Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Since the birth of baby Anna on December 3rd (6 weeks early) or lives have been extremely busy.
For those of you that don't already know, I went into labor with Anna early in the morning on December 3rd and she was born via c-section at 10:27 am. Anna weighed 5lbs 9oz and was 19 inches long. Since she was 6 weeks early she ended up spending 13 days in the NICU on C-PAP for several days then she was switched to a nasal cannula before she was weaned completely off. We are proud to report that we now have a healthy 6 month old baby girl (and you wouldn't even know she was premature if I hadn't told you). The last time she was at the doctor (about an month ago) she weighed around 19 lbs. She has her 6 month appointment coming up next week so we will she how much she has grown. She is already rolling over and trying to crawl. She was 4 months old when she got her two bottom teeth, but she hasn't gotten any since then. She is beautiful and absolutely a perfect gift from God!
Nathan is currently a happy, healthy two year old toddler. His vocabulary has developed greatly over the past couple of months. He can, for the most part, tell you what he wants instead of you having to guess. He is still having to go to the Oncology Clinic every 3 months for a routine check up. He had his last scan and check up in May. We got the results and his scans were clear and his AFP (tumor marker) was 0.5 (if you remember, this was the number that was 150,000+ at diagnosis). Nathan absolutely adores his little sister and is very protective of her and he has been since we brought her home. He really doesn't show much jealousy. He also adores his big brother, he thinks that Caleb is great and he misses him when he isn't home.
Caleb just finished 2nd grade and will be starting 3rd in August. It is so hard to believe that is possible though. He did really well in 2nd grade and I am sure that he will do great in 3rd grade as well. We are still having to treat his left eye because his left eye is a "lazy eye". He has to wear a patch 4 hours each day to force his left eye to work. Even with his glasses he only has 20/30 in his left eye. He goes back to the specialist on Thursday to see if the patch is working and I will try to update then to let everyone know what they told us. Caleb is currently spending the better part of the summer with his dad since he doesn't see him very often throughout the school year. Caleb played soccer and North River Soccer Association last fall and again this spring. He really enjoyed it and his team this spring did awesome. I am pretty sure that he will want to play again this coming fall and I honestly prefer soccer over football.
Matt & I are still working at Unum and we are very blessed to have these awesome jobs. It is sometimes difficult to work a full time job and have three kids, but we both manage to do it and still spend time with all three kids. Anna sleeping through the night (most nights) helps make it easier as well. I have actually met a couple of other people that work at Unum who have children that are patients of the Chattanooga Oncology clinic.
Our family recently started attending a church in Hixson, The Gathering Chattanooga. This is an awesome church and we are happy to be there. We have met some incredible people there and I look forward to the friendships that we are going to build within the church.
I am sure that there is a lot more about our lives that I could update you on, but this could turn into a book instead of a blog. LOL I do want to update you on our vacation last week though.
Last week we were blessed to be able to attend a retreat in Seagrove, FL with the Lighthouse Family Retreat (www.lighthousefamilyretreat.org). This was similar to the vacation that we went on last year, the same week actually. The Lighthouse Family Retreat is an organization that sends children with cancer and their families to the beach for a week. It is a great time for the families to reconnect and spend time as a family.
A couple of weeks ago I started praying that God would provide a way for Matt and I to go down later this year or next year to volunteer. We would have needed someone to keep our children since Nathan and Anna aren't old enough to volunteer. We also weren't sure how we were going to pay for the expense of volunteering, but we knew that God would provide. Little did we know that God had other plans for us though. We received an email from someone at the Lighthouse Saturday, the 29th, asking us if we could leave on Monday, the 31st, for the retreat as one of the families. We knew that God had a purpose for us to attend the retreat as a family and the particular week we went.
We arrived in Seagrove, FL Monday (Memorial Day) afternoon. We met some amazing people! We had a very special family that spent the week playing with our children and ministering to us and we hope to remain close to them. We also enjoyed a wonderful week with five other families, one of which we attended the retreat with last year. Tuesday the moms were treated a Salon Twist to makeup, a massage and a hair cut, which a great treat that was. Then, that evening the parents were treated to dinner at Pizza By the Sea in Watercolor while the kids had pizza and ice cream then watched a movie outside. Wednesday was our game day which was a lot of fun. Thursday was the kids talent show and I have an awesome video of Anna performing (if you are friends with me on Facebook you can see it). Friday a photographer came out and took our pictures overlooking the beach and I can not wait to see those. We have made many new friends and I am sure that some of them will be lifelong friends.
Thank you all for your prayers and please continue to pray for the families that are going through childhood cancer.
God bless you all,
Matt, April, Caleb, Nathan & Anna
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13