Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nana's Heart Part Two

Isaac’s Perfect Day

Saturday dawned, and a group of sleep deprived family and friends wondered between the hospital room and waiting room, visited, hugged, made furniture into riding toys (yes adults), took pictures, checked on Isaacs progress and came up with various other ways to entertain themselves. Despite the lack of sleep and nerves, there was only a spirit of love and anticipation. I watched Kacie and Jonathan greet each person with love and gratitude for coming, when they should have been overwhelmed and exhausted. I watched Kacie interact on a professional level with the doctors, midwives and her angel-on-earth-nurse, Allison, since she is an RN herself, and marveled at God’s infinite wisdom in placing Kacie in Antepartum (high risk pregnancy) in her first nursing job. A coincidence? I think not. By mid-morning, Tori brought Kadynce back to the hospital and she provided new entertainment for us. At 21 months, she knew there was a baby she called Isaacs, in her mommy’s tummy, but of course she wasn’t able to understand all that was going on. Also about that time, the Lord sent another angel to be a part of this special day. Sandy Allen, who is an Austin photographer and also affiliated with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, fit in like family and provided a priceless gift that would have taken away our own sweet time with Isaac had she not been there. And I knew then, that that room was filled with angels both seen, and unseen.

Noon rolled around, and seemingly all of sudden, it was time; the appointed time for Isaac to make his entrance. It was really probably comical as the doctor said those words and we all scrambled to our appointed places. Most family and friends left to wait anxiously outside, Sandy climbed on her perch with camera in hand, I grabbed the video camera reminding myself to be careful of where not to aim, and Jonathan took his place by Kacie to encourage her while bringing their beloved son into the world. I told them that I loved them and would be praying continually. At 12:20 p.m. the midwife had Kacie reach down and touch Isaac’s head and tears began to seep from my eyes as Isaac Preston Hunt took his first breath. When he did, it took my breath away and I thought my heart would explode with joy. He was making noises and moving. He was very much alive! My eyes darted back and forth between him, his mommy and his daddy as I tried to take in every precious moment. Allison laid Isaac on Kacie’s chest and he made the sweetest little snorts I’d ever heard. I thanked my Father for answered prayer as I watched my baby girl sing sweetly to her baby boy and again as Jonathan cut the cord for his son. Kacie looked at me and said “Mom, do you want to hold him?” Oh how I did. I took Isaac in my arms and tried to soak in every detail of our beautiful boy and commit them to memory. I started singing to him, one of the same silly songs that I had made up with Kadynce, and I was completely, completely overwhelmed with love and joy and gratitude, and I allowed myself to weep for a few seconds as I held my grandson close, kissed him and told him how much his nana loved him. I handed him back to Kacie, not wanting to take any precious time away from them or others who were waiting on pins and needles to meet him. I shakily grabbed the video camera again so as not to miss a single moment of memories. They were almost finished getting Kacie ready for everyone to come back in, and much to my extreme delight, Jonathan asked me if I wanted to put Isaac’s diaper on him. Now, I know not many people would get excited about that, but to me it’s an act of love and believe or not it’s been a time of bonding for Kadynce and I. I was beyond excited as I placed him in the bassinet. I unwrapped his blanket and told him he was such a long skinny boy that I thought he would be playing basketball in heaven. I told him there were lots of people that couldn’t wait to meet him and some of them had come from a long way, just to see him. Just before I finished, everyone came back in and encircled us, staring in awe at this tiny miracle. It was one of many incredible moments of Isaac’s perfect day. His Tata got to hold him next and watching Kevin communicate his love for his grandson grabbed my heart again. Have I mentioned how grateful I was? His Uncle Booboo and Aunt Susan took their turns next, followed by the rest of his prayer/fan club. Everyone that held that baby looked at him the same way, with a mixture of unconditional love, awe and a desire to hold onto the moment. As I thought about what was going on, I couldn’t help but compare Kacie and Jonathan to Mary and Joseph. Here was their beloved son, who was only theirs here on earth for a short time, but they knew that his life would make a difference in the world. They had made a decision before hand to selflessly share Isaac with everyone that was there and wanted to meet him even if it took away some of their own time. I was completely humbled to be in that room, to be their mom and Isaac’s nana. I know many people won’t understand this either, but that room was filled to overflowing with love and joy and victory. Prayers of a multitude of friends and believers we’ve not met yet carried us, and His peace did indeed surpass our own understanding. We were led to seek God’s joy by a young couple that God chose to be Isaac’s mommy and daddy. And when they chose to honor God in their every decision concerning their son, He in turn honored them with a perfect, beautiful boy on Isaac’s perfect day.

She Calls Him Isaacs!

I wrote a note to Kadynce in Isaac’s memory book, that one of the first things he probably told God when he slipped into heaven was “Wow God, you did good! You gave me the best big sister ever!” She was included in Isaac’s journey from the beginning and got to go to most of the ultrasound appts. In the videos that Jonathan would send us you could here her matching the pitch of the heartbeat and later on in the pregnancy she recognized the pictures and called him “Isaacs” or “beby”. When she got to the hospital on Isaac’s birthday you could tell she was concerned about Kacie and would touch her or love on her hand, but she was scared of getting in the bed with her. Tata took her exploring several times that morning and she chilled with me some too in the room, while we were waiting on her brother to arrive. Once Isaac got here, nothing else mattered to her. Isaacs was her beby. I held her up to look at him while Kevin was holding him and she wanted him. When Carson was holding him, she tried to take him. That bed that she was afraid to get in, she couldn’t climb into it fast enough to sit beside her Isaacs. She needed to touch him, to feel him, to love him. She shared his pacifier with him J, she kissed him, she bathed him, and she rocked him very determinedly by herself. He was her beby. That evening Kevin, Carson and I took her home while Isaacs was still at the hospital and I wondered what we were going to do the next morning when we went back to the hospital and he wasn’t there. When we got there on Sunday morning we went through our routine of letting her push the elevator buttons and push the door buzzer to be admitted to the maternity floor. Kevin was carrying her and as we turned the corner to go down the hall to the room she said “Isaacs, beby!” Kevin and I just looked at each other as our hearts broke for our girl. All I could think to say was “Isaacs has gone to be with Jesus.” We went into the room and she frantically searched for her beby, her Isaacs and began to cry and get mad when he wasn’t there. I took her, held her close and said the words again “Isaacs has gone to be with Jesus.” All of a sudden it was as if she understood that time and she wasn’t upset anymore. She took the two pictures of Isaac that Jonathan had given us and I let her have them. She keeps them with her toys and my heart just smiles when she looks at them and she calls him Isaacs.

How to Help a Grieving Friend

I know that I can’t take away Kacie and Jonathan’s pain and they will always have an Isaac shaped hole in their hearts. God has and will continue to give them the strength they need to go on, but in the mean time they still have a long grieving process to go through. I know that on any given day someone might ask me how I am and I’m ok, but someone else can ask me in an hour and I cry my eyes out. That is nothing compared to what they are feeling and going through. The one thing that I can do though is to let you know about some very insightful blog posts by Molly Piper about how to help your grieving friend. She and her husband Abraham lost a full term, beautiful, healthy baby girl at birth several years ago and has incredible words of wisdom. I have included the link below.

Thanks for letting me share my heart Kacie! I love you!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nana's Heart

My mom asked a few weeks ago if she could do a guest post on my blog about Isaac. I told her that I would love for her to and here it is...

Part One – Journey of Joy

Friday morning, March 11, 2011, Kacie had her 15-week pre-natal checkup. My mind didn’t have the discipline to stay on task at work. It constantly wondered thru every imaginable scenario of what Kacie and Jonathan were being told. Just three weeks earlier we had learned that there was a possibility that our sweet grandchild could have some abnormalities, possibly Down’s syndrome, and even a risk of Trisomy 13 or 18. Down’s syndrome was not scary to us. Kacie and I both had experience with special needs children and God has given us a special love for them. But I was not familiar with Trisomy 13 or 18, and so I began to read everything I could on the Internet about them; heartbreak would be the prognosis for our kids, if indeed that was what the diagnosis was. Finally, Kacie called and I could feel my heart racing as I answered and she said, “Mom, it’s not good. …it’s not good at all.” Fear and anguish gripped me as I listened to her name all of the things that were broken on our precious baby, and that they had done an amnio to confirm exactly what was wrong. In that moment I knew that there was nothing that I could say to make it better and I felt completely helpless. A mommy always knows how to make it better, right? I called Kevin immediately and I knew that he felt as helpless as I did. Like Jonathan said earlier, dads want to fix things, and this was something beyond Kevin’s capabilities, too. I floated in a fog the remainder of the morning and when I went to lunch, I just sat in the car and cried out to God for help. My thoughts and pleas bounced from asking for wisdom to help Kacie and Jonathan, to asking for a miracle for our grandson and pleading for his life, to telling God I was scared for our kids and questioning how they were going to be able to make it thru this pregnancy knowing the outcome was a baby “not compatible with life”. I went back to work in that same fog and shared what I had just learned with some of my co-workers, but I knew they had no idea of the severity of the situation or just how broken my heart was for our children. I simply couldn’t wait to get home. In Gods, perfect timing, Jonathan, Kacie and Kadynce had already planned to spend that week with us and Carson was coming home as well, since it was spring break. Just being together was a comfort for all of us.

For me, that first week was the hardest and seems almost surreal now. There were so many tears, so many “what ifs” yet be answered, and so many emotions to work through. And while I knew God was in complete control and I kept Psalms 139:13-15 always at the forefront of my mind, I still worried about Kacie and Jonathan, about Kacie’s physical health, and about our grandson. I continued to lean on my Father for strength that was beyond my own grasp. And He began to reveal things that I could never have imagined.

Very quickly, Jonathan and Kacie made a decision about the direction Isaac’s story would take and I realized my front row seat in this journey was priceless. From the second that they chose the name Isaac Preston for our little miracle, and explained the reason why, I knew that Isaac’s life was going to be big, no matter how long or short it was, it would be big. As the pregnancy progressed, I watched in awe as Kacie and Jonathan trusted the Lord at every turn. Naturally, as Mom/Nana, I still hurt for our kids and would have taken on their pain in an instant, but my own prayers turned from being frantic in the beginning to being focused and specific; for Isaac to reach certain milestones, for Kacie not to have any complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, for our sweet baby to be born alive even if for only a few minutes, but only if that meant he would have no pain and would not struggle for any reason. These were my constant prayers, but I also had one selfish prayer. I so wanted to feel Isaac move because I knew that depending on the circumstances of his birth, feeling him kick in his mommy’s tummy might be the only chance I had to feel life in him. Whenever we were together I would talk to Kacie’s tummy and tell Isaac that he needed to kick, and kick hard. Finally, the evening of July 12, that boychild minded his Nana, and my heart was filled with joy as I felt our Isaac so full of life, what a special gift. Something that started out so scary, had somewhere along the way turned into a journey of joy; joy in the little things and special moments that we so often take for granted. I was anxious to meet this little one that had so rocked our world.

As Jonathan, Kacie and Kadynce left to return to Round Rock the next day from being on vacation, I thanked God for allowing Isaac to make it that far in the pregnancy. I knew though, that Kacie was feeling miserable and that some of that misery could be due to pre-labor, and the probability of him coming early became more real. I felt a sense of urgency to be prepared to leave at a moments notice and that moment came just two days later on July 15. Kacie called around 7:15 p.m. to tell us they were going to the hospital, she wasn’t 100% sure see was in labor, but her contractions were getting stronger and closer together. That’s all it took for us, and Tata and I were on the road by 8:00. I quickly sent out a confidential prayer request to some very special prayer partners so that they could be praying for Jonathan, Kacie and Isaac and for all of us that would be traveling. Once the doctors determined they were indeed going to admit Kacie, we were able to tell the world that a very special baby had decided it was time to make his appearance. I thought I might be extremely nervous at this point, but honestly I felt only excitement. Oh, I still had the pre-delivery jitters that I think is normal before the arrival of a baby that’s important in your life. But like kids going to Disney World, Kevin and I just couldn’t wait to get there. And we weren’t the only ones. Isaac’s other grandparents and his great-grandparents, his Aunt Susan, his Uncle Booboo and friend Matt, all traveled during the night from other states and across Texas to be there. An answer to prayer, they all arrived safely as did other family and friends that came on Saturday. Isaac also had a fan club of local friends and church family who were at the hospital before we got there. They were there to meet him and to take care of anything Kacie and Jonathan might need, including the sweet Mitteness family taking Kadynce home with them for the night. And again, for the upteenth time, I thanked God for moving our kids to Round Rock to be part of an incredible family of believers that love the Lord, and love and minister to each other before the need is even spoken. Just as God had gone over, above and beyond answering our prayers and taking care of every detail, details we didn’t even know existed, for the past few months, he was faithful to continue to do so on Isaac’s Perfect Day.
To be continued…………

Monday, August 15, 2011

Empty Bassinet

I have wanted to have a big family for as long as I can remember. This is not something I talked about much to Jonathan as were we dating, engaged, or even first married. I mean I knew he wanted to have children too, but I felt like the issue of how many was something the Lord would work out and I just wasn't worried about it. I prayed that God would allow our desires to line up in that area. He did just that and they do. The number is unknown to us, but Jonathan and I both have the desire to have a large family by today's standards. I feel like this subject alone could be a post or two all by itself, but that isn't really what I want to talk about today.

All of that was said to say that without a doubt we desire to have more children. Because of that I naturally did not want to put the bassinet up after Kadynce grew out of it. I distinctly remember Jonathan asking me if I wanted him to put it in the attic and I told him "no, Lord willing we will have another baby sleeping in it before long." When we moved it was known that the bassinet went straight to our room. After all I was about 6 weeks pregnant and September 1st couldn't arrive soon enough so another sweet baby could sleep there. When we found out Isaac was sick I began putting anything we had for for him in the bassinet. It was somewhat of a makeshift nursery since we knew he probably wouldn't be with us for long. Each day I would look at his cute little outfits, blankets, and stuffed animals in anticipation of the day I would get to hold him and kiss his sweet cheeks.

Now, however the bassinet is empty. It is no longer full of blue things waiting for that special day to get here. That day already came and went in what seems like the blink of an eye. Where a sweet little baby should be laying, napping right now there is nothing. Looking at it hurts because it reminds me of what I don't have, but at the same time makes me smile because of what I did have for a few short hours. Not to mention the memories I have for a lifetime. Tomorrow Isaac would be one month old. I look at his pictures and realize it's hard for me to remember not knowing what that sweet chubby-cheeked face would look like. In a way I feel like each day gets harder and harder as it is further away from when he was in my arms and I miss him so very much. I so don't want him to be forgotten. At the same time the Lord gives me the strength I need to get through each new day. To take care of and enjoy Kadynce and to look forward to what he has planned for our future.

There are so many things I don't understand, but there is one thing that remains the same. God is good!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Mommy

So, so many people have been there for us over the past few weeks and we really and truly appreciate all of you more than you know. There is one person, though that literally moved in with us for three weeks and without her I don't know what I would have done. I just feel like she deserves a public "thank you" and this person is my mommy! Her and my dad arrived the night before Isaac was born and she just left this past Friday morning. For three weeks she fed, bathed, and clothed Kadynce. She did laundry, dishes, and washed everything that wasn't nailed down, as she put it. Most importantly she was there for me when I needed to talk, cry, or just sit in silence. I didn't have to be alone when Jonathan went back to work and I was so thankful for that. She let me be the child, her baby for a few weeks and that is what I needed. We were able to make some great memories in the past three weeks that I will treasure forever so I wanted to share a few pictures!

Thank you so much, Mom for everything! We love you so much!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Through the Eyes of Daddy...

For those who have read Kacie’s wonderful blog you know the feelings and the emotions she has been going through ever since we found out that Isaac was not a normal child. Kacie is open, she’s honest, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and I love her for that. However, something that has been somewhat missing from Isaac’s story, and something that is missing from many stories of families in similar situations, is the heart and response of the father. Today I want to respond. I want to share how I have viewed this whole situation since day one. I think it’s important for me to do, and will hopefully be valued by others - especially other fathers.

Fight. Fix. Protect. This is what this Daddy wants to do when one of my own is hurting and helpless. And this was exactly my response was when we found out that there might be something wrong with our son. I remember the doctor’s appointments, the tests, the sonograms, the meeting with the genetic counselor. I remember the nurse passively saying “there’s something about the brain that looks weird...” All of this so vivid. What I also remember is my response. “Kacie, I think it’s going to be okay. The odds of this actually happening are slim. I think everything is fine.” These words I would utter so confidently, constantly wondering in the back of my head if I was wrong. What if something bad really could happen to our family? What if we weren’t immune? Since no diagnosis had been made and the possibility of something being wrong with our son was based on a fuzzy sonogram, I fought it.

My fighting turned into fixing that day in the sonogram room. I can still remember the words of the doctor. “We are not completely sure what your son has, but based on the sonogram we can know two things. 1 - He has a severe chromosome disorder - either Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, or Triploidy. 2 - Your son is incompatible with life.” Crushed. Devastated. I can’t even think of a word to describe what I felt when the doctor said these things to us. All the hopes and dreams I had for my child were shattered. I wanted to fix him. When a tire goes flat - I fix it. When the batteries go out in Kadynce’s toy - I fix it. I’m a daddy and when there’s something wrong daddy fixes it! That’s just how it works. So, the most crushing thing was not that our son had a chromosome disorder or even that he was labeled “incompatible with life,” the most crushing thing to me in all of this was that my son was broken and no matter what I did, I could NOT fix it.

Weeks began to pass by and Kacie and I handled things differently. Kacie was carrying Isaac every day so she connected with him differently. She had to think about him, she had to worry, she had to wonder about how things were going to happen when Isaac was born. I did not. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Isaac. I would feel him kick, talk to him, and tell him that I loved him - but I could escape. I could go to work and not think about him. We had been told from the point of diagnosis of Trisomy 13 that Isaac would most likely die in womb and if for some chance he made it to birth, he would most likely die during the birth process. This scared me. Mommy is always able to connect with their baby in the womb on a much greater level than Daddy and the thought of losing Isaac before he was born meant that I would never have that opportunity. I began to ask of God a selfish plea - “God, please allow Isaac to be born a live so I can hold him. So that he can hear my voice and I can feel his breath. So that he can feel the love of His earthly father before he is in the hands of his heavenly father.”

As Isaac began to grow and mature, and doctors visits got closer and closer, it started becoming an actual reality that Isaac would be born. I began to be a little more protective of my son. I knew that while he was in his mommy’s belly he was fine. He was healthy, he was growing, he was alive. But I also knew that when he started to take breaths on this earth he would struggle, and eventually he would die. Being the fighting, fixing daddy that I am I wanted to protect him. In fact, I remember telling Kacie the morning before we went to the hospital that I wasn’t ready. I just wanted him to stay in her belly forever because that’s the only place that I knew he was safe. Of course Kacie probably thought I was crazy and was wishing that I would carry a baby for 14 months and see how I felt. But, I just wanted to protect him - and staying in mommy was the only way that was possible.

I had thought a lot about what our experience would be at the hospital. Would we have to rush to the hospital? When we got there would it be a very sad time? Would we be crying? Never in a million years did I think it would be so exciting. And never in a million years did I think it would be one of the best days of my life. After checking into the hospital we were anxious, we were excited, we knew our lives were about to change forever but didn’t know exactly how. We were surrounded by friends, pastors, elders, family, and some incredible nurses and doctors! It was by far an amazing experience. After a much needed epidural and a short night’s sleep - Kacie gave birth to Isaac Preston Hunt at on July 16th at 12:20pm. After about 30seconds of pushing (yes, Kacie is a professional) we were holding our son who was very much alive! God had blown me away and answered my plea to hold my son before giving him back to Jesus. I remember the three things that I told Isaac, “Isaac, I love you.” “Isaac, you are beautiful.” and “Isaac, it’s okay. You can go whenever you need to. You don’t have to stay here.” But the stubbornness that he got from his mommy took over and he blessed us with a life that lasted about two hours. It was a life of love. He knew nothing but it. He never had a heart break, was never rejected or deceived, never had to deal with the sin in this world. All he knew was the love of his mommy and daddy in the womb, the love of family, friends, and nurses, and now all he knows is the love of Jesus.

Since Isaac’s birth we have had some good times and some bad ones. The hardest part of our entire time in the hospital was putting our Isaac in the basket to be taken away by the funeral home. Thankfully, in God’s divine plan, we were surrounded by some amazing friends who we could not have done it without. The memorial service we had for Isaac was incredible. We were able to focus on the greatness and goodness of God. We prayed together, worshipped together, and truly experienced the body of Christ wrapping us up with love. And now, as the balloons have lost their air, the flowers have wilted, and all of the yummy goodies we received have been eaten, each day has it’s own trials. We desperately miss our Isaac, however we wouldn’t want him to be anywhere else right now than in the arms of his King.

As I look back to day one of this journey I can see one thing. I see God working. From books that Kacie just “happened” to read, to relationships that we had made, to the incredible community of believers that God placed us in, all of this was God working in our lives to prepare us for this journey. Even through the life and death of Isaac we see God working incredibly. The Gospel has been preached because of Isaac, people have recommitted their lives to Christ because of Isaac, the life of Isaac Preston, though short, was powerful. God is the great missionary and Isaac was and continues to be part of His sovereign plan.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet Baby Girl

I was honored when one of my friends asked me a few weeks ago to make a "coming home" outfit, as well as some custom burp cloths for her baby girl. She is due in a about 3 weeks, but you know how babies are. They are on their own schedule so I figured I'd better get this stuff done ASAP! I had a lot of fun making these and I thought they turned out pretty cute so I wanted to share!

Can't wait for little Cadlyn's arrival!!!!