A Case of Reincarnation?

The idea of reincarnation has been around for centuries. While my beliefs have typically steered me away from the concept of reincarnation, I have recently witnessed behaviors that make me wonder if there is merit behind this concept.

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FinnAGTGrowing up with strong Christian values, the idea of reincarnation is not something that I put a great deal of thought into.  I mean, there would be discussion around reincarnation – but it was often framed more as a consequence to some event.

Before I go any further and to make sure we are on the same page, below is a brief definition of reincarnation:

Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or form after each biological death. – Wikipedia.

When a friend would squish a bug or an insect, another was quick to respond, “I sure hope that it doesn’t get reincarnated into something that can find you.”  In this often-employed passage from my youth, the idea of reincarnation was utilized as a manner to seek revenge for an unfortunate event.  It was a consequence.

Over the past few months, however, I have actually started to wonder if reincarnation might have some merit in today’s world.

Or at least my world.

Meet Lloyd Julius

Lloyd Julius was born May 26, 1915.  While still in the prime of his life, he went on date with Emma Mae.  The two were eventually married in 1940.  They ended up having four children – three survived, one unfortunately did not.  One of their daughter’s (Jacquelyn) married her high school sweetheart (John) and they had two children together. The youngest of those two children was me.

Lloyd Julius was my grandfather.

I was extremely fortunate to spend a great deal of time with Lloyd Julius – since I was born in 1967 and he did not pass away until 2001.  For a very long period of time during my youth, I would enjoy most Friday nights at his home.  My grandparents were the best and they made life so much better through their love and devotion.

grandma and grandpa facing

They were the type of people who always strived to help others – placing the needs of others before their own priorities.  They did whatever was needed for their family, with Lloyd Julius logging millions of miles driving a semi-tractor for decades to support his family.

Most importantly (to me), both Lloyd Julius and Emma Mae provided an example of true love that I have admired and inspired to have my entire life. As far back as I can remember, I have wanted my relationship to mirror the greatness they defined as a couple.  In fact, my relationship with Nicole certainly parallels so many of the amazing qualities that my grandparents maintained.

Lloyd Julius passed away in 2001.

Meet Phoenix Williams

Phoenix Williams was born August 4, 2017.  His mother (Nicole) is a beautiful woman – both with her physical appearance and her amazing heart/soul.  In the 4 years and 8 months that I have known her, I have truly realized just how blessed I am that our paths crossed.

As you might realize, Phoenix Williams is my son.

FinnAGKMost of the time, we call him Finn … as well as Bubba, Bubsa, Bubsy, Little Bubba … and several other nicknames.

In the entire time Finn has been alive, I have been fortunate to spend a great deal of time with him.  In the early days of his life, I would wake up to begin my work day – seeing him and Nicole sharing the sectional as a result of Finn needing some TLC through the night time hours.  More recently, I visit his bedroom after he wakes up – watching him play in his crib before starting his day.

Our family time together features: taking walks, playing in the basement, exploring new foods (he is starting to eat real food now), swimming in the pool, spending time with his sister (Syd) and brother (Eric), bath time and (of course) rocking him to sleep as he prepares for another exciting day.

There is so much more, but I am sure you get the gist of our life together.

The Last Few Months

For the last few months, Finn has really started to demonstrate more of his personality.  Since he isn’t really communicating verbally all that much yet, he uses his body language to communicate – often leveraging signs he has learned from watching the Baby Signing Time series on Amazon Prime.

In the past few months, I have noticed the frequency of traits that Finn exhibits that mirror traits I remember from Lloyd Julius.

At first, I would see something, but I wouldn’t bring it up to Nicole.

Then, as we noticed that Finn’s complexion, hair color and eye color is not really a match for either of us, I began to realize how his build, complexion, hair color and eye color matches that of my grandfather.  That led me to bring up every time Finn would do something that reminds me of my grandfather.

Some key points:

  • Finn will stop and look at me with the very same manner that my grandfather would, as if he is tuned in to everything I am saying and nothing else is more important at that moment.
  • Finn collapses his hands together, when he is between tasks – just like my grandfather would often do.
  • Finn waits for the right moment to smile and respond with a chuckle in the very same way that I recall my grandfather doing.  He is already doing whatever he can to make things better for those around him.

These are just three examples, but on a daily basis I have been bringing up such items to Nicole as they occur.  The frequency has increased as Finn continues to grow.

My Theory on Reincarnation

My grandfather was an amazing soul.  He led a life devoted to his faith and to helping others.  After logging endless miles to pay the bills, he arrived home to fill the role of a loving husband and a supporting father.   He also taught Sunday School at his church until those final years of his life where he was no longer able to volunteer.

Seeing my son maintain a physical resemblance to my beloved grandfather and now begin to exhibit personality traits, I wonder if somehow reincarnation does really exist.  Could it be that all of the amazing souls are returned to this earth, perhaps living in the hearts of the lucky few born with Down syndrome?  Their reward, for being so amazing, is to have the opportunity to walk this planet again – continuing to spread their love and joy for everyone around them.

As someone who has spent an entire career in the field of Information Technology, I do not maintain the skills and abilities to prove/disprove my theory.  However, I am amazed when I see Finn exhibiting behaviors of my grandfather – who passed away 16 years before my son was born.

Conclusion

While I am not sure my theory on reincarnation has much merit, I am thrilled to see my son exhibit traits of one of the most amazing people I have met in my life.  I suspect these similarities will continue, leading Finn toward a life filled with love, devotion and a focus on helping others.

As a parent, I could not be more pleased to witness this reality.

Have a really great day!!!

 

 

 

739,017 Days Later – Merry Christmas!!!

The reason we celebrate Christmas started 739,017 days ago – with the birth of Jesus. I thought I would look at the important milestones in my life for this Christmas article.

Me (CleanSlate bio)There doesn’t appear to be an agreed upon date regarding the birth of Jesus. However, it seems that most agree that His birth is within the range of 7 BC and 4 BC. Performing the internet search “when was Jesus born” using Google, the first link in the response list yields the conclusion that Jesus was born at noon on August 21, 7 B.C. For simplistic sake, if we opt to use that date, this means that reason behind the yearly tradition of celebrating Christmas was spawned from an event that happened 739,014 days ago … or 2,023 years, 4 months and 4 days from today.

When I think of all the amazing and awe-inspiring events that have happened over the last 2,023 and 1/4 years, I cannot imagine living in a world without all of the advances we have made (technically, socially and spiritually) as we continue to grow and evolve. Along these lines, I thought I would consider the numbers that mean the most to me in my personal life and reflect back on some of the highlights I have encountered within each milestone.

6,496 – March 14, 2000

hf1a0061.jpgIf we go back 6,496 days, the calendar lands on March 14, 2000. While the world is recovering from the fear of the Year 2000 bug and most still riding the wave of the dot-com era, I was spending some time in Guatemala City – in the Central American country of Guatemala. My reason for visiting, was to bring my son (Eric) home – who was nearly nine months of age and had been in the care of foster parents while his final adoption paperwork was being approved.

As I look back on his life, I am so proud of the man Eric has become. In the spring, he will finish out his senior year of high school and in the fall he will continue his education – studying Computer Science. Yes, I am extremely proud of his decision and feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to be his father.

Some of my favorite memories with Eric are noted below:

  • engaging in some type of game or activity with him – ranging from made-up games in the front yard to collaborative video games where we “save the world” together
  • watching him participate in sports (3 years of soccer, 3 years of basketball and 11 years of football … ending with a record-setting undefeated state-championship season)
  • seeing him volunteer at church and on the very same cadet football fields where he started playing organized sports – always placing the needs of others before his own

One would think that nearly 6,500 days would be a very long time. Honestly, each year seemed to zoom by faster and faster and I can’t believe Eric is nearly finished with high school.

I could not be more proud of Eric!

1,515 – November 2, 2013

spinalwalk2017d.jpgIt all started when I saw her profile on a popular dating web-site. After putting together a short (but hopefully intriguing) message to this beautiful woman living in Zionsville, I was hopeful to hear something back from her. However, anyone who has been through the saga of online dating knows that it is a very convoluted experience. With all the messages being sent and received, I would not be surprised if my introductory message became hidden between several similar messages. But she did respond back, the next day.

Then, one-thousand, five-hundred and fifteen days ago, I met Nicole at a place called Paradise Bakery for the first time. That late afternoon date began with the way she made me feel as she looked into my eyes and touched my arm with her gentle touch. She looked so beautiful as she sat across from me – both with her stunning looks and her amazing personality. Our time together was spent with conversations of both a fun and serious nature. One of the many similarities we shared was the desire to have another child. For us, raising our children seemed to transpire quicker than we wanted and we both realized how wonderful it would be to have the opportunity to have at least one more child.

When our first date ended, I knew that Nicole would be a part of my life. I wasn’t sure how the timing would work out and what our relationship would be, but I truly felt like I had found someone who was the perfect complement to me. I told so many people that she is the female version of me, because of the vast commonalities that we share.

I knew that God had a plan for us … and what an amazing plan it would be!

My love for Nicole continues to grow stronger and deeper every day. She is truly my soulmate. I am so grateful that our paths crossed four years, one month and twenty-three days ago!

1,372 – March 25, 2014

HF1A0078It was a Tuesday evening in late March when I had a dinner date with Nicole. We had dated occasionally without the relationship reaching a serious state prior to that time. When I visited her townhouse in the village of Zionsville, I was able to meet her daughter Sydney for the very first time. She was in her room, with her long-time friend (Cassidy) and they were going through some things on the floor next to her bed.

I remember after being introduced, sitting down between them and gaining an understanding on what they were doing. I recall feeling like they accepted me as someone they already knew and our conversation began to flow effortlessly. Now, knowing Syd for nearly fourteen-hundred days, I have realized just how blessed I am to have her in my life.

I raised my son Eric, starting on his adoption day, but I really had no experience raising a daughter. My role in Syd’s life has brought me great joy being able to be a part of watching her go through life and grow into an amazing person. I have seen Syd continue to be driven on so many levels – with her creativity, her dedication at her job and her unending love for her animals.

I’ve watched her mature into seeing things from the perspective of a young woman, embracing tough topics and seeing the world for what it is (both good and bad). She has the ability to understand her viewpoint, reach a conclusion and be able to defend/evangelize her position. Very impressive for someone her age.

I am so grateful for Nicole for so many things. Allowing me to be a part of her daughter’s life will always be at the top of my list of favorites.

144 – August 4, 2017

FinnADE.pngAs one might imagine, August 4th of this year was an amazing day for our family. For that is the day that Phoenix (aka baby Finn) was born. Phoenix is our miracle baby. Baby Finn is the individual who bridges Nicole and Sydney’s life with the life of mine and Eric. Like the Phoenix in Greek methodology by which both the city and his name is based, baby Finn will reach new heights by rising above the ashes of all things before him.

Believe it or not, we are already seeing examples.

Since we found out that Phoenix was born with Down Syndrome, Nicole and I believe he will live true to his name and rise above every challenge that comes his way. In the first twenty weeks of his life, baby Finn has gained more muscle tone than what has been expected and continues to excel with his motor skills and body control. He is picking up on the basic sign language words we have been teaching him, watching intensely and then using his hands to communicate when his vocal speech is not yet ready. He also becomes laser-focused when we put a book or learning toy before him – trying to soak in as much as he can with the current experience.

What I truly love the most about baby Finn is his ability to make other people smile. It doesn’t matter if it is a friend/family member or a complete stranger. Phoenix will focus deeply on the person communicating with him, looking into their eyes. Then, when he is ready, he will light up with the most amazing smile, causing the object of his affection to return a smile right back at him. It is almost breath-taking. This started in his first few weeks of life and was only evident with his eyes, but now includes his smile and even a bit of his giggle – which is probably the cutest noise you will ever hear. (Sure, I am probably biased with that statement.)

Each day is a journey with our son. A journey I love at a level that is impossible to put into words.

0 – December 25, 2017

This is today. This is Christmas.

I honestly feel like I have received some of the most amazing gifts in the world – all of them are based upon the amazing individuals I mentioned above. I feel like God blessed me with Eric, Nicole, Sydney and baby Finn. For gifts and worldly possessions will come and go – just like careers and friendships. However, a good family with a strong bond – wrapped around unconditional love – is everlasting and unbreakable.

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At the start of this article, I mentioned reflecting on all of the technical, social and spiritual advancements that have transpired and blossomed since August 21, 7 BC. These advancements have given us the world in which we live in. While I didn’t focus on really any of these aspects, my direction was by design. I am grateful for all the advancements that allow my family to live an amazing life. I am grateful for my talents and abilities – which have given me a career that I enjoy. However, I am most grateful for the items I mentioned above … my family. Because, my family is what I will always value the most and the reason I work as hard as I can on a daily basis.

On this Christmas, I hope that you too can look back on the last 739,017 days … or probably not that far … to focus on the milestones that are related to the things that you value the most. I urge you to make sure you make your feelings known. Using both my actions and my words (written and spoken), I try to express just how much I love and appreciate my family. Because, to me, my family is the greatest gift of all!

Have a really great day!!!

Thankful Every Day

While I try to reflect on my blessings every day, I thought I would take some time to remember all the ways in which God has blessed me and my amazing family.

Me (CleanSlate bio)The events around the attack on New York City and Washington DC on September 11, 2001 shocked the nation and the world.  So many lives were lost or forever changed by the actions of those behind the horrible events.  At the same time, heroes emerged amidst the tragedy to lessen the burden of others – in some cases avoiding further losses.

I remember hearing a radio program reflect back on the days before the 9/11 attack, specifically to the topic of their discussion on September 10, 2001.  The topic of the radio program was “sudden wealth syndrome” and was focused on how the children of those benefitting from dot-com investment wealth were struggling with suddenly having an excessive amount of money or material possessions.  Basically, these offspring had become rich overnight and didn’t know how to handle their new lifestyle.

When events like 9/11 happen, the end result is an effected population that grows stronger and begins to appreciate all the things that they took for granted.   For those on the September 10th radio program, they had lost sight too of the things that truly matter – perhaps taking things for granted on a level few will likely understand.

On this day, Thanksgiving 2017, we typically take time to pause and reflect on the things in which we are thankful.  While I have challenged myself to recognize my blessings as a daily routine, I thought I would spend my time reflecting on the many ways God has continued to bless our family.

2016 Drumstick Dash

Over the past year, I have provided periodic updates on my personal life.  If you have been following along, you know about Nicole and I welcoming our new son on August 4, 2017.  Phoenix (aka Finn) has been an amazing blessing for us and his entire journey provided the wonderful benefit of bringing Nicole and I closer together than I could have ever imagined.

DrumstickDash2016I think back to Thanksgiving 2016 and how we didn’t even realize that Baby Finn was already a part of us.  We decided to run in a local race called the Drumstick Dash.  At the time, we were working out about four days a week – making 3 – 4 mile runs a part of our exercise routine as well.

In years prior, there was a short route for the Drumstick Dash, which was something like a mile or so.  When we saw the turn, we thought that was the case – but were surprised to see so many make the turn for the very short route.  We didn’t judge them though … it was Thanksgiving and they probably had things to do.

It wasn’t until we neared mile three and I realized we were not close to the finish line, that the turn most took was for the 5k route.  We were obviously on the 10k route and that really short one mile route no longer existed.  However, we were in great shape and had ran quite a bit the last few months – so both figured we were fine to finish the longer route.

Then Nicole slowed and wanted to walk.

Those who know Nicole will understand this is not like her.  Not at all.  She is the most competitive and driven person I know.  She told me to keep running, but I opted to walk with her, enjoying our time together – as always.

We finished the route back at our normal pace and really didn’t think anything about it … until a few weeks later, when the pregnancy test revealed she was pregnant.  Everything made sense for last year’s Drumstick Dash.

Telling that story always makes me smile – especially when I see our beautiful son’s smile.

Blessed Beyond Words

I truly feel like I am blessed more than I ever expected or can even describe with my family and amazing circle of friends.  In the last year alone, there have been some amazing blessings in my life:

  • Baby Finn entered our life on August 4, marking the end of an amazing journey that Nicole and I traveled together, only to begin a new journey with our newborn son as the focus.
  • I was able to reconnect with friends and colleagues I worked with 14 years ago, changing jobs to work with an amazing group of professionals at CleanSlate Technology Group.
  • For the first time in my son’s (Eric) 10-year football journey, I have been able to simply watch his games, instead of participating in some aspect of coaching.  It has been an amazing experience to watch him play this season – with his final game being held at Lucas Oil stadium in two days to protect his team’s undefeated status and compete for the 2017 State Championship title.  I could not be more proud of him as a competitive athlete, honor student, church volunteer and human being.
  • I’ve watched my step-daughter (Sydney) continue to grow as a wonderful person, getting her driver’s license and starting her job at Dairy Queen, while continuing to care for her room full of exotic animals.  She has continued to receive praise from her employer and her heart amazes me with the degree of caring and love she possesses.
  • Last but not least, I am so thankful for Nicole.  She is my rock, my inspiration, my true love, my everything!  As I noted above, we have continued to grow closer every day and the pregnancy with baby Finn was filled with memories that will last forever in my heart.  Nicole is truly the most amazing and giving person I have ever met in my life!

Like I suggested above, I have been focused on being grateful and reflecting on my blessings on a daily basis.  I truly believe I am blessed beyond words with the wonderful path God has put before me and our amazing family.

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On this Thanksgiving day, I wish you and yours only the very best and I truly appreciate your time in reading my thoughts.

Have a really great day!!!
#theluckyfew

Our Blessing … and the Road Ahead

On August 9, we learned that our son was born with Down’s syndrome. Since that time, I have realized just how much of a blessing he is to us and how excited I am for 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!!!

#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!

The Final Stretch

We have reached the final stretch of Nicole’s pregnancy. At week 30 with 10 weeks remaining, baby Finn will be arriving soon!

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!!!

 

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!!!