Our Blessing … and the Road Ahead

Me (CleanSlate bio)It was first diagnosed 155 years ago (in 1862), but has been depicted even earlier in one of the angels of an early Netherlandish painting representing the birth of Christ.
It is recognized in the medical profession as trisomy 21, but has more commonly known by John Langdon Down’s namesake of Down syndrome.

On Wednesday, August 9th, Nicole and I took baby Finn to see Dr. Jennifer Layman for his first pediatrician’s appointment. After the initial examination, Dr. Layman sat in front of us to give us the news that she believes Phoenix (aka Finn) was born with Down’s syndrome.

About the News

I don’t think neither Nicole and I were surprised with the news about Phoenix’s condition, as observations we had made started to become clear:

  • during the final ultrasound, Dr. Perry indicated Finn had a smaller femur than what was expected.
  • upon Phoenix’s birth, Dr. Perry noted that Finn had low-set ears in the delivery room.
  • baby Finn struggled to latch on to Nicole in order to feed during the first 48 hours after he was born.
  • we noticed the formation of his toes were slightly different.

As I noted in my “Meet Phoenix” publication (March 18, 2017), we had the 3D ultrasound completed at Community North hospital to determine if there were any issues with Phoenix. Our primary goal was to make sure our baby was healthy. The results from the Panorama test showed signs of Down’s markers, but the test itself wasn’t designed to be used in the case of a pregnancy with a vanishing twin.

At the time of the 3D ultrasound, we were told that there was less than a three percent chance baby Finn could have trisomy 21. Without question, there wasn’t anything that was found during the March 7th visit to the specialists at Community North hospital that caused us any hesitation to continue with our pregnancy. We believed 100% that our miracle baby was created by God especially for us.

The conversations we had with the specialists, the information we gained from the hospital during Phoenix’s birth, and the observations we had made put us into a position where we were not surprised about this latest news regarding our miracle son.

As I noted above, God made Finn just for Nicole and me.  He is simply perfect!

Testing Time

On August 9th, Dr. Layman sent us to Community North hospital for a series of tests regarding Phoenix’s health. Additionally, a follow-up hearing test was scheduled in early September, since Finn did not pass the hearing screens performed at Community South while we were still at the hospital for this arrival.  A sleep study and visit with specialists at Riley Hospital also transpired within Finn’s first six weeks.

Because of common issues related to Down’s syndrome, the following tests were performed:

  • heart test
  • thyroid test
  • vision test
  • breathing test
  • hearing test
  • sleep study

When the test results came back, we received positive results for every single test. Our level of joy escalated higher with every positive result!

Baby Finn may have been born with Down’s syndrome, but he is strong and healthy – doing excellent with his progress, according to the First Steps team who have visited baby Finn multiple times since he arrived home and a number of medical professionals we have visited.

Our miracle baby continues to impress us … on so many levels.

Moving Forward

One might think that our life has taken a major turn as a result of this news. Honestly, that has not been the case. Certainly, there have been some unexpected testing performed, more doctor’s appointments to attend, and working on getting early therapy arranged – but for the most part we are doing what every couple with a new born baby does … loving and enjoying our very special gift.

Finn has already touched our lives more than I would have ever imagined. The relationship that Nicole and I have has grown stronger every day – really since the early days of the pregnancy. I still find myself watching the “Our Pregnancy” video at least once a week, just to absorb the wonderful memories of baby Finn’s pathway into our lives.

Of course, I still find myself in awe of just how beautiful my pregnant Nicole really was.  Amazing!!!

New Friends & Stronger Bonds

BestBuddiesAtPark2017bAs we began to share the news about Finn, I was surprised at the outpouring of love from our friends and family.

Nicole’s mom purchased a ticket to spend a long weekend with us, which was a wonderful time. Before she had arrived, she had already purchased and read books about Down’s syndrome and baby Finn loved spending time with Grandma Deby!

We were introduced to a series of new friends, those who have raised children with Down’s syndrome and those who currently have children they are working with on a daily basis. One introduction was with a family whose child was born a week after baby Finn.

Clearly, God knew what he was doing when he brought Phoenix into our life. He then surrounded us with friends and family that are going to make the parenting experience phenomenal for our newborn son.

To Joey, With Love – Prepared Us Before We Realized

What I find so interesting is how God places markers into our life, well before we can comprehend the reason.

When Nicole saw “To Joey, With Love” (the true-story about Joey Feek, Rory Feek and their newborn child, Indiana) would be playing in limited theaters on Tuesday, September 20th, we bought the tickets online right away.

While Nicole followed their story on social media, the depth of knowledge around their story wasn’t fully revealed until we watched the documentary. We knew that their child, Indiana, was born with Down’s syndrome and the fate of Joey’s life – but so many of the finer details were new to us.

We learned so much about watching the film together. At the time, Nicole and I had already started planning to have a child together.  That evening, we talked about the “what if’s” that were related to the movie. In every case, there wasn’t a single hesitation over wanting to start a family together – a child that represented a part of both of us.

What we received is an amazing baby that already has attributes of both of us!  I love our son, so much!!!

So Blessed

FinnACHI feel like I am the luckiest person in the world. After a long road of searching, I found the woman who is the perfect complement for me.When I look into Nicole’s beautiful eyes, I realize she feels the exact same way about me too.

We understand and get each other to where it has become predictable to know what the other person is thinking.

With our situation, the pregnancy was a miracle from the beginning. As things progressed, Nicole and I grew closer as a couple and we recognized even more miracles along the way.

That greatest miracle was when baby Finn made his appearance a week early on August 4th. Every time I see him move, observe him looking into my eyes, I can’t help but reflect on the series of miracles that brought him here and I can’t wait to experience all the exciting times in our future as a family.

To say that we are blessed is almost an understatement, but we are both so glad for everything God has done to prepare us for our amazing son … and then give us such an amazing son!

Walk with Us & Support A Cause

HF1A9009.JPGThe story behind Joey, Rory and Indiana had a major impact on us. What I didn’t really think about, until I sat down to write this blog, was the uniqueness of their child’s name and our baby’s name. They named their baby after a state in the United States, while we decided to select a city in the United States. I think it would be cool, if someday the two could meet in person – so that Indiana and Phoenix could be side-by-side for the first time.

Until then, Nicole and I are doing everything we can to support and educate the community about Down’s syndrome. In fact, on October 14th, we will be participating in the Buddy Walk in downtown Indianapolis. Nicole and I have created Team Finn and have friends and family who are going to be walking with us. If you wish to join us for the Buddy Walk or make a donation, simply navigate the following link for Team Finn:

Support Team Finn

We hope to receive your support, in one way or another.

The Road Ahead

The focus for this publication was to provide an update on baby Finn, since I don’t always get a chance to talk with everyone in our social and professional circles.

The road ahead for us is one of excitement, joy and anticipation. I can’t wait to watch our son grow and interact with us. I can’t wait to watch him learn about life – to see the world – and I am eager to hear him relay his thoughts and views back to us.

He will forever be our miracle son and we will always realize just how blessed we truly are to have him in our lives!

#finnmakes5 #totallyblessed #theluckyfew
Have a really great day!!!

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Posted in Life Lessons, Power of God

#FinnMakesFive

After 273 days of pregnancy, I am excited and pleased to announce that Phoenix Williams Vester (aka Baby Finn) has officially arrived!

PregnancyCQ

It has been an exciting journey and I feel compelled to share our amazing story.

A lot has happened since I wrote “the final stretch” in June. So I wanted to spend a few paragraphs recapping our life since early June, before talking about baby Finn’s arrival.

#CatchingUp

BabyShowerAQ.pngThe baby shower (backyard babyQ) provided by our very good friends was an exciting day. Nicole was worried about being the center of attention, but she did a wonderful job greeting and talking to the 60+ attendees who arrived for our special event. When it came to opening gifts, Nicole felt right at home, entertaining everyone as she opened the presents we received. We are so thankful for all of our friends and family who attended this special event – some of whom who flew in from out of state just to join us during a special time of our lives.

With our pregnancy considered “high risk” (due to our age), Dr. Perry felt like Nicole should have non-stress tests completed starting at week 32 of the pregnancy. The monitoring-based test was completed twice a week to make sure Finn was developing well. Since Nicole wanted to use Dr. Perry again (he delivered Sydney over 16 years ago), that translated into a 40-minute drive time (each direction) when visiting his office. However, we both attest that the drive was a small price to pay for his amazing skills and abilities. I could not recommend him more, as you will likely realize upon reading the paragraphs below.

As the pregnancy progressed, Nicole felt the challenges of carrying Phoenix around. Our daily walks with Maggie and Val (our cat who LOVES riding in the kitty stroller) became more demanding on her body. I remember her announcing “I never thought that just walking would be a challenge for me” as we walked back up the hill toward our home in Zionsville. While she will always be her toughest critic, I was amazed and impressed at just how tough she was (both physically and mentally) throughout the entire pregnancy.

PregnancyCAThe frequency of appointments with Dr. Perry increased as Finn’s due date approached. Each time, we kept hinting to Dr. Perry that we were okay with baby Finn arriving sooner rather than later. Each time, he held strong to his expertise and didn’t cave to bringing Finn home before it was time. Then, at the week 37 appointment of the pregnancy, Dr. Perry hinted for the first time of scheduling an inducement at week 39. We were super excited, especially when a week later he scheduled us to check-in at the birthing center at 8:00 pm on August 3rd.

#FinnArrives

PregnancyCLHaving a set time for the birth was certainly an easier approach, when compared to facing the surprise of Nicole’s water breaking and finding ourselves in a mad rush to make the 40-minute drive to reach the birthing center Dr. Perry utilizes. We spent the afternoon of Thursday August 3rd picking up last-minute items, packing and running a few errands. The drive to Greenwood (Indiana) during that special Thursday evening was smooth and event-free.

#thethoughtfulcouple

I pulled into the valet area and unpacked our vehicle, sitting Nicole on a bench, while I parked the car. When I arrived about a minute later, I saw Nicole talking to what appeared to be an older couple. As I got closer, I heard the man say, “let us pray with you.” I hurried up to join the group before the prayer started and felt so honored to have this man and his wife – strangers to us – praying for baby Finn’s pregnancy. After the prayer concluded, they confessed that they just left the hospital where their son had recently passed. We were both taken back by the fact, in the midst of losing their own child, this couple put their emotions aside in order to pray for our pregnancy. While I did not get their names, I will forever remember this couple and their generosity.

Nicole and I checked into our room and shortly thereafter her daughter (Sydney) and sister (Summer) arrived. Syd had to stop by the airport to pick up Summer, who was flying in for the birth from Clearwater (Florida).

#preparingfordelivery

The plan was to utilize a ripening agent to prepare Nicole’s body for the delivery process. The expected schedule was for the agent to get Nicole to the point where breaking her water on Friday morning would lead to baby Finn to be delivered. Nicole was planning a natural childbirth – just like she did with Syd sixteen years earlier.

Not too long after the nurses administered the ripening agent, Nicole began to experience some pain during her contractions. With the monitoring of Finn’s heartbeat and Nicole’s contractions (tocograph) in place, the staff at the birthing center noticed that her contractions were lasting up to 3 minutes in length and that Finn’s heartbeats dropped dramatically during these long contractions. Nicole was given oxygen and electrolytes through her IV in order to remedy the situation.

#achangeinplans

the-device-1822457_1280While the precautions to reduce the impact of the ripening agent were put into place, the crashing situation occurred throughout early morning hours of Friday, August 4th. Each time, the dedicated team at Community Hospital South were immediately on-hand to help take the necessary steps to get Phoenix’s heartbeat back to an acceptable level. As a result of the unexpected situation, at 5:00 am Dr. Perry made the decision to deliver baby Finn via a C-section and scheduled the unplanned surgery for 6:00 am.

The good thing about the unplanned surgery, is that there was not a great deal of time to worry about the situation. Still, the stress of being up all night and now the unknowns behind the situation itself did wear on our nerves. When Dr. Perry arrived, our new reality had set in and Nicole found her since of wit and humor, when she asked Dr. Perry, “while you are in there, can you get the kinks out of my colon?” Dr. Perry looked at Nicole with a smile, responding only with…

“I’m going to miss you, Nicole.” – Dr. Perry

#thesurgicalprocedure

Shortly thereafter, Nicole walked toward the surgery room. I was left behind outside the operating room, waiting until after the spinal tap was administered – with the cooler for the placenta in hand. (We are going to encapsulate the placenta to have them made into pills.) What was probably only 10 – 15 minutes, seemed like forever as I was draped in this almost clear fabric jumpsuit, protectors over my shoes, a surgical hat and wearing a face mask. I could not wait to be back at Nicole’s side, during this special event.

My jobs during the surgery were simple:

  • I needed to be there with the love of my life (easy task)
  • Take a lot of photos (also in my wheelhouse of expertise)

The bummer about the unplanned C-section is that Nicole’s sister (Summer) would not be able to be present during the birth. She had to wait in the nearby waiting area, where I communicated to her via text.

While the surgery was underway, I was seated next to Nicole, keeping her spirits up. The interesting aspect is that I could vaguely hear Dr. Perry and the surgical team talking about random topics. Initially I thought this was odd, but honestly, they are doing their job and it makes sense – as I often talk about random topics while working in my profession. This was no different – it just was interesting to hear them talking about dinner plans and the success of Dr. Perry’s son participating on the track team at his school while delivering our son.

#babyfinnarrives

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 1.15.15 PMA few minutes later, at 6:28 am, Phoenix Williams Vester was born – weighing in at 7 lbs., 12 oz. He was 19.75 inches long and his head measured 13.25 inches. He came out sucking his tongue and looking so beautiful. When I watched the surgical team clean him up, I snapped as many photos as I could, while taking in the awe of the miracle of our son being born. I looked back at Nicole, who wasn’t able to see him from her view and I felt tears race down my cheeks from this awe-inspiring event. Still, as I write this paragraph, I find myself fighting the tears again.

FinnAAK

My love for Nicole, through this entire process, has grown exponentially – far more than I could have ever expected. These past months have been a testament of just how strong our relationship is at this point. I see our bond continue to grow stronger each day – providing the perfect environment to raise baby Finn. We are blessed and so grateful to God for giving us such an amazing gift. I reflect back on the couple who prayed for our child and Nicole’s delivery – believing these prayers were heard and answered.

#doctorperryisawesome

After returning to our room at the birthing center, we were briefed with information from the surgery.  It turns out that baby Finn’s umbilical cord was only a third of the length it was expected to be.  As a result, when the ripening agent started to take effect, an eager baby Phoenix began pushing down the birth canal with each of those long contractions – causing Nicole to feel what seemed like she was going into labor.  However, our baby wasn’t able to navigate down the birth canal, due to the much shorter length of the umbilical cord.

Dr. Perry’s insight and decision to go forward with the unplanned C-section saved us the process of trying to deliver baby Finn naturally – only to yield unsuccessful results and ultimately require the surgical process in the end.  I cannot imaging appending the burden of pain from an unsuccessful natural child birth to the pain expected from the C-section surgical procedure.

When I reference Dr. Perry as being awesome, I cannot be more truthful in my thoughts, as he has navigated us down our pregnancy flawlessly – leveraging his knowledge, forethought, expertise and dedication.  I could not recommend him more, based upon our amazing experience.

#FinnMakes5

Throughout the weekend of Finn’s delivery, there has been a common theme that has resonated with me – that the birth of a child is a miracle. I could not agree with that statement more, as the conception, journey and birth of our son has been truly a miracle. God has certainly blessed Nicole and me with a beautiful son together!

Nicole started using the hashtag #FinnMakes5 a couple of months ago. As soon as I saw the hashtag, I knew it would be the title of my next blog post. In fact, each section of this entry has been “hashtagged,” just because it is fun and the trendy thing to do.

The arrival of Phoenix into our family completes a picture that we started talking about on our very first date in November of 2013. For he is the fifth member of our family, bridging the time we shared apart with our children, Eric and Sydney. Our promise is to raise Finn in a loving environment, dedicated to being the best parents possible – working together through every challenge that comes our way, growing closer as a family.

#SoBlessed

As I noted above, I am excited and pleased to announce that baby Finn has arrived. God has truly blessed us. I am also so grateful to be a part of this amazing journey, with Nicole – my best friend, my soulmate, my everything! I love her more than words can ever express and truly appreciate everything she endured to bring Phoenix into our lives!

I put together a video that summarizes the pregnancy and Finn’s path to our lives. If you are interested in watching, simply click the following video:

Have a really great day!

Posted in Life Lessons, Power of God

The Final Stretch

Me (CleanSlate bio)As Nicole’s pregnancy reaches the 30th week, already in the 3rd trimester, we are in the final stretch for baby Finn’s arrival.  It is hard to believe he will be here in less than ten weeks!

Nicole and I are beyond excited!!!  I wanted to provide an update on everything that has happened with us (and Finn) since the “Meet Phoenix” post I wrote earlier this year.

Catching-up

Since my last post (in Mid-March), both Nicole and Phoenix (aka “Finn”) have been doing wonderful.

I guess I should add that I have been doing wonderful too, but why wouldn’t I?

Nicole at Myrtle Beach (April 2017)We were fortunate to take a quick trip to Myrtle Beach in April, which provided some much-needed sunshine and (of course) some photo opportunities.  As a parent, you hope that your children will remember vacations you spend together during their early years.  I am quite certain baby Finn will not remember this trip to Myrtle Beach, though.  But, I will tell him that he had a wonderful time in his womb as we took in the experience along the east coast.

We also spent time preparing the nursery together.  To get things started, we added a coat of fresh paint to replace the not-so-dynamic white color that previously colored the walls.  Then, we slowly started adding all the elements to his room.

Last winter, Nicole found the crib of her dreams and ended up getting an amazing deal on the crib from Buy Buy Baby.  She also found some very cool lettering with the name “Phoenix” and complimented the walls with photos, signs and a collection of stuffed animal heads – which are very cool.  Setting up baby Finn’s nursery has been an awesome experience together.  Below, is a photo of a portion of the nursery:

Phoenix nursery

We have been working out more at the gym now and doing a lot of walking, since Nicole has cut back her hours.  Our time together has truly allowed our relationship to grow stronger than ever before.  She is telling friends that at week 40 she is “going to walk non-stop until she goes into labor with baby Finn.”  You should see her beautiful face when she tells people her plan.  Classic!

Baby Finn Update

Today, we visited Dr. Perry for baby Finn’s 30 week appointment.  While our baby is 30 weeks and 4 days old, he registered as 31 weeks and 1 day.  Based upon the ultrasound, he is estimated at weighing 3 pounds, 11 ounces at this point.  Dr. Perry gave both Nicole and our precious angel an excellent report.  We are super excited and baby Finn says “hello” to everyone:

babyFinnAt30Weeks

Watching and feeling our baby move has been very exciting.  Weeks ago, the movements were very subtle and required some patience to feel.  Now, the movements are far more frequent and you can even see baby Finn move inside his womb over Nicole’s clothing.  I love talking directly to him as we enjoy his movements.  I just wish he wasn’t so rambunctious at times, since it can be hard on his momma’s body.

Looking Ahead

With less than ten weeks remaining, we have some exciting events on the calendar.

CropBabyShowerInvitationOur very good friends are hosting a combination cookout/baby shower (calling it a “backyard babyQ”) for us, which is going to be a blast.  In fact, Nicole’s sister and family will be joining us for the event – flying to Indiana from Florida … with one nephew flying in from Las Vegas.  We are super excited to have them share in this awesome event!

We also have a scheduled tour of the birthing center at the hospital.  I am very excited to be a part of baby Finn being born, as this will be a first such opportunity for me.

Beyond that, we are looking forward to the appointments with her OB/GYN as the weeks count down through our final stretch for Phoenix’s arrival.  At least one more ultrasound is planned, I wish we could have one every week.

Blessed Beyond Words

Writing is something I truly love to do.  I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to construct creative works as a part of my role as a Sr. Architect at CleanSlate, contribute original articles each month at DZone.com, and I check-in from time to time on this personal blog.  However, I truly struggle to put into words just how blessed I truly am.

NicoleOnBrickStreetHaving Nicole in my life and the love we share together is simply beyond any words I can compose to truly express my feelings about her.  Sharing our pregnancy has not only allowed our bond to grow closer, but it has formed an amazing love for our son … before he is even born!

There are so many times when I look at Nicole, I find myself truly speechless.

Yes, me.  The person who enjoys communicating through words the most.  

In those moments, I become motionless and mute – with my eyes focused on her as I enjoy the emotions that race through me.  Early in our relationship I would believe she thought I had become “frozen” (like an electronic device).  Now, I know she gets it … so many times smiling back at me, then making one of her many hilarious facial expressions.  She is so amazing!

Just one more example about my soulmate … after a long day, we decided to go out for dinner last night.  Nicole left her phone in the car to charge when we entered the restaurant.  A little while later, I returned to the car to get her phone.  When I walked back into the restaurant, I watched Nicole watch me as I walked across the restaurant all the way to our table.   She did not stop smiling the entire time and we maintained eye contact the entire way.  I cannot tell you how incredible Nicole makes me feel, every single day!  I am so blessed!

I also feel blessed having my son, Eric in my life.  It is hard to believe he will be 18 years old next month and will start his senior year of high school this fall.  Having Eric in my life has been amazing and there is not a single day where I don’t relieve on of the thousands, if not ten thousands, of memories we share together,  He is so wonderful!

I feel truly blessed having Nicole’s daughter, Sydney, in my life too.  I met her for the first time in 2014, she was sitting on her bedroom floor in the townhouse on Oak street with her friend, Cassidy.  As I sat down next to them and talked, I had a really good feeling it was the start of something awesome.  Now, three years later, I realize that was so true – as Syd is another amazing blessing in my life.  She is so awesome!

I believe Nicole and I have truly been blessed by God, with all the wonderful family and friends we have in our lives.  As we navigate through these final weeks of the pregnancy, we are both super excited to know we will be meeting our son, Phoenix Williams (aka “Finn”) at the end of this incredible, blessed journey!

Have a really great day!!!

 

Posted in Life Lessons, Power of God | Leave a comment

Meet Phoenix

Since my last post, there have been quite a few updates with our pregnancy.  As we reach the halfway point, I am very pleased to present photos of Mr. Phoenix (Finn) Williams Vester from the ultrasound on March 7th:

2017-03-07-UltrasoundA

We are beyond excited with the positive report we received regarding Phoenix.  In fact, everyone at Community North Hospital talked about the excellent markers that were captured during the ultrasound, which lasted over 30 minutes as baby Finn continued to race around inside his beautiful momma.

I should probably take a few paragraphs to provide an update on our pregnancy …

January 9th

Just after the new year started, Nicole and I attended a scheduled appointment with Dr. Perry.  During the ultrasound, we received news that one of the two twins had vanished.  This was the first time I had ever heard of a “vanishing twin” and it was heartbreaking to know that one of the two babies weren’t going to make it.

That evening, I truly feel like the level of our relationship grew deeper and stronger.

Arthur Golden once wrote “Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we can see ourselves as we really are.”

As Nicole and I talked and held each other, all the things that did not matter simply drifted away and we found ourselves speaking heart to heart, soul to soul, about what truly matters in life.  The words we spoke that challenging evening paled in comparison to the non-verbal communication we gained – growing closer than we had ever been before.

The Next Several Weeks

With our relationship growing stronger, we could not help but wonder about the health of our baby.  While our doctor indicated that vanishing twins happens more than people realize, it was tough not to imagine all the possibilities that could happen on the path before us.  We continued to reflect on how God has continued to bless our relationship and lives as a way to soothe the uncertainty.

On February 3rd, Dr. Perry recommended that Nicole have blood drawn to have a Panorama test done.  This noninvasive prenatal screening test would not only reveal risk for genetic disorders, but would reveal the sex of our baby as well.  The test results would take 10 of more days to return the results and Nicole had plans to surprise me with the sex of our baby.  We were hopeful to find out the sex of our baby by Valentine’s day.

What no one had really realized, is that the Panorama test isn’t designed to function with multiple birth scenarios.  As a result, the time spent waiting for the results, provided no insight into the sex or health of our baby.  The findings of the test were suggested to be tossed out – since nothing was complete.

Instead, Dr. Perry recommended we have a full ultrasound and consider an Amniocentesis, based upon the results of the ultrasound.  For the full ultrasound, we would visit a different center on the northeast side of Indianapolis – staffed with experts in their field.  That appointment was scheduled for March 7th – two weeks away.  As much as we tried to keep things into perspective, those next fourteen days were difficult to keep our mind’s in check.

Community North Visit

I cannot think of a time where I was more nervous than the morning of March 7th – the day of the full ultrasound.  I continued to focus on the positive side of things and be there for Nicole in every manner possible.  I could not imagine what was going on inside her mind.

As the technician prepared to start the ultrasound, we asked if she would be able to see things about our baby.  She indicated that she could.  We asked if she would be able to tell us what she saw.  She indicated that she really could not, since it was more her job to gather the information for the doctor.  It was the doctor’s job to communicate the results to us.

As soon as she started the ultrasound and I started to see the image of our baby in 3D, I could not help but smile – despite the nervousness that raced through my mind.  Seeing our baby zoom around inside his beautiful mother made me happy beyond words.  While I could easily pick out some of the images on the screen, other times I was clueless as the baby’s body was being analyzed.  At one point, I thought we were looking at the baby’s brain, but the technician posted “kidneys” on the screen.  I wasn’t even close at understanding what was on the screen.

My inability to know what I was looking at, caused me to miss knowing the sex of the baby.  Nicole later confessed that she had noticed, but did not share with me, since she waited for the technician to ask us if we wanted to know.  When she asked if we wanted to know the sex, we enthusiastically responded with a profound “Yes!” and she told us we are having a boy:

2017-03-07-UltrasoundC

With the name already decided, we realized the beautiful baby racing around inside his mother would be known as Phoenix (Finn) Williams Vester.  To make things even funnier, as the technician captured photos of Finn’s hands, he decided to flip us the bird:

2017-03-07-UltrasoundF

Those who know us and our sense of humor certainly are not surprised that little Finn decided to make this motion when the ultrasound focused on his cute little hand.  Life is going to be amazing raising him together!

The technician finished her tasks and printed several images for us.  As she walked towards the door, she told us that our baby boy looked “absolutely perfect!”  Her words caused a tremendous weight to be lifted off our backs.

We quickly sent text messages to our immediate family and even posted on Facebook for everyone else to see that we are having a baby boy!

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 5.04.33 PM

A few minutes later, the doctor arrived and confirmed what the technician told us.  In greater detail, he told us how everything looked normal with baby Finn and that the results of the Panorama should definitely be discarded.  Based upon these results and the risks with the Amniocentesis, we decided against having the Amniocentesis test done.

Conclusion

As Nicole nears the halfway point of the pregnancy, I could not be more excited about the baby we are bringing into the world.  I know that we are going to be amazing parents, giving Finn a loving family – devoted to each other and a relationship with God.  We are truly blessed beyond words.  We have said it so many times, we are truly blessed!

The seventh day of March continues to be an amazing day for Nicole and me.  It was on this day that we pledged our love to each other in front of Elvis (well really Kent Ripley dressed up as Elvis), our family and friends … both in person and over a live stream available for all to see.

_DSC1099

 

What an amazing day.  It was also the day that we truly got to see our son for the very first time.

Truly, this day will always be one of the best days of my life!!!

Have a really great day!!!

Posted in Life Lessons, Power of God | 1 Comment

This Christmas …

All I can say is … Wow!!!

When I look back on 2016, I really had no idea everything God had in store for Nicole and me.

Our New Beginning

wp-1482593477830.jpgThings really started coming together in August, where a series of unexpected events unfolded to bring us together into a home that was only placed on the market three days before … exactly in the village where we wanted to live. No doubt, God was involved in making things happen, especially after all the prayers that had been voiced.

From our first date (November 2, 2013), having a baby together was a dream we shared together. So, we started trying to have a baby together right away.  During this time, we were fortunate to attend a special showing of “To Joey, With Love,” which certainly put things into perspective and truly described our love. We both realized just how important this goal was for us.

We didn’t conceive during the months of August, September and October, which started to play with our emotions. Everyone told us it will happen if it is part of God’s plan. We agreed, but that did not make things less emotional for us. After all, we are in our 40’s, not our 20’s. Time wasn’t really on our side.

Honestly, the hardest (mental) part of wanting to get pregnant is the fact that every little sign or symptom Nicole was feeling can be a sign that she is pregnant and that she is NOT pregnant too. October seemed to be filled with those signs and it was really tough when we realized she was not pregnant.

Friends would tell us, “you’ll get pregnant as soon as you stop thinking about it.” Nicole and I really had no idea how to even do that! A baby together is all we talked about, even during our workouts or evening runs through the village.  How do you stop thinking about something that you desire so much?

Then November Arrived

November came and we were certain that we were not going to be pregnant, at least according to the ovulation predictor that told us we missed the “peak” day. We accepted this reality and decided to focus on December.

A couple weeks later, day 27 passed without Nicole starting her new cycle. We justified this by telling ourselves that she started late in the day, so her cycle will begin the next day.
The next day was Saturday and it came and went without her starting her period. This time we justified the delay due to her having a 28-day cycle the month before … which just happened to be the only time in the years we have been together that she wasn’t on a 27-day cycle.

Then, Sunday came and went without starting. At this point, both of us were thinking about Nicole being pregnant, but neither of us were talking about it. She could not be pregnant, right? I mean, this is just day twenty-nine.

So then, Monday came and passed, then Tuesday… again nothing. We talked a little about what was going on, but we were still convinced we were not pregnant.

wp-image-2038588289jpg.jpgWhen Wednesday came and Nicole had not started her period, she could not wait any longer. She went to the pharmacy and picked up a pregnancy test. Then, shortly after 10 am, Nicole called me and when I answered the phone all she said, through a sea of joyful tears was, “John, I’m pregnant!

Hearing her news made me the happiest guy in the world! I drove to her as quickly as I could, with a bouquet of her favorite flowers in hand. The entire way to see her, I could not help but reflect on just how lucky we are and how great our God really is!

While we knew we should wait to tell anyone, especially at our age, that was simply not an option. As soon as possible, we told our children, family, close friends and social media. God had blessed us! We are so grateful for His love and blessings!

The December Miracle

On December 22, just three days before Christmas, we visited Nicole’s OB/GYN. The appointment was originally scheduled months ago, to talk about taking Clomid to increase our chances of getting pregnant. Instead, we used the time to talk to Dr. Perry (who both delivered Nicole’s daughter and is a friend of my mother’s) about the pregnancy.

At this point, Nicole is 6 weeks and 6 days along with the pregnancy. She has been really struggling with nausea and weakness, even though she is the most fit and healthiest person I know. In fact, a lite workout was taking a toll on her recently.

During the appointment, we asked Dr. Perry if we could hear the baby’s heartbeat. He told us it was too soon to listen via a stethoscope, but then told us they could try to do a vaginal ultrasound.

I was thinking he meant in a few weeks, but he told us to sit tight when he left the examination room. Dr. Perry reinforced his statement that there is a good chance we are not going to hear anything, but we were excited for this opportunity.

Nicole was on the table and the ultrasound process started. I was sending text updates to her identical twin (Danyel) in Las Vegas as things happened. She wanted a play-by-play of what was transpiring.

Andrea, the technician performing the ultrasound, announced “there are two sacs.” I saw Nicole smile, but she didn’t react.  She was trying to keep from getting too excited at this point.

I didn’t know what that even meant, since my only son (Eric) was adopted. This was definitely a new experience for me.

I knew it must have been a huge thing, when her twin reacted extremely happily. She even accused me of lying about it.

I could see the two sacs on the screen. One of them definitely had something inside it. Then, I heard …

(baby heartbeat, baby heartbeat, baby heartbeat)

The tears began to flow down my cheek. I looked at Nicole and saw her tears too. God is so good!

I asked Andrea why it looks like the other sac is empty. She calmed my nerves by letting us know that she had not focused on that sac yet.

Andrea had to tell Nicole to be still, because Nicole’s excitement was causing the equipment to move out of position. Then, we heard that same awesome sound from the second sac …

wp-1482593558326.jpg(second baby heartbeat, second baby heartbeat, second baby heartbeat)

God is giving us twins! My wife, an identical twin, is carrying our babies. All of a sudden, everything made sense to us on why she has been so tired and nauseous.

This Christmas

I cannot express the joy I have this Christmas. My relationship with Nicole is stronger than it has ever been, our relationship with Eric and Syd continues to grow stronger, as has the relationships with our family and friends.

There is so much more that we have been blessed with in 2016, but they simply do not compare with the blessings we have received with our family.

We don’t always know what God has in store for us. Sometimes the road we are taken down doesn’t always make sense at first … or it is tough. In the end, as in our case, I could not imagine being any happier with His blessings.

I hope this Christmas is amazing for you as well!

Have a really great day!!!

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Signs …

me30bSigns … mostly unexpected, can range from something that is seen, to hearing a piece of music, breathing in a certain scent, having a random dream, or experiencing a particular emotion. They capture one’s attention – giving the feeling that the occurrence is more than a simple coincidence … maybe even an destined milestone.

I’ve often wondered if such signs really do exist – if they are the work of God … or even the devil.  Along those same lines, I wonder if consequences exist for ignoring such signs when they appear.

I have come to understand that my personality will always maintain attachments to sights, sounds, scents and experiences.  While I don’t believe that is the case for everyone, I know it is part of who I am.  Overall, I feel that such an attribute is a quality that allows someone to make the most of every situation – which makes me feel like this is the part that is a gift from above.

However, the biggest consequence of such a trait is when those signs trigger a memory that is linked to a not-so-great situation.  In this case, you can find yourself reliving that situation over again – which makes me think this may not be a gift from above.  🙂

So … do signs exist?  

I believe the answer varies from one individual to the next.  If your personality is similar to mine and you tend to tie sights, sounds, scents and experiences to life events – then the answer is probably yes.  If the answer is not yes, you probably stopped reading this article a few minutes ago.  🙂 

For those who maintain this personality trait, I encourage you to realize that this is a gift which offers you the ability to experience life at a slightly elevated level.  In the spirit of living life to the fullest, I trust you will not deny yourself this opportunity.

So what do you do when these very signs trigger a not-so-great emotion?  I recommend keeping the following items in mind:

  • Accept the fact that the not-so-great emotions exist – life always has challenges.
  • Seek the lesson or the good from those moments – which may take time to recognize.
  • Understand those situations will play a key role in a future segment of your life.

Like any struggle, we often cannot wrap our mind around the greatness that can be found after we navigate through the darkness.  However, once the burden is lifted and the darkness is gone, it is easy to reflect back and comprehend things which we thought we would never understand.  When this happens, those signs which used to trigger not-so-great emotions morph into signs that are part of a bigger destiny.

What consequences exist for ignoring such signs?

Ignoring signs when they appear before you is similar to trying to run away from your struggles.  (That, in itself, is probably the topic for another post.)  The key is to realize you are robbing yourself from an amazing attribute of your personality.  Instead, take time to accept, seek and understand the meaning behind the signs (as noted above).

As we close out 2014, I wanted to thank you for reading my posts.  It means so much to me, as writing is certainly a passion I maintain.  My goal is that my thoughts can help you in one way or another.

I hope that the year 2014 was everything you wanted it to be and I wish you only the best for 2015 – that your dreams become realities.

Have a really great day!!!

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Unconditional Love …

me28bToday’s topic has been on my mind for quite some time now and I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I want to say about unconditional love.

When I think about unconditional love, two easy examples come to mind.  The first, is the love that most parents exhibit towards their child – sacrificing anything for them, without hesitation.  The second, is God’s love towards us – which is described in the Bible as agape love and referenced throughout the New Testament.

My focus, however, is the challenge of showing unconditional love when it is anything but easy.  Perhaps a decision was made by someone you care about deeply which unexpectedly rocked the foundation of the relationship, or you find yourself drifting apart from a loved one.  There are several situations that come to mind, but they all lead us down this difficult path.

So what do you do when you love someone to the moon and back and their actions or decisions place such a huge challenge on your heart?

  • Do you stop caring for them?  (the whole “dead to me” idea)
  • Do you stop praying for them?  (the “no longer worth your time” concept)
  • Do you just move on?  (the “good luck with your life” thought)

If we follow God’s will and direction, the answer to all of these questions is the same. No.

  • While we may not agree with the decision or action that was taken, we shouldn’t abandon them – because it could be part of a larger destiny where they will need your love even more.
  • We should continue to pray for them, considering the fact that the content of your prayers may need to be adjusted.
  • Abandoning them isn’t the answer either – especially when there could be additional circumstances that you were not fully aware of when their decision was made.

I’ve found that when I have unconditional love for someone, that admiration never seems to fade or go away … but actually increases with time.  When faced with this type of challenge, instead of trying to “manage” it (like some type of illness), I try my best to embrace the situation and be as positive as possible … never giving up – similar to the agape love that God maintains for each of us.

Certainly, taking my approach doesn’t come without sadness or struggles, but I know in my heart that this is the best approach … at least to me.

Have a really great day!!!

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