Monday, September 28, 2009

Bringing Gabriel Home..... Gabriel's Celebration

Last Sunday my Mom and my dear friend Erin threw a welcome home party for Gabriel. It was such a wonderful celebration of Gabriel's life and his arrival into our family. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives, people that love us, love Gabriel and have supported us through this whole adoption rollercoaster.

Auntie Annie giving Gabe his bottle!

Cousin Leslie

Kristen, Megan, Me, Gabe, Sondra and Megan - the beautiful ladies from my work who came from far and even farther to welcome Gabe home

Kathy, Betsy, Bev and Gabe's Nana

Auntie Annie, Jake, Cousin Rocky,
Neighbor Luke and hostest "aunt" Erin

Rocky & Liam, Gabe's future buddy!

Gabe's good friend Noah



Kathryn & Mark

Anna, Luke and their son Noah

Kristen & Megan

Me & Sam (the flower girl from our wedding - isn't she beautiful)

Cousin Lauren & Aunt Julie

Gabe's best buddy Wyatt & Dianne

Great Grandma Thomas

Nonnie, birthday boy Sam and Sondra

Peter & Heather



Great Grandma Schmitz

There were so many more people there that I wish we'd gotten in pictures. But it was so busy and it was quite a job just making sure everyone that wanted to have the opprotunity to hold Gabriel. Gabe recieved so many wonderful gifts... books, clothes, nursery decor.... he is such a blessed little baby! And we are blessed as well; by all the people that love our little boy and by the blessing of Gabriel as part of our family.
If the African proverb that says "It takes a village to raise a child," is true, we at least know that we have our village and it is full of love for our sweet baby boy.
Oh, how we love this little boy.... thank you all for sharing in the joy he brings.

Love & Blessings, Meredith

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A little bit of faith....

.... goes a long way!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary allots the following for the definition of faith:
Pronunciation: \ˈfāth\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural faiths \ˈfāths, sometimes ˈfāthz\
Etymology: Middle English feith, from Anglo-French feid, fei, from Latin fides; akin to Latin
Date: 13th century
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person :
loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs.
Do you agree with that definition? I do, well mostly. Except for the part of the definition that says a belief in something for which there is no proof and I only disagree because of the definition of "proof" which is generally defined as having physical evidence of something. And while I have no physical evidence of God, I see how real he is when I witness a sunset... I see no proof of love except for the feelings I have when I'm with my family and friends. And while you can see a sunset, you can't even see a feeling. And I have faith that God preforms miracles everytime I look at him....

2 Corinthians 5:7 says 'We live by faith, not by sight.' And it is by faith in God, faith in miracles and faith in Gabriel that encourages Matt and I everyday.
Today Gabriel had his 2nd opthomolgist appointment and it didn't go as we had planned. His right eye lid is still weak so the doctor advised us to start covering his left eye for 30 minutes a day to encourage his right eye to work correctly. Upon further examination the doctor noted that not only is Gabe's lid weak, his right eye has trouble looking in, looking up and the pupil is a little bigger than it should be. These four findings lead the doctor to believe that Gabriel's 3rd cerebral nerve isn't working the way it should be. Whether it be under developed, wrapped in a blood vessel or have a tumor on it, Gabriel needs an MRI to see exactly what is going on. So after Dr. K(opthomologist) speaks to Dr F (neurologist) they will most likely schedule a MRI sooner than the 6 months we had originally planned.
And while we hope the MRI finds nothing and Gabriel's vision develops perfectly we have faith in Gods plan. Faith, that while we may not always understand, and we may be scared for Gabriel, we know everything will work out the way God intends it too. 1 Corinthians 2:5 tells us 'that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power'. And we do have faith in the doctors and their recommendations but we have much greater faith in Him.
While I may lose faith in myself and circumstances, in people and ideas I will not lose faith in God.

Friday, September 18, 2009

1 Month

I can hardly believe Gabe has been alive for one month! What a wonderful month it has been!

At one month old, Gabriel Matthew this is your life :)

  • You are the sweetest, happiest little guy. You love to drink your bottles, stretch and blankets and sleep in someones arms.
  • We're working hard to getting you to sleep ONLY in your cradle or bassinet... but when you're just so cuddly, it's hard to put you down sometimes.
  • At first you loved to be swaddled but by day 5 you wanted your arms free. Now... you hate to be swaddled and just want the cover tucked under you!
  • You're drinking 4 ounces of formula every 3 hours. However you have been known (twice :) to go 4 hours at night between bottles!
  • You're still to small for most of your cloth diapers, hate the snaps on the Happy Heiney diapers and seem happiest wearing the Kissaluvus contours :)
  • Tummy time is becoming a favorite activity - as long as Daddy or I are on the floor too!
  • The bouncy seat has finally become a place where you enjoy sitting, looking around... and going to the bathroom :) If it seems like you have to go number 2, we put you in it, and presto - you've had a bm.
  • You love stories from The Beginners Bible and your favorite story book is "On the Night You Were Born."
  • You've met so many people in your 1st month: your Nonnie, Papo, Gramps, Nana, Ann, Uncle Matt, Uncle Bucko, Uncle Tony, Uncle Chris and Uncle Justin, Auntie Annie, Aunt Mariah, Caleb, Ethan, Jake, Sam, Grandma Thomas and Grandpa and Grandpa Schmitz. You've met your other aunts Erin and Sondra as well as Megan, Barb, Mick, Becky, Andrew, Alexis, Adrian, Connie, Katie, Laura, Kyle and lots of people from Mommy and Daddy's work. At church you met Pastor Brian, Marilynn, Tiffany, Katie, Jane, Amy and lots of others :) You met Pastor Dan & Christy, Dan, Sarah, London & Waverly, Kirsten, Josh, Abby & Owen and Ken & Sarah at Life Group... and just yesterday you met "aunt" Natalie, "uncle" Charlie and your best friend Wyatt.
  • You've also been lots of places: Church, Target, Giant Eagle, Barnes & Noble, Crocker Park, Nonnie & Papo's, Gramps', Grandma & Grandpa Schmitz, the Mall, the Smitely's, Caleb's football and baseball games, Dr. Millers in Brunswick and the CCF downtown... and lots of walks! Next up, a restaurant :)

In the past month you have changed our lives immeasurably. I didn't know I could love something so little so much, but I do. I love you so much it hurts to be away from you.... and it seems like you don't like to be away from me either :) I know that will change... but for now I will cherrish it and every moment that God gives us with you.

We love you so much Gabriel! Happy 1 Month Birthday!

Gabriel has sure kept us busy, but I think I'm starting to get into the swing of mothering and posting on the blog:)

Thanks for following us on our journey... it's only begining. God Bless!

Love, Meredith

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Miracle of Gabriel

Albert Einstein said it best "There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." And until recently I always believed in miracles and did my best to listen to Albert Einstein and look at everything as a miracle. But my true perception changed on miracles when 4 weeks ago I held in my arms the biggest miracle of my life.

I am 100% pro-life, a baby is a baby at conception, there is no reason for abortion type of person. I get slack from some people (what if the mother may die, what if its incest/rape) but I know in my heart of hearts that God has a plan for every baby and for the rest of my life I will do whatever I can to stop abortions.

God wants us to chose life... Deuteronomy 30:19 states "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" and all because someone chose life I can now truly feel the gift of a miracle.

Did you know our son's birth mother, once his condition of schizencephaly was diagnosed, was explained all of her "options." She was "young" and the baby she was carrying didn't have a real shot at life (my summary of the doctors words, not their words). But instead of evaluating her options, Miss B chose life. She did not choose the easy path; she was a young pregnant girl in a critical world. But still she heeded Deuteronomy 30:19 and chose life. And due to her decision to choose life, I have a better understanding of miracles.

After Miss B chose life and began making a plan of adoption for the baby we know as Gabriel, she was turned away from an adoption agencey.... yes, I said turned away, because that agency didn't place special needs baby. By the grace of God, she found our attorney, MCB, and MCB contacted us. Because of Gabriel's special needs she had to ask if we'd be interested in having our lifebook submitted.... after praying, speaking to doctors and a lot more praying we took, what was for me, a gigantic step of faith and met Miss B, Mr. C and their families.

Why was it such a gigantic step of faith for me? Because I wanted a baby so badly and I was so afraid that this baby, with this HUGE problem would come into this world only to leave it quickly. Schizencephaly is a pretty scary condition when you look it up on the internet. It's even scarier when you talk to a doctor who says Gabriel doesn't have any brain tissue on the right side of the brain (he does - miracle) and will have many, unbearable conditions. And while initially our fears kept us at bay, God did His thing with our hearts and we met with Miss B.

What did God do to our hearts? He reminded us of just how strong our stance on choosing life is and that if we'd concieved a child with schizencephaly we'd still love, want and cherrish that child. God also reminded us of Jeremiah 29:11... that He knows the plans He has for us, and although I'm ashamed to admit I questioned God, asked Him why us, how could we handle a 'special needs' baby, was He sure that this was the plan He had for us... I couldn't ignore His will any longer and we knew that if God wanted to include Gabriel in our lives, who were we to question that.

And God's plans did include Gabriel in our lives... after falling in love with Miss B and her family, sharing laughter, tears and lots of love we met our miracle.

Wikipedia defines a miracle as "a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature, such that can be attempted to be explained by divine intervention." I'm no scholar but I completely agree with that definition... and boy does that definition shine down on our Gabe.

Gabriel does have schizencephaly. But unlike the 1st doctors description he has almost all of the right side of his brain, he's just missing a small portion. He has the 'best' type of schizencephaly you can have - closed and unilateral. The doctors believe that its near or in his gross motor area of the brain but we won't know that until Gabe goes for a MRI. Note, that right now Gabriel has no deficits in his gross motor area. An ultra sound also showed that he may also have partial agenesis of the corpus callosum and that he's missing the septum pellucidum.

Missing the septum pellucidum can cause septo-optic dysplasia, which is a problem with Gabe's optic nerves and vision. An opthomologist appointment was set up immediately and after looking at his nerves, Gabriel's nerves and vision are fine. The other problems (knowing where the schizencephaly occurs and agenesis or the corpus callosum) can not be difinitively be known until he has a MRI. And because Gabriel is doing so well, he won't have a MRI until he's a bit older (at least 6 months of age)

So, while there are some concerns in regards to Gabriel and his schizencephaly, it is not what we expected. We expected a baby with severe problems, I can honestly say I was afraid that we'd lose him before ever really knowing him. But we prayed for a miracle, his birth family prayed for a miracle and lots of you prayed for a miracle... and God gave us our miracle.

Gabriel is our miracle for many reasons.... 1.) every baby is a miracle; scientifically conception is almost impossible... yet our world is full of babies 2.) a beautiful baby boy was born after a doctor reccommended abortion 3.) Gabriel is healthy, with a fully functioning brain and a plan written for him by God and 4.) God chose us to be the parents of this beautiful little boy.

Did God grant us our miracle.... I believe he did. Yet, I know that in God's omnicient wisdom He knew Gabriel would be born healthy, that he'd come home with us and shower us with more happiness than Matt and I could ever imagine.

God is so good. Do you believe in miracles? I know I do.

Love & Blessings, Meredith

Our miracle after a bath :)

Gabriel, 25 days old, pushing up during tummy time. Now I spent the last 4 years of my life working in a child development center and most of the babies that would start at our center were at least double his age and were never this strong! Just another miracle of Gabriel I suppose!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bringing Gabriel Home... Daily Life with Gabe

I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting from motherhood, but I definately didn't expect it to be like this.... sheer bliss and wonderful perfection. Our mornings start with a diaper, bottle and then some cuddling. Every other day Gabriel enjoys a warm bath in his little whale tub. If it's not a tubby day we wash up and spend some time on the floor working our muscles, stretching and exploring. After that Gabriel usually takes a nap and then we take a walk outside. Then more bottles, reading books and more naps! Every few days we walk at the mall, Crocker Park or Target! Gabriel loves Target, almost as much as his Mama loves Target!

Our days are getting into a nice little routine of bottles, naps, cuddles and fun. Night time - well Gabriel is still a little more on the nocturnal side but I truly do enjoy our special time together in the middle of the night. Whether it be for a bottle, a diaper or just some snuggle time there is no one I'd rather wake up to than Gabe. Hearing his little gurgle from his bassinet, the precursor to his little fussy sounds, brings a smile to my face almost every time!

Speaking of fussy sounds.... Gabriel hardly has any! He's rarely fussy and almost never cries! And he never fusses just to fuss... he's either hungry or needs a fresh diaper. I marvel at what a good baby he is.

Last weekend Gabriel atteneded his 1st Valley City Street Fair... he cruised around in his stroller looking so darn cute people stopped us to take a look!

Much of my day is spent watching this little boy sleep.... I could (and sometimes do) watch him for hours.

Gabriel and I also love to go for walks! We usually go out in the morning after his first nap and then in the afternoon before Daddy comes home. He loves to cruise in his stroller, I love the exercise and we want to take advantage of the nice weather while we can!

God has blessed us so much with this little boy. There is nothing that we could have done to deserve this little boy.... he is just the most special gift of all.

Love & Blessings, Meredith

I had no idea how busy Gabriel would keep me during the day, combined with the lack of internet this week caused this post to go up a little later than intended. However, if you believe in miracles and want to hear about another one... come back soon and read the next post!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bringing Gabriel Home..... Who Loves Gabriel?

When my nephews were little my parents had a book called "Who Loves Baby?" And whenever I think of all the people that love Gabriel, I think of the last page in that book that reads "Everyone loves baby!" Because it really does seem that everyone loves our little man!

Since coming home Gabriel has had many visitors. I've tried to photograph them all. I know that I've missed a few (like Alexis and Adrian from across the street) but I tried not too because I desperately want Gabriel to know how many people love him and celebrated his arrival home!

Daddy loves his little boy!
Mama loves her little miracle
Uncle Tony loves Gabe (yes I know the picture
is sideways, I don't know how to fix it :)

Uncle Bucko (Michael) loves little Gabriel.

Nonnie loves Gabriel!
Great Grandma Thomas loves Gabe!
Caleb loves Gabriel!

Uncle Matt loves little peanut (aka nuts)
Mrs. Barb loves her little neighbor!
Grandma loves Gabriel!

Jake, Ethan & Sam love their 'ittle cousin.

Papo loves his youngest grandson!

Aunt Mariah & Uncle Matt love Gabe!

Megan drove sooo far to tell Gabe she loves him!
Sondra visited two times in 3 days to tell Gabriel she loves him.
Auntie Lu loves her some Gabriel!

Uncle Chris loves little Gabriel!

Gramps sure does love Gabe!
Auntie Annie had a cold and had to wait a
LONG (3 days) time to tell Gabriel she loves him!

Great Grandma & Grandpa Schmitz love their 1st great grandbaby!
Matt, Gabriel and I are so blessed! A health update and the miracle of Gabriel will be coming soon... and much sooner than the time between the last posts! Who would've thought I'd be this wonderfully busy!
Love & Blessings, Meredith