery, after being prayed for, and they scanned him one last time and found that the tumor was not there, but instead a large cavity of fluid.  They drained the fluid and he is fine.  We exchanged information and they left.  I was amazed and in awe of again how God's timing had prevailed.  Being late (like on surgery day) had allowed us to meet up with this family.  Again I thanked Him for things outside of what I am normally thankful for.

Cullen got called in.  I was shown how to put the little boots on his feet and then how attach and remove the bar.  He did not like it.  He again cried.  The orthotics person told me to leave him in them for a couple hours to be sure his skin did not break out and to "condition" him before putting him in them over night.

We walked out of the room and stopped as a boy and his grandmother were waiting to check in.  The boy had a scar similar to Cullen's and he asked what had happened to Cullen.  I told them a brief story about castings and surgery.  He smiled and his grandmother said that her grandson had something different wrong with his feet, but had just endured a very similar process.  I don't remember how we got to talking about Jesus, funny how the Holy Spirit sometimes just speaks through you and gets you into a conversation, but we ended up finding out this young man (probably 15 or 16) felt called to be a lawyer who represented children who were religiously persecuted in public school.  This young man was on fire for Jesus.  Loved Him.  We talked with them for a long time.  Heard some of their story and again exchanged information, promising to pray for each other.

I am sitting here in awe, rereading what happened to us.  God is so so good to remind me that even in this very hard and painful situation, it has beauty and glory woven into it.  This precious child He has given me to care for is bringing awareness to God's goodness, His healing power, His mercy, His grace, and His salvation.  How much he loves me and cares for me to show me over and over and over again that this is His plan and not an accident or just some chromosomes not doing the right thing.

Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Checking his foot. . . .

We had a follow-up appointment today for Cullen's foot.  Dr. Li removed his cast, pulled off the cotton and looked at his incision and pin.  Ugh, the pin made my inside squeemy.

She said everything looked good.  Wiggled the pin around a little bit.  Cullen started crying, sobbing when she did that.  It broke my heart.

We chose a nice red cast for his final cast.  Dr. Li said it was a great color for the holidays.  My husband promptly told her it was for OSU!

I am not looking forward tot he pin removal in two weeks.  Dr. Li is hopeful and expectant that it will literally just fall out on it's own.  But after seeing how Cullen cried from her just touching it, I am not as hopeful.  I can't wait to give him a bath, though!  So, the cast must come off, the pin must come out.  It is one more step towards his foot healing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


John 11:40
Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"

We got up at 4:30 am to get ready to leave for Ann Arbor.  Jason had helped me the day before to clean and pack so all we had to do was brush teeth and load the car.  My in-laws showed up at 5:30 and we left.  Originally, they were going to meet us part-way there because they were going to pick up Jason's grandma and bring her along, but she had a nasty cold and decided last minute to not come.

We left the house, took 24 to the 23/475 entrance and as we drove around the on ramp, there was a very strange thumping noise.

"A tire's flat, Erin."
"What?!? You're kidding right?"

Jason pulled over before we actually were on the highway.  The in-laws pulled up behind us and sure enough, the driver side tire was flat.  We unpacked the trunk and Jason and his dad got out the spare and the jack and started trying to change the tire.  Semis and cars zoomed by, my husband and father-in-law laying on the pavement trying to desperately get us back on the road.

"God, keep them safe." I thought. Then, the car rocked and slide off the jack.

The jack was bent.  There was no safe way to change the tire.  I got Jerek out of the car and into the in-law's vehicle.  I sat there with him and my mother-in-law as the men got the jack out of the trunk of the other car.

This one worked and they got the donut on.  We all piled into the smaller, other vehicle.  Jason, his mom, the boys, and I were going up to Ann Arbor in that car.  Jason's dad took our car back to their house and got a different vehicle to get up to the hospital in.

6:20am finally back on the road, a half hour late.  As we started back on the road, I said, "Ok, let's pray NOW before we even get any further!"  Jason prayed for travels as we started back up to Michigan.

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  I got a call from the pre-op floor wanting to know why we weren't there yet.  I told them the 1 minute story and the nurse asked that I be dropped off at the front door to get there quicker.  I got a call from my parents.  They had made it there and were in the waiting room.

7:10 I checked Cullen in.  40 minutes late.  I asked where the bathroom was and the receptionist, said, "Oh hun, you don't have time, they want you back there now!"  Got into pre-op and Jason showed up shortly after.  We answered the same 20-some questions with a hand full of people.  We got to finally meet our anesthesiologist.  The woman we requested because of how well versed she is with panhypopituitarism.  She went over our endocrinologist suggestions for Cullen's special medication drip and told us that she was not happy.  She was not sure that his suggestions were appropriate for the kind of surgery Cullen was having.  My heart leaped into my throat.  After all we had gone through to get the recommendations in the first place and now they were not "right".  She told us that she was going to call the pharmacy and the endocrinology department in house and get their opinion.  More people with more of the same questions.  She came back and told us she wanted to give Cullen his meds in the way the endocrinologist wanted, but not the amount.  She explained her reasoning and we agreed.

Jason went and got the crew to come back and tell Cullen good-bye.  By this point, all the pre-op bays had emptied - everyone was already getting their surgeries started.  This is the only reason I can figure they let ALL of us back, all 7 of us, when the rule is 2 :-)

I got to suit up and walk Cullen back to the OR.  They laid him down on the table and started taking his robe off.  He started screaming; he hates un/dressing.  They put the little mask on his face.  One of the nurses said, "Don't worry mom, the fact that he is crying is good.  Two deep breaths and he will start to fall asleep."  And sure enough, that is what he did.  I was ushered out, I didn't cry.  I had such peace about him being in there. 

I got back out and told everyone what had happened in the back.  Jerek was being obnoxiously loud with a toy car my mother had brought for him.  But has he was laughing and playing, I noticed a woman sitting a few chairs down, thoroughly enjoying his silliness.  She was even laughing out loud at him occasionally.  I smiled, reminded that even though I might have thought he was nuts, in that waiting room, people had left their kids to be operated on.  I let go of the "mommy needs to control her kid so people don't think I am irresponsible  undisciplining mother" complex and enjoyed his laughter and crazies.

At some point the front desk called us and asked us why we were still up on the floor.  Confused, Jason said we had been told that we would be released from the waiting area when we were called.  There had been some miscommunication and we were actually suppose to be on another floor waiting.  The receptionist told us not to worry, that we could stay and keep all of our stuff on the floor.  Cullen's surgery would be done soon and there was no reason to go lugging all of our stuff to another floor to just come back in less then an hour to consult with the doctor.  She gave us a buzzer and Jason and I went to the Cafe with his parents to get something to eat.

We came back up and I attempted to "play" with my crazy 5 year old.  He was more interested in making as much noise as possible.  I rummaged through his bag and got out his clothes; we had loaded him up into the car his dragon p.j.'s, and we marched off to the bathroom to change and clean the toothpaste off of the corners of this mouth, his nose, and his cheek.

When we came back, my mom and Jason's mom were talking to the woman who had been enjoying Jerek's sillies early in the morning.  She introduced herself as Janice and showed us a picture of her daughter, Aubrey.  Aubrey had hip dysplasia and was in for her second surgery.  The first surgery had actually left her worse off then before.  She had been in a cast from the waist down most of her life.  They had traveled over 3 hours to be there and Janice was there by herself for her daughter's 4-5 hour surgery.  Her eyes welled with tears.  I showed her a picture of Cullen and told her I was so sorry and I understood.  Her eyes locked with mine and for the first time that morning my heart broke.  Not for Cullen or even myself like I assumed would happen, but for this very alone, very scared, and very hopeless mother.

My mom suggested we pray for Janice and my mother-in-law and I came over to sit next to her.  Right there, in the middle of that waiting room, I prayed for this woman.  I prayed that God would give her peace, that He would give the surgeon's wisdom to know what to do with Aubrey, that He would miraculously heal her and make her whole, better then even how she was before the first surgery.  I prayed that God would show Janice how real He is and that again, she would find peace.

When I looked up, Jason was sitting next to me.  He looked at Janice and asked her if she was a Christian.  She said she honestly couldn't say yes because even though she use to go to church, she didn't anymore because it was too hard being a single mom of two.  Jason simply told her of Jesus Christ's sinless life, his death on the cross for her, and how she was able to accept Christ's free gift of salvation.  Did she want to pray and ask?  She said yes.  Jason led her in a simple prayer and by the end we were all teary.  Afterward, Jason told her that just because she had now accepted Christ and was a part of God's family, that did not mean that everything would just be easy.  He used Cullen as an example and encouraged her that even though the things in her life may not change drastically, God was still at work and He would be working in her.

Just then, the receptionist called us back to consult with the doctor.  She said Cullen was doing very well.  The surgery had gone really well and that we would be called back when he started to wake up.

Janice was gone when we came out of the consult.

I don't remember how long we waited before we were called back to the post-op ward/recovery area.  As we walked back, we passed Janice!  She yelled at us hello and said that the girl she was holding was her daughter and she was beaming.  My brain took in the whole sight, but shut down and focused on Cullen because I couldn't make sense of what I saw.  Janice was holding her daughter, who was fully clothed, even with her winter coat on.  But she had just had surgery?  My brain couldn't compute and so it pushed that out of the way and focused back on Cullen.

He was crying when I took him.  I nursed him as he was so hungry and then he drifted back to sleep.  They let me hold him and put me in a wheelchair to take us to our room.  We were put on the 7th floor - the children's cancer floor.  What a heart-wrenching ride down that hall.  What a time to be thankful that all we were dealing with was a minor surgery, not a terminal illness.

Our parents came up to the room and told us the rest of Janice's story.  She came out of the operating area, holding her daughter.  She told them that the surgical team had never even touched Aubrey.  When they got back, they realized that her hip was even better then it had been before the first surgery.  There was nothing wrong with Aubrey.  She was healed.  Janice was crying.  Our parents were crying.  Janice was taking her daughter home.  No surgery.  No cast.

I couldn't say a word.  Literally, I opened my mouth and yet I couldn't grasp the right words to express my awe, my joy, my confusion.  I think for the first time in my life I realized what it was to experience the fear of the Lord, to see the power He has.  I had my mom repeat the story to me.  I was dumbfounded. 

Aubrey was healed.
Aubrey was healed.

Jason's mom said that she had given Janice one of our church cards and had written down my name and number for her.  I still have not heard from her.  I don't know if I ever will.  I do know that my God showed up on November 5th.  He revealed Himself to a hopeless woman in a way that she cannot deny.  My heart cries out to God that He would continue to show up in her life, that He would lead her to a solid church, a Christian man, and that He would use her and her daughter in bold and miraculous ways.  I pray that she will be a banner for God.

The rest of our time was pretty uneventful.  Cullen was squirmy and crying on and off at first as the anesthesia wore off and the pain meds still had yet to kick in.  Finally, at one point, I cried.  But it was only briefly.  Not because I was trying to be strong, I am not, but because I just felt helpless to help him and that is a horrible place to be as a mother.  I silently asked God to help him and spare him from the pain.  He eventually fell asleep.

He slept well through the night and was happy and playful during the day.  We avoided a lab draw thanks to the doctors being in the room at just the right time.  A resident had ordered it, we questioned it, and the doctors on call sided with us and let our babe continue to sleep soundly.

I left Ann Arbor thanking God for flat tires.  That for whatever reason, we needed to be late and God protected my husband and father-in-law as they changed our tire.

I left Ann Arbor thanking God that Jason's grandmother had gotten sick and canceled going so that his parents could follow us and help change the flat tire.

I left Ann Arbor thanking God that someone misinformed us and we stayed in the pre-op waiting area.  If we had not, we would have missed Janice.  We would have missed our opportunity to share the Gospel and watch a soul come to salvation and turn from hopeless to hopeful, sorrowful to joyful, sinful to saved.

Our road to surgery at Mott's was a long one.  We tried to find alternates to surgery, but none could be found.  We swung back and forth between peace and turmoil as we searched for those alternatives.  But God knew that we needed to be in that exact waiting room, at that exact time and day.

NOTHING is a mistake or coincidence.  Cullen's conditions are a part of God's plan.  It seems like I have to come to terms with this anew every day.  We have prayed from the beginning that God would use Cullen to bring glory to His name.  That we would meet people that we would have never encountered without Cullen having panpit or the vertical talus.  I have prayed that God would help me evaluate situations and see the Holy Spirit working and know His voice and obey it.

Thank you God for answering our prayers and for NOT answering our prayers.  
Thank you that you did not heal Cullen's foot in a miraculous way, for although that would have brought you glory, instead you healed the body of a girl who could not be fixed.  Her story will reach unsaved people and places that we would have never been able to reach.  Soften the hearts of those her story touches and bring people into a saving and right relationship with You!

To God be all the glory forever and ever, Amen! 

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only Godbe honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Panic Attack

Psalm 56:3  
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You."

Jason leaves for Colorado Monday morning, VERY early.  He will be gone for 4 days, coming home VERY  early Friday morning.  I must admit, when he first told me a few months ago, I was initially jealous.  Colorado was a place we have always wanted to visit together, but we can't afford to fly me out with him nor can we take the boys or leave Cullen with anyone yet.  So, I will be staying home, by myself, the week Jerek starts school.

I have been dreading this weekend for months, subconsciously.  I knew that this trip was going to scare me, so I buried those feelings and refused to let them surface for the last 2 months or so.  Now he is essentially leaving tomorrow and I have realized I am scared  terrified.

I raced out of the house this morning.  I had plans to go to church to meet up with some other women to make a Child's Training Bible.  First, I had to run to Meijer to get the little page flags for it and also get a super sweet deal on diapers.  By getting the diapers today, I would essentially get a box and a half free!  Unfortunately, something happened while checking out and the register did not want to give me my automatic $20 coupon on my order.  The cashier had to call her supervisor, get things cleared, and put in codes.  I ended up waiting for about 20 minutes to finalize my order.  I DID get my super sweet diaper deal, but I was now going to get the church about 30 minutes late.  Normally, being late doesn't bother me, but I got in the car and could tell, my body was all amped up.

It was very strange.  I had never felt like that before.  My insides felt shaky.  I thought I might cry.  And as I drove towards the church, I realized my jaw was beginning to get tight and ache.  Within the first half hour of being at church, I had to make a conscious effort to highlight the Bible passages with a steady hand, control my emotions to keep myself from crying, and not clench my jaw as my pain level was rising and my head was beginning to pound.

As I was walking out, our Pastor's Wife asked how she cold pray for me.  I said that I was nervous about Jason going to Colorado and being by myself with the boys.  I have a sense of pride about being able to take care of and handle situations on my own; being totally independent, but since Cullen's birth I no longer felt that way.  I also told her I had this dread that Cullen would crash while he was gone and that I would have to handle that entire episode on my own.  I left, those strange feelings only increasing.

"God, what is wrong with me?" I thought.

Panic Attack

is what I heard in my head.  I immediately called my mom.  She had suffered from panic attacks in the past and I knew she would be able to tell me if that was what I was dealing with.  I had a long chat with her.  She helped me identify the basis of my attack.  I was scared of being by myself and Cullen crashing and dying while Jason was gone.  But the bottom line of that is that I did not fully trust God with the situation.  I didn't trust that He would take care of me or Cullen or that whatever happened would be a part of His plan and for His glory.  Glorifying God is our ultimate job in this life.  Glorifying him with all we are, with all He gives us.

I also realized that I had sinfully made Jason a functional savior.  I was trusting in him to care for us, give me strength, and get us through any situation.  I had come to the end of myself and my ability to control the situation and that scared me.  Which is also sinful.  We are told over and over in the Bible to not fear, to not be anxious.  He commands us to give Him all of that an in return we are given peace.

So, that is what I have been doing, over and over and over and over again.  Every time I feel the tears well-up in my eyes or begin to think about what will happen if Cullen crashes, I repeat to myself, "When I am afraid, I will trust in You.  God I trust You.  I give this to You.  Please give me peace."

I will not make it through next week on my own.  God will give me the strength.  He will lead me, guide me, and comfort me as He gently walks me through the next five days.  He will steady my heart and give me the peace and confidence to make it.

*As I was typing this out this afternoon.  I was also purchasing the new Kari Jobe album, Steady My Heart. The cover song truly spoke to my heart.  I feel like the lyrics were exactly what I need to hear today.*
For the song and lyrics:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Getting a splint

"everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43:7

Cullen has been in physical therapy all summer.  We have seen huge improvements in his wrists.  If you looked at his right hand, you would not notice anything wrong.  We have worked really hard at stretching and taping him so that the muscles would correct themselves.  Unfortunately, his left wrist, which is the worse of the two, is just taking longer then expected.  Both orthopedic surgeons we have seen have said that there is nothing structurally wrong and to just keep working the muscle into the right place.

So, today we went to the PT office.  Not for physical therapy, our wonderful PT is on vacation.  Instead, we went in to see the Occupational Therapist to get Cullen a splint.

It was an interesting process.  She traced his hand on a piece of paper and cut it out.  She then traced that on a piece of special plastic, cut it out, and heated it to 160 degrees.  She slipped a special piece of fabric over Cullen's hand, so he wouldn't get burnt, and then put the heated plastic up to his arm and molded it to him, getting the perfect fit.  She then attached an antimicrobial barrier, like squishy plastic, to it since he is a thumb sucker and would be undoubtedly sucking on the splint.  She then stuck some Velcro like pieces to the back and the soft brown straps to those.

The entire process took about 20 minutes and then we spent the next 10 practicing putting it on and finding the best places to strap him to it.

My instructions were to let him sleep in it over night and if I wanted, during nap.

The splint's job is to keep his entire arm and wrist straight, so that while his muscles are relaxed while he is sleeping, the tighter muscles are gently being pulled in the right direction.  It is like taping on steroids :-)

Throughout the entire process my mind kept recalling something a friend of mine said while we were discussing orthopedic surgeons.  She said that it is one thing for an ortho to know how to fix a bone that had been initially formed right but had then been broken.  It is entirely something different to take a bone that had been formed improperly and then try to fix it.

Not that Cullen's bone is the issue in his wrist.  But I wonder why God allows something to be "created improperly" only for our imperfect world to try and fix it?  As the verse above says, God created everything for His glory.  I just have to rest in this, that Cullen, even with all his "imperfections" was still formed and made by God for HIS glory.  Not for me to boast in and take pride in my "good mommy" accomplishments.  Not for me to laugh at the medical community when he exceeds what they have said he will do.  Not to accept the pity of others.  Cullen is the Lord's.  His bones, his muscles, his pituitary gland; they are all the Lord's and they are for HIS glory.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I'm just going to be honest.  Because I want others to know that it's ok to feel cheated, disappointed, jaded.  You are not a bad person, it's normal.

Yesterday our best friends finalized their family by bringing into this world a beautiful little boy.  I was fortunate enough that they asked me to be there.  To be able to celebrate with their family in those first moments of that tiny miracle's life.

I rushed out of the house with my boys when we got the call that it would be soon.  I was on edge in the waiting room, anticipating Daddy walking out to tell us if they had had a boy or girl and what the name was. I was fine through all of that.  I was excited, overjoyed, anxious.

We walked into the labor and delivery ward and I hung back with the other family members, letting their older children go into the room first.  And then two nurses carried their chubby, minutes old baby past the doorway to get his foot prints.  He was wiggling and squirming and fussing. And my heart broke.

I tried with all my strength to hold it together. I tried in those fleeting moments to suppress my tears, to convince myself that it was just plain selfish and ridiculous to feel cheated.  To feel loss and anger and disappointment. To be at that place again where I ask God why.  To tell Him again that it's not fair.

I was  SUPPOSE  to have an easy delivery.

I was SUPPOSE  to have a perfect little boy.

I was SUPPOSE to cry tears of joy.

I stood there rejoicing and mourning.  I was torn, battling my emotions, trying to get a grip so I could bask in that wave of love and awe that happens when you hold a newborn baby.  Something else I had been denied with my own baby.

God help me.

Help me to let go of dreams lost and anticipate the incredible future you have for us.  For Cullen.  Help me to look towards The Prize.  Help me to sacrifice what I want, my expectations, my plans.  Help me to trust you.  Please, help me to trust you again.

Facing this is just too hard on my own.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

January 28th, 2007

Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people;

    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

I want to write a disclaimer to my previous post.  I know that it sounds cold and emotionless.  There are two reasons for this.  One, I realized while typing that out that I do not remember a lot of what happened that day.  I think this is a combination of the meds I was on and the lack of experiencing most of what happened.  I was stuck in my bed the entire day and almost all of the information I have about Cullen's birth is second hand.  Secondly, I have so many emotions about that day that it is hard to express them.  I think I ran through every emotion possible, which I believe has also jumbled up what I remember and what seemed important then and what was ACTUALLY important.

I was woken up by a sweet friend calling to pray with me.  What comfort that brought.  To hear someones voice and be prayed with.  I no longer had the words to pray, so to have someone pray for me was quite the relief.

The doctor came in shortly after.  He has been my doctor since I was 5 years old and delivered my first son.  I trust him and was relieved to see him so early in the morning; it was 7 am.  He came to update me on Cullen, he was stable, doing well.  But they still didn't know why he had become lethargic.  They would be doing an MRI this morning.  So, they had decided to keep me at the hospital until after lunch.  There was no point in me going to the NICU because I wouldn't be able to see Cullen anyhow.  As long as I was up walking around, they would let me leave later.

My nurse helped me out of bed, walk around.  MY WORD I had forgotten how much it hurt.  But I pushed through it, knowing that I had to do well to get out of there.  My nurse from the day before came in.  She gave me a huge hug and talked through what had happened after she had left for the day.  My parents showed up shortly after.  I took a shower and ate.

Jason called and told me Cullen had done well with the MRI.  They had a feeding tube in him, but he would be able to give him a bottle soon because he was doing so well.  He also LOVED the night nurse and the day nurses were great too.  He was doing ok.  But I could tell, in his voice, he wasn't.  He doesn't deal well with medical issues.  I couldn't imagine how he was holding up.  He told me that we had a room at the Ronald McDonald house.  It was nice with a comfortable bed and lots of food we could eat.  It was all superficial chit chat.  I don't think either of us wanted to REALLY talk to the other over the phone.  Our emotions were too raw.

The c-section doctor decided that he wasn't going to do rounds until that evening.  That meant that I wasn't going to be able to leave until then.  I was disappointed, but also relieved because walking around was still really hard and painful.  After lunch, my nurse said that she was going to MAKE me take a nap.  No visitors, no calls.  My parents left and I quickly fell asleep.  I woke up to the people in the next room laughing and joking.  I knew that another baby had been born the day before and assumed it was her family.  I don't know why, but listening to them is what made me break.  I lost it.  I cried and cried and cried.  I wanted to call the nurse and tell them to shut those other people up.  But I couldn't, I was crying too hard.  I wanted to call my mom so I wouldn't be alone.  But I couldn't, I was crying too hard.  I wanted one of the nurses to come in and sit with me.  But I couldn't, I was crying too hard.

I am not sure how long I sat alone in that room crying.  The cafeteria called to find out if I was going to order dinner.  I had a very candid discussion with the lady, debating on if I should get food or not since I anticipated leaving soon.  She convinced me to get something.  I hung up and realized how ridiculous my conversation with her had been, she probably thought I was nutty.

My parents came back.  I had calmed down enough to call my mom and ask her to come.

The next hour or two flew by.  Jason called and said that in order to help keep Cullen's body temp up, they were only letting him hold him when it was time to eat, so if I wanted to hold him, I needed to be up there before 9.  The doctor came in and checked me and said I was free to go.  We rushed to get my things packed and get me out of there.  It was excruciating getting into my parent's van, but I got into the seat, held a pillow against my stomach to help with the bumps and turns and we flew to the other hospital.  It was about an hour drive and we wanted to make sure we go there in time to hold Cullen.

We got there in time.  I not only got to hold Cullen, but I also got to give him a bottle.  It was a sweet night.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

January 27th, 2012

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Jason and I got up around 4 am to get ready to go to our little town's hospital.  I straightened my hair, did my makeup, and prayed that everything would go well.  I remember being excited about being able to "look good" for the pictures my brother would be taking after we had Cullen.  

We got to the ER entrance at 5am.  I walked in and the lady at the desk said, "You must be Erin!  Here to have your baby.  Do you want me to wheel you up?"  I laughed, no, I could walk myself up.  I have always thought it silly that the nurses wheel up the mom's who are having C-sections.

Jason and I went up to the 3rd floor.  Our room was #303.  I changed, got hooked up to the monitors, and waited.  And waited.

My parents showed up at 7:30 (ish) with our 5 year old.  He was so excited to get his gift from us and from Cullen.  Although he was very skeptical that Cullen could get him something since he wasn't born yet.

I walked back, got my spinal and waited for Jason.

My C-section was much worse then I would have ever imagined.  It felt like they had to jump on the top of my stomach to get Cullen out.  But once they had him out, he screamed and cried.  Jason said he had a ton of hair, which he did.  He was chubby and beautiful!  His apgar score was a 9 both times.  He peed on the nurse :-)  Everything seemed fine with him.  

With me, not so much.  I am not completely sure I can explain what happened, but I could feel 
they did when they cleaned and sewed me up, but the pain was all in my chest.  I was in so much pain I sounded like a woman giving birth, not one with the baby already born.  I was in such a pitiful state, Jason refused to leave my side and take the baby out.  He stayed with me until they were done and then took Cullen out to meet his big brother.

I am not completely clear on all that happened after that.  I was tucked tightly into my warm blanket cocoon, in the recover room.  The TV was on, and the monitors beeped and I just basked in the warmth and glow of thinking about this new little boy that I couldn't wait to hold.  But he was never brought to me.

Jason came in and said that they were having a hard time waking him up.  His vitals were all good, but they were a little concerned.  Don't worry though, he would be fine.

I finished with recovery and was wheeled into my room.  Still hadn't seen or held Cullen.  Jason would come in sporadically and give me updates, but nothing concrete.

Finally, he came in, tears in his eyes, and told me that there was something wrong with Cullen.  His vitals were good and they had given him an X-ray, but they couldn't figure out what was wrong.  He was limp, unresponsive, and his glucose was low.  They had tried to draw blood and he never cried.  He never even flinched.  The big city neonatal unit had come out and also assessed him.  They decided they were going to take him to their NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to further evaluate him.  And they were leaving now.

Carol, one of the NICU ladies brought him into the room.  It was the first time I had seen him since Jason had held him up to me an eternity hours before.  She brought him over and told me I had about 10 minutes before they had to leave.

It was strange.  Holding him with a room full of people I didn't know standing around.  All my mind kept screaming at me was to not cry in front of them.  It wasn't until a few weeks later I realized that my mind was in defense mode, refusing to allow me to think that that moment might have been the first and last time I ever held my baby.

I held him.  

Cherished him.  
Memorized his chunky cheeks and sweet blue eyes.

Then they took him, strapped him into his little box, and promised me that they would drive slowly and without the siren on.

They shuffled him out and Jerek went running after them.  He wanted to tell his little brother good bye one more time.

Jason and his parents left to be with Cullen.  My parents stayed with me for a little while and then they left.  Carol, the NICU lady called me.  They had gotten to the hospital safely.  Cullen was doing well.  The "sugar drip" seemed to be working and he was becoming more responsive.  

My nurse came in.  She said that the doctor might let me leave in the morning.  I had to be able to get up and walk around, but they would do help me do that in the morning.  Did I need anything.  No.  

I wanted to scream "YES!" I need my husband.  I need my baby.  I need everything to be alright.  I need to wake up and start the day all over.

She came in a little later.  I still hadn't fallen asleep.  She suggested I take a sleeping pill.  I was apprehensive.  I had never taken one before and I wanted to be able to wake up if something happened or if Jason called.  She assured me it would just help me sleep, make me drowsy, but would not knock me out.  I took them and slept.

Baby Cullen

I am sitting here at the computer, holding my sweet Cullen and trying to type with one hand.  Cullen is 7 weeks old today and even though I know typing out his story will be beneficial, not only for me, but hopefully for other families, I am still dreading it.  We have told his story over and over to family, friends, doctors, nurses, and specialists that I am afraid I have become numb to the raw emotions that I want to express.  I want to remember it all and yet I want to forget it and just be thankful for my sweet baby.

I want to start at the beginning.  Even though this is Cullen's story, it is essentially our family's story and it started long before he was ever conceived.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

This verse has become our family's prayer.  3 1/2 years ago, Jason was definitively called to the ministry and started taking classes through our denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Our son, Jerek, was 2 at the time.  He had come much earlier in our marriage then we had anticipated having children and even though it had made life more complicated then we had expected, we loved having him and wouldn't have changed it for the world.  I was finishing up my Early Education degree at the time.  Life was crazy hectic with both of us in school, but we knew we were doing what God was calling us to do.  We also knew, as badly as I wanted another child, it was not the time!  There were times I wanted another baby so badly, I was secretly praying that I would just get pregnant.  But, I didn't and we kept chugging along, finishing school and finally moving out of my in-laws (after 3 1/2 years) and getting a place of our own.

In November of 2010, my hairdresser mentioned that I had lost A LOT of hair, enough that I should probably go see a doctor. I posted about that here.  In December we decided that I should go off birth control because it was probably the culprit.  We then discussed for a couple months about having a baby.  Jason was just about done with school and I had not gotten a job that year, I was only subbing.  We decided to just let something happen if it was going to happen.

On Memorial Day weekend we found out we were pregnant.  I was SO SO SO excited.  The next nine months were fairly easy.  I was more tired then I had been when I was pregnant with Jerek and I also had "morning" sickness from about 11 am until 5 or 6 pm until I was about 18 weeks along.  Everything was going well though.  No problems with my pregnancy and at my ultrasound they said he was "perfect".

The night before my C-section, we went out as a little family of 3 to a Japanese habachi restaurant.  We had so much fun, but a I was a little sad to think that my big boy of almost 5 was going to be a big brother.  Sad that it was our last night as 3.  We dropped him off at Mana and Papa's and went home to try and get some sleep before we had to be at the hospital at 5 am.