Wednesday, 27 June 2012

God Works in Mysterious Ways.

I believe that God does not do things on accident, but sometimes he works in mysterious ways. I am not always sure what the purpose is behind things that happen, but I know he loves us. I want to tell you a story about a boy named Chandler, and I want you to know that I may not understand the reason why it happened, but I believe God's love can be felt throughout it. 

My brother and sister-in-law were excited to find out whether or not baby #4 would be a boy or a girl. They had debated for a while whether or not they should even try for baby #4, and once the decision was made to have another baby they were very excited for his/her coming. At the anatomy appointment, where they were to discover the sex of the baby, they also discovered that something was wrong with the baby's heart. Excitement turned to anxiety as they waited for their appointment with the specialist. 

When they met up with the specialist they discovered that their baby boy had HLHS (hypoplastic left heart syndrome). Basically, the left side of his heart did not function at all. If HLHS babies receive intervention right after birth they might make it. Unfortunately, Chandler also had something wrong with the right side of his heart, which meant intervention would be impossible. My brother and sister-in-law were told they would have a few short days with their baby after his birth, and to be prepared for his passing. 

My family fasted and prayed that things with Chandler would be okay...whatever 'okay' means in God's plan. I guess you could say we were fasting and praying for the ability to accept peacefully what may happen. About a month later, at another ultrasound, the doctors were astounded. I would call it a miracle. The right side of Chandler's heart 'magically' grew the veins that he would need to have the operation after birth that might save his life. My brother and sister-in-law chose Duke University Hospital for Chandler's delivery since there was a pediatric heart surgeon there and it's only about an hour away from where they live.  

My sister-in-law was induced and beautiful Chandler was brought into this world.
Born Sep. 16, 2010
A couple of days later they did his first surgery. Everything went smoothly and they just had to wait for him to recover.
Standard procedure requires the chest
to be left open because of swelling.
He started to look much better.

Closed up with less wires and tape.
Mom,  Dad, and visitors were able to start holding him when they came to visit.

Chandler & Mom.
A few months later, far too soon, it was time for Chandler's second surgery. If this one went well, then he wouldn't need another surgery again for a few years. I don't know all of the hairy details, but I do know that while the surgery was ultimately successful, it was not as successful as they were hoping. Apparently there were still issues with the veins on the right side of his heart. My brother and sister-in-law were once again told to be prepared for their son's passing, and he was released from the hospital.

Again, my family prayed that everything with Chandler would be okay...whatever 'okay' might mean in God's plan. Miraculously, once again, Chandler pulled through. Sadly, his body was continually struggling. During the surgery they accidentally damaged something that affected his swallowing reflex. His life depended on a feeding tube. His oxygen was regularly low and he had to be hooked up to oxygen frequently. Because of the feeding tube he wasn't able to get any tummy time to help him develop his muscles. When I finally met him he was 8 months old and still couldn't roll over or sit up on his own. 

This didn't stop him from wanting to be an active participant in his family's life.

Getting his turn with the pinata.
Practicing sitting in the Bumbo.
Playtime with Mom.
A little after his first birthday Chandler's body's struggles caught up with him. He was going to need another surgery that would determine whether or not he would make it. In January my brother and sister-in-law took him to Philadelphia for the big surgery.

Again my family prayed that everything with Chandler would be okay...whatever 'okay' means in God's plan for Chandler. We were grateful to hear that things were going well. Chandler was able to return home. He was very happy and able to go about his Chandler-business. 

At the beach.

Eating out with Dad.

A couple of days ago I got a text from my littler brother (who is living with this family as he works for them this summer) saying that my brother and sister-in-law were at the hospital with Chandler because his oxygen had drastically dropped. The next news I had heard was from my mom saying that Chandler had been sent home from the hospital with my brother and sister-in-law being told to prepare for his passing, again.

My family prayed that  Chandler would be okay...whatever 'okay' might mean in God's plan for Chandler. It felt different this time. This time it felt like a preparation. My parents were going to fly out this weekend to help comfort and support my brother's family, but then they felt very strongly that they needed to get tickets for earlier than that. They bought tickets for early Tuesday morning and were all packed and ready to go on Monday night.

On Tuesday morning I popped awake at 3:30am. This is usually because I'm hungry or having pregnant-lady bladder issues, but this time it was neither. I was awake thinking about Chandler. At 4:30am I received a text from my mom saying that Chandler was unresponsive, but breathing, and she would fill me in when they got to North Carolina that evening. My parents were able to hold and cradle Chandler that night even though he was unconscious. We recognized that there could yet be another miracle, but it didn't feel like it this time.

We were now praying that when he passed both of his parents would be by his side and that it would be peaceful. Mercifully, that is what happened.

Chandler passed away at 10:00am (Eastern Time Zone) this morning with his parents holding him. I believe God knew it would have been more than they could bear if they had found him passed away in his crib.

I'm writing this out to share for a few reasons:
It's cathartic. I've been thinking about his short, miraculous life for the past two days and I just needed to be able to spill it out. I am so glad that Chandler no longer has to struggle, but I am so very sad that my brother and sister-in-law lost a child.
It remind me to be grateful. I get a little caught up in the stretch marks I'm genetically predisposed to get and am dreading to find. I get discouraged when I see all of the varicose veins popping up left and right on my body. These things are vain and unimportant when I realize how blessed I am to be growing a healthy baby who has a high chance of making it to adulthood.
It helps me feel peace. I haven't asked, "Why, God?" because I know that he works in mysterious ways and he wouldn't do anything like this to hurt somebody. Chandler had a purpose on this earth and he has fulfilled it and he is now back with a loving Heavenly Father.

Mostly, here's to Chandler, who bravely and happily fought until his Father called him home.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Gordon Fruits Memorial Weekend

Mr. Mitchell's grandfather, Gordon Fruits, passed away in October. With all of the family so spread out the decision was made to have a memorial service for him later when most everyone could make it. This past weekend we drove up to Merrill with Luke & Liz for a portion of the memorial week. Mr. Mitchell requested that I take a lot of videos, which I did, but I will not be posting any of them on the blog. I will, however, send a DVD of the videos to Mr. Mitchell's mom and we can go from there.

A few of the Fruits' great-grandchildren.

Some of the picture-takers/documenters.

Rachel getting angry because I took her picture.

Rachel's boy.

Luke's boy.

Rachel's boy.

The gang minus Robert and Anthony.

The river where we sent Gordon's boat out.

Everyone watching the boat.
(Except for Danny and Mr. Mitchell - the stage crew.)

Mike and his mom.

Another view of the river.
They were more interested in throwing rocks.

The evening entertainment - mostly silly songs and stories.
Mr. Mitchell and I had a pleasant weekend and it was fun to see all of the Fruits siblings together. I hope they can have more opportunities to enjoy each other's company.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Baby Update

I've been blog-post-happy since I managed to get things going with pictures; here's the third one in two days, and then hopefully I'll be done for a bit.

I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and we did an ultrasound to verify the due date. The due date has been pushed back to Sep. 28 and our little boy is looking healthy. The new due date puts me at 24 weeks today and means that all of my belly pictures are a week earlier than stated...except for the darn blueberry picture. That one's spot on. Here's the picture we thought we were taking at 24 weeks, but is actually 23 weeks.

I conveniently blend in with the wall.
Since this was the first appointment I had that Mr. Mitchell couldn't make it to I was allowed to take a video of the ultrasound so he could watch it that night. We were also given a USB drive with the ultrasound pictures on it. Since the purpose of the ultrasound was measurements there weren't many shots I cared about (i.e. Sprout's bladder), but the doctor did catch a great one of the baby's profile.

We love him!
I love the video because I can see Sprout practice his swallowing and he has his little hand up by his head. It seems to be where he likes it because it's always there during the ultrasounds. The doctor said he's still breeched, but not to be worried because he'll change position many times before his big moment comes. His love for being breech explains why all of his kicks are so low.

My favorite part is 0:55-1:45.

Sprout seems to have decided to let my bladder rest for a bit, but he's still pretty active. Mr. Mitchell could finally feel him kick a couple of weeks ago and a couple of days ago we noticed that his kicks are visible from the outside. He's getting strong.

And there's the baby update.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jury Duty

When we were in Boise during the week of the numb-bum I received a jury summons notice (for Ada County since that's still technically my permanent address). Nice. My second one in four years. I had three options: postpone it (which would just mean I'd have to do it while super pregnant rather than medium pregnant), get an Oregon driver's license, or suck it up and report for jury duty. Since Mr. Mitchell and I have no idea where we're going to end up, ever, we decided against getting a new driver's license and figured I should do jury duty now.

My mom was pretty stoked about the idea because that meant I'd be staying with them for a week and most likely wouldn't get called in because my number was so high. I'll let you decide, based on the following pictures and accounts of events, how my week of jury duty went.

My nephew, who is one of the funniest kids I know, 'graduated' from kindergarten. My brother Ryan and his daughter also happened to be in town for the day so we made it a mini-reunion. The 'graduation' was short and sweet and focused on the kids. Not bad.

Waving as he walks in.

After he received his 'diploma.'

My nephew with the Holdaway side.
We went to a movie almost every day.
Monday: We Have a Pope - an Italian film with English subtitles. I enjoyed it until the jarring end. Not what I was expecting, which I imagine makes it a fantastic movie to some.
Tuesday: The Artist - I loved it! Unique and refreshing.
Wednesday: The Hunger Games - my second time and I still enjoyed it. I thought they did a good job of making the book into a movie.
Thursday: Dark Shadows - stupid. Maybe if I had watched the TV show I would have liked it, but I don't know.
Saturday: The Avengers - my second time and I still loved it. I loved the interaction between the superheroes and the funny one-liners ("You humans are so petty...and tiny.") and I always get a thrill when good kicks bad's butt.
Meridian's movie theater.
My sister, Jayme, and her four kids came into town for Memorial Day weekend and we got to play.

We did lots of shopping to get Jayme's VIP party ready.
Go here if you're curious. I promise it's good stuff.

Jayme was cranky...and it wasn't because of the hat.

My niece reveling in her wig.

I was Jack, not Joker. Don't get confused.

My niece was the king (it was her birthday, after all)
and my nephew was Indiana Jones.

I got to be queen!

She also reveled in being Jack, not Joker.

My mom embracing her gray hair.

My cup was labeled 'The Pregnant One.'
Were you wondering about the hats? We were playing a version
of Scum inspired by the east coast Holdaways.

This is how my nephews spent most of their time.

It was my niece's birthday and that week I had decided I must become excellent at baking things. I made cheesecake pops in place of a birthday cake. They tasted good, but they turned out ugly the first time around. She was a good sport about it. The second round looked much, much better. I should've snagged a picture of one of those babies.

The baker and the birthday girl.
Not featured in pictures were a pedicure, my mom buying me some maternity clothes, going out to eat, and watching Eureka with my dad. I was absolutely spoiled and it was sooo much fun! Thank you Mom and Dad for a wonderful jury duty week!

(Can you guess whether or not I was ever called in?)

Our 2nd Anniversary

It's for reals. We've been married for two years, and we've really enjoyed them. There have been a few fights, but not enough to make us sigh in relief that the supposed hardest years of marriage are behind us. We recognize, however, that making it two years these days can be considered quite a feat, and for that we are proud of this accomplishment. We celebrated the occasion by taking a little drive to the coast and spending our anniversary weekend there.

We started the weekend by camping in the Jedediah Smith campground in the redwood forest. It was beautiful, and I was completely in awe of how dark it was at night. The trees are so tall they block out any light (i.e. the moon) that would otherwise have helped illuminate the campground.
Harry & Annie let us borrow their tent and sleeping pads.

I watched Mr. Mitchell set up camp.

Tall trees.

Our little campsite.

Campground road.
By the way, this campground was highly expensive and they don't let you gather firewood. You've been warned. Oh, and they also have the swankiest bathroom I have ever been in at a campground. No outhouses there. 

We got to play in a cold river.

More like Mr. Mitchell played in a cold
river while I stayed dry and took pictures.

Mr. Mitchell showed off his rock skipping skills.
He didn't know I was taking this video:

I feel so little.

Some of the trees had crazy holes.

I really liked the bridge.

Some trees were pretty gnarly.

Showing the massiveness of the grandpa tree.
 After camping we went to Crescent City, CA where we stayed in a beach house. It was right across the road from the beach and had a beautiful view of the ocean. It's not really a part of the coast where you can go play in the ocean, but the scenery is very dramatic and beautiful and you can go on very nice walks.

Battery Point Lighthouse
Very quaint and only accepts visitors at low tide.

On the beach.

Our "official" 2nd anniversary picture.
 Here's Mr. Mitchell writing our anniversary message:

Sr. George Reef Lighthouse
It's miles out and difficult to see; just follow Mr. Mitchell's finger.
 This lighthouse has an interesting history. I would recommend you check it out here
Using his binoculars.

Our last picture before we left Crescent City.
 We decided last year on our anniversary that we want to do temple sealings every year during our anniversary week/weekend to help bring others the happiness of eternal marriages and families. This year we remembered our camera and were able to document.

Medford, OR temple.
It was a smashing good time. We are very thankful to friends and families who made our anniversary getaway possible.
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