Saturday, June 28, 2014

for to you I pray...

"Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray." Psalm 5:2

As Paul is returning to the hospital tonight to take me to visit Jude in the NICU, I received this text from Abi, "I walked into the kitchen and heard Ruby talking in her bed. I listened to find she was actually praying for Jude. Bella was sitting up next to her with her eyes closed. So sweet."  
Cherished moments...there have been so many. Like the eve before Jude's birth when I was working late on some last minute nesting. Each of the "littles" were to only pack one small container of toys to bring to Charlottesville. As I was straightening up John's container, which consisted of Legos and a few unidentifiables, I found an early ultrasound picture of Jude that a sweet boy had faithfully kept next to his bed when praying for his little brother. He remembered to bring it with him here, as if he wasn't quite convinced there would ever be anything more. I'll continue to cherish these moments as we go.
Today was full of the "unexpected."  This morning I answered a call from a daddy crying tears of joy as he stood in the NICU next to another sweet boy who was opening his eyes for the very first time. 
Later, when I arrived in the NICU, I handed Jude's nurse the bird-size collection of colostrum I had retrieved earlier this morning so she could freeze it for later use. She surprised me when she asked me to put .2 ml in each side of Jude's mouth to wet his cheeks and give him a boost. I can't tell you what that meant to a mama who has refrained from even touching her baby due to the agitation it might cause him! His nurse assured me he would like it and I melted with excitement! When I finished, Jude opened his eyes for me for the very first time. Sigh...
Jude had a good day. His meds are being lowered already. One was dropped completely because his left ventricle is already strengthening allowing surgery to possibly be scheduled for next Tuesday or Thursday.  Though he is still under heavy sedation, they did reduce that drug from a 4 back to 3.5. Also, the  oxygen on his ventilator has been reduced from 32% to 21% which indicates his lungs are doing a good job.
Doctors remind us things can change quickly for these little people but the goal is to keep him as stable as possible prior to his operation while he adjusts from being in the womb to being in the world. I still have only a small understanding of these things but the doctors are well pleased with his progress. 
We think it was entirely appropriate when earlier today someone asked, "How is the little warrior?"  Jude's progress is an answer to prayer. As I turn in tonight, I look forward to having some special "one on one" time with each of our other six warriors tomorrow.    ~Jen             

Friday, June 27, 2014

be still and know...

 "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 
The Lord's presence was close. Paul and I arrived at the hospital around 6am and the teams got right to work. Some of our sweet friends had spent the night so our kiddos woke up to a happy breakfast and then met us at the hospital.  
The c-section took a little longer than expected. My heart acted up during the operation earning me a special trip to a different recovery area and an EKG to boot but everything appears to be leveled out for now. 
The OR was packed with doctors but relatively quiet. As Jude was born, the mood became intense. I felt speechless due to the physical issues I was working through. Paul was sitting above me with his hands placed on my head but through all that was transpiring, I realized he was struggling to hold back  a wave of emotions. It seemed like it took a long time to ventilate and prepare Jude. Though Paul met him prior to his NICU transport, I wasn't able to until 2am this morning and that proved tough for this eager mommy.
Paul spent the day making multiple trips back and forth to our apartment, visiting the NICU, and getting acquainted with our little man. He became everyone's chief correspondence resource. My day consisted of attempts to become comfortable since the surgery was a bit more involved than previously expected.
Now, most importantly, our little Jude...He is so incredibly beautiful, and oh, what a treasure! Though he's in critical condition, he appears to be comfortable each time we've visited him today. The doctors are looking to perform surgery next week to correct the diaphragmatic hernia.
There were a few surprises with his heart including a weak left ventricle causing some challenges with low blood pressure, and requiring a cardiology team to become involved. X-rays are showing some portion of a left lung which doctors are pleased to see. His levels are being balanced by a lot of juggling from a well experienced NICU team.

I wish I could be more specific about his current condition but it has taken me all day to get this far. With every sentence, I struggle to keep my eyes open. I'll try to update again as my thoughts become more clear. With about four hours of sleep in the past sixty hours, I'm finding delirium to be setting in. We sincerely appreciate each prayer being offered on behalf of our little boy. Thank you. ~Jen   

Thursday, June 26, 2014

additional prayer requests...

Dear Praying Friends,

Please pray as we are now beginning to learn some additional issues with Jude after an echocardiogram this evening.

1.) PDA ~ blood flow isn't traveling to his lungs because his blood pressure is balanced incorrectly.

2.) ASD ~ hole in his heart between the upper two chambers.

3.) Decreased left ventricular function.

4.) Jude is very agitated as doctors are trying to adjust his medications.

God Bless!
~ Paul & Jen

he is here!

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord." 
1 Samuel 1:27-28

Jude Wellington Olson
"Abundance of Praise"
June 26, 2014
8 pounds, 11.5 ounces
Arrived at 9:09 am


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

his amazing love....

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

The past few days we've enjoyed a children's play at the beautiful Paramount Theater, strolling the Charlottesville Downtown Outdoor Pedestrian Mall, Saturday yard sale treasure hunting, a lovely Italian dinner evening with my honey, a fitting outing with my "sweet" girls savoring delectable pastries at the Paradox Pastry Company, recreational fun time at the neighborhood park, and a Cracker Barrel dinner compliments of Grandma. I even convinced everyone to a trip back to Suffolk for some much needed paperwork. 
Within 20 minutes, everyone was packed in the family van. We found our home in top shape and were warmly greeted by 4 sweet friends. Then we all headed in our own directions to hurriedly accomplish the things we came for in order to pack back in the van and return to Charlottesville before nightfall. Wheeewww!
Now it's the sweet eve before our Jude is to enter into this world so I'm remembering once again the Lord's amazing love. Today I am overwhelmingly thankful for what He has delivered us from and brought us through in recent years and just how he has proved His unconditional love for us. Many days I wondered if ever a sweetness could truly derive from heartache. This past year I have witnessed that it can...oh, it can. It causes me to have a great trust that the Lord is able to do far more exceedingly than what we can imagine. And He does it all by His great love...
I'm certainly far from being a writer, not skilled in grammar or composition but how can I be quieted about His goodness? How can I walk through the valley without proclaiming all He has done for me?  How can I hang my head when He has, over and over, rescued and loved me even when I have least deserved it?  How could I not love others the way He has called me to?  Oh, how thankful I am for His great love!

And now through this present trial, the Lord is allowing us to witness others' love for us...the sweet friends who have busy-ness in their own lives but still plan to be at our bedside as Jude first enters the world, the loving neighbors who are taking care of the details of our home and pets while we're away, the incredible, constant people in our lives that desire to encourage us and uplift us...when grief seems it should be lurking with every step. Those who are fighting with us in prayer by standing on the front lines ready and armed with the weapons of warfare...we thank God for you!  All of those who speak truth into our lives...we thank God for YOU! 
Last night I skimmed a critical blog post someone wrote. I was struck with grief. I cried out for the Lord to help me to love like He loves and to keep me from that common bitterness that entangles many to revile when we should, instead, uplift, and celebrate the victories of others...rejoicing in God's goodness together. 
Just before reading the post, I had come across this beautiful comment quoted by Loretta Angels. "The Pharisees lost the most important aspect of the Law; the intimate aspect of the enormous amount of love God had/has for His chosen people and for those of us who would be grafted into the vine through Christ. That same love was to be spread outward to others so that they would hunger and thirst for Him. There is a balance to all things. Know what the Word says so that you can stand strong when false teachings are introduced." 
So now as I complete my pondering of how the Lord has shown His great love for me, I pray that a portion of that love will indwell in me through the days ahead enabling me with the ability to outwardly love others so that they might hunger and thirst for Him as I have. After all, if it weren't for His great love, not one of us would desire to know Him. ~Jen

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."
 John 13:34


Friday, June 20, 2014

shedding the dross....

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."  2 Corinthians 4:17

We eventually made it to Charlottesville...some sooner than later.  After a "little" move-in, some clean-up, and grocery shopping, we are settled. It was also an extra blessing that Abi arrived with the later shift because she brought about 101 items I had forgotten.
My first morning here rendered some frustration as I attempted downtown appointments and landed nowhere to park the epic family van. It didn't quite squeeze into the parking garage and since I'm not skilled at parallel parking such a monstrosity, I regretfully cancelled and waited for Abi's car to arrive. 
So, yesterday we saw Jude for the last time inside my belly. He was practicing his breathing and appeared very strong passing all of his tests. I'll eagerly hear his heartbeat once more on Monday with the last scheduled NST. I'll cherish that 20 minutes more than I can express.
It was a delight to finally have the crew back together again. Now that we're reunited, I've been made to endure trips to Carter's Mountain, Michie's Tavern, the local park, and farmer's market. No sympathy for the preggo! By being crammed into this tiny apartment, we are quickly discovering how loud we are...hoping our neighbors will extend us much needed grace in this area.
We are pleased with the high risk maternal fetal medicine team we've been connected with. The lady doctor I met with yesterday is the "one" I've been searching for since moving back to VA. She was real, compassionate, and had a mama's heart. She reminded me of the unforgettable midwives I left behind in TX. Oh, those days of easy home-birth were dreamy. (don't look back, Jen)

Paul has been bugging me to allow him to test out his photography skills by snapping some photos of me with Jude in-utero. Last night I surrendered and with some minor substitutions and adjustments, we managed to get a few. It takes 30 seconds to snap each one, patiently waiting for the light to outline my profile. It was fun and I'm sure I'll look back later and be thankful for the memorable pictures. Not often do I pose at 9 months for portraits but it was truly special.
So, here we are in Charlottesville. This family time is already proving precious. I'm certain none of us will  regret deciding to lay down our summer to share this season together with Jude's first moments.  We already miss our church family, comfy beds, outdoor garden, and even the bacon press but we embrace this time with anticipation and joy. We're fully aware it could be a decade before we might possibly begin to understand the lessons the Lord will show us through the coming months, but we choose still to be untied from the dock of our own dross and sail out onto those transforming waves with the Lord gently leading us all of the way.
Thank you all for your continued prayers.  ~Jen


Saturday, June 14, 2014

with gratitude...

"We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.."  1 Thessalonians 1:2

Before chapter 2 begins, we are overflowing with gratefulness for...  

~ the calmness, urgency, and gentleness of the first ultrasound tech who discovered an issue with Jude

~ the dear midwife who called to assure us Jude is in His hands

~ the fetal echocardiogram doctor who kept referring to our baby as a "little person" 

~ the doctor who placed the cold washcloth on my head and ultrasound pictures of our little man in my hand as I began to pass out following the diagnosis

~ the sweet geneticist who was the first to embrace my tears with kindness 

~ the cherished church family who gave us a baby shower to celebrate the created life of Jude despite the uncertainty of breath this side of eternity 

~ the doctors and nurses who have given us their personal phone numbers and direct lines to help us feel more cared for

~ all of our neighbors who have been so eager to help us in any way

~ the fetal diagnostic ladies who loved me so personally twice a week

~ the neonatologist who refused to charge us for the visit

~ that sweet young lady who made us a picture framed artwork of Psalm 139:14 

~ my mother-n-law who came to change and wash the sheets on all of our beds, pack away my maternity clothes, and the sweet kiss she gave Jude upon arriving

~ the saint's countless prayers lifted up to our heavenly father in Jude's behalf

~ our sound and stable church family and friends who have been there to embrace us...they continue to support us with unconditional love and uplifted prayers 

~ our sweet family God has woven together and the devotion times drawing us nearer to one another and ultimately to the Lord

~ Paul's work associates who have sent cards and offered an encouraging word and help along the way

~ Paul's customers who have bestowed grace beyond words

~ the many who are generously helping with expenses for travel and lodging 
~ the eager teams in Norfolk and UVA who have greeted us with care and escorted us to each appointment with kindness  

~ a loving lady who dropped off her crystal for us to sell and put the proceeds towards "the baby fund"

~ all those who are sending encouraging cards, phone calls, and text messages

~ that gal who makes delicious apple pies

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
for you."  1 Thessalonians 5:18


my cup runs over...

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  Psalm 24:4-6
Friday was an equivalent to one chapter closed. It was our final Norfolk trip to fetal medicine for Jude's stress monitoring before we begin our final in-utero week in Charlottesville. I wasn't expecting to feel a heap of emotion, but toward the end of the testing, it began to sneak in.
The two ladies that head up fetal diagnostics are so kind and loving. Though many "moms-to-be" pass through their doors everyday, somehow I always felt like I was the only one. I remember them just the same two years ago when I was carrying Eva Hope. I was scheduled to visit that department several times a week with her even though the situation was entirely different. My only issue then was Polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid)...that and far more this time around.
Upon leaving, we exchanged hugs and I left them with Jude's BlogSpot information. They were eager to follow his progress after birth. Those ladies are special to me. They genuinely cared. They have spoken encouraging words of truth over me during an uncertain time; they are treasures to my heart. I mentioned how I wish I could say I might see them again two years from now but wasn't sure since my time is obviously running conceive more children. Lisa gave me the items to take home that had been used to monitor Jude's progress with each visit. She said I needed all of the "momentos" I could find for this little guy.  I couldn't have known how much that would mean until the drive home.  
The only tears shed thus far were just after Jude's diagnosis and were intentionally, quickly resolved. I had a stern talk with myself to be strong for all of those around me. Not such talk. I'd be alone for 30 minutes on that drive home so I took full advantage.  Finally, the flood of tears...

NO, I haven't lost hope. I've only gained more. Through all of those tears, I realized the deep, indescribable love I have for this unborn child. It's the same love I have for all of my unconditional, overwhelming love. There are no real words to adequately describe how I am blessed beyond measure to know a glimpse of this love seven times cup runs over!
My thoughts I have for this little one then soon gave way to when I first knew that the Lord loves me. Eighteen years ago, in His loving arms, He picked up this broken girl and pulled her out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set her feet upon a rock. Oh, how He loves me, enough to bless me with indescribable gifts, again and again! And so, for that cup that continues to run over, I praise Him! ---with an "abundance of praise!" ~Jen

Monday, June 9, 2014

his faithfulness...

So grateful today for the Lord's faithfulness. We weren't sure what the Lord would have us do regarding leaving for Charlottesville sooner. However, over the weekend He made it possible for us to go next Monday. So that is the new plan and everything is in order!  Praying now that Jude will stay in utero one more week to avoid the additional stress it would cause him to be life-flighted to Charlottesville. ~Jen 

Friday, June 6, 2014

trusting in his goodness...

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28
Jude is doing well today as he passed another non-stress test! Praise!
After my own appointment, I retrieved my purse when the crew stopped to ask when I intended to land in Charlottesville. June 21st is the current plan but with the odd looks and many questions, I quickly grasped that my timing wasn't soon enough. Five days from today was their best assessment of when I should be relocated just in case Jude decides to arrive early. So, needless to say, I felt a bit distressed wondering if we've made the wrong choice about when to set sail.'s all we can do right now. We've booked the apartment and planned accordingly for the 21st so, for now, that is where we are. It has truly been our biggest hurdle thus far to make that decision regarding lodging for our entire family for the time we have and to stretch out Paul's work schedule so he can plan to be with us for at least a month.
The average time these babies spend in the NICU is estimated at a whopping 8-12 weeks because, once they're past the critical stages, it takes just as long to wean them from the high dosages of drugs and then they have to learn to eat. Eating can be especially difficult as their little intestines and organs have been in a twisted mess for all of their life! So..."trusting" what?  Trusting that this is not surprising news for the Lord who holds all things in His hands. I learned long ago that He is either Lord over all or He's not Lord at all. Jude has been created by our Creator and he is certainly in His hands, not ours.  
So thank you again for your continued prayers in the many decisions taking place, the "impossible" planning, the preparing of our minds for the tough realities that lay ahead, and the peaceful transition in moving away for the summer. Thank you also for keeping our sweet boy in your prayers as his big day is drawing nearer. We choose to trust Him in the unknowns, knowing His goodness in all things! ~Jen

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Our little guy is thriving well in the womb. With many ultrasounds and stress tests he continues to show growth. Hope. The doctors are still only seeing one lung and most of the bowel in the upper cavity, so that proves to be a great challenge. I can't help but to think how stressful those first hours and weeks will be for him but grateful for the medical help available even in this bleakness.  

I feel as though I'm planning for a storm, somewhat like a hurricane. Packing, shopping, organizing the best I can so the rest of the crew will carry on despite the void of "regular life"...whatever that is. Just shopping for all of the little things that eight people need over the course of a few months is compelling, to say the least.

Paul is cramming in a ton of work so he might have a little extra flexibility to be with us in Charlottesville. Abi's music students are also understanding. As for the younger crew, one more plus for "the books" to homeschool, I suppose...not to worry with those schedules in the midst, etc. In the meantime, I've packed away all of the newborn outfits that he is sure not to wear. But all of the upper sizes, I left in their places....hope. 
Loved...that is what we all feel the most. The phone calls, prayers, offers to help, and little extras from so many that keep saying, "you are loved." Good friends, sound and stable, sensible, firmly, what a means so much. We have hope.  

Sound messages on BBN and at church are so uplifting. What a privileged people we are to be able to be ministered to without persecution. How much we take that for granted in our everyday, (& sadly) complacent lives.  
For now, all is calm. The children don't know life from the cheerful norm and Jude is here, so fully here...moving joyfully in my tummy.  Sweet, sweet hope for tomorrow...  ~Jen