Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My 1st Anniversary

365 days ago I made my first post on blogspot..... I wasn't entirely sure about starting a blog. Would anybody read it? Would it help us find a baby? What really was the point of my blog?

Well, according to comments and hits on my profile... I probably have 3 or 4 devoted readers and quite a few lurkers :)

While Our Journey Home didn't help us find a baby, it was a way for Miss B and her family to learn more about us before Gabe's birth and allows them to see frequent updates about Gabe now that he's home with us.

And the point of my blog, while there were many initial reasons for blogging, some of them have changed. Opening our blog to the general public and linking it to as many places online as possible didn't result in us finding a birth mother but it cultivated some of the most amazing relationships I could imagine. And while IRL I haven't met many of these people (some we have), they are people I hold near and dear to my heart, pray for daily and think of often. They rejoice and pray with us as we marvel in Gabe's miraculous life and we rejoice and pray for them as well.

A means of communication this is, it's a bit more personal than facebook though not as quick and easy to update! But with every up, down and stand still we faced in our journey thus far, rather than making a million phone calls or sending out lots of emails, I was able to come to one place and let every one know how we were doing, what we were doing and what are next steps were going to be.

More than anything though, this blog has become a journal of our life.... a storybook of sorts of our journey to Gabe, to deepening our faith and finding our place in the world. I've recently learned you can turn your blog into books/scrapbooks, and that is certainly something I need to look into. This blog is not only about our journey to a family but about our journey of faith and the path we are taking to live the life we are called to live.

January 26, 2009; Matt and I lived in an itty-bitty 2 bedroom house in a way too expensive suburb of Cleveland Ohio.
January 26, 2010; we live in a much bigger 3 bedroom house in a much less expensive suburb of Cleveland.

January 26, 2009; Matt drove 30 minutes to work and I drove, well on a day without snow, about 40 minutes to work.
January 26, 2010; Matt still drives about 30 minutes to work, but I just have to walk across the hall to see my co-worker.

January 26, 2009; We were eagerly awaiting our first meeting with MCB
January 26, 2010; Now we are eagerly awaiting MCB to get all of our papers finalized so that this little one is officially a LaGorga!

Gabe's shirt says "i may be little but i serve a BIG GOD!" Isn't that how it is for all of us?

January 26, 2009; Matt and I were trying to be patient, trying not to wonder and trying to hold onto hope as we followed the path God was leading us on.

January 26, 2010; We've learned patience as we waited for God's plan, we learned not to wonder and just to trust and we learned that without hope, we had nothing... so our hope has remained in the Lord.

Only God knows where our journey will lead in the next year. And I'm okay with that... and while I will wonder about where our journey is going, when we'll add to our family, how we'll make everything work.... I know we'll end up exactly where we're supposed to be. I read this on a sign by our house (and while I'm sure if I looked I'd be able to find it, but I'd rather not waste time looking)

"The will of God won't take you where the grace of God won't cover you."

With that I've realized, throughout the adventures and misadventures of the past year God has led us, covered us and carried us the whole way. I am so blessed.

And boy do I love this little boy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

More About Me

Isn't that a catchy title? Could I sound more self-absorbed? Maybe I could if I tried a little harder, hehe!

But really, it isn't just more about me... it's a place to go to learn more about me, a few of my favorites and how we're trying to live a greener, more natural life!

Wanna follow us as we try to make our own deoderant, try new recipes, learn to live more green and grow deeper in our friendships with one another?

Join us here at Handmade-Homemade-Heartmade as we learn to live a little more natural!

(Nicole, Megan, Sondra and Me)

The four of us at the New Moon midnight movie release!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In All Circumstances.

Since it happened, I have felt overwhelming sadness in my heart for the people of Haiti. For the adults, children, families looking for survivors but mostly for the orphans. The children that while they may have lived in poverty so overwhelming, gone to bed hungry more often than not and suffered needlessly from easily cured diseases, these children at least new the love of a mother or father... and now they don't.

No more than a few minutes pass each day without me thinking of all those people who have lost everything they have in a blink of an eye. My heart breaks each time the news shows footage of children, many of them orphans, in pain, dirty and foraging on the ground for food or clothing.

And watching these news segments of this catastrophe not only causes me to feel grief for their loss and an intense desire to help, I also feel a bit guilty. I can't count the number of times I've needed something while every single one of my actual needs have been met. I can't believe the number of times I've thought I'd be happy if only I had __________ . Feel free to fill in the blank with anything frivolous and silly.

I'm ashamed to admit that so many times my happiness has been in relation to the number of material goods I've had in my possession. Thankfully, I am no longer like that. Occasionally, I'll feel the need for something, and think about how much I really need it. But very quickly, I remember, that a need and a want are not the same and that God will always provide for my needs. And even when I'm not sure how it is going to happen, it happens and never once have I, Matt or our family ever gone without.

Along with possessions, my happiness used to relate a lot to my circumstances. If life was going well and smooth, I was happy. A hiccup or two; happiness generally evaded me. The world of adoption has not only strengthened my bond to my faith and my husband, but also allowed me to be happy despite the circumstances. Our adoption journey, while relatively short and no where near ending, was filled with many mountains and valleys. Initially I was elated at each mountain top but floundered through each valley. Slowly though, I found reason to be happy despite my circumstances. Despite severe let downs I still had a loving husband and family, glorious friends, a house, a job and a firm belief in my faith.

And as I've found my way to happiness despite my circumstances, I can pretty much guarantee that if my whole house fell down around me, my loved ones were missing, dead or dying and I had no food, water or shelter I would not be meeting in the streets singing praise songs to God. But I should be. As I watch the news about Haiti I hear about the devastation, death and the mania rising as food and water arrive but are still scarce but I also hear about the miraculous recovery of an elderly woman 12 days after the quake and see men, women and children helping one another, loving one another and praising God for all that they have.

I want to be more like the Haitians... I want to praise God for everything, despite what is going on around me. I'm learning to be content. God is really working on me (or in me) to be content with what I have and with whatever circumstances He presents me with. I desire to be able to recite Philippians 4:11 and have it resonate truth through out. Just as Paul said in the Philippians, I'm getting closer and closer to being able to say "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

And while the devastation in Haiti breaks my heart, I have also learned from it. I've learned that my happiness relates not to the tangible but the intangible things in my life. Alas, I am learning to be content. Despite what I have or want, where I am or what's going on, I am learning to be content.

Gabe is the King of Contentment... as long as his bottom is dry, his belly is full and his Mama is close by - I relish that he's a Mama's boy right now and I'm determined to enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Time Flies

Time flies when you're growing, eating, changing, sleeping, not sleeping, reading books, going to doctors appointments, changing diapers, smiling, stretching, reaching, turning, going to physical therapy, spending time with friends, laughing, cuddling and loving on the sweetest thing this side of heaven.

I can not believe that Gabe is 5 months old today. At "X" years of age, 5 months doesn't change much for me... but 5 months for an infant is monumental. As of his last well visit Gabe is 10lbs 13oz heavier than when he was born and 6 inches longer. That's right, if you've either written down Gabe's statistics or have an uncannily good memory for the size of others people's babies you'll realize Gabe is now a whopping 17lbs 15oz and 25 1/2 inches long. At 4 1/2 months of age he was roughly the size of a 7 month old..... but he did decrease on the percentile sides. Not sure if that's good or bad, because we like our baby juicy!
Speaking of juicy, sweet Gabe, at 5 months of age you've begun a few new things like organic oatmeal and all natural juice! You love them both, of course! You also love a few new things like your bumbo seat we borrowed for your favorite physical therapist, KC, your new rainbow colored links, interactive puppy, singing caterpillar an,d books. You sure love books and get so excited when we sit together and read.....I love it!
I also love how smiley and giggly you are now. You're smile is the brightest thing in my day and your laugh, oh Gaby, your laugh! If we could bottle your laugh and send it to the Middle East... I'm fairly certain war would stop and world peace would be imminent. Your laugh, my dear baby boy, is a balm to my soul.
You're turning into quite the babbler... and quite the drooler. I don't feel anything yet, but if you're drooling is any indication, a tooth or two may not be that far away.
There were a few big things that happened this past month: you started physical therapy. Your therapist KC is super nice but works you really hard. You do a great job but it wears you out. I can pretty much guarantee you will sleep well for most of the afternoon. You also had your MRI... the news was pretty good, but what I found best of all was how great you did! Your daddy and I were so proud of you.
Speaking of proud.... you've really turned into a 'big boy' when we moved you out of your cradle next to our bed and into your own room. It was a bit of a transition for us all but recently you started sleeping very well in your big crib in your own room. I'll admit that, if I knew you'd start sleeping through the night so quickly, I would have held you a little closer the last time you snuggled in bed with me. Well, actually I'm not sure I could have held you any closer but I wouldn't have whined about my arm cramping up. The silver lining in that, is I do remember it and will hold that memory close forever. And I'm pretty sure, there will be at least a few hiccups to your sleep schedule and we will once again have time to snuggle. But let me tell you Gabe, I am enjoying this newfound ability of yours to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time :)
Thank you baby Gaby for the most fabulous last 5 months.... in some ways I can't believe it's already 5 months but in others, I can't believe it's only been 5 months because it seems like you were always here!
Here's your 5 month pictures... you started with the 'not the camera again' look and then ended with showing off that incredible smile of yours!

5 months down and a whole lot of adventure to go!
Love & Blessings, Meredith

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yummo! Solids!

At 4 1/2 months old Gabe decided he was ready to try something new. He loves his formula but his little tummy was asking for something more. So we decided to give oatmeal a try. And while I would have loved to buy oats and grind them myself, I decided to go the easy route and buy Earths Best Organic Oatmeal. Never fear, his baby food will be homemade though... it's so much healthier and way more cheaper for us to do anything else.

Gabe is ready for some cereal. Really he's
just smiling for the camera, he has no clue about what's to come.

The first bite.....

Gabe's look after the first bite... Not sure what he's thinking but I don't think he
was too excited about the bland, gritty, weird smelling mush I spooned in his mouth.

But by the end of the bowl, Gabe was loving it!

Gabe quickly learned to love his oatmeal; going from one really small bowl once a day to two slightly-bigger-than-small bowls twice a day. He's all smiles from the moment he sees the spoon until we finish feeding him. And then when he's done, well he's not that happy. But he really is a silly boy because he'll be so full that he spits out the oatmeal but still wants to keep eating. Crazy kid :)
Along with the oatmeal we've started giving him 1/2 an ounce of apple juice combined with 1 1/2 onces of water once a day too. He loves it and well it sort of aids in the digestion of all this oatmeal, hehe!
Love & Blessings, Meredith

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gabe's 1st Christmas Day

This Christmas was the best yet, well since the 1st Christmas that is!

Our family of 3 on Christmas

Our day started with sweet, little Gabe waking up at 6:00.... I'm pretty sure he slep for 3 straight hours that night. Merry Christmas Mama!!!! After feeding and diapering Gabe we sat down together, as our little family of 3 and read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.

After finishing with reading the Christmas story, Matt and I took advantage of the fact that Gabe, still young enough to not have a clue what was going on, wouldn't mind if we ate breakfast before opening presents. So Matt and I ate our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of cinnamin rolls - YUM!

And then we started opening presents. Gabe recieved 3 presents from us and was a little into the wrapping paper, had no interest in the actual presents but loved eating his hands. Gabe recieved a Graco doorway jumper, a little interactive puppy and a Tom's flag to signify the Tiny Tom's he will get once they re-release them on their website. And unless they release any cuter, I'm fairly certain he'll get the camoflauge Tom's. They're super cute and his Daddy and uncles will get excited to see him in camo :)

Gabe and his 3 presents before he (we) opened them!

After presents we got ready for the day and headed over to my parents.

Gabe with Nonnie & Papo

He should've worn his "Not Spoiled, Blessed" shirt because he left with a lot of cool toys, books and clothes from his Nonnie, Papo, aunts and uncles.

Present-mania! Gabe and his cousins were definately blessed with lots of new things :)

Once everyone was there we dined on the traditional ham and cheesey potatoes along with lots of delicious sides! I am a firm believer that you MUST eat ham and cheesey potatoes on Christmas... I really could care less about the ham but love cheesey potatoes, especially the ones my Mom makes. And if all that wonderful food wasn't enough their were piles of desserts after we finished eating. And of course we had to eat some of the tradional "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake. I'm not a big fan of cake, but it was actually pretty good!

After eating way too much and visiting with my family we headed back to our house to welcome Matt's dad and brothers. And after again over-indulging in way too much food and Christmas cookies are day finally came to an end. The three of us relaxed in the living room watching Christmas movies on TV! A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Gabe and his cousins Caleb (12), Ethan (7), Jacob (5) and Sam (4)

Gabe looking super stylish in his Christmas outfit! He'd already ditched the sweater though.

Matt and Jacob (Jake, besides being really smart is also a video game genius)

Gabe & his Auntie Annie

Taking a break from the business and having a bottle.

Gabe with his Daddy and cousin Caleb

Certainly a nap is in order with all of this excitement!

My BEST present ever!

Christmas 2009 will forever live in our hearts as our first Christmas as a family - I wonder what Christmas 2010 will bring?

Love & Blessings, Meredith

Friday, January 8, 2010

MRI update

The nurse from neurology called! On Friday night, at 7:20 p.m. My faith in Cleveland Clinic is restored!

Things noted on the MRI were the schizencephaly (closed-lip, unilateral - the best type to have if you have to have schizencephaly) on the right side of his brain and dysplasia of the septum palusidum (not sure about the spelling). Regarding the septum dysplasia the biggest concern is septo-optic dysplasia, which Gabe's opthomologist has already checked out and at this point doesn't think he has it. It is difficult to check in an infant so this will be something that is closely monitored.

The radiologist that read the MRI also noted that there was cortical dysplasia on both sides of his frontal lobes. Gabe's neurologist didn't see it and had a neuro-radiologist check out the MRI and he also didn't see it. But to be sure, they will present Gabe's scan at their neurology conference that they have every few weeks and then let us know.

There were also no problems with Gabe's eyes noted, which hopefully means that it is just a muscle problem. So we'll keep doing those patches... and I'm sure Gabe will keep ripping them off ;)

One thing not noted on the scan, which the nurse said should mean its not a problem, is the agensis of the corpus callousum (membrane that separates the L & R side of the brain). So hopefully this is one hurdle Gabe doesn't have to cross and the ultrasound was either read wrong or God intervened. You know which one we think happened!

So basically, the MRI confirmed the schizencephaly and dysplasia of the septum palsidum. It also showed that there was no cranial nerve problems and that his corpus callousum is there. And for that we rejoice!

As we already knew, and had reaffirmed through his MRI, Gabe does have schizencephaly but that he is obviously not a classic case. Sometime from when the schizencephaly was detected to Gabe's birth, God laid His amazing hand on our little boy and gave him a miracle. Most cases of schizencephaly diagnosed at infancy result in paralysis, major delays and mental retardation. And, well we're blessed to be able to say Gabe is just a normal baby; he's growing, moving and learning like any 4 1/2 month old. While he does have a slight delay and tone problem on his left side, this is already being rectified by weekly physical therapy appointments.

God definitely has something BIG planned for our little boy and I feel so privileged to be able to be a part of it.

Thank you for all your prayers. And as we've said all along "God is bigger than a diagnosis."

Love & Blessings, Meredith
Gaby-baby says thanks for all the prayers too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas Eve

This Christmas Eve was a complete 180 from last year. Sitting in church as a family of 3 never felt better. Dressed in a super snazzy outfit, Gabe slept through church and was all smiles at Matt's Aunt Julie and Uncle Jim's where we celebrated Christmas Eve. The food was good as usual but my mood was better than ever. Because God had not only granted me the deepest desire of my heart but he granted it in ways I could never have imagined.
Trying to get the perfect family photo is a little difficult when the star of the photo won't look at the camera!

Gabe sleeping on our way out of church. Isn't his hat so cute?!

Gabe with his Great Aunt Julie (the wonderful hostess and cook) and his cousin Lauren.

Gabe opening presents with Daddy

Gabe in pictures with Matt's Grandma, mom and brother Justin & Chris (where are you Uncle Tony?)

Gabe had never met his Great Uncle Jim before and was so interested in him. He couldn't stop looking at him and flashing him his million dollar smile.

Gabe was also very interested in Jack the dog, not that we will be getting a dog anytime soon.

Love & Blessings, Meredith

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Biggest Little Tough Guy

Gabe's MRI went great! (Thank you God!) He fell asleep quickly under the gas mask and woke up smoothly in recovery. Matt and I were able to be there before he woke up so he fell asleep looking at me and woke up with his Daddy and Mama hovering over him. He didn't shed a tear the whole time. Actually the only tears were from me, go figure! But who wouldn't shed a tear or 2 after leaving their baby in the hands of strangers, very capable strangers but strangers nonetheless.

Gabe was all smiles all morning at the CC. This morning Gabe would only take a few sips of Pedialyte so he must've been starving, but he was still full of smiles! By the way, have you ever tasted that stuff? If you haven't, don't... it is not a pleasant taste. Perhaps it would have tasted better if it would have been flavored, but I didn't think Gabe was ready for flavoring.

Anyways he was so happy and such a flirt with all the nurses. Just smiling and cooing at everyone, he was definately the star of the pediatric radiology department.

Now some photo's of the little champ! Yes, I brought my camera to the hospital. I figured these would be the pictures depicting the day before we recieved the news of Gabe's miraculous recovery from schizencephaly or the photo's demonstrating all of the different mountains Gabe had to climb to give God the glory in all circumstances. But anyways, on too the pictures...

Gabe's trying to wake up from the anesthesia... we were so grateful that he woke up quickly and happily.

Cuddling with his special blankie. This is the blanket that Matt and I sent to the hospital for Gabe when he was born. Well, not 'the' blanket because I lost that somewhere, but it's the blankets twin :)
Getting ready to go home.... looking oh-so-super cute in his coo print diaper cover.

Gabe's battle scars. They had to poke him 3 times before they were able to start an IV :( Poor guy.

I thought waiting for Gabe to be done would surely be the longest hour of my life but it actually passed quickly. Amazingly I had a wonderful peace from the moment I pulled myself together after leaving Gabe until, well right now I currently have that peace still. And that I can only attribute to all of the wonderful family, friends and strangers praying for us. I knew my family would be praying and assumed some friends would as well. I'll admit I was floored by the fact that a friend scheduled Gabe's MRI on his cell phone and then prayed right at 9 (at work with his boss - isn't God awesome). I was also humbled, overwhelmed and in awe of the number of messages, emails and texts recieved from friends and strangers who were praying for our little man. I can't express my gratitude enough and while thank you doesn't seem to suffice, it will have to do... so THANK YOU!

And no matter what the results of the MRI reveal; no schizencephaly, schizencephaly, whatever it may be we will get through it. The lyrics "I get by with a little help from my friends" comes to mind. And with the help of my friends, God will be glorified through it all. But can I ask a little favor? If the results aren't what we want, and I have a little trouble remember that this is all in God's plan... would you remind me? You will!?! Thanks!

Love & Blessings, Meredith

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Too tired to think of a catchy post title...

Hi Friends,

I can't believe I haven't updated since Christmas.... I've started a few different updates but life would always get in the way and now I have a whole lot of drafts sitting in my post selections... maybe I'll finish them and post lots of posts in January... or maybe I'll just start from scratch and try to get better on posting more regularly. Besides blogging to update our many eager readers (all 3 of you :) I want to use this blog as a way to journal our journey through life... and I don't want to forget anything, so I better get moving. Either way, shortly you will be inundated with lots of pictures from Gabe's 1st Christmas!

But tonight as I sit here with a nervous and anxious spirit, I've come to ask you a request. Tomorrow is MRI day for Gabe and while it's just an MRI, it's still an MRI. And Gabe will still be sedated and I have to give up all the control I hold so tightly too and place him solely in the hands of our Father while the tests are done. Giving up control is never easy for me while usually giving my problems to God isn't too difficult. This time I'm having trouble with both. But then again I've never been a mother before either.

However difficult it is to give up control and give my troubles to God, I'm going to do it! It's the best thing for Gabe so, it's the best thing for me. And while I give up control and give it ALL to God would you do something for me. Pray for Gabe's MRI: pray that he sleeps peacefully and wakes up quickly and without complications. Pray for the anestisiologist who will put my little man to sleep and for the technician that will do the test, that she does it correctly and the images taken provide all the answers Gabe's doctors are looking for. Selfishly, I'm also praying that the MRI finds no evidence of schizencephaly and everything looking how supposed to look. But more than that, I'm praying that in the future, Gabe is able to use his schizencephaly and the issues resulting for His glory; that people see God's miracles in the life of Gabe.

Thanks for the prayers. We should get the results on Thursday so I'll update again then or maybe sooner :)

Love, Meredith

I love Gabe's cute little hat from Etsy.
Isn't he handsome?