Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It’s rather typical to list off all of the things that we are grateful for at this time of year. But this time around, I am grateful for more, and in a deeper way, than I could have ever imagined at this time a year ago.

I am unwaveringly grateful for the incredible journey that the last year has taken me on. Coming out on the other side, it’s easier to say so; there were moments of great sorrow, deep disappointment, and bitter tears that I thought at times would never stop flowing. And nonetheless, there were moments of hope and joy, and the dawning of new friendships that would renew a part of my faith that had forgotten that God truly does care about the little things. And when the weight was too heavy to bear, there was my husband. My precious, God-seeking, devoted partner, softly speaking truth and hope. I couldn’t imagine a better companion on the dusty trails of this life.

This year has taught me to never be led by just my heart, but to be led by Truth confirmed in my heart. With the ups and downs of life, my heart keeps up pace, bouncing up and down in the tidal wave of emotion. But Truth does not change. This year I was reminded that the goodness of God is pursuing me, and no matter how long and exhausting the journey has seemed, God has been waiting to be good to me (Isaiah 30:18, the Message).

Less than three months ago, I was introduced to Evelyn. She was just three days old when I met her. Any newborn has the power to melt my heart, but Evelyn is something special. Evelyn’s life catapulted my faith in God in a way I didn’t even realize until the day I first held her in my arms. You see, Evelyn’s mommy was given the same diagnosis that I had been given during this past year… It involved a mass growing on the brain, and even with proper treatment, one of the many common side-effects was infertility. And yet, on a sparkling late-summer afternoon, there in my arms lay baby Evelyn. The fruit of God’s faithfulness.

In recent months, I stumbled upon another young and miraculous life, swadled in the arms of an old friend and sister in Christ. Her name is Olive Hope. For the last two months my husband and I have prayed for Olive and her parents thousands of miles away, as they bear the weight of the world on their shoulders and watch their little one fight for life on a daily basis. As the world joins with us in prayer, we have seen miracle after miracle, and yet the journey is far from over. Olive has reminded me again that God is faithful, and that God sees a picture that is much larger than the canvas of our own lives. She reminds me that ultimately, God will be glorified, and that alone is reason enough to be grateful for life, in any form or condition.

And here, in the midst of these very miracles, tangled up in prayers for Evelyn and Olive Hope, a new life was created… and this time, against all odds, the life was created and formed within ME.

"For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." 1 Samuel 1:27

Your love Lord, truly does reach to the heavens. Your faithfulness leaps beyond the horizon and into the forgotten corners of my heart. You have pierced my heart with your goodness this year, and to you alone be the glory.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations."
Psalm 100:4-5

Monday, November 23, 2009

Negative Nancy.

From Lynette
Another day of ups and downs. Woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach having no clue what the doctors decision would be if we would be able to make our flight tomorrow or not. This morning after arriving we learned that she had a stable night and has been stable throughout the morning.

The opthamologist came and said he was happy with the results of her laser surgery and will come back to look at her eyes again in five days from now if we can't return to the States.

Around 9:00 a.m. they did a lumbar puncture to remove 10 ml of CSF fluid to help relieve some of her intracranial pressure and also to evaluate how well she is responding to her antibiotics. The team of one doctor and two nurses who would be traveling to the States with us came to look at her around noon and told us based on her vital signs that they think everything is a go. They said they just needed to evaluate the results of the CSF fluid. So, about one hour later they returned with the results with a concerned look on their faces. Apparently the glucose level was very low, and protein was higher than it should be. They didn't think she was fit to fly. They said they would consult with the infectious disease specialists to get a final opinion.

The team of infectious disease specialists said they were concerned about us not having a ventilator onboard the aircraft in the case of Olive having continued apnea. They also worry that if the meningitis continues to progress that she will start having more frequent seizures. They told us that meningitis can cause deafness, severe developmental problems, as well as seizure issues in SOME cases. Not very comforting news to hear.

So...all of the doctors involved in Olive's case are telling us she cannot fly. We had our hopes up so high to have Olive at such a great hospital, and to be near family and friends as we continue walking through this journey.

So here we are...lots of tears today, anger, and disappointment.

Today I'm feeling angry at God, and wondering why there continues to be more and more bad news. I can see lots of ugly places in myself too in all of this. I want to be grateful for the good things He is the positive report on Olive's eyes, and the simple fact that we are included in the small percentage of people in this world to have access to this level of healthcare.

I do miss my close friends that could just sit down beside me and grumble with me.

love to all of you...


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Meningitis, I hate your guts.

From Lynette
Today had lots to tears to accompany it. The organism that they found in Olive's CSF fluid is Staphylococcus Aureus...which means she has meningitis. This was the first news we heard upon arriving at the hospital this morning.

Throughout the day Olive has had episodes of Apnea where she stops breathing and her heart rate drops. With the help of a little oxygen and patting her on the back, scratching the bottom or her feet, or rubbing her little cheeks her numbers eventually climb back up. The doctors are contributing this to her infection and say that hopefully by tomorrow night or Tuesday morning the clinical signs will start getting better once she has a few days of antibiotics in her system.

The problem with all of this is that we need her to be stable to take her on the flight planned for Tuesday morning at 11:00 am. Everything is set up and in place...except for Olive's current health status.

Tomorrow morning the doctor who would be traveling with Olive if we go to the States, is coming to the hospital to take a look at her and her labs to decide if she is fit to fly or not. They will be doing a lumbar puncture on Olive in the morning to assess the level of her current infection and also to remove 5 ml of CSF to help decrease her intracranial pressure. According to one neonatologist we have been talking with in the States, if they are able to control her infection by Tuesday and her vital signs stabilize she should be able to still make this flight.

Another issue that we haven't yet been able to discuss with her neurosurgeon (because he has been in Japan for the last week) is how they are going to go about reducing her intracranial pressure now that she has an infection...(insert a deep tired sigh here).

We are crawling into bed tonight feeling emotionally drained and down in the dumps. I'm not sure what you should be praying for at this point...maybe for the antibiotics to destroy all of the bacteria in her system so that her clinical symptoms improve by tomorrow? Or maybe pray that if this doesn't happen we will have the strength to embrace the next step if that means we need to stay here longer.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Auction for Olive - Bidding Starts Tomorrow!!!

With thousands following the journey God is taking Rusty, Lynette and Olive on, many of us are continually thinking about them and praying for them. Also, many have given generously to the Olive Hope Care Fund that has been set up. As medical bills continue to add up, two wonderful mom's have created another way to increase the finances in that fund. During the next week, people from around the world have been invited to participate in the Auction for Olive. There are a couple ways you can participate.

1.) Auction off something, ANYTHING! Here are the basics:
  • If you want to donate an item please email Becky at or Cindy at with a complete description of the item you are donating, and a picture if possible. If you have a blog with the item on it send us your web address along with the description.
  • An example of an item could be "Olive's Grandma Co will lovingly make you a plateful of her delicious chocolate chip cookies once a month for a year. Living in Lynden will make delivery easier but I'm sure other arrangements could be made"
  • All items will be auctioned off via the website linked above
  • Shipping costs of donated items are the responsibility of the donor.
  • Once the auction ends and item is paid for we will connect the donor with the buyer.
  • Bidding will begin Sunday, November 22 at 9:00 p.m. PST and end on Saturday, November 28 at 9:00 p.m. PST
2.) Bid on items during the auction. For the auction to be successful, there must be bidders! As the holidays are coming closer and we think about Christmas shopping, this would be a great way to get your shopping done and support Rusty and Lynette.

3.) Do both!!

Pages of great items are already listed for the auction! Take a look today & begin bidding tomorrow!

A dirty little organism.

From Lynette
Yesterday the doctors were pleased with how Olive's laser eye surgery went. After being on anesthesia she was throwing up so she had to be NPO (have nothing by mouth) for the day. Today they have her back on feedings, but she still needs to be on an IV again.

This morning we arrived to the hospital to learn that the doctors were getting ready to test her CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) for any organisms to assess for infection (a common complication of the drain in her head). The test came back as positive for bacteria so they had to remove the drain immediatly and start her on two different IV antibiotics. We were hoping she would be free from infection and that the drain would be able to stay in until the day we left for the States, so now we are unsure exactly how they will handle this.

Now that she is getting IV antibiotics she needs an IV in all the time. Olive has the smallest most fragile veins, so getting an IV in her is VERY difficult. Tonight the nurses tried about 6 times unsuccessfully. We held her and sang to her for while before handing her back to them and heading home. I'm hoping by now they have an IV in her.

Tomorrow the opthamologist will come to assess her eyes again which I'm not looking forward to. They put these little metal clips on her eyelids to pull them back for he examination and it looks so uncomfortable. She crys every time they do this...poor little thing.

At this point they are saying she should still be able to go home on the 24th despite the current complications. Rusty has been busy on the phone with the nurses and doctor who will be accompanying us, those helping with the flight back to the States, and with insurance. We are so thankful to those of you who have given to the Olive Hope Care Fund. It has made it possible for us to pay for the doctor and nurses accompanying us to the States as well as their plane tickets back to Thailand.

We have heard so many good things about the DeVos children's hospital in Grand Rapids and are anxious to get her there sooner than later. At the hospital we are currently at, we rarely see an attending doctor...I think we've seen one twice since arriving 1.5 weeks ago. Otherwise its all residents making the decisions. I think they are very good at what they do, but I would feel much more comfortable if I got to see an attending at least once a day.

The last two days have been rough emotionally for both of us and we are feeling pretty drained. We wish so badly life could be easier for Olive. She is a little fighter, but she's also a weak little thing who I wish could just be cuddled like a normal little baby without dealing with all the daily procedures that make her so uncomfortable.

Life these days continues to be unpredictable. Trying to look for things to be thankful for each day and not be swallowed up by the things that seem overwhelming and out of our control.

Much love,


Friday, November 20, 2009

From Rusty
Today at 3 a.m.

Surgery is finished: Good news, all went well. Olive is such a little fighter. We are now praying that she will remain stable so we can get to Grand Rapids on the 24th. Olive will be going to DeVos Childrens Hospital. We are very thankful to the Dick DeVos Family. They have been on Olive's team from the start. All of you have been on this Journey with us. We are so thankful! Rusty

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Many Faces of Olive

These pictures are to die for... love this little one!

Eye Surgery for Olive... within 24 hours

From Lynette
This afternoon we were with Olive at the hospital when we were told today they were going to do the routine eye examination on her to assess for blindness. Rusty and I were both feeling pretty nervous and praying throughout the day that this would turn out better than our last doctor in Chiang Rai predicted. Three residents came in to check her and then called for the head opthamoligist to come and assess her. After he arrived he told us that based on the findings she will need to undergo immediate treatment by laser or cryotherapy surgery in the morning. The doctor told us that if they were to wait too long, or not do this surgery that she will be blind in the future. If they go ahead with it they can prevent this complication, but as with anything there are risks of doing this as well. Another retinal specialist came to confirm the findings and the pediatric team said she will be ok to go under general anesthesia for the procedure.

So here we wait..anxiously and nervously...but still grateful to be in a place where she can recieve the care that she needs.

If all goes well she will still be able to leave for the States on Tuesday.

Much love,


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Precious little one...

Look at this little bundle of love!

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Coming Home?

Its been a few days since our last update. Most of our time has been filled with being at the hospital holding Olive and spending time with her. There are many financial benefits (more affordable care) of being here at the government hospital, but along with the benefits come the downsides. The doctors here are overworked, which means sometimes you have to wait for their availability for procedures, wait for a spot in the operating room, etc. She has been without a drain in her head for the last six days, and each day her head circumference has continued to increase. Yesterday we were told by the residents that the doctor was coming to put in another drain around 2:00 pm. After waiting at the hospital, we finally got a phone call around 7:00 pm that he had other surgeries and wouldn't be available for 24 more hours. Today I was told he was coming to look at her at 1:00 pm, and instead he came at 6:30 pm. We've been trying our best to practice our patience...especially since there is not much else we can do. At this point we are hoping that Olive continues to remain stable and if so Olive will be flown back to the States around the 23rd of this month with one Thai doctor and two Thai nurses at her side.

Tonight the neurosurgeon inserted another ventricular drain and the plan is to keep it in until we leave on the 23rd. If she were to get an infection from the drain, then our plans may change once again, and we may be staying here longer.

Thank-you for your continued support and prayers.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Ultrasound

Dear friends,

This morning the neurosurgeon did another ultrasound and he was pleased with the results. He said that her brain tissue is continuing to expand and he was also pleased with how active she has been. For the last two days she has been breathing only room air, so that is also good news!

They are considering trying to switch all of her medicines to go through her ng tube and remove her IVs now that she is getting 22 ml of my milk 8 times a day. This way they won't have to keep poking her.

We are feeling encouraged as we crawl into bed tonight.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Olive is on the Move!

From Lynette
The last few days have been a rollarcoaster of ups and downs and we have had little time to be online. I mentioned in the last post that there was a possibility of us heading to the States at the end of this week on a commercial flight, but that looks like it may not work out once again due to technical difficulties with the oxygen we will need along the way. However, there appears to be another possibility hovering in the distance to fly Olive home in 1.5 weeks. Yesterday a bed opened up for Olive at the government army hospital and she was transferred yesterday morning.

Tuesday night I flew up to Chiang Rai for 24 hours to pack up our things and say good-bye to our friends there. I woke up at 6:00 am to spend some time with the kids at the Akha Youth Development Center before they left for school at 7:00 am. They all had lots of questions for me about Olive, and when they would get to see her. After that I spent the morning/afternoon talking and packing up our things with Ghan, Blah, Ae, P Thim (some of my close Akha friends) and Libby at my house. In the afternoon/evening we spent time with the older kids from the AYDC in town, stopped in to visit the NICU nurses at Chiang Rai Regional Hospital, then off to a quick dinner with more close friends before going back to the airport to fly to Bangkok. I was unable to see everyone I was hoping to see, but the time was very limited. The day was full of emotions. A deep thankfulness for the friendships we have made here in Chiang Rai...anxiety for not being near Olive during her transfer to the government hospital...and then all of the unknowns hanging in the air about what the future will hold. At this point we are unsure if we will be going back to the States on a short or long-term basis. It will all depend on what Olive's needs will be in the future. It's hard to know how to process things when the future is so unknown. Time to return to the reminder that all we can do is take things one day at a time--one hour at a time.

Last night I landed in Bangkok about 11:15 pm and Rusty met me at the airport. We then went to the government hospital so that I could see where Olive was. When I came in she was crying and the nurses were all busy. Olive just started crying this last week more consistently when she is in pain or uncomfortable. I realize this is a good and normal sign, but also really hard to see when you aren't able to make her feel better. She had an IV inserted into a vein in her head because they were having issues getting it in her legs and arms. The nurses were friendly, but very professional and kindly reminded us that it was okay to be there for a few minutes but that it was not visiting hours. We walked home feeling anxious to have her in a new place once again.

Yesterday after transferring Olive to the army hospital Rusty broke down crying in front of the nurses and was just feeling overwhelmed...feeling sorry for Olive...worried about having her in a new place once again. This morning when we came in to see Olive the head nurse told us that we are going to be able to visit her any time we would like, and said they know our situation has been very stressful. The head nurse told me that she spent 2 months studying in Chicago at UIC...the same school I graduated from for my nursing degree. Today has been wonderful. The nurses are very kind and have been encouraging us to hold Olive as often as we would like. It's been fun to be back in a government NICU setting where we can mingle and chat with the nurses.

We had a meeting with the neurosurgeon this morning and he agreed that he would like to postpone placing the VP shunt (major surgery) as long as possible (ideally until she reaches 4.4 lbs.) and he will continue to try temporary measures to relieve the pressure in Olive's head in the meantime. He said he thinks Olive is stable enough to go ahead with the major surgery now, but will wait longer to lesson the risk of complications.

Olive has been breathing well on room air all day, so we are encouraged by this.

We are so thankful for your prayers, verbal support, and incredible generosity.

Much love,


Please don't forget to visit, donate, and bid in the Auction for Olive!!!

Bidding begins Sunday, November 22nd (just by commenting and placing your bid on the item you choose), and ends on Saturday, November 28th. Please join us in this creative way to raise financial support for the Polinders, and get a few Christmas gifts along the way!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick Update

From Lynette
Today at 12:00am

Well, a few days ago the doctors told us that Olive is doing better than they expected after removing her first temporary drain. She is able to control her body temperature much better, and is off the ventilator--though still getting a little oxygen. They said because of this, that evacuating her to the States is another possibility again since she wouldn't have to be in an isolette on a stretcher (which was a previous issue for taking her on a commercial flight.

They are also saying that they would like to ideally wait on putting in the VP shunt until she gains more weight (2 kg or 4.4 lbs).

Over the last 2 days her head circumference continued to grow so yesterday they placed another temporary 7 day drain. If she remains stable there is a chance we will take a commercial flight with her to the States along with a doctor and nurse at the end of these seven days. If she would get an infection, or her condition would deteriorate at all, then we will plan on staying here in Thailand for her next treatment.

We are still waiting on a bed at the government hospital to open up, but if it does open up we aren't exactly sure if we will take that spot or stay here... it will all depend of what the plan is for her next step.

Today we are supposed to have a meeting with the director of the hospital to discuss a plan of care for her at this point. Some good news is that Olive's neurologist said that her brain tissue is beginning to expand again a little after removing the fluid. The more it expands, the better her prognosis for the future will be.

We will keep you updated when we are a bit more certain what is going on ourselves.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

Auction for Olive - You're Invited!

With thousands following the journey God is taking Rusty, Lynette and Olive on, many of us are continually thinking about them and praying for them. Also, many have given generously to the Olive Hope Care Fund that has been set up. As medical bills continue to add up we're hoping to add another way to increase the finances in that fund. We are hoping that many of you will start thinking creatively for ways to participate in the Auction for Olive. There are a couple ways you can participate.

1.) Auction off something, ANYTHING! Here are the basics:
  • If you want to donate an item please email Becky at or Cindy at with a complete description of the item you are donating and a picture if possible. If you have a blog with the item on it send us your web address along with the description.
  • An example of an item could be "Olive's Grandma Co will lovingly make you a plateful of her delicious chocolate chip cookies once a month for a year. Living in Lynden will make delivery easier but I'm sure other arrangements could be made"
  • All items will be auctioned off via the website linked above
  • Shipping costs of donated items are the responsibility of the donor.
  • Once the auction ends and item is paid for we will connect the donor with the buyer.
  • Bidding will begin Sunday, November 22 at 9:00 p.m. PST and end on Saturday, November 28 at 9:00 p.m. PST
2.) Bid on items during the auction. As the holidays are coming closer and we think about Christmas shopping this would be a great way to get your shopping done and support Rusty and Lynette.

3.) Do both!!

Items are already listed for the auction! Submit yours or begin bidding today!

Friday, November 6, 2009

No Drain!

From Lynette
Today at 6:10 a.m.

Olive is off the ventilator and the drain is out. Her head circumference has not grown in 48 hours so we are happy about that. The neurosurgeon told us that over the last 7 days they removed about 400 ml of fluid from her head. Craziness! I was able to finally hold her quite a bit today now that the drain is out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I will keep asking...

I wept as I read this today...

From Lynette
Today at 11:51am

I was thinking today about a conversation I had many times with close friends before becoming pregnant with Olive. The conversation was about my fear of having a baby…all the things I would have to give up. How self-less you need to be. And that once you have a baby YOU will be the one in charge of caring for it—you can never give him/her back to their parents and drive home to sleep.

It’s interesting how quickly one can change perspective, and how drastically life has changed since having Olive…how much more ready I felt to be a mother after being breaths away from losing her. How willing I felt to give up my time and make life changes if it meant keeping her. And then came the fears of holding on too tightly to keeping her, and wanting to be able to let her go if that was what was best for her. And the times we tried to “let her go” and “give her to Jesus” and how she kept fighting and taking one more breath than we were expecting her to.

I think things happen for a reason, and believing that also helps me not drown in guilt that I did something to make Olive come so early. I have been struggling with those thoughts and feelings...the “what if I did this differently”...or “what if I listened to all my Thai friends advice rather than laughing at them when they told me…” Still I can recognize that those “what ifs” aren’t going to help me in dealing with what tomorrow will bring me, and they can't change the past.

So now I will continue to take a day at a hour at a time.

Yesterday the neurosurgeon asked me if I knew about her case. I told him I had already been told that she had the worst kind of brain bleed and that her prognosis is very bad. He agreed and said that her brain tissue is so thin that she may not be able to do anything but lay in bed when she gets older. She may be blind, and she may be deaf. She may not be able to speak, or process information. He said he hopes this won’t be the case, and that sometimes things turn out better than doctors expect.

I've heard this about 15 times from our doctor in Chiang Rai, and other doctors in the States, but it just never feels like old news. Each time it feels like someone just punched me in the gut and knocked the wind out of me. I tried to hold myself together, but my throat tightened and my eyes welled up with tears. My mind blanked with the other questions I was planning on asking. The doctors and nurse tried to comfort me, but I just needed time to be alone and sob.

I believe that God still does miracles, and I will continue to ask for them. I also know that often He didn’t choose to heal the whole crowd, but only one out of the bunch…and I don’t know if Olive will be that one. But I will keep asking like she will be that one.

When He doesn't answer my big requests like, "Jesus, heal her brain...renew the damaged places" I start making my requests today, "Jesus, can you at least allow Olive to sense how much she is loved? Can you let her smile when she gets bigger?" And before I go to bed I will ask Him again to touch her, to surround her as she sleeps, and to do more than I can even ask or imagine.

Its hard for me to believe that you need to know the right way to pray--like its some kind of formula. In fact, when I hear that little children are praying for Olive before they get tucked in at night all around the world, it's those prayers I get most hopeful about. Those simple honest requests to Jesus with no fancy wording attached.

It’s been confusing to know where the line is drawn between denial and faith. It’s impossible not to hope for the best. I am willing to raise a disabled child and I will love her with everything in me. I think I already do.

Whether life brings us what we were hoping for or not I am still resting in the fact that God is good. That He is compassionate and gracious, and abounding in love. That Olive is a gift. And that someday far down the road this part of the journey we are on will make more sense then it does while we are in it and searching for our footing.

The little lady today

From Lynette
Today at 6:53am

Olive had a rather uneventful day today which we always are happy about. She is on room air with her oxygen, and though she is ready to come off the ventilator the doctor has decided to keep it in until her surgery is finished. She has had very few seizures today (I only saw one), and has been able to control her body temperature much better. The neurosurgeon asked for the nurses to clamp her drain for 24 hours to assess how much her head grows during that time. 19 hours later it is still measuring the same at 32.5 cm, so this is also good news. She has been comfortable most all of the day, except for the last time I visited her and she was getting poked and poked while they searched for new veins. The poor little dear! I had to leave so that I wouldn't make the nurses feel like someone was breathing down their necks, and will go back and visit her again in 30 minutes.

We are still waiting for a bed to open up for her at the NICU at the government hospital. The doctors are hoping that happens tomorrow, but they can't make any promises.

I left the hospital today and walked around in the sunshine for the first time since we have arrived a week ago. I forgot how healing just smelling fresh air and grass can be after being in a hospital for so long. I think I will try to make a habit of it.

Thank you for your words of love and encouragement and continued prayers.

Friends and Family and readers in the blogoshpere, thank you so much for continuing to pray for this little one. Let us not grow weary in well doing...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The next big step...

From Lynette
Today at 12:42am

Yesterday we had lots of meetings with the doctors discussing the next best step for Olive. A week ago when her temporary drain was put in the plan was to transfer her home to a hospital in the States once they took the drain out and she stabilized.

We have been looking into options of getting Olive back to the States via air, but it seems as if those options continue to not be working out. Some of this is due to the number of stops a smaller plane would need to make and issues with changes in pressure. We have also looked into going with a commercial flight and taking along a doctor and nurse from here, but there have been issues with getting a stretcher on the flights (for her isolette) and oxygen issues and policies with the airlines.

The other option would be to use an air ambulance service, but the cheapest option we can find is a minimum of $170,000 US dollars.

The doctors at our hospital are very well trained in medical evacuations and the specific requirements Olive would need to make a transfer at this point. They are suggesting for us to keep her here to do the VP shunt surgery. This is a major surgery where they place a shunt in her head that drains down her neck all the way into her peritoneum (in her abdomen). These shunts can stay in for a few years at a time if there are no complications. Usually doctors will wait as long as possible to do this surgery in small babies because of the risk of skin break down being greater the younger the baby is. However, in this circumstance the doctors think this would be the best option for Olive at this time.

The hospital we are at is very aware of our financial situation and the cap on our insurance so we have been working together to come up with the most ideal option for both Olive's care and our finances.

The doctors here at Samitivej have a connection with a government army hospital here in Bangkok and one of the top neurosurgeons there (who works back and forth between private and government hospitals). He was trained in Australia and speaks great English, and the doctors here have full confidence in him. He has agreed to take Olive's case. If Olive is transferred to that hospital the cost of the surgery will drop significantly. They also tell us that this hospital has a better equipped NICU then the one we had Olive at in Chiang Rai.

So...after much thought and talking with a neonatologist in the States, we told the doctors this morning that we would like her to get the surgery done at the government hospital and then we will see how it goes having her there. If we feel we would rather have her at the private hospital again after seeing how they care for her at the government hospital, then we will go ahead and transfer her back here to Samitivej. If she is here at Samitivej I know she will always have one nurse focusing only on her, and that there will be no visiting hour limitations...and that they really encourage skin to skin and helping me begin trying to breast-feed her as well. But we will see...maybe the staff at the Army hospital will be wonderful too and we will feel confident in their care for her.

They are saying Olive will need to stay in the hospital after the shunt surgery for another month, and then after that they would like us to stay at a hotel or apartment close by and practice caring for her on our own (breast-feeding...etc) for another month. Then if she has any issues during that month they can help us or if she would have any complications. After that time is up, if we feel confident in caring for her and if she is stable (if she can regulate her body temp and is off oxygen, and eating well) we could take a commercial flight home. Craziness.

So...i guess we will be here in Bangkok for another two months or so. This is not what we were expecting, but it seems to be our only current option and I think I can speak for both of us in saying that we feel a peace about it.

Rusty is in Chiang Rai tying up loose ends and packing up a few more things since we originally thought we might be leaving for home in the next few days. He will return tonight to be back in time for Olive's surgery.

So the journey continues...thank-you to all of you who are walking it with us.

Olive has been stable. The doctors think her apnea was maybe do to fluid overload in her lungs from replacing the fluid they were taking out of the drain. They put her back on the ventilator just for a few days to help her rest and help her gain weight easier. They said they can take it out today, but recommended keeping it in until her surgery is over since they would need to put it back in for the surgery anyways. She is having fewer and fewer seizures so that is good too. Today she seems to be very comfortable.

Pray that her brain would be able to expand again after the intense pressure it experienced from the fluid in her head...this is a concern the doctors talked with us about. Please continue praying for damaged cells to be made new...


Olive with her cute little shrinking head. This is after having the drain in for almost 6 days. Her head circumference has decreased from 38 to 33 cm over the last 6 days!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Are Worth Far More Than Many Sparrows

From Lynette
Today at 6:55 a.m.

About four days before Olive was born I was walking around outside of our house in Chiang Rai when I spotted something strange moving around in the grass under a tree. When I got up close I was very disturbed to find a little sparrow still alive on the ground slowly moving with ants completely covering it's little body and biting it. I yelled for Libby to come help me and we moved him onto the concrete and tried to brush off the ants with a broom. We then took him into the house and made a little bath for him to get rid of the ants hiding under his feathers.

We sat there watching him dry off for about 15 minutes killing any sneaky little ant that crawled out from under his wings. The sparrow laid on the counter for about an hour not moving at all. He drank a little water when we gave it to him dripping off a cotton swab. After a while we moved him to the floor in a little bowl thinking he would probably die later in the day. We were happy that at least he would die in peace rather than getting bitten alive by those awful ants.

A few hours later the little bird jumped out of the bowl and started hopping around the house. It took us about 10 minutes before we could catch him because he started flying again. I then walked outside with him and he flew out of my hands away into a tree. I thought a lot about this verse...

“Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s [knowledge]. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: You are worth more than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:29-31

I was amazed that God cared enough about this little bird to let us come across him and nurse him back to health.

I've thought a lot about this situation and verse over the past five weeks since Olive has been born. It's come to my mind in those moments when God has felt silent. In those moments when I have wondered if He has even been listening to my prayers. When I have been overwhelmed and confused. Eventually He gently nudges me with the reminder that He cares for those little sparrows--so how much MORE does he care for Olive?

Our emotions have hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the past five weeks. The simple fact is that God loves Olive even more than I...and all of this is ultimately out of my control. He can choose to take her to heaven, or to continue giving us the gift of caring for her.

He has plans for us which we can't even begin to imagine. I have NO idea what my life will look like in five years from now...or even tomorrow. If I sit and think about that for too long I can start to get pretty anxious. I've learned in this last month that life can change drastically within the hour. Ken Koeman wrote this to us the other day and it is so true..." have I mentioned that most of the time God does not lead us with a searchlight, but rather with a flashlight? Step by step, through winding paths…and slow."

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, or even tonight. What I DO know is that if God cares about these little sparrows-- that He cares for us and the details of our lives...and that He is enough. Now only if I can just remember that in the darkest of moments.

Weekend Updates

The little lady herself on her 5 week birthday! Olive, you have captured the hearts of many! We thank God for the miracle of your life, and the way you compel us to fall at the feet of Jesus.

From Lynette
Today at 5:30 a.m.

Olive is having a harder day today. She had some apnea over night and today so the doctors have been trying to figure out the cause of it. Currently she is sleeping and stable. Thank you for your prayers.

From Lynette
Saturday at 2:40 p.m.

Olive had another ultrasound this morning and the neurologist was very pleased with the results. Because she is responding so well they have decided to remove 10 cc of fluid every four hours now. She is still very stable. We are very grateful.


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