I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

3 Months Old!!!

Carter is growing so fast and doing really well. The last three months have been busy to say the least. We went to Johns Hopkins in November to meet with the best urologist in the world for Carter's condition. Dr. John Gearhart is  a true prayer answered. Not only is he the best in the world he is down to earth, friendly and very humble. This really lowered the high level of anxiety both Brandon and I were feeling.   

This trip to Johns Hopkins was for an evaluation of Carter. He was put to sleep and a thorough evaluation was performed. Carter did great. We stayed overnight just to make sure Carter did ok with the anathesia. Staying overnight really gave Brandon and I an insight of what was ahead of us. We got to meet most of the wonderful nurses that will be taking care of Carter. Due to a wonderful family we met, Brandon got to view The Children's Home. A home we will be staying in while Carter is having his surgeries. It will be nice to have since all of the hospital rooms are semi-private. 
Carter will have many surgeries in the future. The "BIG" surgery as we call it, will consist of putting Carters bladder inside his body and "setting" his hips. Setting his hips will consist of breaking them and using a metal plate to curve his hips. He will also have rods placed into his bones to hold them in place. Right now Carter's hips are splayed open like a book. This is a very intense surgery and can last 14-24 hours. Carter will be in traction, bed bound on his back,  for atleast 6 weeks and we will be in Baltimore for approximately 2-3 months. It was very overwhelming to hear all of this. Although now I know this is the best thing for Carter and he will be in the best place possible. 

In six months we will be going back to Johns Hopkins for x-rays to see if Carters bones are strong enough for the osteotomies. If his bones are strong enough we will schedule his "big" surgery and if not we will go back every couple of months until they are strong enough. Carter is also scheduled for a MRI of his spine in February. The MRI will show what form of spina bifida Carter has. We are hoping to have Carters spinal surgery completed before our next trip to Johns Hopkins in May. The spinal surgery will be here in Jackson at the Blair E. Batson Childrens Hospital.     

Carter is a true blessing from God. He is a very happy baby. Even while not feeling good after his evaluation he managed to "flirt" with his nurses. He batted his eyes and smiled at all of them. I think the pictures above really show Carters personality.

Everything on earth belongs to him

Wow! God is good. As I sit and look at my beautiful little boy I think about all of the times Brandon and I were told how awful his birth defects would be, how we should have an abortion and how many months Carter would stay in the hospital. All I can do is smile and give glory to God that the Dr's were wrong. Yes, Carter still has a long road ahead of him but it is nothing like we were anticipating.

    I will never forget sitting in one of the surgeon's offices discussing Carter's case and asking him how long our first stay in the hospital would be. His response was think in months not weeks and you will be doing good to have him home by Christmas. Look at us now! Only four weeks in NICU and we are home. Although, we will soon be going back for more surgeries we have him home! Here we enjoy every minute he is with us. Yes, he is spoiled! He has his Daddy and I wrapped around his little finger.   

This 4lb. little boy has taught me more than I could ever imagine. As soon as my faith starts to fall weak I look at my beautiful gift from God and I am reminded of his love for me. I could not imagine giving up Carter for someone else. What a strong love God has for us!

    I am so blessed God chose me to be Carters mom. The love I feel for Carter is truly like no other. I pray everyday for health and strength for Carter to fight through another day. I have to say as much as I want Carter to be healthy and as hard as all of this is I would never trade Carter for a healthy baby. God's plan is so perfect and I know Carter was given OEIS for a reason. God has big plans for Carter and I am truly thankful he was placed into my life.
The plan right now is for Carter to grow and get stronger. We go to the Doctor weekly, sometimes twice a week and are preparing for our trip to Johns Hopkins in December.

Week Four

    The Clines have made it home. September 17, Carter was discharged from the hospital. What a glorious day it was. We have been so blessed and excited to have him home.
    The ride home was a very cool experience. With Carter in his new carseat we headed south across the Mighty Pearl River to Rankin County. A white knuckle grip and my hands in the ten and two position we safely made it home. The sweat rolling off my brow, from nervousness and heat, couldn't hide the excitement that I had as I carried that little man inside. Meagan and I were just beginning the new phase of being parents.
    Carter has his days and nights mixed up. He sleeps all day and wants to be entertained all night. This is not cool! You see, Meagan and I are more of the in bed by 9 kind of folks. You can forget that says the new man in charge at the Cline house.
    Caring for Carter has been much easier at home. No cords, no buzzing or beeping monitors, and no pint sized isolettes for clumsy hands to make big messes in. Meagan has been amazing with taking care of Carter and she is doing a great job of teaching me. I tell her everyday, "thank you for being my little boy's mama." I am blessed to have them both, truly gifts from our Awesome God.
     We are enjoying having our little man home. Making the most of our time before any more surgeries and hospital stays is our goal for now.
     Also, we also want to thank everyone that has our family on a prayer list, prayed for us, brought us supper, gifts, the nurses and doctors at UMHC who took care of Carter, and of course friends and family! It is a miracle from God that we are where we are at right now and y'all have been a huge part of this team God has assembled for our lives. It is as simple as this... God is good! All the glory and praise to Our Father in Heaven. We wouldn't be here without Him.

Week Three

    Week three has been a tough one. Carter picked up an infection coming out of his first Holiday weekend. I believe the celebration from the Tennessee victory was just too much for him. Tuesday everyone noticed a change in him. High temps, inactivity, and a loss of appetite let us know something was not right. Labs were drawn and all indications pointed to an infection. His levels peaked at 11 and have since made it back down to 5.4 as of Sunday morning(9/12). Note: the higher the level the more severe the infection.

     This week has been the toughest by far. Bedrest was nothing compared to the nonstop pace we keep now. Very little time passes that Meagan and I are not at the hospital. I suppose we have a routine, but a very unorthodox routine. We know Carter is in the best possible place at this time, but we are so ready to have him at home. God's perfect plan in His perfect time! We are blessed to be apart of the plan for this little boy, Carter.

    God continues to bless us everyday. We have seen the works of prayer and have been praying for other families and their babies everynight. I ask everyone to remember these families and us as you pray tonight. Ask for peace, healing, and strength for our families.

    "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." Romans 8:28

Week Two

Week Two

    God's blessings and an infinite number of prayers continue to rain on our family. Many family and friends have pulled together, prayed for all three of us, encouraged us, and been there for us again this week. It is wonderful to see God's people at work.
    Carter has had another great week! His colostomy started working earlier in the week and we were able to begin feedings. This is another answered prayer. It was very important that Carter's colostomy work so that he could eat. Eating is a key to nutrition and growth for all babies. However, not only did all these things fall in place, but Carter is feeding by bottle. His feedings have increased from 2cc's to 20cc's in only a few days. God is awesome!
     A trip to Baltimore is in our future. Carter's urologist consulted this week about going to Johns Hopkins for the orthopedic surgery(hips), placing the bladder inside, and urological reconstruction. We were referred to Johns Hopkins as a result of: 1) the severity of Carter's condition 2) Johns Hopkins experience with this condition and 3) Carter's doctors wanting the best for him. We thank God for doctors who want the best for our son and look forward to carrying our blessing, Carter, north for others to see!
     An update on Carter's spinal condition. It is still uncertain what exactly the diagnosis will be. It is, however, a form of spina bifida. This will still, more than likely, require an operation. The neurologist want to see him in 6 months and take a closer look. As of now there is no immediate danger to Carter. We praise the Lord for this also as we were fully prepared for a much worse scenario. God has heard and answered many prayers.
    We thank everyone who has said a kind or encouraging word, brought us food, gave us gifts, prayed for us, and followed our blog. We have been blessed beyond what we deserve. Please continue to pray for our son. He is just beginning this process in which his Mama correctly named "Carter's Journey." God bless y'all and to God goes all the glory. "Apart from Me you can do nothing" John 15:5.

One Week

A week has passed since Meagan and I finally got to see and touch the little boy that has changed our lives. We have been so blessed to have so many positive things happen since the arrival of Carter.
God is working in and through Carter everyday. His first surgery, Tuesday (8/24) was a success. The omphalocele was repaired and a colostomy was made. His bladder halves were approximated and put together. The surgeons had told us, many weeks ago, that any extra tissue would be important for reconstructive purposes. Things like the appendix could be used as such. Knowing this, it was great news to hear that God has blessed Carter with two appendices! Now we are awaiting signs of the colostomy properly functioning so we may begin feedings. We are truly blessed to be where we are and we owe all the Glory to God!
One of the biggest discoveries we have made as parents is that Carter recognizes our voices. He doesn't jump up and down but his eyes move back and forth looking for us. He reacts more to his Mama's voice, but tonight (8/27) he wanted his Daddy! The nurses got my attention and said he was moving every time I spoke. So, I talked to him for nearly 30 minutes before it was Mama time again! Daddy was super proud!
We thank You God for our little boy! It is so hard to leave him because he is all we think about! However, we know that is in Your hands. Watch him, heal him and protect. We know all things are possible through You. Amen!

BC 8/27/2010

Brandon Carter Cline is Here!

Brandon Carter Cline, Carter to all of his family and friends, entered the world at 9:29 a.m. August 20th, 2010. As the proud Daddy, his Mama and I are excited beyond all explanation.
Yesterday Meagan and I attended our 2nd of two weekly appointments. Her blood pressure was high and Dr. Gray was ready to deliver. Meagan was admitted to the Labor and Delivery floor and we waited for showtime. This morning, August 20th, we got the word at about 8 a.m. and suited up for the arrival of our precious little boy.
It seemed like an eternity but before long we heard the cry of our son. He looked great. Meagan and I saw God in our little boy. He is a miracle.
I am a proud father and I have to admit to I was a nervous wreck. It's a character flaw because I know God is in control.
Update on Meagan and Carter. Meagan is doing great and recovering in the Labor and Delivery. Carter looks great. His O.E.I.S. complex is in about the best possible condition it can be in. Everything appears to be very operable. His spinal defect is looking less and less like the original monster it appeared to be. Carter is kicking his legs and moving his toes. He weighs in at a whopping 3lbs and 3oz. Stay tuned for more updates.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope...

Wow! How time flies! I am now 32 weeks and have been on bedrest almost six weeks. I still go to the Dr. every 3 days. We have had a few scares with another stay in the hospital for a kidney stone, Carter not doing his practice breathing and my fluid getting a little low. However, overall Carter has looked great. Our goal was to get to 30 weeks and we are now past that. Everyday now is a true blessing. We are going to continue to take it day by day and get Carter as far along as possible.

Carter has a lot of hair!!!:)

In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind..

On this day I had to go back to the Dr. for my bi- weekly ultrasound of Carter. Everything looked great except for his breathing. Carter should practice breathe for at least 30 seconds. The longest they could get him to breathe was 18 seconds. They hooked me up to a monitor to watch Carter and make sure he was not geting stressed. The monitor showed no signs of this. After almost 3 hours the Dr. decided to let us go home and told us to return in the morning. With our "just in case" bags already packed we returned to the high risk clinic at UMC the next morning for another ultrasound. He did it! The nurses first try to watch his breathing he did it. He actually did it for 45 seconds this time. The nurse with a smile on her face said, he's just showing off now. I laughed with a sigh of relief. Relief knowing that if he did not do breathe for 30 seconds there was a chance of them taking him. Everything looked great except for my fluid. It was a little low. They measured it at 6, anything under 5 they normally deliver. They are going to continue to monitor this closely for now. We are just taking it day by day right now, trying to get Carter as far along as we can.

When I feel like I can't go on you deliver me. When the road is winding and way too long, you deliver me. You deliver me...

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.

I went to the Dr. this past Thursday and my blood pressure was high again. So of course I got put back into the hospital. This time they placed us into labor and delivery. They hooked Carter up to a monitor,started taking my blood pressure every 15 minutes and gave me some fluids. My blood pressure looked great until I got out of bed. Everytime I sat up or got up to go to the bathroom it would shoot up. About 10 o'clock Carter decided to start "showing out". All of the sudden a few nurses came running into the room. Carter had dropped his heart rate, he brought it back up by himself this time. The nurses notified the Dr. and they decided to continue to monitor him just as they already were. I started to calm down and relax and Carter did it again. This time the nurses had to stimulate my stomach for Carter to bring his heart rate back up. The Dr. decided this time they would do an ultrasound just to make sure everything was ok. The ultrasound looked great! Carter did great the rest of the night and they decided maybe it was just his age. I got no sleep this night! The next morning they decided to do a detailed ultrasound that again looked great. They moved me to another room, out of labor and delivery and started me on blood pressure medicine. They also diagnosed me with gestational diabetes. I got to go home after two nights and I go see Carter's Dr. every Monday and Thursday and my Dr. every Thursday. I take my blood pressure twice a day, my blood sugar four times a day and do fetal movement tests four times a day. It has been a very busy bedrest!

Birthday and bedrest...

Everything was going great until this week. I started cramping on Wednesday and it got worse by Thursday. I went to the emergency room at UMC, my blood pressure was 165/101. They had a lot of trouble geting it to go down, although Carter looked great! They put him on a monitor for about five hours just to make sure he was ok. I got admitted into the hospital and had to stay two nights. They gave me betamethasone which would help Carter's lungs develop. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and put on bedrest. Right now we are taking it day by day and praying I will make it to 30 weeks. I have 3 weeks to go.

I will praise the one who has chosen me to carry you...

On this day Brandon and I had a lot of appointments. First we had an echo of our babies heart. The baby was sucking his thumb, kicking, waving and moving all around. It was so cute! The cardiologist that performed the echo was very thorough and explained everything. The heart looked excellent. It was perfect so much so she told us she would not need to see us again until after the baby was born. We were relieved but still anxious about the amniocentesis results we would recieve later. Our next appointment was with the specialist in ADU for another ultrasound. We arrived to ADU and got into the exam room when the nurse looked at the Dr. and said you know they dont know these results yet. With the amniocentesis results in her hand she said, Oh they dont know yet? My heart sank. I thought something must be wrong. The Dr. looked at us and said well the karyotype was normal. With a bit of shock I asked if this meant we had no down syndrome or trisomy of any kind?? She said that is correct, it is normal. I was so relieved. This was the best news since finding out we were pregnant. I then asked do you know the sex? She said XY! Its a boy! We were thrilled. I had said it was a boy the entire time. Brandon teared up...well we both did. We were just so relieved the amniocentesis results were normal. God is so good! We then had the ultrasound that showed no significant changes. Next we met with the surgeons and they answered a million of our questions. It was an amazing day. Once in the car we told everyone we knew we were having a beautiful baby boy. His name is Brandon Carter Cline. God is so good!

OEIS complex

O.E.I.S. complex is a very rare and serious condition with multiple birth defects. The omphalocele is first. This is a small bubble like protrusion out of the umbilicus. Our babies omphalocele is not too large and consists of small intestines, liver and part of the bowel. The omphalocele will be operated on not long after birth. Exstrophy of the bladder is next. This means the bladder is on the outside of the body and split into two halves. Carter will have this operated on between 6-12 months of age. Imperforated anus is next, this means Carter's bowels do not go all the way to his anus and he will require an ostomy. This is where they pull part of the bowel through the abdominal wall and make a drainage bag for stool. Carter may be able to have this reversed as he gets older. This depends on the length of the colon, being able to pass solid stool and having sensation in the lower region of his body. The spinal defect is next. It is the most serious part of OEIS complex. Carter has whats known as a myelomeningocele. This is the most severe form of spina bifida. It will require immediate surgery after birth and must be fixed before any other birth defects. A myelomeningocele can cause parapalegia, mental retardation and may lead to shunt placement in the brain. We pray everyday these things will not happen but know they are a possibility. Carter is doing really good right now. He has already started his practice breathing and is very active.

From the fullness of grace we have recieved one blessing after another...

On this day Brandon and I had to meet with the director of pediatric surgery at UMC and we had a MRI. On this day I got up and said a big prayer. This was the first bit of piece I had felt since hearing the news about our precious child the week prior. We first had the MRI. The MRI machine was a tight squeeze and it took over an hour. Upon completion of the MRI our coordinator met us and took us to meet with the director of surgery and another pediatric surgeon. The surgeons started by explaining the condition our child had, exactly how the specialist had done the week prior. They explained cloacal exstrophy to us and then told us wonderful news. The surgeons were both relatively new to UMC. One came from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the other John Hopkins. They both had operated on a baby with cloacal exstrophy. I was hesitant at first thinking my child would be "practice" for them. I looked at both surgeons and said "you feel 100% confident you can perfom this surgery for the best well being and quality of life for my child?" and without hesitation they both said YES! I was relieved, this meant we would have the surgery done at UMC. After talking with them for a while Brandon and I found out that one of the surgeons had performed the surgery over 77 times. This is a lot because it is so rare. The other surgeon had also performed the surgery just not as many times. This was wonderful news, we would not have to go out of state to deliver. I knew right then that Brandon and I moving to Mississippi and the surgeons recently coming to UMC was all part of Gods plan. It's amazing how things work out. We were still waiting on our amniocentesis results to make sure our baby did not have trisomy 13 or 18, which is incompatible with life. This pregnancy has been a precious gift from God and I cherish it everyday.

Our five year anniversary....

I honestly can say I never imagined hearing this news on my five year anniversary. Brandon and I woke up and got ready for our ultrasound with the specialist at UMC. On the drive to UMC we prayed. We prayed hard! We arrived to ADU (the high risk clinic at umc) for the ultrasound with the specialist. The specialist comes into the room and immediately sees the omphalocele. He was able to tell that the omphalocele consisted of small intestines, part of the liver and the ilium which is connected to the small bowel. The omphalocele is a balloon like feature that comes out of the "belly button" area. He also noticed something very unusual about our babies omphalocele. It looked like an elephant trunk sticking out of the side. This was the ilium sticking out of the side of the omphalocele. This is known as "elephant trunk" syndrome and is extremly rare. So rare that the specialist had been at umc for 25 years and had only scene it two times prior. The specialist then began to look for the bladder and could not find one. The Dr. knew exactly what our baby had. It was cloacal exstrophy also known as OEIS complex. OEIS complex is an extremly rare disorder. It occurs in 400-500,000 births. With my heart in my stomach the Dr. began to tell us how it had never been operated on in the state of Mississippi. He immediately called John Hopkins and the Childrens Hospital of Pennsylvania to inform them of his findings. I felt like everything I had just found out about my beautiful child was a dream and I would soon snap out of it. I still had to have an amniocentesis(they stick a needle through your abdominal wall into your uterus to draw out a small amount of amniotic fluid) on this day to determine if there were any other chromosomal or genetic disorders. To my suprise they use no numbing medications!! OUCH!!! One of the best things that happen to us on this day, well by far the best! We got to meet the coordinator of our care. She has been an absolute blessing. She schedules all of our appointments, calls just to check on us and makes sure that all of our questions and needs are met. God knew exactly what he was doing when he put her on our case. I could not do it witout her! After we met with her it was time to go home. I remember leaving the hospital devestated. It was one of the first times in my life that all I could do was rely on God. It was the most helpless feeling knowing that something was wrong with my child and there was nothing I could do about it. Brandon and I went home and prayed and prayed and prayed. We put everything in Gods hands and handed it all over to him....

We are having a.....

When I was 18 weeks and 2 days we went to find out what the sex of our beautiful baby was. We got to the Dr' s office and the nurse came into the room to start the ultrasound. She started at the head, it looked great. She continued to go down our babies body. Next was the heart and it looked perfect, in the mean time our child was waving at us. We were so happy eveverything was looking good. A healthy baby. Next was the abdomen. When the nurse started to look she got really quiet. I questioned if something was wrong but she said no I just can't see good with this equipment. She then asked for us to go to another room with better equipment. We got into the room and I started to realize something was wrong. Brandon then asked the nurse if something was wrong and she said, "well i'm not sure." I started to panic. The nurse yelled out the door for the Dr. to come into the room. The Dr. immediately looked and told us our precious baby had an omphalocele( some of its intestines and organs were outside the abdominal wall). The first thing I said was it can be fixed! While the Dr. continued to look at my sweet baby it hit me. My child was not healthy. I started to cry. With Brandon right by my side I brought myself back together. The Dr. was still seemed like forever. The Dr. was not sure if he saw a bladder, so he refered us to a specialist at umc. We got right in with an appointment the next morning. At this point all we could do was pray and hand our child over to God.

14 weeks and 4 days

I was barely starting my second trimester and I felt the baby move for the first time. It was so exciting!!! I was at work abd drank a coke with my breakfast. I started back to work and I sneezed. I felt a light flutter in my stomach. I immediately grabbed my stomach and I could feel a flutter. It was amazing. I called Brandon, he was so excited. This made it a little more real. I already loved this baby so much and I was only 14 weeks. Pregnancy is such a blessing!!

The first trimester

The first trimester flew by. We got to hear the heartbeat for the first time on Feb.17th. Wow! This was an amazing experience. My Dr. told me about a study the hospital was doing to check for down syndrome. I decided to participate, besides you get to see your baby a lot and get a lot of pictures. I went for the ultrasound for the first part of the study and everything looked great. No down syndrome, just a beautiful baby. Everything this trimester went great! We had a healthy beautiful baby. Brandon and I were so excited and blessed!!!

We prayed for this child and the Lord has granted us what we asked of him...

This was a day that would change my life forever! I went to the Dr. with no intentions of finding out I was pregnant. I had actually been told that getting pregnant was nearly impossible for me. Brandon and I decided to give clomid a try just to see what would happen, besides it normally takes a few rounds. To our suprise our first round worked!! Brandon and I were going to be blessed with a little bundle of joy. I had went to the Dr. by myself on this day, because I had no expectations of being pregnant. I rushed out of the Dr's office trying to think of a special way to tell Brandon. I didnt have much time so I rushed into Walgreens grabbing a pacifier and giftbag. I had barely gotten home when brandon arrived. I told him that I had gotten him a suprise and i needed for him to sit down and cover his eyes. Brandon sat patiently with his eyes closed while I grabbed the giftbag. I sat it in his lap and told him to open his eyes. When Brandon opened his eyes he immediately started to sweat and tear up. He then sat for a minute with a blank stare trying to comprehend what was going on. I looked at him and said yes...we're pregnant! His face gleamed with excitement. We hugged and cried for a minute and then called everyone we could think to tell. We were so excited!!!