Thursday, February 28, 2013

Want to show your love?

This is Lindsey's friend, Michelle, letting you know how you can share your love for sweet Parke Henry with the Gibson family.  If you have been touched by Parke's story in any way, it would be a blessing to Micah and Lindsey for you to share that with them.  Maybe you are a close friend, an acquaintance or just know of their story through the grapevine.  It doesn't matter how you are connected, but it does matter that God has used the life of Parke Henry to touch many other lives!!
They've had people mention that Parke's story and life have encouraged them to start the foster care process, move forward with adoption, hug their kids tighter, or even trust deeply in our God's plan. It is wonderful for grieving parent's hearts to hear that a lost life was used in a mighty way. 

Would you consider giving this gift of comfort and encouragement to Micah and Lindsey by simply telling your Parke story?  You can send a sentence or two, a letter or even a video.  Some of these sweet stories may be used at Parke's memorial service.  Please send them to these three email addresses:

Micah and Lindsey:
Sarah Lauren Wade:
Michelle Burton:

Lindsey will get to read each story as you send them and Sarah Lauren and I will work to compile and organize them.

In place of gifts and flowers, Micah and Lindsey ask you donate on Parke's behalf to:
Pediatric Palliative Care
at Arkansas Children's Hospital
1 Children's Way
Little Rock, AR 72202

Much love and many thanks have been expressed by Lindsey and Micah for the outrageous out-pour of love for their family today. 

Parke is with Jesus

Our precious Parke Henry went to be with Jesus this morning. 
He is fully healed and perfect. I miss him already, but I know he is celebrating this day with our Lord. 
Angels are rejoicing for this beautiful baby they just received!
We had him for 7 weeks, and we will join with him again for eternity when our time comes. 
Thank you for your prayers. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday Update

Parke had a peaceful night last night. He ate a little formula before bed and kept it down. He slept 7 hours without waking up and then took a small amount of formula again this morning. We've continued to give him some pedialite to keep him comfortable and hydrated. We are not pushing food, but only giving it to him when he seems uncomfortable because he's hungry. The oxygen has really kept his color looking good, and his breathing seems less labored (except for a few periods of struggling). We have gone ahead and given him a few doses of morphine which helps when his breathing gets crazy and he becomes anxious. 

Parke is resting well now and being snuggled by Daddy. 
Landry and Collier are still here with us, and we plan to keep it that way as much as possible. We have some precious friends who are taking turns at the house playing with them, holding the baby, whatever we need to keep things as "normal" as possible. 
Please keep praying for comfort for sweet Parke. He is just a doll! 

Also, please pray for my sanity and for me not to be a crazy nut to my family. Stress has been a beast in our house this week, and satan is using it to create tension in what I want to be a precious and peaceful situation. 
On top of that, my mama flew out this morning on a mission-type trip out of the country. She struggled with leaving a little bit, but it had been planned for a long time. I acted tough when I talked to her on the phone early this morning, but it is going to be hard not having access to her (not even by phone) for several days. 
She's the one I talk to multiple times a day, and she's been on-call throughout this whole process for whatever we need. Friends have obviously stepped in and have been wonderful as well, but sometimes a girl just needs her mama! 

I will continue to keep you as updated as possible. Thanks so much for your prayers. 
God is good, all the time!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yesterday was great...until it wasn't

Yesterday started off perfectly. The kids {kind of} cooperated for me to get out the door to Parke's early morning doctor's appointment, and the appointment went well. 

Well, I need to back up. Sunday night after I had my gripe-fest on the blog, I tried going to bed right after the kids went down. I had not done a quiet time that day, so I picked up my phone while laying in bed and went to my YouVersion Bible app. The following was the verse of the day, and it just made me cry! It was exactly what I needed to read that night...
Isaiah 25:1
Lord, you are my God; 
I will exalt you and praise your name
for in perfect faithfulness,
you have done wonderful things, 
things planned long ago. 

In PERFECT FAITHFULNESS, God planned Parke's days long ago. He is faithful and able to carry us through whatever storms may come our way and whatever dark days we may have. I will exalt and praise his name!

So, with that verse on my heart, we started our Monday. The visit to our doctor went well, and despite Parke's poor eating the night before, he sounded and looked good...maybe even better than when we were in a few weeks ago! We discussed that maybe Parke had a little virus that was slowing  his appetite for a while and that it would pick back up. His cough could be from that too, and it was "normal" for Parke to change colors when he coughed because his oxygen levels would drop. 

We went on with our rainy and dreary day and met one of my favorite friends for coffee. Parke loved the loud buzz of the coffee shop and slept like a champ. We ran a few additional errands and headed back home.  

Landry has dance class on Mondays, and our "Emmy" normally stays home with Collier while Parke and I take the ballerina to class. Yesterday, it started getting really nasty out, so Emmy took Landry to class so that Parke wouldn't have to get out again. 

Parke rested a lot while they were gone, so Mini Picasso and I got to have ice cream and a painting party. He is so much fun to spend one-on-one time with...he eats it up!

Then in the afternoon, Parke started making some changes. His eating was still decreased, and what he did take in he spit back up shortly after. He even "dry heaved" some, and it was so pitiful. He seemed weak and tired. Fast forward through the night, and we have basically gone 24 hours without any formula intake (that stayed). We have been feeding Parke Pedialite through a dropper to keep him hydrated, but his wet diapers have decreased significantly. 

Parke seemed uncomfortable through the night. Especially after feedings...until he would spit it back up and get it off his stomach. His breathing pattern has changed, and he seems to struggle with that some. His color still looks great, but some of that is probably his beautiful skin-tone. :)

Our Little Rock doctor talked with our local doctor, and they have decided that continuous oxygen might help keep Parke comfortable. The oxygen was delivered today, and Parke was not a huge fan of having the hook-up on his face. We will see how this goes! 

Ultimately, we want him to be comfortable...that has been our goal from the start. We don't want him to struggle, and we will do whatever we need to do to keep him happy and covered in love. 
Please pray for Parke Henry over the next several days. We know what we are expecting to happen, but he could always rally again and keep us on our toes. 

Thanks for your prayers for our family...these have been tough days. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I'm just being honest...

I'm a little grumpy and have been in a funk the past few days. I'll just be honest and tell you that I think it is because we have seen some changes with Parke. Nothing super serious, and he always seems to rebound and go back to being "normal" just as fast as it went the other way. He has a cough right now, and when he has a little spell of coughing his color seems to change. He hasn't been eating as well and has been getting choked more often. So, there it is. That's what has been going on the past few days, and it is just hard to take time to sit down and update when all I want to do is snuggle a baby....and we've been doing a lot of that!
We go see Parke's normal pediatrician tomorrow, and I'm anxious to see what he weighs, let them hear his lungs, and find out what his pulse-ox is. I'll keep you posted!

When I say that I'm a little grumpy with all that is going on, it makes me frustrated with myself. I don't want to be grumpy, I want to be happy and thankful...and I am 99% of the time. Lucky ya'll...I've sat down at the computer perfectly timed to the other 1%. Ha! 

I am SO happy and thankful that Parke is still with us. I am blessed by each day that we get to spend with him and the amazing love that he has added to our family. It's just hard for a planner to live in limbo-land, and that is exactly where I feel like we are today. We thought Parke's life was going to be short and sweet....2 days to 2 weeks (ish). Am I upset that he is still here? Heck no, but we don't know what tomorrow brings, and that is hard for me. Does him making it 6 1/2 weeks mean that he will be here forever? Does him making it 6 1/2 weeks mean that he has only a few days left? Only God knows, and I totally trust him. I would just love to receive an email from him with a detailed schedule of what to expect...and I'm definitely learning a lesson or two on who is in control of this situation. :)
I like to consider myself a realist. I know that I could lose Micah, Landry, or Collier in an instant as well. I've always tried to live my life without regrets and as if it could be anyone's last day...including my own. I try to always tell my family that I love them and leave situations in good standing...just in case. The part that makes this situation with Parke different is that we were expecting it to be his last day, and it wasn't. Now, we're moving on with our lives and making plans with him in them, but there is still a cloud over us with what statistics say will happen. 
So, we're living each day wondering if it will be Parke's last. Trying not to let it be the focus of our lives, but the question is there. 
I'm probably doing a pitiful job explaining my feelings, but I think you will get the idea. 

Parke gave me a thumbs up on his 6 week birthday, and that made my heart sing. He is thrilled to be here with us for as long as he has, and I must get back to snuggling him now. 

Thanks for letting me vent. Some days, I just need it! 

I'm going to put these verses on my bathroom mirror this week and make sure I focus on today and not tomorrow. I'm thankful that HE is in control and not me. 
Matthew 6: 27 and 34
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Girl Time!"

Landry is a piece of work these days. I don't know if it is her age or if it started after getting another brother in the house. Either way, changes are needing to be made. :) 
She is sassy, doesn't want to listen, has her own ideas and ways of doing things, totally makes all of Collier's decisions for him, and is super-duper-duper rude to people when we are out places. She swings her head away and crosses her arms when strangers say hello, and it is so embarrassing! 
She can go from being sweet as pie to total beast in about 2 seconds flat. 
So, I'm kind of at a loss. We do timeout, we spank when we need to, we've started taking toys away, and we are just working down the list to see what seems to make a difference. I want my sweet girl back (all the time!). 

This weekend, all 3 boys were down napping, so Landry and I snuck away for some much needed time together. "Girl Time!" is what Landry normally says we need. On a funny side note, Micah was trying to get her to say that one day, and so he asked her what it was called when she and mommy went someplace together. She responded very enthusiastically, "Sam's Club!" :) Ha!

We stopped at the nail salon first for Landry to get her nails done for the first time. She loved it and picked a blue color with hearts added to a few fingers. She was so excited. While she was letting her nails dry, she fell fast asleep. She fought it for several minutes and would open her eyes and act like she hadn't missed a beat. It was so cute! 

 Finally, she slumped over and started drooling...I knew she was really out at that point. :)

 After the nail salon, we went to TCBY and ate ice cream for dinner. She especially loved that part! 
While we were there, a man told her what a pretty princess she was. In her usual sass, she corrected him that she was, "A COWGIRL princess....yeehaw!" (Notice the vest on her princess dress.) 
We had such a great time spending a few hours together. I think we both needed some alone time! 
By the way, after posting the nail salon picture on Facebook, I had a few of you mention something to me about her cheeks being pink or her hot pink blush. Nope, that's her natural color when she is sleepy or has been playing hard. Bright pink rosy cheeks!

 Landry is really the spark of our family. She keeps us on our toes, and you never know what she will say or come up with. She is an absolute mess, but she is MY mess. I'm told regularly that I am paying for my raising, but I am confident that can't be true. :)

I love these pictures below of her being a sweet mommy and sister to HER babies. She constantly has a baby in her arms...Parke, Arm, or Amy usually. 

I sure love this sassy girl!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A snow day and a milestone...

Today is snowy, cold, and a great day to stay in. We had to cancel some morning plans because Collier was up most of the night with a cough, stuffy nose, and a bit of an upset tummy. Some of it is teething, and I hope the rest is just a quick cold that will pass. The last thing we need is to spread sickness around our house!

So, this morning, I got up and scrambled around looking for a clean cup for Collier. I couldn't find a lid anywhere. We seem to have 10,000 cups but only 5 or 6 lids because he chews through them. I made a wonderful discovery...rotten cups hidden behind his crib! 
He has stashed cups back there before, but these were pretty disgusting. I am going to have to keep a closer eye on his hiding spots. 
Good morning to me!

Collier was a little grumpy this morning, but nothing makes our sweet boy feel better than a beautiful tutu. :) And camo, of course, for good measure. 

I got to snuggle this little man for a while, and he was making some of the sweetest baby faces at me. I even got a smile or two, but couldn't catch those in a picture. 

Landry enjoyed some baby snuggles of her own. She is crazy, crazy, crazy, about holding her "tiny brudder." I think he could take it or leave it! Ha. 

And now to the milestone...
Today is 3 weeks from the day that the surgeon told us *in his opinion* that Parke had a 0% chance of making it another 3 weeks! 
We aren't seeing any changes at this point in his health. Parke is continuing to be strong, eat well, and grow like a normal extra special normal baby!  
I told you guys that I knew he was going to beat that prediction...he doesn't seem to like deadlines. :) 

I remember a blog post I wrote before Parke's birth talking about how I knew he was going to be a fighter. I honestly didn't picture 6 weeks in my wildest dreams. "Fighter" in my mind meant that we would have a few days rather than a few hours. "Fighter" to me meant that our children might have the chance to get a quick picture with him at the hospital instead of him being swept away to an area they couldn't visit. "Fighter" doesn't even seem like a fit word to describe our precious son anymore. He is a miracle, a blessing, and bright light in our family. His life, no matter how long it ends up being, will forever change our family. Our kids will never be the same, and I am SO thankful for the lessons of love and life that they will learn through his presence in our family. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

These moments are priceless...

If you would have asked me 6 weeks ago what our family would look like today, these would not have been the pictures in my mind. Preparing for Parke's short life, we didn't even know for sure that our kids would have the opportunity to meet him. These past 5 1/2 weeks, the moments that we have shared as a family of 5, and the love that has surrounded Parke's miraculous little life has just been amazing. 

Some of my favorite moments and memories have come in the evenings. When our wonderful visitors head home, we bathe the kiddos, get in our pj's, and snuggle like crazy on "daddy's bed." (Apparently, I don't sleep there...ha!)
There are lots of kisses, wall climbing (see picture below), dancing, wrestling, and a crazy amount of giggles and smiles. 

(Collier breaks down when we take the baby away!)

These moments are priceless! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

We are okay! :)

I have had several texts and emails the past few days checking in on our little man...y'all are so sweet! I'm sorry I have been behind on updating. Life just got busy this week! We are back in a normal routine, and the three babies keep my hands tied up most of the day. My goal has been to get up and to do some Bible reading, prayer time, and update the blog every morning before the kids get up, BUT going back to being up multiple times during the night is getting me down. :) 
Parke is really a great sleeper, but he is still little and needs to eat every 3 hours. Micah and I take turns getting up to feed him on the weekends, but I try to take all the shifts during the week. Looking back, I was SO well rested when I only had one child. With two, I was a little sleepy. With three, I'm exhausted. I know these days will go by quickly, and I feel so fortunate that Parke is still here to wear me down. Ha! 
Maybe, just maybe, I will find time for a nap this week!
So, this little booger had an appointment on Wednesday with our cardiologist from Little Rock. We didn't have to drive down, he actually flew up to see a few patients that day. It was really great! 
Parke is continuing to gain weight, and he is at 7 pounds 9 ounces now. That isn't as much weight as they wished he was gaining, but to me, it is SUCCESS! Honestly, with never thinking he would take a bottle, I am absolutely thrilled that he is thriving. 
They checked his oxygen levels, blood pressure, and listened to his heart. We did not do another echo-cardiogram. From everything they checked, it sounds like Parke is staying pretty stable for now. 
Because of some of the coarctation, his blood pressure is much lower when they take it on the lower half of his body. However, they are still able to feel a pulse there, which is pretty surprising. 
His little heart is strong, and his body seems to be accepting all of the problems as normal right now. 
Parke has a significant leak in something called the tricuspid valve that we expected would end up making his heart stop fairly soon. It, obviously, has not. 
We are so thankful that he just keeps fighting and hanging in there! 

We left the appointment with plans to see our doctor again in one month. Another reason for him to stick around longer. :) 
We talked with our doctor about our long-term plan for Parke, and we really don't have one besides just taking it day by day like we have been. We are moving forward and planning our summer vacations with him in mind and praying for God's will to be carried out in his special little life. 

Excuse my extremely tired eyes in this picture, but I just love Parke's precious face at his appointment. He looks like a big boy! 

It's hard to believe that we fell in love with this....
really, just the idea of this, months ago. 
I love looking back at his ultrasound pictures and seeing how much he looks like them. I prayed to be able to kiss those lips, squeeze those cheeks, and even wipe that nose! God has been so good to us! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Two of a Kind

I am the luckiest mama because I have 3 of the most precious babies in the world. :) Seriously, they are absolutely adorable, and I know I can't possibly be biased. Ha! 

You've heard a lot about Parke lately, but I'm in desperate need of updating you on Landry and Collier. These two monkeys keep me hopping. They are busier than busy, and I love how much they change and grow everyday. They love each other so much, fight like cats and dogs, and miss one another even when they are just in separate rooms. Life with these two is a joy! 

Landry Elise: 3 minus 2 months 
(she LOVES talking about being 3!)
Landry has us laughing all the time. She is so funny, and she knows it. 
To update you on her, I'm just going to share some of her most recent quotes. 

-Instead of "Pop Goes the Weasel," Landry thinks it is, "Fox-n-a-Weasel"
-Her new food request is Peanut Jelly, no butter. 
-She loves to tell people, "No way Jose!"
-Landry does not like milk at all. Every time we try to make her drink it, she tells us that it is "spicy milk!"
-"I don't have a tail, I have a booty." :)
-Instead of saying, "That's a good idea!" Landry says, "That's gonna be an idea!" 
-She thinks that she can control every situation by making demands because I'm pretty sure that at 2 1/2 the world really does revolve around her. She told me these two things the other day...
"Mama, I don't want it to rain outside. I want it to be pretty. BE PRETTY outside!!!" 
"I will take turns, but I want it to always be my turn." Really? She's kind of smart. :)
-Her newest baby doll is named Arm. So, at this point we have Amy, Pinkie, Starbuck, Ella, and Arm. Who knows what my grandchildren will be named some day!

Sweet Collier: 18 months
18 months kind of snuck up on me. I was okay with 16 months, okay with 17 months, but 18 months just sounds so big! The time from 18 months to 2 years for Landry was huge. She changed SO much, and I am starting to see a lot of changes in Collier...even on things that we aren't working on. 
He is saying many new words, asking questions, following some instruction (ha!), and really acting interested in learning new things. He is still extremely wild, but I am starting to see the light at the end of this 6 month long tunnel of craziness. He is starting to focus on projects, sit still for more than 20 seconds, and not be as frustrated with trying to express his needs. 
He is such a sweet boy...loves to snuggle, loves his mama, loves to read books, and still loves his green blankie. 
He and Micah are starting to do "boy things" together more often, and Collier loves being outside with his daddy. 

Collier has started paying more attention to Parke over the past few weeks. He wants to give him kisses constantly, and after EVERY kiss he says, "Awwww. I sweet!" 

He has started walking up to the toilet and asking to go potty. I have put him on there a few times, but he hasn't actually gone. He tells me every time he does #2 in his diaper, but it is always after the fact. 18 months just seems so early for a boy to potty train! I'm trying to hold him off, but I did buy him some underwear the other day at Target. Landry said, "Oh yea! Collier gets to wear panties on Monday!"  I'm not sure when we will actually start the process...we have a few other things going on right now. :) 

Thanks for reading my sometimes boring updates on my sweet kiddos! I blog instead of scrap-booking, and I love to look back through our "blog books" and see what the kids were doing at different ages. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I'm Learning A Lot

You already know that Parke is teaching our family a lot about life. He is teaching us to trust, teaching us to love more fully, teaching us that family doesn't mean blood, teaching us that joy can be found in the midst of trials, and so much more. 
Beyond all of that, there is something that I have learned through his life that I would like to share with you....

This week, February 7-14, is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. I'm not asking you to share this, to wear a certain color on a certain day, or anything like that (not that there is anything wrong with those things). I just want to tell you what we have learned over the past several weeks. 

While we were at ACH, I found out that 1 in every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). I also learned that CHDs are responsible for the most deaths in the first year of life than any other birth defect. I really had no clue! I totally took for granted that Landry and Collier were born with no complications. 
Some CHDs require surgery, some do not. Some can be lived with, others cannot. There is so much information on the internet about these conditions, and if you're interested in doing some research, there is a lot to learn!

Also, I haven't shared before, but I am going to list Parke's heart conditions for you. I've had several people ask, especially those who have found our blog through having their own children with heart issues. There is a big community! 
I'm copying these directly off of the discharge papers from ACH...I am NO expert on what each of these are, but we have been studying up and learning a lot about our sweet boy's heart. He is extra, extra special! 

Parke's conditions are: 
Complex Congenital Heart Disease
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
Double Outlet Right Ventricle
Mitral Atresia
Hypoplastic Aortic Arch
Coarctation of the Aorta
Tricuspid Insufficiency
Small Atrial Septal Defect

Parke is amazing. He is a miracle. He is the strongest person I know, and I will say it again and again....I am PROUD and HONORED to be his mama!
Day 33!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Reason To Celebrate!

Some of our most precious friends put together a 1 month birthday party for Parke Henry. It was a special day for our family, and it was so much fun to celebrate with a small group of friends. Parke was surrounded by wild kiddos and lots of other was just perfect! 
The kids played so hard and totally wore themselves out. They both slept hard last night (despite all the sugar!). 
The birthday boy was passed around and loved on a lot...just the way it was supposed to be! 
Happy 1 month (and one day now) birthday to our little miracle! He has doubled his original life expectancy, and we hope he just keeps going and going. 

Parke's pediatrician was partying with us last night....those are his lovely daughters holding Parke in a few of the pics. He gave me permission (probably because I didn't ask, I just told him...ha!) to give P a tiny taste of icing for his special day. Honestly, he wasn't a fan. :) 

Parke received several cards at his party, but I have to say that this was my favorite. Emma's mama sent me a picture of this earlier this week, but it was so sweet that they wanted to give Parke the actual paper. Emma is 4 years old and was asked to write something she was thankful for at church last week. She was thankful for baby Parke. :) I love that our friends' kiddos lives are being touched by Parke...we don't know the reason he is here, but God certainly does!

Love, love, loved yesterday. Thank you to everyone for the sweet messages, wishes, and prayers for Parke!  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Let's Catch Up

This could easily be several blog posts, but I don't easily come up with the time for that these, you're getting it all in one. :) Also, some of the pictures are duplicates from Facebook, so if we're friends on there, you will just be EXTRA caught up! 

Before I share pictures...Parke is still doing great this morning. He is resting well, eating great, and continuing to be just perfect. He is not struggling to breath and doesn't seem in any distress like he did a little bit before we went to Little Rock. He is back to "if you didn't KNOW he was sick, you wouldn't know." I like it that way!

 We had such a perfect and normal week. You saw pictures of our lazy day and other things we did, and it just kept getting better from there. On Wednesday, my mom and I took the kids to the public library. She has taken Landry before, but I had never gone. It was so much fun! I will say...never, never, never, never, ever will I take all 3 kids by myself and do this. I should say...never, ever, ever until they are old enough to listen, potty on their own, not pull every single book off the shelf, and try to run away. It was exhausting, but so worth it! 
They had story time, sang songs, played games on the computer, and just really enjoyed themselves. Sweet Parke rested peacefully in the stroller and didn't make a peep!

The next morning, Landry was so excited that she and Parke were "froggy twins!" I've mentioned this before, but when things match, they are automatically twins. :) She is SUCH a proud big sister, and I love watching her with "her baby!" 

Sweet snuggles before bed! A Gibson pile-up, if you will. :)

Dado and Nana came over to celebrate Parke's 4 week birthday with us on Thursday.  Landry keeps my dad laughing, and I love to see them together! 

As we speak, Micah is finishing up our Saturday morning breakfast (that I was actually supposed to be cooking...thanks honey!). Today is going to be full of snuggles, play-time, and tons of love. I couldn't ask for anything more special than our family of 5, so I am heading off to enjoy every second. Please continue your prayers for our little man....he is so amazing and every day with him is such a blessing!