31 October, 2016

Gotcha Day

This whole day hasn't felt real. At 11:40am Kenta came through our door with the nanny who has cared for him for the past 2 weeks (on the right) and our guide. We really can't even express in words how it feels to look at Kenta and know that he is ours... it is a miracle. 

The yellow blanket is from Kenta's birthmother.  We will get to meet her on Thursday, it is so very wonderful that we will have this opportunity. 

 We have only had Kenta for 5 hours now... he has been an absolutely angel. He is so quiet that we have checked many times to see that he is still breathing. We still have not picked a first name for him... I hope we will have some inspiration now that we know him.

Pictures only show a glimpse of the complete Kenta. He is beyond my wildest dreams

And lastly, we went out with our sweet boy and found delicious noodles for lunch.  First time eating noodles with chopsticks while holding a baby!  Many more firsts to come. 

This is like a dream. 

30 October, 2016

First Night and First Morning in Tokyo

Cody here as a guest poster on the blog. I'll let you all know when it's me posting from now on. Kristen says I always give too many details when I tell stories, so be prepared.  

As you all know we got into Tokyo yesterday afternoon after flying all day from Atlanta. The flights were great and luckily on the leg from LAX to Tokyo the plane was only about 2/3 full so we had 3 seats to ourselves. We were able to somewhat sleep, but were still exhausted when we go to the hotel around 4:30. After unpacking and laying down (it was really nice to be able to lay horizontally for a few minutes) we decided to go out and explore a bit. 

We are staying in part of town called Shinjuku, and are right across the street from Shinjuku Station which is the busiest railway station in the world! 

Before dinner we went looking for baby formula and "Baby water." Apparently it OK to drink the tap water here, but it has too many minerals for babies so they make a special bottled water for babies with a lot of the minerals taken out. We walked around for a while and checked out several 7-11's, and a couple Family Markets (which are just like 7-11). We didn't have any luck so Kristen asked the lady working at 7-11 and she pointed us to a place across the street. It was a 7 story store that looked like it just sold electronics. After exploring about 4 floors, we showed someone a picture of the formula we needed and he directed us to the basement...we had no idea there even was a basement. We found the water and formula but Kristen wanted something for her heartburn so we spoke to a guy and tried to explain what we needed. He found us some sort of medicine that had a picture of a happy stomach. So we gave it a shot. 

Once we got what we needed we decided to get some dinner. There are tons of restaurants around us from little hole in the wall noodle shops to McDonalds to pretty nice sit down places. We decided to go to a sit down restaurant for dinner and picked a place called Tavern S. It had a very American feel and smelled great, so we gave it a shot and were not disappointed. The food was fantastic and everyone there was very polite. Most people speak English but not incredibly well, so we usually end up playing a bit of charades. While at the restaurant our waitress seemed to speak pretty good English, so we showed her the medicine we just bought and asked if it was good for heartburn. Apparently "heartburn" is tough to translate. Luckily I had access to Wifi and Google Translated "heartburn" into Japanese and the waitress confirmed that our Happy Stomach medicine was indeed for heartburn. Crisis diverted.   

Like I said, the food was great. I had a cheeseburger and Kristen had Chicken Carbonara. Who would have known this would be our first meals in Japan?! 

After dinner we went back to our room and tried to stay awake as long as possible. It was only 7:30 but we were exhausted. After FaceTiming with the kids I passed out and woke up the next morning at 6:00 am. Perfect! 

When I opened the binds in the morning, we were astounded at how beautiful the city looked. Our room overlooks Shinjuku Station and the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The sunrise was amazing!

For breakfast we ate at the hotel and they had a very nice buffet. I was a little worried at first because all I saw was fruit, salad and something called Horse Mackerel. Luckily I spotted some waffles, french toast and pancakes. On the other side they had sausage (which ended up just being small hot dogs), crispy bacon (real bacon!) and something called "bacon" which looked like bacon that was just warmed up and not crispy. I've been referring to it as "trichinosis bacon." Overall we really enjoyed it.

After breakfast we decided to walk around outside for an hour or so to explore. This might not be very interesting to everyone else, but here are some of my observations.

First of all this place is C-L-E-A-N! It's hard to explain but everything is just orderly and clean. We walked outside for about 30 minutes before we saw a piece of trash on the ground. All of the cars here are clean, especially the taxi cabs. The cabs all look like late 80's model Nissans but look like they just rolled off of the assembly line. The guys that drive them all wear suits, white driving gloves and the seats have white lace covering them. 

Secondly, this place is quiet. Again, this is hard to explain but people don't seem to talk much. It's Monday morning here so we were walking among everyone going to work. We walked for about 15 minutes before I realized that NO ONE was talking on their cell phone. Not a single person. I bet we walked by thousands of people and nobody had a phone out. After walking for an hour we saw TWO people walking and talking on their phone...they were both Americans. 

Third, there is music almost everywhere. When we walk through our hotel we hear this very soft, very sweet music. I need to see if I can record it because it's hard to describe. It's just very pleasant and very light. Even when we go outside there is a similar music playing in most places. 

We are loving this place! 

Well it's 11:15 and Kenta is supposed to be here in 15 minutes! Stay tuned. 

We Made It to Tokyo!!

Our day began at 4:30am Saturday morning, we flew to LAX (5 hour flight, 2 hour lay over) and then we flew to Tokyo (12 hour flight). You know you are on a long flight when they pass out slippers and eye masks.

We landed and found our hotel!!  We are right in the heart of the big city. There is a Starbucks and  Krispy Kreme directly next to our hotel... and within walking distance we have everything else! So far a couple of things that we've noticed about Japan : I will bet money there isn't a cleaner place. Everything is immaculate and orderly. Smoking on the sidewalk is a punishable offense. People are dressed up and very fashionable.... and it seems that there are couples holding hands and wearing a smiles at every turn.

So first night in Tokyo, last sleep before baby Kenta!! We are so sleep deprived!! We hope we will get adequate sleep tonight!  The Nanny and guide will be at our room sometime between 11:30-12 tomorrow, (Monday here, 10:30pm Sunday night your time.)


The view from our room is spectacular!

20 October, 2016

Ian's Spine

I tell you dear friends, God is BIGGER! His will is different from what we expect and ultimately, infinitely more glorious than our wildest imaginings.

Today, I am writing you after going through and personally experiencing His perfect goodness displayed.

At the end of September we met with a brilliant genetics specialists for Ian. Because he was born with several malnormalities (anal atresia, esophageal and trachea atresia, among other things) we were recommended to see her. She spent a long time with us and went over Ian's medical history... which is a very thick stack. She recommended that we have an EKG for his heart and a full spinal X-ray, along with a complete chromosomal mockup.

We completed these tests at Scottish Rite Hospital and Ian had his two sisters there as cheerleaders. It was a long day and we had to end with blood work. ):

Ian is a rock star!

We heard the results from the EKG and X-ray on September 22. The EKG shows a small hole in his heart and a small amount of mixture of blood, but not enough to be operable. The X-ray shows he has 13 ribs, instead of 12 (this makes no difference, only an interesting thing about him). But the big finding was that he has a malformation of his spine at his neck. The pieces of his spine at C3 and C4 are misshapen and not complete, making an opening.

She told us we needed to get a CT scan to see his spine to determine the weakness due to this malformation. We started praying. The CT scan was on Thursday, October 6. Another hospital trip, but Ian left with a giant smile and an orange balloon.

When the CT scan came back it confirmed that the spine was malformed—leaving two openings to his spinal cord. We were referred to a neurosurgeon, but in the mean time we were told to use caution, that if this malformation has caused a weakness it could lead to injury. Her words were actually, "I would be Nervous Nelly until you hear otherwise from the Neurosurgeon." She advised that he not jump on the trampoline with other kids or bouncy houses, or do fair rides, etc.

I was sick at the thought of Ian undergoing more surgeries. He's been through enough! I was truly overwhelmed.  We have been waiting for a call any day of a baby being born, and flying to Japan, and then adding that baby into the mix of our already crazy-at-times lives.  There's a lot of unknowns for me here... even though I'm extremely excited, I am nervous too. BUT I didn't even know how to process the flood of emotions this brought. another surgery.  hospital stay. the regression Ian has had with every surgery.  Even writing this, it makes me want to cry. I wanted to be excited about our new baby. I wanted celebration with our family.

I did a great deal of praying and worrying. And I know worrying is an awful waste of energy. Why should I bother my head with worry if I turned it over to Him??

Tuesday, at 8am (Oct 18) we had our appointment with the neurosurgeon. He came into our room and said that surgery was not necessary. And we got to look at the CT scans with him. As soon as we saw the holes where bone should be we still couldn't believe he had just said, we did not need surgery? I couldn't compute... I'd gone into the appointment knowing we'd hear he would need surgery. Now he doesn't. Didn't I pray this? Didn't I believe my God is BIGGER!? 

The doctor said that he sees tons of kids that have holes like Ian's and they live problem free. Ian should not play tackle football or things of that nature, but that he will be fine. Just yearly check-ups are required. AMAZING!! God is all over it! Thankfully God's love is steadfast, and doesn't change based on our feelings, lack of faith or responses. 

So we are celebrating this day with Chick-fil-A. (:

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