Monday, September 3, 2012

Mercy Project

I know, I know.  I haven't posted in 5 months.  I WILL get caught up, because this seconds as my family scrapbook.  We got a new computer, and things have been different with it.  From now on, I will post a new post on the current happenings, along with a flashback post until I get caught up again.  I thought a great way to get back into the blogging world is to post something important.  Critical, really.  And something that actually deals with an issue close to my heart - child slavery.

Heather asked me, along with 99 other bloggers, to be a part of getting the word out about Mercy Project, which was started by a sweet couple in a local church that many others are involved in. Mercy Project is currently working in Ghana to help end child slavery and trafficking. Go read for yourselves about how you may get involved:
There’s an estimated 7,000 children who work in the Ghana fishing industry. Some of
these children are as young as 5 and 6 years old.  All of these children are slaves.

Today many in our country will take a day off from our jobs to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers.  No matter if we’re celebrating at home or at the beach, we’re entering into a tradition that has largely been shaped by Labor Unions - organizations that are dedicated to protecting workers’ interests and improving their wages, hours, and working conditions.  Today as we lounge around or hang out with friends and family, we’re not only celebrating hard work, we’re honoring fair, ethical working practices and the laws that prevent discrimination, abuse, and child labor in our country.  Without these laws in place (and enforced), the most vulnerable members of society suffer.  Who are the most vulnerable? Children. 

"God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation." -- Tim Keller in Generous Justice  

Today as we’re celebrating the systems in our own country that strive to prevent injustices like child trafficking and child labor, we’re mindful of the many child slaves around the world who are unprotected and the organizations, like Mercy Project, who are working to free them.

"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong." -- Abraham Lincoln

As a mother, it’s difficult for me to imagine my children working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I’m unable to wrap my brain around the thought of my children engaged in long, hard days of physical labor, eating one meal a day, and then falling asleep at night on a dirt floor filled with other slave children.  Yet this is the daily reality for kids who have been trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa.  As with much of Africa, there is a great deal of poverty in Ghana. Unfortunately, this leaves many mothers in an unimaginable position: sell their children to someone who can take better care of them or watch them starve to death. Most of the mothers are told their children will be given food, housing, and an education. Instead, the kids are often taken to Lake Volta where they become child slaves and their mothers never see them again.  Thankfully, Mercy Project is working to break the cycles of trafficking around Lake Volta by providing alternate, more efficient, sustainable, fishing methods for villagers – ultimately eliminating the need for child slaves.  Because of the work Mercy Project is doing in Ghana, the first group of children will be freed this month from Lake Volta. 

We invite you to watch this moving, 10 minute documentary about the issues surrounding child labor and trafficking in Ghana and most importantly the hope Mercy Project is bringing to children and entire communities in Africa.  Mercy Project is the only NGO working on Lake Volta addressing the injustice of child labor and child trafficking at its root - by strengthening the Ghanaian economy and eliminating the structures that cause the demand for trafficked children. 

Whether these ideas of child labor, child trafficking, and modern-day slavery are new to you or you’re aware of these injustices, but need to hear some good news every once in awhile, we invite you to become a part of whatMercy Project is doing in Ghana.  When Mercy Project frees their first group of children this month, we can all celebrate together.

Learn more and get involved by:

• Watching Mercy Project’s short documentary. 

• Following Mercy Project on Facebook.

• Connecting with Mercy Project via Twitter.  [link provided below]

• Spending some time on Mercy Project’s website.  [link provided below]

• Sharing about Mercy Project’s work in Ghana with your friends. 

Although child trafficking, child labor, and the unstable economies that result in these injustices are a tragedy, we’re grateful for what Mercy Project is doing to protect the vulnerable and for allowing us to be a part of this story.   While we’re commemorating labor laws and ethical work in our own country today, we invite you to follow along on this journey with Mercy Project to protect and free children in Ghana.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Noah's early days

Here are some photos from Noah's first month. Such a precious baby.
Yes, he has dimples, just like Luke:

Luke continues to be an amazing big brother! (So does Jack!)

I love the post-bath fuzzy heads that all three of my boys have had as newborns.

He had a hard time gaining weight for quite some time, so his doctor told me to supplement with a little formula to get his weight up. Thankfully, this didn't last long, as we hired a lactation consultant to meet with me once and clear up his nursing difficulties. (One would think I would have this down by baby #3, right?!)

Big brothers continue to lavish toys upon him!
Noah has been the best, sweetest baby since day one! We love him so much.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


I am so behind on this blog. So behind, that I feel overwhelmed. Just to recap December through February:

1. Luke was sick with pneumonia in mid-December. We ended up in the ER. Antibiotics cleared it right up.
2. Jack got a nasty virus. I'm still not positive what it was, but I'm thinking it was the flu. Fever and LOTS of coughing. This also resulted in an ear infection.
3. Jack gave the virus to Luke. This resulted in another bout with pneumonia and a nasty ear infection.
4. Luke's fever spiked to 103 after he was over halfway through with his antibiotics. We took him to an urgent care clinic. They ran every test in the book, and found out that he had bilateral pneumonia and the ear infection was still there. He had to have a very painful antibiotic shot.
5. We took Luke to follow up with pediatrician a few days later (one day before we were to fly to California for my sister's wedding). His lungs sounded decent, not great. And, his ear infection was horrible still. Poor thing had to endure another antibiotic shot.
6. I got the virus. I was MISERABLE. High fever, bodyaches, awful cough. We fly to California feeling pretty puny. I have never felt so much pain when we descended. I thought my head might just explode.
7. Greg felt fluish for a few days, but seemed to escape the worst of it.
8. Luke seemed better in California, praise God! But, Noah started getting really congested and coughing. We took him to an urgent care in California. Doctor said he had a virus.
9. I was still coughing up a storm in California. On our flight back, I started feeling like I had pulled a muscle or something in my rib area from coughing. However, the next day, I couldn't move because of the pain. I went to urgent care and found out that I had FRACTURED my rib from coughing. Nothing they could do to help...just had to heal on its own. That was a good week of intense pain. I am better now, but certainly not 100%.
10. Jack got sick, again. High fevers, just puny. Doctor said he had an ear infection again. Oral antibiotics didn't clear it up, so they had to give him an antibiotic shot. Broke my heart.
11. At that appointment, I told his doctor that he had been complaining about pain in his groin area. I won't go into details here, but let's just say that he was examined, and the doctor was worried. He scheduled an emergency appointment with the urologist later that day, who happened to be working an hour away that day. Everything checked out okay, but we sure were scared that day.
12. Noah got really congested again, and his eyes became goopy. I was concerned it was pink eye, so I took him to the doctor. No pink eye, just a cold and a DOUBLE EAR INFECTION. Poor baby boy.
13. In the meantime, Luke's ear infection still hadn't cleared up, but his pneumonia did. So, we were referred to the ENT. He finally didn't have an infection, but he did have some hearing loss and lots of fluid in his ears. We go back next week. If the fluid it still there, he will have to have tubes.
14. I took Jack back to doctor to recheck ears. Same infection, lots of fluid. We have to go back in about a month to see if it has cleared up.
15. Oh, and in the middle of all this at some point, Luke and I both got a nasty stomach virus.
16. I got mastitis. Misery.

I am tired just typing all of this out. I can't believe how sick we all were. I felt like it would never end. Not to mention, the hundreds and hundreds of dollars we spent on co-pays! This truly makes me grateful for our healthy seasons of life, and for the fact that none of these illnesses were serious. Our life seems to have stopped, and it was probably the hardest couple of months in my life. It all started as the newborn fog was clearing. So, we are just now starting to feel somewhat normal since the beginning of November. And, we still aren't out of the woods. I would appreciate prayer for Luke and Jack that their fluid will clear out so they won't need surgery.

Here's to hoping I get caught up on this blog very soon! And to strong immune systems!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hospital & Home

We sure loved our snuggly little newborn at the hospital. Gosh, that newborn stage flies by!
Big brother stopped by after preschool and got lots of Noah time as well!
This was our attempt at brother pictures with their matching shirts. They were clearly enthusiastic about this! Ha!

So sweet.

He did have a hard time keeping his temperature up. That meant extra time in the nursery under the warmers and extra time on my chest. We also kept his footie pajamas on over his hospital shirt. This also meant an extra day at the hospital, because the pediatrician wasn't comfortable doing his circumcision while he struggled with his temperature.
Luke and Jack made some pictures for Noah.
Oh my word. Look at this sweet baby:
Luke learned the phrase, "Give him some space" very quickly.

Then, on Friday, 11-11-11, we were ready to head home. I'm sure glad that we didn't have him on 11-11-11, although it would have been a cool birthday. There were apparently an insane amount of planned c-sections that day. The hospital was packed, nursery was too busy, and all of the nurses were scrambling. It was perfect timing to get out of there.

Greg went home to grab Luke so that he could come with us while Jack napped at home. Here is our sweet snuggly boy ready to be home!

Greg brought the car up, then took this picture from outside:
Sweet Luke was eager to help!
All buckled in!

After a quick stop at Starbucks, we were home! Remember when I said that they gave me extra fluids? Can you tell here? I have never been so swollen. Everywhere. It took at least a week to look somewhat normal.
Macie met the newest baby. I'm sure she was thrilled.
Nana was anxious to hold little Noah. They got lots of cuddle time that day. So sweet.
And, of course, Luke had to be right by him ALL. DAY. LONG.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

November 9, 2011

I apologize in advance for the insane amount of pictures and details in this post. I post this mainly for our memory.

Having gone into labor early with Luke and Jack, it was a unique experience this time to be induced. We woke up early on November 9th, feeling so surreal that it was our long-awaited Noah's birth day! We called the hospital to make sure there was a room for us, and they informed us to come right away. Kissing Luke and Jack goodbye was a little emotional for me. Then, Greg and I were on our way to St. Joseph Hospital to have our baby boy! It was a beautiful, sunny, brisk autumn day.

We checked in and were sent up to Labor & Delivery on the third floor. We were greeted by the sweetest nurse, April. We have been blessed with great nurses for all three boys. I told all three of them that they are my new heroes.
I love, love my OB, Dr. Appleton. She is laid back, listens well, is confident and desires to do exactly what I wished. She checked my dilation right away, and I was already at a FIVE! I don't know how I wasn't already in active labor...a FIVE! Anyway, she broke my water, and allowed me to walk around for about an hour to see if things would progress naturally afterward. So, Greg and I began our venture around the hospital. I felt so blessed as I was walking that we were at the hospital for such a joyous reason, unlike the rest of the hospital.
Greg ate some yummy breakfast at the cafeteria. I wasn't allowed, so Greg felt bad. But, I assured him that I wanted him to eat and feel well that day.
After an hour or so, contractions did begin to pick up some, but nothing significant. So, they started my pitocin around 10:00.
There was a very quiet, peaceful time for Greg and me between 10-12ish. I think we even napped. Around noon, my contractions got pretty strong, so I went ahead and asked for an epidural. This went really smoothly - great anesthesiologist! With Jack, my blood pressure dropped dangerously low right after the epidural, and I had to have some medication. So, this time, they gave me extra fluids to avoid this. I would later learn that these extra fluids made my whole body extra swollen!

Shortly after the epidural, Greg's parents showed up from Tyler and met my mom and the boys at the hospital. We all visited a few minutes before Greg's parents took the boys to Chick-Fil-A for lunch.
Luke was very confused as to why the baby wasn't already there. Such a hard concept to teach a four-year-old!
Jack wore Papa's glasses!
My contractions were pretty strong!
Around 1:30, I was checked and was only at a six. Dr. Appleton was pretty surprised. She thought I would have had him by then, since he was my third baby. But, I remembered that I was "stuck" at a six with both of my other boys. Then, it just progressed rapidly after that.
We took a picture of the clock each time I was checked. This was when I was a six:
We had a bit of a scare with the epidural. I started feeling numb all the way up to my collar bone area. You're not supposed to feel numb above your belly. So, my nurse called the anesthesiologist and was instructed to turn my epidural meds off and elevate my body so that the meds could stay down. I stayed numb for a long nurse grew a bit concerned. Finally, I started feeling things again. I don't think they started the epidural again until right before I pushed!

About an hour later, I started shaking uncontrollably and feeling lots of pressure. Noah was on the move! My nurse checked, and I was at a seven!

I thought I would have progressed further than just one centimeter. But, my nurse suddenly got her game face on, and all sorts of people started entering the room to prepare things. She also called Dr. Appleton, who had gone back to the clinic. She later told me that she can tell when a mom is about to give birth. Sure enough, just 15 very uncomfortable minutes later, I was at a NINE!

We suddenly both got very emotional. It was about to happen! We were about to meet our sweet Noah! The tears were flowing!
Dr. Appleton came in and got ready (in the background).
Just three pushes later, Noah Brooks was born at 3:11 pm. One of the best moments of my life. I will never forget the anxiety of feeling him come out, hearing his cry, and waiting to see him for the first time while his nose was suctioned and Greg cut the cord. Those 20ish seconds felt like 20 minutes!
There he is!
They immediately placed him on my chest, which we have pictures of, but none of them are blog-appropriate! ;) I love those moments when I see them for the first time, see their eyes open and observe their skin turn pink. Such a miracle!

Also, one of our most memorable happenings of Noah's birth was when Greg cut the cord. Somehow, he cut it in the wrong place and blood. flew. everywhere. Everywhere! My doctor's shoes, the walls, my legs, the floor...everywhere. They assured us that it didn't hurt Noah, but it sure was creepy-looking!

St. Joseph is a teaching hospital, so there were so many people in the room. After our bonding time with him on my chest, they took him and started their cleaning/assessments.
He looks so much like Luke's newborn pictures!
Ahhh..laying under the warmer.
Greg is one proud Daddy.

The first time Greg held him:

I love how he automatically grabbed my finger. Such a sweet moment.

We knew right away that he was smaller than my other two. We also knew that his head was smaller because the hospital cap never fit Luke or Jack. :)

We were so instantly in love with this sweet baby.
Proud Nana took pictures to send to the rest of the family. She was so sweet and just acted as our photographer. Sadly, there aren't many pictures of her that day because she was behind the camera for the majority of the day.
The nurses made sure there was no more blood in the room before the big brothers came in. I appreciated this because it would have freaked them out to come into a bloody room. Finally, it was their turn to meet Baby Noah!
"Where is he?"
This was the moment he spotted him for the first time.
And, the infatuation begins...

Luke was so excited to hold him. The little stuffed animal is "Max", the class mascot for his preschool class that the kids get to take home from time to time.
Greg and I had never seen him so infatuated with someone or something in his entire life. Borderline obsessed with Noah. Such a sweet big brother.

First family pictures as a family of FIVE! (Still hard to believe!)

Proud grandparents. Notice Luke still can't keep his eyes off of Noah.

After feeding him for the first time and having some special time with just Greg and me, he was sent to the nursery for his weight, bath and observation under the warmers.

Seven pounds, eleven ounces, 20 inches long. Perfect boy.
Sweet head of hair:
The observers:

His first bath:

Luke and Jack were exhausted by this point. So, Greg's parents headed back to Tyler, and my mom brought the boys home for some rest. I was transported to my postpartum room, and Noah spent a few hours in the nursery. I was SO ready to see him again. Greg and I spent a good hour or two just admiring him when he came to our room.

Later that evening, my mom came back with the big brothers. She said that Luke didn't stop talking about Noah the entire evening. They brought Noah a Happy Birthday cake with some plates and forks. So sweet and so much fun. Thanks for being to thoughtful and making it special for all of us, Mom!

They stayed a short time, gave Noah some love, and headed home to get to bed. Greg and I got some decent rest that night because they require babies to stay in the nursery while parents sleep at night.

November 9, 2011. One of the best days of our lives.

"Happy Zero Birthday, Noah!" (as Luke and Jack say!)