The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy! Psalm 126:3

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

So I realize this post could be viewed as being a little late, since Thanksgiving has passed... and that some of you might have been expecting a big "WE ARE SO THANKFUL THIS YEAR" post from me... because obviously, we have A LOT to be thankful for.

Of course I thought a lot about doing a post about being thankful right before, or on, Thanksgiving Day... but really, every time I sat down to do it (and even now) it just overwhelmed me. How could I possibly put into words how thankful I am right now? I am literally overwhelmed and humbled with thankfulness, because of all the ways people have blessed us this year. Honestly, everyday, I look at my boys many, many times a day and think to myself, "I am so blessed." I hope that never fades.

It was last Thanksgiving that we surprised our families with little 2-layered cakes... the color of each layer representing the sex of each twin. It was so fun to make each family member write down their prediction, and then see their reactions to 2 BLUE layers in the cake :). Pictured here are the guesses from Chris' family:

Thinking back to that time in life, we were so excited about having twins, and twin boys at that! Chris and I would have truly been so happy with whatever God blessed us with... but truth be told, we both wanted boys :). (Now we both want some girls to add to the mix... eventually... NO time soon...)

This time last year, was just before all the scares with "Baby B" (Eli) started happening. We had NO CLUE the journey we were about to find ourselves on. NO CLUE. Our biggest worry was just, "How in the world are we going to afford 2 of everything?" (Family, friends, church family took care of that worry... we have enough stuff as if we'd had 4 boys! I love how the Lord uses people's generous hearts to provide for us and help us feel loved.)

Just a few weeks later, we really started to know what real worries are all about. And those days and nights of worry and fear drug on for about 6 months. Not to say that they are totally over now. But I am so thankful to say that I think "the worst is over." I actually took the boys to a nursing home in Huntsville, AL, to meet their great-grandma for the 1st time the day before Thanksgiving; and a very sweet woman who had to be all of 90 yrs old, or more, who was a resident at the home, wheeled over to see the boys. After seeing them and hearing about their story, she said, "We'll honey, the worst is over," as she wheeled away. I really hope that was God speaking through her to tell me that...

So to be brief (which I'm not good at), I am just thankful for making it through the last year. I am thankful my boys are alive. The phrase, "I'm just happy to be here..." pretty much sums us up. I am thankful I married someone who loves me and those boys more than anything in the world and is happy to go through everyday life with me- he is SUCH a good Daddy! I am thankful I have parents who are thrilled about being grandparents, and are constantly showing their love to me, Chris, and the boys. I am thankful for a very special group of doctor's and nurses who took us by the hand and guided us through 5 very long months of the NICU world. And mostly, I am thankful for my relationship with my God who proves to me to over and over that I am not alone, that He is with me always, and provides for my every need.

Enjoy the pictures of my 3 favorite boys from our family Thanksgiving celebrations:

And remember you don't just have to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Boys' 1st Sunday at Church

For the first 10 months (almost) of the boys' lives... they've been in the NICU, or "homebound," unless they had a doctor appointment. The reasoning behind this was to keep them away from as many germs as possible.

At their 9 month check-up visit, I asked their doctor how much longer he thought we would be "homebound," and what we should do with all the upcoming holiday events, where there will be lots of people around. He said it was ok to attend family events, but that for the most part we would need to have the boys in a room away from the crowd. That, to me, almost makes it pointless to attend the family event... if you can't even really spend time with your family... I mean, I can sit at my own home in a room alone with my children... Usually my dad's side of the family comes to my parents' home for Thanksgiving Day lunch (about 20 people), but this year mom and dad (DiDi and Poppo) canceled, because they didn't want Chris and I, and boys to miss out. So it was just my immediate family. But I felt bad that we had to miss out on a year of our normal tradition.

Ok, back to church (since that's what this post is supposed to be about)... We also asked him about taking them to church. He told us this was fine as long as we get there a few min late, and leave a few min early. Basically so no one has a chance to touch them. Haha! And he made me look him in the eye and practically sign my name in blood that I wouldn't let anyone hold them except for Chris or myself.

This is not exactly an easy task to accomplish- not letting people in your church family touch or hold your children who they've never even met, who are almost 10 months old, and they have truly been praying for them since before they were born. Not to forget all the cooking for our family, that is still going on... These people have given us clothes, diapers, wipes, bibs, shoes, car seats, bottles, diaper bags, highchairs, strollers, books, toys, and just about everything else we own for them... I wanted to ask our doctor if he would come with us to church and be the one to tell all these sweet people, especially the older ladies, "I'm sorry, but please don't touch the babies..." I'm too worried about hurting someone's feelings. Chris on the other hand says, "Shoot, I don't care. I'll tell 'em..."

It ended up being pretty easy to keep the babies away from other's germs, because one of our ministers made an announcement last week, saying something along the lines of, "Bekah and the boys will be here next week. Please don't touch them." It was pretty funny because most people would run over to us to see them, and then stop about 3 ft in front of us, remembering that they weren't supposed to touch us. Haha!

Anyway, it was a successful hour. The boys were great. Slept through most of the service, or quietly played. Isaac was so enamored with all the lights and voices, which kept him occupied mostly. Eli was a little angel in his infant carrier, sleeping most of the time, or playing with his paci.

Here's some pictures of them, in their "church clothes," purchased by DiDi, of course ;) Wish I could EVER get them to both give me a big smile in the SAME picture... Oh well!

50 Free Holiday Cards from Shutterfly

It’s that time of year- Christmas Card time! Don’t you love getting them? I do… We normally display them on our fridge… but this year I have a special wall holder for them (thanks to a gift from my mom…)

While looking around on various websites for Christmas card options for this year... I came across 2 friends' blogs who posted about Shutterfly giving away 50 holiday cards to bloggers... just for blogging about it! This was great news to me, seeing as how I already had my eye on a few of their designs for our card this year! A friend of our’s has offered to take Christmas pics of the boys, and once he does, I’ll hop on Shutterfly to pick out our card.

They've got TONS of options, and lots of cute choices! I'm always wondering, when making purchases online, how something will actually look when it arrives... "Will I really like it, or will I be disappointed?" Well, today I actually saw these products live and in person at the mall (they were on display where you line up to get your picture made with Santa), and I thought they looked great! We used them last year for our Christmas card, announcing that we were having twin boys!

And, they’ve got some other great things for gift ideas, too… Calendars, photobooks… See the links below for card and gift ideas:

• Christmas photo cards to

• calendars for 2011

• holiday cards

• holiday photo cards

And here’s the link to the details about how to get the 50 FREE CARDS: (Thanks Shutterfly!)

(No, neither of the ones pictured here are our card, just a few samples from the website to spark your interest... Did it work?)

Happy Card Shopping :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

11/17 National Prematurity Awareness Day

Just about 9 1/2 months ago, two very sweet little boys were born... too early. They were brought into the world at 27 weeks and 3 days... all in an effort to save Eli who was sick in the womb.

When we made the choice to deliver early, we were told that we could possibly end up loosing both babies, due to complications of such an early birth. But we were also given the hope that they both could survive. Everything was very uncertain and we were scared.

We prayed and hoped to be blessed with 2 baby boys when all was said and done.

Isaac Franklin was born on 2.2.10 at 2:14, weighing in at 2lbs 4 oz, 12 3/4 in.

Eli Merritt was born on 2.2.10 at 2:15, weighing in at 1lb 3 oz, 11in.

Isaac spent 4 months in the NICU, enduring multiple infections, intubations, and surgeries.

Eli spent 5 months in the NICU, enduring multiple infections, broken bones, intubations, and surgeries.

Both boys are home with us now... something we try to not take for granted, because we weren't always certain we'd get to bring them both home.

For the most part, life is good. And we are very blessed. But there are also some complications that come with being born at 27 weeks, some of which are even yet to be seen.

Tonight, as I sit here typing this, after having rocked and kissed both of my boys... I can't help but think of families out there who didn't get to bring their baby home from the NICU... the families who had to say goodbye too soon to a baby that they had many hopes, wishes, and dreams for. The mommies who's hearts are aching, and the daddies who's dreams feel crushed.

I am also very mindful of all the families who still have babies fighting for their lives in the NICU. That is a very hard place to be in life. All you want is for your baby to be ok, healthy. And some days, you just don't know if that will ever happen. For the mommies who are still waiting to hold and feed their babies for the first time, I'm thinking of you. For the daddies who are still waiting to carry their little boy or girl into their home, into their bedroom that has been prepared especially for them... I'm thinking of you. And hoping that day comes soon. I know what that waiting feels like. It's the worst kind of wait I've ever experienced.

Holding Isaac for the first time. He was a few days old, but I only got to hold him up in my hands for a few short seconds while the nurse changed his bedding. It was over a month before I ever really got to hold him.

Holding Eli for the first time. Waited almost 2 months before I held him.

So I guess that's what I'm choosing to be aware of on this National Prematurity Awareness Day- the parents of preemies. My heart and prayers are with you today! May you feel loved and supported. May you see hope on your journey. May you know you are not alone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pure and Lovely...

Know anyone on your Christmas list who'd love an awesome frame?!

A piece of one-of-a-kind furniture?

Or other unique home accessories?

If so, check out this website:

From NOW till Thursday night, you can even comment on her site to have a chance to win a $100 gift certificate!

Check it out! You'll be glad you did!

I own three of her pieces- 2 rugby stripe frames, and a "g" custom letter wall hanging. LOVE THEM! She can customize colors and sizes just for you!

Happy Looking! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doctor Visit # 1,243

...or, at least it feels like that many...

We go to the doctor... A LOT.

Most weeks don't go by without at least one visit to some type of clinic at Vanderbilt, or our PCP. Most weeks it ends up being 2 or 3 visits.

To appease your curiosity, here are the clinics we frequent:
-NICU Follow-Up
-Surgery Follow-Up
-PCP's office

Newly Adding to the list:
-Cranio Facial

(And there will be more added to the list, I'm afraid, with this new addition of Eli's g-tube...)

That's 11 different clinics. 11 different doctors and groups of nurses and care partners.

And we also get a weekly visit from TEIS- Tennessee Early Intervention Services- an outreach teacher who comes to the house and works with both boys to try to help them catch-up with developmental milestones, hopefully by age 2 or 3 years.

So that's a 12th person who helps us care for the boys.

I am not naturally an organized person. I like to be organized, but I have to work at it... now even harder, that there are two little sweeties with a lot that needs to be organized! I keep a planner in my purse and a dry erase calendar on the fridge. And I truly appreciate all the "reminder calls" from Vanderbilt and our PCP a few days prior. If I loose my planner, we are in trouble. I am pretty proud of myself that I've only forgotten 1 appointment so far. And, I'm always on time. If you know me, being on time is a huge feat! Not to mention, I am on time with 2 little boys in tow! (Go me!)

Going to all these clinics isn't all bad... Here's a picture of some of our more fun times... Chris entertaining Eli in the Cardiology Clinic, while Eli gets an echocardiogram:

While it feels nice just to vent for a second about our numerous and frequent clinic visits... Really, this post needs to be about God's faithfulness and the way he continues to provide to me what I need when I need it. Most of the time, for the past year, it's been hope and patience that I've needed.

Friday night, November 5th, we got home about 10pm, from our 5 day stay at the hospital following Eli's g-tube/nissen surgery. In a nutshell, we were exhausted from the previous week. I knew I was physically exhausted, but I didn't realize till I got home that night, that I was emotionally exhausted, too.

Basically, I lost it that night. I just sat and cried, and cried, and cried. (I think Chris wanted to cry, too, but he was taking a turn to be strong while I was weak.) I was so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that Eli had a g-tube, and now we were home to manage and figure it out on our own. Mad that Eli had to have another surgery. Upset that it was so late. Worried that Isaac was getting a cold, and feeling guilty like I had given it to him by dragging him back and forth to the hospital all week, to be with Eli. I was saying things like,

"I can't do this..."

"This is too much..."

"I'm so stressed..."

"I just feel so overwhelmed..."

"This is too much to ask anyone else to handle... I'm going to have to quit my job, so I can be with him 24/7 to take care of him..."

"I don't want to do this..."

(If you are one of those people who think we are always "so laid back," "strong," "handling everything so well"... we have our moments of total breakdown for sure!)

But, once again, God was right there and held me through the next few days. He gave me patience when I was frustrated with myself, showing me that I can handle a g-tube; and so can Chris, and so can my dad (who takes care of the boys on Tuesdays)... so I can go back to work and leave him for a little while in someone else's care.

He gave me hope by seeing Eli heal, and start to giggle and play again.

And something we didn't even ask for:

He gave us comfort in the form of people to cook meals for us. 5 different families have cooked for us in the past 2 weeks. If you are one of them, THANK YOU. Yes, I am admitting that food does comfort me- probably why I can't loose these last 5 lbs :). But really, it is comforting to be able to hold and play with my babies longer, because I'm spending less time at the grocery store or in the kitchen, cause I know we have meals already prepared for us, ready in our fridge or freezer. What a blessing.

Yes, we go to the doctor ALL THE TIME! But, we are so blessed to live in a city with one of the best children's hospitals. We only have a 20 minute drive to receive a lot of really great care. And our PCP, is less than 10 minutes from the house and is wonderful. At our first visit with him, when the boys were both home from the NICU, he examined the boys and then looked at us and said, "Wow, isn't God so good?", with the biggest smile on his face. We are so blessed to have him.

If you've followed me this long through this rambling post about doctor's visits/organization/God's faithfulness/food... thanks :). I guess to sum it all up, I would just say that I'm trying to see God's blessings in the midst of this "madness." Sure, I know how to have a pity-party with the best of 'em. But I try to only let them last a few minutes at a time. Then I try to think of something positive I've gained through this experience. And I usually don't have to think too long, because one of these guys starts calling for me, and their smiles and giggles are about as big of a blessing as a girl could ask for:

So what are you going though that's difficult, unfair, hard? Allow yourself to cry, vent, yell, punch something if need be... then try to find one thing to be positive about. I promise it helps.

Psalm 5:11-12:
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Boys 9 month pictures

So Chris' awesome siblings and their spouses (shout-out to Uncle Corey and Aunt Amy, Aunt Heather and Uncle Lance!!!)gave us an AMAZING gift a few weeks ago...

They signed the boys up for a "Watch Me Grow" package with the wonderfully talented and so sweet, Nicole Spaller. She shot Corey and Amy's wedding back in August, and did a great job. I feel so blessed that she is going to be doing 5 photography sessions for us over the next year or so! We will treasure this gift always.

Check out her website and blog here:

It will be a week or two more before we see all the pics from our first session, but here's a sneek peek to hold us all over until then...

So Blessed to have Eli

So my dad came over yesterday afternoon to practice feeding Eli through his g-tube. He keeps the boys mostly by himself on Tuesdays- his day off- while Chris and I are at work.
I could go on and on about how blessed I am that I have a dad, and the boys have a "Poppo" who is willing to do that, but I'll save that for another post.

This post is about Eli.

So, back to yesterday...

While dad was at the house he told me a story about Eli I hadn't heard, and he hadn't heard, till just yesterday.

6 months ago, was the Nashville Flood. 6 months ago, Eli was really sick. And when I say really sick, I mean, his doctor who was caring for him at that time had to look us in the face and say this: "Your son is very sick. Eli one of the sickest patients in all of Vanderbilt Medical Center. And honestly, I don't know what else to do for him." So we knew he was sick and were so scared at the possibility loosing him...

But we didn't know that another one of the doctors had met with one of Eli's primary nurses to try to gently let her know that he didn't expect Eli to make it either. Very understandably, nurses who take care of these sweet little babies, for months, get pretty attached to them. So I think this doctor was just trying prepare her that Eli would most likely not get to go home from the NICU. This nurse responded, "I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with you. I've cared for this baby for months, and when I look at him, I see a baby who's going to make it. He's a little fighter." I know she was scared, too, that Eli would die... but she kept on hoping and believing with the rest of us that he would make it. And I know this wonderful doctor was hoping Eli would prove him wrong and make it, too... but with all the knowledge he has and years of experience with preemies, he was just also trying to be realistic. I don't blame him for that one bit. The whole time the boys were in the NICU, we were trying to figure out a balance between hope and reality.

The same sweet lady who told dad this story (she works in the NICU), also told him this: "Eli is the 1st baby who has ever been that sick, to go home and do as well as he has. Most others who were that sick, didn't make it, or they went home with many more problems than Eli has."

As dad was telling me this story, I was holding Eli in my lap, feeding him through his g-tube. Eli was sitting there looking at me and "Poppo," smiling.

Everyday, usually multiple times a day, I am reminded of what a miracle this baby is. And I don't throw that term "miracle baby" around lightly. I'm even often times hesitant to call him that, for fear of offending someone who wanted a "miracle" for their baby and didn't get it. But at the same time, I also want to SEE and acknowledge that Eli's life is a miracle. When a group of who I believe to be some of the best and very smartest doctors say, "I'm not sure he's going to make it... I don't know what else to do for him..."... and then at 9 months old, you are holding that same baby in your arms, watching him giggle, and teaching him to sit up, hold toys... I have to believe God stepped in and said, "I have another plan for you, Eli. I am going to save you."

If that isn't a miracle, what is?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eli's G-Tube Surgery

So, our sweet little Eli had another surgery this past Monday 11/1/10. I think that brings him to a grand total of 6 for his little 9 month life. This time it was to have a G-tube placed, and a Nissen fundoplication. (Feel free to just Google that if you are curious as to what in the world I'm talking about.)
I just love him so much.
I seem to never be able to keep up with blogging. Sometimes I don't really even bother because I feel like I have to type a 4 page report to catch up and explain what we've been going through... But I know all anyone really wants is pictures anyway... are some pics of our 5 day stay at the fabulous Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Once again, we are so pleased with the fabulous team of people who cared for us. And, of course, God held us all right in his hands, and we all made it through another day.
Honestly, we are pretty overwhelmed with this new g-tube way of life, but we are taking it one day (or one feed) at a time and trusting in our God. He's gotten us all this far :).

Chris and Eli before surgery:

Bekah and Eli before surgery:

Eli in his hospital pajamas:

Eli recovering from surgery:

DiDi and Isaac in the waiting room:

Eli- Please show Mommy your smile!

Isaac, wanting Eli to feel better and play:

Hanging out with my little sweetie:

Hanging out with my boys: