Saturday, February 27, 2010

Working With Dad

I gave Brook a much needed day off today by taking the kids to 'work' with me this morning. In anticipation of them spending the day with dad, we got all of their warm working clothes together and laid out the night before and even were able to get 'em in bed earlier than usual. Mae came in at 2 am and 5 am, but it still wasnt quite time yet to get ready. Finally at 7 am, we were all up and at em getting ready for the days adventures.

Gma and Gpa picked us up at about 7:45 am and we headed out to the big lake to clean up and organize some stuff, feed the ducks, and of course ride the new tractor. It has definitely been too long since I have had the kids outside. Spring cant come soon enough so I can raise em up right- you know outside and dirty! It took me like 30 minutes to finally get explained that it is OK to get dirty and we can wash our hands and clothes when we get home. They definitely have been spending way too much time inside with Mom and Grandma Pat.

We had alot of fun hunting for and eating lots of icesickles, going down the slide, feeding the ducks, riding the tractor and just playing in the snow. They think this is what I do everyday when I am at work....haha I know what your thinking....even though my job is great, its not ALL fun and games. Here are some pics of working with dad day. Oh yeah, we only do some of this stuff when mom is not anywhere around. Today I fell through the lake up to my knees while holding Mae's hand and holding Noah in my arms- we got too close to the ducks open water. The slide and ladder was a little iffy as well, but they were wearing lots of padding, the snow was fairly deep and cushiony, and Noah at 2 years old is already well past the age of learning how to climb a tall ladder.

On the way to and from the big lake, we counted 13 deer and 37 turkeys. Once we even completely stopped the van to watch 7 deer run across the field and right onto the road 50 yards from us. The reason why I say this is because right now Mae and Noah are napping, but when they wake up we are headed over to Bloomington for the Deer and Turkey Classic. We have been talking about that since last night as well. We are going to see lots of deers and turkeys! (and coyotes of course, I sure hope there is one there).

So Brook slept in till 9:30, now she is out at the mall or something and I am sitting here typing away while Drake, Noah, and Mae are all sound asleep dreaming about deers, turkeys, and Noah probably about coyotes. We tell coyote and eagle stories every night before bed, its great! All these fond memories of the week are nice and all, but lets just pray that none of kids wake up before Brook gets home!

While I have a few more minutes of peace and quiet, I might as well slap on a few more pics from the week. I dont feel like answering any emails or working on anything today, so here goes. Drake has been showered with mucho hugs and kisses and gets held alot:

I have been gobbling up all the hundreds of delicious meals and cookies people keep bringing everyday. Me and the boy take lots of naps together after dinner. If you think me and Drake look a bit fatter in this pic, its not because the camera puts on a few lbs, its because we actually legitimately are. We both have been eating like kings this week.

Just goofing off with the kids:

Been a very busy week as folks from down in the southern states have started asking lots of pond questions and ordering their pond supplies for the year. Justin and I have been working on taking care of all that, updating everything for 2010 (you know like price increases and such) and we also this week have been busting out alot of concrete and putting in some toilets and showers out at Lake Norris.

Then last bit of news so I can let whoever is still reading get back on with their life, I also just became a Pond Boss Magazine Regional Field Correspondent for Illinois. Pond Boss is the nations leading pond and fish magazine and I will be writing articles monthly for their online magazine as well as contributing stories and studies for their world famous print magazine! Its a great opportunity for me that I am looking forward to greatly. Before I dropped out of school (twice I might add) English and Creative Writing were hands down my worst subjects. I hated writing my whole life with an extreme passion. I dont know what happened the last couple years, but gradually over time I have really started to enjoy putting words down onto paper.
Drake is now awake and in my arms, and I am guessing Mae and Noah will be soon too! I just hope this diaper can hold out for a few more minutes until Brook gets home to change him. You know whats great is that Brook is usually a week or so behind in reading the blog. That means it will be a week or so before she finds out all kinds of stuff like falling through the lake and that I knew about the stinky diaper, etc. I guess sometimes its great, but then again maybe sometimes not so much....

Monday, February 22, 2010

He Pees on Everyone!

Its official, my fishing blog has been taken over and turned into Drake's Baby Book or something. I don't have much going on this time of year in regards to fish stocking, electrofishing, or fishing trips, and the next time I get out fishing is wednesday, so all I can think about is writing stuff for and about Drake Dawg. He has a sense of humor that is completely uncomparable to any other 11 day old in the world. The docs thought he might be a little slow to develop, but really he is a genius, a mastermind of the world of pranks and practical jokes. He gets this sort of mischevious, onry, onery, ohnery, aunryness, who in the world knows how to spell that word anyway! Anyhow this sort of devious activity has been passed down from many generations in the meister family (my moms side for those of you wondering) and has I think been ultimately perfected in Drake............more on that in a bit.

So far since being home he is the perfect child. Eats great, sleeps great, just lays there great, and looks at you with the cutest little eyes so great. He even passed his first outpatient doctor appointment today great. Mae and Noah constantly are up in his face all the time and he doesnt mind one single bit, he just knows how to entertain them great. I told Brook this morning its like we have a new pet that the kids just cant get enough of. He can sleep through anything, GREAT.

Allright, so I will cut to the chase. It only took Drake 4 days to figure out the exact perfect moment to open up the fountain of life. Dr. Koralis plucked his diaper off and he waited perfectly, patiently for about 8 seconds before letting loose. It was great, let 'em let their guard down and BAMM! I had a big smile, just was proud of my boy! Then come to find out from Brook he had already been practicing that trick 2 previous times before the big audience!

Noah actually never peed on anyone before. We changed 100's, I dont know maybe even thousands of his diapers (I even changed a few so can be included in the before mentioned we) and he never once learned how to pee once willy was freed. It took Drake less than 3 days to get er figured out.

So anyhow early this morning I could hear Brook rustling around a bit unusually, but I lay in bed very still and pretended to be sleeping through the whole commotion to get the point. Anyhow, Drake just finished his 5 am feeding and decided to hold a bit of ammunition back once he suckered Brook into changing his diaper. Not only did he get her so perfect with number one, but once she got that cleaned up he brought round two with you know what- number 2. For my fishing fellas still for some reason reading this, number 2 when your a little baby is really more like number 1. Enough said, moving on. Round 3 was just the icing on the cake, he doesnt usually spit up much, but pulled off his best vomit to date! It was great.

When the doctor's assistant told me to strip him down to get weighed this morning, I knew much better than to do just that unprepared. I very carefully got er done and took him out to the scale. We just finished weighing him, and I let my guard down for not more than a second and Drake had er timed just right. All over the scale, floor, everywhere. I couldnt believe how far he could aim! It was great.

I can't write without posting pics, so here are some pics simulating the boy in action. Look at that physique!

Oh yeah, he has already gained one full pound! He truly is my child! This picture is just great.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sacrifice Fishing For Future Fishing

Typically I wouldnt post such a dumb picture (of myself at least) but I was outside and having fun today! After being couped up in the NICU for over a week, I needed to just get outside. Usually on a 40 degree Saturday in February with 12 inches of ice I would be ice fishing from sunrise to sunset, but today I decided would be much better spent gearing up for the future. Instead of fishing we decided to make a fish highway. The physical labor and cutting trees and placing fish structures was just what the doctor ordered today. Right now I have splinters and scrapes all over my hands, my back aches, and I am completely wiped out; but for some odd reason I couldnt be feeling any better!

If I would have been going ice fishing today I would have been able to find about a dozen or more people to come on out to the lake, but since I was cutting and dragging trees I could only scrounge up my dad. We are pretty used to that scenario, but we dont actually mind all the background work. Creating the best fishing lake in Illinois is my goal, so in order to get that accomplished I need to spend a few days on the ice working and not fishing.

This particular line of trees is over 500 feet long and placed in 15-18 foot of water right along a transition ledge where the 8 foot flat meets up with the 30 feet deep drop off. I am creating a travel highway for fish that connects the deep basin of the lake with my favorite fishing channel. Here are just a couple pics.

The ducks have survived the winter so far. I am actually somewhat surprised. All the kids are gonna be pretty excited this summer if Lilly and Co can escape predation for just a few more weeks. These ducks are so fat, I have even had some tasty thoughts every know and again.

Hey, while we still got some safe ice, put the fishing rods down for a few hours and create some future fishing spots! Don't just make single brush piles or fish structures, place them in groups or in lines along potential fish travel contours to create spots that really hold alot of fish! If you have any sort of fish structure questions or comments go ahead and fire away here or shoot me an email! We sink thousands of full grown trees, PVC fish attractors, boats, shopping carts, trampolines, and even a kitchen sink. We dont just sink em and fish em though, we actually spend alot of time underwater scuba diving, filming, and analyzing them as well.

Here is just a fun underwater video, we have hours and hours of underwater fish structure footage, but only post the fun stuff on youtube. Anyone interested in scuba diving this summer just drop me a note and we would be glad to take you out.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Starting a New Chapter

Chapter 1: The NICU is officially over. We met with the docs and specialists today and decided against the ganciclovir treatments.

The future is unknown, but we have formulated a gameplan for monitoring vision, hearing, bloodwork and brain activity, along with speech and physical therapy. We did some final discharge checkups and such and headed home from the hospital at 2:45 pm! We both were at complete peace regarding our decision and future game plan and really look forward to starting the new chapter of our lives. We have been home now for 2 hours and Mae is still mesmerized by finally having her new baby brother home!

Noah is pretty excited to finally get to hold Drake too!

Drake if your reading this at any point in the future, we did everything in our power to help you get the best jumpstart on life. You have put more gray hairs on my rapidly receding hairline than both Mae and Noah combined. Up to this point you have only been alive for 8 days and are already a world changer. On your behalf, there have been thousands of prayers, buckets of tears, and lots of moms and dads giving their kids an extra hug at bedtime. While I dont suspect your next few years will make quite as much of an impact on the world as your first week; I do know that God has great things in store for you and this is only just the beginning.

Some of my favorite pics of my little buddy!

Just a few months, 630 diapers, and about 80 degrees from now we are going to start filling up this blog with Drake fishing pics!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big Decision Time for Drake

It is 11:16 pm, and here I sit trying to come to peace about making a decision that will greatly impact Drake's health for the rest of his life. There absolutely has to be a line between Doctor's ability and faith in God's healing ability, but I just dont where that line is. We use doctors and medicines daily to save and enhance quality of life, but we also use our faith daily to save and enhance quality of lives as well. Where is the line between the two, is there a line between the two? Is it one or the other? Do we even need doctors to begin with or is God's divine will set in stone with or without a doctor? These are just a few of the many thoughts that are fluttering through my mind as I try to decide what to do. I wouldnt classify my state of being right now as confused, but just rather wondering and pondering and searching.

We just found out at 2:30 pm this afternoon that Drake is completely deaf in his right ear, but he can still hear normally out of his left (for the time being at least). The doctors think there is a good chance for him to start losing his hearing in his good ear over the next 18 months or so. We do have a treatment option that would potentially increase the chances of saving his hearing, but it does not come with a cheap price tag and I am not talking about money. His quality of life for the next 6 weeks would be greatly compromised, short term side affects could potentially be severe and long term side affects are still unknown.

Like anything there a few twists that need to be considered as well. For starters there is still a chance for him to go deaf with the treatment, and there still is also a real chance for him not to lose any more hearing without the treatment. Also the additional hearing loss is commonly delayed for up to 2 years, but you have to start the treatment within the next couple days. With this virus, nothing is really too predictable of what is going to happen, regardless of what you do.

Ganciclovir would be administered every 12 hours for one hour sessions for the next 42 days via a semi-permanent IV at home. Common side affects occuring in patients include: granulocytopenia, neutropenia, anaemia, thrombocytopenia, fever, nausea, vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, flatulence, anorexia, raised liver enzymes, headache, confusion, hallucination, seizures, pain and phlebitis at injection site (due to high pH), sweating, rash, itch, increased serum creatinine and blood urea concentrations. Ganciclovir is considered a potential human carcinogen, teratogen, and mutagen. It is also considered likely to cause inhibition of spermatogenesis. (may not be able to have kids) It is a toxic drug that will kill lots of good cells, along with the bad virus cells.

Potentially by attacking the bad CMV cells it will help his brain develop, protect his eyes from retenitis, and save what is remaining of his hearing. The specialists and doctors we are working with are leaning towards having us do this procedure, but I am just not comfortable with it at the moment and may never be. Its a grey area in medicine and therefore the decision is left up to us as to what to do from here.

I have spent the last 3 days researching and digging up as much information about CMV and Ganciclovir as humanly possible. I have googled and googled like a mad man; read and analyzed and disected many case studies, experiments, trials, etc that are well past my level of education; I have been reading CMV testimonials, horror stories, success stories, and such and just trying to learn what I can in order to make as educated of a decision as possible. I also wanted to talk to other doctors as well to get their take on the situation as a whole and am just very thankful and appreciative to Barb and Tony Munther and their cousin Karan. They gave me all kinds of information this evening that really helped me understand what is going on and gave great advice on what questions to ask and just generally how to make a big decision like this. Their advice and experience was invaluable.

I just want to have a complete peace about the decision we make. Even though I kind of eluded earlier about some of my thoughts about the line between doctors and God. I would want you to understand that those are just simply some of the many thoughts running through the mind of a 26 year old parent who is about to make a decision that will not only impact the rest of his life, but will more importantly impact his sons life forever. My decision at hand is not at all one where I need to choose between placing my faith in doctors or placing my faith in God. I am not choosing one or the other, I realize that they both go hand in hand. I am simply looking, praying, and desperately seeking for God's direction so I can peacefully know what decision to make.

We pray for a miracle, but realize that getting to this point we are at is already a huge miracle. Drake has already overcome so much. We pray for him to be able to hear, but more importantly we pray for God to use Drake however He best sees fit.

Once we peacefully come up with a decision of how to proceed we will not second guess it regardless of the outcome. We also ask to not post comments on whether or not to do the treatment, we just simply ask you to continue to pray for Brook and I, and especially Drake through this time. Jesus's words from Luke 22 come to mind: "Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done"

As I wrote the above words, my face was almost squinting the whole time and my mind was just in a bit of turmoil. Brook has since fallen asleep and I am just sitting here in the stillness of the cold night reflecting on the day while I ponder a few relaxed yet deep thoughts about life. I smile when I think about some of the cute things Drake did throughout the day, and I tear up a bit when I look back at a few of the harder moments spent with Brook today. Tear stains dont quite show up on a computer monitor like they used to on some of Grandpa's Christmas letters.

Brook had a hard day today. The unknown is indeed scary. Reality that our normal life has changed forever is really starting to set in as we schedule audiology, optimology, developmentaloligy, bloodology and pediatricology doctor appointment, evalutations, and checkups for the next 2 years.

Like I keep eluding too about the NICU roller coaster, the day actually started out great. We got a good nights sleep, got the kids out the door, got to the hospital just in time for Drakes morning feeding and were just refreshed. Drake was just bright eyed and bushy tailed all morning and we just needed to pass one simple hearing test in the afternoon. The day was rolling along, our meetings with all the doctors were going great and we were seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone was just excited and in good moods, and the air was just a bit lighter.

Ben Harter actually was Drakes physical therapist this morning and he tugged, pulled, flipped, and flopped the boy in all directions and thought he was doing pretty good with most things developmentally. Mom came down about 11 am and the OSF cafeteria cooked up another fabulous buffalo chicken wrap for lunch today. All was going great until the gravity weight of the NICU coaster just decided it had enough of being at the top of the world. Looking back at our last 8 days in the NICU I figure about 6 hours is the longest you can stay up at the top of this particular coaster. When the squiggly lines for Drakes right ear stayed pretty well straight across the monitor when 80 decibels were being pulsed directly into his tiny ear, I was privileged yet again to experience another one of those world slowly quits turning moments.

The next 4 hours were pretty tough as we tried to gather all of our thoughts and emotions together and formulate a plan of what to do from hear. We decided we needed to just get out for a bit of fresh air for awhile and went out to Target to get a few things. Then we went home and ate dinner with the kids and just played and colored with them for about an hour or so. Mike and Diane brought us dinner earlier to the hospital earlier and we just took it home to eat it. It was really nice to have some real food for a change and just a badly needed change of pace.

Back to the hospital about 9 pm and we just held Drake until his 10:30 feeding.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just Another Hard Day

Its 10:23 pm and I am just sitting here scratching my head. Brook is in the kitchen getting a drink, the olympics are on in the background, the kids are fast asleep, and I just am sitting here and have absolutely no idea what to say, what to think, what to write, what to pray, what to do. Just right now blah is the best way to describe my feelings.

Had alot of visitors down to the hospital throughout the day, which tremendously helped us pass the time, but it just was another hard day. The roller coaster ride continues, this isnt a fun one though, its more like the one that gives you a horribly terrified nautious feeling. I am trying to be strong for Brook, but our ride home from the hospital at 9 pm tonight was just tough. Reality is starting to set in for both of us, and we dont even know what words to pray or how to think or really what to do. I am a big guy who has always just felt so invincible, so strong, so tough, but right now I just cant even describe with words how I feel.

I don't want to make it sound like its all doom and gloom for Drake and for us, its just right now we are physically exhausted, mentally perplexed, and spiritually drained. Basically we are currently near the bottom of the NICU roller coaster and just need a good nights sleep, some positive news, some good encouragement, and a whole bunch of prayers tonight and tomorrow to start climbing back up the tracks. Looking at pictures like this definitely is a step in the right direction!

We know God has a plan, we really do, I just wish it was a bit easier and more clearly defined at the moment. Drake's preliminary MRI results came back today, and while we were super encouraged by the results not showing near the damage that could or should be done, his brain is currently about 5 weeks behind in developing. The hemorrhaging has been fixed, he isnt showing any signs of calcification and all sorts of other stuff that could be happening. Its just his brain just hasnt developed yet like it is supposed to. What that means right now I dont have a clue and neither does the neonatalogist who gave us the preliminary report. We will meet with the specialists on thursday to get the full report and a ton more information about what that means and what to do from here.

Congenital Symptomatic CMV is very serious stuff and can start attacking his brain, eyes, and especially ears at any time over the next 2 years. Even with all the test results back positive, the unknown is still imminent. We can do nothing with our own power to prevent or fix the situation. Treatments are fairly experimental, and have harsh side affects. I love Drake more than I ever thought possible. No matter what happens to him he is already my best friend for life. Together we will overcome any obstacles. I know he is going to be a world changer.

I think the hardest thing for me right now is not being able to completely comfort and protect Brook. I can't comprehend her thoughts, feelings and emotions and I definitely can't just fix them. I know she is going to be alright, she is an amazing woman, its just the changes in her life she is currently going through won't be just a seamless transition. We know God has a plan for us, our faith is not wavering, we arent asking questions like why us, we arent bitter, we arent mad, and while we dont know exactly what lies ahead we arent even questioning God's plan. We just dont exactly know what it is.

Spending a week now in the NICU we definitely know firsthand that there are many people currently going through and dealing with things that are way harder and worse than our situation. There are young mothers watching their new babies hooked up to life support and watching them through glass doors all day long and they dont have anyone there to support or comfort or pray for them at all. While things could definitely be worse for us, it still is just a tough time we are going through, but we will emerge much stronger and with much more purpose than before.

Right now the world is standing still, its 11:28 pm. I just spent some time getting ready for bed, and then spent some time just holding Brook, she didnt want to talk she just wanted to cry for a bit. Now I just am finishing up some thoughts from the day. The olympics have been turned off in the background, I can hear Mae an Noah breathing heavily while sleeping down the hall, Patsy has fallen asleep behind me on the blow up bed, Brook is just walking into the kitchen to fill up the glass of water that she keeps on her nightstand and I am just about ready to head for bed myself.

Drake was still a bit groggy from the MRI sedative last night. Plus he started some pain killer a couple hours early for his circumcision at 2 pm, so he did alot of sleeping. He let everyone in the hospital know he had a set of pipes though when they started carving up his little dilly. After the 30 minute procedure he was beat red and completely overheating. We stripped him down for awhile and let him cool back down. For the most part he just slept the rest of the afternoon and evening. Lee and Patsy came down and brought us dinner and we just took turns holding the boy until about 9 pm.

Thursday we have vision and hearing screening and just another long day at the hospital ahead of us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Ups and Downs of the NICU

One minute your flying high, the next minute your right back down again. The cycle seems to be never ending. While the nurses and doctors at the NICU are wonderful people, it really is a horribly hard place to spend any significant amount of time. Hurting families are constantly coming in and out, life has just suddenly been changed forever for many of them. Babies are being diagnosed as vegetables on what seems like a daily basis, and yesterday the nurses pulled the plug on a 2 lb baby who would most likely have had to be on constant life support. Its especially hard to see young mothers in there with absolutely no one there supporting them whatsoever. It's just a place that I almost wish I could forget about completely, but as far as I try to run I almost know that I am doomed to become connected with someway somehow in the future.

Anyhow, Drake finished his MRI tonight. Here he is knocked out and ready to enter the MRI machine:

Last night he got half way done and decided to break free from his straps and rip his IV out. Tonight they knocked him out with a sedative to get er done. We should get the results back tomorrow, they are looking for any brain damage and also checking on his ventrical hemmorhaging. Then he gets a vision screening thursday that is looking for retinal and nerve damage, and then a series of hearing tests to assess if any damage has been done there also. After those two tests, we actually may be able to take him home Friday! However, if they find brain or eye stuff we pretty much have to start with the glanciclovir treatments, but we most likely wont do the treatments just for his hearing.

Every year there are 40,000 children born with CMV. Out of those 40,000 there are roughly 4,000 of them that ever show any symptons of having the virus. These are the ones whose mothers contracted the virus while pregnant. If you get CMV before you are pregnant, than your child will also get the virus, but will be just fine. Here is the scary part: of the 4,000 that show symptons, 3200 of them suffer significant mental, vision, and hearing disabilities; 400 of them actually die; and 400 of them are just fine with very minimal longterm side affects. Drake's Neonatalogist is very encouraged with how he is doing and thinks he is going to be just fine. The tests will just give us a baseline to know where he is starting at and give something to compare to if the virus decides to start acting up in the next couple years. He is much more optimistic and I think that may be due to the fact that he spends some time with Drake, whereas most of the specialists just spend time with his charts.

I don't really know what is going to happen over the next couple days, but we do know that God still has a plan for Drake! As much as this is all super uncomfortable and somewhat scary all the way around for Brook and I, we know God's plan is divine.
Justin and my mom spent the day with Brook and I down at the hospital. It is great to have company down there to help pass the time. We took turns holding and hanging out with Drake and met with several more doctors. Some doctors are great at encouraging and building hope and some not so much. Anyhow my parents and brothers and sisters all found babysitters for the evening and came down to eat dinner with us and hold Drake Dawg. Brook's parents have been watching Mae and Noah for us at our apartment.
Michelle and I think that Amy is really starting to get the baby itch, she wont admit it, but I would bet there is going to be another baby Plattner in the works soon. After dinner Brook and I went down to the MRI and then decided to head home early tonight. We just were both falling asleep and couldnt make it up for the last feeding of the night. Mae and Noah were glad to see us home right before they went to bed and now we get to get an extra couple hours of sleep and do it all again tomorrow.

Ice Fishing Pics

Drake is like enough already, I am ready to get out of here. In the mean time, while I have been hanging out in the hospital with Brook and Drake Dawg, Justin has been taking care of all of our office work, online shipments and scheduled guided fishing trips. Fish haven't been jumping out of the hole left and right like usual, but they have caught some real nice fish! Here are some pics all jumbled together from Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Monday's trips:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Drake's New Diagnosis

Deep breath Nate. Flying high Sunday, just waiting for one more major test result to come back in, but with the way he had been passing test after test after test with flying colors we just figured we had made it through the valley and Drake was coming home! There was light at the end of the tunnel and God had definitely got our attention and already has done some wonderful things through Drake in his first 4 days of life, brought many people to their knees, brought many people together, provided great witnessing opportunities for hundreds, brought many people closer to God, brought me closer to Brook, brought me closer to my sisters, just cleared my mind of all the thousands of things that have been cluttering up my thoughts and goals. I was thankful for all of that good to come and especially thankful for all of that good to come and also have my boy to be alright for the most part.

Grammar and sentence structure may not be too good at the moment, because it is just almost too hard to make my thoughts grammatically correct. I was just ready to get on to normal life with normal routine, but God had to remind me already that there is more to this life than just going to work, coming home, and going to bed. I always pray for God to use me, because I do want to be a world changer, I just would like to do it on my own comfortable terms and preferably without any hardship along the way. What I am coming to realize is that it is just about impossible for me to be on my knees during the good times. When everything is going great at work, home, and even church I start to build myself up more and more and God becomes less and less. Why would I need God when I have all the food, shelter, clothing, health and virtually everything that I need? Some folks may be able to relate, some folks may not have a clue what I am talking about and that may just simply be because it is so hard to portray thoughts into words on paper. Regardless, I am torn up inside and just couldnt hold back the tears as I was on the way to the hospital this afternoon.

My mom was going to spend the day with Brook at the hospital, my sisters were taking all the kids to ride bikes in the barn, Drake was gonna get circumcised and just hang loose while final checkups and such were to be made before getting the clearance to be released the following day. Justin had an important meeting at 7 am and also a guided fishing trip with 10 people scheduled for 10 am, so Brook and I decided it would be no problem for me to get out for a couple hours to just get everything set up and started for the fishing trip. Justin has been taking all of the ice fishing trips we had scheduled on thurs, fri, and sat and has been putting in double time while I have been off, so I knew he could especially use a hand with this one. Mae was up at the crack of dawn and helped me get everything put together and in order for the trip, and then I dropped her off at mom's house on my way out to Norris. She loves helping me put fishing poles together and is chomping at the bit to get out fishing next. My daughter Mae and niece Shaeya are fisherman to the core and I love every minute of it!

I called my dad on the way out and uncharacteristically just needed to talk. I had a real bad feeling about leaving and he reassured me that everything was taken care of and I needed some fresh air. My mind wasnt on the guided trip and I just had an uneasy feeling. Just after lunch, my uneasy feeling was confirmed with a text message from Brook simply saying the test results were in and give her a call. My heart sunk again, the last time I left a perfectly healthy boy at the hospital for a few minutes my life took a complete 180. At least this time Brook wasnt all alone when the doctors were telling her something else was wrong with her newborn child. She broke down before the doctors got her into the room to sit down to talk, and my grandma and mom couldnt hold back tears either.

Drake has been diagnosed with Cytomegalovirus (CMV). It is a very common virus found in most humans, but can be very dangerous to infants whose mothers are infected during pregnancy. Depending on what stage of development Drake was in when Brook got the virus, greatly affects the severity of the damage it will cause during development. CMV can cause severe mental disability, vision loss, growth problems, lung problems, bleeding problems, liver problems, spleen problems, and most commonly hearing loss. The doctors are most worried about his hearing right now, but an MRI is scheduled to analyze his brain and a whole nother round of much more detailed vision, hearing and blood tests are on the way in the next couple days. He has already failed one hearing test, but that isnt too uncommon. Right now there really isnt much of anything that can be done, but to assess the condition of his brain, vision, and hearing. Most of the damage that would have been done should be done already, but the main thing that could get worse from this point moving forward is his hearing. Over the next two years he could suffer hearing loss at any given time. Past 2 years and he is typically good to go. Hear is the kicker, his hearing can most likely be saved using medication, but there are pretty harsh side affects with the treatments and they would need to be started within a week or so in order to be effective. He would have to have an IV installed in his arm and get treatments of ganciclovir every 12 hours for 6 weeks. Short term side affects are very harsh, and long term ramifications are unknown, but that is the only treatment options to save his hearing for sure. We have pretty much determined already that we wont have Drake be a guinea pig for this procedure, but will know more after all the tests come back tomorrow. It is a big decision to make.

We were going to go home early tonight, but Brook is squeezing one last feeding in before he goes down to the MRI. Last night we left the hospital at midnight. We spent a very romantic Valentines in the cafetaria from 10 to 11 pm sharing a peanut butter thunder pie, some sugar free cookie wafers, and a starbucks mocha something or other. We were just flying high and on top of the world then. Now we just have to be reminded all over again that God is in complete control and Drake is going to be even more special of a boy than we ever will realize. He is a world changer and has been showered in more prayers in his first 4 days of life than most people will have in a whole lifetime. God has a plan for him, and we are just so blessed to have him as our child. We snapped a few photos earlier in the day.

Mae finally built up enough courage to go in and hold him. Once she heard he was going to be ok and Grandma Beth being there helped nudge her along. She is so proud of her new baby.

He is starting to look exactly like my baby pictures. I was cute for the first couple years of life.