Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Whole Weeks Old!

So it's already been two weeks...In some ways it has gone by fast, but in other ways not so much. Each day, the hours seems to fly by but when I think of how many more days they'll need to get strong I get a little anxious!

Sofia is doing a little better today...she hasn't needed insulin for a whole day and she's weening off some of her meds (blood pressure). She is still on the jet ventilator since she's doing so well on it. If they lower her settings more and more then they will switch her over to the regular vent in no time. She does have a big sac of air stuck in her lungs which they are watching. It could resolve on its own or they could have to try to get rid of it. We found out yesterday that Sofia had a brain bleed: only a Grade 2 on her right side. We are told that Grade 1 and 2 are so mild that there are no difference in the long run between babies with no brain bleeds and babies with 1 or 2. They will give her another head ultrasound in a week to make sure it has stopped (they really do think it stopped because her hemoglobin is great and stable). I think the worst of whatever was going on with her is over: a slight infection and the brain bleed. Now she needs to rest and get back to her old self! She has noise reduction headphones on in the pic below because the jet ventilator is louder than the regular vent.

Madeline is doing just fine. She still hasn't been fed, though. They were trying to feed her the other day and couldn't because the tube was clogged. They have to put a new one in which won't be until Monday. They were going to do it today but she was acting up a little. Her oxygen settings were up and down a lot during the first part of the day. When they left her alone she was happy, though. They are testing for infection and giving her antibiotics just in case. She isn't acting sick any other way, so that's good. We didn't hold Madeline today because she just needs to rest. Tomorrow hopefully!

Josephine was a little star today. She's on the ventilator but has been doing good on all her gases. The tube for the vent is too small for her so there's sometimes an air leak, which is frustrating. They want to get her off the vent this weekend and just see how she does. If they have to put her back on the vent then they will at least put in a bigger tube to avoid that leak. Josephine is still getting milk and digesting a fair amount of it! Who knew I'd be so excited about digestion!!?

Today we had a little funeral service for little James. It was very sweet, simple, and sincere. The pastor did a really good job; he actually has come to the hospital twice for us. On the day we found out James had a terrible brain bleed, he came down and baptised all four of our babies and he also came when he passed away to help us through everything and pray for us. The service today was just our family because we wanted it to be small. It was pretty emotional for all of us but made us feel better. We have a beautiful, tiny urn with the remains at our house now. He is with us! I really want to thank our families for being there for us during this time. We especially need to thank Dan's dad, Mike, who did the arrangements for the cremation and to the Holts for hosting our reception after the funeral. I was so happy that everyone who was there was able to make it! My uncle Steve drove from Willmar, family drove from Duluth, my brother-in-law Charlie drove in from Detroit yesterday, and my brother Ben was able to fly last minute from out east! Thanks EVERYONE!

I want to put on the sermon my uncle David gave on the Sunday after James' passing. I wish I knew how to link it to a separate page or something but I'm not tech-savvy. I'll just copy and paste! This makes for a long post, but it is definately worth reading...(this is the uncle who officiated our wedding, actually!) Merry Christmas, Everyone and Happy Holidays!!!

Giving Birth to the Gift of Love!
Luke 1:39-55
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Yesterday, while biking in my basement watching the weather for reports of the coming storm, one of the commercials on the television was for the Lexus automobile, and it really caught my attention. The campaign was titled, The December to Remember.

“Make this December one to remember. Now through January 4, visit the certified Lexus dealer nearest you to take advantage of extraordinary finance or lease offers. Search by zip code, state, dealer address or dealer name, and make a December memory that will last a lifetime.”

Make a December memory that will last a lifetime…

Without getting into the debate about what month of the year was Jesus actually born, it is clear that today’s scripture lesson describes a December memory that not only would last a lifetime, but till the end of history – for all eternity and for all time and for all people.

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Yes, the birth of that December baby was truly a memory that will stick with us – for to this day, we celebrate that birth as a gift of love – Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave birth to the world’s greatest gift of Love!

And that birth has been a blessing to every generation since that first Christmas in Bethlehem!

We have been the beneficiaries of this amazing blessing – this amazing gift – the world has been the beneficiary of this gift of love!

Ben Johnson, in his Hymn of the Nativity, captured the meaning of this birth, this gift of love, when he wrote,

I sing the birth was born tonight….The author both of life and light.

God, in the baby Jesus, gave birth in this world to life, light and love.

But of course, Jesus is not the only baby to bring life, light and love into this world.

Four little babies brought life, light and love into this world last week in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, as my niece Martha gave birth to her quadruplets.

As some of you may recall, on Homecoming Sunday I shared the news that had come out of Minnesota this summer – namely, that Martha and Dan were expecting quads – naturally conceived – no fertility drugs!

And part of the background of this story is that it was after their wedding that I was biking and was savagely attacked by 10 of Santa’s reindeer! Although I did sustain a hand injury, I somehow survived this traumatic ordeal!

Well, for my niece Martha and husband Dan, December will be a memory that will truly last a lifetime. Martha went on home bed rest at 20 weeks, went into the hospital at 25 weeks, and last week, week 27, with the barometric pressure changing with last week’s storm that rolled through the Midwest, the water broke for one of the babies and the next day they delivered the quads – a boy, James, a little over 2 lbs, one girl Josephine, a little over 2 lbs, and Sofia and Madeline also just under 2.

Initially, all were on respirators, then, James and Josephine were taken off the respirators. And Sofia and Madeline were facing a few challenges, including Madeline needing surgery to correct some problems with her esophagus – a common occurrence we learned with premature babies. Her surgery was a success.

Then, word was received that James was having some cranial bleeding – another normal but nonetheless potentially serious situation for a preemie.

His situation became more and more serious, and one pediatric radiologist said this was the worst cranial bleeding.

Last night – amidst all the phone calls about whether to hold or cancel today’s services – I received the call from my sister and brother in law Jim that little James had died.

On Friday, Martha wrote in her blog,

James is our precious little boy and we love him so much. We love all of our little babies!

Then, last night, Martha wrote,

Today at 7:15pm James passed away gracefully in my arms from brain injuries. He is a fighter and words cannot explain how much we love him and how dearly he will be missed. We are comforted to know he is in a better place. We told him it is his job to watch over his three sisters so they can continue on to grow and get stronger. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and prayed for James; it means a lot to us. What we ask now is that you continue to pray for his three sisters because they have a really long road in the NICU ahead of them.
All babies are a great gift of love – and all babies that come into this world can be the source of so much joy – but sadness as well.
During that same Homecoming Sunday sermon this past September, I also shared the fact that 30,000 children die every year simply because they are too poor to live.
30,000 children die every year simply because they are too poor to live.

Daniel Matthews, rector at Wall Street's Trinity Church in New York City, reports how his grandson responded to a crèche scene in his family’s suburban neighborhood.
Although the créche in the yard remains empty until Christmas morning according to that particular family’s tradition, the house and lawn are overrun with decorations – lights and things on the roof and animals, and even all those blow-up figures of snow men, Santa, and reindeer. 

Stopping before the house one evening, the 6-year-old grandson wondered whether the neighbors couldn't afford a baby because they spent so much on decorations,
“Mommy and Daddy, did they run out of money before they could buy a baby Jesus?”
Sometimes, do we arrive on Christmas Day and wondered if we really have anything left for Jesus?
Do we really have anything left to really appreciate the greatest gift this world has ever seen?
To really appreciate the greatest gift of love this world has ever seen? 

A few years ago, one of America's biggest department stores tried marketing a doll in the form of the baby Jesus.
The advertisements described it as being washable, cuddly and unbreakable, and it was neatly packaged in straw, satin and plastic.
To complete the package, the manufacturer added biblical texts appropriate to the baby Jesus.

To the department store executives, it looked like a sure-fire winner, a real moneymaker. But they were wrong. It didn't sell. In a last-ditch effort to get rid of the dolls, one of the store managers placed a huge sign in a prominent display window. It read:

Baby Jesus 
Marked down 50%
Get him while you can!
The great Mystic of the Middle Ages Meister Eckhart once wrote,

There is only one birth- and this birth takes place in the ground and core of the soul…Not only is the Son of the heavenly Creator born in this darkness – but you too are born there as a child of the same heavenly Creator and none other.

Perhaps we should heed the sales pitch of those department store executives, maybe we should “Get Jesus while we can” –
…maybe we should get the Baby Jesus into our lives and let him be born once again in the ground and core of our souls.
Is it possible that we sometimes do arrive on Christmas Day and wonder if we really have anything left for Jesus?
Is it possible that we don’t always appreciate the greatest gift this world has ever seen?

Friends, Martha and Dan now have a December memory that will last a lifetime and that memory has changed their lives forever – and Martha’s own words could not be more poignant,
“He's our precious little boy and we love him so much. We love all of our little babies!”
And each one of us here also has a December memory that has changed our lives forever – and it is a December memory of a birth that has given us the most amazing gift of love the world has ever known!


  1. The girls look so beautiful. I am glad about the good news on Sofia, will pray for the repeat headscans to be good. Praying that Josephine gets extubated to CPAP and is able to stay on CPAP and keep progressing. Also Praying that tomorrow you will get to hold Madeline.

    What a wonderful sermon. James is smiling down on his family indeed.

    We also have our Angels ashes at home with us.

    Continuous prayers for your family,


  2. I think of you and your family often.
    I pray for peace in your heart and rest for your body. I also pray that the girls will continue to gain strength. I pray that the doctors will have the wisdom and the knowledge to continue to take wonderful care of your family.
    Thinking of you Martha!
    Love from Minneapolis.

  3. Continued prayers for your family during this difficult time.

  4. Sounds like all the girls are on the road to being better! Merry Christmas to you and your family and enjoy your little gifts from God.

  5. I am so sorry about James, what a terrible loss.

    I hope his sisters keep getting stronger and that you´ll be able to hold them all as soon as possible.