Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ira at 34 weeks

This 3D/4D image was captured last Friday (3.30) at our appointment. Laura and I make the trek to upper Manhattan every Friday and every Friday we get to see what Ira is doing inside Laura's womb. Ira is usually active during our visits but this was a rare moment of stillness on his part.

Because Ira's lungs aren't developing, he isn't taking in much fluid which means all that fluid is accumulating outside of Ira in Laura's womb. That isn't such a bad thing and is pretty typical for CDH babies. It just means Laura is getting huge and uncomfortable. And it also means that we are on alert for pre-term labor. We need so desperately to make it to the 39 week mark as the more time Ira can spend inside, the better.

I hope this picture will help concretize your prayers for Ira. Isn't he beautiful?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Christ the Lord is risen today. This Easter morning I'm hanging my hope on the words he spoke in Matthew 28:20:

And Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Lord, may it be so.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

He and his family came out of nowhere. It was unexpected on our behalf but absolutely intentional on his behalf.

I got an e-mail not long ago from an old acquaintance that I made while in Ft. Worth. He was aware of our situation with baby Ira and decided that he and his family needed to come to NYC for their Spring Break. He wrote asking if he and I could get together while they were here. That was followed with the question, "do you guys like Broadway shows?" About a week before they came I received an e-mail saying, "we got you tickets to see Fiddler on the Roof with us."

I was to have lunch with him on Tuesday and we were to meet his family for dinner and show on Tuesday night. I mustered up the energy for lunch while storing some away for our evening out with his family. What happened during lunch and that evening with his family was unexpected.

While eating a burger at the local bar he described in detail what he thought I was going through. It turns out that he has been through tragedy and trauma very recently and was a few steps ahead of me. He accurately described how much energy it took me to meet him for lunch and how much it would take for Laura and me to come to dinner and a show that evening. I was blown away. I sat at the table filled with tears as he shared his own story and what I could expect down the road.

He then asked if he could come over to pray for Laura and me. On the way home, we stopped by a store specializing in oils. He bought some frankincense. Laura and I are pretty open so this did not at all weird us out. In fact, I was kinda ho-hum about it still not expecting much.

He sat us down on our sofa, met Laura for the first time, told us his story and a bit of history about anointing people with oil. He was very sincere, gentle and honest. His honesty shown through when he told us he's been praying for baby Ira for quite some time and revealed that he has not had peace about it. He anointed Laura first and then me. He pleaded on our behalf for a miracle and that God would help us with our unbelief. He was very genuine, realistic and passionate. Laura and I sobbed uncontrollably.

We weren't expecting much from our evening with his family and he was right, we had to dig deep into our reservoir for the energy to go. What we didn't expect was the laughter we would share with his family over dinner at Carmine's as we talked about his eleventh grade daughter's boyfriends and the fun cab ride over to the show with his seventh grade son and his first grade daughter. This was a close-knit family that provided us with a rest from an ordinary Tuesday evening.

None of this was expected but as I think about it today I can tell that my friend had orchestrated the entire experience. Or rather, God orchestrated it and my friend listened. I am glad that this once acquaintance is now my friend and I look forward to spending more time with he and his family in the future.

Monday, March 21, 2005

We took our tour of the NICU at Children's Hospital of New York on Friday. We learned how it will all go down. For example, upon birth Ira will immediately be taken to the "transition room" to be stabilized by a ventilator. After they ventilate Ira, I will get to go into the room to see him. Meanwhile, Laura has to stay behind and recover from the birthing process. Depending on how stable Ira is, I may or may not get to physically touch him. He will then be moved to the NICU floor where they will continually monitor him checking to see if he is a viable candidate for the surgery. They said that we should know within the first 48 hours if he is or not.

Walking the NICU was terrifying. Each bed was occupied by a helpless baby. And at some of the bed-sides were helpless looking parents. They looked tired, dejected and overwhelmed.

There is a popular chant in some churches in which the leader screams, "God is good!" and the response from the followers is, "All the time!" Forgive me if I have a hard time chanting that at the moment.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm Two!

I'm Two!

She did it. Sophia managed to make it to her second year of life. As you can see here, she is trying to convince her cousin on the phone that she is two. It takes intense concentration for her to raise only her two fingers. She often gets tired of trying that so she raises all five and says, "I five."

With the help of some very gracious and loving mothers we had a birthday party for Sophia. One mother brought over salad, another brought a cake, another the decor and another the party favors. All we had to do was supply the pizza and the balloons. These moms know that we are barely keeping our heads above water these days and decided to jump in there and help us create a memory for our daughter. I thank God for these moms. It was no small task as they live all over the place: New Jersey, Manhattan, Queens, Westchester. To come to Brooklyn, bring their kids and all the party goods is a sign of their generosity. I am thankful for them all.

As for you Miss Sophia, you continue to be the light of our lives even as you perfect sayings such as "no"; "don't like it"; "can't do that"; "mine"; "stop it". It is through you and the innocence in your voice and in your eyes that we see glimpses of God each and every day. We need those glimpses these days so we pray for many more birthdays spent with you.

Monday, March 14, 2005

And now for All Things Considered: (cue ATC theme music)

My favorite TiVo-ed shows:
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Arrested Development
Joan of Arcadia


I got our fam tickets to the circus. It's what Laura wanted to do for her 30th b-day so that's what we are doing. I look forward to watching Sophia experience the circus. Wait a minute, isn't this supposed to be for Laura?


My parents are the most gracious people I know. My dad is a CPA and owns his own business. He is loved in his community as one who is honest and hard working. My mom is a junior high principal who has tons of energy. She too is loved by the community as one who is fun and ambitious. It's interesting that the very reasons why they are loved are the very reasons that some in the community don't like them.


Using the Karvonen Formula I have discovered that my target heart rate zone (at 70%-100%) during my workout is 145 beats/minute - 195 beats/minute.


Laura and I tour the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) this Friday. I usually think of tours as being fun; a time of discovering new and exciting things; educational and a good way. I'm, we're, not looking forward to this tour.


Laura will be induced on April 28, give or take a day.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Our church staff had a continuing education seminar today at work. A lady from the STAR program out of Eastern Mennonite University came and talked with us about compassion fatigue. Her seminar was interesting. A statistic she quoted that got our attention was that 70% of pastors in Oklahoma City resigned from their posts within a year after the bombing that took place there in 1995. The pastors were not equipped to deal with the tragedy. Now there are services such as this STAR program to help caregivers deal with trauma: their own and others'.

One of the self assessment tools stuck out to me. The tool asks you to record on paper twenty things you love to do and then asks you to think about how often you've done them in the last: 1 week? 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? 5 years? So let me list my top five and record how often I've done them.

Play basketball -- zero times in past week, zero times in past month, one time in past six months, five times in past year, ? in past five years

Go to movies -- zero times in past week, one time in past month, four times in past six months, ? times in past year, ? in past five years

Preach -- zero times in past week, zero times in past month, two times in past six months, four times in past year, ? in past five years (I used to preach every Sunday until coming to Manhattan)

Read -- I do this a lot (just finished The Corrections, a good read)

Watch Caillou, Sesame Street or The Wiggles with my daughter -- every day!

I miss playing ball, movie-watching and preaching. And while reading and watching toddler shows are fun I long to participate in those other activities again. My guess is that as we grow older and take on more responsibilities that, for the sake of others, we begin to let go (though not completely) of those things we love to do. So while I would long to run a well executed pick 'n roll or catch up on all the Oscar picks, for now I'll gladly sit with my daughter and sing Elmo's theme song. "La, la, la, la. La, la, la, la. Elmo's World!"

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I asked my wife, Laura, to post something on my blog not long ago. Today she took me up on the request.


I yelled at my husband today. I yelled at him in a way I’ve never yelled at anyone before. Where in the world did all that anger come from? When people ask me how I’m doing, I say it depends on the day, but that for the most part I’m doing ok. The truth is, I’m so so very angry. This little boy inside of me is so very active. Every time we go in for a sonogram comments are made on how much he moves around. No duh. I live every day, every hour with his movements. He is so alive inside. And yet, the moment he enters this world he will struggle to survive. In many ways, I don’t want that day to come. Couldn’t he just stay inside where he is happy and all his needs are satisfied? But then, I am getting so big. My body could not carry on like this indefinitely. So, I am faced with the knowledge that the day of his birth is coming. There is nothing Joe nor I can do to postpone it or keep it at arms length. Ira will be born and then we will sit and wait some more. Wait while he fights for his life. Wait while he is filled with tubes and wires and needles. Wait and stand by unable to hold him or touch him or comfort him in any phsyical way besides the use of our voice. This is just not the way its supposed to be for parents and their children. It isn’t fair. And I am angry. The one I feel the most like yelling at is not my husband but God alone. At the time, my husband just happened to be the next best thing. From now on, I will try to go straight to the source.