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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...