Out of the Fog

All of my ladies are up in Yorktown, Virginia this whole week. I am taking a week-long class on the Psalms that goes from 8 to 5 and Susan thought it might be best to take the girls and visit family while I can get some sleep and focus on the class before me. This will be the longest I have been away from my daughters and though the sleep has been nice, I already miss my girls. I might write some Lament Psalms of my own before the week is over!

Just to recap the recent events; the week and a half that Susan and I were sick were long and arduous. In so many ways we were just glad to make it through each day. I never realized to what extent lack of sleep could affect a person. There was one night where Susan had Abigail and Evelyn was crying in the other room in her crib. Though I could somewhat make out the cry and at some distant level in my subconscious I knew it was important for me to get up, it took Susan giving me some forceful encouragement for me to fully realize I needed to act. Whether I got up then and came back, or just moved around a bit, I don’t remember, but I somehow I ended up with a pillow on my chest, of which I was comforting like it was my sweet little Evelyn. Meanwhile my real child was still upset in the other room. Susan had to make me aware that I was not in fact holding our child but a pillow.

I hear they use sleep deprivation as a tool of interrogation and torture.

By the grace of the LORD we all got better without getting the girls sick. We are so thankful for all the prayers. Susan’s mom came and stayed with our family and was such a huge blessing. I couldn’t imagine making it through the week as well as we did without her or our blessed small group.

To be honest, it is hard to see out of the fog of little sleep and energy, so hearing the struggles and victories of others is always a welcomed perspective and encouragement. I want us continually to remember the Kingdom of Christ in the midst of this season so that in our struggles we can begin and end our prayers with thankfulness as well as the hope that we are faithfully serving the LORD during this time.

Grace and Peace.

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Running on a Spare

A couple of days ago I (Graham…don’t worry Susan will blog soon!) was trying to get everything together for my Hebrew class. I had a presentation due and I did not want to miss out on the quiz at the beginning of class. Being sick has zapped me of a lot of my strength and energy, and some of the small duties required for my class have become a bit heavier because of it.Though my Hebrew professor told me not to worry about coming to class, I decided to push through so I wouldn’t miss a quiz or my presentation.

I spent two nights before working on my translation that was due for that class so it would free me up the night before the class to work on my presentation. Our presentations are basically going through a verse with that class from the text we are translating, specifically explaining its grammar and theology. To my great fortune I got the verse that only contains four words in Hebrew! Awesome. However, Scripture is a deep ocean and found myself going deeper than I had expect, which meant that I was swimming for quite awhile. Not only that, formatting Hebrew on a word document can be a time consuming monster.

The next day, the day it was due, I worked in the morning and tried to get some time at the library to finish up my presentation. It seemed like one thing after another kept me from getting to the library and even at the library I did not get as much done as I had hoped (c’est la vie). I had about twenty minutes before class started and when I pulled up the document only to find that the Library at Southeastern had not invested the money in buying the Hebrew version of Microsoft to ensure the fonts didn’t change.

Admittedly I hit panic mode and decided to print it at home. I finished typing most of my presentation, called Susan on the way to get her to boot up the computer and printer. I only had fifteen minutes. She didn’t answer the phone.  I rush home, run upstairs totally ignoring my mother-in-law’s request for me to wash bottles, booted up the computer, got the printer ready, and my wife tries to call me. I respond with a quick text that I didn’t have time. The computer came to life and I thought to myself, “I am going to make it!” I get a text from Susan. I ignored it. There was no time because it was game time! I see my document light up the screen with that beautiful Hebrew font. I am about to print when my phone rings again. It is Susan. I pick up and she says, “We have a flat tire.”

In that moment, which wasn’t my best of moments I thought of a thousand scenarios where I could still get to my class, take my quiz, and hand in my presentation. But the weight of those thousand scenarios didn’t measure up to that one scenario, the right scenario, of going to help my wife. I said, “I’ll be right there.”

Even changing the tire was an event that I won’t go into, but in summary I ended up using two jacks for the van, got blood on my face, and a piece on the bottom of the van broke making the vehicle fall two inches before getting caught, scaring us all half to death.

Basically this story is a good metaphor for our season in life right now. I have had all these grandiose expectations on how life should look right now, needs to look right now, and I find myself having to adapt to the reality which is our lives during this season. God’s grace is sufficient and perfected in weaknesses. It is good to learn to take joy in His strength over mine. It is such a good journey for which I am so thankful even if I don’t respond the best in the moment. It forces me to trust the Lord and focus on my own faithfulness to His Kingdom. Right now we are running on a spare in more ways then one, but it is all we need to get where we need to go for right now.

Quick Update: I am on the other side of the mountain of my sickness, getting better by the hour. Susan is at the top of the mountain and hopefully will join me on this side of things. It still seems like the girls have not made an ascent yet (I am guessing the mountain analogy is breaking down by now), but please pray that they will continue to be protected from our sickness. Thanks for all the intercessions for our family! We feel the answer to those prayers.

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Down with the Sickness

Over the past couple of days I (Graham) have become increasingly sick. My throat feels like I swallowed gravel and my energy level is in the red level. This has presented us a whole new set of challenges with new born twins in the house. I fear too much exposure to the girls will only increase their chances of getting whatever I have. At the same time, though Susan is the most incredible mom in the world, she still needs an extra hand especially during that cruel hour in the middle of the night.

This means that I am washing my hands all the more thoroughly, which has come to the point that my hands are breaking open from the mixture of the cold, dry weather and the constant use of hand sanitizer. Reminds me of my days in Bolivia. I am also sleeping on the pull out bed down stairs, which I have realized for the first time that it is not all that comfortable. I apologize to all our guests who have had to endure that bar that can be felt so securely  across the middle of the back. My assistance to my family has been diminished to an occasional feeding and the more trivial of duties like washing the bottles. I’d choose diapers over bottles any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

This morning was also a bit sad for me. After the feedings that occurred at the 2nd and 3rd watches of the night, the girls were right on time for the early morning feeding. I grabbed Evelyn and gave her the bottle. I sat next to my beautiful wife who held Abigail and we just sat there and shared in the silence and a mutual desire to still be in our respective beds. After a couple of burpings and a change of the diaper, I was amazed at how Evelyn was growing fast and even growing some cheeks! I then propped her up in her little boppy to allow her to digest the food a bit better (she has been struggling recently) and my wife says, “You know that is Abigail, right?”

Epic fail.

So, this post is a prayer request that I would overcome this sickness and our overall tiredness without the girls also coming down with the sickness. Between two jobs, learning Hebrew, and lack of sleep/energy/Parks and Recreation, I have arrived well past the point of a desperate need of Grace. And between my wife and me, I have it easy. And to be honest maybe we have always been in that desperate need of Grace, and this is just one of the ways the good Lord reminds us that we truly are always in desperate need of Him.

Pray that we are not only physically rested and restored but our spirits our continually renewed in the strength of Christ.

Post Script:
If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a look at the photos taken by our ridiculously talented sister, Carmen at her blog: http://cbmphotoblog.com/?p=1374

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Evelyn and Abigail Part II

First day home from the hospital

Time seems to keep getting away and I don’t have the ability to keep up with all that is happening!

Just to bring you up to speed and where we are now. After the girls were born on the 2nd of January, we stayed in the hospital until Friday so Susan could recover. It was weird to go home from the hospital without our girls. The nurses were most encouraging to get our sleep during this time and even consider the NICU nurses as the best baby sitters we will ever have!

The weeks after their birth seem like a blur. I worked all day and Susan went up to the hospital to hang out with the girls. Evelyn and Abigail were still in isolettes, and though the nurses encouraged as much interaction between us and our children, there still were frustrating limitations. To be honest, the days during those two weeks they were in the NICU were long. Still, we are so grateful because in all reality it was such a short time. Our wonderful friends, Lorne and Amy James have a son who was born at 25 weeks. It has been a longer journey for them and their amazing little boy, Sam, is getting bigger all the time in the NICU. I could not imagine attempting to travel our small journey without them. Please keep them in your prayers as they continue their journey.

It seemed like all of a sudden that the nurses were telling us to get ready for the girls to come home. They told us on Saturday that the girls would come home on Monday. We were overwhelmed and excited. Evelyn and Abigail came home on January 16th, exactly two weeks after they were born. The first night was interesting. Of course, Abigail and Evelyn were wonderful. Their parents, however, were (and though getting better, still are) a nervous wreck. Having our children at home has been the most wonderful experience. I am so thankful they are here. They are so lovely.

During this time we had the best help one could ask for.  We were blessed when my mom came right after they were born. Susan’s parents, being just three hours away, have been almost an omnipresent help for us.  Susan’s sister was so wonderful the first few days of Susan’s recovery. My sister and dad came up this past weekend and my brother and his wife will come up next weekend to do some professional photos of the girls.

All of it has been an incredible experience, and it is hard to take in that this is just the beginning.

Thank you for all your prayers, support, and sweet encouragement about how beautiful our girls are. We think so too.

Grace and Peace

Evelyn and Abigail's first ride

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Evelyn and Abigail

I just realized that we have not posted since the second time Susan went into preterm labor. My bad. Since then, well…a lot has happened.

2012 has already been a most exciting and exhausting year. Susan and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary on January 1st. A day later, Susan went into labor and this time the doctors did nothing to slow it down. There was definitely a mixture of emotions between relief and anxiety, but the LORD’s peace was prevalent.

We wait in the triage room until the doctors come for Susan for surgery. I have to wait in that room for about 15 minutes while they get everything ready. Finally, I am taken back to the surgery room where Susan is lying down with a big curtain placed between her and her stomach. I sit down next to her. We talk about some ridiculous topic of conversation. The anesthesiologist keeps cracking jokes and referring to his daughters as “chicks”. We are very thankful for the brevity.

I might be seated for five minutes, when all of a sudden the doctor tells us that the water is broken. Then a minute later I hear them say, “Happy Birthday Evelyn!” I stand up to look over the curtain, and there she is. My first born daughter! They whisk her away and I bend down and tell Susan, “One down! Only one more to go!” Literally a minute later, we hear, “Happy Birthday Abigail!” Once again I look up and I see my second daughter! She is perfect just like her sister.

I sit back down next Susan to see how she is doing. She is so happy and there is a peace in her expression. She is probably the only woman I know who could manage such grace and beauty throughout such an ordeal. She is already such an incredible mother.

A couple of minutes later they take me back to see my girls. They are in separate beds. The nurses are working on Abigail so they take me over to Evelyn. I get to cut her umbilical cord. Crazy. Awesome. I then take an outrageous amount of photos of Evelyn. Then Abigail. Then they bring Evelyn over to Abigail. I take more photos. I am already that Dad. Evelyn and Abigail are touching hands, and one of the nurses wants to see if they will hold hands. Evelyn takes exception to this, retracts her hand and starts to cry. She has had enough of her sister the last 33 weeks!

I go back to my bride who is managing all of this so well. I show her the pictures of our gorgeous little girls. Her smile says it all. We sit there in a bit of shock and wander. So very thankful.

After the nurses and doctors make sure Susan is fine we get back to the postpartum. Susan is wiped out. I take this time to go check on my girls in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). This will be their new home for awhile as they grow and learn how to feed. The nurse is most encouraging and I am able to leave them confident in their care of our girls. I go back to check on my beautiful bride. I show her some pictures and then we both fall asleep.

Here are some official numbers from that night:
Evelyn was born at 9:41 PM on 1.2.12 weighing 3lbs 15oz 16 3/4 inches long
Abigail was born at 9:42 PM on 1.2.12 weighing 4lbs 11.5oz 17 3/4 inches long

Our girls are doing exceptionally well and are getting stronger by the day. I will try to follow up with a couple of posts to describe their days so far in the NICU as well as Susan’s recovery from the surgery.

Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement. Keep praying for the girls and for us.



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Deja Vu…All over again

As many of you might already know, Susan is back at the hospital after just a day and a half hiatus at home. (And how glorious was that day and a half!) Susan had been resting wonderfully from the time we got home Saturday until Sunday evening. Then the contractions came more intensely and more frequently. We tried to rest through the night, hoping that they would taper off by the morning. By the morning they had not diminished in either intensity or frequency. Being more prepared this time around our bags were already packed and we went to the doctor.

On the way to the doctor’s office we found out Julie was the one who would check us. Julie had caught the Cholestasis, and was the one to send us to the hospital the first time around.  It was not a good sign. The portent proved to be true. Susan was 4cm dilated (she was 2cm the first time) and 75% effaced (she was 50% the first time).

We went through the exact steps from our first visit. First to Triage to get the full check up. Then to Labor and Delivery to get magnesium to put off the delivery. Then to Antepartum once everything had quieted down again. The room in Labor and Delivery was the same one used by our dear friends who just had their son preterm.

We are still so thankful for the time at home, however short it was. It gave me time to get the house better situated to welcome the girls home whenever that might be. We were able to process everything a little more and even allowed me time to manage more things before having to go back to the hospital. Sunday night we even watched the wonderful Christmas movie, Die Hard! Of course the non-stop action and intense plot might have precipitated the contractions. One will never know.

Admittedly it was tougher this time around, especially going through the exact same steps as before. There have been many mixed feelings of wanting to meet the girls already or just somehow going home soon. It is apparent that the former is definitely something we must avoid as much as possible and the latter is unrealistic. It has taken some time to align our hearts to staying here for the long haul, but we know this is the best possible outcome for the girls’ health. This is motivation enough and the LORD has given us so much strength and endurance to want to see this through.

Susan has been incredible throughout this whole ordeal. Her faith, perseverance, and overwhelming sweetness to everyone through everything  has been such a testimony to all the doctors and the nurses.  It has been such a testimony to me. I really hope our girls are just like her.

We are at the hospital at least until Christmas Eve if not beyond. The girls look great and Susan is holding steady for now. Our hearts are encouraged and lifted by all the prayer and support we have received. Please keep praying. Pray that we will stay encouraged through all of this. Pray that the girls will stay in for a couple of more weeks (shooting for 34!) Pray that we will feel the presence of the Good LORD all the more.

Grace and Peace

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Celebrating 31 Weeks at Home

For the last couple of days we had been mentally preparing that our two girls would come at any moment or the hospital would be our residence for at least another week. As grace would have it we are now at home celebrating the 31 weeks of our girls still rocking out safely in the womb.

Susan has been doing so well the last 48 hours that the doctors felt confident she could go home and hopefully not come back until when it was more a more appropriate time for the girls to come into the world. With everything going smoothly (contractions are down, dilation stable) the most that she was doing at the hospital was resting, which could be accomplished more efficiently in her own home.

As quickly as the situation elevated before we knew it, it appears it has calmed down with almost the same speed. It has been a journey within a journey during this pregnancy. We are so blessed by all the prayers that have been offered on our behalf; if we could be so bold to ask you continue your intercession throughout the duration of the pregnancy.

If anything changes we will be sure to update. At this point we are hoping to make it another couple of weeks before we get to meet Evelyn and Abigail face to face. Until then, we will be resting, praying, and giving thanks for the LORD’s providential hand through it all.

Thank you again for all your support and encouragement. Grace and Peace

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