Tuesday, May 12, 2009

They're coming tomorrow!!

I am just so excited for tomorrow!  My parents are flying in from Belgium for a visit.  Luke and Caleb haven't seen Grandpa Hoggard since they were in the NICU. Boy, is he in for a surprise! Of course, he's seen many pictures and videos but it's just not the same. My dad will get to stay two weeks and my mom will stay for a month!  Yay!!  
Something about having kids just makes you miss your parents even more. I mean I've lived on a different continent than them for 12 years now (wow, has it been that long?!) and I can't say it ever really gets  easier to be apart.  You can kind of get used to it, but it's never easy.   Since the boys have been born, though, I've missed them so much more.  I'm so glad we'll get to spend this time together!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

An update on the boys!

Dear friends,

 

The four of us went to church for the first time as a family unit this past Sunday.  As we entered the sanctuary to be seated, the congregation had already started a time of worship. “…For you are great…You do miracles so great! There is no one else like You. There is no one else like You….”   Of course, we couldn’t help but turn our attention to our Heavenly Father in that moment. As we stood there with our precious boys in our arms, we wanted to shout at the top of our lungs “You are great, God!!! And You do miracles so great!!” We were holding our miracles!!    Throughout the morning, we proudly showed our beautiful sons to our friends.  So often the conversation came around to something like this, “oh, we have prayed for you so much!!”  We were quickly reminded of the many days we spent in a dark valley, and thankful all over again for the friends who had prayed for us and for Luke and Caleb when we were too weary to even pray ourselves.  Of course, prayers weren’t just prayed here in Springfield, or by members of our church family, but literally all over the world!! I wish we had time to share every story, but over and over and over again we’ve heard reports of people praying for miracles for our boys.  Some family friends in Sweden fasted and prayed for days.  Churches all across the country stood with us in prayer.  Our co-workers, our neighbors, people everywhere....praying. We have numerous stories of children who wouldn’t let their parents sleep at night until they had prayed for Luke and Caleb.  And, so before we say anything else in this letter, we want to say thank you. Thank you for believing in miracles. Thank you for praying.

So, how are Luke and Caleb these days?  That’s a question we get asked a lot. So, we wanted to bring you up to speed on everything.

 Well, we’ve spent the winter months at home.  The doctors were quite clear with us that we should not have the boys out in public places or around other children until May.  Because October through April is high flu and RSV season and preemies are highly susceptible to these illnesses, it was safest to stay home.  So that’s what we did, and we are happy to say, we’ve gone all winter without any sickness in the Lundgren household!!  On Sunday the boys turned seven months old!! They are growing and developing and becoming, well, very charming little boys.  J  They are both smiling and laughing  and have begun to interact with each other more  and more and that is fun to see!

Caleb:

He’s a healthy 17-pound baby now!!  His bottom two teeth have poked through and he is chewing on anything he can get his hands on. He has also learned to roll over from his tummy to his back and his back to his tummy.   He’ll be on move and crawling before we know it!!  Caleb loves his stuffed animal toys, his pacifier and books.  He will sit and look at a book with mommy and daddy for a long time.  He’s very interested in the world around him and loves to look at new things!   He’s eating his fruits and veggies now and seems very pleased by the new tastes he is discovering.   We are so thrilled that Caleb seems to be developing just perfectly!

 

Luke: 

As you know, Luke has put up quite a fight since the day he was born.  He was discharged from the hospital on Feb. 2nd.  We’ve been busy the past 3 months following up with all of his physicians, therapists, and his neurologist.  There are so many, many things to praise God for in Luke’s little body.  It would quite literally take pages to tell you all of the little miracles we see here and there, so we’ll highlight the most significant.   Luke’s surgeon (who, if you remember, operated on Luke’s intestines, removing quite a large section and then reconnecting the remaining parts on Jan. 2nd) followed Luke’s progress after we left the NICU. In March, he was so impressed with Luke’s success and well being, that he released him from his care!  Luke is still eating like a champ—taking all of his food by mouth!! He’s on increased calorie formula and has been able to maintain healthy weight gain.  Secondly, we’ve been visiting the pediatric neurosurgeon who is watching the ventricles in Luke’s brain very closely. Because of his severe brain bleed, the ventricles are still enlarged, however there has been no increase in their size for several months now, so they are still saying he will not need a shunt.   Luke has also shown no signs of any kind of seizure activity since we’ve been home. He is still on a small amount of medication to control seizures, but we suspect this is not needed. He will go for an EEG in July and if everything looks ok at that point, they will take him off this medication.  The neurologist examined Luke also.  He talked with us very directly about the possibility of Luke developing Cerebral Palsy (CP). At the time of the examination, he didn’t see any early signs of CP, although these things don’t always show up until kids are a little older.     In addition, Luke’s pediatrician has had blood tests done to check on Luke’s liver.  When Luke was discharged from the NICU, he essentially had liver disease. You may have noticed his dark complexion in pictures. No, this is not a tan!! Luke had a very severe case of jaundice, induced by his prolonged dependency on IV fluids in the NICU.  Premature babies are kept alive by these proteins and fats that can be given through an IV when they are unable to drink milk. However, their livers do not process this very well.  When he left the hospital his bilirubin levels were almost 9. At last check though, Luke’s levels were at 2.9…with 0-1 being normal, so he is well on his way to complete healing of his liver!!  The last thing we want to mention is the therapy that Luke is undergoing.  Luke and Celeb both receive occupational therapy and Luke will soon add physical therapy and speech therapy to his weekly routine.  Last time the occupational therapist came, she mentioned how impressed he was with Luke’s abilities. For sure, he shows signs of delay but she told us that to look at Luke’s chart and and then Luke, the baby….the two do not match!! She wouldn’t expect a baby with Luke’s history to be able to accomplish all that he has been able to accomplish so far.  We give all the credit to the Lord for this!! There is no doubt in our minds that Jesus has healed him and given Luke the ability to do all that he is doing!!

As we stated earlier, Luke shows signs of delay in regards to motor skill development. He is still working to have good head control, sit up, roll over, etc. This was anticipated of course. We are believing God for what we’ve been asking him for from the very beginning of the pregnancy…perfect development.  We really feel in our hearts the urgency to not stop praying!  We know God isn’t finished working in Luke and we are going to see more miracles in the days ahead. We have a few areas that we as a family are praying really hard for right now.  We wanted to just share those with you and invite you to pray with us.  

1) Luke’s vision --This is most urgent to us right now. After visiting the eye doctor a couple of months ago, we know that Luke has vision problems.  The optic nerve in his right eye is 60% the size of what it should be. They don’t expect it to grow anymore. This can sometimes be ok and not cause any issues or it can cause vision loss in the affected eye.  It cannot be treated with surgery or eyeglasses. Simply, Luke would be partially or completely blind in his right eye.  Since bringing Luke home, we have really noticed that he has a difficult time seeing clearly. It’s hard to know what infants can see and what they can’t, but we know for sure he is struggling. The older babies get, the more they begin to interact with their surroundings and Luke’s visual interaction is very limited. He doesn’t always bat at dangling objects or make good eye contact or watch his mobile. Even his delay in developing head control could be in part because of his loss of vision.  Luke goes back to the eye doctor on May 13th.  Can we just be completely honest with you? We are asking God to heal Luke’s eyes!!!  We are simply asking, “Lord, if you are willing, make Luke completely whole!!”  

2) Liver--Pray for continued healing of Luke’s liver and for the jaundice to be completely resolved. 

3) Muscle development—Luke has weak muscles. The danger of brain bleeds (and especially a bleed as severe as Luke’s was) is poor muscle control. The communication between the brain and the muscles is hampered causing poor development. We believe God can take care of this and that Luke can have no signs of Cerebral Palsy.

4)  Mental Development —Pray for Luke’s mental capacity. Again, because of the brain bleed, we’ve been told that the chances are that he won’t be able to function at a normal capacity.  But we’re hoping for damaged parts of Luke’s brain to be healed.

  5) Ventricles in Luke’s brain—pray for the enlarged ventricles to return to a normal size.  Continue to brain for every area of Luke’s brain affected by the bleed.  These portions of his brain have been damaged.  Pray for God to heal this brain tissue and restore perfect brain function.

  6)  Digestive system—While Luke’s intestines are healing quite well, he still is gaining weight very slowly.  We’re praying that things will get back to normal and he’ll be able to absorb all the nutrients he needs to grow big and strong!

All that being said, Luke is a beautiful little boy with such a spunky spirit about him. He enjoys “conversations” with Caleb and is babbling all the time now.  He loves to be rocked and cuddled and loved on! And just like his mommy, he is a morning person! He greets us everyone morning with big smiles that just melt our hearts! 

We thank God for these little guys!!  Thank you for continuing to pray with us.  It’s been quite a journey and we only made it through because of the strength God gave to us and because of the support of our families and friends. We find it so difficult to express to you just how much we appreciate you and all you’ve done for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  We have so many stories to tell Luke and Caleb as they grow up of all of the miracles God has done for them and of the amazing people that prayed for them all along the way!  We truly pray God’s best for each of you. 

From here on out, we’ll be sharing our family news through blog postings.  We’ll let you know that address as soon as we get it all set up!!

With love,

Andrew and Kristi