Splash Pad!

The last week and a half has been crazy around here with house inspections, mortgage meetings, trying to keep this place clean in case someone has to come do some other kind of inspection (which is nearly impossible with a little D running right behind you undoing what's just been done), me going back to work three mornings a week, and just regular old life.  But we wouldn't have it any other way! ;)

Since somebody isn't interested in any of the above, he made a request to take a break from house stuff and take advantage of the big kids being back in school.   He wanted to take a trip to the splash pad.  His daddy was happy to oblige because he had been dying to take D back since our first trip that got rained thundered out.  Other than two other kids, we had the place to ourselves!

D was SO excited to play!

He loved trying to plug the water holes,

but figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't really possible.
For some reason we couldn't keep him off the ground.  
This guy is plain crazy about water! 

He tried to coax the water out

of his favorite yellow sprinkler,

because it was definitely the most fun.

I think this one is the coolest, but D didn't really think so.  Justin said that there was quite a bit of force coming from these buckets...guess that's why D didn't like it so much. 

He kept Justin busy...always one step ahead and fearless!

Fearless until the collision with his favorite yellow sprinkler!

When D ran through the water he kept his eyes closed.  He stayed on a straight path almost the whole time, but apparently he made the mistake of stopping in the middle to enjoy the water.  Once he was ready to complete his run through, he mistakenly made a slight turn to the left and we heard a BINGGGGGGG!!! followed by an immediate scream from D.  That yellow sprinkler won!
He was pretty mad at the sprinkler after that and refused to go through by himself anymore.  Justin convinced him to try again, but he lost it half way through.  No more fun for D!

But boo boo and all,

this little guy

had a GREAT time! :)

{And for those of you who are wondering, no, it's not the camera.  Yes, he's blue.  It happens often.  The water was cool but I assure you, it was at least 97 degrees.  No one gets cold in South Carolina in August.  It's just not possible! :) } 


P.S. In case you've forgotten....the Hope for BraveHEARTS golf tournament is coming up SOON (Sept. 25th)!!  We're still looking for teams, hole sponsors, and door prizes.  You can print the form from the Hope for BraveHEARTS website (www.hopeforbravehearts.org).  You can sponsor a hole as a business or individual in honor or in memory of your heart hero!  We'd love to have your support!!


Our Heart Story

Every Heart Has a Story

My friend Stef is having a "Heart Stories" party over at her blog today.  Some of you have been on this ride with us since we found out about Derrick's heart, and some of you are new.  If you've been along for a while, we're so thankful for you and your prayers for our little man.  They've been what's gotten us through this crazy ride.  If you're new, we hope you'll stick around so we become friends.  We love the support and connections this blog has brought for us and we love sharing the funny, scary, and everyday things we go through as we raise this silly boy we call D.

Shortly after celebrating our second anniversary we found out we were going to have a baby.  We were ecstatic!  The pregnancy was perfect...I wasn't sick, wasn't worried.  I felt fine other than being worn out by the time I got home in the afternoons.  Everything was going exactly as planned.  

Until week 24.

At the 20 week ultrasound (where we found out we were having a little boy...Derrick!) we were told that they couldn't see all of his heart.  They told us that they would do another ultrasound at the next appointment and hopefully he would be cooperating then.  We were completely fine with that because it meant that we would be able to see him again soon!

When it was time to go back four weeks later, I began to get a little nervous.  It felt like a lot of pressure that they were only looking at Derrick's heart.  What if he didn't cooperate?  I don't know that I felt that something was wrong, I just felt pressured. 

When the ultrasound started we got a quick peek at our little guy's face, then the quest for checking his heart began.  After what seemed like forever, we asked the tech if everything was ok.  She said that he still wasn't cooperating and she was going to get one of the other technicians who was good at getting the babies to move to come help her.  

You could feel the tension in the room as both girls watched the monitor as they continued to slide the probe all over my belly.  Finally they finished and again I asked if everything was ok.  "The doctor will talk to you," one of them said. 

We still weren't worried, but did think that the whole experience was a little strange.  After what seemed like forever we were called into the doctor's office.   We sat down across from him...this still makes my heart race...

"There's something wrong with your baby's heart," he said.  

At first I thought he was joking.  I have no idea why I thought he would joke like that, but I quickly realized that he wasn't.  I felt the blood rush to my head and my whole body was on fire.  I couldn't breathe, much less think.  Justin and I looked at each other and I couldn't stop the tears from pouring down my cheeks.   

My doctor said he wasn't sure exactly what was going on and that he didn't want to tell us something that wasn't right.  He said there was a great possibility that we would need to deliver at the Medical University of SC in case our little guy needed heart surgery right away.  He made us an appointment for the next afternoon with a pediatric cardiologist so we could find out exactly what was going on.  

I don't remember a whole lot about the rest of that day.  I was devastated; we both were.  All I could think about was that this really couldn't be possible.  This baby was moving around inside me all the time.  He kicked and squirmed, he had the hiccups and he got wild and crazy when I would eat chocolate.  He had to be fine, I would tell myself.  But I would catch my mind wandering to dark places...things I didn't want to imagine, that I couldn't bear to think about.  But I did.  I had only heard of one heart defect: HLHS.   I didn't know much about it other than it was not good.  When I was in college a classmate's niece was born with  HLHS and I had followed her story very closely.  It ended in heartbreak, and I prayed (or maybe begged God) that Derrick didn't have HLHS.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure my fascination with Miss Emily Mae and her story was no coincidence.  I think Someone was gently preparing me for my own journey.

The horrible day finally ended and we found ourselves in the parking lot of the pediatric cardiologist's office.  I don't think I even realized we had such a doctor in Columbia, much less ever thought I would be going to see one.  But here we were, both of us sitting, neither had the courage to open the door and get out of the car for fear of what they would tell us about our son.  We held hands and Justin prayed.  He prayed that we would be given hope during this visit and that there would be something they could do for our son.

We had an echocardiogram

We had asked God for there to be something they could do to save Derrick's life.  Obviously numbers two and three simply were not options.  Derrick's heart didn't fit nicely into any specific congenital heart defect, but he told us it was not HLHS.  Similar, but not HLHS.  We didn't leave that appointment with a specific diagnosis, but we did leave with hope.

Over the next four months we went to appointment after appointment.  It seemed that every time someone looked at Derrick's heart they told us something different was wrong.  It was heartbreaking enough to know that his heart was broken, but to hear something new every time someone looked at it was really hard to deal with.  

There were many, many tears shed for this child, and even more prayers said.  We painted his room, bought his furniture, had baby showers and created a perfect little nursery.  His clothes were washed and hanging in his closet and folded neatly in his drawers.  His toys were in a basket and his blankie waiting for him in his crib.  As we did all of this preparation, sometimes I had a terribly heavy heart.  Sometimes, secretly, it killed me to prepare for his arrival.  I was so afraid that he would never come home.  I was afraid that he wouldn't wear the clothes, sleep in the crib, or hug his blankie.  Not always, but sometimes it was simply too overwhelming.

April rolled around and it was time for Derrick's arrival. At
6:31 pm on April 20, our little miracle, Derrick Palmer Carter, was born. I held my breath as I listened for his cry. That first cry was, to this day, the most beautiful sound I've ever heard.

Derrick was immediately taken away by a pediatric team and Justin was able to go get pictures so that I could see him. About an hour later, he was brought to my room for us to get a quick peek at him. I finally got to see my beautiful baby boy.  He looked perfect. It would have been impossible to know that anything was wrong with him if he wouldn't have been in the incubator.  We were able to open the tiny door to touch his sweet little hand.  My arms ached to hold him, but I knew better than to even ask.  After a few minutes, my brand new baby was taken away.

The days went on with testing, echos, blood draws, questions, and learning more about Derrick's "complex little heart" as the doctors called it. We shed many tears, said many prayers, and spent many hours by our little man's side watching monitors and listening to the beeping of the PCICU.  

When he was four days old, we were able to hold him for the first time.   We were told that we wouldn't hold him until the night before surgery, so this was a great surprise.  When the nurse put him in my arms I lost it. The world could have crashed down around us and I wouldn't have cared. I was holding my baby!  I cannot describe the overwhelming emotions I was experiencing. You will never understand how it feels to have to look at your baby and not be able to pick them up to comfort them when they cry, or to simply cuddle with them, unless you have experienced it yourself.  No parent should have to feel this way, but at that very moment it was all worth it.  Derrick was finally in my arms, and there was nothing better!

Four days later it was time for his first heart surgery, the BT Shunt.  That morning we gathered around his bed, took pictures of him, touched him, prayed over him, and talked to him.  All I could do was cry. Even in my silent prayers, all I could say was, "Please, God." There were no other words that would come to my mind. All I could do was beg God to bring Derrick back to me.  That day, April 28, 2009, I did the first most difficult thing I had ever done.  I sent my precious, tiny baby away with two complete strangers for open heart surgery.  Watching his tiny body swaddled in his crib, hearing the click of them unlocking it, and watching him disappear down the hallway was grueling.  I collapsed in Justin's arms, and we cried. 

Surgery took (a long) seven hours but went very well.  Seeing him for the first time after surgery was difficult, but under all of the tubes and wires we could still see his precious face.  

Derrick's recovery was great and he was discharged from the hospital when he was sixteen days old; a short eight days after his first heart surgery.  We were amazed at his strength and determination, and so very thankful that God had blessed us with a smooth recovery and HOPE that Derrick would be ok.  

Being home was nice.  It was pretty scary at first, but we adjusted quickly.  Doctor's appointments filled our weeks and we lived life to the fullest, knowing that another surgery loomed in the very near future.  

When he was six months old, Derrick spent three nights in the hospital for at UTI that made his oxygen saturation drop really low.  Around this time he also started feeding therapy for his inability to gain weight.  He was, and still is, very small for his age.

After the UTI episode, we walked on pins and needles waiting for the time for the Glenn surgery to come.  He had two heart catheterizations to see if he was ready for surgery, and after the second one they determined that it was time. 

Two days before his nine month birthday, we handed Derrick over for surgery once again.  It was no easier than the first time, but just like before, we could feel the prayers from friends and family and the peace that only God can provide.  Again Derrick's surgery and recovery both went well.  He only spent one night in the PCICU and was moved to the floor the next evening.  He spent a total of eight days in the hospital, but the length was due to having a chylothorax.  His heart was great but he had to be put on a fat free diet to allow the chylothorax to heal.   

Since the Glenn, Derrick has done exceptionally well.  He celebrated his first birthday, walks runs all over the place, talks non-stop, is full of energy, and loves attention!  

This "heart world" life is definitely not something we would have chosen for our family.  If we could, in a heartbeat we would take away all of the pain and suffering that Derrick has experienced and all that is to come for him. However, we wouldn't change a thing for us.  

Having Derrick has deeply strengthened our faith.  Having to fully rely on God; to have no choice but to give Derrick completely over to Him has been a very humbling experience.  It hasn't been easy and I still catch myself trying to control our situation, but I am quickly reminded that I have no control and God has all of it planned perfectly.  This heartache has been a blessing beyond our wildest dreams.  We have been blessed with one of the most amazing miracles and we won't take that for granted for even one second.  



Sweet Sixteen!

Whoa, Big Stuff!  You're SIXTEEN MONTHS OLD already!  
(And you refuse to look at or smile at the camera...ever!)

You weight 17 pounds and 13.5 ounces and are 30.5 inches tall.  That puts you in the 25th percentile for height, but you're still in the zero percentile for weight.  You're one tall, thin guy!  (You sure didn't get that from me! :)

You are completely obsessed with the stairs.  If we don't have the gate up you can always be found climbing up.  It's not necessarily that you want to be upstairs, you just want to climb.  All. the. time. 

We let you climb up and walk down the stairs when we are with you.  You've gotten really fast at going up, but we're always right behind you because sometimes you like to stop and turn around when you're half way up.  You can't seem to understand that that's not going to end well if we're not right there!  When we come down the stairs you have to walk down like the big boy you are.  You'll hold hands until you get to the railing where you can reach, then you do it yourself.  Your little legs are about the height of one step, so it's work, but you don't mind.  You're so proud of yourself. :)

You've learned how to turn the radio on all by yourself.  You turn it on (and off...multiple times) anytime the mood strikes.  You LOVE music and you're a little dancin' king. :)

You are a blankie loving boy!  Your blankie has to come out of your crib with you every morning and after your nap.  When we come in to get you, before you want to be picked up you hand us blankie and say, "dis."  It has to be with you when you drink your bottle (yes, we have to work on that) and you have a much better morning in the nursery at church when blankie is with you.  We have to pick our battles, and if blankie is comforting, then blankie wins.  For now. 

The other day you came up to me and handed me a diaper, said "Do this," and went to lie on the floor.  Hmmm.

You fake smile and it is hilarious!  You know it's funny and you know when to do it.  I just don't feel like a 16 month old should know that it's appropriate to flash a face like that when they're doing something they know they aren't supposed to do.  You know it's cute, and that's probably not to our advantage.  
You will not, however, show the camera your fake smile and I find that extremely frustrating! :)  
This is the best I get.

You still love to clean!  You "bop" {mop} all day long!  One night you were drinking your bottle and Daddy started vacuuming upstairs.  You had to rush up there and watch.  You just stood right beside him the whole time he vacuumed, just watching.  You're such a little supervisor.

You repeat EVERYTHING!  I have no idea how many words you can say now, but it's a lot.  It's so funny to hear the words you choose to repeat.  You've started saying 'night night' and it sounds so sweet!  You say, "nigh nigh" and it's so soft and innocent.  I love it!  

You do have one hang-up with your words...you REFUSE to say please.  Last night when we were eating dinner you wanted your cup.  I kept trying to get you to say please, but you kept saying, "get this" over and over.  I finally handed you your cup and said to daddy, "He's bossy!"  You smiled and said, "boss, boss."  Yeah, I think we're in trouble! Ha!

Your next favorite thing to cleaning is playing with cars.  We were watching you last night as you were playing and you've really started driving your car over things.  It's very deliberate now; not just moving the car around, but driving it over and under things.  You're such a little man!

You've gotten pretty helpful when it comes to getting you dressed.  You stand up and hold on to something and put one foot in your pants at a time.  

You have learned to throw fits.  And scream.

You thoroughly enjoy your bath, but your favorite part is the lotion afterward.  You like to help rub it in on your chest, and you'll even try to sneak a lick of it off your hands if we're not looking.  We still haven't figured out the fascination with that.  

I can't believe how much you've grown up!

I would LOVE to push pause and just freeze time.  You're growing up way too fast, and Daddy and I are just not ready!  You have such a silly little personality and make us laugh so often.  You're so much fun and we both love every minute of our time with you.  You're rotten, but you sure are sweet!  We love you more that you can ever imagine Cheeks!

Happy sixteen months!

To the moon AND BACK,
Mama and Daddy



Guess What?!

On day fifteen of our house being listed....

After an open house that NO ONE came to (it was storming like crazy)....

The very first people who came to look...

made an offer and we have a signed contract!!

Now if only step two of this could work out so nicely.....


 P.S. Joshua is having his Norwood this morning. Please keep him and his family in your prayers!


Way Too Fast (and a WINNER!!)

First, the winner of the $50 CSN gift certificate is...
#37 Carol 

Carol said... I sugested to some of my friends to be a fan of Hope for Bravehearts,Anne, Charlotte, Autumn,Julie. carolhinze...
Congrats Carol!  

--     --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --     --

Today Derrick decided that he didn't want to take a nap.  The ten minute nap he had in the car was enough to sustain him (or so he thought).  When 5:00 rolled around my guy was pretty tired, but I've learned my lesson the hard way about those late afternoon naps!  

So in a last attempt to keep him awake for a little while longer, I let him enjoy his absolute favorite game...

playtime on the stairs.
 He had a blast!  When we made it to the top of the stairs about fifteen minutes later, he made his way into the playroom and had a ball entertaining himself. 
 He practiced being just like Daddy.

  He played with his absolute favorite, a "bop-ka-sk."

It's obvious why he loves them so much.  "Bop-ka-sk" are such versatile toys as they provide both great seating and great boosting.

Today as I watched D play all by himself, talking up a storm, it hit me.
 These soft little feet that are magnets for my trash piles while sweeping,

and the tiny little hands that want to 'touch' everything, especially when they're sticky or wet,

won't be so soft and tiny for long. 

I'm thankful that today the dishes didn't get done during nap time, and my to-do list didn't get any shorter.

Nap time or not, the dishes are never finished, and the to-do list only gets longer.  But this sweet little guy isn't going to be walking up to me pulling on my legs wanting to play with me forever. 

I won't always be his best friend.  But I won't let these moments pass by.  The best thing in the world is when he sits in my lap as I read book after book, or those silly faces we make at each other in the delirium of the minutes before bed time and the snuggles that follow. 

I refuse to look back and wish we would have played more, laughed more...

To My Grown Up Son
by Alice E. Chase

My hands were busy through the day,
I didn't have much time to play
The little games you asked me to,
I didn't have much time for you.

I'd wash your clothes; I'd sew and cook,
But when you'd bring your picture book
And ask me, please, to share your fun,
I'd say, "A little later, son."

I'd tuck you in all safe at night,
And hear your prayers, turn out the light,
Then tiptoe softly to the door,
I wish I'd stayed a minute more.

For life is short, and years rush past,
A little boy grows up so fast,
No longer is he at your side,
His precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away,
There are no children's games to play,
No goodnight kiss, no prayers to hear,
That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy, now lie still,
The days are long and hard to fill,
I wish I might go back and do,
The little things you asked me to.

"Children are a gift from the Lord: they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like sharp arrows in a warrior's hands. How happy is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates."  
Psalm 127: 3-5
Truly a gift...that grows up way too fast!