Heartfelt Hope for Ty

Heartfelt Hope for Ty
Our son, Tyson Hugh Hooper, has been prenatally diagnosed with complex heart defects that will require a minimum of two heart surgeries and two lengthy (weeks-long) hospital stays. In order to balance his care and the care of our other two children, we will be losing income during his hospital stays for time off of work. In addition, we are already experiencing added expense from the frequent doctors and specialists visits for prenatal care. We are a bit overwhelmed at the financial consequences of his diagnoses, but comforted in knowing that God is in control and will provide. We are asking anyone who feels led to pray for Ty and our family and to donate (see button below) to help offset these unexpected expenses. Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 3 with Ty

This little guy was referred to as "amazing" this morning by the cardiologist!  He is doing so well.  He hasn't had to have any oxygen since he was born, his vitals have all remained strong and healthy.  His temperature was elevated once, and that can be a result of the meds keeping his heart happy, but they are doing a culture just to be sure.  His temp came down and has remained "normal" all day, so we are encouraged.  After his echo yesterday, they have chosen Dr. Mettler as his surgeon and determined that it will be best to do a front-entry "open heart" approach to his coarc repair.  This means we'll be here for at least 2 weeks.  The echo also revealed that the hole in his lower chambers has been completely self-corrected.  It doesn't quite look the same as you or me, but tissue has filled in the gap and the two chambers are separate and should remain that way as he grows. Way to go God - thank you and praise you!  This leaves him with a hole in the upper chambers and a cleft in the valve - all repairable by open heart surgery that may not even need to happen until age 2 or 3!  Thank you Lord - you are amazing!  So overall, we are very pleased.

And then....

...this happened!  He is doing so crazy good they decided he could get up and attempt to breast feed!  He was sleeping and uninterested, but I enjoyed holding him still the same!  This was certainly a fantastic day!  

Thank each of you for all of the ways you are loving and supporting us.  Thank you most of all for all of the prayers!  We hope to keep the good news rolling in!  Our little Ty is clearly a fighter!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet our handsome boy...

Yesterday was a long day, but worth every moment!  We fought crazy Nashville traffic to arrive at Vanderbilt for induction 30 minutes late.  It was a VERY slow start and I never made it past 3.5 cm.  Although I was contracting good and things were moving along at a slow but steady pace, Ty was not enjoying the process.  His heart rate was steady, but indicated he was tired and didn't fluctuate enough!  We rubbed on his head to "wake him up" a few times and each time his response was less enthusiastic.  The result, given his little heart already has plenty of challenges, was to go ahead a do a c-section just to keep us out of any trouble.  So, at 7:00 we started getting ready at 7:24 we met our precious baby boy!

Ty arrived crying loud and clear and pinked up pretty quick with the help of a little oxygen.  He weighed in at 8lb 7oz and measured 20.5 inches long.

Ty's NICU team did a quick clean up and started his IV right there in the operating room and then I got in a quick kiss before Chris and Ty's very talented team of doctors sped over to the Children's hospital so start his full evaluation.

It was all hands on deck in the OR and I was ever so thankful for each and every wonderful doctor and nurse who helped get Ty here safely!  

About 10:30 last night I got to go to the NICU to see Ty for the first time out of the operating room.  He is such a sweet and handsome little guy!  I felt blessed to get to touch his soft cheeks and tell him how much I loved him before we headed back to rest up.  He had a big night of rest himself and a preliminary echo cardiogram to see how things were looking.

Chris and I got up bright and early this morning and headed straight to the NICU to be there in time for rounds.  While we waited for his medical team to make their way to us, his nurse asked Chris if he would like to change Ty's diaper!  We were pretty stoked at the opportunity to help care for him!

After he had a nice clean diaper on, they asked if I would like to help wash his hair!  It was so fun giving him his first shampoo.  Well, at least mommy thought it was fun, Ty didn't enjoy it quite as much.

 We put on a nice clean and dry hat on that freshly washed head and then it was time for rounds!  The doctors has news for us after reviewing his echo.  First of all, he is doing VERY well and his stats look great!  His pulse is a little weak in his lower limbs, but they aren't yet sure if that is because of his coarctation (narrow portion of his aorta) or if that's just Ty being Ty.  Tests from today will let us know and we'll find out at rounds tomorrow morning.  

They said his coarcatation is a pretty big segment of his aorta, and they are debating whether or not they can do a thoracotomy (go in from the side for the repair) or if they will need to open his whole chest ("open heart" surgery approach). Ultimately that will be up to his surgeon and we may know that tomorrow as well.

 The great news of the day was that his AVSD is looking much better!  The hole in the lower chambers is almost completely gone and his valve is functioning well!  This means surgery #2 that will be open heart for sure may be postponed for a year or two! 

He had a few other tests today - they scanned his head and kidneys just to make sure everything looked good and he passed with flying colors again.  We will find out more detail about his second echo at rounds in the morning!

 This afternoon Daddy got to change another diaper and we got to give him lots of love and kisses!

 As you can imagine, we are already deeply in love with this little guy and we are dying to get him in our arms!
 Because of his condition, he gets all of his nutrition through a central line in his umbilical cord.  Babies with heart conditions usually aren't allowed to eat the traditional way until fully recovered from surgery.  However, the medical team thought that he was doing so well that they might let him try a little bit of breast milk to see how he does.  This is an area we need prayers for as I have not been able to produce any milk yet.  This was major motivation for me, however, and I am pumping away and doing all the tips and tricks I know to see if I can produce enough for him to try!
 Another area we request you pray for tonight is the coarc repair!  If they are able to go in from the side it is less invasive with a shorter recovery period.  For that reason, our prayer tonight is that his coarctation is able to be repaired from the side instead of through the middle of his chest!
 Most of all we are praising God for this beautiful boy.  We are thankful for a safe delivery and we are praying for healing and recovery for me and Ty both!
One last note on today...
My Mom and Dad, who are in town keeping Ava Grace, brought her to visit today.  It was such a bright spot in our day.  I had been having a lot of severe muscular pain in my shoulders and back and when Ava Grace and I snuggled up together, my pain literally melted away.

There is no gift more precious than a child.  No matter how big or small, they are certainly God's biggest blessings.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

In all things God works for good...

My latest post was met with some criticism.  I have had a negative comment here or there in my past blogging experience and have always been able to simply delete it and move on.  This particular comment, however, at such a critical time for my family, stuck with me.  I actually woke up several times last night constructing different responses in my mind.  My blog is set up to screen comments, so they come directly to my email for approval before they are displayed on the blog.  This is primarily to avoid the occasional piece of spam, but in this case served to keep negativity off of this page.  This particular comment was mean spirited and full of assumption and accusation.  It actually encouraged others not to support or help our family in any way.  Worst of all, although left anonymously, it clearly came from someone who knows us, or at least Chris, very well and either is, or is related in some way, to a colleague of his.  I had so many responses in my head.  I could fire back with an "answer" for each false accusation.  I could straighten out every assumption that this person made with personal details of our finances and our doctor appointment schedule and intimate details of our comings and goings over the past weeks.  I had in my head a pretty good response ready to go this morning, but I couldn't find any peace with it.  I couldn't feel "good" about a reply to this person.  As I laid in bed this morning, God spoke to me.  I heard him asking me to turn to him, turn the other cheek, seek - what would he do.  So I hit the scripture.

One of my biggest pleas in our situation with Ty has been that God would be at work and use our story.  We cling to Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Even in our fear for Ty and his health, we know that God is at work and that good will come from a scary situation.  We pray that God will use us and our journey to bring glory to Him.  As hurtful as the comment was, I believe that God will work good through this and every part of our journey.  So, this morning I continued to claim this verse.

A friend that Chris consulted last night, reminded us that the more we "put ourselves out there" the more we open ourselves up to criticism, etc.  He is absolutely right.  I don't know that we have ever, as a family, been more transparent or in a more likely situation to be used by God.  Given that, we should expect to meet adversity and criticism - more than usual.  As such, we have to prepare ourselves and seek God in every situation and in every response.

We have to push away fear and doubt and trust God.  In reading this persons comments, the thought crossed my mind, "What if we get the miracle we have prayed for and God completely heals Ty?  Will that make this person feel justified?"  There will still be such a need - all the bills for prenatal specialist care, the time off work... the list goes on.  I had to remind myself, that we can't fear and doubt, we just have to trust God.  God has led so many of you to support us for a reason and we are so very grateful.  God is using so many people and so many ways to provide for our needs and to support little Ty and his fight against CHD before it even begins outside of the womb.  It is humbling and overwhelming and wonderful to see God working in our lives.  He has a plan for Ty and for our family that might involve complete healing as we have asked - either before birth in the form of a miracle or after at the hands of skilled doctors.  He may even have a different plan.  Our job is just trust, no matter what adversity we face and no matter what challenges come our way.  Trust Him and praise Him in all things.

This morning I found another verse that brought me comfort.  Matthew 5:11, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me."  I'm not sure what the motive was of the criticism we received, but God will work through that as well.  I have come to the conclusion that the best reply is no reply, but prayer.  I will not reply directly on email to the comment that was left.  I will delete it and pray for the person who sent it.  I will pray that God will work in their heart and reveal himself and his great work to them.

As for why I am acknowledging the comment on my blog?  In reading this morning on the biblical way to respond to criticism I found this:  "Ask the Lord to use false accusations as a platform to display greater courage, faith, and hope in the Lord's ability to cause all things to work together for good."  and "Never doubt God's ability to send the most unlikely people, provisions, and processes to deliver you."  I felt led to share, to continue to be transparent.  This isn't intended as a reply to the person who left the comment, but as a way to share our journey - every part of it - publicly, which is the reason this blog exists.  I have no idea how God will use this, or any part of our journey, but I trust that there is purpose and He will.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Our last weekend as a family of four...

It is hard to believe how quickly the last few months have gone by!  Our little Ty will be here on Tuesday and we couldn't be more excited.  The Lord has truly filled us with his peace and we are trusting that He is in control.  In that respect, even though in my head I know this delivery and baby will most likely present some different challenges, in my heart I feel exactly like I did when anticipating Ava Grace - just plain excited and ready to meet the newest member of our family!

I think I am more anxious about the girls, especially Ava Grace, adjusting to a younger sibling.  What a big adjustment for a little girl!  Of course, Chris and I worried about Lily adjusting to Ava Grace and she did so with flying colors.  Lily has made us so proud from day one in being such an amazing big sister and young lady.  Lily could write the instruction manual on big sister how-to.  She is so gentle, kind, helpful, and patient.  Ava Grace might need some pointers... in all of those areas.  lol.

Today and tomorrow I plan to finish up getting the house ready for Ty.  I have a few things left to wash and some odds and ends that I want to take care of before we head to the hospital on Tuesday.  We also plan to have some fun with the beautiful weather and to go to Lily's volleyball game tonight!  I'm hoping for a fun, productive, low-key, no-schedule weekend together.

I have so many thank-yous to send and 3 showers and a benefit to blog about!  Stay tuned, I'm hoping to do that this weekend to.  In the mean time, let this serve as a temporary, but heartfelt THANKS to everyone who has been so supportive.  We have had friends and family and even some strangers give donations to help us take time off work and pay for medical expenses.  We have had benefits and been showered with gifts that have just overwhelmed us with gratitude.  Most special of all, we have been added to countless personal and church prayer lists and I can assure you that we feel every prayer!  We believe that God has already performed miracles for Ty and have seen the wonderful ways he is providing for our needs.  We are blessed and ever so grateful for every prayer and know that God hears each and every one and will do great work through Ty's story!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An update on Ty

I spend another day at Vanderbilt yesterday checking up on our little man.  Maybe I should start calling him big man.  He is weighing in at 7 pounds now with a predicted pound-a-week gain for these last two weeks.  I am SO not prepared to give birth to a 9 pound baby, but the machines are just estimating his weight, so there is a margin of error there.  I figure God knows the perfect size for him to be and that's what he will be, so no since in worrying over it.

We had a non-stress test yesterday where we monitored his heart for an extended period of time.  He, and his ticker, passed with flying colors.  I even had a contraction while hooked up to the monitor and his heart rate went up during the contraction, not down, which is a very healthy response that we were happy to see!

Following the non-stress test, I headed to cardio for our last echo before Ty arrives!  He was stubborn, as seems to always be the case, and spine out again.  Our wonderful cardiologist worked hard to get as much of a look as he was able.  He could see even less this time because of position and size, but we were still greeted with what we feel is good news.  The narrowing in his aorta seems to be a small portion (they had originally said it was a rather long, extended portion) and the AVSD (holes and valve issues) looks like a partial instead of a complete like they originally thought.  These are both great news to this Mama's ears!  Anything that lessons the severity of his defect from the original diagnosis I am counting as straight up miracle and blessing from God as a result of all the wonderful prayers going up for us and for Ty!  So, keep those prayers coming folks!

Ty will be here two weeks from today!  Nesting has kicked into high gear and my to do list seems to only grow as I mark things off.  Mark off two things, add three more.  That's the way it goes, I suppose.  Yesterday one of my doctors asked if we were ready.  I told him I don't think you are ever really ready for a new baby.  He laughed and agreed.  Perfectly healthy or not, a new family member is a major adjustment and you can prepare as much as possible, but some things just have to happen when they happen and we adjust.  I can't wait to meet our little guy.  We'll be as ready as we can be... the rest is in God's hands.  I had a teacher once tell me, "prepare as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends on God."  I have always thought that was pretty good advice.  So we are doing our part to prepare, but remembering that it is all ultimately in God's hands and we can't wait to see what He has in store of us and for Ty.

And because posts without pictures are no fun, here are some snow day shots from our most recent winter weather.  (Sorry no shots of Lily this time... she stayed at her mom's this time to get to enjoy playing in snow there with the neighborhood kids since she already got snowed in here last time!)

Now bring on spring!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3 more weeks and 1/3 there....

We are so happy to announce that with three weeks left until delivery, we are 1/3 of the way to our fundraising goal of $15,000.

This weekend we were blessed beyond belief with two major strides toward our goal.  In addition to so many personal donations to Ty, we had two fundraisers come rolling in.  

The first was our Pampered Chef fundraiser that we have been blasting on facebook.  Our grand total from the facebook Pampered Chef party was $400.25.  I was blown away with all of the support and so grateful to Sarah Basham with The Pampered Chef for facilitating this fundraiser!  I also have to give a HUGE shout out to my sister who had the idea in the first place and got everything organized.  I also can't not mention my mom, sister-in-law, and Anne for helping publicize and being the ship to addresses to help us get products where they belong when they come in!  I appreciate each of you and the role you played to make this fundraiser FUN and a success!

The second fundraiser to come in this weekend was the Gallatin Country Club 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off!  This one was a total surprise to Chris and I when we found out they were doing it just a week ago.  The woman's golf association there started this annual event, but this year decided to honor us with the proceeds.  Not only was this a fun night of friends, great food, and fun, we brought home a whopping $600 for Ty!  We were truly blown away by everyone's kindness and generosity.

I have to thank our wonderful neighbor-friends who asked the girls to stay for a sleep over while Chris and I went to the Chili Cook off.  The girls were both SO excited to have a sleep over with them.  They each packed their own suitcases full of stuffed animals and games.  Ava Grace was bouncing off the walls and shouting at the top of her lungs when we dropped them off.  They had THE BEST time and although Chris and I were home by 8:00, we enjoyed a "night off" worry free knowing the girls were right across the street and well taken care of.

In other news:
Ty got a check up on Thursday and passed with flying colors!  His MFM gave his ultrasound an 8 out of 8!  Everything looks so very healthy with the exception of his heart.  We officially scheduled our induction for March 24 and got all of those details together.  From here on out I'll be making the trip to Nashville twice a week for checkups on me and on Ty.  I'm not looking forward to all the driving, gas, and time spent at at the doctors offices, but I am glad that Vanderbilt is so very on top of things and keeping a good eye on us!  That also means I'll have more frequent updates to share as well.

I offer a most heartfelt thanks to all who continue to lift our family and Ty up in prayer!  I also thank everyone who has felt led to give.  We are truly amazed at how God is at work in the life of our family and Ty and all around us.  He is providing in so many ways both financially and by filling us with peace as we wait for our little guy's arrival!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ice, Snow, and lots of it!

This has been a week of snow in Tennessee... literally an entire blissful week!  Not everyone shares my sentiment, but I loved every flake.  No work, home with my family, can't go anywhere - A OK with me!

The kids loved it too, of course.  This is the most snow I have seen in years - since I was a little girl.  I loved getting to share a big snow with the girls and make all those fun memories!  Type of precipitation varied widely across Middle Tennessee, but here in Portland we got about 2 inches of sleet followed by several inches of snow.  When it was all said and done we stuck a ruler in the snow and measured about 7 inches total.

We had so much fun!  Movies and popcorn, snuggles, games, and as much snow play as we could get in without freezing our buns off!

Sunday, with lots of snow in the forecast, we went to Lowe's and got 2 sleds.  I was so glad because this snow was too powdery for a snowman, but the sleet underneath was perfect for sledding! 

We sled in our backyard, in our neighbor's back yard and even on the road a little bit.

(I think the picture of Ava Grace above looks a lot like me when I was a little girl... what do you think mom?) 

Here we are trying out the sleds for the first time.

Here is our road! 

We took a walk down the road just to see if we could sled down a bigger hill.  The girls were cracking me up, enjoying their ride.  Ava Grace almost fell asleep - no joke! 

 The big hill was a bit much for our girls... well, actually Ava Grace would have gone down any hill, any where, any time, but Lily was skiddish and it stressed mommy and daddy out!  I was especially leery of falling, so we headed back to relatively flat land.

One thing that became rapidly apparent is that our house has a complete lack of snow apparel!  Only Ava Grace had boots and none of us had waterproof gloves.  We don't get snow often, but I am thinking I need to keep some snow gear on hand just in case.

Ava Grace and Cookie next across the street.  This girl needs a dog! 

Super Ava Grace!
She insisted on wearing her cape (that used to be Lily's) out in the snow!  She "Zippidy-Zoomed" all over the yard.  It was pretty much adorable.  She is a super-hero loving girl.  When we got inside she changed into her pirate outfit for the rest of the day and proclaimed herself a "beautiful princess pirate."

 Zippidy. Zoom.
 I'll have to post a video later of the giant belly laughs that came out of this girl sledding.

Pure. Joy.

 Sledding with Kayleigh across the street.

 More sled rides with Daddy pulling... poor Daddy got a work out!

Kassidy did her fair share of pulling and sledding with Ava Grace as well! 

Missy even did some sledding!  She ended up having the perfect sledding hill in her back yard.  Just the right size for the girls! 

We pretty much have the best neighbor-friends ever!  BLESSED beyond measure!

And after hours and hours of rain, our road is still white, we still have several inches of snow on the ground, and not a blade of grass to be seen.  Wondering if this stuff will ever melt.