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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Inner Ear and Inner Strength

As some of you know, I have been suspicious of Sivana's inner ears for quite some time, particularly since she was learning how to walk and struggling so much with balance.  I've also noticed her speech developing very differently than all the other kids.  We've been so thankful for sign language as this has been our best means of understanding her.  I've also noticed certain sounds that she does not seem to respond to such as the letter T, S and F... letters typically registered in the higher frequencies.  Even though I try to show her these sounds, she looks at my mouth with confusion and reaches her hand to my lips to "feel" the sound.  That's when I knew something was very different.

So we finally went to see the pediatrician and I asked for a referral to audiology.  Thankfully she took my concerns seriously and Sivana was seen today.

We spent an hour in tests and Sivana did brilliantly.  Different devices hooked to her ears, various speakers used around the room, probes behind and in her ears... she took it all and despite having just turned two, was able to use the methods of testing for age groups 3 and up (said the proud mama!).  Sure enough, by the end of all the tests, all methods showed consistent results that Sivana has mild/moderate hearing loss and will require hearing aids in both of her ears.  Because the hearing loss is in the inner ear, it is permanent. Thankfully, they had a device that showed WHAT Sivana hears so I was able to better understand the severity of her deafness.  

When the technician said mild/moderate, I figured it wasn't too bad, but when she showed me a regular conversation between a man and woman under normal hearing conditions and then under Sivana's conditions, I couldn't hold back the tears...  I could barely understand anything that was said and it was as if I had my hands over my ears.  All those times we thought she was being disobedient... she just couldn't hear us!

The other aspect to this is the fact that the inner ear develops in utero at the same time as kidneys and reproductive organs.  Whatever happened during that gestational stage, it clearly affected her kidney(s) (hence the multidysplastic kidney) and now also her inner ears... I am praying fervently that the Lord safeguards her womb.  

Sivana loves babies more than any other child I have seen!  She carries her own little baby with her just about everywhere she goes.  When I'm nursing, she sits on the couch and "nurses" her baby, too.  Anytime Avalyn is awake, Sivana giggles and stays near her and asks to hold her.  Even at the clinic today, a baby was in her car seat crying and Sivana gasped when she saw the baby and clasped her hands together in excitement and then looked concerned as she realized the baby was crying.

I don't know what the good Lord has in store for our Sivana, but please unite with me in prayer that He bless her womb, whatever that may look like.  Nephrology clinic warned that this was a possibility and that we would begin tests when she is a bit older.  Only time will tell.

The good news, my dear family and friends, is that the technician was greatly impressed with Sivana's ability to communicate given the severity of her hearing loss.  Thank you Signing Time!!!  We are back in four weeks for more tests and fittings for hearing aids.  We pray that the transition to hearing absolutely everything (particularly in this house) is not overwhelming for her.

Her heart murmur is also something the doctor wants to further investigate so we are also being referred to a heart specialist.  I asked the Lord for exceptional children and He gave me exactly that!

Thank you for your support and for uplifting our precious girl in your thoughts and prayers.  I love you all so much.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Blessed Arrival of Avalyn Hope

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

"... your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."
Matthew 6:8

These bible verses come to me as I reflect on the gift that was your prayers the day before and the day of my C-section on April 16th.  Like a multitude of prisms dangling before the light of God, your prayers refracted His light into my life and left me suspended in a state of rainbow prisms and resulting peace and serenity.

Because of this, would you believe that I smiled the entire time they were operating?  Fear had little to no room in my heart as I anticipated the imminent arrival of our precious child.  Only moments before, just sitting outside the Operating Room, after the nurse injected me with blood thinners did I shake briefly in anticipation of what was about to take place.

Once in the operating room, my midwife was able to come in with me while Duane had to wait just outside.  The room was buzzing with a handful of medical staff in blue scrubs and the operating table lay before me like a cross... arm rests out waiting to strap me down.  I looked at the faces of the people who would play a part in my baby's arrival and I simply said, "Thank you so much for helping me bring my baby into this world... every one of you."

The young Anesthetist asked me to sit on the edge of the operating table and I held my midwife's hands while I curled my back in anticipation of the needle.  My mind went back nearly thirteen years ago to a similar moment when a student tried to insert the needle in my spine but he kept missing.  The process was excruciating and after several minutes of painful pokes, I had yelled "would someone who knows what their doing please take over??!!"  With that memory flash, I turned to the young man about to poke my spine and confessed "I'm failing terribly at being brave about this part."

To my delightful surprise, he got it on the first try!  I turned to him with a big smile and said "That wasn't bad at all!  You're fantastic!  Oh... I'm starting to go numb..."

They laid me down quickly and they worked fast in strapping my arms and legs, raising a sheet across my chest, placing probes on my chest to monitor my heart, strapping a blood pressure machine to my arm and an oximeter on my finger... I felt my body shifting around as they began washing my belly down and the doctor walked in.  I lay there smiling... To lighten the mood, I piped up again and said "At least you guys have some really pretty lights in here!"

The Anesthetist stayed by my head and was an unexpected support!  Duane was finally let in and sat by my head with a slight look of unease.  He later told me that they let him in just as they had already started cutting me open.  For a firefighter and farmer who has seen his fair share of cuts, slices, and other gory details, I had not expected this unease.  But he admitted that it's very different when it's your wife being operated on.

Within ten minutes, we heard the cries of our precious baby and the announcement "It's a Girl!"  To which I turned to Duane as the tears just started to flow at the glorious and much anticipated sound of her beautiful presence and said "That little stinker!  "He" was a girl all along!  It's our Avalyn Hope!"

Another ten minutes came and went before Avalyn was brought to Duane and as he showed her to me and I soaked in her dark hair and dark eyes, I exclaimed that one finally looked like me!  She reminded me so much of my own baby pictures.  It took another twenty minutes before they were done sewing me back up and I was taken to the recovery room.  There I was able to hold Avalyn despite a bunch of wires inhibiting the real connection... IV, blood pressure monitor, and an overwhelming sense of nausea... not exactly the recipe for an amazing bonding moment.

But bonding we did and a successful attempt at nursing.  The very image I had focused on... holding my precious child while nursing... looking into her little eyes and seeing every little perfect detail God took the time to make... all of it was right there... finally.

It was finally real.

And so was the vomiting that ensued!  Ah yes, despite the moment being short lived, it was sacred nonetheless.  And so it is that you have played a special role in Avalyn's arrival through your prayers.  Gratitude spills forth in such measure that I cannot tell you in words what your prayers did to uplift me... to calm my every fear.  We are honoured to have you celebrate with us our precious Avalyn Hope... our "Beautiful Breath of Life".

123, ABC and Igneous Rock

At long last, I stopped debating on whether homeschooling was a good idea or not and finally decided to try.  I know my heart's desire was to do this, no questions asked, but my concern was finding the time to do it!  Particularly given HOW I like to do things... thoroughly!  Sometimes painfully thoroughly!  After some research and consulting with other respectable home-schooling families, we decided on Sonlight which is a Christian-based curriculum.  And with Ethan being quite advanced for his age, we were comfortable combining Ethan and Anika in the kindergarten program.

We are now five weeks in and I have had to double check and make sure I did in fact, buy the kindergarten curriculum!  We have covered numbers, alphabet, word families, continents, and now in science, we have covered weather, cloud formations, how air moves (both hot and cold) and two of the three main rock formations: igneous and sedimentary.

Duane has walked in from the fields on occasion, has glanced up at the white board and has shaken his head saying "The kids are going to be smarter than me by next week!"

I have to admit, I am LOVING this!  What a difference it makes to KNOW what the kids are learning and to make reference to it in everyday life.  It makes the whole day a learning experience, and fun.  I can't believe how much I am learning right along with them!  The trouble is not staying up too late by myself learning more about these topics because I become so fascinated by them.

But the best part is starting our day off with our bible stories.  The kids get small white boards and they draw key parts of the story as I read it to them.  Ethan particularly loves the story of Jacob and Esau because he loves drawing red hair all over Esau!  He also loves Jacob's dream with the ladder up to heaven because the ladder looks just like one at a firehall.

Sivana, having just turned two, has to be right in there with her own little white board and she randomly stands up on her chair and proclaims "I DID it!"  Too cute!

Although I ache for some "me" time and the opportunity to write, I have to smile in appreciation for the fact that while I cannot write as I long to, my true heart's desire is being fulfilled... to be a mom and a teacher.  If it wasn't for Antoinette's help, I don't think I could have tackled this so we thank God daily for her presence in our lives and her adamant support in the values of homeschooling.

I hope to at least have a chance to write a quick update on everyone in the family and post their beautiful fall pictures.  All in good time, right?  All in good time. 
For now, suffice it to say that while life is incredibly busy, we are celebrating it (most days) and loving the blessing of our "full" house.  Our cup runneth over, indeed!  Tonight, may this prayer reach out and find you all... that the Lord may bless you and pour forth His grace upon you... that you may feel relieved by His love, renewed by His presence, and in constant awe of His creation... right down to igneous rocks!  Much love and God bless!