Dare to Dream

I read about a man who had a failed business venture and didn’t even have enough money to buy a railroad ticket to leave the scene of his failure. As the story goes he went door to door photographing babies, then sold his camera and bought a one-way ticket to California.

Here’s my favorite part:

He left Kansas City in July, wearing a checkered coat and un-matching pants. He had $40 cash, and his imitation-leather suitcase contained only a shirt, two undershorts, two pairs of socks and some drawing material. But when he paid his fare for the trip to California, he bought a first-class ticket.1

A first-class ticket?!?!

It seems foolish for a guy who had just begged and borrowed for his failed business to spend money on a first-class ticket. Seems frivolous. A misprioritization of funds. But this man had a first-class dream only fitting for a first-class ticket.

The man was Walt Disney.

Walt had first–class vision and considering he left Missouri on the heels of defeat, I’d say he had first-class ambition. In reading his biography by Bob Thomas, Walt Disney: An American Original, I learned many things about Walt. Much was unknown to me, but for the parts I knew, I gained a deeper understanding. For instance, Walt didn’t face just this one obstacle of failure. He faced several. But one of the reasons I find him to be so inspiring is his relentless determination to hold on to his dream.

Stories like Walt’s inspire me to pursue God’s callings even though I have no guarantee of success and to keep trucking even if I’m met with some obstacles of failure.

First-class vision. First-class ambition.

Maybe you don’t have a Walt Disney sized dream. I mean, seriously, who would’ve ever imagined? But the potential for what God wants to produce from your dream will never be known unless you keep trying. Maybe it won’t look like what you thought it would. Maybe it will be more than you could have ever thought or imagined.

Ephesians 3:19-21 TLB Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

There are some visions in my heart that just seem downright crazy. One I shared with my pharmacology instructor in nursing school. As I was speaking it out I thought, “I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. She probably thinks I’m nuts.” But something must have resounded in her, because she, to this day, is one of my biggest encouragers and supporters to keep moving toward that vision.

Here are some questions to consider…

Would you pursue your goal even if others doubted your ability?

If you failed at something you desired would you try again?

Do you look for new possibilities when you get rerouted from the original goal?

These were my thoughts last year when approaching my test to get my national certification in neonatal nursing. The reality of failure was thick. I mean I’d walk out with a paper that either said, PASS or FAIL.

I had studied and studied still yet, felt like I hadn’t studied enough. I married my book for a good two weeks. I went through all online practice questions, looking at not only the right answer, but also all three of the wrong answers per question, making notes as to the rationale for each one.

It was pouring down rain the day I went to take the test and on my way there I got a call that my daughter’s school was on lockdown for a reported gun on campus! Seriously! Talk about being rattled when you’re already rattled! At the reassurance of my husband, I proceeded on to the testing center thankful for him to be making decisions regarding the safety of our child.

The few items I took into the testing center were zipped in a bag and locked away. I lifted my pants for an evaluation that I wasn’t stowing any cheat sheets in my socks. Cameras were recording every moment, and I was suppose to relax, focus and think. Did I mention I have testing anxiety? I kept thinking, “Why do I do this to myself?!” Then it came time for the photo. I knew this photo would either have a pass or fail beside it when I left, but I chose to smile anyway.

This was my goal. This was my personal desire. I knew I needed to smile because no matter the outcome I was going to give my best, and I was going to keep trying. No one or nothing could influence my motivation more than my own desire.

I guess God has hard wired that approach in me by this point. I mean, considering this blog, I consistently overcome questions of my own doubt and it’s value to others when I write. Then there’s the book, the memoir I’m writing. How many times I’ve asked myself, “What if no one reads it?” To add to it are the speaking commitments. It’s awesome being asked to speak at an event, but what’s the point if no one shows up to hear it, or if it’s not relevant to them in their life?

I suppose what makes a dream a dream, is the possibility of failure or of it never becoming a reality. Without the latter, it’s not really a dream at all.

But who wants to fail? Who wants to invest their heart, thoughts and efforts into something that may never come to fruition?

No one, I would think. But wouldn’t we miss something of great value if we didn’t go for it? And even if it doesn’t pan out, we know that we’re becoming something in the process, more of who God wants us to be.

Well, we’ll never know if we quit, or never even try.

It’s why we do what we do unto the Lord and not unto people (Colossians 3:23), because God will get us where He wants us to be. He will make us into more of who He wants us to be through the process, but we have to stay the course, focused on Him.

Walt Disney buying that first-class ticket shows me that failure is more of a mindset than a reality. As Walt said, “Around here however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Nothing holds a candle to God’s creative work in our lives. But we play a part. We have to dare to dream.

I pray this post spoke to you. Did you know I’m writing a book?! Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog, sharing with your friends and family, or making a purchase below? We can’t grow with out you.

**If you are considering testing for your RNC, I invite you to purchase my study notes.  Your purchase will help us generate funds needed for website redevelopment and editing our book for publishing! The notes are compromised from the book Core Curriculum for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing Fourth Edition by M. Terese Verklan and Marlene Walden. My study notes include all lab values as listed in the book, and the online practice questions, also from the workbook Certification and Core Review for Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing Fourth Edition by Robin L. Watson. Also included is the information I needed to apply for the test.  After your purchase is complete, the study notes will be emailed to your address provided at checkout.**

Click Here to Purchase RNC Study Guide

1Walt Disney: An American Original (p.66)

 

What’s In This Box? The Meadows Merry Christmas to You!

What’s In This Box? The Meadows Merry Christmas to You!

Have you ever pulled wrapping paper off a box and got incredibly excited only to realize the box was solely for packaging purposes, that the item held within was not the one reflected on the box?

I’ve done that. It’s embarrassing.

Generally I still absolutely love the gift, but the situation makes me feel the necessity to overly emphasize my gratitude, as if I need to convince the giver that even though it wasn’t what I thought it was, it is still something I love.

You know. Something kinda like this year in reflection.

2016 held some things we would have preferred not to face, but the experiences have grown us individually and stronger together as a family. All in all, it was a year we’re overly grateful our Giver gave to us.

_42a8338Gavin turned 7 in July. He had his very first season of baseball last spring, and what an experience it was! His team was undefeated!!! Quite the start! Gavin took his position as catcher very seriously, not wanting the umpire to help him out in the least bit when throwing the ball back to the coach/pitcher. He may have found his niche, making the Dad so happy that Gavin shares his love of baseball. He played goalie in soccer and has now started his first year of basketball. Gavin is rocking it out in 1st grade, recently receiving Tiger Cub of the Month for December. While we wouldn’t consider him super social, his teacher tells us he demonstrates leadership qualities in the classroom and was just recognized for the life principle gentleness. Like all the rest of us, he’s making his way, doing a fine job.

_42a8353Caden moved out of the elementary school to middle school this year. All four kiddos are at different locations now, never to be back on the same campus again. Let the Mom shed a tear here.😢 Caden is in 4th grade with a rotating schedule, changing classes every hour, but his homeroom teacher is one of our best, dearest friends, having taught three of four kids so far. What a blessing! For Caden’s 10th birthday he wanted his room redecorated in a beach, surf theme. He has drums, a microphone, a guitar and a ukulele he tinkers around with here and there. We have a hunch that he’s got a music bug, but at this season he keeps busy with baseball, soccer and basketball. He is still the most laid-back, easy-going kid ever. Caden is very likable, even getting elected as class representative. He’s quite the guy.

_42a8347Jaron is in….wait for it….(can you hear the dun dun dunnn?)…..JUNIOR HIGH! We may have some negative opinions having been through this with child one, but Jaron seems to be handling the environment well at the time. 7th grade so far is good. He was able to join youth group starting in the summer and is on the student leadership team. Honestly it’s hard to wrap this kid up in one paragraph. He wants to be involved in everything and is starting to realize the challenge to be fully committed and effective in so many different areas. He’s playing soccer on a rec team, he ran cross country for the school, is playing school basketball and plays trumpet in band. I pray the Lord allows him many opportunities to soak up all he pursues in life. Jaron is the example of “making the most of our days,” and that translates to Mom and Dad trying to catch our breath in between it all!

_42a8366Brooklyn has put her best foot forward this year, finishing her first semester of 10th grade with an A in every class! She’s getting closer to becoming an independent driver having obtained her permit back in September. It was one of our highlights this year and we shared about it in The Other Side of Failing. Her passion is her horse, Gray Boy and she continues with improvements in making his house snazzy. She is enjoying having Jaron in youth group with her and serving on the student leadership together. We’re so proud of her growth, maturity and her vision for her future. It’s as if that future is speaking those words from playing tag, “ready or not, here I come.” And she is getting ready!

Brandon had an unexpected job change this year. We wrote about the experience in Living in a Layoff. We’ve always known that being an engineer in oil & gas in Oklahoma comes with a dose of unpredictability, but we never anticipated a layoff. Needless to say it was a big opportunity for our own growth. During the three months out of work he obtained his project management professional certification and is now working as a project manager for Rose Rock, and gets to work from home on Fridays! His office is right across the street from the hospital where I work.

The location is quite convenient and now Brandon and I carpool in together on the days I work. I’m still enjoying my NICU nurse gig at Saint Francis working a shift a week. Although I’m not there full time I’m quite passionate about my NICU babies. In April I obtained my RNC, a national certification in NICU nursing. In my time away from the hospital, I’m the official schedule coordinator for the family. I do my best but could definitely use more improvement. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten a kid. Yet. 😉 I continue serving events, conferences, schools, businesses, banquets and churches through inspirational motivational speaking when given the opportunity. However, the main task is the book project I’m working on, writing a personal memoir about persevering through life’s painful places. Our prayer is that it will be powerfully effective for those who need it in a time they need it most.

We’ve had some beautiful gifts in 2016. There was something special inside each package. Some were wrapped up in obvious goodness. Like our family’s mission trip with Brooklyn and Jaron to El Salvador with our church in June. Or our family vacation in October returning to see Mickey on Oahu. But even the challenging, unpleasant, unpredictable, unsure moments of the year held something special within them for us. And we have an expectation 2017 will hold the same.

It has been a joy sharing our moments with you through the year here on this blog. We can’t thank you enough for being a part of our online family. We pray the Lord continues using the posts to bring encouragement, inspiration, strength and joy to you as He continually provides to me in writing them.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! May you feel God’s presence and know His faithfulness today, in the New Year and every day thereafter, no matter what the package may look like!

Matthew 7:11NLT So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

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When We Just Don’t Know

Back in the days of sending group emails, before we had social media sharing, I received one along the lines of The Fifty Best Things About Having a Baby. If my memory serves me right, I believe I was expecting Jaron about the time I read it. Within the top three was getting to name a person. Are you kidding me?! Some people consider that to be one of the most wonderful things about having a baby? I thought it was one of the most difficult things about having a baby.

Brandon and I read the entire 100,001 Baby Names book, both girls’ and boys’ names just in case one gave us inspiration. And I still was asking the Lord, “Can you please send me an angel like in biblical times to say, ‘Heather, you are with child and you shall name the child [fill in God-given name]’?” There was so much pressure picking a name for this little bitty being, and pressure in hoping that it was a name they would like to live with— for the rest of their entire life.

It was just the beginning steps of our challenges in parenting. Many times over I have thought how awesome it would be if I showed up to the post office, opened that little mail box and pulled out a step-by-step manual of what do to with and for the fabulous people God has given us called children. I realize God’s Word provides all the ins-and-outs we need, but wouldn’t it be great for a chapter covering cell phones and social media?

I remember a similar feeling when I was in nursing school. Where does He want me to work in this ministry of nursing? I did an externship (same as an internship) in three different areas during my journey through school. People would ask me, “So what area do you want to go into?” My response was always, “Wherever God leads me.” Talk about a vague answer. But it was true. I didn’t really know where God wanted me to be. I would say, “I’m believing the area I’m suppose to work as a nurse is packaged up like a gift with a red bow under the tree on Christmas morning, and when it’s time, I’m gonna unwrap it and be so excited to find out!”

You all know that the angel never appeared to name our children, the book hasn’t shown up in the mail, and the gift was not under the Christmas tree. However….my children all have names which suit them quite well, Brandon and I have never been hanging out to dry on what to do for and with our kids (even though at times we have certainly felt like it), and I found my work home in the area of neonatal nursing with four years of reassuring moments that it’s right where God wants me to be.

The point is, for those of us who cherish itineraries and game plans, the unpredictable things in life can feel downright scary and may I add, confusing. Even though there are times it seems like a roadmap would be an appealing amenity for life’s journey, it would deprive us of some essential components to walking with the Lord—faith and trust.

What is faith if everything can be explained?

What is trust if we know what is to come?

Walking in faith and trust in the times we don’t have explanations or any idea what will come produces the most peculiar result—joy!

There is an on-the-edge-of-my-seat excitement knowing the Lord is going to orchestrate things beyond what my mind could think or imagine. It’s living in anticipation of seeing His hand at work in the difficult moments, knowing that He will provide what we need when we need it.

You have either experienced, are experiencing or will experience the unpredictable, scary and confusing, but you’ve got what you need to get through it. Let your faith be strengthened, your trust be deepened and your joy be completely full as you keep your focus on the One holding the road map.

Psalm 16:11 ESV You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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Scope-a-steth

Yesterday my newsfeed was filled with heart-touching National Neonatal Nurse’s Day posts. I was even tagged in some specific posts from some special little NICU grad families I had the privilege to care for. For certain, a sense of pride came over me, as I feel blessed to be counted amongst some amazing professionals in the field of neonatal nursing.

Honestly, I never thought I’d be a nurse. I remember people asking me if I wanted to be a doctor or nurse when grew up. But I didn’t. I had had my fill of hospitals and doctor’s offices. I pictured my future in a different setting than the one I grew up with.

Obviously, something changed, because here I am today, a nurse. And I couldn’t be more proud to wear the title.

The more I grew, the more I realized that trying to separate my life from healthcare, was to separate myself from who I am.   I am a long-term patient, with much experience in the role, which is perhaps, one of the greatest assets to being a nurse.

My doctors have been phenomenal. From Dr. George Cohlmia who repaired the transection to my descending aorta, to Dr. Hans Norberg, Dr. Paul Park, and Dr. Ed Kramer who cared for me during my many days in the burn center. Then to Dr. Robert Kirk who made necessary adjustments to my changing body, to now, Dr. Mark Mathers, who just last week held my husband and my hands leading us in prayer before surgery. My life has been saved and significantly improved by the work of amazing physicians.

So what drew me to nursing?

Well, God called me to nursing and He brought to mind all the nurses who impacted my life through those critical times, medically and emotionally speaking. Like Lois, my nurse, who was the only one able to understand my efforts to communicate each time I was intubated on mechanical ventilation. Like my nurse Vicki who identified a problem from the first chest x-ray obtained after my injury. Like my nurse Kelly, who made me feel calm in times I was scared. Like my nurse Ken who made the necessary tank room visits for bandage changes a little bit fun and somewhat amusing. Like my nurse Carolyn who sat at my bedside in the dark of night showing me photos of her puppies in efforts to comfort me after my bad dreams.

I could dedicate a blog post just to them, but I think Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson expressed it quite accurately in her monologue for the Miss America competition this past Sunday night.  They weren’t just nurses; they were lifesavers!

I can’t remember the last time I watched the Miss America pageant, but I was lying around recovering from a recent surgery and took the opportunity. Of course my curiosity was raised when I saw her in scrubs while the others were decked out in formal wear. Still, I loved her talent portion. Instead of trying to fit into the standard song and dance routines we typically see in pageants, she demonstrated first of all, courage to do something different, and conviction to share her passion.

Am I surprised that this beautiful, and yes, talented young lady, was the target of ridicule? Unfortunately, I’m not. It seems that anyone who steps out to do anything makes themself a target. Each of those girls, in their pursuit of success, became an object of ridicule to the multitude of critics. No tears shed for them though, because they’re the type that will continually rise above it and press on to do great things.

What I am surprised at, however, is the comment made from a commentator on a network talk show. No, I don’t watch The View. I remember when it first started airing, my Grandma, in her most annoyed tone, would say, “How can you even hear what’s being said with all of them talking at the same time?” Nevertheless, nurses heard loud and clear the perplexity as to why Miss Colorado, being a nurse, was even wearing what was described as a “doctor’s” stethoscope.

And here is one of the reasons I, nor my Grandma, were ever fans of the show. Who doesn’t know nurses use stethoscopes?

I realize some time was given for the ladies to address the subject on the show. While it didn’t sound like much of an apology, the issue was acknowledged.

I love what came out of the whole ordeal, all the posts from nurses showing their stethoscopes and highlighting the talent to use them. Yes, Miss Colorado has talent. More than that—she has heart! And you can’t find many with a heart bigger than a nurse!

I hope many more people hear the message Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson had to share; seeing patients for people, valuing nurses as lifesavers. And I hope we can even gain a lesson from The View, the importance of thinking before speaking.  Because, yes, we were listening.

Many thanks to the individuals dedicated to this nursing profession being used in touching countless lives.

Many thanks to B-Dub for teaching nursing students that you need a nurse to save your life. IMG_2827

Last but not least, many thanks to the nephew of my nursing school classmate who called a stethoscope and scope-a-steth.  Seems fitting for this discussion.

Way to go, ANA!  see People’s Article at http://www.people.com/article/joy-behar-blasted-american-nurses-association-mocking-miss-america-nurse

 

May we all be challenged in His Word. Proverbs 10:19-21 NLT

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

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Nurses Cry

There are a few days out of each month I have the privilege of walking the halls amongst many great minds and using my life to be of use to another. While I cherish the moments I have to spend working as a neonatal intensive care nurse, I know God is calling me to use my life in some other areas as well. We want to be right where He wants us to be, when He wants us to be there. Although my time in the NICU looks differently now, I’m grateful I still have the opportunity to be there in some capacity. I see mighty works occur in that place, the power of God demonstrated before our very eyes.

There was a season I invested a full-time schedule in the NICU. And during that time I had the privilege of being a part of many families’ journeys. In our unit, our families are given the option to choose which nurses they would prefer to care for their baby. Personalities and dispositions of parents and nurses connect differently, and having a strong connection benefits the baby’s care. One way in particular is from the consistency it provides.

Being asked to primary a baby is a great honor. I mean, to be chosen, is a pretty incredible feeling. Picture being asked out on a date. It means you stood out, you’ve been evaluated and assessed, and the conclusion made is that you’re of value. Someone wants to take you out and spend their money just to spend some time with you and get to know you more. It’s more than the, you’re good enough message, it’s communicating, you’re really great!

While primary nursing isn’t exactly as charming as dating, it certainly provides for a strong bond to be made. Spending twelve hours a day, three days a week, for sometimes and often, months at a time, creates a special connection for nurses with the baby and the family. It’s an endearment that lasts far beyond the discharge date. Friendships are frequently formed. Updates are routinely given. Messages are usually exchanged and occasionally, invitations are extended.

Just a month ago I received such a message and along with it came a request. A sweet woman who once chose me to be a part of caring for her sick baby, was now asking me to help her with an endeavor to help others. She contacted me only a month ago regarding a charitable organization they had formed, expressing her intentions for this project, “to help families with preemie or sick babies.” Her heart for others was evident, “our goal is to help with breast pumps or paying the rental fee for moms who want to breastfeed.” She continued, “to also provide information and resources to them.”

Upon receiving the message, I was honored she felt my contributions through writing would be advantageous for her organization. I was more than willing to compose a post for her. Her last message to me was in regards to her precious baby, “we have such a miracle thanks to all of you that worked so hard on her behalf.”

There is so much I don’t understand about life. There are so many questions I have.

It was a rainy morning that particular Thursday I found myself back in the NICU. I was eager to be there. See, we’ve had a storm at home. From it I’ve contended those occasionally inevitable feelings that nothing I do is good enough and that I can’t get right the stuff that really matters. It sounds selfish, but I needed some time to feel useful, to feel productive, to feel good about what I do. Barely into the eight o’clock cares, my phone received messages my heart could not process.

Message after message came through from those who knew of my connection to this family.

While I didn’t know them well, I knew enough. I knew being a mother was the most important role to this woman. I knew her children to be kind, well mannered and respectful. I knew her to be concerned for others, wanting to help in any way she could. She was dedicated, sensitive, kind, sweet and reasonable. Why use the word reasonable? The NICU sees parents at their worst, when they have no control over caring for their own baby. We walked through a dark time with them, and they came alongside us as a team, for what was best for their baby.

I can’t imagine all the things that may be said about them. Who knows what may or may not have happened? Who knows why?

We’re so inclined to ask, but nothing could attest to the senseless tragedy which has unfolded before us all.

There are times I wish I could emotionally “end my assignment.” We log in at the end of our shift, report off to the next shift, select our patients in the charting program, right click, select “end my assignment,” we clock out and we go home to come back and do it again.   But sometimes we barely get the car door closed before the well bursts open, tears of compassion a nurse can’t help but shed. Sometimes we can’t go to sleep fueled with concern for our little patients. Sometimes we call in the middle of the night just to check in where our heart has stayed, with the patient, with the family, with the hope that a positive outcome will surface.

Nursing is more than a career option. It’s more than a schedule of twelve-hour shifts in which you rarely sit down and sometimes even forgo eating and bathroom breaks. It’s more than stethoscopes, meds and tracking I’s and O’s. It’s an investment of heart. It’s giving a piece of your life for another, and there are times, you’re blessed to be given a piece of theirs. Sometimes it hurts. Many times we cry. But there’s no doubt, someone who is called to be a nurse, will always come back to do it again.

This mother asked me to use my voice here at this blog to inform readers about their organization. I am grieved by the opportunity I no longer have to fulfill her request. So today, I write a little about what I knew of her and her family. I write to say something good about their family while many may be formulating very negative opinions. Above all, I write to point to the One who is greater than the most heinous of all acts, our magnificent God. Only He can bear the turmoil, only He can touch the hearts, only He can speak into the darkness, only He can comfort the overwhelming loss.

Job 19:25 ESV

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

and at the last He will stand upon the earth.

Romans 16:20 ESV

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

A Nurse’s Prayer by Rita Riche

Almighty God, Divine Healer of all, grant me Your handmaiden, strength and courage in my calling.

Give to my heart, compassion and understanding.

Give to my hands, skill and tenderness.

Give to my mind knowledge and wisdom.

Especially, Dear Lord, help me always to remember the true purpose of my vocation, that of self-less service and dedication to the weak and despairing in body and spirit. Amen

*please help in avoiding any mention of names in comments– bless you for your thoughts, your compassion, and your prayers.

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Please Be Our 100

Last week, my husband and I marked our 13th anniversary as parents.  Put another way, our oldest child had her 13th birthday one week ago, marking the day we first became parents.  Many of you are familiar with our story.  The story that our daughter may have never been born and we would have never become parents at all.  The story that confronted our faith, stared down the doubt in our hearts and faced fear head on.

Brooklyn is a beautiful and healthy thirteen year old, and no matter how many years pass us by, I am still moved to tears to reflect on the moment when an obstetrician reviewed my medical history and advised us to consider terminating our pregnancy.  My burn injury is obvious, but it was the unknown condition to the repair of my descending aorta that had so much cause for concern.  I wanted nothing more than to have my baby, and having a physician lay out the risk of my death before my very young eyes was terrifying and infuriating all at the same time.

I had a plan.  And terminating our pregnancy was not at all part of it.  More importantly, God had a plan and His plan echoed the words of Jesus, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 1:27).  We clung to that scripture, and on March 4th 2001 at 11:24pm our precious baby girl made her entrance into the world, weighing five pounds, nine ounces, five weeks early due to the onset of preeclampsia.

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5 days before Brooklyn was born.

brooklyn2

Became a Daddy…. Brandon holding Brooklyn March 4th 2001

It would have been foolish to proceed with our own family planning agenda without further investigating the condition of my aortic repair.  Therefore, a little over a year later, I had a transesophageal echocardiogram, or TEE, performed to assess the current state of my repair.  Following the procedure, in my drug induced state, I repeatedly asked the cardiologist one question, “Will I be able to have more children?”

The answer was, obviously, “yes!”  But my second pregnancy wasn’t without complication.  A mama’s body remembers pregnancy and is somewhat ahead of the game for subsequent pregnancies.  Every mama knows what I’m talking about.  That belly may not get bigger overall, than the last pregnancy, but one thing is apparent, that belly gets bigger faster, and that caused incredible discomfort for me the second time round.  I remember my husband getting home in the evenings and telling him that I just couldn’t stand to stretch anymore for one day.  It was so uncomfortable.  But it was well worth it, because I got one amazing little man.  My very first son was born December 23, 2003 at 7:26pm.  We gave him the name Jaron, which means “he will sing; he will cry out.”  Jaron was my largest baby, weighing in at exactly seven pounds; not large compared to many others, but large for me.  My narrow pelvis presented a challenge for every one of my deliveries, but since my abdomen is scarred, my doctor avoided C-Section at all cost in order to avert the likeliness of a skin graft.  Jaron was quite distressed upon birth and was taken to the NICU and placed on a ventilator.  Despite his arrival with respiratory distress, he was out of the hospital and home with us after eight days.  My now ten year old is strong and active, as any athlete would be.

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Expecting our first boy! October 2003

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Daddy holding Jaron for the first time in the NICU.

My heart held the dream of a somewhat large family, but I knew my abdomen couldn’t accommodate it.  I visited my plastic surgeon and he released scar tissue and did skin grafts to my abdomen, groin and inner thighs; the abdomen for previously stated reasons, my groin and inner thighs in attempt to help with the delivery process.  This made a tremendous difference in my third and fourth pregnancies.  Still yet, it was incredibly tight, but I carried Caden longer than any other of my children.  He arrived only eleven days early on August 15th 2006 at 8:40 a.m., weighing six pounds, eight ounces.  Caden did amazing.

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At the hospital ready for Caden!

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A long but good night! Caden brand spanking new with his proud family!

Our fourth child, Gavin was born July 13th 2009 at 6:32 a.m., weighing five pounds, four ounces, five weeks early; again, due to preeclampsia.  Gavin came out vigorous and strong, but it wasn’t long until the magnesium that I was on throughout labor started taking a toll on his little body.  Gavin also ended up in the NICU for respiratory distress, but came home on a monitor at five days of life.

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Getting ready for Gavin’s arrival at the hospital.

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Daddy getting a moment to hold Gavin, our smallest baby, right after he was born.

Every one of my pregnancies was a challenge.  None of them were easy breezy.  Every one of my deliveries were hard.  Each child was born with the assistance of vacuum and forceps.  I was quite consistent in my pushing, getting every one of them out after approximately two and a half hours.  It was exhausting, it was thrilling, and it was scary.  I had the privilege of bringing four incredible human beings into this world.  But again…..it wasn’t without difficulty.  It was actually laden with complication, and some my say, for that, I am foolish.  But I had a plan, remember?  I had a plan of a big family and I knew, with God, that was possible.

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Not one to share my body publicly, but putting it aside to illustrate the obstacles of burn survivors and pregnancy. Not much room left. This was at the hospital with Caden. Thankful to have had the large skin graft allowing extra give in order to grow.

Thankfully, there is an organization who helps babies born with complication.  They have developed materials to educate women on how to grow healthy babies; not merely just be pregnant, but how to grow a person.  This organization has researched and formulated drugs given to babies for their best chances of survival after birth.  This organization dedicates funds to continual research and development for babies.

There are many who have a dream to be a mom, but that dream comes with challenges.  Sometimes, despite doing everything right, things go wrong, and there are interventions utilized in those moments, thanks to the contributions from March of Dimes.

As you tuck in your children this evening, or ponder the memories of days gone by, please consider those families who haven’t had the opportunity and consider those families who do, because of what someone else gave.  Our goal is to have 100 friends support us.  100 friends giving $5 each, helping us raise a total of $500 for the babies.

Would you please consider clicking here and making a $5 donation on our behalf?  Your donation honors many families and it honors those of us who dedicate our professional lives to care for the sick babies, to make them well…..forever there is hope.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. NIV

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http://www.marchforbabies.org/personal_page.asp?pp=3709568&ct=4&w=6360721&u=meadows99    please be one of our 100 for $5

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A Little Insight

Can you picture with me a sixteen month-old baby?  Most likely, they have recently tackled the art of walking.  Although they may be unsteady at times, they get from one place to another with determination and speed.  They have independence in their ambulating, no longer solely dependent on someone to pick them up and carry them. They may weeble, they may wobble, sometimes trip and stumble, but they know where they want to go and they teeter around until they get there.

This is the picture of me, and how I felt this past week.  While I’ve developed as a NICU nurse and “found my feet,” I nevertheless felt somewhat wobbly walking into my assignment. The time we allot to report off from night shift to day shift was also utilized the other morning to set up for a common procedure on preemies; a PDA ligation.

Despite the confidence and competence I’ve gained over these last sixteen months, I had never been involved with, observed or cared for, a baby on a PDA ligation day.  Therefore, I expressed this to the cardiac coordinator.  Yes, it was humbling, and somewhat embarrassing, but I didn’t want there to be an assumption that I was well versed in my role for this procedure.  My personal pride, and her assumption of my expertise, was not worth an oversight.  And she was more than gracious in explaining what needed to be done in preparation, in addition to what I needed to do post op.

The procedure went smoothly and was completed in under an hour.  The rest of the day was not as smooth.  I titrated dopamine and gave a bolus of normal saline as ordered to maintain the baby’s mean blood pressure within set parameters.  I administered morphine and versed as ordered, and still found it troubling that I couldn’t get the baby’s heart rate out of the consistent 230s range.  I assisted in failed attempts to place a peripheral arterial line.  I reluctantly continued drawing CBGs and a repeatedly clotted CBC sample via heel sticks on my minimal handling protocol patient.  Ventilation changes to the conventional ventilator and JET were made in response to the result of some concerning cap gas results.

All throughout the day, I questioned myself as to what nursing intervention I should make.  I did everything I knew to do, and yet wasn’t getting the results I desired nor the assurance that I wasn’t missing something.  At one point, I asked one of our unit’s highly knowledgeable and respected transport nurses what she thought I should do.  She seemed hesitant to brainstorm with me, as she knew I had already inquired to one of the neonatologists.  I said, “Okay, listen NICU nurse of eight years, versus this one of sixteen months, I need some insight.”

And sometimes, that’s all we need.  We need a little insight.  The fact of the matter is, that baby’s circulatory system had made a big change, and the time of transition is bumpy.  It’s par for the course.  I showed up that day with the skill and knowledge to care for that baby, but I was just a little wobbly.  I knew where I was headed.  I knew the goal.  But I needed a little assistance and reassurance in getting there.

No matter where we are in our walk, or which walk we’re walking; whether it’s our walk with the Lord, our walk in our marriage, our walk as a parent, as a friend, as a professional; the fact is, sometimes we need a little insight, a little assistance, a little reassuranceSometimes we still need a little support.  Like those sixteen month old wobbly walking, yet focused and confidently independent new walkers, there are times that require us to reach up and grab a hold of a little help, even if it’s just a finger to hold.

Psalm 121:1-8 (NIV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
He will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going 
both now and forevermore.

~~ a good video of a PDA ligation procedure ~~

caution: not everyone would enjoy watching

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