For the Love of God

Learning How to Trust God and Live Life Abundantly

Mercy’s First Birthday

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This past year has been an amazing adventure.  It’s hard to believe how much has happened and how quickly time passes!  Watching Mercy grow, learn, and explore has been a highlight of my year.  She truly is my “daily dose of mercy”.  She is my feistiest child thus far, and her drive and motivation has been fun to watch.  Her current favorite things keep this mama on her toes (opening cabinets, playing with the trash can, and climbing the bunk bed stairs).  She had been taking steps off and on since 10 months, but the week of her birthday, she decided that the walking thing was the way to go.  🙂

This past weekend we celebrated Mercy’s birthday (Pink Lemonade Style) with close friends and family.  Here are some pictures of the fun.

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Thanks to Everyone that brought Diapers in honor of Mercy's birthday.  We are excited to share them with another baby.

Thanks to Everyone that brought Diapers in honor of Mercy’s birthday. We are excited to share them with another baby.

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YES!

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Have you ever had a day where every answer was a YES? Yes, you can have an extra scoop of ice cream. Yes, you can buy that new dress. Yes, I’ll give you a million dollars. That’s how I felt today.

Today was the day that we have anxiously waited for… Mercy would have an MRI to see what was really going on in her brain. I was hopeful but also cautious. I was ready. She’s 2 1/2 weeks old and already doing quirky things that I didn’t know if I should be concerned or attribute to normal newborn behavior… (like the night that I woke Clayton at 3a b/c Mercy was jumping in her sleep over and over. I thought she may be having a seizure.) It would be good to have an answer. I also felt comfortable with any way that God had designed Mercy. Of course, we were hoping for best case scenario, but we knew she was exactly who God had made her. He already knew her story, and it was beautiful.

I was told that it would take 2 business days to get the results, so my biggest hope for today is that Mercy’s MRI would not be stressful for her. I prayed that. I prayed that they would get great images of what they needed and that the answers would be clear. Every single thing that I prayed was answered in the way that I hoped. Mercy slept through the MRI, snug as a little cute bug. Because she was so still, it only took 10 minutes to get everything. I was able to be in there with her.

Before we left we were again told that results would take 2 business days and that could mean Friday or Monday (we are moving Monday so I hoped for Friday).

We picked up Haven and Titus and headed home to rest. Resting was good. We were all so tired. After a short rest I was doing a little work when my phone rang. It was the pediatrician. I answered, and he said, “I have good news! I have your results!” I braced myself. I wasn’t prepared to hear this so quickly, but thankful at the same time. This is what he told me…

The radiologists said that Mercy’s corpus callosum was slightly smaller than normal but fully there. The slight smallness was a good case for the vagueness of the ultrasound images. Every other part of her brain was perfectly formed as we had hoped!

At that point I asked if the slight smallness of the CC would be an issue and he said it wouldn’t

Me: “So this is the end? No more follow-ups, right? She’s ok?”
Pediatrician: “I think we can all put this behind us as problem solved!”

Basically the best news I think I’ve ever heard…. EVER! Thank you to all of you that have been on this journey with us for the past 6 months. I am thankful for the journey for many reasons. I have felt God’s closeness and care in many new ways this year. At the same time I have felt the support and love of our community and beyond. I am forever grateful that we don’t walk through these times alone. The encouragement that everyone has given us has been priceless to us.

One day, I will tell Mercy the story of her name, my pregnancy, her birth, people’s love and care for her before and after she was born, and the unfolding evidence of God’s hand in her life. It is a great story, and I pray that she will see God’s loving hand of grace and MERCY in her life, and that it will bring her to love and depend on him for her every need.

Thank you for sharing in our burdens and blessings!

The Fast and Furious – A Mercy-ful Birth Story

A week ago tomorrow I was reading facebook and joking (not really) how Mercy wasn’t allowed to be born till due date (August 14).  You see on August 25 we move out of our house (not sure where, yet), and I still had plenty of packing to do.  That on top of the fact we were still house hunting.  We were actually hoping to find our new home on Saturday, August 2.  But God had already arranged that day in ways we didn’t expect.

Friday, August 1 I went to my midwife appointment.  I was 38 weeks and 1 day.  It was pretty routine, but I did mention how I had been nervous several times throughout this week b/c Mercy was moving less.  She didn’t seem extremely concerned, and said that happens near the end of pregnancy.  Then she went to measure me.  I was barely measuring 36 weeks.  She told me to schedule an ultrasound for the following week.  We chatted a little more about Mercy’s lack of movement, and she stepped out of the room.  When she came back she told me she wanted me to have an ultrasound right then.  I went in the room (with my two little crazies… also called Haven and Titus), and prepared for the ultrasound.  They ultrasound tech took measurements and confirmed that Mercy was measuring small.  Then I waited some more.  Finally they pulled me into a little room and had a physician came talk to me.  He told me Mercy was only measuring at 34 weeks.  They pulled my other ultrasounds (The last one was in June) and Mercy was dropping in percentile.  She was now below the 5th percentile.  So he said, “It’s time to have a baby!”

WHAT!!!  I was nervous for Mercy.  Why wasn’t she growing?  Did it have anything to do with her possible brain issues?  I wasn’t ready!  Clayton was at the Fire Department in Raleigh!  Who would care for Haven and Titus?  I was afraid to be induced 2 weeks early.  I wanted a natural birth, and was afraid if I were induced it would be too hard!  What if I had to have a C-section b/c I wouldn’t go into labor. All these things and many more went though my mind.  I started making calls to get Clayton home, line up childcare, get our house ready for someone to come and ready to bring Mercy home, cancel our appointment to find a home on Saturday with our realtor…  All the details were worked out and we left for the hospital.

From 3-7p they let me “get ready” to be induced (nap, eat lunch, etc.)  My midwife came in and was wonderful!  She put me at ease and I really felt she was an advocate for the things that were important to me.  Around 7p Clayton went home to put the kids to bed.  At 7:45p they inserted Cervidil to get my cervix ready to be induced.  This was what put me into labor with Haven after having to be induced at 41 weeks.  About 15 mins after having the Cervidil, I started having regular contractions.  They weren’t too painful, but they were definite.  Quickly they were 4-5 mins apart so I texted Clayton and told him he needed to come back (It had taken a while to get the kids settled and in bed.  This was all a whirlwind for them, and they were wound up!)  I had to be monitored since I was being induced.  For the first 2 hours I was connected to the monitor.  After that the contractions had gotten a bit more intense and I thought laboring in the tub listening to music would be better.  They put portable monitors on me and I spent a while laboring in the tub.  It was relaxing and though the contractions were painful, I was able to work through them better than if I were laying in bed on my back.  After an hour or so, the contractions were hard and 1 minute apart.  I was ready for the midwife to check me b/c I knew I must be getting close.  Clayton helped me to my bed and the midwife checked me.  When she did, my water broke (or at least partially).  My midwife told me I was 3 cm dilated.

3 CM?????  How the heck could that be?  I was so disheartened at that point.  These contractions were hard and close.  At that point the pain was making me feel nauseous.  I went in the bathroom and wanted to be by myself.  I had urges to push and dry heave from the pain.  I was losing my mucus plug.  I got on hands and knees on the floor so I wouldn’t throw up on myself.  Then I thought I better do that in the tub so that it would clean up easier.  I think at that point I was dry heaving, crying, and saying, “Jesus, help me!”  Seriously a lot of pain here.  All I could think of is, “I’m only 3 cm!  I have a long way to go.”  My contractions were about 30 seconds apart at that point and the pain was continuous.  Clayton put his head in the door.

Clayton:  Melissa, are you going to want an epidural?
Me: I don’t think I can do it without one.  😦
Clayton: So is that a yes?
Me: Silence (I really didn’t want one, b/c I didn’t want to be ‘giving up’ and I was nervous of getting one and then getting to the point of pushing faster than expected)
Clayton: So do you want one?
Me: I don’t know.  Silence.  I guess so.

Clayton left to tell the midwife and nurse that I wanted an epidural.  I was still in the tub, baffled how I could be having such hard fast contractions at 3 cm.  By this point it had been about 30 mins since being checked.  I told Clayton I wanted to get back in bed.  He helped me, and I got in the bed on my hands and knees b/c I didn’t want to throw up on myself.  I pretty much only felt like dry heaving.  I wasn’t really in control at that point.  I was in the bed for about 1 minute.  The midwife had just stepped out to order an epidural, and I was thinking, “why the heck did I wait this long?”  And then it happened.  In the heat of the moment I pushed thinking I was going to go to the bathroom (and at that point I didn’t even care), and I realized that was NOT what was happening.  I yelled at Clayton, “This BABY IS COMING NOW!!!”  Now at this point, we were the only ones in the room.  I could not control my pushes.  He left the room to get the midwife.  The nurse ran in just as I said, “Her head is out!” and one second later she was on the bed.  The midwife came in just after.  Immediately the hard contractions stopped and I was so relieved.

I kept thinking, “I knew I had to be close!  I knew I had to be close!”  So 30 minutes after I was 3 cm dilated, Mercy Hope Welch was laying on the bed.  🙂  It was quite intense.

They waited for the blood to drain from the cord and then Clayton cut it.  Clayton took Mercy (who had a GREAT set of lungs on her), and the midwife stitched me up.  Since my pushing was so fast and uncontrolled, I needed more stitches than any of my prior births.  This was quite excruciating, b/c I was pretty much done with being in pain.  It took about 20 minutes and then I got to hold Mercy again.  She came in weighing 6 lbs 2 oz…. Not as small as they had thought she would be.  I was so thankful for that, because we thought she may be 4 lbs.

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I feel very blessed that I was able, even through all of the crazy, unpredictable moments of this birth, to have the kind of birth I was hoping for.  God totally knows my threshold of prolonged, intense pain is low, and he allowed Mercy to be born just before I got an epidural.  Of course, I would have been thankful for whatever birth that would have delivered a safe little Mercy into my arms!

So what’s the next step for Mercy?  We are very thankful for her safe delivery and that the fears of her smallness didn’t end up being a concern.  Our next step with her is to find out what is actually going on with her brain anatomy.  This will come through an MRI.  We are still waiting to hear when that will be, but we are hopeful it will be in the next week or two.  Please pray for us and for Mercy as we wait, and as she undergoes this.  Specifically pray that she will not have to be sedated for this.  I’m hopeful that if we have it done soon, she could sleep through it.  Thank you for your continued encouragement and prayers for Mercy!

Almost 38 Weeks… a Short Mercy Update

Baby Mercy is due to arrive in just a few short weeks.  So many of you guys have asked me how she is doing and told me you are praying for her.  Thank You!

I had my last ultrasound a month or so ago, and they were very positive on many things.  They still don’t know if she has her full corpus callosum, but they said she may!!!  That was super encouraging to hear!  The only way to confirm is to have an ultrasound or MRI on her brain when she is born, so we are considering all of the options.  All of her other brain anatomy was perfect!  That was great news to hear!  Please pray that  we make the best decisions for her in this next month.

I wish I had more information to share, but hopefully I will be able to share AMAZING news after she is born.  No matter what we know that she will be made just as God intended her to be.

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement!

This song has been a huge encouragement to me over the past months:

“How Are You Doing?” – Update on Baby Mercy

So many of you have asked how we are doing over these past couple of months, and before I answer, I just wanted to say, “Thank you!”  Seriously, everyone lives crazy, busy lives, and yet so many have taken the time to ask us how we are, pray for us, write us notes, say kind things…  I really am thankful for that!

So the past couple of month have been a little busy because we put our house on the market which entailed painting and keeping it super clean (not so easy with kids.)  So we are in the process of trying to sell to move into a home where we are a little closer to Clayton’s work, but most importantly, a place where we have a yard for the kids to play in and a little more space for our growing family.  Right now we are in a townhome.  Shameless plug… it’s super cute and if you know anyone that would like to buy a townhome in North Durham, I’d be thrilled if you would pass on OUR LISTING.

Mercy Update:  Since my last update we have been doing well.  Partly b/c we felt peace with whatever God had for Mercy (though some things made me more nervous than others), partly b/c everything seemed so far away (I was only half way through pregnancy), and partly b/c we have been so busy we haven’t even had time to sit and think.  So we have been just living our normal, crazy life.  That is until yesterday…

Yesterday I had a follow-up ultrasound at the Fetal Diagnostic Center.  We sat in a similar little room and waited our results.  The doctor came in and was immediately encouraging and positive!  Basically nothing had changed on our ultrasound (the doctor had reviewed our past images), but she said that, though they couldn’t see Mercy’s complete corpus callosum, it COULD be there…  And regardless of if it was or wasn’t, if her condition stays isolated, she has a high percentage of developing normally!  Mercy’s pericallosal artery was present and there was no ventricular dilitation.  Both of these things are good news.  I asked if other abnormalities could develop, and she said they could, but she wasn’t expecting them t0.  She does want to follow-up in 4 weeks with another ultrasound so that they can make sure no other abnormalities do develop, but basically she thinks Mercy will be FINE!

This is a HUGE relief!  Thank you so much for your continued prayers for Mercy and for our family!

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Mercy Hope 26 Weeks

“Refuge of My Weary Soul”

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If you cling to your life you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it.
– Matthew 10:39

Jesus calls us to abandon our own agendas, what we have deemed will please and fulfill us, so that we can embrace the kind of quality of life that only he gives.  This is not about adding Jesus to the life we are living.  This is about making Jesus our life.  This is about putting our plans for our life to death so that the abundant life he offers has room to take root and grow.  And death is always painful…. If you cling to your own plans and desires, you will never discover the freedom and joy found in losing your life for Jesus.
The Book of HOPE by Nancy Guthrie

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Yesterday we sat in the ultrasound room for a second time waiting for the results of the scan of Baby Mercy.  I won’t share every detail of the appointment, but it was a long and hard.  The results were discouraging.  The doctors believe that Baby Mercy has Partial Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum meaning the fibers that connect and communicate between the two hemispheres of the brain didn’t completely form.  This affects about 1 in 4000 babies, is congenital, and aside from God, cannot be healed.  (More about possible implications at the bottom if you are interested)  To say I was devastated is an understatement.  Partially because I initially misinterpreted what the doctor said to us.  She said, “Your results were clear.”  I was so focused on the ultrasound that I thought she was saying that our baby’s corpus callosum was whole.  The “clear results” were actually blood work results that I wasn’t really expecting to have this soon (and wasn’t really concerned about, as I expected them to be clear.)  Anyway, I went from very high to very low in the matter of a minute.

I wish I could say I immediately remembered and clung to the truth that I had been telling myself for the past couple weeks.  I didn’t.  We drove home, and I felt numb.  My mind raced trying to process the possible implications.  I got frustrated at a dear friend who tried to encourage me towards truth.  I got frustrated at my sweet mom who tried to get me to hope for the best.  I got frustrated at my clingy children that needed a little more attention that I felt I could give.  I felt overwhelmed.

Today I have a better perspective, thankfully;  not that I feel equipped for what may lie ahead (I don’t), but I feel less fearful.  No matter the outcome, God is/will use this to help us die to our own plans and place them on the altar, so that we can have more of Him, and have the better life that he has planned for us.

I found this hymn while reading and listening to music today.  It reflects my heart more beautifully than anything else I could say.


Please Pray!
We ask that you continue to pray for baby Mercy.  I believe that God can continue to heal this part of her brain.
– Pray for healing (I go back in 6 weeks for another anatomy scan).
– Pray that no other birth defects would come up.  As of now, this is isolated and that is very positive!
– Pray that we will not be anxious for the future, and that our hope and trust will remain in God’s love and care for us and for Mercy.
– Pray that Clayton and I will draw closer to God and rely on Him together.
– Pray that God will direct our steps in the next months and years as we make decisions about care for Mercy.
– Pray that Mercy will be a little girl who loves God with all her heart and finds her identity in Him.
– Pray that she will love and touch others lives.
– Pray that Haven and Titus will have a deep empathy for Mercy (and others b/c of Mercy) and that they will have a close-knit relationship to her.
– Pray that Haven and Titus will feel the love and attention they need, even in times of concern and stress.

The Best Encouragement
Thank you to everyone who had reached out to express love towards us and towards Mercy.  Your thoughtfulness has been healing to my heart.  These are some of the things that encourage me most.
– A simple, “I’m so sorry/I love you/I’m here for you”
– Text, call, email, write, say you are praying
– Verses that have spoken to you in hard time.
– Music that encourages you (music is one thing that encourages me deeply)
– Your testimonies of how God has brought you through a hard time.

 

Possible Implications
The implications of this disorder are a wide spectrum and something that can not be predicted.  It’s a “wait and see” kind of thing.  Every child with this birth defect is different.  Effects could be subtle to severe.  The not knowing is one of the hardest parts.

The following is from the website for The National Organization for Disorders of the Corpus Callosum:


Behaviorally individuals with DCC may fall behind their peers in social and problem solving skills in elementary school or as they approach adolescence. In typical development, the fibers of the corpus callosum become more efficient as children approach adolescence. At that point children with an intact corpus callosum show rapid gains in abstract reasoning, problem solving, and social comprehension. Although a child with DCC may have kept up with his or her peers until this age, as the peer-group begins to make use of an increasingly efficient corpus callosum, the child with DCC falls behind in mental and social functioning. In this way, the behavioral challenges for individuals with DCC may become more evident as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood.


This is an overview of the behavioral characteristics which are often evident in individuals with DCC.

  • Delays in attaining developmental milestones (for example, walking, talking,reading). Delays may range from very subtle to highly significant.
  • Clumsiness and poor motor coordination, particularly on skills that require coordination of left and right hands and feet (for example, swimming, bike riding, tying shoes, driving).
  • Atypical sensitivity to particular sensory cues (for example, food textures, certain types of touch) but often with a high tolerance to pain.
  • Difficulties on multidimensional tasks, such as using language in social situations (for example, jokes, metaphors), appropriate motor responses to visual information (for example, stepping on others’ toes, handwriting runs off the page), and the use of complex reasoning, creativity and problem solving (for example, coping with math and science requirements in middle school and high school, budgeting).
  • Challenges with social interactions due to difficulty imagining potential consequences of behavior, being insensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others, and misunderstanding social cues (for example, being vulnerable to suggestion, gullible, and not recognizing emotions communicated by tone of voice).
  • Mental and social processing problems become more apparent with age, with problems particularly evident from junior high school into adulthood.
  • Limited insight into their own behavior, social problems, and mental challenges.

These symptoms occur in various combinations and severity. In many cases, they are attributed incorrectly to one or more of the following: personality traits, poor parenting, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Nonverbal Learning Disability, specific learning disabilities, or psychiatric disorders. It is critical to note that these alternative conditions are diagnosed through behavioral observation. In contrast, DCC is a definite structural abnormality of the brain diagnosed by an MRI. These alternative behavioral diagnoses may, in some cases, represent a reasonable description of the behavior of a person with DCC. However, they misrepresent the cause of the behavior.

Few more possible implications
Other characteristics sometimes associated with callosal disorders include seizures, spasticity, early feeding difficulties and/or gastric reflux, hearing impairments, abnormal head and facial features, and a mental handicap.[1]

 

The Night Before

Tomorrow is our second ultrasound.  It was initially scheduled for April 9, but after a few days of turmoil we decided it was best if one of us took off work so that we could have it sooner.  They wanted me to be 20 weeks and I will be 20 weeks tomorrow.

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I’ve been amazed at the peace I’ve felt over the past week and a half, and I know that is largely attributed to the encouragement and prayers from you (family, friends, friends of friends, and even strangers).  Thank you.

A friend of a friend game me a couple of books. One was a devotional named Hope by Nancie Guthrie.  This quote really inspired me.

“Peace is a gift of God, but we prepare ourselves to receive this gift as we pray about everything, cultivate gratitude, and refuse to surrender to worry” -Nancy Guthrie

As the day has approached, I’ve thought a lot, and tried to imagine what God may have for our family and our baby girl.  Of course, that is a big unknown, but I’m always thinking and trying to prepare my heart for every outcome.  The one thing I’ve come back to is something that I can trust beyond whatever I’m feeling because I know my feelings go up and down.  I don’t think I can say it better than this song by Sarah Reeves…

Even when my faith is tried, You’re providing
Even when my flesh my fail, You’re the strength when I am weak
Even when I run away, You will wait for me to come back home

My prayer is that I will be able to post in the next day or two with reports that Baby Mercy is healthy and whole.  That is my hope and prayer.  But more than that, I am praying that I will place my HOPE in God and my trust that he is going to walk through every step with us, no matter the outcome.

Thank you for your prayers.  We would love for you to continue to pray for us tomorrow afternoon.