Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Glimpses of Heaven...

Though I usually enjoy writing thank you notes, everything around here has been a little slow going lately. That combined with the fact that us Martins girls are about to be unavailable for a bit, we want to use this post as an expression of thankfulness for recent glimpses of Heaven...
**Friends and family traveling from six to twelve hours to care for us... cooking, cleaning, running errands, and most importantly loving on our girls (and us!) Hightowers, even though you didn't "travel," we so appreciate the fun and special time you made for Hope when we left for the hospital until my parents arrived.
Nana and PopPop

Aunties Brooke and Sarai (We missed you, Marcie, but totally understand and can't wait to see you soon!)

Dear friends, Mrs. Natasha and Mr. Zach

Cousins Julia and James and Aunt Ellen (We missed you, Uncle Russ and Joshua!)
(Not only AMAZING helpers, but quite the hair stylists-- don't you agree?)

**The cards, sweet gifts, phone calls, e-mails, comments... EVERY SINGLE word and thoughtful gesture treasured! Not to mention we haven't had to cook since Maddie arrived (except when we wanted to welcome little Cason, another neighborhood buddy, into the world... looking forward to meeting you!) The food has been out of this world and an extra special thank you to Teresa, amazing organizer extraordinaire, for seeing to most of it and for all the volunteer play dates with Hope (love all the pictures you sent). Wow!

**And finally a little, big thing... I love fresh flowers-- even a picked off the side of the road bunch of wildflowers makes my day. On two particularly hard days we received these-- one from Joe's work and another from our beloved and deeply missed Va. Beach church family. Thank you God for seeing to not only our needs but also to those little, big things that remind us You just know.

Wish we could call you all by name... but until we return, may each of you in whatever way you have blessed our lives be blessed in return a million times over!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moments with Maddie

A whole month already since Madison joined us... so hard to believe. Still she feels so brand new, yet like she's been here with us all along at the same time. We used to have a blast captioning albums through Snapfish each month of Hope's first year, so today we start a mini version of that celebrating Maddie. Each time we'll begin in the "rock rock" (as Hope calls it) so you can help us watch the amazing growth that happens over these first 365 days.

Absolutely no shortage of pink around here

Love the bath, love the spa treatment... but please can we do something about the chill in between?

To nap with Mommy?
Posted by Picasa
Stay awake?
Or nap with Daddy? Tough call, so I choose them all!

My big sister has the market on smooching! (Her first words when they brought me home were, "Maddie! I wuv ew!" Not even kidding... sniffle!)

This goes out to my Uncle Billy and all those other crazy, wonderful UT fans (oh, and can't forget you loyal Vandy friends either--you know who you are... hehe!)

Much, much more to discover... so glad you'll be along for the journey!
ps... The night I posted last I woke up completely drenched-- fever broken! A second doc's appointment today will hopefully bring good news and again we're on the mend. Your thoughts and prayers. AMAZING!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And Now the Rest of the Story...

Fridays are precious days for us. Not only do they mark the beginning of savored weekend time, but they also happen to be the day of choice for our daughters to enter the world. Hope came one happy unsuspecting Friday three weeks prior to her actual due date, and Madison came on another one two long days after hers. And ultimately with two healthy miracles in our lives we couldn’t be more blessed.

But, oh the warfare.

As some may know, my pregnancy with Hope was challenging especially early on. One less happy Friday we found ourselves in the ER as I hemorrhaged for many hours. I remember getting on my knees in the bathroom floor, feeling a battle raging around us, and pleading with the Lord to spare her life. That pregnancy and birth taught us so much about relinquishing control, prayer, and hope itself. Now almost every day her determination and passion for life remind us how it took those things to get Hope here. When we really stop to remember this, we are in awe and so grateful.

Thankfully with Maddie the pregnancy was practically normal in every way. We were shocked at how quickly our appointments went by without scares and extra ultrasounds. Our biggest concern was the best route for our surprise to be delivered, so for that we spent hours in research and prayer. After nine months and two days then came the contractions.

While Joe rushed off to work to wrap up a few final details, Hope offered her moral support with lots of kisses to my tummy. She grinned like there was no tomorrow early on as if she just knew we were bringing home a playmate sometime soon.

Not wanting any chance of my labor stalling out Becki, Cadan, Hope, and I strolled through the neighborhood stopping almost every four minutes so I could rock and breathe. Soon Joe was back home and we continued strolling along until it became too painful to do so. We stayed in constant communication with our doula, but before too long we told her to meet us at the hospital instead of our house. Things were becoming super intense and regular; plus Hope was growing sensitive to the change in the air as she refused to go down for her nap. The Hightowers jumped right in to make her feel comfortable with what was going on which put us at great ease, and we knew it was time for sure to get on the road.

Our doula beat us to the hospital, and we were so happy to see her face upon arrival. Though we could practically feel the nervous excitement in the air, we were at total peace about our decision. It helped that we knew prayers were going up on our behalf already. Our doula, the OB on call, the head nurse, and even the other support staff were incredibly accommodating. Not once did we feel any opposition to the requests we made to help us best achieve our birth plan. Even God ensured as much of a peaceful environment as possible by giving Joe laryngitis! Seriously, he couldn’t talk above a whisper the entire time, which is exactly what he did—whispering words of encouragement and love as if only intended for me to hear. My partner for always. We can't wait to get the pictures from our doula she took during this time.

Now the exact details of our birth plan we don’t really want to share in such a public forum, though we’d gladly do so on a more personal basis. We’ve become really sensitive and hopefully respectful of the way a family chooses to bring their miracle(s) into the world. Let’s just say that almost twelve hours after initial labor began, Joe announced in his loudest whisper, “Katrina, it’s another beautiful girl!!” He cut the cord and shortly thereafter she was placed on my chest, though I couldn’t make her out for the tears. At 6:32 pm on July 18th, all 8 lbs. 15 oz. of her, seemed more than my heart could handle.

Almost immediately I told Joe that I could feel she had a sweet spirit about her; one of the main reasons for choosing the name Madison which means “good hearted.” Even when her shoulders got stuck at the end, resulting in a significant tear for me, we were so grateful to have not ruptured my scar that it seemed like a very small price to pay. Our nurse told us through her tears that she was so thankful to have been a part of this birth; that Christ was so present in our room. Worth every bit of the worry and pain. Every single bit.

About forty-five minutes later I was stitched and we finally had time alone together as a family. The only thing to make it complete would be introducing Hope to her sister the next day. Then would come the joyful time for introducing this little bundle to the rest of her family and friends. Our guard went down. Our minds relaxed. Our hearts overflowed. Then, unfortunately, our doula stepped out to get Joe and his sore throat some much deserved hot tea. Unfortunately, also, the hospital shift changed.

Rather than continue on with each agonizing detail of the aftermath, we will quickly recap the worst parts. Joe sat in a chair with Maddie to hold her for the first time while the nurse tried to help me to the bathroom. Pain is something I can generally handle; getting too hot, feeling claustrophobic, and the like is something my low blood pressure absolutely cannot. After the labor alone and then having lost so much blood I got very sick once I reached the bathroom. The nurse insisted I try to make it quickly back to the bed to lie down since I looked so sickly. Instead of helping me there, she merely placed one hand on my back. Next thing I remember was a cold, hard slap of my face to the floor and the room going black. When I woke up all I remember is my mouth and chin full of blood, nurses scurrying all around, and Joe’s face overcome like I had never seen with a look of horror and shock almost as if he thought I might not ever come to. Later he told me through his tears that seeing my head in a pool of blood on that floor was the worst moment he could have ever imagined. Shock also overtook me as I realized my two front teeth were gone; when my parents walked in to find me this way, my heart further broke from their tears. It took a long time for my blood pressure to stabilize enough to get me back to the bed and later downstairs for a CAT SCAN.

Though Joe and I aim to be people who offer grace to others as much as possible, the incompetence of this reputable hospital did not end there. Several subsequent incidents led to issues which further impaired my health and even some of which affected Maddie’s. A dozen medical specialist appointments the week after giving birth didn’t leave much time for rest and recovery. A cosmetic dentist replaced my teeth, an oral surgeon began the process of removing a piece of chipped tooth from my swollen front lip, and while I fought infection from those areas and my tear I developed a pretty rough case of mastitis and TMJ. Worst of all, the recovery we had hoped for by trying for the birth we did was snatched right out of our hands. Oh, the warfare.

Yet, oh the grace. Feeling overwhelmed on all levels at one particularly low point suddenly God began speaking to us, encouraging us, through others. Specialists outside the hospital gave us great compassion and care. Friends and family continue to send cards, e-mail, call, comment, and pray. Neighbors continue to bring meals and offer help. In fact, we can’t do it justice here. Through eventual thank you notes, calls, and another post later devoted to this subject; we are so thankful. Thankful and overwhelmed at your beautiful generosity. Each and every word and action, even now, continues to give us strength!

We are beginning to get back on our feet as the healing process continues. Especially in the last few days there have been more kisses and hugs and reminders of love around here than normal; we’ve finally had some down time to think on His hand of protection. We appreciate your patience while it’s been difficult for us to share and stay in touch. We look forward to when we are hopefully really on our feet and able to share more regularly.

Until then, here are a few faces to leave you with (thankfully, front teeth all intact even-- well, except Maddie, who has the only legit excuse-- LOL!)

Auntie Brooke, we love the pictures you sent of your time here... not sure we downloaded them correctly? No matter the white, you can see Hope is determined to hold "sister" on her own.

Such motivation to heal as quickly as possible.

Lately there have been a couple of chances for Daddy & Hope dates including Chuck E. Cheese (she talked about "the mouse" for days), park adventures, and here the county fair.
If only we had a scanner you could see that my baby pic next to Maddie's pretty much proves she is ours... cheeks and all!

"Why yes, I am the big sister." :) Hoping to get grins like this from Maddie eventually.
A budding UT fan already... we are so proud. :) Again hope you enjoy these few random snapshots of life... do us a favor and grab those dear to you with extra hugs, kisses, and reminders of love too. As we've been shown, each moment with them is such a gift. Our love to you all!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Finally... Meet Maddie!

Things are slowly but surely really beginning to look up, praise God, and we are so grateful to many of you for your words, your prayers, and so much else. It's quite late tonight, but we want to take a moment and let a little someone finally say a proper hello...

Upon arriving home...

And being loved on by her big sister for the first time there...

Actually none of us could really resist...

First nap in PopPop's crib... "MADDIE!" follwed by kisses, hugs, and a poke or two to her "eyes, mouth, nose" (the list goes on) :)

Warming up after her first bath...

Hope you enjoy these few snapshots from the past weeks. Love and blessings to you all until we can catch up in more detail later!