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Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 15 2017: Jayna is One Year Old!

A year ago today, we couldn’t see a happy 1 year old crawling, pulling up, and stuffing everything she found into her mouth. 

A year ago today, we couldn’t see her smile, hear her cry, and hold her in our arms.

A year ago today, we couldn’t listen to the sound of her slow steady breathing as she slept peacefully in her crib.

We couldn’t change her diaper

Wipe her banana smeared face

Play peek-a-boo

All of those things we couldn’t see a year ago

But God saw all of those things

And as long as we could see God - that was enough

That’s always enough

Today Jayna is one, though developmentally she is still a 9 month old in many ways. Since we’ve had her home from the hospital, she’s had several appointments with the paediatrician and an appt’ with a preemi-specialist. We are so happy to report that she has been growing steadily along the doctor’s happy chart in a beautiful arc that puts her squarely in the 15th percentile for her adjusted age. For her actual age, she's in around the 1st or 2nd percentile! She’s no Jabba the Hut, but then none of our kids have been very chubby at this age. Since coming home she hasn’t had any breathing issues despite having had 2 or 3 colds. She has 6 teeth and drools like a St. Bernard, though thankfully she doesn’t eat like one! Candy might disagree with that assessment though, because Jayna still gets up several times a night and nurses each time. We are in the process of training her to get back to sleep on her own, a process we had forgotten about after 5 years of proper night’s sleeps, so we’ve had to relearn how to function on fumes and we are continually having to remind each-other that this too shall pass. :)  I have told people about my response to her sleep deprivation ‘tactics’ (don’t babies sometimes appear to have an evil plan to wreck our carefully constructed comfortabilities?). This time around it seems much different than with our other kids. Where before I would get annoyed, now not so much. Don’t get me wrong; given the choice I would much prefer she sleep through the night and take two very easy-to-sleep naps each day! It’s just that now I’m much more inclined to approach the situation with something akin to gratitude for her existence rather than impatience at the inconvenience. Where the struggle with the other kids had been to get over myself and the interruption of my agenda, now I find the hard part is putting her down and not spoiling her too much. Most times I’d rather hold her in my arms and inundate her with bounces and hugs and kisses than do anything else. I think that being 5 years older and hopefully more mature,(although that is sometimes easily debatable) than I was the last time I was here has something to do with that, but mostly I think spending her first 3 months visiting her in the hospital makes me so grateful to have her home that I’m treading dangerously close to Can-Do-No-Wrong-Child territory. As an aside, you have my permission to slap me if you see me venturing down that road! 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Wisdom of Man vs. the Wisdom of God: Trust and Obey

Stay tuned for another update on our precious Jayna… I know that’s what many of you are really interested in, not my various unrelated musings and reflections but please bear with me. This has been on my heart this week, and I find writing these reflections publicly helps me to process them, and also makes me somewhat accountable… a scary thing! Besides all that, I hope to encourage and bless someone, anyone….

As Candy and I have been contemplating a new direction, and face a not so easy decision, we’ve weighed out human factors like finances, education, and family and have finally arrived at this one remaining question, the most important question: “Lord, what should we do?”. 

Our family has been trying to maintain a morning devotion time in which we’ll read a portion of scripture and talk a bit about it, then pray as a family. We’re not bang on every day with this, but we do try to keep it a priority and it has been a blessing as the Lord has opened up His Word to us and we’ve had some meaningful times together. It’s an effort, but we find that when we start our days this way, our interactions together throughout the day are peppered with grace and we feel a greater sense of purpose.

Along the course of our readings we’ve been going through the book of Acts and have just read the account of the life and martyrdom of Stephen in Acts 6 and 7 as well as the story of Philip in Samaria in Acts 8. We’ve seen a common thread through these two narratives that illustrates the importance of following God, (being led by the Spirit) over giving way to conventional human wisdom; of letting God in His wisdom direct us in the paths we take in life and trusting Him even though we don’t have all the answers at the outset. 

First we have Stephen. Luke tells us in Acts 6 that Stephen was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit and that no one could resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. He was a powerful force for the kingdom of God. Bold. In Acts 7, Stephen is confronted by the Jewish leaders regarding his preaching and in response gives a long monologue taking them back in time, and following their unfaithfulness through history to the present day, concluding that they are stiff necked and always resisting the Holy Spirit, persecuting the prophets and ultimately murdering the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He finally accuses them of not keeping the law of God and then full of the Spirit, Stephen looks up to heaven and sees Jesus, sitting at God’s right hand. As he describes this awesome sight, the Jews plug their ears and as one man they rush him, drag him out of the city and stone him to death. While he is dying, he cries out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” There is a man present there, Saul of Tarsus, at whose feet the witnesses of this awful event lay their garments. Saul the Pharisee. This Saul approves of Stephen’s execution and that very day a great persecution arises against the church in Jerusalem, scattering Christians into the surrounding regions. This persecution sees Saul the Pharisee entering house after house and dragging men and women off to prison.

So I see here, through the lens of human wisdom, something that doesn’t quite make sense. Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, essentially throws his life away. When I read that no one could resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke, I thought here was a man who could accomplish much in ministry. If he had just played his cards right, kept his mouth shut and accepted their abuse, he could have been released, and then have continued to spread the gospel message, winning more souls and having a broader impact. Contrary to that though, he opens his mouth in witness against the authorities, seals his fate, and in a few short minutes is dead. Silenced. Right? 

It doesn’t compute, and surely had Stephen paused for thought long enough he might have arrived at the same conclusion, but he doesn’t pause for thought, does he? No, instead he follows the Spirit of the Living God right off a cliff. Did Stephen have a family? People who loved him? Friends who would miss him? Maybe. Probably. So why? Honestly, Stephen did not know why. But that didn’t matter to Stephen. All that mattered to him in that moment was that he follow God. Trust and obey. There, when the threat was greatest, he did not regard his life as  precious, and he died because of it. What a waste of a great force for the Kingdom. Or was it? See, what Stephen couldn’t have known, and what makes his decision to be led by the Spirit that much more poignant to me, was that his decision would precipitate the greatest persecution the church had known to date, and that this persecution would send the gospel into all the surrounding regions, just as Jesus promised in Acts 1:8. It would result in the conversion of Saul the pharisee, who would become Paul the believer from whom we have much of our New Testament and through whom the gospel message would spread like wildfire far and wide. But what about Stephen? He went to be with Jesus. He’s with Him now. No regrets. Stephen couldn’t know the events his death would precipitate and I don’t think he cared.  But God knew. And Stephen trusted Him. Have you ever been impacted by anything that Paul wrote? When you get to heaven, remember to thank Stephen for not consulting human wisdom when push came to shove. 

Next we have a man named Philip. During this great persecution, Philip was one of the scattered believers who ended up in Samaria. Luke goes on to tell us in Acts 8 that Philip proclaimed to them the Christ - he told them about Jesus - and crowds of people paid attention. They saw him do mighty signs and wonders, casting out demons, healing the lame and the paralyzed, and they believed and were baptized. The bible says there was much joy in that city. Philip was in the midst of a powerful move of God. People were coming to Christ by the droves and being baptized, healed, set free. Philip was at the centre of it all. Then an angel of the Lord tells Philip to get up and go south into a desert place. Just like that, in the middle of all this outpouring, healing, revival - Philip is prescribed a desert wilderness. Again, human wisdom would beg Philip to ask, “What!? Why Lord? I need to stay and fan this flame You’ve ignited. These people need me. I can teach them all that You’ve shown me. I can disciple them and help them to grow in their walk with You”. But it doesn’t appear Philip asked these questions. He just got up and went. Trust and obey. Fast forward a bit and Philip meets someone along that desert road to Gaza. The man he meets is an Ethiopian eunuch, an official of the royal court of Queen Candace of Ethiopia. So trusted an official is he that he is in charge of all of the Queen’s treasure. Philip preaches the gospel to this powerful and influential man, who then believes and is baptized on the spot. A new believer in Jesus - now headed back to Ethiopia where he will no doubt start a fire there in the royal court - introducing Africa to Jesus! 

In light of these two powerful examples, how important is it that we be led by the Spirit of God? The Spirit will always lead us into the plans and purposes of God, but will so often not seem to make sense to the natural man. Remember, in both these men’s circumstances we the readers have the advantage of knowing the end of the story, but neither Philip nor Steven had that advantage. They trusted God and didn’t hold on tightly to their their status, reputation, or even their lives. We sometimes balk at the seeming outrageous things the Lord leads us to say or do because we can’t make sense of it in our minds. Earthly wisdom would dictate to us that we see the end of the story, and that that end be favourable to us personally before we make our decisions here on earth, but the wisdom of God doesn’t look like that. God has all ends in hand, and that apparently is all we who follow Him need to know. The path of wisdom, the path to God’s end, may include personal loss for us, even great persecution and death, as indeed it did for all of the apostles and countless others throughout history and in our own time. But should this possibility change our decision to follow Him? We might be tempted to turn away sad, like the rich young ruler in Mark 10, but we need to remember that following Jesus is impossible with man! But while we remember that, remember also that all things are possible to them that believe. It is only at the point of believing that the supernatural will take place. Factor on the power and the enabling of the Holy Spirit when once you choose to follow, but never before. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Two Weeks In

Our youngest son and once youngest daughter are big brother and sister for the first time...

Jayna is now 2 weeks old! Well, sort of.  She's been a resident at the Boisvert household, united with the rest of her family for 2 weeks, she's actually almost 3 months old, and a whopping 6.5lbs!  We've been loving almost every minute of life with her. Almost, I say, because it's hard to smile through  those moments in the middle of the night when she's screeching because of a gas bubble, or a trapped, iron supplement-induced constipation class poo. Now the romantic among us might say, ahh but she's home, that makes it worth everything, and they would be right! But that does not make those moments any less exhausting. What it does do is help us to, on the brink of frustration, appreciate the gift of this baby so much the more. We will gladly endure night after night of gassy, screechy sleeplessness because she's home - with us - and not in a stuffy hospital environment where she is cared for but not loved, attended to but not nurtured. There is no price too high to pay for the chance to love and nurture her here at home. So bring it on!! I come from a long line of gassy french-men!

One of the people in this photo is uber-comfortable...
Jayna's fave position is curled up in a little ball on Candy's chest. It's no wonder since in all our skin to skin kangaroo care at the hospital, this was how we held her. It has not been unusual for me to wake up in the morning to find Candy sawing logs on her back beside me with this little precious ball of humanity curled up atop her. Sometimes it's the only way to quiet her, which of course is not ideal for mommy as it is not possible to sleep deeply like this. So as with any mom of a newborn, catnaps are the order of the day. I know that technically, at 3 months old, Jayna is not a newborn anymore, but  we feel blessed that really we haven't missed that stage at all because she's still so small, and in all respects still behaves as a newborn would.  

We had our first appointment yesterday with the paediatrician as well as another head ultra-sound last week, and both went well. Jayna is healthy and strong, and there are no issues to report! We are giving her an iron supplement as I alluded to above, to build up her iron stores. An infant will build iron stores during the last trimester of pregnancy in the womb, which Jayna of course inconveniently missed, and as there is apparently no iron in breast milk, Jayna is anemic (which explains why she sleeps so much) and will require this supplement for the first year.

Our first family ride in the van with Jayna         
To speak to that briefly, a friend was recently ruminating with me about how we are so fearfully and wonderfully made that it takes a team of doctors and nurses and round-the-clock care in NICU to provide for the infant a poor, (acceptable - but poor), substitute for what she would otherwise receive from a single umbilical cord in the environment of the womb. How awesome is our God in wisdom and power to create such a perfect environment for an infant to thrive in! Yet so many will not believe, but credit such a complex, intelligently designed system to chance and millions of years of evolution. I know who my God is: Faithful, Wonderful, Almighty, mirrored and expressed perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ, King of all Kings, my saviour and my friend! It is God who Candy and I credit with the birth, and the life of all of our children. Make no mistake, we do thank God for the medical professionals He had in place to assist in their care and are so very grateful for their knowledge and it's application in each situation, but it is God alone who we will glorify. After all, medical science comes from the mind of God, and it is the honour and glory of mankind to search it out. 

So we continue, and thank you all again for your prayers and support, and the love shown to all of us over the course of the last few months. Never thought I would pray for dirty diapers, but fatherhood does strange things to a man!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22 Update: Homecoming!

Part 1: The Anticipation...

Praise be to God, the day has finally dawned! Our little Jayna will be discharged this very afternoon, and will brighten our home with her arrival. In the hope that I can in some small way convey to you all both the anticipation and the thrill of her arrival, I've decided to write this entry in two parts; a pre and a post homecoming. Jayna has been off oxygen since Wednesday, May 11 (notice that lovely "0") and off caffeine since Saturday May 14. She has gone 7 days without incident since the caffeine was removed. We took everyone to visit Jayna in the hospital one last time on Thursday and brought in her carseat at the doctor's request. Neither of us had been aware before, but preemies must pass a carseat test before they can be discharged. This test consists of seating the sleeping child in their carseat and monitoring them for any breathing/heart/oxygen issues for 30 minutes. She failed the first test on Thursday, but passsed with flying colours in the re-test 24 hours later. That was the last hurdle. Now only the finish line remains!

Everyone here is so excited, but none so apparently as our youngest two; 6 and 7 years old. They, with all of us, have prayed and thanked God each day for Jayna's safe arrival. They are up early with me, eagerly discussing between them what life will be like here with their new baby sister. On Friday our 13 year old son and I worked energetically on our bedroom, rearranging it to accommodate Jayna's crib and change station while the rest of the kids broke into teams, each taking a section of the house to tidy. Below is a picture of the part of our bedroom I've obtained security clearance to post on the internet. Candy and I have been surveying this scene with expectancy since Friday. I'll drop my dear wife off at the hospital this morning, come home to see the kids off to church for 3pm, then head back to the hospital to pick up our little peanut for the maiden voyage in our luxuriously silver and rust coloured 2002 Elantra GT. I feel like renting a Cadillac! But lets keep what's important, important.

Part 2: The Thrill...

Slight change of plans - we were late getting to the hospital, so rather than drop Candy and return for her and Jayna later, we just stayed together, received a flurry of last minute instruction from the Doc and nurses, and left the hospital at 2:00, WITH JAYNA!!!

She's home, and rather than run on at the mouth trying to put words to the incredible feeling, I've strung together a little v-log, accessible below, for you all to see. I'll apologize in advance for the lack of polish, and the fact that it ends rather abruptly. My eyes were beginning to cross towards the end there...

Praise the Lord!! Thank you all so much for your continued prayer. It has been a long journey, and one that has only just begun, but we are so grateful to have her finally home. As I write this, the children have yet to see her home - but they will be returning from church soon and then the party will begin in earnest. Soooo exciting.

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 13 Update: Who Needs Oxygen Anyway?!

Our little beauty was taken off of oxygen on Wednesday! Now, they will only be giving her supplemental oxygen during her feedings. Jayna is behaving more and more like a newborn: her wakeful times are lengthening in duration, she’s fussing more when she’s uncomfortable, and she’s really chunking out! Her feeds are more frequently by bottle now rather than gavage tube, though the nurses still have a difficult time keeping her awake long enough for her to complete a bottle feed. Candy was able to nurse her for 20 minutes the other day, a breakthrough for sure. She is till having apneic spells where she will stop breathing altogether causing her oxygen sats to plummet. We’re being told that if she can go five straight days without a spell, they will remove the caffeine. After that, she’ll need to go another five days without a spell before they will feel comfortable discharging her. So at the very least, she will be in hospital for another ten days. Interestingly, we’re finding this period a bit more difficult in a way because now that Jayna is behaving as a newborn, her need for extra care is not so apparent to us, making it harder to leave her there each day. Our other children are feeling the strain as well. Just the other day, our seven year old daughter came to us and said, “Daddy, it’s sad when a member of your family is in the hospital, and they’re taking so long to come home. You just want them to come home.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Though it is sometimes sad, there is also hope. I was reminded last week that hope, the hope we have in Jesus, does not disappoint. So we press through, in hope believing, and know that it is simply a matter of time before the peanut joins her family at home. Thank you all again for your prayers and support. I've added a little video below, isn't she sweet!

Friday, May 6, 2016

May 06 Update: Of Flu's and School and the Little Dipper

Jayna is today 5.005 pounds of pure baby. Apparently Mommy's got the goods! She's due for another echo of her heart today, as well as an eye test; both routine. I mentioned last week that she had been put back on caffeine, and that has not changed. Up until today, she had not had a brady (heart) dip for an entire week, however this morning her heart rate dipped to 65 for 15 seconds. She did bounce back from that without intervention though, which is a good sign. Candy spoke with the doctor yesterday and she explained how the caffeine, Jayna's heart rate, and the oxygen saturation in her blood are all interconnected. She said the reason they had kept the caffeine going despite no brady dips was that Jayna had still been having O2 desaturations, (O2 level dipping below 88 for a prolonged period). They had thought to remove the caffeine again today since she hadn't had a brady dip for so long and has been averaging only one O2 dip per day, but that may not happen now given this morning's episode; we shall see. You may be wondering what the big deal is about the caffeine - basically it's one of those milestones we need to see before she can come home. I guess sometimes you just have to quit the coffee before anything good can happen in your life. Other things that need to happen are the successful withdrawal of additional O2,  and a demonstration that she can stay awake long enough to get all her feeds in by bottle or breast. Our little dipper is incorrigibly snoozy. With all our other kids, it was possible to wake them when they'd fallen asleep feeding, but Jayna is just too interested in the back of her eyelids, which necessitates any remaining feeding being given by gavage tube. Our oldest son, born at 35 weeks, was also a pretty sleepy baby. It is quite normal for pre-mature or pre-term babies to be sleepy. I think I might be a preemie in disguise.

So flu kinda' rhymes with school but that's about as good as it gets. Last Saturday, we had a scary episode here as our middle son abruptly came into the living room from bed announcing with tears and a panicked look on his face that he could not breathe. One of our other children had had a flu earlier in the week, and he had apparently caught it with a vengeance. We prayed, then immediately administered an asthma puffer, threw him in the car and were off to CHEO. It was 10:20pm. At 4:20am we crawled up the steps and collapsed into bed after blood work, a dual shot of antibiotics, and a steroid for his breathing. I finally succumbed to the bloomin' bug yesterday, and I've been wandering around the house uselessly ever since; school's out!

Keep us in prayer. We're struggling to push through, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place"(2 Cor 2:14). I say this from a place of need and trust, because I don't feel very triumphant at the moment. Here's a verse I read this morning, that I hadn't noticed before, "...if you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" (Isa. 7:9b). We need to live our life by faith, losing ourselves and embracing Christ. If we cannot be firm in that most fundamental of places, the rest will not work right, consigning us to frustration and rendering us unfruitful. Please pray for us, that we will exercise mountain moving faith, and trust the Lord with all our hearts!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 28 Update: Of Spilt Milk and Caffeine

What? Caffeine? Addictive?!

Today Jayna would have been 35 weeks in the womb. She is 6 weeks old and weighs 4.3 pounds.  Since our last update we've discovered that caffeine really is addictive. Who would'a thunk it! Jayna was put back on caffeine this past Saturday when it became apparent she was not yet able to sustain an acceptable respiratory and heart rate without it. It seems she wasn't ready to quit her morning coffee cold turkey. Little munchkin!

The past week has been rather uneventful as we continue to wait for Jayna to gain the strength she needs to be discharged from hospital and start her life at home. When either of us show up at the unit, the nurses back off and we're in charge - we change her, bathe her, hold her, and Candy has had ever increasing success at nursing her (exciting!), all of which has has been encouraging, priming us for the impending hand-off. So although we've had our fair share of language issues with the staff at NICU here, and are still trying to get used to the somewhat looser approach they take in the care of our little dipper, all in all I'd say we've been able to communicate with them at an acceptable level. We've just had to exercise a little assertiveness, something which Candy is loathe to do (yes, you heard it here first!), and I have a hard time doing without being rude, towering over people, and appearing maniacal. I now prefer to sit clean shaven (sort of), and bespectacled when I assert myself. People seem to respond better to me that way. Imagine!

No More Bleed!

Great news! This morning Jayna had another head ultrasound taken, and it came back clear; the brain bleed is gone! Praise the Lord!

Spilt Milk

On the home front things are continuing to move forward, as in - I am approaching 'crazy' at an incredible rate of speed. You see, I know school needs to happen; I decide when I wake up in the morning that it's going to happen; and then it's dinner time and it hasn't happened! At least not to the level I envisioned it should. I've slowly been discovering that the kids don't want to do school. They'd much rather play. I know it should have been obvious, but more often than not I need to learn obvious things by experience before they become truly obvious to me. Maybe I'm not alone. At any rate, our kids need to be motivated to do school and I need to be the motivator.  The problem is that I have a hard enough time motivating myself! I was ranting to Candy about all of this earlier today in the car as we drove to the hospital and she just smiled knowingly and said, "Really?" then went on to explain to me how important it is to make a plan at the beginning of each week, deciding which days we'll be doing school, and how each day will look. So, rather than lament the lost time this week, in essence crying over spilt milk, I'm going to suck it up and push through. All with the help and grace of my Lord, Jesus! Guess what I'll be doing Sunday evening? Enjoy the video!