Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Christmas Tree - O Christmas Tree

Last year, we didn't put up a single Christmas decoration. Gavin surprised us and there was just no time. To be honest, I wasn't very festive anyway. My dear sister brought this tree to us in the hospital room to make it feel more like home. As I was unwrapping it this year, there was a flood of emotions. How different this Christmas is! It is truly amazing.
The tree that she gave us has now been claimed by Gavin, and it makes his room look oh so cute!

Aren't they just too cute!?
This year we got our first real tree. We went with Jason's family to get all of our trees this year.

Miss Bethany & Gavin.
We found our "perfect" tree. 
It was quite chilly! Love his little red nose though.

Decorating was so much fun this year! 

My little curious Gavin.
All lit up. Brings so much warmth to our home!

Tis the Season

We got a little festive these past few weekends! I am a sucker for anything "Christmasy". I love the decorations, the music, the wrapping paper, the snow...don't even get me started on Christmas movies!

After Gavin's birthday party Jason had a surprise for me. For years I have wanted to go look at Christmas lights with him. Well with cocoa in hand and a baby in the back seat, we made our way down to some of the most extravagant homes I have ever seen. Obviously professionally decorated, and the homes were beyond outrageously lavish - two front doors....really?

Lavish though they were, we loved ooing and awwing over their pricey light displays.

As much as I love the Christmas lights and seeing the large houses, I was all the more thankful when we got back to our home. It may not have two front doors, but it has all that I need!

Christmas isn't about the pretty lights and decorations - although they do get us in a festive mood, don't they?

You see, the night that Jesus was born wasn't full of twinkling lights, brightly colored bows, and I am guessing "Silent Night" wasn't playing in the background.
He came in the lowliest of places, and his first bed was used as a feeding trough for animals. 

In our efforts to remind ourselves and keep the focus on the main thing, we made a Ginger-manger. 
Cute right?

Well it was cute...then it fell. It wasn't perfect - that is for sure. 
On Pinterest this would be a "Fail". But the building isn't what it was about in the first place.

It was about that baby in the manger. Granted he was not as oddly shaped as our gingerbread baby.
 Jesus is why we can celebrate tonight. Christmas Eve - a night that wasn't probably perfect. No doubt it wasn't as Mary or Joseph had pictured bringing the Savior into the world. Into the imperfect night, a PERFECT baby was born. Christ the KING.

Merry CHRISTmas friends!
So thankful that He came to make a way for us in a manger!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Giving Thanks - a little late...

Forgive me for the late post, but we SO enjoyed our Thanksgiving in ND. I just had to post some pictures.
Gavin tackling his papa!

Perusing through all of the Black Friday ads.

Playtime with Auntie C. - love seeing these two together!

Gavin found his new love - blocks!

The bond these two have is enough to melt my heart!

Everyday after lunch we would hand Gavin over
for naptime with his papa. Love!!!

I got to help my mom decorate for Christmas!
It is a tradition I wish we got to do more often!
As you can see we had a wonderful time. I could list a million things we are thankful for this year, but I'll leave you with 5.

1. That my Savior came to earth as a babe to die on a cross for the sins of the world. Wow!!
2. The Lord has blessed me with an amazing husband and son. If I could describe the perfect man for me, I wouldn't be able to come close to Jason. He is my everything, and Gavin is my world. I absolutely am loving having a boy!!! I always pictured having a girl, but I am SOOOO glad God knew my heart. Love my guys!
3. My family, both immediate and extended. After losing my dear uncle to cancer this fall, I am even more aware of how blessed I am. Our family, even though they are far from us geographically - they are close in our hearts. I love you all!!!
4. For our home. We were able to buy a new house in May, and it is our safe haven - especially on below zero nights in MN. I love it!!! (our home - not the weather)
5. This WHOLE year! We have learned so much about ourselves, how we want to live our lives, and most of all - the power of prayer and our faith. We are so blessed beyond any words I could write.

Life is good, and we have so much to be thankful for!

Monday, December 16, 2013

What a year it's been!

Man o' man!

Can you believe it? We made it a year baby!!!

December 16, 2012
4lbs 8oz 18.5 inches long
December 16, 2013
17lbs (approx.) 29inches
This day has been filled with emotions. Broke down getting my Caribou coffee this morning. They were donating coffee to families in the PICU at Children's hospital. I of course had to join in. She looked at me and said "thank you so much, we are putting together care packages for the families and you are helping with that". I could hardly get out the words conveying that a year ago our son was born in the NICU - I started crying, met her eyes (I can only assume her kid was the reason they were collecting the donations) and I drove away. What are the odds that they would be collecting for a cause so near to my heart this morning?

I prayed the whole rest of the drive for all of the families in the hospital. Whether it is the NICU, PICU, cancer ward, or main floor - a hospital stay is always unplanned and scary. I prayed that my sweet boy would have a great day at daycare. Turned the radio to KTIS, and the first thing I heard was "do you have a special baby celebrating a birthday today?". I have NEVER called a radio station before, but I had to do it. I was telling him all about Gavin. 5 minutes later, as I drove the same exact route the ambulance took me on one year ago, I was listening to my voice on the radio - sharing about our miracle. 

This year has been one that I will never be able to describe. It has been filled with the highest highs, and some pretty low-lows. Each day we get with our sweet Gavin is a gift. We love him so much, and can't believe that God chose to give him to us. 

I decided to share my last (lengthy) journal portion - it is about his birth. No doubt it is full of emotion, but aside from our wedding day, it is the biggest part of our family story. 

December 15. I hadn't been feeling the greatest all day. Almost like I caught a stomach bug. didn't really feel like eating, but I got some food down. Then more nausea hit. I thought it was the flu for sure! Once I started feeling a little better, contractions started. STRONG. Jason rubbed my back to ease the pain, and they started getting a little better. We watched the Timberwolves play for an hour or so, and around 11:00pm I knew something wasn't right. My heart raced. What was happening? I yelled at Jason “We need to get to the hospital NOW!” While he rushed around getting our things together (bless his heart), I got on the phone with the U of M Delivery team, since we were scheduled to tour down there the following week in prep for our delivery. They recommended that we head to the closest hospital to get checked out. Off we went. Panicked….

When we got there I was greeted by a nurse with less than stellar bedside manner. She hooked me up to a fetal monitor to keep close tabs on our little guy. I was so scared for him. The next hours flew by. They thought I just had a UTI, or was dehydrated, but when the Dr. came in to check on me she said I was 2cm dilated and 60% effaced. I was in labor. NO!!!!!

To stop the contractions, they put me on magnesium, which has been refered to as "devil’s spit". It literally makes your whole body feel like a Red Hot. No amount of ice chips could help me. We were admitted for the rest of the night. They brought me a little fan to cool of my feverish body and replaced my nurse with a nicer, older one. I had hoped to get some sleep, but between the contractions, drugs, and adrenaline, I laid awake - watching my sweet husband sleep on a pull-out couch next to the window. 

December 16, 2012 - Slowly, the morning came and our nurse let us know that the U of M called decided that since I was stable, they would transfer me. They wanted me to be able to be close to our baby, should he be born soon. 
I was transferred via ambulance to the U of M. The ride wasn’t too bad, aside from the bumps. I remember the main EMT asking if my husband drove a silver Chevy. Yep – sure enough he was tailing the ambulance. He even beat us to the birthing room!
I can’t say enough good things about the U of M staff. They are far and away the best medical staff I have ever come in contact with. Our sweet nurse even wrote on our board “Goal for the day: Stay Pregnant”. I liked that plan.
Jason’s parents came to visit us after church, and we watched the Vikings game with them. My contractions were slowing down, but I was still on fire from the magnesium and it was starting to make me nauseous. I tried to shut my eyes since I was going on 24+ hrs without any sleep. That didn’t happen.
We met with Dr. Hess who would be preforming surgery on our baby, if his esophagus was not attached to his stomach. Very nice man, with a calming bedside manner, we knew Gavin would be in good hands if he did need surgery.
The nurses’ shift change happened at 3:30pm. While they were changing, I felt something was wrong. I alerted them, and the nurse-in-training checked me out. She had a look of concern on her face and checked with the nurse in charge. They brought in the Dr., she checked me – said they were going to just step in the hall to discuss the next steps. They came back into the room in 3 seconds (no lie), and said we would be delivering right now.
The rest is a blur. I remember a man coming with a bunch of forms to sign about not suing them if anything happened, a list of risks, and who knows what else. I didn't even read them. I was focused on getting our baby out safe. I was listening to the monitor that tracked his heartbeat, not to the speech they were giving me to prepare for the emergency c-section. The overheads lights passed by as I was pushed into the OR, I parted with my sweet husband, and they began scrubbing me up for the delivery.
You would not believe how calm I was - even I was surprised. I HATE medical procedures. I DREAD the dentist, and needles. But the peace that the Lord gave to me in that OR, was Divine for sure. They gave me my spinal, which I had read about so many times, and was so freaked out about. Nothing. I felt nothing! These guys were amazing! They did all of their tests to ensure I was numb, pulled up the blue curtain, and brought in my love, Jason. I missed him so much in those 10 minutes! It was a quick operation. Within 5 minutes Gavin Lee Dupay was born into this world. He was silent and it took a while for him to cry, but when he did, it was the sweetest sound to his new mama! (We later learned that they had to resuscitate him after birth). He was tiny, weighing in at 4lbs 8oz and 18 ½ inches long. They had Jason go over to “cut” the umbilical cord, even though it was already cut during the operation. Then the nurse brought Gavin over and I got to meet our boy for the first time. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't due to the operation still going on. Our little boy was here! 
My sweet little Gavin.
They took him immediately to the NICU.

Jason was the gopher for the next 2 hours while I sat in recovery. He followed them down to the NICU to see where our sweet boy would live for a while. He ran to the waiting room to update the family that our baby boy was here. Since my parents were still traveling from ND, we had to wait to tell them the name. We wanted them to be present. Especially my dad, since Gavin’s middle name is my dad’s first name.

The recovery room was much less scary than I expected. The nurses were great about making small talk and answering my questions. I do was extremely itchy, which they said was from the spinal. The Dr. said my placenta was very “funky” aka – unhealthy. It had in fact abrupted. Had we been home, we probably would have lost Gavin and my life would have been in danger. The Lord had us in the right place at the right time. No doubt another miracle!

Jason ran back and forth to give me reports on Gavin, and fed me ice chips. After 2 hrs and I could finally move my feet again. After I got the all-clear to leave the recovery room, they wheeled me into the NICU to see Gavin. I remember laying beside him. He was in his tiny hospital bed, I was in mine. I reached over to touch his sweet warm skin. I knew he was mine. I knew he had my heart, but I ached to hold him.

To be honest, I felt robbed. Most mommies get to hold their little ones for the first time right after they are born. I couldn't do that. Most parents get to sleep as a family in their hospital room. Mine was silent, no cries from my baby. He was 1 floor down from my room. That night I didn't really think about all that had just happened, I was delirious from the sleep deprivation. However, try as I might, I didn't sleep that night either. I had this strange feeling that if I fell asleep that I would stop breathing. I had the nurse check my blood pressure like a million times, and my temperature, and my incision. I honestly thought I was going to die. My night nurse was doing everything she could, and even offered me warm milk or tea. So sweet! I tell you the U of M staff is wonderful!

Morning came, and with it – tears. So many tears. Heartache from missing my son. There was one point where I felt a twitch in my stomach and thought he was still in there. He was taken from me so quickly and I was still processing it all. It was like a scary dream, but it was my reality. I was able to get out of bed for a short trip to the bathroom. I had more pain than I expected, but still managed it with ibuprofen. I was able to go down to see my little man that afternoon, but only for a little bit. All of the beeps and machines made me woozy so I had to leave. 
I worried that I wouldn't feel connected to my son. Instead of breast feeding, I was hooked up to a breast pump. Instead of going home with him, I wondered if he would ever make it home. The fear was unbearable. I cried. No, not cried…sobbed. I wanted out. I needed to escape. There wasn’t the escape of sleep, there wasn’t the hope of going home anytime soon. 
I had Jason go down to take pictures of him, because seeing him in person was too much to bear at times. I feel awful saying that, but I have no other way to express the pain I was feeling. I was selfish. I honestly had moments of the deepest, darkest depression that I have ever experienced. At points I wanted my life to end. I wouldn't have made it without my Abba Father, sweet husband and my family. My dad kept reminding me to think about “whatever is true". I kept hearing the “possible” outcomes of my little Gavin’s life. I heard about the surgery that needed to happen that day to repair the gap between his esophagus and stomach, and to detach his trachea from is esophagus. We learned about the risks associated with that. The LONG list of “defects” in my son - VACTERL association. It is a bunch of anomalies that all happen in one person. Not a disorder or a syndrome, just random happenings in one little 4.8 lb body.
The surgery took place that afternoon, and was approximately 3 hrs long. Jason was a wreck, I was just completely exhausted and in pain from surgery. The surgery was a complete success! They were able to attach the esophagus to the stomach in the first surgery. They thought it was a 7cm gap between the two, and that we would have to “grow” the esophagus for 4 months and then have another surgery to repair it. Thankfully the Lord saw that we had enough, and the gap was only 1cm.
For the first time in 3 days, I rested. Our sweet overnight nurse just left a note on my pump that said to buzz her when we woke up, and she would give me my pain meds. When I woke I felt better, but still very dark and depressed. The social worker came to see us and talk about different foundations set up to help NICU parents. Parents in our situation. She talked about post-partum depression. She talked about help. I wanted to scream.
I cried after she left, because it was just too much. She meant well, (and I really do adore her) but it was too much for me to take in after just delivering a baby, having that baby be in the NICU, and having that baby have surgery. TOO MUCH! STOPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!
Day after day, my parents, Jason’s parents, siblings, and other friends came to stay with us. They brought us gifts for Gavin. They made me feel somewhat normal again. I could see it in their eyes, they didn’t know what to do. Who has been in that position before? They hadn’t. Neither had we. We all just did the best we could. We knew that we needed them, and that and their presence brought hope.
Thankfully the depression started to leave, and looking back I don’t know that it was depression. I think it was just plain sadness, mixed with an onslaught of fear, as well as a deep longing to hold my baby.
As the days went on, I was discharged from my room and thankfully we were able to stay in a “boarding room” aka unused hospital room. Night, after night,  Jason and I squeezed our bodies onto a hospital bed. We visited our little boy each day, some days we had good news, others there was more bad than good. We went anyway. At night we would bring a book to read to him. After his surgery he was on a paralytic to keep him still, but we read to him anyway. I think it was more for my own sanity, but I like to believe he could hear me. Being able to do “cares”, such as temperature checks, and diaper changes helped me feel more like a mommy and less like a milk cow. We were even able to swab his mouth with some of the milk.

Every day had its battles. Every day had its tears. But with every day, we moved closer to the home we had prepared for Gavin.

This is where my pregnancy journal ended, and the CaringBridge journal started. 

Looking back my emotions threaten take over, but then I look at our miracle boy. Full of so much love and joy. He is our happiness and we are so blessed to have him. 

Gavin, you are more than just my son. You & daddy are the happy ending to long days at work. You are goofy, expressive, so fun to be around, an inspiration to many, and a MIRACLE. I pray that as the years come, that we are able to show you how much the Lord loves you and cares for you. I could go on and on, but this sums it up - You are the Miracle I prayed for 3 years ago. You see, in the midst of doubts, I cried out to the Lord to show me He was real. Throughout your first year of life, He has shown us that miracles still happen and baby - you are one of them! The Lord used YOU to show me that HE is real.

Love you to the moon and back! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Difference in a Year

Last year this time we were packing our hospital bag to distract ourselves. Little did we know that 2 days later we would be needing it, and a day after that we would deliver our little 4lb 8oz sweet boy.

Gavin mid-December 2012
I remember my first outing after having Gavin like it was yesterday. It was to Target. If you know me at all, it was a very fitting choice, as 1/2 of every paycheck goes there - right Jason?
We searched for items that we felt were necessary for our days in the NICU, but how does one know what they will need? We also went to find a stocking for our babe, hopefully an ornament, and a few Christmas presents. As I shuffled around in my yoga pants and slippers, exhausted from the c-section (quite what a vision I know), I was overwhelmed. Two days before Christmas, in a neighborhood that was unfamiliar, and quite frankly a bit scary...Jason and I looked at each other and knew it was time to call it a day at Target. We headed for checkout, our cart filled with more yoga pants, nursing bras, snacks, MN WILD onesies, and a stocking for our baby.
Gavin mid-December 2013
This stocking looks a little different this year, don't you agree? The Lord has been so faithful to us. Even when years and age have taken my memory, I hope I never forget those days. I pray that I never forget how faithful the Lord has been and will be.

Christmas may look a little different this year, but the heart of it will always remain the same. Christ came, as a baby in humble circumstances - for you and for me. Make time for HIM this season!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One year ago

I have done this once before - here is an un-edited version of my journal that I kept of the "Happenings" during my pregnancy with Gavin. One year ago today, should have left me completely defeated - but thankfully I can look back and see God's faithfulness. I am hoping our story can help someone out there in a similar situation.

33 Weeks – December 11, 2012 We had our 3D ultrasound today with the Perinatal clinic. I can’t describe how cute our little boy is! Just picture the cutest little thing you can, and that’s him! Chubby cheeks, pouty lips, and button nose. 
Gavin at 33 weeks
Along with getting to see our little babe, we got more hard news. He is still not swallowing, and my fluid is now up to 38cm. Explains the HUGENESS that is me! 

When meeting with the Dr., she was having a hard time telling us the news. She said we would not be able to deliver at Maple Grove. I asked if Robbinsdale (not my first choice) would be the hospital, to which she replied “NO, the University of Minnesota Medical Center”. I almost quit breathing…that is a level 4 NICU. That makes things REAL. Scary real. If I am honest, I think I quit listening after that. Thank God for a husband who is able to stay level-headed under stress! She said that they would have a team of 3 Drs., a surgeon, and a bunch of nurses all assigned to us. I do remember her saying that once he is born, that they would want a sample of blood from his umbilical cord to test for Chromosomal abnormalities. MY baby, MINE is going to go through this? How can this be?

We were sent so set up a bunch of ultrasound appointments for the remaining weeks of pregnancy. They need to monitor my fluids as well as keep tabs on small fry. I was Sitting, waiting, wanting to get out in the fresh air so I could breathe again. I lost it. Looking at Jason with fear and hurt in his eyes was enough to send me over the edge. I can’t explain how angry I felt. Not sad, ANGRY. I wanted to throw something, I wanted to scream. How much more can we take? Why is this our future?

Back at home I sat on the couch, sobbing and questioning why God would allow this to happen to us, I was reminded that HE is already there! He is in our future, He has been there for us in the past. HE will not leave us. HE holds the child in my womb tightly in his hands!

My parents happened to be in town for meetings, so they were able to come over and sit with us. We got to show them the picture of their little grandson. They were so strong, upbeat and positive. Even when I could not hold it together, they did. Later that night my 3 wonderful co-workers (Naomi, Emily, and Anna) brought me a care package and hugs. Cambria stopped by with goodies too. What a blessed woman am I?!
The next days were hard, but I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. When I look at my baby’s face, I know that all of this is for him. For his life, I will do anything I can for him. He is part of me and part of Jason. He’s our little miracle!

I just need to say what a great husband I have! Last night (12/13/12), he made me spaghetti, sat me down in our bedroom to help me put away all of my clothes. Next he worked on packing a hospital bag. When we were done with that he got me cookies, sat me down on the couch and we watched TV for a bit. He made me got to bed at 9:30, and forced me to stay in bed. I usually get up in the middle of the night to sleep on the couch. I have to admit, I slept so much better! He is such a wonderful husband. I could not make it through any of this without him by my side. He is my Hero and I love him more than words can say!

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since these events unfolded. Even Jason remembered the date of the perinatal visit. Yesterday he commented on how far we have come since that day. The story of our life could only have been written by the Author and Perfecter of our faith. I wouldn't have been able to do it the way it happened, and strangely I am very thankful for all we went through. Even the EXTREMELY hard days. I would do them all again, because without them my life wouldn't be MINE - and I want THIS life, crazy though it may be.

Monday, December 9, 2013

LifeSong Ministry

It is official - our vision for a NICU ministry has been set in motion. On November 1, 2013, we formed our non-profit organization. We hope to reach many with the love of Christ, and to bring some comfort to families spending days and months in the NICU.

A couple Saturdays ago, Jason's sweet family came to help assemble 55 care packages. They contained items that we found to be helpful (notepads, healthy snacks, water bottles, etc.) when we were in the NICU. No one expects to have a NICU baby, and often essential items are left at home. Among the "helpful" items were the most adorable handmade blankets, smocks, and hats you ever did see! All made by family and friends!

We delivered 46 care packages on the Sunday after they were packaged. I was blessed to walk around with our favorite charge nurse to deliver the packages to each baby. The first nursery we stopped in was Nursery 5. It was Gavin's first home - and I struggled to not break down. So many emotions were held in that room, the ups and downs. Books read to an unconscious baby. The first time holding, feeding, and praying for him. Almost too much to bare. But then I remembered where we are now - and was filled with JOY!

As we made our way around the nurseries, parents with weary faces, much like ours were, smiled back at me. One mom gave me the biggest hug - she had just delivered twins a week before, just starting out on the NICU journey. Others wanted to know if Gavin was "normal" now, and OH I remember those feelings. There was only dreams of a one day healthy baby. Dreams that you feared would never become reality. Thankfully ours did become reality, and I was able to share with them that he is doing well now!

We couldn't have asked for a better first home for Gavin (besides our own of course). Our hearts have so much love for all of the NICU doctors, nurses, and other staff. Thank you to the University of Minnesota for giving Gavin the best possible start to life.

Thanks to so many of our friends, family, and co-workers who donated their time, money, and crafting abilities! Without you it wouldn't have been possible!

Cart full of goodies
For more information on our ministry, visit www.lifesongministry.org

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Life according to the iPhone

Life has gotten away from me - but thankfully my iPhone is never too far away.
Here are a few of the most recent snap shots of life in the house with an almost 1 year old!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


We've all heard the saying "Life is full of surprises", and good ole Forest Gump's "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get".

That is true for us.

My family has scars. Behind those scars is a story. Behind that story is our God who wrote that story.

These are our Scars.

has a giant scar on his shin. He got it when he was younger, jumping off of the dock on the lake behind his childhood home. I have heard his parents tell the and each time I hear it, I see the look of a concerned parent come across his mom and dad's face. A look I see in our own photos this past year.
He has a few cuts on his fingers from a knife that got away from him.
When i look at his hands, I see the stories.

has a number of scars. God-sized miracle scars.
The first one is on his left side, and is about 3 inches in length. It is the first scar that saved his life. It is where the surgeon detached his esophagus from his trachea and then attached his esophagus to his stomach. There are two more very close to that one. They are where the chest tubes were, and draining the fluid after his esophagus surgery. Each time I change him into his cute outfits, I see them.

What a miracle is behind those scars.

His fourth scar is on his head. It is about 2 inches in length. When the wound was fresh it seemed quite large on his little baby head, but it is now covered with his blonde hair. It reminds us each time we see him from behind, that there used to be a bump there. A bump that was causing him no harm, but yet it needed to be removed. We are reminded that God was gracious to us and that there was only fluid in the sac. No brain matter, no arteries.

His fifth (and sixth) final scars are on his lower back. They are where he had his tethered cord repaired. Had it not been fixed he could have lost control of his legs, and it was so tight that it was causing him pain. We consider the sixth par for the course - it is actually bigger than his incision. It was a burn that took place after the surgery - still not certain from what exactly, but it is now a healed scar.

I pray some day that he will count his scars as blessings. And we all know that scars are "tough" - so my boy is the toughest little 10 month old around! Look out ladies. Those scars and unbelievable lashes will get you hooked!

I have my own scars
one on my left knee from when I was a little girl. In second grade I was being chased by my "boy friend" when we were pretending to be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - who didn't do that?! Just me? Ok... Anyway, I fell and still to this day have a rock from the asphalt in my knee.

My other scar I bare with pride. I didn't expect it, as most people don't. Scars are just that - usually unexpected. Some are accidents, some are self-inflicted, others are there for good reasons. This one is on my lower abdomen. A scar that brought my sweet boy into this world. It wasn't what I expected, but without it we wouldn't be here - my boy and me.

Whether your scars are on your heart or on your skin, they are a part of your story. Bare them with pride.