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2017

Adoption

Our Arkansas Adventure: Part Three

March 2, 2017

We’re picking back up on our time in Arkansas for Charlotte’s birth. In case you’ve missed parts one and two, catch up! Many apologies for leaving y’all hanging for the last couple of weeks. We’ve had some major behind the scenes work to do with our financial beta class and it’s kept us juuuuuuuust a little¬†busy. That and a couple little people who like to have our attention from time to time. ūüėČ

Alright so let’s jump back to December.

After that first full day in the NICU, it’s hard to¬†put into words everything that happened over the next¬†week and a half.¬†The first several days were obviously the scariest and emotional for us, our families, friends, and Charlotte’s birth family. To say there were ups and downs is¬†quite the understatement.

Not only were we completely uncertain as to Charlotte’s prognosis, we were also living in a city where we virtually knew nobody, it was almost Christmas, and Jonathan didn’t take any time off work due to some big projects with hard deadlines.¬†All those factors combined left us suspended in this hazy, weird, and stress-filled vortex.

Jonathan and I didn’t want JoJo to ever wake up without a parent’s face to see first thing yet we weren’t willing to leave Charlotte alone in the NICU so we began¬†to tag team living at the hospital.

I stopped taking care of myself the day Charlotte got sick. After it was obvious¬†that I wasn’t eating (didn’t even know I wasn’t) Jonathan and the family we were staying with brought me groceries¬†and friends started to send gift cards. Even with that, I still lost close to 10 pounds that first week because all I can eat (thanks autoimmune disease) is meat, fruit, and veggies and you need to eat a lot of those to maintain weight and I was eating like a bird.

Around this time there were also TONS of ups and downs with Charlie. Her blood gasses would look great so they’d wean her oxygen a little bit. Then they’d hit a wall and her gasses were poor so they’d bump her back up… sometimes all the way to 100% oxygen (aka starting over from scratch) and we’d have to begin the weaning process again. It was a two-steps-forward and one-step-back situation for sure.

Almost daily they’d have to add some new medication until Charlotte had like 10 tubes sticking out of her little body for all sorts of purposes. It was so hard to see her constantly sedated but I knew she needed the best that modern medicine could offer and that’s exactly what she was getting.

The days ran together and it’s remarkable that even now I can barely remember a full day.

Jonathan had to keep working so he would sit at Charlotte’s bedside working all hours of the day and night until we swapped out and it was his turn to be with Josie. When I was at the hospital, I talked to Charlie and loved on and prayed over her as best I could, but she was sedated and we were told to minimize stimulation altogether. It left me with a lot of time on my hands. I could have been working on big projects for our upcoming business venture but mentally all I had the capacity for was texting, decorating her room for Christmas, Facebooking, scrolling Amazon and watching Fuller House.

In the midst of this we finalized Charlotte’s adoption in court on December 20th, 2016. While we were certainly over the moon¬†to call her our daughter officially, it was still a somber occasion for many reasons. Charlotte wasn’t with us as JoJo had been for her finalization. We hadn’t even held her at that point, seen her face without tubes, or seen her awake. A very surreal experience indeed.

Adoption (at least for us as parents) is one of those double edged swords – incredible joy for the beautiful soul joining our family but sadness for Charlotte not being able to be raised by her¬†birth family and sadness for her birth family because we could see the unspeakable pain this decision brought them. Sure we could just do what some adoptive families have done and completely blow off and not care about our children’s birth families… but that’s not us. We care about them like family….because they are. We aren’t replacing them. We don’t desire to cut them out. They aren’t problems to be swept under rugs. When they hurt – we hurt. And joyful occasions such as a finalization can get mixed with sadness for them and our daughter’s loss and that’s OK.

A little over a week after birth, Charlie successfully weaned her oxygen down to room air (21%) and completely weaned off Nitric Oxide. Woot!!! So it was time to take her off the ventilator. They also took her umbilical line out per protocol to decrease chance of infection but we weren’t too concerned about that since she wasn’t going to need her line for sedation anymore once the ventilator was out and she was breathing on her own.

I’d been at the house with Josie the morning they wanted to take her off the vent and when I heard it was happening that morning, I sprinted to get ready and head into the hospital. I remember seeing Charlie’s doctor in the hallway and she said, “My Christmas gift for you is to hold your baby girl!” I was excited, emotional, nervous, and stressed.

I ran to Charlie’s room and the vent was gone!

She was breathing on her own with the help of a nasal C-PAP. About 15 minutes went by (all the while I am in disbelief that she had this sudden turnaround in the last 24 hours and feeling like it was too good to be true) and she opened her eyes. These beautiful eyes locked with mine and we had a very peaceful couple of minutes looking at one another.

But then I could tell something was off. She started to get agitated. She was arching her back trying to breathe. Her chest started retracting (caving in upon taking a breath). I looked up at the monitor and her blood oxygen levels were falling. I ran to get help and the room crowded with doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapist staff. It was obvious she needed re-intubation because her airways were too swollen and she couldn’t get air to pass through them. I crumbled onto the nearby couch and just cried silently as they brought out the supplies to hook her back up to the vent.

Holding her on Christmas was officially out.

They needed to give her a course of steroids to shrink whatever swelling was likely present from her first traumatic intubation over a week prior. But in order to do that, they needed IV access, which is tricky in newborns as IV lines don’t hold long in babies. We were told it’s great if you only have to change the line daily because sometimes their tiny little veins can only hold a line for a shift! Her steroids needed to be given through her IV as well as her continuous sedation since she was on the vent…so the ideal line would be a PICC line but they’d just taken hers out.

It was now a race against the clock to get a PICC line. She had an IV in her foot¬†at that point but it had taken several attempts to even get that. Over the course of about 12 hours they tried to get a PICC line a half a dozen times and they couldn’t get it. They even had to shave her head to attempt one but no luck. I didn’t know they’d done this until I walked into her room and saw her hair gone…and I immediately started just bawling because I wasn’t present for my baby’s first haircut.

UAMS staff weren’t hesitant to say we’d reached the limit on their scope of care and that Charlie needed to be transferred to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to get a PICC line, as they had more technology to help them get one in.

All the while they were still measuring Charlotte’s blood gasses since she had her failed extubation incident and they were getting worse and worse with each draw. She was regressing. They had to bump her way back up to 100% oxygen again and the called the Children’s Angel Flight¬†staff¬†to bring an ambulance over for her transport.

The team arrived around 2:30pm and it took almost an hour to get her ready to get in the ambulance. At one point I almost fell over and forgot I hadn’t eaten that day so Jonathan got in his car to go grab Chipotle and Starbucks (it was gonna be a long night!) and meet me at Children’s Hospital so I could eat while they settled Charlotte into her new bed. It actually turned into quite the funny and heart-warming story:

It was Christmas Eve and I remember thinking the next 24 hours will either make Christmas a wonderful day or a very sad day in our family over the years to come.

Adoption

Our Arkansas Adventure: Part Two

February 15, 2017

In typical fashion I left last post with a cliffhanger. I don’t feel like there’s been enough drama or suspense in our world right now, so just trying to supply some. ūüėČ

Kidding.

Our story picks back up on December 14, 2016, the day of our dear Charlie’s birth.

As the birth family got all checked into their room, we hung out in the lobby, trying to figure out where we were supposed to be when the baby was born. Charlotte was coming via c-section and neither Jonathan or I would be present in the room. Navigating how the baby would get to our room was proving difficult for the hospital social worker and staff.

One nurse in particular earned the nickname Nurse Ratched because she just had this horrific attitude towards us. Obviously Jonathan, myself, and the agency were being nothing but kind and cooperative as we tried figuring out where we were supposed to be. This nurse was just unbelievably rude towards us…me in particular.

That’s when I realized it was because this was an adoption. There are certain people in healthcare that treat adoptive moms like some psychopath woman from a Lifetime movie…like I was sneaking around the Labor and Delivery floor waiting to snatch a baby and make a break for it. I’ve had friends talk about this with their past adoptions but I hadn’t come up against it until Nurse Ratched. She and I will cross paths again here in a few minutes and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

We finally (after 2+ hours of wandering hospital, calling social workers, talking to nurses, etc.) figured out that we were supposed to wait in a room and that Charlotte would be brought directly to our room after birth to the warming table to get weight and vitals. Whew.

It’s now after 1pm and Miss Josie is one feisty, stubborn girl when she’s NOT tired but she had reached full blown tantrum mode at this point. We knew Charlie would be born any moment so we white-knuckled through thinking we would meet Charlie, snap a video of Josie meeting her sister, and then Jonathan would go drive around Little Rock while Jo napped in the car and I snuggled Charlie.

The door busted open and in walked the doctor carrying Charlotte and a few nurses. They took her to the warming table and clearly were trying to encourage her to cry. At this point Jonathan¬†was excitedly taking video footage of everything. Since I am a nurse, I knew straight away that something wasn’t right. I told Jonathan to put the camera away. (BTW we still haven’t watched that footage. I can’t come to do it quite yet.)

After a minute or so Charlie let out a cry but it sounded like she was drowning. We never heard another cry again. Her oxygen sats were dropping and at this point were in the 70’s and falling. The team working on her said they needed to take her to another room to evaluate her/apply C-PAP to try and get her oxygenating better.

Everyone was saying, “Oh this is no big deal, she’ll perk right up.” It’s not that uncommon for c-section babies to have a little trouble breathing after birth since they didn’t get the fluid pushed outta them on delivery. This wasn’t that though and I knew¬†they were just trying to stop us from worrying. In my gut I knew something was seriously wrong.

At this point Josie was like a nuclear war head. Screaming, thrashing, tantrums on a level we’d never seen. We decided that Jonathan should still take her on the drive so she could nap and that I would stay and wait for news about Charlotte. It was an impossible decision but we had no other options because hello, living in a state where we don’t know really anyone.

After a 15 or so minutes of sitting in the room with the social worker from the agency, I began to get restless. Why hadn’t they returned to update me? What’s happening to my baby? I peeked my head out of the room and Nurse Ratched was there. She told me to “SHUT THAT DOOR AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL WE GET YOU!”

What?

Would she have spoken to the birth mother that way? No. It was crystal clear I wasn’t a real mom in her eyes. I know legally at that moment I wasn’t but the birth mom chose us and I knew that she’d want me to be with Charlotte since she couldn’t while she recovered¬†from a c-section. I was in shock so I just shut the door. I went over to the hospital bed and started crying as I texted family about what was going on.

A few more minutes passed and I just decided that no was not an answer I would accept – I needed to be with Charlie. So I went back into the hallway and the Charge Nurse was there. I went into a big speech about how I would gown up and stand in a corner but by golly I was going to be in the room with my daughter.

I was crying¬†and must have looked like the most desperate person she’d ever encountered.

“Follow me” she said.

I arrived in the room where they had Charlotte and my heart sank because there were about a dozen doctors, nurses, and respiratory staff working on her. Obviously it was far worse than they originally thought. They were getting ready to intubate Charlotte and were sedating her through the umbilical line she had in place. Her oxygen sats never picked up with the C-PAP or anything else they’d tried and she needed oxygen so going on a ventilator was the next step.

They loaded her into an incubator with a ventilator running so she could transfer to the NICU. I grabbed all our bags and followed while I called Jonathan, updating him of the situation.

JoJo was still asleep in the car but I needed Jonathan at the hospital with me. Things had gotten too serious. We called the family we were staying with and asked if they’d be willing to take Josie for the afternoon/evening. They said absolutely which was such a gift. They were literally the ONLY PEOPLE WE KNEW in Arkansas. We were so grateful we hadn’t chosen to stay at a hotel at this point because it wouldn’t have allowed us to be at the hospital together without Josie at a time we needed to be.

Jonathan returned to UAMS (University of Arkansas Medical Sciences) NICU that evening. We both had more questions than answers but a diagnoses finally came: Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. Her doctor sat us down and explained that the first 72 hours would be the rockiest and that hopefully she’d begin responding to medications and make a turn for the better. She told us we’d be in Arkansas for a long time. She told us that this disease was very serious and can be life-threatening (later Googled…first and only time I mistakenly Googled her disease….that as recent as 2000 40% of children with this diagnoses didn’t make it). She told us they’d do everything they could to stay in front of it and that they’d work their way down the treatment options available.

We sat on the couch, dear in the headlights, processing everything that was happening.

The agency social worker remained by our sides which was a huge source of support. I remembered how nervous I was before Charlotte’s birth, wondering if we’d bond right away. Recalling that now makes me laugh because I was so bonded to her and she’d only been on the outside world for a few hours. Instead of her illness making us hesitate about the adoption it drew us closer to her. I became Momma Bear the moment I saw her. We were forever in love with¬†Charlie no matter what played out over the days and weeks ahead.

By the end of her first day of life she had¬†tubes coming outta everywhere. She had several IV medications running. They tried Surfactant on her lungs and it didn’t work and were gearing up to start Nitric Oxide to help her lung alveoli relax and oxygenate well. We prayed over Charlotte for a while and eventually pulled out the couch and chair beds in Charlie’s NICU room somewhere in the wee hours of the morning. It was time to get some rest (which I laugh about now because seriously who can rest when their kid is in a life-threatening state AND there are constant monitors beeping and people coming in and out of the room).

Before she was born we were told that Charlotte would be discharged to go home from the hospital 24 hours after birth so Jon and I didn’t think to pack extra clothes. Heck, we’d only even packed Newborn clothes for Charlie and she was born at 10 pounds so those weren’t ever going to fit! We were totally unprepared but trusted the Lord would provide. As I drifted off the sleep (for multiple 15 minute increments LOL) I remember feeling overwhelmed by all the unknowns ahead but totally confident that God would take care of Charlotte, her birth family, and us.

I also knew it was going to be rough waters but that we wouldn’t be alone in the storm. That Oceans Song I referenced in our last post (the one that’s all about stepping out into the water like Peter the Apostle did when Jesus asked him to) was becoming a reality in our lives. Jesus essentially set fire to our boat out at sea and it was going down. He was inviting us to step out of the sinking ship in faith in a way we’d never done before.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

OK, Lord. We stepped. The rest is all up to You.

Adoption

Our Arkansas Adventure: Part One

February 6, 2017

Oh my goodness.

Where do I even start?

I need to recap our recent adoption adventures from this past year for a few reasons:

  1. I need to process what happened in the months leading up to and those six weeks of our lives in Arkansas. Writing always helps me do that.
  2. There are too many small yet providential details I don’t want to forget and jotting¬†them down will commit them to memory.
  3. I want to bring all of you (our dear supporters, prayer warriors, and cheerleaders) deeper into the story. Our online updates were sporadic at best and only glimpses of information in the pool of information we had.

There are still parts of our Charlie girl’s story that she gets to keep private and tell on her own when and if she’s ready one day. While I will absolutely be bringing you behind the scenes of our time in Arkansas, there are parts¬†that aren’t mine to share on a public blog such as this and I am sure you understand.

Another caveat is that I think we had a year’s worth of experiences in a short 6 weeks so this will be a blog series, hahaha. I can’t cram it all into one post lest my fingers go numb from typing. And I certainly don’t want to lull you into a trance with a never-ending story of a blog post.

Bite size bits of our story it is and this is the first installment, so buckle up.

Ok, let’s back this train up WAY up.

March 10, 2016

Wait, what? Why are we going that far back? Because it’s where Miss Charlotte’s story began in my life and I didn’t know it.

Hindsight allows you to connect dots God’s been¬†laying down all along only to them make your mind spin when you see His Providence in the fullness of time. Seriously, I need to be done doubting him.

Last Spring I was invited to give a 3-part talk about Mercy at a Women’s Retreat in the Minneapolis Archdiocese. When I told Jonathan I’d been asked to speak about mercy he laughed HARD. Amanda Teixeira giving a talk on mercy? Obviously crazy because I am a lover of all things justice. Mercy and I are a little bit like oil and¬†water. I really don’t love that personal flaw of mine and I intentionally ask God to teach me how to be merciful but I’m not perfect. So it was rather hilarious God would ask me to speak into this topic.

In my research and preparation I dove headlong into the story of God’s mercy and it absolutely blew me away. Just listen to Father Michael Gaitley’s Second Greatest Story Ever Told talk and be prepared to get goosebumps. Preparing for these talks changed me to the core. God’s mercy is everything and it’s all I want to accept, give, and be.

I flew out to Minneapolis and was super¬†antsy. New talk material is always nerve-wracking since it’s new and unproven. What if my jokes are lame? Stories fall flat? Or my content doesn’t connect with or move people? I was basically a ball of nerves.

As I got in my rental car to head to the talk, Oceans by Hillsong came on the radio. I’ve heard this song like 1,000,000 times but it was one of those freaky moments where I felt the Holy Spirit rush into the car while the lyrics began. I was trying to go over my talk notes but was overwhelmed by this feeling that God was preparing to grow our family and I needed to trust him. Whaaaat? I’m just trying to prep a talk here Lord, talk to me about that please and not some rand-o tangent. But it wouldn’t leave. I started to cry and was filled with this specific peace that our family would grow again.

Months later, in September 2016, we excitedly found out we were adopting again. It then wasn’t lost on me that my March talks on mercy and the car incident was 9 months prior to this baby girl’s estimated due date. We asked her birth family if they had any special family names they might like us to consider for baby girl and they had one – Lynn – which means pool or large body of water. Now that Oceans song was starting to really make sense.

#WhydoIdoubt?

May 27th, 2016

This was the day we launched the news we wanted to adopt again after several weeks of sitting in indecision on if or when we’d actually take steps forward. The night before I had an incredibly vivid dream that we adopted a baby and her name was Charlie. It was crystal clear so the photos had to go up that next morning.

Now that day didn’t¬†directly link us to Charlotte’s birth family but your referrals did connect me to a blogger who eventually tipped me off about Charlie girl.

#whhhhhyyyyyyyystilldoubting?

December 3rd, 2016…

I went to an Advent reflection that morning at a local church. Jesus filled me with peace after months of vague anxiety after the big move and all of life’s changes. Biggest reminder from the morning was to not be afraid of the darkness that comes our way in this life. (Little did I know¬†that darkness lay ahead…should’ve figured as much. LOL)

I got a phone call from the adoption agency director that afternoon. She and the birth family were out to lunch coming up with a game plan, as Expecting Momma was experiencing contractions. The hospital she’d gone to said the contractions weren’t close enough yet and to just go home but she felt like they were steadily getting closer.

This is where Jonathan and I had to make some quick decisions. Expecting Momma had expressed on a few occasions she was afraid we wouldn’t be present for the delivery since we live 10-12 hours away by car. We thought that was a valid concern and shared it as well – we had no interest in missing Charlotte’s birth. That’s when we decided I would fly down to Arkansas the next morning in case labor continued.¬†Jonathan and Josie would remain in Omaha as we didn’t know with 100% certainty when Charlotte would arrive so in case it was a ways out, Jonathan could keep working and JoJo could stay in a familiar environment as long as possible.

That afternoon I was in my happy place Рobviously excited for the BABBBBBY but also because I love nothing more than having to take 1,000 tasks and break them down into logical step-by-step pieces only then to go on to accomplish said tasks in the most efficient order. #NerdAlert #NerdAlert

I packed. Ran last minute errands. Embroidered matching Christmas jammies for the girls and their cousin. Cleaned. Shopped for quick and safe food I could eat while traveling. I was the female Tazmanian Devil on a mission. I got it all done and the next morning Jonathan and I woke up at 3:30 AM so I could catch my 5:00 flight.

I arrived safely in Little Rock and that afternoon I met up with Expecting Mom and her boyfriend at a local mall. We walked around, as she was curious to see if that would help contractions progress. It was nice to spend time with them since we’d only met in person once. After walking a few hours she was pretty wiped out (as any 38 weeks pregnant¬†woman who just walked a mall for hours would be) so¬†I headed back to the family’s home I was staying with.

More on that family – back in September I wandered into a Domestic Adoption Housing Connection Facebook group. I asked if ANYONE knew ANYONE in Little Rock, as I sure as heck didn’t. In the weeks I had the post up I only got one reply and this contact from the group had a cousin who had room at their home for us to stay. We hadn’t met this family until we pulled in their driveway this last October when we met Expecting Mom!

Talk about relying on God’s providence…LOL Thanks be to God they were above and beyond amazing. Their home, family dynamics, strong faith, kindness, and southern hospitality instantly showed us we were right where we were supposed to be. God led us to some of the¬†best in all of Arkansas through a Facebook group.

Insane, but of course he did.

My first night alone at this family’s home, I slept 13 hours because I could. LOL I knew the window to sleep for the next year was going to be brief so I took full advantage.

December 5th, 2016

I texted Expecting Mom and asked how her night went and she replied that she’d been admitted into another hospital for contractions again and this time they gave her IV fluids for dehydration. As soon as she was hydrated, labor completely stopped. No more contractions.

The baby was scheduled for a c-section on December 8th so really it was no big deal labor halted. I actually enjoyed the fact that I could spend more time bonding with and getting to know Expecting Mother and her family. We hung out on several occasions and always had a good time. I sincerely treasure those days.

December 6th, 2016

Jonathan and JoJo drove down on the 6th to beat out a snow storm. Josie was an angel in the car – as long as Frozen was on continuous play.

December 7th, 2016

Expecting Mom had her final appointment and asked me to join her. Everything looked good. Then the nurse said, “Alright, we will see you next week on the 14th for delivery.” Expecting Momma and I were scratching our heads, as the hospital already called her that day to confirm the delivery on the 8th. Somehow it got scheduled for a week later and now the next day wasn’t possible. Just totally weird.

Jon and I didn’t mind because this meant more time to hang with birth family. And the longer Charlie baked the better as far as we were concerned. We continued getting together with the birth family and had some really great times that week.

December 14th, 2016

The day had come for Little Miss Charlotte to enter the world. I dressed up – even curled my hair and put on high heels – since I would essentially be spending the next few days make-up-less in my pajamas and socks…or so I thought.

Someone is excited to become a big sister today! ??#josierosie

A photo posted by Amanda Teixeira (@amandamtex) on

We got to the hospital at 9:30am to begin the adventure of becoming a family of four. Little did we know that our lives were about to turn upside down in a million ways over the next few days.