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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!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 21 Update: Getting Schooled

Today Jayna was bottle-fed for the first time! We arrived at the hospital while they were prepping for feeding time and were told that they had planned to try the bottle for one feeding today, just to see how she would do with it. So Candy nursed Jayna for a brief period until it was apparent she was too tired to continue, (breastfeeding and bottle feeding are like exercise for preemies), and then we transferred her allotted milk to a bottle and Candy was able to feed her that way. What a blessing it was! She sputtered, she coughed, she burped (my kinda girl!) and all of this was so precious - driving home (to me at least) that we actually have a real baby on our hands here! Sounds weird I know, but that's me. All she didn't do for me today was fart, but I'm sure that will come.

Jayna still requires some additional oxygen to keep her levels acceptable, but she has been having fewer dips and spells and has also been tolerating her feedings very well, with fewer spells at the tail end of her feedings than she had been having. They took her off of caffeine 2 days ago and are closely monitoring her heart to see how she will respond. The caffeine was to treat AOP (Apnea of Prematurity) which are spells where Jayna would stop breathing and her heart rate would drop below 80 bpm (normal heart rate for her should be 140-180 bpm). This little shot of morning joe would stimulate her breathing and keep her alert as well as regulate her heart rate. After 7 days off of caffeine, and a clear demonstration that she can handle these dips without it, she will have to go another 5 straight days without an apneic spell, and without requiring additional O2, before the docs will release her into the big wide world. Jayna will be 35 weeks next Thursday. So the earliest we could see her home would be two Wednesdays from now. Praise the Lord!! Please keep praying for her that all of these things will line up at the right time for her to be able to come home.

On the home front, this week has not been as successful school-wise as last week, but the kids are all still alive, well-fed, and happy AND I am happy to report that all of the winter stuff has been gathered, washed, and put away for the season! I can imagine someone might say, "ooh - that's an accomplishment?!", but let me tell you, this is no small task in our home. Seven kids and two adults worth of winter coats, boots, hats, scarves, mitts, neck warmers, snow pants... honestly, it actually feels like you've just won an award when you've completed a task like this! But I digress...

Last night, we took our first family trip somewhere since Jayna was born; a drive to a local park for some fun in the evening sun (and ice cream bars, yah!). We all needed that. It felt great to go out together and do something as a family. The pics you see here at are of Candy schooling her hubby on the court. She is definitely recovering well from that c-section!

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15 Update: On Marriage, Hospital Transfers and Oatmeal

Yesterday our precious peanut was finally transferred to a hospital closer to home and in our own Belle Province. We had about 2 hours notice of the transfer, but thankfully Candy was already at the hospital when we found out so she was able to travel in the Transport vehicle with Jayna. Once they arrived, and I was able to leave the fracas at home to join her, we were orientated (in quite broken English) as to the policies and procedures for Jayna's new digs. We were very impressed at the effort everyone at the new hospital made to communicate with us in English. They were gentle and patient with us as we asked for clarification on different things. This makes all the difference, I think, to whether our experience there will be a good or a bad one.

Jayna is growing! I was amazed when I saw her yesterday at how much she'd grown in the 4 days since I'd last seen her. She's now 3.5 lbs and showing some definite chunk!! Her oxygen levels are improving as well, which has been very encouraging. We were told before she was transferred that in the move from one hospital to another, she was essentially going from one of the healthiest babies at the one hospital, to one of the 'sickest' babies at the other, so we could expect the staff at the new hospital to be on edge until they were confident Jayna's condition was stable and improving. In keeping with that estimation, Jayna is back in an isollette (incubator) for at least 48hrs. Also, if we want to handle her, we must wear a gown and latex gloves. Not sure whether that is a 48hr thing as well, but that could end up a point of contention with us as we have been enjoying skin to skin care with her for some time now. To not be able to touch her without gloves seems a little over cautious and even detrimental to Jayna's overall development. So pray for us that we will be gentle in our communication, and that this new NICU will lighten up a bit and let us hold our child without a latex barrier. Overall, though, we are excited to have her closer to home, and impressed with what we've seen of the staff here in Quebec.

On the home front, we had decided this past week-end to try to establish some semblance of a routine in our lives for sanity's sake. We decided to treat the visits to the hospital as we would a job, where Candy leaves early-(ish) for the hospital each day, and I stay home and do school with the kids (along with meals, laundry, cleaning - whatever). After week one, I have re-discovered that I absolutely love teaching the kids, but before anyone goes and gets the idea that I am a super-dad, let it be known that laundry and housework did not really get done this week. The kids are all still alive, and not TOO hungry, so I believe overall the week was a success here at the house, but I have a lot to learn about managing a home. It seems that we are in an either/or situation here. Either the housework and school get done and the kids go hungry, OR school and meals get done but the house goes to pot.  Thank God for week-ends!! All you homeschooling moms - God bless you.  You have my utmost respect and admiration.

Today Candy and I celebrate our 16th anniversary. Sixteen years ago today, at this very moment, 08:50, I was scarfing down my step-mom's amazing oatmeal; my last breakfast as a single man. Today we celebrate our glorious union and guess what's for breakfast?  I was told before we got married that I should think long and hard before having kids, that they would "suck the life right out of me". Now, at one child every two years since we said the words, "I Do", I can truly agree with the thinking part of that admonition, but nothing would 'suck' more than life without these precious kids. We're better for having had them, they truly are a blessing from the Lord, and my amazing wife is truly a fruitful vine at the heart of our home.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

April 09 Update: To Fret or Not to Fret

Moving... moving... moving...

Yesterday we were told that Jayna will be transferred sometime soon to a hospital in our own province, (we live in Quebec but she is presently at an Ottawa hospital). I will admit that when I first heard this, my heart sank. I began worrying over language issues, quality of care for Jayna, parking issues, and the list goes on. I started to panic and think of ways we could possibly persuade the medical team in Ottawa to let her remain there and forego the transfer. The issue was fast becoming a mountain in my mind until a bit later in the day after a conversation with my wise wife. Simply put, my response had been one of fear and not of faith and was an indicator that I had begun to put my trust in man. Over the course of the evening, and into this morning, I was able to work through this and come to a place again where I realize that wherever Jayna goes, whatever her care, at the risk of sounding cliche, God is in control. He knows where she will be, and He will be with her there as He's been with her everywhere else. Her Great Physician is a travelling doctor who will not leave her side. Considering that this travelling Doctor is the One who formed her inward parts and knit her together in her mother's womb, I'd say she's in pretty safe hands! My worrying won't accomplish anything but a little loss of hair pigment.

Around 2 months before this whole affair began Candy had been reading through the book of James in the Bible and the Holy Spirit impressed on her heart how important it was going to be for us to be patient and endure. That whole principal of patient endurance kept coming back to her and as she shared it with me I could really see that the Lord was speaking to us, though at the time we had no idea what was coming. Up to this point I've been sort of coasting along, but it has finally begun to sink in (I'm a little of a hard-boiled egg when it comes to learning life lessons), how much I need to rest in Jesus, and through prayer and quiet rest, allow Him to bear this burden rather than try to figure everything out and tackle it all on my own. In this way, I can be patient and endure this thing with joy and peace rather than anxiety.

So fast forward to this morning... Candy and I got up early, scarfed down a quick breakfast and left for the hospital as soon as we could, picking up my mom and sister along the way. We wanted to be there for Jayna's 11:00 handling time so Candy could hold her and try to introduce Jayna to nursing. When we arrived, we learned that the doctors had not done their rounds yet. This was great news for me as it meant we would be there for rounds, (our first time since she was born), and having the entire team there to answer our questions is an ideal situation. When the team of doctors arrived for rounds, who would be the Neonatologist on staff but a man we knew from a church we used to attend in Ottawa. In fact, I had taught his eldest son in children's church there! Though it had been 10 years since we'd seen him, he recognized us right away and we had a great update on Jayna's condition and detailed replies to our questions complete with video animation (he showed us on his iPad what Jayna's heart looks like). I felt so blessed to know that he was there, a Christian doctor taking care of my daughter. I was so encouraged by these things and knew that all of this had been orchestrated by the Lord. It's like the Lord was just putting an exclamation point on all that I'd been meditating on.

So Jayna is in a cot now, no more incubator or heated bed. Her O2 needs are still higher than they should be but they were able to reduce that again this morning after suctioning more goop out of her nasal passage. I guess she's still fighting this cold. Not surprising when you consider most of us take around 2 weeks to fight through a cold and WE  have fully developed immune systems. She has a slight heart murmur, but nothing of any concern. There's no plan for a repeat brain ultrasound until she's ready for discharge, and another x-ray of her chest yesterday turned up no sign of any lung issues. They will hold off transferring her to this other hospital until her oxygen needs stabilize. As of now it's day to day - they will decide each morning based on her condition whether or not the transfer will happen. This is fine with us. Again, we know who holds tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April 06 Update

Mommy and Daddy's foreheads feed baby Jayna!

Sound asleep....
As some of you may know, we were waiting to hear the results of Jayna's repeat brain ultrasound yesterday. Good news - the brain bleed has not grown, and is showing some resolution! Praise the Lord! Jayna is still on O2 at varying levels, and everyone is still in the dark as to the cause of that - though the prevailing theory is that she's still getting over a cold. Apart from that, she is growing as she should. She is still under 3lbs, but should have that benchmark broken by week's end if she keeps gaining weight at the rate she has been.

As a family we are all looking forward to the day when we can get back into some semblance of a workable routine. Housework, homeschooling, groceries - all of these things are kind of in throw together mode right now as we've added daily rides to and from hospital and recovery time for Mommy, who I'm afraid feels her only raison d'ĂȘtre at this moment is to pump, eat and sleep. She has been staying positive though and with a little help from the rest of us is allowing herself the time she needs to regain her strength. Life will be changing all over again once Jayna begins breastfeeding (right now, she's still only being tube fed), and then again when we finally get the little pink bundle home to her family!

On a different note, I want to convey our thanks to all who have helped us in some way over the past 4 weeks, and who continue to help by way of prayer, encouraging notes and other material things. We received dinner every day between March 11-31 as well as frozen meals that we've been able to pull out in a pinch since then. We've been given grocery gift cards, monetary gifts from church, friends, and family, restaurant gift cards from family, baby clothes, crib and other items in such a shower of blessing that all I can do is shake my head. People have come by to help us clean our house, bless the kids with McDonald's lunch and visits from family and friends, and a fresh supply of deadly (ouch, my foot!) lego to keep them occupied, and just to say hi, and this has all been greatly appreciated. We do intend to do up individual thank-you's for everyone, but we'd like to also give this sort of 'blanket-thanks' to you all! God bless each one of you.

The view out our window on April 06
Right now as I look out my window at the blizzard taking place outside (cue the laughter from all you Arctic dwellers), it's hard to believe that gardening season is just around the corner. Not that any of us here have a green thumb, I'd say muddy-brown at best, but we do intend to do our best to stick something in the ground this year that we might be able to dig up later on and eat. It offsets ever so slightly the cost of feeding the ravenous teenagers in our midst. But for now I just sit and watch the snow fall.

God is good! 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 02 Update: Moving to a New Unit!

Since our last update we learned that baby Jayna had caught a cold. Most likely the same one all of us were fighting when she was first born (her first gift from Mommy and Daddy!!). After some blood work it was determined that it was a viral rather than a bacterial infection so she would not need anti-biotics. The doctors were quite sure her need for O2 was due to this cold she was fighting and this has turned out to be the case as they have been able to steadily ween her from the O2 so that now, with the cold on it's way out, she is on a very minimal amount. Hopefully she'll be off it altogether within a day or two! Jayna's also been moved from her incubator to an open air bed which means easier access to her during our visits.

The great news for us this morning is that Jayna was moved to the newborn observation unit within NICU. She's no longer in the super intensive care section of the unit, which tells us that the level of concern over her ability to thrive has diminished considerably.

More good news is that Candy's been producing more than enough milk so Jayna has been on a steady supply of the best milk money can buy.  On top of all this, Candy's blood pressure has been coming down so she's been able to cut back on the meds significantly. Praise the Lord!

So we continue to watch Jayna's condition grow stronger and stronger and are so excited for the day she'll finally be able to come home to us. Our youngest daughter keeps praying, "that Jayna will be able to come home from the hospital but not too soon so she won't have to go back to the hospital". It's just a reminder to us to be patient and trust the Lord's timing as His timing is always best; never too late, never too early!

Next hurdle will be Tuesday's brain ultrasound!

Thanks again for all your prayers - God is good!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30 Update

Tonight we discovered that a brain ultrasound has turned up a grade 1 bleed on the right side of Jayna's brain. While this sounds big and terrible, apparently the Grade 1 is the smallest bleed there can be, and is not unusual for premies. Over time the brain should absorb the bleed. They've scheduled another u/s for April 05 to see if there has been any change.  Please pray with us that this thing will resolve and we'll see an improvement at that u/s on Apr. 05. 

God bless you all and thank you for continuing to pray!

Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28 Update

So we were finally able to hold Jayna for the first time on March 24! It was such a blessing to hold her to our chest and feel her warm little body breathing. We have been been able to handle her during her major handling times which occur every 4 hours. On March 26 Jayna’s oxygen levels fell below acceptable levels, so she was placed on a small amount of oxygen to keep her levels up. As of today, March 28, she is still on O2 and her body temperature has risen (not quite to fever level, but borderline), to the point where they have had to consistently be lowering the temperature in Jayna's incubator in order to regulate her body temperature. That, coupled with her increased need for O2, had prompted a chest x-ray and a blood work up to determine if there was some factor, perhaps an infection, causing these anomalies. The blood work came back normal in every respect, and the chest x-ray turned up nothing. Praise the Lord! The nurse is saying it could be that she just runs a little hot. In fact, they’ve discovered that she’s not happy unless she’s only half covered while she’s sleeping, which I can attest is something in which she definitely takes after Mommy! The nurse also told us that once we get Jayna home, we will have to be careful not to overdress her, and it’s funny, but just that little bit of talk about getting her home was a tremendous encouragement to me. Finally, tomorrow should be the day Jayna regains her birth weight of 1170 grams, just a little larger than a package of pasta! At this point they will begin to adjust the quantity of milk they give her beyond the 12 ml/2hrs which she is currently receiving. This presents a new challenge for us as Candy’s milk production will have to pick up in order for us to keep up with Jayna’s feeding requirements. 

On the home front, we continue to enjoy meals from many of our friends and fellow believers in Jesus and have been blessed by all the encouragement we’ve received from everyone. We really feel like our burden has been lightened because so many of you have borne it with us. Candy’s health has been improving markedly as she heals from the surgery. Her blood pressure has improved to the point where her meds are slowly dropping off, and it is our prayer she will eventually be able to come off all blood pressure medication.

Just this past week-end we enjoyed a lovely visit with Candy’s parents. It has become tradition now that every time they visit, Grandma Acheson organizes the kids games in the family room (no small task indeed) during which time there is also the customary lecture regarding how easy it is to put a game away after you play with it so that "Grandma won’t have to do this EVERY TIME SHE COMES TO VISIT!”. :) It’s wonderful to have our family room back, so thank you so much Grandma! Between Grandma's talent for organizing games, puzzles, cards and various other pieces, and Grandpa’s superb broom wielding we can finally walk through the house without sneezing OR mangling the underside of our feet on some deadly bit of lego. Also, on March 26, all the other children as well as Grandma and Grandpa Acheson were able to meet Jayna for the first time! I’ve attached a pic of our tin-grinning oldest child with Daddy and Jayna.

I know I’m rambling on, but one last little thing - the most important thing actually. We had been so consumed with all that was going on here that Thursday we looked at each other and realized we’d almost forgotten that Easter week-end was upon us! Now on the other side of the week-end, despite that realization I feel as though this Easter has been the most meaningful for me in a long time. We were able to sit together as a family around the Word on Friday and talk about the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus and what His death accomplished for us, then on Sunday we gathered together again to look at the glorious victory of His resurrection and what that means for us now. I was so overwhelmed this week-end at the beauty of His sacrifice, and the power and majesty of His resurrection - it’s hard to really put it into words. I want to thank You Father for Your great love, for Your sweet mercy, and for Your gift of eternal life freely bestowed on us when we first believed. You are!

More updates to follow….