Friday, August 20, 2010

Now and Then...

The picture above was my mother's idea. The original is on the left. That's me, back in the day when all pictures looked yellow. That was our clock that sat on top of the 600 lb, 25 in TV console which permanently indented our disco-shag carpet. It is set at 8:10... the time of my birth (a.m. if you were curious). You guessed it - that's yours truly behind the clock, rockin' the hair with my pajama top tucked in like a good boy, sleeves rolled up like a bad boy.

On the right is almost the same picture, with a different actor - Jackman. The clock survived me and my brother (although is doesn't seem to work). One of the columns is loose, and the clock face wants to fall out, but it's still hanging in there. It is noticeably set to 11:29, the time of the morning Jackman was born. That's the Man, the Myth, the Legend in the background sporting a size 3 pamper and his new birthday shirt. Nowadays if Jackman is awake, he's either grinning with that tongue stuck out, or laughing.

I'm not sure how much work it was for Ma to get that shot of me, but I'll tell you... that one of Jackman didn't happen in just one shot. Unfortunately, he had just learned how to sprint like an Olympian a couple days before, so getting him to be still was next to impossible. Setting his high chair in the background next to the dining room table was the easy part.

Even after all that, I really only took a few shots. Its amazing to me the little similarities between us in this picture: the grin, the hands, the way we're standing. But then again I know he's going to be different from me. I already wonder what kind of person he will turn out to be. Right handed or left handed? Math and science or art and literature? The band or sports? Car or truck? Alabama or .... well, let's not get carried away.

Anyway, even though he's only a year old now, we're starting to get little glimpses of who he is, and who he's going to be. I realize he's going to be different from me, I just hope I can always remember that's okay. I hope I can always remember God has it worked out who He wants him to be, and its mine and Lisa's job to mold him into that person.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Birthday Cake...

Bob and Larry... Jackman's favorite's


The boy got a swipe at the cake...


Workin' on Bob...


Crashed...


I'm afraid the pictures just don't do the cake justice.

I'm torn. I don't want Jackman to have another birthday for at least a year, but I could handle another one of those cakes by the middle of the week (when we polish off this one). It was one of those cakes that you kind of felt bad about cutting into because it looked so nice... until you tasted it, and then you went into caveman mode and absolutely destroyed the artwork. Good thing we got pics.

Stephanie Douglas, a friend of our family from church, made the cake for Jackman. When you need some sweet stuff you should give her a call.

Sweet Tooth Fairy
Stephanie Douglas
205-541-7226
mamadouglas@gmail.com

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jackman's First Year
Over the past few days, I've been remembering Jackman's first days of life. During those days I couldn't have imagined what we've been through and where we are today. Jackman is a true miracle. One of his doctors even said so and that means a lot. I can't begin to imagine what he's seen in his career.

Jackman is your normal 1 year old, well kind of. He's walking everywhere, playing chase and peekaboo with his cousins. He's the happiest little boy! We are still working with him to relearn to eat, which is still really strange to me. Hopefully this time next year he will be eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Thank you to all who prayed and help us during this past year. God has truly blessed us with so much. I can't say this enough.

I hope you will enjoy this video of Jackman's first year. In making this video, I've watched it countless times and still tear up. So you've been warned.

Lisa

video

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Birthday Boy...


This time a year ago, my world seemed to be spinning out of control. My mother was in one hospital, my wife in another, and my newborn son was in a helicopter on the way to Children's. I was riding with my brother and father to go find out what was happening, and trying to figure it all out.

Jackman was a week and a day late. We went and visited my mother in the hospital before we went and checked ourselves in. It was a long night for Lisa. The next morning when we knew it was getting close, I posted his initials on facebook and got almost 200 guesses at his name. I was thrilled and excited.

He was born at 11:29am. We each got to hold him for just a couple minutes. Then the nurses noticed he was kind of choking and not breathing well. They tried a few things, and then told us they needed to take him to another room. Before I knew it, I had doctors telling me they needed to send him to Children's right away. I was by myself with my son, who I barely knew, and all my family was with Lisa wondering what was going on.

I cannot describe how afraid I was in those first few hours of his life. We were all supposed to be together, receiving guests loaded down with junkfood, squealing at the sight of the new baby boy... but that never happened. What was supposed to be the best day of our lives all the sudden wasn't looking so good.

A year ago today, I never imagined us here. Then we didn't know what would happen the next day. I honestly didn't know whether or not Jackman was going to live until I got to Children's that night. After going back and looking through the blog post of the first few weeks, I realize today is a special day.

As I was re-reading some of the old posts, I remembered how weak and helpless we both felt to do anything. I remember how I would cry during the day when I was by myself so that I wouldn't do it in front of Lisa that evening. I remember struggling to drive to Birmingham twice a day for months. I remember being physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted... Yet people would say they were amazed at how strong we were!?

It might surprise you to know this past year has been the weakest we've ever been.

The strength people see is God's. It is not Him giving us a dose of power like some kind of booster shot, but His Spirit literally carrying us along, especially when we were at our breaking point. What people don't understand is that we are still the same weak and worn out parents we were from the first hour... the difference is we've come to depend on God more. There are times when we temporarily forget what He's done for us, but He reminds us.

Today is one of those days for us.

Well, the boy is 1 year old. He had a happy day today. God's been good to this little family, and we know He always will be. He's proven Himself in impossible situations in the past. He's blessed us with the things we need. We know we can depend on Him in the tough times that will inevitably come. We've got it made.

http://harpertimes.blogspot.com/2009/08/resting-in-god.html

Friday, May 21, 2010

Something New Every Day...

Gift from Uncle Jeff, Aunt Leslie, and cousins Max and Greenlee...
He loves it


Well, the boy has officially been at home for half as long as he spent in Children's Hospital, which puts him at nine months old. As you might imagine, a lot has changed since our last update.

Last Wednesday, May 19, at exactly 1:00pm on the nose, Jackman became independently mobile. I am not kidding. When the clock struck one, he made a bee line for the DVD collection, then pulled out all the diapers, then headed for the stairs (which lead up, not down). The way he did it was what was so funny. he had the intensity of a getaway driver (hope it's no indication of his future profession). At 12:59, he did not know how to crawl, but at 1:00, he was setting new land speed records. We just didn't know what to think. guess that's just how it works.

He's virtually walking too. He does it all except walking completely alone. We really thought he would walk before he would crawl. Good thing I didn't place any bets on that.

Nap time and bed time have changed drastically. Now that the boy knows he can get around, he likes to really mess up the nest before he goes to sleep. Sometimes we will lay him in bed upstairs and come back 15 minutes later to give him his medicine, and he will literally have turned 180 degrees without making a sound over the monitor. One would swear the other came in and turned him as a practical joke, but it's happened too many times. Sometimes, he like to play the joke on us, and grab the monitor and breath into it like some kind of obscene phone call. It's pretty funny when you're downstairs, minding your own business, and then hear that heavy mouth breathing over the monitor.

One of the craziest things has to be the latest challenge in diaper changing. I just thought it was hard when he was a little thing. Now, I feel like the late Steve Irwin wrestling a crocodile every time I change one. No sooner do I get the old one loose, and it's like someone threw open the gate at the Kentucky Derby. He goes into overdrive. He's flopping and twisting around like some kind of wounded animal. At times I think it would be easier to put a diaper on a cougar than that little boy. But we both kind of enjoy the competition I guess (he takes it easy on the women folk).

Yep, the age of "No" has officially begun. If he ain't supposed to be in it, that's where he's headed first.

Everything is going good. He isn't eating or swallowing yet, but we're working on it. An occupational therapist comes to the house twice a month to check his progress and help us advance without sacrificing the progress we've made. He's getting to where he's okay with new tastes, which is huge compared to last month, when he wouldn't tolerate anything but the taste of water and plastic.

Anyway, we've had some stressful times, but we try to remember what all the LORD has seen us through up to this point. When you do that for even just a minute, the things that cause us anxiety seem to fade out. God's definitely been good to us, and we know we can count on Him.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

9 month update

Short and Sweet
Since our little man has been home, Greg and I have little time to update the blog. I actually should be in bed right now so . . . you get less commentary and more pics! Here are some of our favorite recent pics and a video of what bedtime looks like these days. Enjoy!

Big boy haircut


Experimenting with spaghetti sauce


Chewing on everything


Chillin' in the pool


Peek-a-boo


Watch out! He's on the move.



Gotta love this boy!






This is naptime and bedtime these days.
video

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Been A While..

Picking out a movie to watch


Busted playing during nap time


Is it just me, or does he look like he's posing?


Okay, so it's been just a shade under a month since I last updated the blog, but all that means its that we've had plenty going on. Never a dull moment in the Harper household anymore.

If I remember correctly, the last post recounted an episode of Jackman's g-tube button coming out, and yours truly replacing it like one of those dudes from the show ER. Well, it happened again, but this time it was my fault, and I couldn't get it back in.

Jackman was sitting in his high chair, and almost finished with his first feeding of the day. Because of his reflux, he gets pretty miserable toward the end of every feeding, so he doesn't feel well. He was slumped over in the high chair, so I tried to straighten him up. When I did, I heard a faint click under the lip edge of the table top of the high chair, and got a sinking feeling. I quickly took the top of and checked his shirt... it was already soaked. The g-tube button got hung up under the edge of the top, and popped right out, and his breakfast was leaking out all over the place.

I sprang right into action. i was confident I could replace the button because I had done it before, but this time it just wasn't going in. I started to get nervous. I called Lisa, told her to call the hospital, and I was trying to get out of the house.

Lisa met us at Children's. They had to dilate the hole which was horrible to watch, but Jackman took it like a man. I never felt so low in my whole life... to know the reason he was going through that was because of my mistake. But the boy didn't hold it against me, and I think the best thing was that Lisa didn't either. I think she felt more sorry for me than him.

Anyway, in true Jackman fashion, three minutes after the ordeal was over you would have thought he was at his own birthday party. I'm really thankful he has such a good disposition and attitude. It really helps keep me and Lisa from dwelling on the not-so-good things that could so easily bring us down.

Otherwise, the boy is dong pretty good. He's still not eating by mouth yet, but the truth is me and Lisa aren't near as concerned with that as we are his reflux. He has bad reflux now that his esophagus is fully dilated. Also. I don't know exactly what the problem is with his fundoplication, but it something that may have to be repaired later because it's not doing the job it's supposed to. Basically, if you or I lay down after we eat, all our food stays in our stomachs. Well, Jackman's would leak backwards into his esophagus, and make him start throwing up. Jackman even has bad reflux sitting up. It starts when his belly starts filling up. Every time he eats, he gets miserable, and there's a high probability that he will throw up. By throw up, I don't mean normal, baby-style spit up, I mean forceful vomiting. We just really want that part to go away. We can't stand to see him not feel good.

Don't get the wrong idea, the boy spends most of the day, happy and playing, and doing a little sleeping to power up for more play time. He's been learning some new stuff. We figured out he knows how to put on a shirt by himself now, which was a surprise. He can stand up, and king of walk along the edge of the couch... be it slowly, and with some hands ready to catch him. He's also already figured out how to get into the cabinets and the DVD collection. I have a feeling this house is going to look like they test the missiles here in a few months.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Going On Two Months...or Eight Months...

As I type, I am watching Jackman wallow around on the floor like a pig in the mud, having the time of his life. If ten percent of the world's people woke up in as good of a mood as Jackman does, the world would be buying each other Cokes, and there would be peace in the Middle East.

Things are starting to settle into some sort of crazy routine around here. Obviously, keeping up with the blog doesn't fit in well with that routine at the present, but I'm sure everyone understands (since of course, it is the boy who's always wanting to play).

We had a little excitement last week. Jackman still has the g-tube. The one he has comes with a detachable tube, so when it's not in use, there is just a small port beside his belly button into his stomach. It's held in place by a balloon filled with water. As he grows, sometimes they wear out or get too small and have to be replaced.

Well, last week I was getting ready to feed the boy at noon. He threw up everything he ate at 9:00am, so I figured he was hungry. Just as I was about to get started hooking him up to get fed, his g-tube button started coming out. The balloon inside had completely deflated.

Well, being somewhat of an amateur surgeon after our week long stay at the hospital, I got ready to replace the button. We have spares here at the house. My mother just happened to be here, so she was assisting me. I got all the stuff I needed, plus a big black Buck knife I carry around everywhere I go. I knelt down beside the boy, and flipped the knife open, and Ma looked a little nervous. The I took the knife and cut the box open and got the new g-tube button out. (I know what you were thinking).

Next, I took the old button out and pit the new one in. It takes a steady hand and nerves of steel. Have you ever played the game at Cracker Barrel with the little golf tees? You take one out, and put one in... it's like that.

After that it was time to test and make sure it was in the stomach. There's always the risk that somehow it went into the abdominal cavity instead of the stomach, so you have to hook up the line with a syringe and try to draw out some enough stomach contents just to confirm it's in the proper place. Well, I did all that but the problem was his stomach was empty. He hadn't eaten in three hours, and he threw up everything he ate then. Just like I figured, I got nothing. I rolled him on his side and tried again... nothing.

Now I should mention that I had no doubt that it was placed right. Its slid right in place effortlessly. It's kind of like putting in an earring, it should just slide right in, and if it doesn't, something is wrong.

Even though it went in perfectly smooth, I called Lisa and we talked it over and decided it was best to call Children's. She called for me, then they called me at home and walked me through a few more things to try, but I still got nothing. Then they said, "you need to bring him up here right now for an x-ray".

I guess I was about due an exercise in humility, because this was a blow to my stubborn pride. But when it comes to the boy, there was no way I was going to knowingly put him at any risk for the sake of being right. So we packed up and hit the road.

Four hours later... it turns out I was right. Some good came out of it. I realized I have to stop thinking like I used to. I never hesitated to take him to get him checked, but if it had been anything else besides him, I would have never backed off (you can ask Lisa). Maybe it wouldn't hurt for me to bend a little sometimes, except when it comes to mayonnaise or Auburn football.

Also, the boy got to visit some of his nurses on the way out, since the evening shift was already in. He always gets a kick out of seeing them, and they do as well. There's still one of his nurses we haven't run into since we left the hospital that we have to see to make sure we get everyone covered.

The boy is doing really good. He's over 18 pounds now. I think he's almost 28 inches long. He can stand up with his hands propped on something (even though he hasn't started crawling yet). I have a feeling he will walk, talk, scoot, and eat in that order. Yep, were still working on eating. It's just going to take a while, a lot of work, and patience.

Well, I think I hear a baby waking up. Until next time....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due....

Well, we got the opportunity through a couple friends of the family to publicly give God the glory for all the good things He has done for our little family in the past seven months. There was a short article about our family's "experience" in the Shelby County Reporter yesterday. When we got to the hospital this morning for Jackman's procedure, the nurses already had a copy laminated. Click the link above to go to the article of you missed it, or copy and past the link into you browser.

Thanks to Mollie Brown for staying true to the story, and giving God all the credit. She did a really nice piece of work... check it out.

http://www.shelbycountyreporter.com/news/2010/mar/10/couples-faith-never-waver-during-sons-difficult-s/

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turn Up The Sound....

video

It's not the greatest video, but the audio is what we were after. Jackman tends to stop showing off when he spots the camera, so I had to hide it from him, but it was worth it...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Tickle-Time...

video

It's hard to get the full effect when he notices the camera, but here's a little sample of tickle-time.

Just A Few Pics Since The Homecoming...

Welcome Home Jackman


Ma and the boy


Max... meet your cuz


Diggin' bath time


Not diggin' the haircut (brings back memories)


Great Grandma - Lisa's Grandma


la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la...La...LAAAAAAA


Jackman and my Grandmaw


6:30am


Tough day being a baby


Favorite song: Barbara Manatee as sung by Larry the Cucumber


Now you can REALLY see the resemblance


Had a CJ-5 with 4 wheel drive and a Smokey on my tail...


6:30am, different day. Now that's severe bed-head


Cat nap


hmmm. Have I put that in my mouth yet? Have I even tried?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Long Time, No Post...

Well, obviously we must be taking care of a baby or something, because I have been informed by several people that I am "slacking" when it comes to posting new stuff on Jackman. It turns out he's a handful, and keeps us hoppin' like Flo at the Yellow Rose (remember the waitress that used to say "kiss my grits").

Lisa is back at work now, and I'm finishing up my second week of taking care of the boy on my own. I have a new found respect for the "little homemaker" or "housewife" and every other un-glorious name for the job. I didn't realize it would test the limits of my sanity. Hat's off to all you stay-at-homers.

I knew I could handle the lifting, and the heat, and the hours..... that's the kind of things guys consider before they go into a job. I don't think we normally consider the going nuts part of it. This is way different than anything I have ever done before. We are talking totally uncharted territory here.

But seriously, Jackman has really took it easy on his old man so far. Taking care of him is really the easy part... trying to figure out how to keep the house together is what is driving me nuts. It's like I told Lisa, "I won't drop the ball when it comes to the boy, but I'm a little worried about keeping up with the rest". It's coming together though, and I'm starting to get the hang of it.

It's only been two weeks. We're still working on trying to get a routine down. Part of that is Jackman's training. We're still working on eating. That's slow going, but it's getting messier, so that's a plus. We've sped up his feeds from 60 minutes to 38 minutes and he's doing just fine (each time we feed him through the tube, he is fed slowly so he can tolerate it. Speeding up his feeds is a good thing if he is handling it well).

Jackman went last week for a dilation (stretch-y-otomy). That's where he going into the OR and basically gets like an endoscopy, but they use a little balloon to stretch the little area of his esophagus that was sown together. It tends to tighten up, so we have to go back to Children's every three weeks for a while to have that done.

All in all, Jackman is healthy as a horse. We're all very fortunate. It may take us a little while to get the whole baby program figured out. A lot of people forget - for me and Lisa its like we've only had a baby for a month... because we've only HAD him a month. It shouldn't be too long before we get mobile.

Keep your eyes open. Whenever we get a few minutes I'll upload some new home-life pictures so you can see the Jackman in his natural habitat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

6 Months Old!!!

Guess who's six months old today? I you guessed Jackman, you are correct. I know it's a little obvious, but that's okay.

Anyway, we have been at home for over a week now. It's been quite an experience. You may have noticed quite a drop off in the frequency of blog post, and i assure you it is directly proportional to the redness of my eyes. Needless to say we have gotten very little sleep since we got home. Turns out Jackman is used to getting a lot of attention.

Things have gone pretty good, but the past few days are a blur. Me and Lisa both got sick... probably from being exhausted. I think that makes taking care of the boy a little tougher, but we're figuring things out. We keep asking each other questions like: "Is he supposed to sleep this much? Is he supposed to sound like that? Is that diaper going to hold? How do we clean this up? What do we do now?"

We've already had a few crazy moments. You know a diaper change has gone south when someone starts yelling for towels and plastic bags. Yesterday I trimmed his mullet. No joke... his hair was laying on his back. I just trimmed up the back and a little on the sides - just a clean up job. His hair is still in his eyes. I'm still not confident enough to do the whole thing yet.

Well, keep your eyes peeled, you never know when you may see Jackman out on the town. He's getting restless at home, so we are going to start venturing out little by little. We've got one more week of easy time until Lisa goes back to work, and then who knows what's going to happen. It'll be just me and the boy then. I don't know how the two of us will manage without mama around all day long, but we'll take it moment by moment.

We are all enjoying ourselves (don't be fooled by the screaming coming from inside our house). It really is good to all be home together. We all miss the nurses because we had gotten so close to them, but everyone is glad we're home. I think we are all starting to get used to the idea of living together, and finding it pretty agreeable.

Hopefully, in the near future, we'll get a chance to put up some new pictures and videos, and maybe even update Jackman's status. The last major thing to overcome is getting him to take feeds by mouth instead of through the g-tube. That's going to take a while seeing how you could put everything he's ever ate by mouth in his life to date in a single table spoon. The boy is doing good though... I'm proud of him.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

First Week Home Highlight

video
Well, all three of us have been home for one week now. Each one of us have had to make some adjustments; Jackman to only having Greg and I instead of the his entourage of wonderful nurses, and Greg and I have been trying to function with little sleep, and adjusting to our high-maintenance little man. From what I've been told all babies are demanding, and ours is no exception. With all the exhaustion of the fit-pitchin' (which my parents would say comes from me, and Greg's from him) there are always those moments that make you forget about how crazy things had been earlier in the day. This is one of those moments that we caught last night. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do. By the way, Jackman did roll completely over today! Lisa

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

No Place Like Home...

AFTER 174 DAYS...
AFTER 5 MONTHS AND THREE WEEKS...
ALMOST HALFWAY THROUGH HIS FIRST YEAR...

JACKMAN DALE HARPER IS FINALLY HOME!

God has always given us just the right amount of grace and peace to get through Jackman's hospitalization, and everything else during that time. We never lacked for anything. There was always a bright side. There was always a few extra bucks in a card when we came up short. There was always a meal right when we needed it. There was always encouragement... right in the nick of time. There were always nurses and doctors who treated our son like their own flesh and blood. Whatever was needed, He provided..... correction..... He provides.

God never left us hanging, not even once. He has amazed me on almost a daily basis. Today is a new beginning, but the same God, the One True God, will be the One taking care of me and my family every step of the way.

Thank You God

Monday, February 1, 2010

Quick Update...

Just wanted to give everyone a quick update. Tonight will be our fifth night roomed in at Children's. Needless to say me and Lisa are ready to get back home. Jackman is just fine; he's an old pro at living in the hospital. As should be expected, we are exhausted. We've got a touch of cabin fever (Lisa hasn't seen the sun since last Thursday). It's just time for the three of us to be together at home.

It ain't over when we get home... it's just the beginning, again. We've learned it's going to take a lot of work to take care of the boy, but when you see him grin at you, it all makes sense.

Must get sleep. I'll try to catch up when I get caught up. Thanks for the prayers and support.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jackman's Second Photo Shoot...



















All these pics were taken by a friend of ours. It took longer for me to decide which ones to put on here than to actually upload them. There were so many good ones I had to just start closing my eyes and picking. He took over 700 pictures in less than an hour, and managed to get some unbelievable shots. Seeing the pictures scroll through on the screen saver at home has really been good for our hearts (especially during the month Jackman was asleep).

Our friend that made these pictures does this for his enjoyment, and to make a few bucks on the side to support himself and his family in their real work. He is a missionary to the Middle East. If you were having trouble deciding whether or not to spend the money on pictures right now, go ahead and get some and support some missionaries while you're at it!

Our friend has to maintain a certain level of online anonymity due to the hostility toward Christians and the spread of the gospel in some of the countries he travels to. If you would like to contact him to shoot some pics, or donate about $10,000.00 toward their efforts, I would be happy to put you in touch with him. Email me at gharper356@gmail.com.