It’s been three years since I last blogged about our family and in that time our sweet Zeb is now on his third birthday. To catch up, I’m going to start back at his birth and tell the story of just him. At a later time I may go back and add in details from […]

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It’s been three years since I last blogged about our family and in that time our sweet Zeb is now on his third birthday. To catch up, I’m going to start back at his birth and tell the story of just him. At a later time I may go back and add in details from the rest of those missing years, but not today.

Recap: we had been on hold with an adoption from Ethiopia for 11 months due to the adoption of Abijah.

meeting and holding Abijah for the first time

meeting and holding Abijah for the first time

We struggled for a while with the decision on whether to continue with Ethiopia after Abijah for many reasons, but ultimately felt that despite our concerns, we had not received word from God yet that that door was closed. We began the process of preparing our home and updating our adoption paperwork because we knew that once we came off hold we could literally receive a call any day since we were so far into the process. We were in our final steps of the process and our social worker was at our house finishing up our paperwork. At the end of the meeting, she told us that she had a mother who was due in two weeks and all 10 of her current families had told her “no” to this baby. She asked us to prayerfully consider this boy since she was out of options for placement for him. I immediately said, “yes, he’s ours!” Warren still says that while he too would have said “yes”, he would have at least like me to look at him or at least ask his opinion first 🙂

At this point, we put Ethiopia on hold…again, and began preparing for this little boy who would arrive in less than two weeks. We were given all the information on Zeb’s bio family that we were allowed to receive, and felt vast amounts of peace with the many unknowns, beginning the mental process of bonding with a baby who had yet to arrive.

Just before he was born, Warren and I took a trip with Abijah to Dollywood. We spent so much one-on-one time with him, made memories staying in a hotel, and just really enjoyed what would be his last few days as an only child.

When we got home, butterflies began to kick in: all the “what if” questions began to weigh heavy, and the reality of our decision was setting in. Still no regrets – just a hard concept to wrap around when you don’t have several months of them growing in your belly or even a countdown to referral/arrival since we only had less than two weeks.

The morning of his birth (a scheduled c-section), we arrived at the hospital and eagerly waited. Once the c-section was underway, the hospital social worker came to get us and gave us the rundown on what would happen once he was born, gave us a tour, and told us to continue to wait in the waiting room until he was born and ready to meet us. Then we would be assigned a room, and we – as his parents – would stay with him in the hospital.

We waited and waited and waited. I had a gut feeling that something was off, but I didn’t realize how bad it was until the hospital social worker reappeared looking grim. She told us that he aspirated meconium and was very sick. She told us that they were working on him, and that they would come get us when he was stable in the NICU.

A short time later she came to get us and we were standing in the hallway as they were walking him over to NICU. They placed him in my arms, and I got to hold him for a few minutes while they gave us part of the details of what occurs. I did not know at the time that his latest APGAR was only a 1! A final APGAR of 1 – and they were leisurely walking him to NICU and stopped to let us meet him!!!!

holding Zeb for the 1st time

Looking back, I’m absolutely livid at many of the decisions made that day and his lack of care. I can’t – and won’t – go into all of the medical neglect that occurred prior to him being transferred to UK on this blog.

After they took Zeb away, I began to lose it in the hallway. In the instant that I saw him and held him, he was 100% my boy. It was no different than if I had given birth, the connection was that intense! A few moments later I noticed that both the hospital social worker and our adoption social worker both came to stand in front of Warren and me as if to block our view. It was because they were wheeling the birth mother down the hall and, as per her wishes, she did not want to see us at that time.

In the NICU they tried giving him oxygen, formula, and a few other things but nothing was working.

There are many Big, “ah ha, that was God” moments in our stories of how our children came into our family, and the next big one for us was a special nurse in the NICU that day. She had been my Bible study leader for a while. When she noticed me standing at the window staring at my baby crying, she came to me. I quickly filled her in on how the adoption was going and she filled me in on just how sick he really was: much more than we had been led to believe. She stood with us in that hallway and prayed for us and our sweet boy. It was very quick after she walked back in that we were informed that they were going to transfer him to the UK children’s hospital for more intensive care. I am convinced that the prayers of this woman and her desire to help this child is a big reason that he was transferred to receive the care he needed.

waiting to be transferred

It’s important to note here that at this time, we were not Zeb’s legal anything. By law, hospital staff had to receive permission from the social workers for all treatment and his bio mom even had to sign for him to be released for transfer. A birth mother cannot legally relinquish her rights after birth for a period of time to ensure she is making the decision on her own will.

Once we arrived at UK we were met again with more bad news, and our faith was taking an arsenal-full assault. Our sweet tiny baby was laying on an ice-cold blanket, shivering, alone, with two IVs (one in a hand, and one in a foot), a line running into his umbilical stump, and a suction tube down his throat. His head was covered in tons of wires from all the probes of the machine measuring his seizures, and it was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever witnessed in my life!

I wanted nothing more than to pick him up, get him warm and let him know that Mommy was there and that I would protect him! I’m still not sure how I made it through those first few days! The reason he was on an ice blanket is that during birth, he had lost blood and oxygen to the brain, an event known as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy – or HIE. His brain had received serious damage due to the HIE, he was in liver failure, and was having uncontrolled seizures. The ice blanket worked to slow his blood flow. The majority of damage doesn’t just occur at the point of injury, sometimes the biggest injury occurs as a result of swelling and the rushing of blood to the area. So because they knew that the HIE already cause initial brain injury, they were hoping to prevent further injury by keeping the brain for swelling as a result of the injury. Again, if you have any medical background, the fact that that much oxygen was lost for that long of a time, meconium was aspirated, three APGARS of a 1 and formula given to a newborn exhibiting uncontrolled seizures should be waving massive red flags.

When we got home that night, I went to my room, looked at the pack-n-play I had set up waiting on him with all his new things and just cried.

The next day our adoption social worker sat us down and asked if we planned to proceed with the adoption. It was a hard conversation, but there was never any doubt that he was ours and we planned to be there for him. We signed the last of our paperwork, as did bio mom and we became his legal guardians. In terms of the law, it essentially made us his foster parents until our court date which made it all final – but in practicality, he was ours. Now the nurses and doctors began opening up more to us and we began to research and pray and hope.

After three days on the cooling blanket, it was time to start warming him up and seeing how he would react. To this time, he had not been held at all, or even been fed. Furthermore, once rewarming started, it had to be completed, even if adverse reactions occurred like increased seizure activity, heart problems, etc.

Rewarming takes a minimum of 12 hours to complete.

It was such a scary time, but also a time of hope and anticipation. I knew that if he handled rewarming well, I would get to hold him soon!!

Once he was warmed I was finally able to hold him and it was just what we both needed! For a brief moment, all worry and fear slipped away and were bliss as a new mommy and her newborn son.

The next few days were all a blur. We spoke to many doctors about his seizures, the extent of his brain damage, being told lots of “if he lives then he will never….” I was forced out of the room numerous times watching through the window as teams rush in to save my boy after he would code. Refusing to leave his bedside in fear I may never see him again, or that he would stop breathing again and he would be alone.

Finally, one day, his primary nurse said, “hey, do you want to take him home?” I didn’t think we were anywhere near ready to go. I didn’t feel he was physically strong enough and I didn’t think I was emotionally strong enough. She gave me a giant hug and told me that we both needed to be home. She said he was a strong little boy, and that we would both heal better at home. For weeks I feel like I didn’t sleep because I watched his chest all night, making sure he took every breath and that he was ok.

We spent a large part of his first year in different therapies to help him overcome most of his challenges. We received PT twice a week for months and later we also saw speech therapy. Zeb is such a fighter and an amazing little boy! I am so proud to be his mom!

When Zeb was six weeks old, we received yet another Big Surprise. We found out that we were pregnant. After years of being told that I could never conceive and carry full term, I was shocked to discover we were going to have another baby!!! With all of Zeb’s therapies, an active older toddler brother (Abijah) at home, and all my complications in pregnancy with was a really rough first year… wonder I stopped blogging 😉

Zeb became a big brother at 11 months old, and he and Selah have been inseparable. As exhausting as having three kids in the span of 25 months is, I would not change a thing!

Today, we celebrate our sweet Zeb’s 3rd Birthday. Zebediah means : Yahweh has bestowed; A gift from God.

We chose his name long before we knew our Zeb, but it is such a fitting name, as he truly is one of God’s greatest gifts to our family

newborn nap with daddy

Zeb’s 1st B-Day

Zeb’s 2nd B-Day

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