Thursday, August 4, 2011

causes for joy

We've had a lot to be glad about here. Bernadette turned 2 at the end of July and we had a blast helping her celebrate. Days later Joseph became an officially recognized American citizen and it was with a feeling of relief that we finally took possession of all the documents proving such. We also most joyfully collected Aunt Christine from the Tauranga airport and have spent the last few days happily getting her adjusted to the time, weather and cultural differences. Christine by now has triumphed over jet lag but has nearly succumbed to maria lag. The love and excitement of a 4 year old girl can be an even more exhausting experience than air travel. Christine has come to assist us both in ministry and in caring for our girls during the times when Joseph's health requires more intensive attention. She's already been called into active duty on both fronts. A very enthused girls' group warmly welcomed Christine on Wednesday night immediately on the heels of her first few hours as mother-substitute.

The timing of Christine's arrival was amazingly providential. The medical community is determined to see Joseph climb a little higher than the humble second percentile line of the growth chart. So just this week the powers that be decided to place Joseph on a semi-permanent feeding tube for a few months (or more) because we've failed to persuade the little man of the importance of bottles and prescription formula. Although I have found it possible by God's grace to remain relatively peaceful and stoic for the past few months, the prospect of the feeding tube completely undid me. Therefore I was extra grateful for Christine's timely arrival, which freed Richard to accompany me for this hospital visit - and gave us both complete peace of mind on account of our daughters. We arrived at the hospital last night, bracing ourselves for this horrible next step and filled with many questions we wanted to ask before the tube was inserted. However, the answers to each question only seemed to increase the confused and overwhelmed feelings.
For example, first question:
"Will we be in the hospital one night or two nights?"
"Ten nights."

The longer we conferred, the more confused we became about what was really best for Joseph. We asked to see a lactation consultant because some of my heaviest concerns had to do with Joseph's ability to continue nursing. What an inspired request it was! Karen immediately grasped the heart of our concerns while also being able to understand the medical jargon that was bewildering us. It was almost like having a translator present to mediate between my essentially emotional communication and the hospital's scientific language. It was Karen who was able to broker a deal which satisfied all parties. It still involved a feeding tube, but for a short, limited duration and only for use overnight. My ten days in hospital with Joseph would become ten nights - we'd be able to be home with the girls for most of each day and would simply return to the hospital to sleep.  It wasn't exactly an "awesome" prospect...but Divine Providence wasn't done yet.

There was a pediatric GI specialist from Australia visiting the hospital for three weeks only who was interested in seeing Joseph in the morning. We therefore went home tube-less, planning to return today for this review and for the insertion of the tube. To our surprise, this doctor threw out the feeding tube plan altogether in favor of a much less invasive approach. If it does not work, we may need to reconsider the tube, but at least we will be certain at that point that it is truly necessary - that we have been given a chance to try every other avenue. I nearly floated out of that hospital this morning. I thought I'd be leaving with a plastic tube taped to those happy little cheeks. I thought every picture of that big gummy smile would be marred by the presence of that tube - perhaps there would be teeth in the smile before that tube was removed.

Driving home Richard and I just dwelt in amazement at how many negative medical experiences have just sort of unexpectedly evaporated for Joseph over the past few months. In spite of so many dire expectations and predictions, Joseph and his parents have escaped time and again with relatively minor "hassles" - inconvenienced instead of crucified - splinters in lieu of the cross. We can only attribute it to the mercy of God who has heard the prayers of so many good people. Once again, we are just filled with gratitude towards the Lord and to all those who are praying so generously and so compassionately for our little boy. Please keep praying for him and for us. We are so certain that it is these prayers that have secured the graces, the little miracles, the practical assistance and the many perfect "coincidences" that have marked his path. Joseph's name means "the Lord will enlarge". We chose this name long before we first beheld our unusually tiny baby boy, before we first observed his meagre weight gain, before we ever heard the term "Alagille Syndrome" or imagined that feeding tubes and prescription formula and IV needles and regular hospitalizations would have any part in his first 5 months of life.  But these things were not hidden from the eyes of the God to whom we turned in discerning a name for our child. Before He formed Joseph in the womb, He knew him and had a wonderful plan for him - including giving him a name that is a daily reminder to his parents that the Lord is fully capable of enlarging him. So we are so grateful to all who pray for him and encourage us. Please continue to intercede for Joseph that the Lord would give the promised increase to his body and, even more importantly, that Joseph would in time also prove worthy of the name Pio  -  pious - that he would be always filled with gratitude and love towards the Lord who has loved him so well.


  1. I'm so glad that Karen was able to help you. It does sound like God is working in amazing ways. You and your family are in my prayers.
    I saw Toni Braun today at a World Breastfeeding Week event. That was the first time in a long time that I had seen her.

  2. Good news and God bless! Beautiful photos too. Enjoy the gift of Christine's presence with you and may our Lord continue to fill Joseph with his merciful and enlarging love. Love you!

  3. Great news. Also glad that Christine can help out. We are always praying for you guys. On sat. we put Joseph's name in the prayer basket.

    Aunt Carla & Uncle Phil