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

Friday, March 4, 2011

**One more thing**

In regards to our post from earlier today (right below)---We just found out our appt with the pediatric cardiologist is Monday at 11:45am. You all have been so wonderful in asking when the appointment was, and we hated we didn't know when we posted earlier but we just got the news now. This news is great that it's so soon, but also gave my nerves a little chance to re-visit (very little). We know we are at a great hospital (Northside), we have so many precious prayer warriors praying for us and we only hope to bring good news on Monday after our appointment. Our minds tend to wander back to the "what if's" since their are so many possiblitiles with such a vital organ, but we are astounded at the many stories we get daily from friends of friends sharing their miraculous heart stories. Thank you all for opening your hearts on this journey.

With much much love, gratitude and thankfulness to each of you,
Jennifer & Jimmy

The "Big" Appointment Report

We had a very very long appointment this morning with our specialist at Northside. We did leave with some hope, which was a welcome and pleasant feeling.
We had an hour plus long ultrasound going over the full anatomy of our little girl. She was VERY wiggly today and they had to "catch" her in certain positions because she was moving so very much. That was certainly neat to see. As we somewhat expected, our little girl has a heart defect. Although severe to our specialists, we won't know exactly what it is and what they can do about it until we see a pediatric caridologist next week. This Doctor is also at Northside, so we feel blessed being at such a great facitlity for care. We saw a very clear profile (with such a long ultrasound we saw A LOT of our sweet girl), we saw 2 hands, 2 feet, 10 fingers, 10 toes, nose, lips, and so very much more~I mean to tell you all, we saw it all. That is the one nice thing about the specialists office, you get very very in-depth looks at your babies.

The good, I mean great news to us~ the hygroma was gone!!! It was not seen by the Doctor! This was HUGE news to us, the Doctor said it was good news because it can take over the baby and create something called fetal hydrops which is fatal. So that was a wonderful praise for us! While he agreed that was good news, he was quick to remind us that the heart is the problem, and that is what was causing the hygroma. He did see 4 chambers, which again positive news to us, but doesn't believe one is pumping correctly to where it should be. He said the cardiologist would be able to look at this more closely. Our specialist today spent lots of time with us after our hour long ultrasound, even conducting one of his own and her anatomy on all parts look good except the heart, so again rejoice in small victories. Her intestines were "bright" but he wasn't too terribly concerned with that since we have had a CVS test (which was normal), a Cystic Fibrosis test (which was negative) and these can sometimes be indicated through bright intesines. Again, we focus on the heart issues for now.

We understand the Doctors have to present us with the information and they can't be eiher super negative or super positive at this point so we hold out continued hope for a miracle. Our little girl still needs a miracle at this point since we are dealing with obviosuly such a vital organ and we still have a long road to face. We pray that the heart can be healed, fixed, in some way shape or form. We again will know much more next week after our appointment. He said he was "sorry to give us such not so great news" but to us, the fact that the hygroma was gone, and the heart,(though we don't know the exact issue) can possibly can be fixed and healed. We have heard some miracle stories about hearts being healed in utero and shortly after birth, we again, hope we are one of those stories. We are aware this path can change at any moment, but we rejoice in today as we continue to take things simply day by day.

Thank you again for all your prayers, calls, texts, cards, surprises (yet another yesterday & today just "appear"), you all are amazing. Starting at 7am all the way
until now when I type this at 11:40 the phone hasn't stopped. The entire way to the appointment we receieved text messages all along the way, almost too many to count it was unreal!(and this was early for some of these peeps :)). It meant so very much, we just cannot get over the love we are being shown by SO SO many of you! Each message means more than you can imagine. When we see "praying for you right now" and "on my knees for your sweet girl" over and over all the way to the appointment and home, we are in absolute awe. We appreciate ALL of you who prayed today, yesterday and will continue to do so tomorrow and all the days this journey continues. As we said on day one, we serve the Divine Healer and we hope and pray its in His mighty plan to heal our sweet little girl.

Much Faith, Hope and Love,
Jennifer & Jimmy

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Waiting Room

Hello sweet readers. You all are so special and dear to us to continue to surround us with your love. There is not a day that goes by without seeing someone drop by, receiving a surprise text or post or getting a card (LOVE going to the mailbox now!)or coming home to the sweet gifts that "magically" appear on our porch from our dear friends and even "friends of friends." We continued to be humbled by your sweet gestures.

The past few weeks have been the "waiting game" for sure. We have had some great weekend getaways, and our lives have been full of fun with loved ones, as we continue to pray constantly for our sweet little girl. Our nerves and the feeling of anxiousness have certainly shown up the past few days as we wait for our "big appointment" this Friday, March 4 at our specialist's office. This is our 18 week specialist appointment and this is where they hope to see the heart chambers and the anatomy clearly as she has had some time to grow. This should be a very "telling" appointment. Fear consumes us in waves of what "could be" and then we have waves of peace and calmness. I'm happy to say that the peace and calm far outweighs our fears. We still have our breakdowns and talk about what we will do in certain situations, as far as trying to be prepared as much as possible, but ultimately we surrender to the one that holds us in the palm of His hand. It may sound crazy to some, but really, it is all we have. It's the only "sure thing" right now in our lives, and we trust it with all of our being. He is not going to forsake us. He never has and He never will.

We have run through a million scenarios in our mind, because in our shoes right now there are a lot of them. We hope by each appointment we can eliminate some more and have a better understanding of what we are to face. Day to day life, seems to go on as normal as possible, which a sense of normalcy is nice. We smile at my belly that's starting to show, we try not to think too much into the future, because our minds would be utterly crazy if we did. Just too much unknown. This has put a lot of things in perspective. If we weren't in this situation I think we'd be MORE stressed because it would be unnecessary stress. The stress of preparing a nursery, having the right car seat, having enough money, having childcare. And right now, our minds don't even think that far, we are truly living this day by day. It's hard not to look into the future and hope, but we try not to left our minds drift there too much. We have so much hope and pray we have a miracle to show off one day, to take to the park, to church in a bonnet, to buy everything pink for, but we relish in the fact that we have her today, in me now, and we just go with that day to day. We lay our hands on my stomach and pray for her daily, more than once. Jimmy has been so sweet and such a comfort. A rock of strength, but yet tender enough to hurt and share in feelings. It has been a road we didn't choose to travel, but there is nobody I'd rather walk this road with. His prayers for us and his love for us already is amazing and is exactly what our Lord calls the man to be in scripture. I'm in awe that already, with a child in the womb, he is fulfilling what is asked of him biblically. This blessing alone amazes me daily and leaves me with soft tears of gratitude each evening when nightly prayers are said.

The feeling of peace we have is a peace you cannot explain (the peace that surpasses all understanding) as we mentioned before, its your prayers, your support and your love. Do understand, we have our moments but they are few and far between right now and that is so nice. We are at times downright scared to death of what will occur Friday but those times pail in comparison with our peacefulness that is radiating our home right now.

We pray for good results Friday, that they are able to get good readings from the ultrasound and that we will be prepared and comforted in all we face. We will absolutely update after our appointment Friday morning with our specialist at Northside. Thank you for all your amazing love you continue to show us. When I was a little girl we use to sing "They will know we are Christians by our LOVE" and believe me, there is no doubt at the Martin house! We are fully surrounded by some amazing, loving, Christian folks :). We are blessed by each of you.

With much love, hope and faith,
Jennifer & Jimmy