Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Much to be Thankful For

A year ago today, I was enormous. Which was pretty impressive as I was only actually 27 weeks pregnant. But I looked HUGE. I didn't know it then but I was about to be put on bed rest and I was less than a month away from having my babies. But a year ago I was just a huge beaming pregnant lady who didn't know a lot of things yet. And now- wow, what a year it has been. But the thing about walking in the valleys and going through things you never thought you could is that you learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about who your friends are, you learn a lot about God's goodness and you learn that you have A LOT to be thankful for.

So for Thanksgiving, the 10 things I am feeling especially thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1. A God that still does miracles, a God that still loves little children and a God that cares about the details. We love doctors and we love medicines and we believe both have been crucial in saving our children's lives but first and foremost and above all else, all glory goes to God without whom there would be no wise doctors and no amazing medicines and without whom, we would not have had a fighting chance of making it through this year!

2. Two little people who have more bravery and strength of spirit than any adult I've ever met. Max and Addison are adorable but beyond that they are inspirational. Oh for the heart of a baby who wakes up every day with a huge smile because what happened yesterday doesn't matter. Who waste no time feeling sorry for themselves but have a joy and a determination to enjoy life that teaches me every day how I should live my life. Who are so amazingly perfect that I can't hardly believe they are half me. I am thankful and humbled that God chose us to be their parents.

Max and Addie's first picture together at 2 weeks old- tiny precious babies.

Max and Addie in October- big, beautiful happy treasures

3. A partner to go through it all with. A wonderful Daddy for my babies. I am so thankful that Al puts in every feeding tube and gives every shot (because I can't do so without crying!), I am thankful he spends hours every day making sure we have all the supplies and all the appointments we need. He is so amazing at taking care of Max and Addie. They have a Daddy who loves them so much and knows them perfectly and does everything he can to keep them healthy and smiling. And I'm thankful that we can laugh about things together and that we're not doing this alone. A partner in this journey is truly one of God's greatest blessings.

Al and I getting ready for the adventure of our lives...

Such a sweet Daddy

At baby dedication, our family

4. Selfless Grandparents. For Nana who would come to the hospital every day so I knew someone was holding them while we worked. Who comes over every day so Al can rest and get things done around the house. Who loves Max and Addie like crazy. And without whom, we wouldn't make it. And also, without whom there whom be no adorable smocked clothing and that would be tragic in itself! For Papa, who commuted over an hour every day M-F but would still drive out to the hospital every weekend to see Max and Addie even when they were little and didn't do anything but sleep and cry when new people held them. Even then. And now, he's got a granddaughter who hangs on his every word and who reserves her very best smiles just for him. And for Al's parents- their Marnie and Gigi. I see no way we would have made it through September and October without them! For the diapers they cleaned, the hours they stayed awake, the vomit they bathed off, the dishes and laundry they did, the dinners they made for us. And mostly for the love they bestowed on us and our babies. They got us through our first 7 weeks with Max and Addie home both practically and emotionally and we're already looking forward to the next time they come back!

Addie and her Papa

Max and his Nana

With my parents, Nana and Papa

Max and Addie with their Marnie

With Al's parents, Marnie and Gigi

5. Aunts and Uncles and Max and Addie's Family Fan club- we have had so many visitors come and see Max and Addie from all over the world and it means so much to us. We cannot travel with Max and Addie for a while so to have people come out to us just because they want to meet our babies and show us how much they care has been a tremendous blessing. My brother and Al's brother have both spent a lot of time here and the babies are most besotted with their uncles. Also, both of my grandmothers and ALL FIVE of my aunts and uncles have come from Mississippi or Oregon to visit us and meet the babies. We have loved each of their visits and it has been a tremendous joy to me to share my precious babies with our extended family and to watch them love on them. I feel very blessed to have the families we have.

Max meets his Aunt Debra in July

Max and Addie get to spend lots of quality time with Uncle Lachy in June-July

With Uncle Adam and Aunt Jenny while they are in town

My Gran and Aunt Linda had such a good time with the babies

My mom and her four fabulous sisters- my Aunt Bess, Aunt Coot and Aunt Gayle

My Dad with his brother, my Uncle Mark and his brother in law, my Uncle Dale

With their g-ma, my Grandma Jean, a week after they both were home in August

6. Nurses that held our babies and held my hand through the worst of days. I have said it before and I'll say it again- the nurses we have had have been this amazing source of support and strength and have helped us through everything and we are so grateful. It's not just the awesome nursing care they give but the fact that they have opened their hearts and loved our babies and they have taken the time to support Al and I as well. We adore our NICU nurses and during the worst of times, they made me smile with their stories and always listened. They have kept in touch with us and still support me via texts, emails and visits. And we have a wonderful dialysis nurse now who I text about everything- even our issues that have nothing to do with dialysis. She has enabled Al and I to do what we are doing and she has been a friend to us as well. She loves the babies so much- she tries to steal Addie most clinic visits (but at least as Al says, if somewhere were to kidnap her it ought to be a dialysis nurse!)

With Rebekah, their night nurse, and Lori, their day nurse, in November when they came to see the babies.

7. The very best nephrologist we could ever have asked for. I said before, all glory truly goes to God for Max and Addison's lives but I will give the second most credit to their kidney doctor (and really the whole team of doctors including the neonatalogists in the NICU as well). Dr S is our dialysis doctor and will be our transplant doctor as well. She has done so much to help Max and Addison from giving them IV antibodies (which I know in my heart saved their lives), to helping us time their surgeries to avoid hemodialysis, to helping us to get them home after only 2 months on dialysis, to fighting for us to be able to transplant with her to now, helping us get them kidneys so many months before we ever thought possible. On top of all that, she is optimistic and kind and she gave me hope during difficult days in the NICU and encourages us to see the best outcome in every scenario.

With Dr S at her first ever transplant appointment

8. My friends that support me, make me laugh, give me something to look forward to and never stop listening to long stories about kidneys. A special amount of gratitude to my very best friend Hannah who spent two weeks with us in June. For many months I had no idea when the babies would be coming home and we had a lot that we still had to get through with surgeries and there just wasn't a lot to look forward to. But I looked forward to Hannah's trip every day and that got me through those long days. And she came all the way here and sat with me in the NICU, held the babies and lived this crazy journey with us for a couple of weeks. It was the highlight of my summer. And there is not a crisis we have faced, she hasn't been there for me through. I called her the night they told us Addie had congestive heart failure and she talked me through it and reassured me. She's way too far away physically but she's still always there for me. Likewise, Mrs Becky, my mom's best friend has been amazing. When my mom was out of town recently and we had an audiology appt she came with Al and I just to help entertain the babies during the absurdly long wait and she spent the week me, Al and my mom were being trained on dialysis with Max in his room so he wasn't alone. She's done any and everything she can think of to help support us all. And other friends who have come to the hospital, who have brought us meals, who have made me laugh and just hung out with us. You simply cannot get through something like this without amazing friends.

with Aunty Hannah- we're already counting down to her next visit!

With Mrs Becky in the adorable outfits she got for them

With our special friends the Coxes- I watched these girls grow up and now they are watching mine!

9. My coworkers who make being away from the two most precious people somehow tolerable. I'm not going to pretend that I love going to work these days but I genuinely love the people I work with. I have been so blessed. My principal is so wonderful and has been so understanding and always how I am before asking how my classes are. My colleagues donated more than 20 days of paid leave to me last year after Addie lost a lot of blood in a line replacement surgery so that I could be at the hospital with them despite having run out of days off! My co workers follow our photos, tell us we're in their prayers and make it easier to be there. And for the girls I work most closely with and teach Biology with... well they will always be friends first and then co workers and lunch with them is the highlight of my work day and is something I look forward to every day.

My wonderful friend Shannon who gets me through the work week!

10. The prayers, comments and love bestowed upon us by people we see often and people we haven't seen in years. I just cannot say what the emails, Facebook comments, texts and cards have meant to us. We have heard from people we have not seen in more than a decade who write just to say they are praying for us or just to tell us that our story means something to them. Thank you to everyone who has gotten in contact with us and let us know we are not alone but in your thoughts and prayers. One of the great blessings of going through something like this is realizing how many people care about you. We're thankful for each and every one of you. And thankful that thanks to things like Facebook and email, that we are able to keep in touch with people all over the world from all different chapters of our lives.

So as you can see, we have so much to be thankful for this year. We are incredibly thankful to God for each of these blessings and to each of you for being a blessing to us.

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