Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Green Armband Society...

There's an unseen group of people out there I never knew existed until 14 days ago. It is a pretty exclusive club, with members from all over the country... we even know of some from Canada. The only way you can pick them out is by their green armbands. It's the parents of kids staying in Children's Hospital for treatment.

It's a little strange, but kind of comfortable at the same time. We're all people who normally wouldn't make eye contact with each other on the street. We all look different, and we are from different tax brackets. The only thing (that we know of) that we have in common is the green armband... which represents a child who isn't at home like all the other ones.

When we see each other, we talk like friends. We ask about each other's kids. I'm sure we sound like inmates with all the "what are you in for" and "when are you getting out". It's been nice though; we've met some really nice people.

There's one couple we talk to regularly because our babies are "neighbors". Their baby had a similar condition to Jackman's, and a few other issues too. They've been there for weeks, and the baby keeps having setbacks. They are supposed to start working their way out of the hospital, but it's just one thing after another for them. It makes us so happy and thankful that Jackman is as healthy as he is.

Jackman is in a big room, with several baby bays (for lack of a better term). There are at least 10 on our side of the NICU. If a baby's heart rate, breaths per minute, or oxygen level goes down too far, and alarm goes off. Tonight while we were there, I think every other baby's alarm went off except Jackman's. Some times it may be a fluke, but you can tell that some of the baby's aren't in real good shape. One baby's alarm goes off all the time, almost nonstop. It is heartbreaking to see some of them. I never knew babies could be that small.

I'll frequently say a silent prayer when I walk through the NICU. Sometimes I say one for the babies, sometimes for the parents, sometimes for the nurses and surgeons (who I now put on a pedestal with our troops). Sometimes I say one while I'm holding Jackman, or looking at him. Sometimes (like now) I say one when I think about him and the other babies up there.

It may sound funny, but me and Lisa feel like our situation is too good to be true. Jackman truly looks good and healthy, because he is, and everyone who got to see him (before the NICU was closed to visitors becuase of flu) will confirm it. That's just not the case with all the babies there, and I know some of those parents worry to death, because we are inclined to worry for them.

Every time I see Jackman, it does my heart good. I can't help but be thankful. We sleep easy at night. We aren't always frantically rushing to the hospital. It's not that we are indifferent... not at all. We have peace. I wouldn't doubt that it has something to do with the prayers offered up for us.

I've got an idea. Next time you pray for us, or as soon as you finish reading this, or anytime God moves you... pray for the folks wearing the green armbands and their little ones. They need it.

...pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-19

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Enough Time in the Day...

12 days. That's how long Jackman has been in the open air. 13 days ago, he was in his mother's womb. All it took to shake up both of our lives to their very foundation was for him to relocate to a more arid climate. I think I'm still in shock.

I've learned lots of lessons over the past 12 days; about life, love, and faith. Looking back, they are lessons I would have never learned any other way except through experience, and I am thankful for them. But there's one lesson that I feel like I'm still trying to figure out, and that's the whole time issue.

Now, most of my close friends who are reading this are probably laughing pretty hard right about now. One friend even said (before Jackman was born) that he couldn't wait to see the look of submission and resignation on my face two weeks in (and I thought he was being funny).

Everybody said our lives were never going to be the same. It's not that I didn't believe them, but how can you really know until you are living it. It's like this: If someone were to say to me "I am about to stomp on your foot as hard as I can", well I would know that it was about to hurt. I may even tense up and close my eyes in anticipation. But until I actually have the experience of having my foot stomped on, there's no way I could know what it would be like.

Well, since the day Jackman was born, things have been dramatically different, and in ways none of us ever imagined. We (meaning everybody) thought you just go to the hospital, come back home two days later with a baby, and spend who knows how long changing diapers and not sleeping. I felt like I was prepared for that scenario, and I was going to surprise everyone...guess who got surprised.

I've already been to Children's hospital over 20 times. All my plans, all my hobbies, and even a large portion of things I would consider necessities (which are not necessities anywhere else in the world besides the U.S.) are out the window. I think I actually uttered that ridiculous cliche, there's not enough time in the day.

Cliches are fun, but I have found that most of them don't jive with what the bible teaches. The cliche in question is a good example. There are more verses on the creation of time, the Fourth Day, than the rest of Creation. Don't believe me...check it for yourself.

That's enough for me to know that the length of a day is just right; so why does it seem like there isn't enough time in the day? Well, ironically, we are in too much of a hurry to finish the cliche truthfully. What we should be saying is: There's not enough time in the day to do what I want to do.

I'm learning that a good day isn't measured by how many things I accomplish to make myself happy. I've noticed that there have been a few days where I felt like I really did the things God wanted me to do, and I was at peace and able to sleep that night without worrying about the me-things I didn't get done. On the other hand, if I accomplished all my me-things and failed to do something that God set out for me to do, then I would have a very short lived and unsatisfying sense of accomplishment, accompanied by a condition that could only be called weariness.

The more I look at it, the more I realize God has given us the perfect amount of time in a day to suit us and Him. If there's not enough time, it's not God's fault. Example: Say my boss gives me 3 hours to build a space shuttle, but I spend 2 of those hours shopping for the perfect space suit. I'm the one who tried to cram too much into the schedule, not the boss. When it's all over, He ain't going to be happy, which means I ain't going to be happy.

God does not put us into any situation with a time handicap. He created time. Keep in mind, He even created a day for rest and made it holy. It's simply a matter of using His to-do list instead of our own.

I have just as much time as I ever did...just enough.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Just About Sums It Up.....

I was walking into Children's Hospital today, and checking my emails as I walked. I had one from my cousin so I was curious to see what it was about. About two minutes later it was all I could do to keep my composure...but let me back up a little.

Yesterday, at the end of my blog I mentioned that I believe God made my son exactly like He planned, and that his condition wasn't really a birth "defect". It might help to back up and read that if you haven't.

Well, my cousin reminded me of the story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. When I read what she wrote, it was one of those moments when you know that God is talking to you.

Here's how the passage begins:

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Whoa! How could I have not thought of this story? How on earth did this passage not come to mind. This just about sums it up.

While Lisa was pregnant (even up to almost a year before), I prayed about who my child would be. I didn't ask for a boy or girl, I didn't ask for him to be smart, I didn't ask for him to be athletic, or talented in anyway. All I asked for, over and over, was that God would use him to bring glory to Himself.

We rarely consider the implications of our prayers. We tend to pray with preconceived notions in our heads about how God will do something (or at least I do...I'll admit it). I have to be honest, I knew God would use our son, but I never considered it would be like this for one second. I kind of thought he would just make a great man of faith out of him or something. I can't believe how small my expectations of God can be sometimes.

Well, me and Lisa never did ask the question: Why? Don't get me wrong, we were scared to death, and I mean terrified Wednesday afternoon, August 12, 2009, but even then, the knowledge that God is in control of all things kept us from completely falling apart. But now we have a definite answer to the question: Why did God let our son be born this way? The answer: "that the works of God might be displayed in him."

I don't exactly know for sure what that is going to look like, but I'll always have my preconceived notions, and the knowledge those notions pale in comparison to the plans of Him who can raise the dead.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The "One Week Old" Update...

I figured some of you may be on the lookout for an update, so this is for you. Sorry I haven't done this sooner, but it's taking us a while to figure out our schedule.

First, I should say that the docs concluded Jackman does NOT have Hirschsprung's Disease. That was a big relief for us, because it would have definitely been another surgery.

Also, they have run all sorts of tests on just about everything anyone could think of. Everything has come back all clear except for an issue with his bladder, but they don't seem very concerned about that right now.

He had a little operation a few days ago to put in a g-tube (feeding tube). He finally got some real food in his little belly late last night. Ever since he was born, he has been nourished with an IV. The poor little guy has been hungry for a whole week. The docs and nurses couldn't do anything about it; they had to make sure his digestion was working right before they gave him food. He handled being hungry better than I would, but he does fuss, and he does come by it honest. Anyway, it is such a relief to know he's getting something in his stomach.

And last but not least, the tests show that Jackman has Isolated Esophageal Atresia. If you click the link, you'll see that it is pretty rare, and the type he has is even more so. That's a little scary, but the docs and nurses at Children's know all about this condition. They told me that they see a lot of it, especially here lately. As a matter of fact, Jackman's pretty little baby-neighbor has TEF (different from what Jackman has), and they fixed her up. We are fortunate to live so close to Children's; I see a lot of out-of-state tags in the parking deck.

Well, basically what that means is this; Jackman has a long road to hoe. The course of action to attach the ends of his esophagus will involve several surgeries. First, he has to gain weight; back up to and above his birth weight. Next, they will perform a series of surgeries where they will draw the ends of his esophagus together by basically using stitches to pull them together over time (by the way, I'm not an MD). They will do this as many times as it takes to get them close enough to attach.

We have no idea how many surgeries this will be, how many months it will take, or when the process will even start. The docs and nurses are careful not to give us any misinformation (which may be no information for the time being), and we are grateful for that. We are pretty sure at this point we are looking at months instead of weeks.

The good thing is that we may be able to bring Jackman home with us in between surgeries. We aren't totally sure about this, but we're hopeful. If that happens, they will spend time "training" us. We would basically have to do what the nurses do. Another patient's mother told us that they would put us in a room with Jackman at the hospital, and they would teach us to do everything, day in and day out, that they do, and they will be there just in case. We would have to learn baby CPR, how to feed him through the g-tube, and how to manage the suction tube that goes into his mouth and down his throat. Sounds a little overwhelming, but at least it makes changing diapers sound like breeze.

Last, but not least; I've heard the term "birth defect" used a few times regarding Jackman's situation. Me and Lisa aren't going to get mad at anyone who says, or thinks that, but I feel like that is a very short-sighted view of things. There is a verse I know well from reading it on the wall every time we went to see the baby doc for a checkup. It's Jeremiah 1:5, and it reads "Before i formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you". If that's true, how could what Jackman has even be considered a defect? Wouldn't that be saying God messed up? Well I know that just ain't the case. And I also know God allowed this for a reason. He's got something planned, and we are privileged to be a part of it.

It may sound crazy to some, but I wouldn't trade our present condition for anything "normal". We have seen God do too many amazing things over the past few years to start doubting Him now. He's going to make us better parents, and Jackman a better man on the other side of this. All we have to do is be still and know that He is God.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jackman...The Story Behind The Name....

First off, in the contest to guess Jackman's name before he was born, not one person guessed the name "Jackman". I believe every other J-name conceivable was guessed, and some were very creative. From to time the guessing started until the time he arrived, I had almost 200 facebook comments (containing anwhere from 1-5 guesses each) and I don't know how many emails. Me and Lisa were pleasantly surprised that his name was never guessed (although the Jacks and Jacksons had us a little nervous).

So how did we decide on Jackman? To fully appreciate it, you need a little back story. And by the way, it has nothing to do with racing...his name is not Jack-Man.

Most of you probably know that I have been keeping a list of possible names. This actually goes back to well before we even got pregnant. I always wanted a perfect name for my son. One that would be tough (and hard for little kids to make fun of, which makes for a real challenge).

Over the months me and Lisa would text message each other with possible names whenever one popped in our heads. Here are some actual texts that were sent:


Okay, most of those were my ideas, but you have to admit...those are some tough names.

Well, one fine summer day I found myself wandering through The WalMarts when the other 6 out of every 10 people are at work. All of the sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a reflection of myself. I turned and looked, and soon realized it was a picture; not a reflection. My curiosity got the best of me, so I had to investigate.

As I approached the celebrity news section of the magazines, I realized it wasn't myself I saw, but someone with a similar muscle structure and hairy-ness. It was none other than Wolverine...aka Hugh Jackman.

Wolverine is obviously a tough name, but since it doesn't work with the middle name "Dale" it was never a consideration. But "Jackman" had a lot of potential. No one can say that the name "Hugh Jackman" isn't tough. If that name ain't tough, then I'm a Chinese jet pilot.

Now me and Lisa aren't X-men fans, but we've got no beef with mutants either. And while we both concede that Hugh Jackman is a handsome fellow, and we enjoy his movies, neither of us have a crush on him (if I did, it would be a man crush, which is ok, but I don't...I'm a Clint Eastwood man).

I quickly realized how perfect the name was...rugged and down to earth, simple, tough, and just different enough to be different. I decided "this will be a funny one for me to send to Lisa", but at the time, it was more or less a joke on my part, so the text that would affect our firstborn son for the rest of his life was sent......."What about Jackman?"

A little while later I learned from Lisa that she liked it, and it quickly worked it's way up the short list, and found it's permanent spot at #1. I suggested many other names over the next few months, just to test how much Lisa really liked the name. To my surprise, not even the name "Methusaleh Hyphen Cobra Tornado" could de-throne "Jackman" from the tough-baby-name-list. The name "Jackman" dominated our top five list for over two months, and it became official about two weeks before the one who would bare the name arrived. Lisa did some checking; she never found the name "Jackman" in any of the baby books, websites, or even on Facebook (except for last names). We've gotten a lot of compliments on his name, and obviously we are fond of it.

I know not many of you have seen little Jackman in person yet, but this kid was born tough...and strong. He can push himself up when he's on his stomach and turn his head, seriously. He kicks like a Georgia mule. When he squeezes my finger, it's amazing to me the strength in that little grip of his. I will say all parents think that about their kids. Well, my response would'll see.

Jackman has got a long road ahead of him, and a lot of obstacles to overcome. God is already making a tough little man out of him. He's already molding him into who he is going to be down the road. It's really exciting. Part of me can't wait to get through all of this, and another part of me wants to savor it. It's such a strange, new feeling for me, and Lisa too.

We can't wait for all of you to meet our tough little guy,
JACKMAN.....that just looks tough, don't it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

'Bout Time...

Thank the Lord, we finally got to get Lisa and Jackman together.

It's strange really. Jackman has only been here for just over 2 days. The thing is, he has spent almost all of those two days in NICU, with no contact at all with his mama. That has been so tough for Lisa. I really can't imagine what it would feel like, and I was halfway going through it myself. For two days, I spent the day with Jackman in NICU, and the night with Lisa in "our" room. But up until today, the only time Lisa spent with Jackman was immediately after he was born, and a couple of minutes looking at him through the plexiglass transport before he was flown over to Children's.

Normally I would say something like "I don't know how she held up so well", but if you read my last post, you already know that I do know how she held up.

Well, at long last, Lisa got to be reunited with Jackman, even if it was only for a couple of hours. You can look at the picture and judge for yourself wether or not God has granted her peace with all that's going on. This picture is photographic PROOF of what God is capable of doing.

It turned out to be just like I told Lisa it would be. As tired and worn out as she is, and emotionally drained as she is, that couple of hours with him tonight made all the other disappear. I really enjoyed watching them together. We didn't even get to pick him up and hold him, but it didn't matter. It was just a pleasant, peaceful, happy time...for all of us.

We can't wait to go back tomorrow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Resting in God

Many of you probably already know that Jackman was born yesterday, August 12. I'm not going to use the cliche that it was the happiest moment of my life, but I'm not going to waste my time or yours trying to think up a better one either.

Not long after he was born, it was clear he was having some problems, and before we knew it, he was being escorted by helicopter to Children's Hospital. We didn't know what to think, but we were scared. We found out that his esophagus doesn't reach his stomach, and he will be having surgery, sooner or later. The docs believe the problem is esophageal atresia.

I could go on and on about how pitiful our situation is, but instead I'll tell you about a little light God shined on us this morning.

First, we have too many things to be grateful for to list before I get to what I want to share, but know that we are realizing them, and we are thankful.

For this to make sense, you need some background info, so here are some facts: Jackman was born on August 12; today is August 13; I read the devotional for the 12th from "My Utmost for His Highest" today (a day late). It would also be beneficial to read it for yourself right now. Here is a link: My Utmost for His Highest, August 12.

After reading that this morning, I though to myself "how appropriate is that, I just wish I had read this before we found out about Jackman's problem". But it really spoke to me, and I took it to heart.

Well, we got a few more "surprises" today. I had totally written off the probability that we could encounter any other health issues, but there are some new concerns. When they did the surgery to put in Jackman's feeding tube, they found a small hole in his intestine. They removed his little appendix and fixed the hole, but they had to figure out why he had the hole. It turns out that they suspect that he may also have some problems that will require surgery on his intestines as well.

I almost dropped to my knees, and I don't know how I kept from crying when the surgeon told me that. It seems like too much to drop on someone who has barely been a father for a day. I immediately began to wonder how I was going to explain this to Lisa. I knew it would floor her. Not only does he have this problem with his esophagus (which may keep him in NICU for weeks, even months), but now this too. What else? Do I even want to know?

But something happened while the surgeon explained it. I felt peace. There's no other way to put it really; peace came over me. I should have fell to my knees, I should have cried. People would understand if I shook my fist at God and demanded, WHY?! But that didn't happen, just peace. Just enough to help me stand up under the weight of the latest briefing.

If you read that devotional, you will remember Chambers said: "it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him." I knew the reason that I wasn't broken was because God has proved Himself too many times in the past for me not to have confidence in Him.

God has taught me so much the past day and a half, and brought me so much closer to Him, and has given me so much strength, and has stripped away so much of my pride and selfishness. Not only that, He gave me and Lisa a little boy that I wouldn't trade for another kid, or anything else in this world.

We still cry...all day long. It's been tough for us, and really hard on Lisa being completely separated from Jackman. But don't get me wrong; we are not cursing God and shaking our fists at Him. On the contrary, we are resting in Him. He's the reason we can sleep. He's the reason we can laugh when we're not crying. He's the reason we don't despair. He's the reason I'm praising Him right now instead of loosing sleep, wondering "why me, why us". Of course, we are dying to get to see and hold our baby; we know it's ok to long to be with him. The important thing is that we have peace.

The only thing that holds us up, the only thing that dries up our tears, and the only thing that has sustained us since we were separated from Jackman, is confidence in God's sovereignty.

I can't wait for yall to meet our son, Jackman, when this is all over.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The End of an Era.....

Well, it's official...almost. The highly anticipated birth of our son will mark the end of and era. It's been a fun era too, the Me (or longer version - Me and Lisa) Era. All this past week I've been doing normal little everyday, in an out, routine things and thinking to myself..."this is the last time I will do this again before I'm a daddy". It's still a really strange thought to me. I shaved this morning for the last time as a non-father (I'm a once-a-weeker), I took the garbage out for the last time...without diapers in it, I ate at Zapopan for the last time without planning it around a baby's schedule, I cut my hair for the last time......well, that's been a while ago. But I think you follow me. It's starting to get real, and it's about to get really real.

Of course, I am looking forward to the new era; me and Lisa both are. I couldn't truthfully say I am excited about the diaper changing, and all the sleep all my friends are telling me I won't be getting, but I know there's a lot more to it than that. We are really looking forward to seeing Baby Boy Harper, and honestly believing he's the cutest baby ever born. We are looking forward to figuring it all out. The truth is, I am actually looking forward to seeing what kind of man God is going to make me into, and how he'll use me to make my boy His own. Yeah, I would have to say I'm excited.

Now I'm looking forward to a few weeks of saying to myself, "this is the first time I ever_______________."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August 4th, and 5th, and 6th, and.....

Well, the big day we have been waiting for so long has come and gone. Naturally, we are just a little bit anxious, and ready for the boy to get here, but we haven't gotten psycho about it. We've learned from past experiences that God's timing is always the best in the long run (especially when it doesn't look that way at the present). Me and Lisa were talking about it last night. If Baby Boy Harper got her on time, we would have missed out on a pretty awesome night at church last night. Of course, we would have been happy, and would have never known what we missed, but last night was a night that, afterwards, was obvious that God had planned out years ago.

So now we are counting the days. Doc says no matter what, we'll be holding the boy by Wednesday the 12th. Keep an eye on my updates. Those of you following those updates will be the first to know what's going on (and probably the boy's name).

Ready or not, here he comes..........