Saturday, December 31, 2011

after the service

Greetings from the night writer again. I'm starting this post at 11:15 pm, without the intentions of staying up to ring in the new year. The intention of the post is to write about Anna Joy's service that was held earlier today.

Alissa and I just read through 72 cards that were given to us at the service. Alissa counted that there were about 350 people that signed the guest book. Her parents figured that about 500 showed up for the service. Yes, you read that right, 500. Ummm - wow! And I know there were countless others who would have liked to have been there, but couldn't.

So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us today to celebrate Anna's life. We had an amazing time. A few of our family members shared some wonderful thoughts about Anna's story. Pastor Dave Ness read a letter he had written to his church family (please see the previous post and you can read it too!). Pastor Bill Bowers (our church Senior Pastor) shared also. He said many great things, but one that stuck out to many people went something like this:

"It is a tragedy when someone is born with half a heart. But it is even more tragic when someone doesn't live wholeheartedly for God." I think I may expand on that a little bit more in a future post, but my wife just asked me to join her for a snuggle in bed. And I ain't turning that down. So I guess I'll have to give you some more info on the service at a later post. Maybe I'll be able to get something to you tomorrow. Or Alissa will. Or maybe not. We'll see how our day goes.

Again, thank you. Please know that your prayers and support have allowed us to go through our situation with grace, faith, and hope. We are standing only because of the prayers of the saints surrounding us, which has enabled God's strength to flow to us. We love you all. Thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement. We also received some precious gifts that we will cherish for a long time to come.

God bless, and have a Happy New Year. I'm going to go snuggle with my wonderful wife.

from Pastor Dave Ness

The following is a letter from our new dear friend, Dave. He and his wife, Joy, took us under their wings while we stayed up in Seattle before Anna was born. Dave is the pastor at North Seattle Church of the Nazarene. He learned of our situation through Alissa's dad, as they both serve on the church district advisory board. Dave and Joy felt compelled to help us in our journey as they faced a similar situation 17 years ago when they lost their triplets when they were born.

Alissa and I are very thankful for Dave and Joy, and the North Seattle church that let us worship with them while we made our temporary home up there. Dave was faithful in visiting us, and we were honored that he was with us when Anna passed away.

Dave wrote a beuatiful letter to his church family the day after Anna died. We asked him to read it at Anna's service today, which he graciously did. He also is allowing us to post his letter on our blog. So here it is. Enjoy. He's almost as good a writer as me. Not quite, but close. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Hi, NSCN Family,
​It’s with a mixture of feelings that I write to you, this evening. At one end of the spectrum is joy in many answers to prayer, plus the realities of this Christmas season and all it means to us; at the other end is the heartache I share with the Peppley family, in the loss of Anna Joy, yesterday. I was there in the room as Pastor Bill Bowers (Olympia Mountain View Church of the Nazarene) dedicated her to God and anointed her with oil. I saw family members take turns holding Anna Joy for the first time, knowing it would also be their last, until heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a support system quite like the one which has accompanied this family. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I believe more than a million prayers went up for Anna Joy Peppley. You were part of that support team. Thank you so much!
​So,.... God couldn’t pull it off? He couldn’t manage a Christmas miracle to answer the prayers of thousands of people around the world all asking for the same thing, when all He had to do is enlarge some vessels in a baby’s lungs? It might feel that way to some, but our God can “manage” anything. He doesn’t even need our help. He already loves us, too, so it’s not like He’s fickle and just answers our prayers when He’s in the mood. He hears and answers every one. We just don’t automatically get the answer we like. God does not take orders from us; it’s the other way around.
​So, what’s the deal with Anna Joy? I don’t possess the answers to questions like that, but here’s my best guess. You know how there’s a scripture in the Bible which talks about “all of our days were written in your Book before one of them came to be,” or something like that? (Psalm 139:16) What if the days for Anna Joy Peppley were “11 days” and that’s how long she was destined to live, before she was even conceived? Her life span was going to be “11 days on earth, eternity in heaven.” No matter who prayed, no matter how long anybody prayed, that’s just what it was predestined to be. (I’m not going to attempt to explain predestination, because it’s really unfamiliar territory for me).
​Anyway, suppose you’re God, and for whatever reason there is a baby who is going to be an 11 day baby--and that’s if the humans apply every bit of prayer and medical knowledge they can muster, not to mention ignoring the advice of the medical people to “just start over”, seeing as she was given a 10% chance of survival, even with the surgeries and everything anyone could do. The only way she’ll even get her 11 days is if there is a family willing to go to the utmost, in order to give it to her. Who would know this little girl would launch a million prayers around the world, some of them coming from the lips of people who had long since given up on prayer, but couldn’t help crying out to God for this baby? I started a non-profit ministry to try to get people to “pray for America,” and never got past 25 people. Anna Joy never spoke a word, and got many thousands! Go figure.
​So, if you were God, and you had an “11 day baby” you needed to give to a family who would love her and do everything possible to keep her alive, against all odds, then turn the pregnancy and her 11 days into a prayer-a-thon movement, to whom would you entrust her? Who would accept a deal like this? Not many. But Matt and Alissa Peppley did. God knew He could trust them with Anna Joy, a miracle baby with half a heart, significant problems beyond that, and a 10% chance of survival. Instead of giving up, they recruited thousands of prayer warriors across the globe, and the game was on!
​Did God lose? What do you think?
​Yes, Matt and Alissa and their whole family are hurting with grief beyond description. Many, many other people are bewildered and disappointed. But we will go on. We’ll keep our trust in a good God who can do anything, who has prepared a place in heaven for all who love Him. Anna Joy had a short life span of 11 days, yet touched many thousands of lives. I have a feeling she’s not done, either. She’s in heaven with Jesus for all of eternity---no suffering, no surgeries, no Ecmo machine---nothing but pure joy. God won. So did Anna Joy. So did her parents, although it hurts like nothing else could. Her life here was really short, but accomplished much, due to the faith of her family. I can’t think of a better plan for a baby who was going to live for 11 days than to give her to the Peppley’s. She was on the receiving end of more love and prayer than most people will receive in a long lifetime, all over the course of a few weeks. God knew He could trust Matt and Alissa with Anna Joy. He was right.  
​And God has entrusted each of us with resources, trials, scary situations—chances to use our faith. Did He choose well? Always. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). “The testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2). If you are in a time of testing, hang on to Jesus. He will get you through. Like Pastor Benji Rodes (Church of the Undignified) says, “We are condemned to victory.” Our God is victorious, and so is everyone on His side!
​This has gotten lengthy—sorry about that—but I wanted to speak to the confusion some may be feeling. Joy and I have experienced some of these exact feelings, particularly following the loss of premature triplets born to us, 17 years ago. It was a very hard time in our lives, yet we’ve never been more aware of God’s comfort than we were at that time. In the emotional turmoil which followed that loss, God unexpectedly gave me a promise which I believed: “You’re going to have a son.” The date of the promise was December 19. That’s also the date I finished Caleb’s dedication song, two years later. Now I’m wearing Caleb’s hand-me-down jeans he’s outgrown. God is good. He’ll get you through. Don’t be afraid. You can trust Him.
Dave Ness

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This week

I want to say thank you to those of you who are still praying for us. 


This journey will be part of our lives forever. It will never go away. It will be very difficult for a while, and I hope the pain will fade some over the years, but it will always be there. We will always miss Anna and ache to hold her again. This experience was meant for us for some reason - God's reasons. We have been blessed to see that it has affected so many for the positive. Some people don't ever get to see positive outcomes of the "whys" in their lives. I will still ask God "why". I know the grieving process will take me through many different emotions. 


This week has brought more tears since our Christmas gatherings have ended and I've had to work on Anna's memorial service so much. My sister took me out for a pedicure and lunch earlier this week, and I told her that everything I do is bittersweet. Everything. There's not a minute I don't think about Anna. The joy of sharing time with Isaac is mixed with sadness that I'll never get to know Anna's personality and watch her grow like I have him. I've had the privilege, yet sorrow of putting together details for my baby's memorial service. I want to celebrate her life! Yet in the same longing-moment, I hate that I have to plan a service at all because I want her back. I want to touch her soft skin again. I want to sing to her. I want to do every little thing for her like change her diapers, dress her, nurse her, bathe her... I want to watch her sleep. I want to hear her cry. I knew it was a possibility to lose her, but I thought we'd still be in Seattle at the hospital with her. I thought we'd still be living at the Ronald McDonald house and visiting her, seeing her improve little by little. 


To all of the parents out there with little ones... cherish the moments. The simple things are the big things. Be thankful for the cries you hear, the nights you have to stay up to rock your child, the dirty clothes, the messy faces, the toys scattered, the little hands pulling at your clothes, the sweet voices asking for your attention... They won't always be asking. 


This week has been harder than I anticipated, and I expect the next several to be as well... maybe even more so.  Matt & I are probably going to be so drained after Saturday. I've had a headache every day for the past... well, I'm not sure how long. 


We still need you. Your prayers and encouragement have carried us through. We're amazed at how many have followed this blog, all of the wonderful comments that leave us speechless and humbled, and the sincere love and care we have felt from so many - and most of you are strangers! 


Thank you. We are so blessed. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mama's ramblings

It's Alissa again... finally. The past few days I've been thinking I should post something, but I wasn't sure what to say. And I'm still not sure what I want to share, but thought I'd just start writing and see what comes out.


Anna has been gone for five days. Very soon we'll be past the amount of days she lived. She was only here for eleven days. It seems like it was much longer than that. Maybe because we lived in the unknown for so long before she was born, wondering what was going to happen on her birthday. Then after she was born, every day brought new challenges and hopes of her improving. Until last Monday morning. I knew when I saw her that something was different. Even before the doctor talked to us, she looked like she was struggling. I sensed something was different, and after the heart-breaking conversation with the doctor, I knew it was time to let her go.


But that's not what I want to think about. I want to think about all the precious moments I got with her. Her precious beauty. The blessing her last few hours were with our family. The numerous testimonies of many of you who have told us that her life drew you closer to Jesus. 


The past few days have been kind of a blur. Many tears. But still, many smiles. We're having to talk about things we never imagined we would have to deal with. Like planning a memorial service for our baby. Burial or cremation, flowers or donations, order of service, tributes, etc. 


What am I going to do with all of her precious clothes? How long will I sleep with the giraffe blanket Matt got her that covered her little body all those days? It's already losing her smell. Will I ever be able to take the cradle out of our room? Right now it's full of the little stuffed animals that surrounded her in the hospital, and her name banner Amy made is draped across the front. 


We've been spending a lot of time with my family since we came home Tuesday afternoon. I'm so thankful we all live close to each other right now. And it's a blessing that it's Christmastime. I have been loving being surrounded by all the people I love most. It's bittersweet now, though. All in the same moment I can be filled with the warmth of my family's familiar faces and voices - and then a deep sadness sweeps through me as I realize how much I wanted Anna to be part of it all. I can picture her here with us. I can imagine what it might have been like to have both she and Isaac in the car with us, holding our baby close as she sleeps, or passing her around and staring at her in awe as she makes those funny newborn faces. 


Sometimes I'm overcome with grief and I cry and cry. Other times I am laughing at Isaac. I have mostly been numb with sadness, and just sit and not want to do anything. 


I am choosing to trust God's best. I wanted Anna to get better and bring her home and raise her. I know I will experience many different emotions as I go through the grieving process. But right now, though I'm extremely sad, I can honestly say I am trusting that God knows why Anna was with us for only eleven days. It hurts. It hurts terribly. But I still love Him. I have reason to praise Him. The truth remains that He came. He loves me. He loves Anna. He came for us. That's why I can rejoice in the midst of my sorrow. Jesus is still with me. My daughter's death doesn't change His goodness. I can feel His presence with me - surrounding me - holding me up somehow. There is still reason to live! In one of the songs our choir has sung recently, some of the lyrics say, "Our long-awaited, wonderful Savior has come to deliver us out of the darkness and into this marvelous love that has given us life - new life! Emmanuel has come!"


So, I'm not sure I have a main focus or point in this post. I'm just sharing some thoughts...


It's almost Christmas Day. I should go to bed. 


I can't stop looking at the photos we have of Anna and our time with her. I keep looking, studying, loving, crying, rejoicing...


Here are a few more for you...


Dec. 15th


Dec. 18th - Isn't she beautiful?
Finally in my arms
First time Matt got to hold her
I got to wash her face
Our family


Thank you again for journeying with us. We appreciate your continued prayers, and we can feel them. 


Merry Christmas. 
Love your family. Cherish your spouse, your children, the moments...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hello again

If you haven't looked at the times that most of my posts have been - er, well - posted - then there's no need for you to look back because I'll tell you that I am a night writer. Not to be confused with an 80's tv show with a certain Mr. Hasselhoff as the "star" and a car named KIT, but one that actually writes at night.

Anyway - I don't know what that has to do with the point of this post except as an exercise to get my brain writing. So, on to the news. We are planning a memorial service for Anna Joy for Saturday, December 31st. It will be at Mt. View Church of the Nazarene in Tumwater, WA. Time will be 11:00 am. If you are local, come join us. If you are not local, find friends or relatives to stay with and come join us. If you are REALY not local, get a ticket and a hotel room and come join us.

As for Alissa and I, we are getting through each moment as it comes. With Christmas a couple of days away, the plans for the holiday are coming together. We are spending the holiday with Alissa's family. Over dinner tonight, we all agreed that we are going to try and relax a little bit, and not be rushed around this weekend (by the way, when I say "we" I mean the Randy Freeby's, the Matthew Freeby's, the Jason Gross's, and the Alissa & I's). Hopefully that agreement will stand and God's peace will settle over us in a way that we won't expect.

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. As for Alissa and I, we agreed to cherish this Christmas and the rest that follow, knowing that Anna Joy came and went during the best season of the year. She touched so many lives, it is only fitting that we celebrate what she accomplished in her short time here on earth.

May God bless you and keep you. And may you live in the hope of His Son's coming to earth. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We're home!

Isn't it always odd that after a long vacation, you get home and one of the first things you usually say is "It's sure nice to be home?" For Alissa and I, we certainly feel that same sentiment, but with a very different twist. A bittersweet peace fills our hearts. On one hand, we feel calm, cool, and collected like we haven't felt in months. On the other, our souls ache and long for the experience of bringing another newborn babe home - an experience we left behind at Seattle Children's in the form of our baby girl Anna Joy.

I feel like I want to stay here, at our home, for about three months, and not ever leave. Home feels good, right? It's the place a person is most comfortable, where things make sense - even when they don't make sense (does that make sense? doubt it...but that's what I'm writing and there's nothing you can do about it). Home is where you go to escape the world, to hide from all of the garbage that assaults all day long. Home is where you find love, and happiness, and a soothing cup of steaming hot cocoa. A long bath, a good book in front of the fire. A good footstool at just the right height. A table covered with a checkered tablecloth, chock full of delicious, hot food that sits in your stomach for days and makes you push your chair back with a great sigh of content. Wow. That was a long sentence.

You get the picture, don't you? We all have our feeling of what home is. Alissa and I are there, right now. but with one thing missing: Anna Joy. Even so, it's good to be home. We miss her already, more than we can probably ever express. The cradle by our bed is still empty. The car seat is in the garage, and it didn't get used. Her clothes still hang in the closet, and her diaper bag is still full. We only got to use one stocking cap and one sock. Yes, one sock. Anna always had some monitor on one of her feet, so we couldn't use both. She never put on the cute outfits that were given to us. She never got to hug the stuffed animals that watched over her crib like little angels.

I miss my baby girl. But I am joyful still for the few days that she was a part of our lives. I'm grateful to have experienced her steadfastness and fighting spirit. Did we ever tell that she came out fighting? Yup. The first look on her face that I saw said "What's going on here? I don't like this! I was comfy-cozy in there!" I didn't want to tell her that since she decided to come so fast, it was really all her fault.

Oh, her tiny little cry! That sound will echo in my ears until the day I die! And her grip on my finger, that will linger for as long as I have feeling in my hands. But, oh, how my arms ache to hold her! My arms will never feel the same. "Ache" doesn't adequately explain the feeling that my arms are missing. They not only feel empty, but they almost tingle, as if to tease me into thinking that they will soon be filled with the cuddly warmth of our newborn babe.

Okay, enough for now. It's late, and Alissa and I both just took some NyQuil, so we hope to sleep through the night. I took some last night, but she didn't. She couldn't sleep, so got up to journal. She left our room (we stayed at the Ronald McDonald house one more night), and was going to use the den, but someone was in it watching TV. So she sat on the floor in front of our door and journaled by the hall light! How thoughtful is that?!?! She didn't want to disturb my slumber, so she sat on the hard floor to write her heart out! I love you, Alissa. You shouldn't have done that, but I love you nevertheless.

Aaaannnd I thought I was at the beginning of the last paragraph, but apparently not...

So tomorrow we are going to a funeral home to plan Anna Joy's memorial service. I can't imagine that will be easy, but with God's strength, I'm sure we'll get through. Heck, we've gotten this far thanks to Him (and you all), and I don't think He'll abandon us now. He's not like that, is He?
Wanted to give you all a few pictures of our beautiful angel. Not angle. Angel. And thank you all for being respectful and not pointing out my typing inadequacies yesterday...

Yes, this is Matt again. If you want to see them, and don't care about what I have to say, go ahead and scroll down. If you change your mind, you can come back after absorbing her preciousness.

We did get to hold Anna Joy for a couple of hours, and she floated through the arms and hearts of her family during that time. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, even great aunts, got to cradle her, and we all cried and enjoyed feeling her warmth as we snuggled with her. She opened her eyes a few times and looked around, which was amazing. 

When the ECMO was turned off, Anna Joy stayed with us for about half an hour, and even in that she stayed longer than they expected. The nurse came and listened for her heartbeat a few times, and commented once that it was a lot stronger than they all had expected. Unfortunately, or hope that God would come through with a last minute Christmas miracle was not fulfilled. 

Even so, we are grateful for our time on earth here with little Miss Anna Joy Peppley. We count our blessings that were provided, the joy and sorrow included. We thank God for the miracle of her conception, and are greatly honored that He would chose us to be her parents. As I said before, God is good, all the time. And that includes now, even in the midst of our sadness. We are loved by Him, and nothing can ever take that away from us, except maybe ourselves. So we chose to love Him. 

As I said before, I'm not going to be done writing about Anna Joy by any means. Not by a long shot. Not in a million years. Not on your life. And not by any other over-used cliche that you can think of. So, if you want to hear more about her, and our thoughts about her wonderful little life, please, check back. And please continue to comment too. I'll still read them. Thank you once again for being with us. 



Monday, December 19, 2011

Sorry...

Our little angel Anna Joy slipped from the arms of Matt and Alissa into the loving arms of Jesus this evening at about 6:45 pm.

We had a beautiful, albeit short time with our baby. We know she is in a much better place, and she was greeted by two siblings and her paternal grandpa, to name a few.

Thank you again for all of your love and support. We likely will post a couple more follow up posts, seeing as we won't forget Anna Joy any time soon.

How do you say...?

I am sorry to say that the medical treatment for our little angel, Anna Joy, is coming to an end. She is having seizures that they can't control, and her right lung is still collapsed. The doctors gathered this morning to discuss her case, and informed us that they feel she is unlikely to survive.

So, with heavy hearts, we are preparing to take Anna Joy off ECMO sometime this afternoon or early evening. She is not expected to survive more than a few moments.

I'm not sure when we will be able to update this blog again...so thank you all for your fervent prayers. We are able to stand only because of your support.

I suppose there's still a chance for God to move. If He does, we'll let you know.

Love you all,
Matt, Alissa, and family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

update...and other things

Got here to the hospital and found out that we won't be doing the trial off ECMO tomorrow. Appears we still have some work to do getting some fluid from off and around the lungs. So it might be easier for me (or us) to get an update in tomorrow since it sounds like its gonna be more of a resting day again.

Also, I must flog myself for being bad about telling you all about at the other amazing stories we've come in touch with. Yes, Jana, the young man you know was referring to us. I met him, his dad, and his dad's girlfriend, and it turns out we are next door neighbors at Ronald McDonald House. He is indeed a good, strong, believer. He wasn't shy at all about proclaiming that Jesus was the reason he has gotten to the point he is at. If you missed Jana's comment, the young man's name is John Petroff, and he just finished his last round of Chemo this week.

We also met a couple from Alaska, who are here because their nine month old adopted son was born with crack, meth, and probably some other drugs in his bloodstream. He has LOTS of issues, but they are trying to fix them all. His dad is a pastor in Anchorage, and they are true believers as well. In the midst of thier time of trial, they stopped to pray for us. AAANND, bad man that I am, I don't remember their names. If I see them again, I will get it for you, so you can add them to your prayers.

Anna had a roommate that her parents were from Alaska as well, and turns out they know one of my college buddies. Their baby also had an open heart surgery, and they were quick to state that God was in their story as well. Again, names have been forgotten by yours truly...

Even with all of my limitaions, God is surrounding us, and providing us with ample signs of His presence. God is good, all the time.

See you tomorrow.
Matt

greetings from another sick bed...

Hello, it's me again - Mr. Matt. I am sick with a nasty cold, which I have been fighting all week. So today I am staying here at the Ronald McDonald House, resting, napping, drinking lots of water, taking some Day Quil, and, of course, doing the most therapeutic thing I can think of, watching football. But the most important thing I am doing today is reading your comments and getting inspiration to keep on fighting and praying for my little Anna Joy.

I did go see her this morning, and she had a quiet night. She is just resting now. Yesterday they put a "filter" on the ECMO that is basically a dialysis machine. Her kidney's are working okay, but they do have some injury simply because of all the stuff her body has been going through lately (a lot? that's an understatement...). So the doctor wanted to help Anna out and get some of the extra fluid off of her body, specifically the lungs. As of this morning when I left, she was negative fluids. That means the amount of fluids that have been given to her (through IV's, adding blood & platelets, etc) is less than the amount that she is "peeing" through the filter.

By the way, isn't my wife a beautiful writer? Her prayer post last night was amazing! She has such a tender heart that knows how to cry out to her God. Can you all see why I love her so much?

So, I'm going to move on to some more light-hearted stuff. I think we told you that Isaac came to visit yesterday, and he will be here for at least a couple of days. We went to eat lunch yesterday and the restaurant had a live three-man band there. At one point, Isaac started "singing." Really, it was nothing more than him holding out different notes, but he kept on doing it! The greatest part of it all, we were all just laughing at him! Randy, Cathy, Katie, Alissa and I just couldn't stop laughing! In fact, other patrons were enjoying him too! It was too cute. And extremely therapeutic. I couldn't help but think "that is just what my wife needed! Thank you, God, for our little boy!" And we enjoyed the food - immensely. We went to Patty's Eggnest, which apparently is a new restaurant near Northgate Mall. We've been there twice now, and highly recommend it. Oh - bring a wheelbarrow for your leftovers. HUGE servings...

Another slightly humorous (and disturbing...) event happened the other day. We were in our room, getting ready for bed. My wife was sitting at the computer, reading/crying over the comments, and asked me to bring her phone to her. I got up, walked to the table, and grabbed my water bottle and brought that to her. Uhh...what?!? Yes, I brought her my water bottle instead of her phone. I'm not sure what my subconscious mind was thinking (oaky - it wasn't!!!), but there you have it - my brain is officially fried. We had a good chuckle over that.

So, back to Anna, since I realize that she is the reason most (if not all) of you are reading this blog. Who cares about Matt & Alissa, right? Okay - I know some of you do too, so don't get all in a lather. Anyway, tomorrow may be a big day. If her lungs clear up enough they may do another trial of ECMO. It's very possible that the next trial off ECMO will be a pass/fail test. If she tolerates it well, they will keep her off and we'll move forward with getting her healed up. If she doesn't, it likely means the veins in her lungs aren't big enough, and she will not be able to sustain life on her own...

So we'll see if they want to do a trial off tomorrow or not. We should find out in morning rounds. I'll try and remember to post something after we find out what the plan for the day is. But please don't be disappointed if you don't see something too soon tomorrow, as my thoughts may be focused on the events of the day and I may forget to update you all. However, at some point we will get a note to you all.

Your prayers have been truly amazing, and they are giving Alissa and I (and the rest of our families!) hope.  We believe our God can still move. Heck! maybe He already did and we are just waiting for the doctors to confirm it!

Loves, hugs, and thanks to you all.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

pleading

My every breath is an utterance to God Almighty to heal my baby. 


Every step says, "please, please, please, please..."


It's time to step in, Lord. Don't ask me to say goodbye. There's so much I want to share with her throughout life. She belongs in our family.


I'm almost to the point of praying only in groans. We're desperate for Your touch, God. It's time for some good news.


My body aches, my stomach is constantly twisted. 


There's so much going on in Anna's little body. Too much. Show us Your hand, Father. Gather us close to Your heart somehow. This hurts too much.


PLEASE KEEP PRAYING. Time seems short for a miracle now... it's extremely difficult to find hope as a mama who feels more deeply than I can express. 


Here is my angel last night, and me anointing her with my tears. I can't believe how beautiful she is...



quick update

Anna had a quiet night. We hope she continues to have a couple of quiet days of rest. The doctor may put a filter on the ECMO that will allow them to drain some fluids off more easily. The upside is the lungs can be cleared out. The downside is that the kidneys may decide "hey! I don't have to work anymore, so I'm gonna just shut down! Goodbye!" So, as is the case with a lot of things medical, the benefits of something are weighed against the downfalls too. So we'll see if they do that or not.

Alissa and I are kind of numb. However, Isaac is here to visit us today! As I watch him spin around and just enjoy being a boy, I am energized in a way that I didn't think I could be. Praise God for our little boy! He is a sweetheart, and we have both missed him much. Thank you to our family and friends for keeping him safe and whole while we try and concentrate our parenting on Anna.

Speaking of, let's get back to the star of the show, shall we? Anna still has lots of complications. We are still waiting on God to move, trusting that He can. Or maybe He already is, and we just can't see it yet.

Friday, December 16, 2011

more news...

from the pages of Matt's brain:

We just got a call from the doctor. He said that Anna has some hemorrhaging on her brain. It's a little amount, and not enough that he thinks there is going to be any damage. However, it is now just one more thing to worry about.

Once again, I have been buoyed by your comments. Thank you for sending your prayers. I am able to stand because of them. God has and is continuing to sustain me through this. My eyes are red and feel like the insides are covered with sandpaper, but I have the strength of God and that is giving me what I need to keep fighting the fight of faith.

And what is really cool about this whole thing is that I know there are countless people fighting with me. I am not alone in this. My wife has been quite the trooper through this ordeal, and our families have been right there beside us, helping us in any way that they can. Our friends have stood strong with us too, and our church has opened their arms to provide for us. And then there is the wonder of social media. Because of Anna, I might actually join Facebook! Yes, I know, there are those of you who know me that will say "what? no way!" but I think it might be true. If for nothing else, so that I can look for stories like this and pray for other people who need the legions of believers to back them up too.

So, it's almost 9 o'clock (when was the last time you say "o'clock?"), and I'm pretty tired. I need to go to sleep, but probably won't. I need to pray some more, and as some people have alluded to in the comments, I am working on a story based on Anna's story. Maybe I'll write some more of that. And if I ever get it finished, maybe I'll sell it to help pay for all of our expenses. Would any of you maybe buy it?

loss for words...

by Matt Peppley

Right now I am at a loss for words. Of course, I say that and then I'll probably write several pages. Or I really will not write much because I really am slowing down. We'll see how it goes...

They took Anna off ECMO earlier today and she didn't tolerate it well at all. The doctors weren't surprised, given that there was still a lot of fluid on the lungs. Since Anna has lost a lot of the fluid everywhere else on her body, they think that the arteries going into the lungs are big enough, but veins exiting the lungs are not. Thus, the fluid is sorta becoming trapped in her lungs. So when they take her off ECMO, her lungs can't keep up with the demand for oxygen. Her heart is looking good, and is pumping correctly, but the problem is the lungs.

What does this mean? One of two things. 1) the veins are just "tired out" from all the work that has been done on her little body, and they will eventually open up as her body rests a little bit. Or 2) the veins just weren't made big enough. If #1 is correct, we will be able to continue to walk through the aforementioned woods and enjoy the pleasure of raising a beautiful little girl. If #2 is correct, well...there is nothing more that the doctors can do about that and we will lose our precious angel, Anna Joy.

So, we will wait a couple of days, and let her rest. They will do another trial off ECMO and see how she tolerates that. At that point, we should know if she is going to stay with us here on earth or not.

Of course, God could intervene at any time. There is still that option. The question is: will He? I believe He can, and I gotta believe that He will. Where the doctors fail, that means the only other option is for God to move in a miraculous way.

It's easy to say that, isn't it? It's another thing to actually believe it. Don't get me wrong, I still believe that God can move in Anna's body and make things work right, but I have to ask myself: why would He? God only knows how little I deserve to have a miracle in my life. I've screwed up more times than I care to count, so why would he chose to bless me?

That being said, I could probably get into dozens of philosphical discussions about those kind of questions. So to save you all from that kind of grueling talk, I'll skip to the end. After all is said and done, no matter the outcome of this whole situation, I'll still trust God. I won't have all the answers, and never will. Heck, I'll probably forget to ask Him those questions when I get to heaven (provided He allows me access...) because I won't care anymore. So for now, I'll just sit back, enjoy the time I have with my cute daughter, and savor each moment I can - just in case her life will end in a short amount of time.

Earlier today, Alissa and I sat in a room and stared at the walls, contemplating the next couple of days. Neither of us said much, knowing that right now the decision is out of our hands. Either God will step in and help our daughter to live, or He won't. At one point Alissa looked at me and said "how can you be so strong?" I shook my head, all the time knowing the answer. She answered her own question, though, and said "it's gotta be supernatural, right?" I smiled and said, "yes, it is."

By the way, thank you for the overwhelming response to Alissa's plea last night. Reading your comments last night and today have provided me with that supernatural strength that I just mentioned.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

URGENT

This is very serious. We're to the point of critical tests. They're about to start a medicine that could help open her veins that go back to her lungs. They are way too small to allow blood to flow as it should for her to live on her own. If the medicine doesn't help (meaning, her veins cannot be stretched) blood will pool up and tell us that she cannot be helped further.

I can't describe how I feel at this moment... other than desperate. I'm about to fall on the floor and never get up again, or vomit, or...

Call everyone you know RIGHT NOW and ask for a miracle. RIGHT NOW. There's nothing else these experts can do if this medicine can't help her tiny veins. This has to be a God-thing if He choses to heal Anna.

Matt & I are entering numb zone. Tell everyone to hit their knees for us and especially our precious baby RIGHT NOW. It's going to be a very long, agonizing night. It is hard for me to find hope at the moment.

back from the cath lab...

Hello, me again. Anna's back and she is as cute as ever! I know I'm biased - most dad's are, right? But she is a cutie patootie!!!

Results from the cath lab were good. They did need to open the shunt up again, so the blood is now able to flow into the lungs to get oxygenated. That being said, they saw that the arteries that drain into the lungs are all still pretty small. So they need to open up. There are a few things they can do to assist in that, but time is the biggest equation. They just need time to open up! So that is the prayer now. Get those little arteries to open!

Once those open and she starts getting oxygen flowing to the rest of the body, they can take her off ECMO. And, as we all should know by now, getting off ECMO is our number one priority. I was told it's possible they will do another trial off ECMO tomorrow, providing those little arteries open up between now and then.

So, that is the medical outlook. Now, I'd like to get back to the spiritual outlook. While Anna was in the cath lab, Alissa and I had lunch with Pastor Dave. He shared a story about when his daughter's appendix ruptured, and she was in the hospital for a month, while the possiblility existed that she may not make it. Near the end, when things were looking bleak, Dave said he prayed a prayer that he had prayed many times over his daughter: "God, all you have to do is say the word, and she will get better!" Lo and behold, in a very short amount of time, she asked for food (which she hadn't eaten solid food in a month!). And (if I remember right...) she went home a few days later, all healed and ready to go!

Will you pray that prayer with Alissa and I? I don't know how God will chose to answer it, but I believe that He will. Sure, he could do the completely miraculous and get her fourth chamber there where it has never been there, or he could just start to make everything work right, so we can get her off ECMO, and get her body into a place (however long that takes) that she is able to function on her own and can go on with her life. However he chooses to answer, I know that He will.

Just say the word for our little Anna Joy angel, God. Please, just say the word!

off to the cath lab

Well, we just watched our cutie-pie wheeled off to the cath lab for some work there. It was quite a production! At least six people (maybe more) had to join up to push all of her equipment out with her. Just another stark reminder that Anna still needs lots of help!

By the way - this is Matt. Someday I'll figure out how to sign in using my id, that way it'll tell you who posted: either me or my lovely wife. but...

Just to let you all know, we are pretty much at peace. All of the people attending to her are so great! We were told that the cath lab doctor is known nationally and is one of the best of the best. So that makes us feel pretty good.

They will do at least a couple of things. One, they will do some diagnostic stuff to see what is going on with the heart, how the blood is flowing, and look for any problem spots. Also, they will correct any problem spots that they find (if they can...). They think the shunt they put in during the first surgery either has a kink, or a clot, or something like that, so they will probably have to fix that.

The surgeons will be in the cath lab with them, so if there is anything that they need to do and can do, they will be there to do so. There is no anticipation that the surgeons will need to do anything, but they are there just in case.

We're going to try and grab some lunch while they work on our precious angel. Should be about an hour or so, but could be longer. Sounds like most of the time is spent just moving her, getting the equipment all set up, making sure nothing came loose, etc.

Depending on how our brains are functioning after Anna comes out, we'll try and post an update.

By the way, the comments you guys are all putting on this blog have kept me going! It's such a blessing to get on the blog and see the words of encouragement, the prayers, and the Scriptures that you are all providing for us. Thank you! We love you all!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

good evening! or is it...?

We were having dinner with one of my brothers, his wife, and Alissa's sister, Katie. In her wisdom, Katie pointed out that we (Alissa and I) were being too positive in our posts. Okay - she worded it much kinder than that, but that was the message.

Yes, we are doing our best to stay positive, and live in the hope that our good Lord has promised to us. Yes, our hope is bigger than anything the doctors can say to us. And yes, we are going to believe in that hope until we have nothing left to believe in.

That being said - we are not out of the woods. Not even close. Actually, we just entered the woods, and still can see the fields behind us through the trees cuz we are still really close to the border. And the doctors tell us the woods will be thick, full of wolves, valleys and high hills, with lots of pricker bushes & poison ivy.

For example, Anna was taken off the ECMO for three minutes earlier today for a trial run to see how she would do. The doctors didn't think she would go very long, and she didn't. They did find some useful information though, that will help them chart their path. For example, the shunt they put in is having some sort of problem. Since the shunt is hardly being used while the ECMO is on, it doesn't have much blood flow. And since it's a foreign object in the body, the blood can easily coagulate there. So there is a possibility that it needs some work too. They will take Anna into the cath lab tomorrow to do some more diagnostic work.

See? We're still woods, and the path is not clear at all - at all!

As a stark reminder, just the other day one of the doctors commented that she is, after all, still on full life support. And she is still in the ICU - which, as we all should know, stands for Intensive Care Unit. And people in ICU need lots and lots of help if they are going to get out alive.

So let me say this: please know that we are still hopeful. But please don't think we are without hope, or that we are just being naively hopeful. We know the odds are still against us. But we also know that our God is not a God of odds. That's why our posts seem full of positive reinforcement.

But - we are still human. We still cry. We still get drained. We still have moments of doubt. Sometimes that doubt hits so strong that we have to get hit upside the head in order for it to be dislodged. Actually, sometimes putting our head on someone else's shoulder and receiving a word of encouragement is much better and more effective than getting hit upside the head. So if you see us, and you have the choice of one over the other, we would like to opt for the shoulder-to-cry-on technique.

Tomorrow is a new day, and it will bring a new challenge. We'll have to sign another consent, and watch our baby Anna be wheeled into another room for another procedure. We hope to get more answers for the riddles that plague little Anna. We hope the doctors can find enough information that will set them and us on the right path, knowing full well that the path may disappear even as we walk it and we'll have to find another one.

Okay, I've overused the simile thing. It's over and done, and hopefully you guys all get the point. And it's time for me to go fold some laundry, and then curl up with my cute little wife and cry ourselves to sleep.

Love you all. Thank you for joining us as we try to get to go over the hills and through the woods to gran...whoops. I went back to the woods thing. Sorry.

Six Days Old!

(post by Katie JOY)

I had the priviledge of seeing Anna with her eyes open last night! Though the doctors were wanting her to rest, she wanted to see me..I just know it. She was moving her face, hands and feet. Not a lot, but enough to get everyone excited!! Through tears, Alissa and I sang You Are My Sunshine to her. We asked Matt if he wanted to add a third part, but he declined.:)

Anna had a good night and was able to drain some of the fluid that needed to come out. The doctors slightly decreased the ECMO assistance last night, and her heart is handling it ok so far. The doctors plan to do a trial-run off ECMO around noon today. Her heart appears strong, though there are still some concerns about her lungs. The trial off ECMO will give the doctors insight as to what her next goal will be. Please continue to pray for protection for Anna - the longer she's on ECMO, the higher the risk is for other complications. She is definitely a fighter, and it's wonderful to hear the nurses call her feisty and stubborn!

Isaac is on his way to Seattle to spend some time with Mommy and Daddy. They will get to play at their new home at Ronald McDonald House, and might even get to meet the Mariner Moose this afternoon!!

Another prayer request: Matt needs to get well. He has a horrible cold and cough, which doesn't help when he's lacking sleep.

Thank you, yet again, for your continued prayers and encouragement. Somehow Matt and Alissa find a little bit of energy to keep going...to do the next needed thing, and to hopefully find time to eat something and sleep. God is sustaining them...

If you'd like to send encouraging notes, cards, gifts, etc., please email me at helpforAnna@gmail.com. I can send you the information you need.

Oh, and Anna is six days old today...what a blessing she is. Happy six days, Anna Joy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prayer request & special moments

Anna needs to come off ECMO as soon as possible. The doctors hope to do a trial to see how she does within the next couple of days. They turn the machine off temporarily to see if her body will take over and do the work on its own. The current obstacle for that is too much fluid in her lungs. We ask that you pray for the fluid to drain from her body tonight. They take a daily x-ray to check her lungs, so I hope that tomorrow morning's picture shows that her lungs are clearing up.


I read some scriptures over Anna this afternoon. I started compiling special ones in a small flipper several weeks ago - some I found on my own and several are from cards and notes from all of you. I speak healing, wholeness, life, and peace over my baby in Jesus' name!






Matt & I got to spend an hour with Anna - awake! This was way more than a couple of eyelid flutters. She was looking around, making faces, moving her limbs and holding our fingers tighter than ever. 










I sang "Healer" to her, and the chorus of a special song written just for her by a friend. It was so exciting to see her this way!


Here are the lyrics to the chorus of the song for Anna Joy:


You are safe in His hands
And though my tears fall like rain
Though I don't understand
God is real, He is love
You're already a part 
of His marvelous plan
And all I need to know
is you are safe in His hands


It was hard to leave her tonight. We got to check in at the Ronald McDonald house today, and the plan was to spend the night there together, along with my sister who came up for the night. After Anna opened her eyes MORE tonight when we were saying goodnight, Matt decided he didn't want to leave the hospital. So he's staying there at least one more night. She's got him wrapped around her finger. But he admits it's been that way since the day we found out she was a girl. (I love my husband!)


Well, we wanted to share the exciting moments of today, but don't forget to pray for the fluid to drain from Anna's lungs. THANK YOU!



Quick note from the dad...

yeah, right, quick? Ha! We'll see...

It's Tuesday (I think...) and Alissa is down in the room with Anna, her sister Katie by her side. I'm in a waiting room since I'm sick and don't want to over-expose myself to our little one. It's 8:30 and it feels instead like 11:30. Yes, we are exhausted! We are trying to take everyone's advice and get some rest, but all of you who have gone through similar circumstances know how hard that is.

I think Alissa is posting something right about now, too, so again we'll probably double up on the info. But I gotta say we had a truly blessed moment earlier. For about an hour Anna's eyes were open and she was looking around, frowning, and generally looking like she was getting ready to bellow a great little cry. Nothing verbal came out, and no tears flowed, so that was good. Crazy enough, I would have given anything to hear even a tiny peep from her. Alas, we had to content ourselves with watching her looking at everything around us.

I say that like it wasn't amazing! Jeepers...well - it was. We were just sitting there when one of the nurses said "hey, her eyes are wide open!" I think I knocked over the stand of IV's on my way to see her precious little eyes. I'm not sure because I zeroed in on her (sparing a glance or two at my wife to see the motherly glow on her face), so it's entirely possible I did do damage to the medical equipment, but didn't notice when they had to pick it all up and restart everything. They probably yelled at me, ordered me to leave, and gave me numerous glares while they cleaned up, but I didn't see or hear any of it.

Well, I gotta say that was the most precious hour that we have had so far with our little Anna. And we were both there to share it together! Pastor Dave stopped by about midway through, so he got to enjoy her time of eye-openness too. My brother Joe said he was on his way over as soon as he heard, but since he's coming from Idaho, he didn't make it. Even if he caught a flight, I don't think he would be here yet and her eyes are closed. Sorry, Joe.

We also had a good chat with one of the doctors today. She told us that basically she is doing good, except for the one set back yesterday. If enough fluid clears from her body tonight, they will try and take her off ECMO for a while to see how she does. We'll know in the morning if they will be able to try once they take an x-ray of her chest to see how much air is getting in there. We'll try and keep you posted.

HA - the fire alarm is going off again! I guess I gotta go, see if it's real or if we are okay to stick around.

Love yoam'lfkdsanl ;we errrrr!!! lemme goo!!! I gotralak;a ;ja'aaa aaahhhhh!!!!

More pics

These are from Sunday afternoon, December 11.

My dad, Randy (Papa), with Isaac and my niece, Alivia.

Heading to meet Anna.

Isaac touching Anna's hand.

So much I want to say and sing to her - but often tears get in the way.

I love her soft skin and dark hair.

Sometimes she grips our fingers and fans her toes when we touch them!

Our little beauty. Sometimes she sucks on the tube.

Daddy's hand.

No words...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pic and news update

First of all, here is a picture of Anna's beautiful eyes!


This is me again, Matt. Wasn't it nice to see a post by my wonderful wife last night? She has such a calm, soothing spirit, doesn't she?

Okay - back to Anna...she opened her eyes for me this morning. Well, I like to think she opened em for me, but I think we all know she just opened them because, well, babies do that. I had to move my head around to get it into place so I could say "she's looking at me!" But, hey - sometimes we have to fool ourselves into thinking things that help us feel better, right.

Anyway - it was a pleasure to see her looking around. She peeked around a bit, closed them and opened them a few times, then went back to her normal & peaceful look. It was sssooo cool. Except for the fact that Alissa missed it...

As for the news, Anna had some fluid build up on the right side of her chest, so there was concern that she may have had some clotting in or around the cannulae, which is the thing that drains the blood back into the heart after going through the ECMO. By the way, since I don't think we have ever explained: ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. I could give you the technical rundown of what that is, but you could also google it and do as little or as much research as you want. So there.

Again - I am distracted. Back to the story. Fluid on right side, clotting around cannulae... The surgeon went back into her chest (which they left open in case they needed to do something like this...) and did indeed find some clotting. He cleaned it up, took out some of the fluid (blood), and put in a couple of stitches, then redressed her. They say she is now looking good, and resting again.

By the way, none of the attending folks thought this was any kind of emergency. While it is not normal for this to happen, it is something that occurs occasionally, especially for patients like Anna who has had surgery. Basically, the doctors/nurses have to walk a fine line. The ECMO requires Anna to be on blood thinners, since clots form very easy when blood comes into contact with the plastic tubbing of the ECMO machine. As you can imagine, a body that just went through surgery doesn't need a blood thinner, since the body needs to coagulate in order to heal the intrusions. So that's the fine line they walk: keep enough blood thinner in to keep clots from forming, but not too much that she just keeps bleeding. As such, extra fluid forming from clots is a fairly common side-effect.

So, what this all means is we are taking a couple of steps back. In order for them to start weening her off the ECMO, they need her extra fluids to go bye-bye. The reason being: extra fluid in the body puts pressure on the organs. And any extra pressure on the heart and lungs for Anna is bad, since they are still trying to heal up from the surgery. So the goal: reduce swelling, so the heart and lungs have as much space as possible to pump. Had she not had this setback, they would have started today to try and slowly take the ECMO down, and let the heart/lungs take over. However, since they needed to go back in, we will have to wait a couple of more days for the swelling to go back down and to start the weening process.

WAKE UP!!!

Sorry. Figured had to do that to all of you who fell asleep during that page-turning section of explanation...

What does all of this mean? Well, we could still use your prayers and support. Not that I doubt any of you are slowing your prayer-horse down any...

In other news, the sun is shining and it feels good to see that. Liss and I both slept okay last night. We had a great breakfast at a new restaurant nearby. We all ordered our own dishes, and I think we could have feed at least 10 people with all the food we got. We have some leftovers if anyone wants them, just come on down.

Love you all, and thank you again. I don't pity you the headache you will have when you wake up. But for now, sleep well, and dream of large women. Yes, that last sentence was a quote from a movie (or as near as I could remember). 10 points for the first person to get it right.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My beautiful girl

I am exhausted, but I wanted to tell you all how much I love my baby. I won't be able to articulate it accurately, because my love is so great. I hardly know her, but I carried her in my body for 9 months, and now have had the blessing of meeting her and loving on her the past few days. My heart aches to pick her up and cuddle her, but I'm thankful that I've been able to caress her dark head of hair, stroke a bare shoulder or leg, and feel her grip my finger in her tiny hand. She is beautiful. She is an amazing little fighter. I cry every time I go down to visit her. Sad for the challenges she's already had to endure, sickened by the tubes connected to almost every part of her, but bursting with mama-love for this little miracle. I thought you'd like to see some more photos of our angel.




WARNING: They may be too graphic for some stomachs. 






WARNING: Her beauty may make you cry. 












That's me stroking her head.
There are angels surrounding her!




Resting peacefully in the arms of Jesus.





My darling girl healing up from surgery.


Ok, so I'm crying again just looking at these photos. I can't believe we're really walking this road. Was she really in my tummy just a few days ago? 


PLEASE keep praying. Anna needs healing and protection. We hope she can come off ECMO within the next few days. Matt & I need rest and strength and peace. (Plus, we both have colds right now.) Isaac needs to know Daddy & Mama are OK, and that his world will come back together someday. We did get to see him today, and it was wonderful to kiss him and hear his laughter. 


I'm going to try to sleep a bit before I have to take more pain meds and pump again. Thank you again to the ever-growing family of prayer warriors who are lifting us up to God's heart. We appreciated sincerely all of the prayers said before she was born, but now we're even more desperate for support with what we're having to face.


Today I asked Jesus where He was/is in Anna's room. He told me He is holding her - His hands are in the blankets under her and in the hands of the nurses and doctors attending her. And then He reminded me of the comforting verse from Psalm 91 that says, "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge..." (v. 4)


What a beautiful picture and truth! Not only that God is caring for her, but He is a gentle refuge. Compared to all the harsh equipment around Anna that makes me cringe to see, God is using feathers from His wings to protect and comfort her. Gentle love. Sweet care. She is truly in His care, and I must rest in that. Pray that I'll be able to do that. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

She's peeing!!!

Hello, this is your freindly neighborhood reporter, Mr. Peppley, bringing you news from Seattle Childrens. Anna is indeed peeing, and that is a good thing. She started on a medication to make her pee, which in turn is to reduce the swelling she has encountered. By the way, the swelling is an expected side effect of the surgery, so no worries about that.

All in all, Anna is doing good - all things considered. Or at least I think so. The nurses are doing a lot more standing around and shooting the breeze than they did yesterday. In fact, I don't remember them doing that at all yesterday. So I take that as a good sign.

NOTE: the following is a sleeper of a paragraph, and it has some "technical" stuff in it. You are free to skip it if you want. Also, for any heart savy people out there, please feel free to correct my inaccuracies. I'll punch you in the mouth first when I see you corrected me, then apologize.

Anna is hooked up to a pacemaker, but that also is nothing out of the ordinary. Each heart has a primary node, which is on the atrium. The node sends an electrical impulse to a node on the ventricle via the septum (in a normal heart, that is...Anna doesn't have a septum), which tells that pump to fire. So the first node signals all the other ones to fire, and keeps them all in synch with each other. With Anna - and other heart surgery patients - sometimes the primary node doesn't communicate that will with the other ones, so the pacemaker is set up to help that. There are three "levels" of impulses that heart patients see. The first is having the heart do all of the work - all by itself with no outside help. This, of course, is preferred. The second is when the pacemaker "activates" the primary node, or the one on the atrium. And the third is when the pacemaker "activates" the ventricle node. This one is used when the communication line between the atrium and ventricle break down - whatever that reason is. The doctor (or, actually, the fellow) who explained it to me said it is not uncommon for the patient to go from one to the another and back again, or from any one to any other. So she could go from A to B to C, and then to A, then to C, then B, then to A...you get the picture. The point is, it's fairly normal and nothing to be concerned about yet.

Okay - I got through that paragraph. Phew! And when I sat down to write this post, I thought I would try my darndess to make it short...

Just one more thing. We really wish we could be in Tumwater tonight or tomorrow morning. Our church is putting on a Christmas concert, and it is always good - no - spectacular. And no - I'm not saying that simply because the director is my mother-in-law. So if you are in town, go to Mt View tonight at 7 pm or one of the services tomorrow, 9 or 10:45. Or if that doesn't work, go to one of your local concerts. It's good to get out and get a little bit of culture.

Love you all. Thanks for sharing with us! (mooch-mooch, hug-hug)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Greetings from the bedside

Hello. This is Matt. Again. I guess my wife doesn't want to talk with you guys anymore. Either that, or she has a few other things on her mind. She did, after all, push a rather large object out of her body just yesterday. And that rather large object ended up having open-heart surgery, so can you blame her? I think not.

Yes, I'm sitting here at the hospital, next to my beautiful daughters little bed. It's almost 10 pm, and I'm the last of the vigilantes to stay here. All others have retired to other buildings around the greater Puget Sound area for some much needed rest. Please - don't feel sorry for poor little ol lonely me. I am far from lonely. How could I be? I am accompanied by my precious little daughter, baby Anna Joy. She is laying (or is it lying? I can never remember - even after all of those English classes I took...) there, sleeping peacefully and comfortably. Is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby?

I submit that there is. A sleeping baby who had open-heart surgery one day ago and is sleeping her way to health. That is more precious. And I wager that all of you who have gone through similar situations can agree. Of course, there is always the fear that something's not right, that something's going to go wrong, and something bad is going to happen. But as I sit here, in the relative peaceful quiet of the ICU after-hours, I can believe that all is okay with our little baby.

I just watched two nurses roll Anna a little bit to change her position. They disconnected one of her tubes for a few seconds to make the move easier and to protect the tubes from kinking up. The alarms began to go off and within seconds other members of the team came into Anna's room to make sure everything was okay. How many times have I been in a hospital room that some sort of alarm is going off and everyone just ignores it? Too many to count. And one little alarm goes off in Anna's room and several people jump? How cool is that?

Well, I haven't been in that many hospital rooms...

Going back to the people who have lived our experience before - you all know how easy it is to fear, don't you? For those of you who haven't lived it, I'm sure you can imagine. However, I'm sorry to say you probably can't understand. But thanks for trying anyway. (Wow, that was kinda harsh, wasn't it? Sorry...). Just this morning I was in bed, in that dreamy in-between stage when you're not really awake or asleep. And I thought something like "is she going to alright? are we going to be able to take her home? will Isaac get to be a big brother to Anna?" Then the power of the prayers of the saints kicked in. I could almost hear Jesus whisper in my ear "I am with you." Then my mind gratefully sunk back into the blissful forgetfulness of sleep. And I rested in the arms of my Lord for a little bit longer, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that He held my little girl in his very capable hands.

Yes, I'm getting a little sappy tonight. Blame it on the lack of sleep (or should I say the "fitfulness of trying to sleep but not really sleeping well because of...), but it's there. Or maybe it's because I confiscated my wife's laptop so she wouldn't be tempted to get on it and stay up way too late and her sentimentality is rubbing off on me as I write. By the way, the reason I'm all alone at the hospital is because visiting hours for anyone who is not a parent/caregiver is over at 8 pm, so all of our fellow bedside sitters went home. And Alissa went back to the hotel to sleep there, staying the night with her mom and dad. I hope they all sleep well and rest in the arms of our Lord too.

Now, on to more non-sappy stuff. It's been great reading all of the comments that have been posted on the blog. And for all of you doubting-Thomaser's: yes, I have read every single one, even the ones from Argentina, Africa, Finland and all of the other crazy countries that are represented. By the way - what?!?! Who are all of you and why do you care?!?!

Okay - I know some of you, like my old Buddy from high school youth group, my roommate from college, a former girlfriend-turned-good-friend and the old family friend-turned-co-worker at Garts. I know why you and the others we know care, but the ones who don't know us? Well - while I may not understand why you are here reading this post, I'm grateful. Reading all of the posts helps me fill my tank up for the day. I can use all of the positive reinforcement I can get, and your words of encouragement go a long way for me.

Somehow, Anna's story has reached far and wide. And gauging from all of your comments, apparently her life has impacted a lot of you in a very good way. Who woulda thought, huh?

So, again, thank you. I did warn you I would say that again, didn't I? While I would like to imagine that you are all reading this blog because you can't take your eyes away from the melodious, poetic, mesmerizing words of my writing, I know that God has placed Anna's story into your heart. Why? I don't know. But maybe, just maybe, God is trying to show His power is still at work in the world today. We still don't know the ultimate outcome of Anna's story and life, but we know that God is present - not just in, but IN - her story.

I'm thinking this post is getting a little off track and helter-skelter. So I think I'll take a little of that advise a lot of you have been giving me: I'm gonna go get some sleep and rest. Hopefully I won't hear your texts tomorrow morning, and I can sleep until 9 or so.

Good night and God bless.

By the way, Anna is doing great. At least that's how I am interpreting what the doctors and nurses and fellows (thanks for the explanation in that comment!!!) are telling me. Maybe I'll get philosophical again on my next post, and go into that thought a little bit more...