Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Amy took these pics of Ian about a week ago. ~Michelle





Monday, April 28, 2008

Tired Women Tells All.

You know you're tired when...
-you walk into the men's bathroom and don't even realize it's the men's until you spot your husband.
-you call up your son's nursery team and they answer, "Hello.  Team One." and your respond, "Hello, team one. Ooops.  I mean, I know YOUR name is not team one..."
-you eat ice-cream for breakfast.

Okay, I'm tired people.  But I'm guessing that's not a big shocker :)

Michael is off his nasal canula and is breathing room air now!  No assistance.  He is doing well with it except when it comes to feeds and then he tends to desat. (drop on his oxygen levels a bit)

Ian is doing two bottle feeds a day.  I get to nurse him as well but am finding it's really hard to get him to wake up... but he's got a really hearty cry when he does.

Mike is leaving for PA tomorrow morning.  I'm in denial and not really thinking about it.  It's his last week of classes though and that's a comfort.  He will have to arrange a way in which to take his finals over a period of two days as opposed to over two weeks.

I think I look pretty "normal" but I don't feel normal.  I think I'll be fine and then all of a sudden an emotional outburst comes out of nowhere.  I have to be really careful because Libby is really sensitive to emotions.  She has asked me, "Mommy are you angry?"  "Mama, are you crying?  Why are you crying?"  She is very aware of everything going on.  She loves to talk about Michael and Ian and my surgery.  She's already made some pretty funny comments.  When I can remember the wording I'll post it for you.

Well, Mike has gone to pick up the kids and will swing by Panera to pick me up.  Yeah for working internet access... hope to get myself some one day :)

Hugs.

JL

Friday, April 25, 2008

Good New, Bad News, and Trusting God.


Good News: Today was my second day of breast-feeding Ian.  He really is doing GREAT!  He's regulating his temperature now on his own.  He's doing well with nursing.  He's got a good latch and nurses... he just keeps falling asleep... which is really quite sweet to watch.  

They're hoping tomorrow to take Michael off oxygen completely!  His feeds (through a feeding tube) are increasing.  He looks so much better every day.  Mike held him for a long time today while I nursed Ian.

Great News: My Aunt JoAnne had received a second opinion from John's Hopkins.  With that opinion they wanted to have her do another bone marrow biopsy... and the news is in!  She does NOT have what the first opinion stated.  The first diagnosis was that she had a median (average) life expectancy of a year and she had a very serious cancer of the blood.  John's Hopkins says she does not have that.  She is in a pre-leukemia state and will monthly have her blood checked.  Praise God!  This is such amazing news.  I am so thankful to the Lord!

Now the rough stuff- the doctor came and spoke with us yesterday about Michael.  He had had a cranial ultrasound and the result was abnormal.  A certain part of his brain did not receive blood at one time (could have been pregnancy or labor/delivery) and he has a lesion in this section of the brain.  There is a wide range of what this could mean.  The part of the brain that is affected is the part that controls movement.  It was hard to not get dramatic and freak out but Mike stood behind me rubbing my shoulders and I successfully attempted to NOT cry.  I don't even want to repeat what the potential issues could be.... you know why?  Because they will need further testing and reports to determine what his condition will be.  I feel tempted to be anxious and fearful but even if the worst were to be it would not help me, my son, or the rest of my family to panic and get anxious now.  So it's a sit back, wait, and we'll see.  We also hope to speak to a neonatolgist who will confer with the radiologist about the scan and another scan will be scheduled for next Wednesday.  So please pray with us.  Pray that somehow, someway everything is normal.  And if not, that God will give us the grace we need to sustain us.

I sincerely ask for all you family and friends to not panic and worry about Michael... but to pray for him and submit him to God.  When we find out more we will keep you posted.  The damage could be potentially minimal... and if there is any... that's what we're hoping for.

Now to confess, I have been tempted for that news to put me in a serious tailspin.  This is what God has been speaking to me about:

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as we share abundantly in Christ's suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.  Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort."

2 Corinthians 3:7-10 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus maybe also be manifested in our bodies."

and later in verses 16-18 "So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner natures is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

My Aunt Linda and cousin Emily were over today.  I had a great conversation with my aunt and she shared a passage that has been really encouraging to me. Isaiah 58:11 - "And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."

These times are hard.  They are not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  But I can say honestly and whole-heartedly that I know I have not been forsaken.  I am not left to despair.  My hope is in Christ and I cling to Him all the more.  I know my peace is found in Him.  My strength and joy and hope are in Him.  He will not cast me aside.  And even in these somewhat "dark" times I know that my Redeemer lives.  He who promised is faithful.  He is slow to anger and abounding in love.

I take comfort in the Lord even when I look at the storms around me.  Even when I hear the negative reports.  Even when I'm tired, exhausted, overly-emotional, or afraid.  I know His presence is my peace.  I know I have NOTHING without Him.  And I know that with Him all things are possible.

So it's strange.  In some ways I rejoice in these hardships because I see God more clearly.  All the unimportant things melt away and I see clearer than ever.  When things are easy it's easier to turn away.  Easier to be self-reliant, self-centered, and in desire of controlling my life. But when I realize I have no control and relinquish my life to the Lord I find a peace that truly surpasses understanding.

Well, there you you have it.  Good news. "bad" news.  and trusting God.

Chocolate Girls.


Chocolate lovers unite.  Libby and I have been enjoying some chocolate as of late.  We ate ice-cream before I had the boys.  She literally licked her bowl clean.  Mmm... something sweet to eat and precious time with my girl.  Gotta enjoy the girl time because our world is getting dominated by the boys in our lives!  We love them though!

back-tracking.






I was realizing I never posted any of our Easter pics.  So just wanted to show you some of our day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

a quick hi.

Hey friends, so this is the first time I've been able to post in what feels like forever. But it's not really forever. It's really been quite a week. The boys are doing well and are both making daily improvements. Michael is on a nasal canula now instead of the c-pap and Ian is actually eating from a bottle (as of yesterday). Ian gets one bottle a day and I get to start breast-feeding him tomorrow. That's exciting.

I feel like super-woman in that I like to try to do stuff. the day after I got home from the hospital I thought it would be okay to go to the zoo... um, not. Thankfully it was raining so it wasn't an option. I did get to go to IHOP with Kelsey and Libby and then we went and saw the boys. Kelsey left yesterday... sad.

I also am a seriously hormonal crazy woman right now. Michael has a cleft palate and will at some point need surgery. But that's later not now... don't ask me about it... I have no details. I just know that it will be difficult for him to eat and especially to nurse so please pray. Today though he should be receiving a "feed" for the first time (in a feeding tube)... otherwise he's been living off IV fluids.

Anyway, it's late and I'm at a friend's house so I need to run but just wanted to throw a few "update" thoughts at you.

Hope you all are well in the world and enjoying the beautiful spring. Libby and Samuel are well. Libby has a bit of a cold at the moment. Mike has been stressed with school and all the various financial pressures we're facing. And me, well, I'm recovering. Pumping. Watching movies. Tickling kids... and eating, eating, eating (feel like I'm starving)!

Hugs.

JL

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going Home

Jennifer is definitely going home today. The boys, however, will be staying in the hospital so they can continue to be monitored and receive some extra attention.

As you know, Michael was moved off the ventilator and onto c-pap (a step in the right direction), but he has been agitated and uncomfortable today and fighting the c-pap. They are doing an eco-cardiogram on his heart and an x-ray (not entirely sure what these were for, Jennifer didn't say). Both Michael and Ian are under photo-therapy for their jaundice (common in preemies).

Mike plans to stay in Virgina this week so that he and Jennifer can visit the boys daily. Next week, if the boys are still in the hospital, he will head back to Pennsylvania to finish up his last regular week of school (finals are the week after that). Jennifer expressed that he is so close to the end, and asked that everyone pray for him.

~Michelle

A gift from a friend

(Jennifer speaking here) ~M

I was blessed today with a special surprise from my friend Ashleigh. Mike came to the hospital with a package from my friend in Colorado. She had made the boys 2 gorgeous quilts. Just wanted to show you!



After Shots

And here are the "after's" (Isn't that last one the sweetest thing you've ever seen?!) ~Michelle




Before Shots

Jennifer asked me to post these pics for you. Some before and after shots. :) Here are the "before's". ~Michelle



Saturday, April 19, 2008

The words of the new mom herself

Jennifer wrote this and asked me to post it for her. ~Michelle

Today has been a much better day. Michael was extibated successfully! This means he is no longer using a ventilator! He's still on a C-pap which helps push oxygen into his system but doesn't need a machine to actually breath for him. Ian has a feeding tube but this is better than not eating. His next step will be to eat from a bottle.

My milk came in! I'm so excited because now when I pump I'm actually producing something for them! I'm getting a lot already! I've been drinking liter after liter of water! Which means I go to the bathroom a LOT!

They removed the bandage today and I was able to take a shower. I feel so much better. I can't explain the difference between today and the past several days. Before I was so irritable and felt like my skin was crawling, I was hyper-hormonal, and feeling exhausted. Today I feel a little more refreshed and balanced and almost human again!

Libby got to see Ian & Michael yesterday. She was concerned about their "owies" and referred to them as the "tiny babies". I think she's pretty happy though that they're here. Samuel wasn't allowed back but I enjoyed getting to watch him run around my hospital room and pretend to talk on the phone.

Mike's run out to pick up a movie to watch and some yummy four layer coconut creak cake! I'm going to watch the movie, take an ambien and knock out! I get to go home tomorrow! I am so excited to leave the hospital but am sad to leave the boys behind. My plan is to take really good care of myself, eat, drink water, and rest so I can continue getting the boys all the milk I can and will be ready for when they come home full time.

My internet access is limited. I can't check my blog in the hospital and the internet at home isn't always functional. Sorry if I haven't responded via e-mail lately. I hope to catch up in the near future. Thanks for our love, prayers, and care.

Specific Prayer Requests: That the boys would continue to grow and become stronger so that they can come home: specifically that they would breath on their own, be able to suck, swallow, breath (eat), and keep their temperature up. That God will give Mike strength, energy and wisdom in how to finish this semester of schooling. That God would provide a job for Mike. That God would restore my health and energy so I can take care of the boys in the hospital and Libby and Samuel at home.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A new day

It's a new day over there at Norfolk General. Ian is off all oxygen and breathing on his own! (Yeah!)

Michael is doing better as well. He is still intubated but only receiving room oxygen. He just needs a little bit of help forcing the air in his lungs to keep them open. Today they are working on slowly weaning him from the ventilator.

Yesterday when I saw Jennifer she looked like a sleepy mix of drugged and exhausted. That was before she was able to see the boys though. After she was wheeled back to see her sons for the first time, she appeared rejuvenated and more herself.

She is still struggling with pain though -- counting down the hours until her next dose of medication. Though she was able to sleep last night and is on solid food and walking, she said the pain is "bad".

I've been printing your comments and bringing them up to the hospital. They are feeling your love and appreciate it!

~Michelle

Thursday, April 17, 2008

As promised

Though the photographer in me wants to wait until I capture the perfect, unrushed, shot of these sweet little guys, I don't want to make you wait any longer.

Ian Christoph







Michael MacLeod





~Michelle

Prayer for Michael

So it appears that Michael MacLeod isn't doing as well as everyone first thought.

He continued having trouble breathing to the point where it became necessary to intubate him. The process of intubation was a bit rough... it took a while to get adjust the gasses, etc properly.

He's currently stable and they are treating him with Cerfectan to coat the inside of his lungs. This will continue for 4-6 hours at which point they will decide if he will need to be transferred to the NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) at CHKD (the local childrens hospital right next door to the hospital they are in now).

Updates to follow...

~Michelle

They're here!

Well, Mike made it in the knick of time to be with Jennifer as their sons came into the world via c-section.

Ian Christop made his debut at 4:24am weighing 5lbs 2.8oz

Michael MacLeod joined him 3 minutes later weighing 4lbs 6.9oz.

Both guys measured 17.25 inches long.

The babies are doing well. They're on positive air pressure to help them breath but as of right now they just need a bit of extra air and attention. (Whoo Hooo!)

Jennifer had a bit of a rough time as the spinal began wearing off toward the end of the surgery (Ouch!) but is currently resting well with the assistance of Morphine. Mike is tired (poor guy).

I'll try to get some pictures up later today....

~Michelle

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is tonight the night?

It's me, Michelle, posting on behalf of our friend Jennifer who just called asking me to share some news for her...

Jennifer is in the hospital with contractions again. They are 2-3 minutes apart and stronger than they have been these past few weeks.

The Doctors have checked her cervix and she's measuring 2cm dilated. They are unsure, but her water may have broken.

They are currently treating her via IV, giving her Procardia to stop the contractions, however, if they don't stop, they will do a c-section tonight!

Agh!

Suzi and Sharon are with her now. Mike is driving down from PA. Kelsey is with the kids.

Jennifer specifically asked for prayer that Mike would make it to the hospital before the c-section (if that happens tonight).

She also mentioned that she feels unprepared.

So... is tonight the night those active little boys make their way into the world? I'll keep ya updated!

~Michelle

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hubba, Hubba.

Well folks, I went to the doctor's yesterday and had an ultrasound. Baby A is weighing 4 pounds, 11 oz! baby b is 4 pounds, 15 oz! Hubba, hubba. The boys are measuring 75% in comparison with a singleton pregnancy! Can you believe it? The doctor was so excited and encouraging. She's amazed I've come this far. She wants to take me off the contraction medicine in a couple of weeks. Wow. I'm praying to make it through Mike's finals. I have a feeling he's going to finish the last one and my water is going to break or something :) Right now baby a is breach and baby b is vertex- c-section. I know the positions could change. I've been praying that if I need a c-section that it would be that I just have to have one... no option... like the way they're positioned now. I'd really only like to deliver vaginally if they're both vertex (head down)... otherwise you can have a vaginal birth and caesarean... yikes. Not fun.

Samuel broke Mike's laptop yesterday. Not good. Thankfully Mike was able to retrieve files so he didn't lose all his work for the semester but still... he has nothing to work on! We have no money to buy a new one right now.

We're praying for a job for him. We desperately need the money from a job but I also know I'm going to need him after I give birth. How to make this all work right now. Our solution is to try to make the money we have right now STRETCH as much as possible.

There's been a lot of stress and tension lately that Mike and I have had to work through. Lots of difficulties seem to face us. We're praying and looking to God for help. It's not easy though. We're dealing with Samuel's tantrums, trying to figure out job/money/bills, and much, much more. And YET, God has been so good to us. He has been so faithful. We live in a beautiful home. We have family and friends close by. I have had so much help, love, support, and encouragement. And God is present and near. He is my everpresent help in times of trouble. He knows our needs and cares. I get tempted to worry and fret but I know it's silly- He will Provide! He will take care of us!

Mike's professor was talking about something that he takes comfort in. He said that he is not comforted so much by God's Sovereignty as he is by God's covenant of faithfulness with His people. It's true. God has sworn to Himself to be faithful to us. How beautiful. I have no control over His will or what He decides... but I know that He will be faithful.

God has given us so much. and more than we imagined. I'm a week and a half past the point when I had delivered Samuel. God has given us children. We have TWO working vehicles. Kelsey is in town helping me out. Samuel has recovered from his pink eye. I'm not in the hospital :) Mike was able to retrieve his files. Such good gifts.

And right now I'm content to rejoice. Rejoice that the babies have come this far. Rejoice that God has given us our daily bread. Rejoice that I have the blessing of being a mom. Rejoice that I have hot water, clean water and food. Rejoice that these babies look healthy and are growing well! Rejoice that God has given me precious friends. Rejoice that God has given me His Son, that I am no longer an enemy of God's but His friend, and His child.

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Good News!

I had been meaning to mention that my Aunt Jo received some good news last week. She had a second opinion at John's Hopkins. Her situation is not as dire as we had first thought. I don't know how to explain it all exactly but I am so thankful that there is a lot more HOPE in this situation. We will be continuing to pray though and ask God for healing. Mike and I are considering storing the boys' cord blood as a potential help for stem cell needs. I just wanted you all to know and thank you for your prayers and ask you to continue praying!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

quick note

I'm out on a date with mike so I will keep this quick. Our internet is "spotty" so so sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It has been such a joy having Kelsey here. She's been a HUGE help! This morning I went out with a friend to a mom's of multiples sale. I found some clothes for the kids as well as a really nice swing for $20... score!

I am realizing more and more how much my attitude affects others. I was praying and asking God about how I am going to handle four kids and how would I deal with the chaos of 4 children under three. His response was simple. He reminded me that the way I react and responds (especially my attitude) to what is going on is more important than what is happening. I can take a hard situation and bring joy to it by having a joyful attitude. I can take a good day and make it bad if I'm sour. So just some thoughts I've been having.

Monday I'll be 32 weeks. Wow.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Resolution.

Funny how life has a way of resolving itself. For the time being our internet is working. Samuel went to the doctors and $220 later he has medicine for pink eye and a bacterial infection behind his ear. Mike's car passed inspection. He ended up staying yesterday to take Samuel to the doctor and getting his car taken care of. He also took me to my appointment. Still having LOTS of contractions, but again no change. The doctor said she thinks I might make it for another month or more... can you imagine that? I'm measuring 49 weeks. Isn't that fun. Yes, that means I'm huge in case you're wondering.

I'm without the children this morning and it's very strange. I woke up at 7 and took a bath. Ate breakfast. Put on some music. And am sipping some hot tea.

My friend Kelsey arrived yesterday afternoon. It is so GREAT to have her. What a blessing. I love having her here. And she hasn't even been here 24 hours. I already kept her up past 1 a.m. talking and talking and talking. Guess I'll be needing a nap today.

Feeling restless. Want to put everything in it's place that is humanly possible... but there really isn't that much to do. It's a nice problem to have. You know you have issues when you're cleaning your cleaning supplies. But there really was dirt and such on the bottles.

It's been a dreary couple of days but I've been enjoying the buds on the trees and the flowers in bloom and the wind chimes at my door.

Well, maybe I'll go and take that nap now...

April 7th


Sometimes silence is a dangerous thing. I find myself left alone with my thoughts to prey on me and am fighting to not give into my feelings but to cling to truth. We’re still working on getting internet at the house which is why my posts have been infrequent at best as of late.
I was in the hospital Wednesday night and released Thursday morning only to return Thursday night and again be released on Friday afternoon. My contractions have been a minimum of every 4-5 minutes and a maximum of every 2-3 minutes. Thankfully I am only 1-2 cm. dilated. These contractions have not been “productive” in changing my cervix which is why I am at home.
I am tired… big surprise there ☺ But I have made it to 31 weeks. Can I get an Amen?
Do you ever find the pressures and stresses of daily life began to just eat away at you? Samuel has pink eye but our insurance isn’t switched so we can’t just take him to the doctor. So does this mean another trip to CHKD to wait hours so they can just give him some medicine so we can go home? Mike’s car passed inspection in January in PA but he was ticketed on his way down to be with me at the hospital because he needs it to be VA inspected. Sigh.
And then there’s the other stuff. You know. The bills and laundry and dishes. Trying to figure out why the internet is not working. Having to try and get reimbursed for medicine from the insurance company. Potty training. Cranky children. Disciplining. Laughing. Crying. And everything in between.
We found out on Easter that the job Mike thought he would be starting in May fell through. In a way I am excited to see what God would provide for us now. I’m glad that we’re in a place of continual dependence on Him and not trusting and putting our security in a job. But the idea of having a steady, reliable income is also something that sounded nice. It changes things for us and the hopes of buying a new crib or getting "new" clothes well, it's not there. And it's okay. I guess God is continuing to grow me in contentment.

I found out some pretty devastating news on Saturday night. My dear Aunt Jo (JoAnne) has an extremely rare cancer of the blood. I cried myself to sleep Saturday night. Sunday morning I cried so hard I began throwing up. Combination of sobbing and throwing up for a while. My aunt is determined to fight and I am so proud of her as she places her hope and trust in God. I wish I was as strong as her. I just feel emotionally weak and a bit angry. Why do these things happen? Why is there not a let up? And yet, I realized for the first time just how much I loved my Aunt. I never realized she was THAT precious to me. I took so much for granted. May I never take others for granted. The lives around me are so precious and can be gone in a moment. God drawing me to Himself again and again.
Stupid me asked God to continue to strengthen my faith and to help me to continue be dependent on Him. I guess He’s answering my prayer. What was I expecting? Strength without trials? Joy without growth? Being drawn closer to Him is often a very painful process.
At the same time our God has been so merciful to show me that He is answering our prayers. He provided a pack n' play that we'll use as a bassinet for the boys in the beginning. He has provided lots of help! My house is really in order considering we've been here less than a month. When I'm allowed to move around more I promise I will put up pictures of my adorable home. I really love it. It's been so amazing having so much SPACE!
so even when I whine and complain God is faithful! He is not limited by me. He is not constrained by my sin. He is not worried about my attitude... He's bigger than that. He's continuing to refine me and change me! Praise the Lord. And He comes even into my brokenness. Even in the sorrow He is present. He doesn't promise a pain-free life... but He does promise His presence. So I will rejoice. Rejoice in Him and this day. I will embrace the life He has given with all its joys and sorows. With all the brilliance and all the mundane. He is there.