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Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Merry Christmas!

   Our Christmas cards this year..... they were extra special......


                                  And the back of them.....


We hope you read carefully :). We are 16 weeks pregnant as of this Saturday! We have been under the care of a specialist and our fabulous Doctor. We have had several appointments, scans and tests with the specialist and so far so good. The specialist told us at one appoitment he couldn't give us more reassuring numbers. We recevied our poor diagnosis with sweet Reese at 12weeks, so we've been anxious to attend all these appointments the past few months. 

We found out earlier this fall and we were actually almost 2 months pregnant at the Heart Walk! 
It's been hard keeping it under 'wraps' (especially since I'm showing more this time and we're so far along) but we were excited to announce it on our Christmas cards, graciously created and made by my sister!

The pictures on the top are from this late summer and fall. Top left is our anniversary trip to St Maarten in July, Top right is TEAM REESE on October 22nd on the square. Bottom left is Dublin, Ireland which we visited over Thanksgiving ( a post in itself) and bottom right is Central Park in NYC when we were lucky enough to go over Labor day and go to the US Open!

I knew when the mail delivered this week because our phones and emails went crazy. Thank you sweet sweet friends for all your kind words, wishes and prayers. Each message overflowed our hearts. Thank you all for saying how much you'd be in prayer for us, we can't thank you enough for that.

We will absolutely keep you all posted on our progress. Our anatomy/heart scan is Jan 17 and Jan 19th. At this point their are not indicators of any issues (as we had last time) but we are of course still very anxious to have those appointments. Thank you for your prayers and love and support on this journey we continue to walk. 


No sweet face or sweet child could ever take the place of our angel Reese, we think of her daily and a small family memorial is taking place next weekend (New Years weekend)at her graveside, which will be a first for all of us. As sad as our hearts still hurt that we don't have her here, we are beyond excited, joyful and ever grateful to God for allowing us to be parents to this sweet little baby we will meet in early June. We have cried tears of joy at each appointment we've had thus far at the good news!


We cried especially at the one this past Monday.........  when we were told this baby was a sweet little girl! Blessed beyond all measure.

With love, hope and faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

October 22, 2010

I cannot believe it has been 2 months since I've posted. I was waiting on a few things to post and now I have it all. We also recently took a trip to Ireland (another post coming soon!) and I have just fallen behind. I promise to update in the coming weeks, BUT first our recap of such an amazing day!

We woke up on October 22nd, our walk with the AHA and TEAM REESE. It was a beautiful fall day. It couldn't have been prettier. Our committee had worked endless hours over the past few months it was unbelievable all that everyone accomplished. This committee was made up of our mothers, sisters, grandmother and our friend Staci. We met once a month and emailed more times than one could count to pull of the day. These are just a few of the folks that made October 22nd, such a wonderful and memorable day. Let me say that each of these sweet people spent more time on this than one normal person would do. :) They are to be commended and thanked beyond what we could possibly express. These folks generated donations, corporate sponsors, designed t-shirts, made plans, decorated to make for an adorable party, organized events, pick ups and meetings and much much more.

We arrived at the square early to get to our tent that the AHA had generously donated for us, the committee quickly got started setting up the tent with super cute decorations and Reese's candy as well as heart balloons attached w/ fruit snacks for all our little walkers. We had 225 walkers sign up and we had 220 walk with us on that day!! Many of these walkers traveled from Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and many traveled hours across the state of Georgia. We were a LARGE sea of pink being one of the top teams. Our sweet team led us in incredible fund raising, making us the top community team raising OVER $11,000.00 to the American Heart Association. Our hearts were full to the brim when we heard our final number that morning, all of this is memory of our first-born, our sweet, precious little girl, Rebecca Reese.

We had generous corporate sponsors that donated so that we could provide all 225 walkers (from children to adult) a TEAM REESE t-shirt free of charge. We had had pick up dates for these and so everyone showed up in their t-shirts and it was amazing. The pink just kept coming and coming that gorgeous morning :)

We walked 3.2 miles around the beautiful square area and we walked with friends, family, tiny children just a few months old (who strolled of course) and complete strangers that had joined our team. We were so touched by every single walker.

After our walk, we all headed to my dear in-laws for an after party. We wanted to show our appreciation to the families that spent their day with us, along with all the donations. My in-laws have the PERFECT place for a party so we enjoyed the beautiful afternoon fall day on their land. We had a large jumpy house donated (this was a HIT to say the least) , we had lunch donated as well as delicious desserts and drinks donated by various vendors that are near and dear to our heart  (who all can be found on the back of a TEAM REESE t-shirt). Each of these vendors we knew personally and all offered their services. Talk about being blessed~these folks came from everywhere wanting to be a part and to feed and entertain 225 people is not an easy task. What started as a simple walk turned into an amazing amount of donations to the heart association, and a wonderful party with delicious food and fellowship. Another huge hit to the day was the band we had playing. This band was made up of family members, so it made it even more special. Every member is a family member and they played wonderful hits and the kids danced and so did some of the adults! The band was playing as folks started strolling in and that created just the atmosphere we were looking for. We can't thank everyone enough for the time they donated as well as all the goods. To provide a party on donations alone from companies and dear friends was something we never envisioned.

We gave awards to our two top walkers. One being a SIX year old that raised $1k in memory of our Reese. $1000!! She was precious and we were so proud of Miss Alexis Bird. The other, was our dear friend, Andy Goodman who topped out at over $1200 in donations. We also had so many walkers raise over $300! I think he last count was over 25 walkers rasied over $300! We appreciate each and everyone of you and we cherish the sweet donations in memory of our sweet girl.

We had our dear dear friend, Allyson Warrington, a professional photographer (AGW PHOTOGRAPHY) donate her time to us and she took pictures from the first attendee showing up at the tent (at 7:30 am) to the last folks leaving that late afternoon from the party. She documented the entire day and these pictures are beyond special to us. We could never capture the day like she did and we are EVER grateful to her services and her generous heart and her sweet husband for coming and watching their 2 girls as she "snapped"away. :) Whether you were there or not you don't want to miss her fabulous photos of the event!
(Instructions to see these photos at bottom of post)

The next morning Jimmy woke me up with "we're on the front page" and I thought he was kidding, but low and behold, our sweet TEAM REESE had made the front page of the Sunday paper. Front and center with a large photo of the walkers and a little bit of our story.  The foot print you see on the front of each shirt is our Reese's actual foot print. She takes after her mom and dad and had big feet like the both of us. I was so touched by my husband and sister for that special touch  (& surprise) on our t-shirt.

We can't thank everyone enough. We just don't have the words to express how much EACH AND EVERY donation meant to us, and how much EACH AND EVERY walker meant to us, along with the many emails and letters we received on folks that could not be in attendance that day from family to friends to strangers that are now friends. YOU all made the day possible, YOU had the vision to make us a top team (and we made it!) YOU had the vision to surpass our goal of $10k (we hit $11k) YOU and YOUR time and donations made the party tremendous, YOU have forever touched our lives and our hearts.

We miss Reese each and everyday and some days are harder than others, as we expect. But each time we see someone wearing their t-shirt or glance at the pictures from the day it brings sunshine and hope for tomorrow.

With love, hope and faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy 

Thank you again for sharing your hearts with us and such a special day with us. To view pictures from the TEAM REESE event,

Click this  http://www.agwphotography.net/store/

Click the Access Gallery link and enter in the access code below:

Access code: Martin
After you do that, you will be able to view these pictures.


If you have any questions, please email us and let us know, we are HAPPY to answer them! jamesthomasmartin@gmail.com

***Also, if you'd like to order any photos, feel free to do so from the site, but the site minimum order is $25 so if your order does not exceed that amount, please contact us and we will absolutely set you up!****

Sunday, October 16, 2011

TEAM REESE WALKER INFO

Hello TEAM REESE walkers! We are SO excited for this Saturday's walk, October 22nd at the Marietta Square. If you signed up for our team, you should have received an informative email.
 If you did not get this email please do the following:
1)check your spam since it went to many recipients
2) email us immediately at jenniferyeartymartin@gmail.com so we can get you your TEAM REESE shirt &important information for Saturday

T-shirt pick up time's are located in the email. We are thrilled to have so many walkers on our team~225 strong! With that said, we unfortunately cannot pass out t-shirts Saturday to all 225 walkers and be ready to start on time. So we do ask that you participate in one of the 2 pickups.

Important info for Saturday (where to park, when & where to meet and post party info)

   Saturday, October 22nd 8:30am on the Marietta Square


ARRIVAL TIME:
Please arrive at the TEAM REESE tent by 8:30 am wearing your Team Reese t-shirt for our team picture. Please be sure to allow time to park and locate our tent. We want you all there for the team photo!

Location of the TEAM REESE TENT:
Our tent will be located at the corner of Whitlock Ave & Atlanta St. This is the corner of the square closest to the Courthouse and Tommy’s Sandwich shop. You should be able to spot us by the massive group of pink t-shirts and our TEAM REESE Banner. If you have any problems finding the tent please call Jennifer 404-406-5518 or Lindsey 404-667-4974.


Where to PARK:
The best place to park will be in the Parking Deck located at 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta 30060. **The Marietta Farmers Market will be going at the same time as the walk, so the parking deck will be the easiest place to park.

Post Walk Appreciation Party:
Maps to the after party will be available at the team tent.
The after party is less than 10 minutes away from the Square & will start immediately at the walk’s conclusion.


Thank you for your love and unconditional support on this journey. Our TEAM REESE committee has put in countless hours and efforts in this day and we are so excited to share it with you and have you and your families be a part! We also hit the $10,000.00 mark Monday evening for our team donations to the American Heart Association!!!! We are just in amazement at the generosity of everyone and cannot thank you enough!

We look forward to seeing you all Saturday!

Love from our hearts,
Jennifer & Jimmy







Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TEAM REESE

Hello sweet friends, family, readers and sweet strangers that we now call "friends"~

Here is the update for TEAM REESE that so many of you have been so sweet to ask about, donated to and volunteer your time. The walk is held on the Marietta square Saturday, October 22nd. Activities (t-shirt pick-up) start at 8am and the walk begins at 9am. Strollers are welcome, its a very family friendly event!

Immediately following the walk there will be an after party at the Martin's home, which is just a few short miles from the square (maps will be available at our TEAM REESE tent on the square). This is also a super family friendly event with activities for children, lunch and a band! We have been blessed and humbled by the many donations to the after party by dear friends, family and business owners that are all dear to our hearts.

Our t-shirts were revealed to us this weekend and we were in absolute awe. They are precious and very special. My sweet & precious husband and sweet sister surprised me by having Reese's actual footprint printed on the front of the shirt, so you will all have a piece of our sweet girl... (and see that she took after her parents with big feet)  :)


What you need to do to sign-up:

-Even if you have joined our team on the AHA website, you still need to fill out our form on the link below so we can account for you a t-shirt and the after party.

-You must register each person walking (of all ages) individually. For example, a family of 4 needs to submit 4 entries separately (rest assured its all very quick & easy!)

-A donation is not required to walk or to have a t-shirt but if you would like to make a donation there is a link to the donation page on our form below and also to the left of this page (next to the TEAM REESE button). Thank you for all the many donations we have received, we are getting closer to our goal day by day!

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to email us at: jamesthomasmartin@gmail.com

    Here is the form to sign up:
TEAM REESE Walker Sign-Up

Thank you for all your support, love and fund raising efforts. We are looking forward to a WONDERFUL walk and a fabulous after party with friends of all ages! We are also excited about meeting many of you face to face.

With Much Love, Faith and Hope,
Jennifer & Jimmy
 

Monday, August 22, 2011

99 days

It has been 99 days since we came face to face with our sweet Reese, and also had to say goodbye.
Our hearts still hurt like they did 99 days ago. Somedays it feels like yesterday and other days it feels like an eternity. There is not a single day that goes by that we don't think about her multiple, multiple times. I wear a necklace everyday to remember her and Jimmy wears his watch with her initials engraved on it. But no matter what we wear, she is always with us, in our hearts, and minds and our spirit. I know thats so cliche to say, but she is ours and always will be.

I haven't known quite what to say the past 99 days to the sweet readers and prayer warriors. Many days, I haven't known what to say to our closest friends and family, that absolutely continue to show their love in so many ways. Our porch rarely has a week that isn't empty, we have gotten countless sweet emails and cards from folks still thinking of us and so many donations to the heart association we are just overwhelmed. We have had church services in memory of her, we have had flowers at the altar for her. But none of that seems to mend our hearts like we wish it would. The service the flowers were for Reese, they were gorgeous and stunning, but as you look to the altar each service, it was so hard to sit there & know those flowers were for our sweet girl. I was mad, sad, hurt, and honored all at the same time. It was so sweet and I am so thankful for all the services, tributes and many gestures made in her honor. They do warm our hearts.

I also haven't known what to say because its up and down as you can imagine. One sweet friend, that has walked this journey before me, told me, that I would have maybe 20 bad days and then 10 good ones, and then get to 10 bad ones and 25 good ones. I thought to myself, "no I'm going to press through this and try to hurt and then heal and move on" she couldn't have been more right and I couldn't have been more wrong. Days are hard, and some days are bearable, but there is no way to tell which ones will be which, thats the tough part. Some of them I scream and cry and my sweet, precious husband just holds me. Some days he's mad and I try to talk with him through it best I can. Some days we are just quiet and know whats on one another's hearts. I guess that is all a part of the grieving process. In July, we celebrated our anniversary and we decided to take a last minute trip. It was a great trip, but it was an awful reminder of why we had those vacation days left. We had planned on using them for maternity leave, not a trip for us. While it was good for us to get away and a last minute plan, it was still hard. No trip, no exotic island, nothing can heal us like we hope. We spent lots of time reading and watching sunsets. We spent time with one another alone, which provided some healing for us too.

We then had our due date (August 3rd) that entire week was flat out misery until the day passed. I was a total wreck, but thankfully, through much prayer and the amazing support of friends we waded through the rough waters. My girlfriends amaze me. I had texts that day, every hour, as if someone synchronized it. I hadn't even gotten out of bed when the first one went off. Precious, precious friends. We still get "thinking of you's" when we need them most. The best emails,cards or gestures always come at the time we need them most. The Lord hears our prayers.

So many of you, even strangers, have emailed me and I love emails, thank you. I don't have all the answers you ask though. When folks ask how we make it through this each day, I don't want to hide it, its hard. Very hard. Hard to see sweet little girl things we wish we were putting Reese in. Watching close and dear friends have precious babies, that we more than adore, but at the same time, makes our hearts long for our little one. There are reminders everywhere we turn, every single day. But there are also reminders of so much grace and love. Through our family, through our friends, through our prayers. We have blessings in abundance. We try so hard to focus on those. But the best way to explain how we get through each day is by a story close to my heart for several years now...

 I did a Beth Moore study years ago with some amazing women, who lived through trials I never thought I could face, and ironically this study focused on that. Beth said that we are given an amount of grace each day and my grace and your grace "amounts" are different, based on our need. There are times when I need more than the previous day and may need less tomorrow, but He gives us this grace according to what we need. You may need more today than I do, and vice versa tomorrow. He meets us where we are,each day. Beth goes on to use Exodus 16; God tells Moses that He is going to rain down food (manna) from heaven for him & the Israelites that are facing the "wilderness." He instructs that each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. A key part-notice He doesn't say enough for a few days, enough for the weekend, enough for a month, he says enough for that day. God goes on to test them, yet He supplies them when every need of theirs as long as they trust Him and obey Him. The Israelites were in a dark point at this time and they were encountering danger, they were weak and weary and they begged to the Lord for things to be easier. They desired for things to come about to where they could relax and not endure the suffering they were going through. Oh. how.we.can.relate. They had to then trust God and His ways to receive their needs. And that is where we place our trust these days. We pray for our manna each day (our daily bread) we know HE will meet us there, with just the right amount to get us through each and every day. One day at a time.

Some think is "nuts" we would do that when we're still so hurt He didn't heal our child, but that's when the grace appears that He promises, in our darkest days and nights. The grace comes  through love, through unexpected emails, through cards, through gestures, tributes and gifts from you all. From His word of promises, from song lyrics, from the peace you can't explain. Thats our daily bread, and that is the answer to your many questions on "how" do you get through this.I don't' have all the answers, how I wish I did but  I assure you, if you had told us we would face this trial (or any trial we have had in our lives) I would have told you I couldn't live through it. Just as I told the woman in our study 9 years ago, who had just lost her husband to her best friend after 25 years of marriage, and a woman also in the study who lost her college aged daughter in a terrible car accident, I told them then, I could not physically live through those trials. It's a wonder who God places in your lives, isn't it? Many of you email and say you couldn't make it, you just 'couldn't do what we're doing' but I promise you, when faced with it, your amount of grace from our Heavenly Father increases and your manna rains down on you like you can't imagine. And more than my promise of that, is His promise. I am here to tell you, you could and would walk through the wilderness just as we are doing. Is it hard? Beyond your wildest imagination, but is it bearable, yes, with the healing rain from the only one that can provide it. Does it make us perfect people or Christians by having this grace poured on us? Not in the least. We still question and we are still in the midst of great suffering, which in turn, plays out into our days, but we are determined to remain faithful even in the "trenches" as I call them until He himself, pulls us out.

We adhere to the story of Moses and the Israelites as we walk through our own desert right now. Begging for the suffering to be over, but all the while, being as honest as we can with the Lord, and trusting Him each day, that his manna will pour down on us. And it does, faithfully, every.single.day.

Thanks for sticking with us and by us, even in our lack of updates. Our hearts have so much to say, but our heads and bodies don't always have the energy to express them. We love you all and thank you for your continued love, support and prayers.

Love,
Jennifer & Jimmy



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Team Reese

Dear Sweet Readers,

You may have noticed the new "buttons" on the left side of the page labeled Team Reese. We are amazed at the amount of friends that have already started to put this up! My sister created the cute buttons and graciously added them to our blog. Before I had a chance to post an explaination on them and get instruction from her, the sweet pink background donning our little girl's name was already popping up all over! Bless you, bless you and thank you, thank you for those that have already posted, you are so dear to us. We are humbled by everyone's genorosity to the heart association and team members that have signed up walk in just the past 12 hours! The buttons will direct you to our Heart Association page and a then the next "button" is to "grab" and post on your own blog or facebook page, if you feel led to do so. No pressure at all, but we love the support from everyone.

The past few years Jimmy has participated in the American Heart Association heartwalk in loving memory of his grandfather. Once we stared dating, I started walking along with him in the walks. Believe it or not it was one of his first family events I was a part of! This year, we walk in loving memory and sweet adoration of our little girl Reese. Our time with her in utero and then meeting her tiny body on May 15, 2011 was all too short and our hearts are still mending, but we are blessed by the continued love shown to us in this journey. The Cobb Heart Walk will take place Saturday, October 22nd at 8am check-in and 9am walk. It is VERY family friendly event, lots of families, strollers and its an easy 5k walk around the Marietta square area. This year, the heart walk takes on a whole other meaning to us after knowing all too well the complications that can come from a heart defect. After we lost Reese, so many asked what they could do, this was the best answer to us to simply support the AHA. We knew from our experience in the past being walkers what a wonderful organization it is. Donations started coming in and shortly thereafter, with both of us having a friend that works for the AHA, and with their encouragement and support, we decided to put together a team. We had no idea how quickly it would take off and for that we are so so so very grateful to our friends and family for their awesome support! We have a special meeting place/tent for TEAM REESE the day of the walk and we are in the works of planning all that goes into that day and we are excited to be putting our energy into something that is so near and dear to our hearts and a sweet way to honor our little girl. It doesn't touch taking the pain away that we still feel, but it certainly does comfort us to hopefully help others that are facing heart defects or heart disesase.

We would LOVE to have you, and your family or friends join us in the walk. We would love a huge team of TEAM REESE walkers. We love the support of the walkers! We of course, also greatly appreciate any donations made. Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers have reached out to us already with support to the AHA in memory of Reese and now with TEAM REESE in place and the fabulous "plugs" from my sister and the buttons she has created, we are excited to see all that can be accomplished and benefit the AHA from TEAM REESE.

How to join/donate/or post the button to your blog or facebook page:
By simply clicking the button on the top left, this will direct you to our AHA site and allow you to sign up to join our team (as a walker), donate or do both. All donations made go directly to the AHA in support of our TEAM REESE. We hope to raise $5000.00 (or more :)) by the walk date of October 22nd. And by the amazingness of you all, we are over halfway there before we even developed the idea of a team! Bless you! And aside from the donatoins, we are ever so thrilled about the amount of folks that have expressed interest in walking with their families. You will never know how much that means to us and we cannot wait to see you all together in October.

We are still in the throws of planning and organizing so bear with us as we continue to work on all the things we hope TEAM REESE can bring to the benefit of anyone struggling, or felt the loss of heart disease and heart defects.

We love you all. Thank you, thank you for your love, support, the continued emails, cards, and messages that warm our hearts. To know we are still being lifted up in prayer daily is what helps us get through each day. We can't thank you enough for walking this journey with us, every part of it.

Much love, hope and faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Best Dad...

We are truly blessed by all the fathers in our lives. We certianly feel we have the best dads around, they are all beyond amazing. While it's wonderful to celebrate them and we will do so on Sunday, I (Jennifer) can't help but be saddened that we don't have sweet Reese here to celebrate with us, or that I am no longer carrying her as we had hoped for at this time. It's comforting to know, as we said in previous posts, that she is with our Heavenly father and no better place for her than there, but oh so selfishy do we still wish she was here, every single day we wish that, but even moreso when we feel the sting of a holiday. Our hearts very much still ache for her. We have constant reminders of what to us "isn't right" when we go along with our days, and it is beyond hard to get back in the 'swing of things' after having her for 28 weeks and looking forward to a lifetime with her.


Father's Day is hard for so many people, certainly not just us. All the many that have lost their dads too soon, so many that are longing to be a dad, and then the awkward category of us........ the ones that had and lost. I know we are not alone in that category, and that is comforting and also heartbreaking. To celebrate, to not celebrate, to acknowledge or to ignore as best we can? It's tough. Our families look to us for our lead and frankly, Jimmy & I, as well as them, are all walking on unsure waters of what is acceptable and "right" to do without making anyone feel uneasy. I know that our family & close friends, and many of you would say you know that Jimmy is a father, he created sweet Reese, he is her father. He cared for me like nothing else while shew as in my tummy, he spoke to her, he prayed for her, he longed for her, and he still longs for her. And sadly,because she is not here on this earth, we question the celebration styles. One thing is certain, Jimmy will always be Miss Rebecca Reese Martin's father.


I know that it's hard to explain or say the right words in these types of situations, but I've realized to ignore it, is even worse. Jimmy not only loved and took care of Reese & I for 28 weeks, he had to make some hard decisons that no daddy should ever have to do. He held my hand and sweetly rubbed my hair, when we got the diagnosis at 12 weeks that she was not well, he comforted us over and over. He went to every specialist doctor apppointment we had, which as you know, there were many. He smiled at her face and profile, everytime we got to see an ultrasound of our sweet girl.He cherished the many pictures we got each visit. He held onto them and protects them like crazy. He had the strength to ask each Doctor we saw the questions I couldn't bear to ask. He spent time researching his daughter's condition in hopeful preperation that she would be with us. He longed to give her the best life possible here. He had to be the voice for our little family and talk to the nurses and Doctors as we prepared for delivering her that day. He stayed up all night before her delivery checking on me, He clutched my hand in a tight grip with our arms bent and stood close to me, encouraging me every step while we brought Reese into this world. He loved on his daughter when he first saw her as much as he could. He prayed over her little body for her when we held her. Instead of signing a birth certificate, he had to sign papers of her final resting place. He had to make decisions for her that I couldn't face myself. There were lots of things that had to be done while were were at the hospital that he throughly thought through each decision on his daughters behalf. He had to endure the pain of losing his only daughter, and he has done it with so much grace and strength. He has strength I envy, he has grace I admire and he has so much faith, that he spends hours talking to me about how confident he is that this will be redeemed and has a purpose. (I'm faithful, but I'm still struggling with the why's and the purpose). As Reese rejoices and sits with her Heavenly Father this Sunday, I can't help but have faith that she feels and knows her earthly father's love for her as well. The only person that could have loved her more is who she is with now and I pray she knows that.


Happy Father's Day to someone that has had to say goodbye too soon, to someone with enough love for his daughter to fill the earth, to someone who's heart still aches and longs for what is not here, and to someone that absolutely never failed his daughter. She was blessed beyond measure to be your daughter Jimmy Martin, and I know one day, when the time comes, she will be able to tell you that face to face.


So, I choose to celebrate this Sunday. Celebrate the dads in our lives, celebrate the abundance of blessings we have from them. The countless ways they have been there for us, the strength and Godly love they have shown to us, the protection they've given us and the love they all had for Reese. I choose to celebrate the blessings of them and even with sadness and a still very broken heart, I still choose to celebrate my husband, and his blessings as a father to Reese. No greater a man to have been hers.....















Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Healing Stone

Sweet Readers,

Thanks for continuing to follow us on this road we walk. We really can't begin to express our deep gratitude for everything everyone has done. We have been blessed, and simply in awe of the love shown to us. We have had our yard done by dear sweet friends, (I assure you a full day's work) we have had plants planted for us, we have had so many beautiful flowers sent to us, we have gone through OVER 100 cards that have been mailed to us, we continue to have delicious meals brought to us and we cannot begin to count the many texts, emails and posts we have read and re-read. We want everyone to know that even though we have not been able to respond at all times, that we have personally read every card, post, text, email multiple times. They warm our hearts at such a hard time. We have received already over $2500 in donations to the American Heart Association team that we had started when we found out about Reese's diagnoses. We actually have been a part of a team each year in the past but this year it took on a whole new meaning. We are so thankful for the many many contributions made on her behalf. It is inspiring and appreciated more than you know. We are amazed at complete strangers even sending us cards with such uplifting words during this time. As I said before, this is a sad society to be "inducted" into but we have learned all along this journey, there are so many of us out there. And even as the cards and emails keep coming, we learn of even more. We are grateful to everyone for sharing their hearts. It is heartbreaking, but also comforting to hear from others that have walked this road before us and they along with our faith, give us HOPE. At times I feel pity and think how unfair this is, and then I'm reminded of all the others that have gone through this, unfairly as well. We hold tight to the truth; that our God is in control, He is sovereign and we trust Him. We trust Him whole heartedly right now because frankly we have no other choice and the peace we experience when we do is priceless. Our hearts are still broken and I said a few years ago that there is no better a healer of the heart than the One who created it.
The days are still hard, of course some better than others. It's hard when we have all sorts of reminders (and those are many each day) but we continue to pray for the peace we have now, that it continues to fill our home, and that we continue to lean on each other and God. We thank him for our many blessings we have experienced on this journey. And though sweet Reese is in the arms of Jesus, our journey is not over yet. We still cling to his promises that gives us hope for redemption and blessings ahead.
Out of all the gifts we have received and sweet and kind donations, we are often times taken back by again by the amount of love and just amazing thought by some in particular. This past weekend was the perfect example of this. My sweet friend Alycia came in town from Charleston. She always seems to make the trek when I have a crisis or even when there are times of celebration, despite the 6 hr drive, being the mommy of 2 toddler twins and a devoted wife, the girl is always there.
Alycia arranged for a few of us girls to have lunch Saturday on her visit. I was looking forward to it, but also secretly hoping it would not emotionally drain me more than I already felt. I couldn't have been more wrong. The visit and lunch was wonderful and was medicine to my soul. When Alycia arrived she was talking with Jimmy & I and she handed me a gift and said it was from dear friends. I opened the card first and it read that "this gift was given by friends who are praying for you both and for friends that are hurting with you both." I read each name on the card in awe, eleven of my wonderful sweet and precious college girlfriends, what on earth could this be? I opened a beautifully wrapped box from a favorite store to see the most gorgeous necklace. It was an emerald flower with diamond accents. As I opened the box Alycia told me emerald is the birthstone for May, Reese's birthstone. I was overwhelmed to say the least. Jimmy was as touched at the beautiful gift as much as I was. We were both teary over this amazing gesture of love and deep thoughtfulness. They placed the sweet necklace around my neck and I have worn it everyday since. I touched it a million times the first few days of wearing it. Unbeknown to them, I had been looking alone for the perfect keepsake for myself to wear. I hadn't quite found anything and I had never even gotten as far to look for birthstones. It could not have been a more perfect and fitting gift. The love and thoughtfulness that went into this gift makes it all the more special. Thank you dear friends for such a special special gift that I truly treasure. It was no coincidence that I read shortly after that the emerald is also considered "the stone of healing." Bless you dear dear friends.

Please know that every single gift, every sweet card, keepsake, beautiful plant, delicious meal, each loving text, post, email, generous donation, any act of love you have shown on our behalf has been so very appreciated and each one brings comfort to us. Thank you all for your amazing love. Thank you for your prayers, please continue to keep us in prayer and we'll continue to keep you updated on this road towards restoration and healing. A hymn we use to sing "They'll know we are Christians by our love" comes to mind over & over as the love continues to pour in....bless you all sweet readers, friends, family and strangers for loving on us.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord And we pray that all unity may one day be restored And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love They will know we are Christians by our love


Much Love, Hope & Faith,

Jennifer & Jimmy

My Healing Stone



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sweet Friends, Family, and Prayer Warriors,

We wanted to take this time to thank everyone so much for their amazing support. The outpouring of love and prayers has been tremendous and so comforting to us both. We have received countless calls, texts, posts, emails, etc and we just feel so overwhelmed by your graciousness. Thanks to many of you who so sweetly donated to the American Heart Association in memory and honor of our little girl, Rebecca Reese Martin. Thank you to all that have brought food, have sent flowers, planted plants, you are all precious to us. We are beyond grateful for all your kindness. Most of all, thank you so much for all your prayers and for your continued prayers for us, we needed them last week, yesterday, today and we will need them in the days, weeks and months ahead.
We took this past week after delivery to get away for a bit. We had had a vacation planned Wednesday of this past week but moved it up after last weekend and with Doctor's permission. No vacation can soothe our hurting hearts though, but it was nice to get away for a bit and have some time to ourselves to talk, process, completely unplug and pray. The literally constant stream of texts, posts, calls, emails have been what helps keep us going because each time a phone went off, we knew someone was praying for us. We haven't been able to muster up enough to respond to them, and unplugging some this week was good, but we want you to know every text, email, call, post has been read and appreciated more than you can possibly know. This blog, to us, was our best resource to respond to the hundreds of outreaches to us.
My sister has done the last blog updates and kept you all posted the day we delivered sweet Reese. Those are her sweet words below and we are grateful to her for those.
Sadly, I knew I needed to face this screen as well and continue to share our hearts since you so graciously opened yours to us on this journey....
We knew she wasn't well from our 12 week mark, but we had faith that she could be healed and mountains would move. We prayed and prayed. We know you all prayed and prayed. We know our prayers were not in vain. They were heard, as hard as that is to say right now, we do know they were and still are heard.
Last Friday after our apppointment (you can read about below) I was pretty uneasy and it was a long appointment. We were to return on Monday and they had monitored us for hours. Saturday morning I woke up early and for 3 hours didn't feel our sweet girl move. I knew something was wrong. We called our OB and she sent us straight to the Women's Center at Kennestone, and she met us there. I knew before we walked in, that something was not right. Jimmy was so sweet and was trying to be reassuring but we both were devestated, completely devestated when the ultrasound revealed what I had feared most, our little girl's heart had stopped. Her heart was not well, and we knew that but we were trying our best to get her here so she could have surgery. Despite a poor prognosis back in January with a cystic hygroma (that did resolve but still leaves you with a poor prognosis) we really felt we were in the positive side. We had so many people praying. We had faith. We had some positive appointments and were in our third trimester. We never missed an appointment. We were thinking cautiously optimistic. We cried as our Doctor had to confirm our worst fears. She hugged us and cried with us and before we could utter a word told us all we had done for this child was amazing. No matter what she said, we still felt we had let Reese down. I certainly did. I had avoided even the "crazy" things such as hair color, caffeine, deli meat, everything that I remotely heard could be bad, I avoided at all costs and it still wasn't good enough. That broke my heart. Our parents arrived just as Dr Shin had left the room and they were as devestated and heartbroken as the rest of us. We all had so much hope. Shortly after, more family arrived and so did our pastor to pray with us. We were then moved to a delivery room to start the delivery process.
From that afternoon, our room was filled with family and of course nurses, who were the sweetest they could be. I told them this had to be the hardest part of their job. They agreed. We were also told that there were 3 of us on the hall that night. A family at 26 weeks, one at 27 weeks and us at 28 weeks. My heart broken even more, we prayed for those families as well. The medicine started that afternoon to allow my body to start labor, and we were told it would be a long process and that it could even be days. Jimmy was amazing the entire time and we talked a lot about how we felt some peace, or at least we were convincing ourselves that she was well, not struggling and though we'd see her tiny body soon, we knew she was already in the arms of Jesus. And let me tell you, we KNOW that. Fourteen times in scripture Jesus mentions children and states in Matthew 19:14~ "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. " Do these things make it any easier? To be honest, barely. But let me say that is the one thing we haven't questioned this week, we know where Reese is. We felt the peace as we talked about that but we were still so utterly heartbroken.
We prayed it would not be "days" of labor as we were told and that it would be as quick and painfree as possible. The medicine continued throughout the evening and into the early morning with contractions starting shortly, and of course gradually increasing overnight. By 4am I was in a good bit of pain and was given my epidural. By 8am I was ready to deliver, this was a blessing, that things had progressed so quickly from the night before. It all moved so fast from what we had been told to expect. Never once were we stressed or scared, there was a peace in that room. There was sadness of course but we had an overwhelming sense of peace as we started the delivery process. With Jimmy by my side and helping me every step, we delivered our firstborn. Miss Rebecca Reese Martin at 8:47am. She was precious to us, absolutely beautiful. All 1 lbs and 12 ounces of her. She had big feet like both of us and a gorgeous angelic face. We knew she was no longer in pain and hear heart was wholly healed. We held her, loved on her and we kept telling one another "she's not here" in hopes to help us remember where she truly was. We wrapped her in a blanket made by my mom and the family came in after we had had some time with her alone time to just let it all out. Our parents and siblings were there as well as Father Walsh. We had her baptized right there in the delivery room, wrapped in a blanket, and a sweet hat as we held her in our arms. We said prayers for her soul as everyone held her and rejoiced in the fact that we will see her again. Tears were aplenty and our hearts were so hurt. No sugarcoating any of that, it was certainly the hardest day of our lives. After the baptism and prayers, Jimmy & I had more time alone with her and said our goodbyes and prayed over her tiny and precious body as her parents. We thanked God for the opportunity to be her parents. She is ours, and will always be our firstborn, and we love her more than we can express. We had such high hopes of having her here, and that is the hardest part. The moving on, the day by day process. Oh, how I hate the word process. We had this week to reflect, pray and start the grieving process. We are sad beyond words can express, we are disappointed, we are hurt, and we have questioned "why" more times than one can count, but despite all of this and the pain we bear, hear us clear, we feel the prayers. We feel them all. Each and every one. We must, because there is no way to get through this if we didn't. We ask, downright beg of you, to not stop praying for us. There are even harder days ahead and this week has downright been excruciatingly hard, but we know that the Father will see us through. Some ask how we can still have faith, and you know what we do. We absolutely do, we still whole heartedly believe. We have peace that Reese is with the best caretaker of all. As selfishly how much we want her so so badly here on earth with us, we rest in the fact that she will know no earthly fear, sting, evil or pain. I lost a grandmother in October and a grandfather in December and I know she is with them both as well as contless other relatives that have gone before us.
We have had some tough, tough days, hard to get out of bed days, and it's not going to be easy but with each of you and the One that says he will never foresake us, we can face tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Will it be easy? No, the hardest thing we've ever done. So we again ask for prayer, and your patience and love as we and our families grieve this precious loss. Our sweet little girl forever touched our lives, our marriage and our souls in the wonderful 28 weeks we were able to have, feel and love on her. Thank you dear ones for the most amazing outpouring of Christian love we have ever seen. We are blessed to be surrounded by such Godly people doing such loving and generous acts on our behalf. Bless you all.
And bless you, bless you for opening your hearts into our lives, all three of them. We love you all.

With Much Love, Hope & Faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blessings...

Hi sweet friends,

What an outpouring of love and support you all have shown for Jimmy, Jennifer, and Rebecca Reese (or "Reese" as she is called). So many have asked about any arrangements being made. We wanted to let people know that there will not be a memorial service held for Reese. This morning was a sweet, sweet time as we gathered as family, Reese was baptized by Father Walsh, and we all said good-bye to her precious tiny body. She will be laid to rest by my grandfather who passed away earlier this year.

Jimmy and Jennifer have asked that if you would like to show your love and support in a tangible way, a donation can be made to the the American Heart Association. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Reese's life please click HERE. The AHA is an organization that has been close to Jimmy's heart long before his daugter was concieved, as he has been one of the top
fundraisers in heart walks of years past. I believe it was in honor of his grandparents in years past and now the honor will be shared with his sweet daughter, Reese.

Once again, we cannot express enough that your prayers are the most special gift you can offer.

I'm not sure when Jennifer will return to blogging but I will continue to update as instructed or as need be. With so many different forms of communication please continue to check back here for the most current updates. They are considering the blog to be "home base" right now and the easiest way to communicate to you all.

I cannot say it enough....thank you, thank you, thank you for your love, support, and prayers.

Blessings to you all,
Shannon (Jennifer's sister)

Sweet Baby Girl...

Rebecca Reese Martin is as beautiful as her name. She is 1 lb 12 oz and 13 inches of pure love. She is beautiful. Jimmy and Jennifer are resting in the reassurance that she is in a much better place with Jesus. She was baptized shortly after delivery and is surrounded by love and family. Mommy and Daddy are holding up amazingly well.

Please continue to pray for Jimmy & Jennifer as the following hours, days, and months continue. So many people have asked how to help, which we greatly appreciate it. During this current moment, the best way you can help is simply by praying. We covet your prayers. We feel them. We ask that you don't stop.

We praise God that we, as believers in Christ, can grieve with hope and rest in the knowledge that this goodbye is not the end.

Blessings,
Shannon

A Heavenly Meeting...

She is here.

Please pray for this moment...

Jennifer is 11 cm and the doctor has arrived. If you are up please stop and pray for them this very moment. We are asking for comfort and peace that suprpasses these circumstances.

Morning Update...

Jennifer was able to get a little rest last night. She recieved an epidural @ 4:45 this morning and the pitocin started at 6:30. Her water has broken by itself and she is currently @ 4cm. We are thankfkul for the progress and pray that God continues to be near us as the day draws on.

Please keep praying!
Shannon

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Long Night...

Good evening friends,

There is little new to report but since the outpouring of love is so overwhelming, Jennifer and Jimmy asked that we keep the blog as updated as possible.

As with any delivery, there is no set timeline. However, this will likely be a long process. Right now oral medicine has been given to Jennifer to help prepare her body for labor. The nurses are antcipating starting the pitocin at 5:00 AM tomorrow morning and we are praying things quickly progress from there, but once again, have been told it could be a slow process.

Currently, Jennifer and Jimmy are trying to rest. They are holding up incrediably well and facing this with grace and dignity that can only come from our Creator. I believe you can feel God's precense in our midst and maybe even baby girl herself. What joy I get thinking of her fully restored in His presence. What sorrow I feel for her absence here. I know God has already used her life in so many ways and will continue to do so.

Thank you for your love and support once again. Please continue to pray.

Much love and blessings,
Shannon

Heavy Hearts....

Dear friends,

It is with a brokenheart that I write to let you know that sweet baby girl has gone to be with Jesus. We are clinging to God's promises in our darkest hour...

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

Please continue to pray for Jimmy and Jennifer as they meet their baby girl face to face for the first time, but praise God it won't be the last. We are clinging to the fact that this goodbye is not the end...

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." - Revelation 21:4

Love and blessings,
Shannon (Jennifer's sister/ blessed to be sweet baby girl's aunt)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Long Day

We had our regular OB appt Wednesday, this was our last one with our regular OB, we'll then be seeing an OB at Northside to prepare for delivery, she is also under the same roof as our specialist and pediatric cardiologist. Wednesday's appt went well, heard the heartbeat, measured well and did the glucose test, which we got back today and it was normal.
We headed out this morning for our pediatric cardiology appointment. We love our cardiologist, Dr V, and the appt went well as far as her heart. Her Tetraology of Fallot is of course still there( hole in between the walls) but the artery that was narrow had grown, so that was great news. Her heartrate was good when we went in but dropped a few times during the ultrasound and went right back up as we were leaving. He said this could be because he was pressing on the cord which can causes a drop in heartrate or just the way I was lying. However, with it dropping, he wanted to make sure that our specialist didn't want to see us to monitor that and they did. So upstairs we went. They took us back and did an ultrasound to check fluid levels (good) and a few other things and the heartrate. Her heartrate was going between 130-150 which was great. We thought we were on our way out. But then they informed us that even though the readings were good on the quick ultrasound, that they'd still like to hook us up to the heart doppler (NST test) to monitor. We had good rates in teh 140's, again I thought we were done but the Dr appeared and they were concernced because it wasn't "varying" like they liked. Sooo, they sent us out for lunch since we had not eaten (we had no idea we'd be at the Drs that long for a 9am appt so I had had very very little to eat). We had a good lunch outside and went back to Northside an hour later for more monitoring. All was well, we were reaching excellerations but then we had a few dips, pretty low. It worried me, of course but the Doctors came in and while they are concerned they were not 'too too concerned' because 28 weeks is early to get an NST(I think those were their words) and with that they did say they needed to monitor us again Monday. So all kind of confusing. They said if it continues that they will need to look at the baby further to make sure nothing else is wrong, that part scares me too. We need to pray that the placenta is doing the job it needs to do, that our single umblical cord (most have 2) are getting her plenty of nourishment, and that she continues to move and grow. Fetal movement is key and I do feel her, but its added pressure to make sure I feel her. We need her to grow so if she does have to be delivered early that she is as big as possible, though we pray we do not have to go that route. Our Friday didn't quite turn out like we thought it would. I missed lunch plans and some errands, of course no biggie in comparison to doing what we need to do. Jimmy unexpectedly missed work since our appts are usually not an all day event. But we are praying for miracles yet again. God has brought us thus far and we know he won't foresake us now. It's been quite a day and worry is high, but we are trying to enjoy our weekend and trust that God will watch over all of us at this time and give us what we need. We are weak, worried/concernced and tired after today's unexpected events, so tonight we pray and claim Matthew 11:28~Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest
We thank you so much for your continued prayers, we ask that they don't stop now, we need to get as far as we can in this process with a healthy baby girl. We are still overwhelmed with the meals, gifts, flowers and many surprises that appear on our doorstep. We are covered in prayer and it's wonderful to have that from such wonderful people.
Earlier this week I was reading Hebrews 11 and it mentioning some "Great examples of faith in the Bible" it talked about Abraham,Enoch,Moses and Noah, just to name a few had all taking great measures of faith and were rewarded. The faith of those that crossed the red sea, so many examples of great faith. I loved how it was all simply written out in one chapter. I then realized that I had to take all my concerns and my worries and put them into the hand of our maker and the one that I have faith in. Somedays it's easier than others but I have to believe, I have to claim it, and I have to have the faith to believe all that is seen and unseen, and have faith to believe past what realities may show (Hebrews 11:11). I love what my sidenote said on faith and belief~Simply believing is not exactly the same as faith. For belief to be faith, it must light on what is certainly true. Yet Scripture gives examples of situations where belief alone is required, even commanded. There's no time for evidence collection, to wait, to hear, for certainty. Just believe. Like Peter walking on the water--don't think, act! God even requires us to believe in him when, temporarily, the evidence looks bad: to trust.God requires belief and trust in moments of human weakness, but faith is what makes us strong. Faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for.

With much Love, Hope and Faith,
Jimmy & Jennifer

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Wailing Wall

Just wanted to check in and report on our latest appointments. Last Wednesday (April 27) we had an appointment with our specialist. To me, this was one of our better appointments because it simply didn't last as long as they normally do :). Which to us, is a good sign. Our sweet little girl was active and moving for us and they got good measurements and she weighed in at 1.9lbs, so she is growing! We need to continue to pray for her growth so she is a substantial size and so that she is prepared for any surgeries when she arrives. (The bigger the weight the better) With her 2 vessel umbilical cord (most have 3) we need to make sure she is getting all her nutrients and nourishment. I'm working hard to do my part in this and praying she is getting all that and more! The doctors still want to monitor her closely so we continue to see them quite frequently. This next week (Wed May 11th and Fri May 13th) we have appointments with our OB and then with the Pediatric Cardiologist. We are praying for these appointments, every appointment seems to bring nerves. We hope for good news at both.
Our days are up and down. Some days we are flat out overwhelmed with all that we are told we may face, and some days we are overwhelmed with tons of goodness. We continuously thank God for this blessing and for how far he has brought us on this journey. We feel immensely blessed that we are able to be where we are today considering where we came from. But, to be honest and transparent, there is still so much fear. Especially to me (Jennifer) which I am working on daily. I KNOW God's hand is right on this and we feel him every.step.of.the.way. He continues to show Himself over and over again to us. We are ever thankful for that and I am trying my hardest to let my human fears subside and trust in His word and His promises. I repeat them as many times as it takes for me on a day to day basis. We continue to do things that aren't always easy, making lists of what we need, starting to plan a nursery despite my worries, allowing my precious friends & family that have graciously offered to jump in the throws of planning showers, and we pray that we are doing the right thing. Those things aren't easy for me. Our prayer lives have been enriched in this journey and it's already been life changing. We pray to the Lord that he hears our prayers and we know, without a doubt that He does.
On prayer, there is a "Wailing Wall", also known as Kotel in the old city of Jerusalem. It is part of an old Jewish Temple and was constructed by King Herod. Old, to say the least! The last remains of the Jewish temples that was built more than 2,000 years ago is the Western or Wailing Wall. This wall provides the boundary between the Temple Mount of the Muslim Quarter and the Jewish Quarter. Due to the historical and emotional significance of the Wailing Wall, many Christians visit here. This is a place where many will stop to meditate, reflect and pray to God, with some leaving their own prayer request within the wall.The sages state that anyone who prays in the Temple in Jerusalem, “it is as if he has prayed before the throne of glory because the gate of heaven is situated there and it is open to hear prayer”.

While we are not Jewish, we have heard from so many people that have visited Israel (including many of our family members) that this is such a sacred, holy and special place. Over one million "notes" are left in the wailing wall each year, of each persons cry to the Lord. We fully realize we don't have to go to Israel to pray (although I wouldn't mind) but we are blessed that one of our dear friends is headed there this Saturday and asked us long ago about putting a prayer in the wall for our little one. I have loved this idea ever since she mentioned it. Her & their group (Valdosta Baptist Church)will pray over our prayer request/letter at one of the oldest and considered most holy & sacred sites of the city where Jesus once was. That in itself is amazing to me! So this morning I prepared our note of prayer to be placed at the Wailing Wall. Special prayers for our sweet little one being knitted in the womb, prayers for us as parents, prayers for her life once she arrives and for all that our future will hold will be placed in this massive wall, along with so many others cries for hope.
So, while we stay put, and continue to pray here, we are blessed that a piece of our hearts is leaving this Saturday for the Holy Land...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meeting the Surgeon....

This has been a post that I'm behind on, and I absolutely hate that, but I wanted to make sure I had all the information right and I needed some time to "decompress" after the appointment itself.

On Monday we made our way to Egleston Hospital, Children's Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA) and met with our surgeon. He had come so highly recommended we weren't in the least bit concerned or even nervous meeting him, that is, until we were there. Everything was so "official." The facility is so nice and amazing but they go to great lengths to check you in each time, complete w/ a hospital bracelet I was told to wear at all times while there and again it was much larger than any office we had been to, we were at a top-notch children's hospital, a bit overwhelming. After check-in, we headed to the 2nd floor (some grandparents in tow with us as well) and we met with our Surgeon's nurse, who we loved and then met with him. It was nice in the fact that no new information was given (he does no ultrasounds just takes the info from our pediatric cardiologis and he just meets with you and prepares you). He told us the scenarios we were looking at for post birth surgery. We do not know which one she will have until she is here. The four different scenarios are this:
1. If she is of adequate size (6.5 lbs or more) and her oxygen level is good, then they will send her home and let her grow a little more, bring her back in 4-6 months and do the surgery.
2.If she is of adequate size and her oxygen level is poor, then they will need to do something for her soon. So since she is of adequate size they will elect to do the permanent fix surgery soon after birth.
3.If she is of small size and her oxygen level is good, then they will send her home and let her grow a little more, bring her back in 4-6 months and do the permanent fix surgery.
4.If she is of small size and her oxygen level is poor then they will need to do something for her soon. But since she is small they don’t want to risk putting her through the permanent fix surgery so they will opt to put in a temporary shunt to help with the oxygen; then bring her back in 4-6 months and do the permanent surgery
.

So regardless of size it sounds like the critical thing we need to listen for after birth is her Oxygen level. As long as it is high then she goes home for a while, but if it is low they will do something quickly and her size will determine if they can do the permanent fix or the shunt.

This, I'm sure is a lot to you all readers and its a lot to us as we have learned the in's and out's of the process we are going to face. The surgeon answered any and all questions we had and we feel confident in him to do the surgery when necessary. He and the cardiologist we've been meeting with will make the decision after she is here. Thats the tough part, not knowing. We then went on to take a tour of the room she'd be in, and then the recovery area. The nurse asked us if we wanted to see a baby that had had surgery that day and she said it would be easier for us to see it now. I couldn't answer her propertly because of the tears that were starting to stream down my face. I kept telling myself how "lucky" we were to be here considering where we were in January & February of this year, and tried to console myself that way. We continued the tour and went to see a sweet 9 month old little boy that had had surgery that very day. His parents were of course by his bedside and he had a nurse at the end of his bed (each child gets their own nurse at the end of their bed w/ monitors,etc) I hate that this sweet little boy had to be tied up to wires, tubes,etc and was still under anasteshia but he looked pretty good. It wasn't easy by any means, and I stayed composed when we were in there, thank goodness, the nurse "coaxed" me to come a little closer so we could be prepared when our little girl faces surgery. This little boy didn't have what our little girl needs done but he had a murmur that had to be operated on and the parents found out about it shortly after he was born. We are thankful we can be as pro-active as possible and know somewhat of what we are facing.
The nurse again was wonderful and very helpful and the facility is amazing. We feel blessed to live in a city with top-notch healthcare that so many people have to travel to. It was just the "reality" of it all. I had a rough time that night & next day, but Jimmy kept saying "they can fix her, and they will." It wasn't easy for him either, but he has been a rock of strength. Again, all week I keep telling myself to re-visit my January 21 posts and remember the sobbing and Jimmy helping me literally get out of bed those days and knowing how I'd have given ANYTHING to be told then that it's a defect we can manage. So, as hard as things are to see and face right now, we are ever so thankful for making it this far. Surgery on anyone is scary, surgery on a tiny infant scares me greatly. We keep praying without ceasing for healing, the surgeons and doctors. We pray for her to continue to grow, grow, grow and for upcoming appointments and most of all this week we've prayed for peace. The anxiety has been high, and we are slowly coming back to peace, which is a welcome thing!
As we approach Easter Sunday, I keep thinking of the hymns we'll sing. I have thought of this every Easter since I was a little girl, but knowing our chances of singing "He Lives" or my favorite "Because He Lives" is great. I love old hymns and love to stomp them out on the piano any chance I get. I have always loved 'Because He Lives' and this year our Easter theme has been a verse from if "We know we can face uncertain days because He lives." And we do absolutely know that and trust that and we cling to it now more than ever. Verse 2 starts with how sweet to hold a newborn baby.....and it goes on to say 'but greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because HE LIVES'<
In this Easter and this season of our lives, we will rest in the calm assurance, that we are all covered today and everyday by the power and love of the one that gave his life for us. We are reassured and know that any uncertain day, now or that is coming, can be faced because He rose from the dead to live for us. To us, there is no greater calm assurance than that....

With much hope, faith and love,
Jennifer and Jimmy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cardio Follow-Up

Another check-in :). I was going to wait and do the 2 appointments this week together, but you all are just SO darn sweet by emailing, texting and posting wanting to know about yesterday's appt. That truly makes us smile and feel SO blessed knowing that so many people are praying for our sweet little girl and wanting an update.
I am pleased to say yesterday's appt with our pediatric cardiologist went well. The Yearty grandparents made an appearance at this appointment, and while the ultrasound really just shows the heart at the cardiology appointments, they were intrigued. We absolutely love our pediatric cardiologist and the grandparents felt the same. He spends so much time with us, draws us diagrams, explains everything in great detail. Things are still the same, with the Tetralogy of Fallot diagnosis and we'll await for her debut before they know exactly which type of surgery they will perform and when. That will be a stressful time as well, but we take it one day and thing at a time. Try not to borrow trouble for tomorrow. We are thankful for the good appointments, we feel so blessed each time we get to go and it's good news. We loved seeing the sweet face in 3-d last time (below) and we've definitely gone from grim to hopeful. Still nervous? Absolutely! But I know that goes with just about any pregnancy. And I've always erred a bit more on the cautious side in life. :)We have another appt with our regular OB this Thursday and then we meet for the first time, the surgeon at Egleston next Monday the 18th and back to the specialist the 27th. Lots of April appointments with lots of different people, we are so thankful for the staff and doctors we have met on this trek, they have all been wonderful thus far.
Thank you again for everything and most of all the prayers and continued prayers, complete strangers have lifted our family up, and we just are in awe of the amazing people that are graciously doing that. We still have a few months to go, 3 1/2 to be exact :). God is at work in this little one's life and we can't wait to see it unfold.....thanks for being a part of it all.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Celebratory Weekend!

Hello Everyone! Just checking in after our most recent visit with our specialist.
We had an overall good visit. It's so hard to relax in these appointments, with such long ultrasounds and not knowing what they are or are not seeing. It can get downright overwhelming at times. However, this hour long appointment was our shortest appointment with the specialist yet! We saw our sweet little girl, she showed us her 5 little fingers and waved at us, as well as moved around quite a bit. I'm starting to feel her move on a daily basis and hope Jimmy will be able to feel her soon. We are at 23 weeks and feel blessed to be this far! The only thing that the specialist saw (besides of course our heart defect which we follow up with the cardiologist) was that her head was measuring small and they would monitor that. The Doctor did go on to say that not everyone has a big round head. I looked at Jimmy :) and I'm not sure he appreciated that too much. :) She said this along with the heart defect could be a sign of Digeorge Syndrome, but again, we will not know that until she is born. We decided not to do the amino because if she has Digeorge, she has it and it will in no way change the course of the Doctors treatment from here on out, so we saw no use for it. The Doctors said it was only if we wanted to know. We love her regardless. Digeorge can be a broad spectrum. Some people live their entire lives with it and have no idea, some have stronger traits of it. There can be slow learning math skills and possibly some behavior skills, but we could also chalk those two things up to her genetics. :) We just continue to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), that our little girl is healed, that her heart is fixed and that she graces us with her debut at full term.
We were told that the heart is structured and it just grows but doesn't change structure, while I absolutely trust and believe Doctors, I know our God is bigger than that and I actually pray that her heart is wholly healed. We have not because we ask not (James 4:2), so I am going to keep asking. As mentioned below, I'm trying so very hard to pray THROUGH the faith, with undoubtedly knowing that He, the healer, the maker and giver of life, can heal our sweet little girl. We are beyond blessed to continue to get good news and with each appointment, we have the anxiety that we won't receive good news, but each appointment gets better and better. Going from such grim prognosis to some hope is a miracle in itself! The hygroma is still gone, her neck is a little "thickened" from where the hygroma was, but the fact that it's gone is again another one of God's miracles. We thank him for that so very much.
Thank you all for the intimate, precious emails you sent after the below post. I had no idea it would generate such great conversation. Believe me, I'm a beginner in this praying "through the faith" thing, but it'll change your prayer life!
Please continue to pray for our sweet little girl, and for our upcoming appointments. We have four more appointments this month, and all of them are with different doctors. I will update after each one. The next one is Monday, April 11th with the pediatric cardiologist to follow-up from his first diagnosis (Tetraolgy of Fallot) We cannot thank you enough for your continued prayers, posts, scripture you share and again, opening your hearts on this journey with us.
We had celebrations galore this weekend! After our appointment early Friday morning, the wedding festivities of Lindsey & Mike began! Lindsey is Jimmy's sister, and also a friend of mine before I even really "knew" Jimmy.It was the.most.perfect.weekend.ever! I have been blessed enough to be a bridesmaid a few, 15 times in my life :) and it was an honor to stand beside Lindsey & Mike, I even "ugly cried" and DID NOT want to do that :). Her bridesmaid luncheon on Friday & rehearsal dinner that night were so nice, so genuine & sweet and just voerall outstanding. Not only were they each super nice events, they were so darn sweet! The toasts at each one were some of the sweetest I have ever heard. I had read that very morning about Paul and his writings on love and marriage and it was no coincidence (yet again devotional coincidences-I think not) that Lindsey & Mike's marriage is blessed. They have taken some wonderful steps in pre-marital retreats, and absolutely entered this sacred covenant with two of the most precious hearts. There was never a moment of stress before or during the weekend. Her planning was so organized and enjoyable (yes it can be-hers was!) Everything from even their surprise proposal in September was perfect.(I am a huge believer in surprise proposals and I don't think that I know of another bride that was THAT surprised). The wedding day was gorgeous, God graced us with beautiful weather, everything was in bloom, the reception was indoor/outdoor and it kept being referred to as "Father of the Bride" like and there is simply no other way to put it other than that. It was prefect. The dance floor became the dance room by the end of the evening with their terrific band. It's always nice when people dance at weddings but the ENTIRE room was filled to the brim that night of all of the "rock star dancers" Jimmy being one of the lead ones (video to come for sure!) It was a blessed event, a sweet and precious weekend from Friday to brunch on Sunday. We know they are enjoying their amazing honeymoon in St. Lucia!
A quick pic from our appointment. We were asked if we wanted 3-d pics, we hadn't even thought of having that done, knowing its an extra expense, but the tech told us that was one 'good' thing about seeing a specialist, (if there is a good thing about it) that they have the machine for medical purposes so why not. She took 3 cute shots of our sweet girl. I think Jimmy was astounded at the sweet face we saw on the screen. Thank you prayer warriors for praying and continuing to pray for this sweet face. Enjoy!


And one more....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Checking In....

Sweet Readers,
You all are so good to us. We continue to be showered with love, a full mailbox, wonderful meals, and "porch surprises" as I call them. All the "Thinking of You" and "Praying for You" messages are so appreciated, again EVERY SINGLE post, comment, text, email, card, etc is so very touching. We can't show our gratitude enough.

We had an appointment last Thursday-St Patrick's Day, with our regular OB. These are typically uneventful appointments, where they weight/measure and check the heartbeat with the doppler. These are less involved because of all our specialist appointments. Our OB is even amazed at what she sees in the reports, just because she doesn't see this as often as of course a specialist would. However, we still have to keep our regular appointments and so last week was the 20 week mark. (We are at 21 weeks now!) Everything was good, and because some Grandmothers came along, they got to see a glimpse of our sweet girl. We weren't due for an ultrasound but the Doctor was thrilled to just show them (and see the heart for herself). It was a quick appointment and again, we rejoice in uneventful appointments.

We head back to the specialist late next week. I am still anxious at those and for those appointments in fear that they will find something else, or a diagnosis will change since we are still 22 weeks when we go (more than 1/2 way there though!). I have been learning a lesson in trying my best to let those fears go and trust in the Lord with the simple answer, FAITH. It's simply put but certainly not always easy. And to me, I'm not sure living in absolute faith is something many can do, but we are called to do so.

The Lord knows what we need, and he didn't miss a beat this week either. Tuesday morning I was doing my devotional before work and it was a lesson in "praying through things." It simply said praying through things "might be defined as praying one's way into full faith, while praying into the assurance that one has been accepted and heard, so that one becomes actually aware of receiving, by firmest anticipation and in advance of the event, the thing for which he asks full confidence that our prayers have been heard and answered." We don't stop praying in these trying times, we just pray differently. Pray with no doubt left that our prayers are being heard and answered in accordance with God's word. Praying as it says "in advance of the event for which we ask" That took me back a breath. Praying with SUCH confidence and SUCH assurance in advance?! This is tough for me, I feel I could made to look like a fool, I typically "beg" in prayers these days. After reading the direct idea of this, I feel maybe I don't have enough faith to pull that out!? But I know and believe that is what is right, it's just another lesson in this journey. While continuing to read, I immediately looked up, because I'm telling you, you ask or you struggle with something and the next thing you know, it's the March 22nd lesson in your devotional. :) As I worried I wasn't going to be able to pull this off, I remembered something I learned a long time ago~knowing that the Lord takes our spiritual temperature with our hearts not our tongues, thank goodness! So he knows what I'm trying to do and get across, bless Him. To pray in thanksgiving for the things yet unseen, KNOWING they have been heard. Not an easy thing for an anxious mommy-to-be like me, but yet, another fantastic example of "leaning not on your own understanding."

The day's devotional also stated that the old Pentecostal Era "prayed in ways like it was as easy as cashing a check at the bank." That's pretty simply put! I'm a little uneasy this particular morning, and now this devotional giving examples of praying in such faith, I'm a bit overwhelmed. For some reason, I pick up my Bible next to me, (not in accordance w/ the devotional) and it literally falls open to Matthew 9 and my eyes are drawn to an underlined verse that somewhere along the years, I had underlined. It was verse 22 "Daughter, be encouraged! For your faith has made you well!" Being already overwhelmed, this took me over the edge. I knew I was being wrapped in the arms of love, grace and compassion from our Heavenly Father that morning, I have no doubts. Remember, this scripture was not given in the devotional, and low and behold that was the first page the Bible was opened to, without a thought given.

To explain the verse you must know (don't worry,short version)it's from the story where Jesus is going through the crowds and a woman who was ill, and she was just trying to "touch him" and she just knew, without a doubt, with all of her heart, if she touched Him or His robe in any way, she would be healed. And that verse was His response to her.
Again, talk about being spoken to! She was praying through her pain, and boy did she not ever believe "in advance of the event!" Just knowing in full faith that if she could reach Him, he would heal her, and he did. The very same lesson my devotional was trying to teach me, and the very one my heart needed to hear.

Later that evening, some girls from work and I were going to a painting class where we were to paint a cross. We were told to bring scripture, lyric or something to put on our cross. For 2-3 weeks I just couldn't decide what to put on my cross painting, I had too many favorite verses, song lyrics, and couldn't decide just what I wanted. After this overwhelming, yet amazing morning devotional,I called Jimmy to tell him the morning's events before work and without really thinking about the verse and the painting, he said "I think you found your verse tonight." And right he was.....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rejoicing from the Heart!

We had the best appointment we have had yet this morning! We are excited to share our news.
We met with the most wonderful pediatric cardiologist that came highly recommended, not only by our fetal specialist that we've been seeing, but also by some friends that have had the opportunity to work with him. He was amazing! He spent so much time with us, we loved him even before he told us......."this is fixable and manageable". That was music to our ears!! He said it several times, and we just couldn't get enough of it. We were amazed. We waited as they did a super extensive heart ultrasound and then he patiently explained absolutely everything to us. Basically, she has VSD, and to be further on it, she has Tetralogy of Fallot which on our little girl specifically she has; a smaller pulmonary valve (which we need to get bigger) and Right Ventricle hypertrophy. This stuff is way over our heads but our Doctor did a fabulous job drawing and explaining it and sent us home with the information. Again, all I kept hearing was "fixable and manageable." But, there are a few more hoops to jump through for us (below), but overall we felt it was great news.

He said she had a "good squeeze" and "beautiful 4 chambers" so we were ecstatic with that. She also had an "excellent heartbeat." He couldn't believe how much we had gone through in 18 weeks, but that is because we saw the Cystic Hygroma. The reason he was surprised is because many heart defects are found at 18-20 week ultrasounds because it's the most clear to see then (the heart and baby have had time to develop) with that said, by the 18-20 week mark sometimes, as in ours, the hygroma is resolved. Anyhow, the surgery(s) she'll need will be done after birth. In utero is not necessary for us and to him, more risky than we need. She could have one surgery, but he feels she may need two of them. Again, these will be done right after birth most likely. He will continue to monitor us, he will be there when she is delivered and then she will go to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for surgery, with what he says, are some of the top surgeons. We will meet with the surgeons in the future to know our entire "gameplan." The success rate in these surgeries is 90% so he just reassured us before we could even speak words out of our mouths. He obviously knows what he's doing because we really didn't breathe a word, taking in everything he said and he seemed to answer every question we may have ever come up with.

He congratulated us which was so nice to really hear. He told Jimmy to make sure he called him directly if he ever had any questions on anything, he was great. We were both crying before we could walk out, we just couldn't believe all the information and the positive light he put it all in, we just hadn't experienced that yet.

Now, there was one thought of his, that he said wasn't a "huge" concern but something he would like to further test . It is Digeorge Syndrome. This is sometimes common in babies that have Tetralogy Fallot. He said our risk is a bit higher for having this than another pregnancy, because of the heart defect, and so he said we may want to have an amino done to rule that out. He said medically it wouldn't affect him or his future in handling surgeries,etc. He said that is for us, and to us, we want to arm our doctors with all the knowledge they can have upon delivery. So we will most likely have an amino done in the near future. Please pray for those results. Digeorge syndrome is not as severe as downs but does have physical and mentally delayed developments, lower immunity,etc. While we still hold hope and pray that we have a totally healthy baby, we hold firmly to the faith that the Lord is giving us the baby He desires us to have.

We are very excited, and still "cautiously optimistic" because we are certainly "not out of the woods yet" BUT we are EVER GO GRATEFUL for the blessings of today! We were terrified this morning of what was to come, and we left beyond grateful and having to compose ourselves before we headed up to the checkout counter. We talked before we were called back that the same God that has been there for us our entire lives, restored us and brought us together is the same God we'll serve no matter what we hear back there. We agreed on that and back we went. We came out with tears of joy. We can't thank you all enough for the prayers and continued prayers you bestow upon us. The meals, cards, flowers, surprise gifts, they all are warming OUR hearts and that keeps us going. We said in our first post that we serve a God who is able to "do immeasurably more than we can ask" (Ephesians 3:20) and we have already seen that.
This morning I was reading about Jesus telling the disciples that "even faith as small as a mustard seed could move mountains" (Matthew 17:20)and prayer warriors, you my friends, have had the most amazing faith. By your prayers and the mighty works of our Father, mountains have already been moved. We absolutely pray they continue to be moved as we go through this pregnancy. We have a lot to be thankful for at this point and we are thanking God continuously for his goodness, but we also continue to hit our knees in continued prayer for development of the heart, for our Doctors, surgeons and our family. We know we still have months to go, and many many appointments to get through but with the support we receive from you all and sufficient grace from the Lord, we have no doubts we can journey through anything.



With much love, hope, and faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Baby Girl Martin and her sweet profile