Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Story of Our Little Finnley Kate

The Lord's hand is in everything. You may not see it, understand it or even acknowledge it but it is always there. Our trials will always turn to triumphs if we learn the lesson we are being taught and embrace it- even when it hurts so bad you feel that you can't possibly bear the hurt in your heart anymore. But Christ bore all things for us on the cross and He knows our pain first hand. With Him, we can get through anything. With Him, we cannot fail if we have faith. He is our Savior and our friend - He is our brother.

After years of trying to have a baby and experiencing the loss of six pregnancies, we had given up on having a family. A battery of tests and even genetic counseling didn't show why my pregnancies only lasted a few weeks.

Our last miscarriage took place on December 24th, 2001 - we had already sent out little countdown clocks to our families to open on Christmas morning. Now Paul was stuck with the phone call - yet again - that we had lost the baby. I went into a depression that seemed hopeless and never ending. I resolved that there would be no children in our future and I was setting my sites on more tangible things that wouldn't hurt my heart so much. The Christmas tree remained up, the presents under it still wrapped and waiting - a holiday not celebrated. These items became a symbol of, "why us?" What did we do to deserve such loss and so much pain? All we wanted was a child to love. How could God be so cruel as to allow such a deep desire to go unmet?

And then - the first miracle came into our lives. In March of 2002, we received a call from our Bishop that changed everything. "We have been working with a mother who is in crisis and the county has taken away her kids. There's a little five year old girl at the Polinsky Center that we feel needs to be in your home. Our Bishopric has prayed over it and we all feel that she belongs with the Messers." Paul immediately said yes and the Bishop asked that he discuss it with me first and call him back. He said, "Paul, you still have your Christmas tree up and it's March. I think Care needs to feel okay about this before you say yes to bringing this little girl home." Well we did discuss it - in about 2 minutes and the feeling was overwhelming that this little girl was to be our first child. Angie was in our home the next evening with her shy little smile, ferocious appetite and long blond hair. It was a long road but three years later, Angie was finally adopted and we officially became a family.

We moved and got a dog. Isn't that what families do? We always wanted more children but the timing was off on the adoption prospects and private adoptions were so expensive. We looked into Mexican adoptions with a neighbor helping us but that didn't feel right either. We knew the feeling we had when Angie was presented to us and we hadn't felt that with any avenue we had explored over the past 5 years. We almost waited for God to bring the next child into our lives. I pictured it in my mind like the Queen waiting in the Nile for Moses to float to her in a basket. I checked my porch weekly but the river hadn't risen enough to carry me a baby. So then - we got another dog. Angie was now ten years old and we had been married almost 15 years. Our spring chicken days were nearing the end - if they hadn't already ended!!

My girlfriends and I went to breakfast one morning in March of 2007. As we were sitting there, one mentioned she had a cousin with red hair that was about to have a baby and she was considering adoption. She didn't know why it hadn't occurred to her sooner but maybe we should look into adopting this baby. (I mention the red hair because my husband is a red head and she knew that I had always wanted a red-headed baby with blue eyes like Paul.) She said that the baby was to be born in a few weeks and what would it be like to bring home a new baby next month? My heart jumped into my throat and the feelings overwhelmed me. I began to cry and couldn't get home fast enough to call Paul. We didn't want to get our hopes up but then why did these feelings come so strong when a baby was mentioned? In April, the young girl ended up keeping her baby. While disappointing, the feelings didn't leave. I mentioned to my sister that something was about to change everything. I had heard people reference the "winds of change," and Paul and I could both feel them whipping up the dust in the stable and constant life we had created for our family. Paul and I held our breath and waited.

Somehow- we became pregnant in May and the little baby held on. Finnley Kate was on her way.

Paul and I were both terrified to find out we were pregnant. Excited but terrified. What if we lost this one too? Our biggest fear was for Angie. Paul and I knew how to grieve for the loss of a baby - but she hadn't ever gone through that. We didn't want her to. While we should have been over the moon with excitement - we were filled with anxious fears. We told NOBODY.

I went to the perinatoligist specialist as soon as I confirmed the pregnancy. I knew I would be high risk because of the other miscarriages but I needed her to tell me that she could save this baby. The first ultrasound was done that same day and the little heartbeat brought me to tears. This was really happening. My doctor began to run tests to see if she could isolate the cause of the past pregnancy losses. I continued to hold my breath. I pleaded with the Lord daily to let this baby be alright. I talked to my belly, hoping he or she would hear and know how much we wanted he or she to be in our family. I think I even walked carefully, afraid that I would somehow jar the baby lose or something. I was a nervous wreck and poor Paul had to hear about it everyday.

A few weeks later, I returned to the doctor. The new ultrasound still showed a strong heartbeat the baby was on target for growth. I cried again. The doctor then told me that she had most likely found the cause of the miscarriages. It was a folic acid deficiency and she put me a "super dose" to help preserve the pregnancy. She said that we were pretty much out the woods already and asked what I had been eating in order to keep the folic acid levels so high without knowing that would keep the pregnancy. (Remember how I said the Lord has His hand in all things - you may not see it or understand it - but it is always there?)

In August of 2006, I came down with a strange rash that covered my face, head and chest. It was a red and pimple like rash and nothing got rid of it. I saw doctor after doctor - even the dermatologists couldn't get rid of it or find the cause. It was miserable! I thought I had tried everything until one day - I went to get my eyebrows waxed.

It was a new girl, in a part of town far from my house but she was a daughter of a friend and so I wanted to support her in her new job. When she came in, she looked at my face and said, "Do you have a wheat allergy?" It caught me off guard and I said, "Not that I know of." She went on to explain that the rash looked like my body wasn't processing something correctly and she recommended that I go off wheat, gluten and dairy for a month and see if the rash would go away. "Well - what is there to eat if I go off all of that?", I said. And she told me to drink "green smoothies" that were made from all different kinds of colored vegetables with a little fruit for a sweet flavor. She said I wouldn't even miss the other foods and it would cleanse my body from whatever it was reacting to. OK - now you are saying - why would anyone listen to a gal giving out medical advice who was trained in shaping eyebrows and giving facials? I can't explain it other than I had a confirmation inside that I should follow her advice. I did, and within 2 days the itching stopped and within a week the rash was all but gone. I ate this way for almost two months (became pregnant sometime during this phase) and only stopped because the sight of vegetables was making me nauseous and I just couldn't gag down those shakes anymore(that nauseousness was the morning sickness but I didn't know it yet). I was later tested for the allergies she mentioned by my doctor and found I was not allergic to any of those things. However, the shakes gave me the folic acid I needed to keep that baby in place. So, I thank God for the rash because it put in place the chain of events that led to my little Finnley. Everything happens for a reason...

I saw the doctor every few weeks and every ultrasound was better than the last. Finally at five months, she told me that I really was out of the danger stage and I could tell people I was pregnant. We custom ordered a t-shirt for Angie that said, "I'm finally going to be a big sister! Coming in Feb. of 2008. I'm just as shocked as you!" When we showed it to Angie, she looked at it and then looked again. She said, "Are we adopting a kid?" It stunned her when I said I was pregnant and I am pretty sure scared the heck out of her but she hugged me and we both cried. We then took a picture of her in the shirt and Angie emailed it to everyone we knew to tell them the good news. It was fun to let her share the news and the support started to come in by phone and email.

This baby was so loved even before she arrived. Our families had waited just as long as we had and gone through our losses each and every time. We all held our breath and prayed that this baby would be staying with us.

I was determined to let the sex of the baby to be a surprise but at the 18 week appointment - I changed my mind! I am just too much of a planner and worrier not to have the right clothes etc. for this little baby. It was a girl!! The name picking can finally take place. We poured over the baby name books. I checked every Internet site in the world but nothing stuck. The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted her named after quite possibly, the sweetest woman I have every met. Her name is Frieda and she is attends my church. Frieda is Polynesian and has a heart larger and more generous than anyone I know. She is the most genuine soul I have ever come across and someone truly to live up too. Oh - and did I mention that she can cook? (But we can talk about that later!!) So we needed a name that began with "F". And one day, I woke up with the name Finnley. It was as spelled out in my mind as it would be on paper. It was vivid in my heart as well and I knew it was the right name. I quickly looked it up to make sure the meaning wasn't something weird like, "One who stares," or "An Irish Goddess who sacrificed animals." Instead I found the meaning and origin to state, Finnley - a "Fair-haired hero." Of Irish/Scottish origin." A name that comes from my Irish/Scottish heritage on my mother's side and would come to describe my little girl to all who know of her. Frieda is also a hero of sorts to many people and that's how Finnley became Finnley Kate.

My friend Cindy called it my control issues and OCD tendencies - yeah - she's right and everything was in place, and every detail attended to by the time she arrived. Extra food in the freezer, nursery organized, pictures on the wall, crib bedding sewn, thank you cards from the showers filled out and mailed. We were ready- but not really.

We had trained in Hypno-birthing with a wonderful coach named France who later became my Douala. We decided to give birth at the birth center downtown and I started seeing the midwives. I was also under the care of the perinatologist that oversees the births at the center because of my miscarriage history. Dr. Blake was wonderful and he gave me the best words ever at one of my visits. I was worried about having a 'ginormous' baby and knowing that I was doing this natural, without any painkillers - I expressed my fears. He said,"You'll have no problems. This baby is going to be about seven and half to eight pounds and she is going to just slide right out!" "Slide" being the key word and somehow it made me feel like I could really do this.

I really wanted to give birth in the water. Finnley had been resting on my sciatic nerve for over a month and I could barely walk. I knew that the hot water would give relief and allow me to concentrate better on my breathing. I really wanted Finnley to be born on Valentines Day and did everything in my power to make that happen - even acupuncture. It started the labor and I was SO excited. But Finnley had other plans. Labor pains only lasted 9 hours and then stopped altogether. I then hoped that she would wait until leap year since it was only two weeks away and about 6 days past my original due date. But no - that didn't work for her either.

At 3:45 am on the morning of Feburary 24th, my water broke. I was filled with excitement as we prepared to go to the birthing center. Hypno-birthing had really prepared us and I felt calm and looked forward to this crowning event we had anticipated for so long. I had tested positive for GBS so I needed to get antibiotics by IV every 4 hours until I delivered the baby. I got my first dose and then came back home to enjoy my labor. It wasn't painful and we carried on as usual, finishing up a few last minute cleaning items in between the surges. Finnley was going to be home today! I was so excited. We went back again for another dose and then came back home. I took some Castor oil and that really got things going. By 4:00pm, we left to have the baby at the center.

My friend Cindy met the three of us at the birth center and our Douala arrived a bit later. It was a very comfortable setting and we had the whole top floor to ourselves. I moved into the tub about 7:00 pm. The hot water took all of the pain away and I wasn't about to get out of that tub. I began to push around 8:30 and was monitored by Doppler for the heartbeat regularity. Finnley was doing great but I was getting really tired. The room seemed very crowded all of a sudden with a husband, child, a nurse, two nurse midwives, my Douala, & best friend. While I was in the tub between surges, I had a feeling that something was wrong. It was a fleeting premonition and I assumed that maybe the baby had become infected with the strep (GBS). I said to the crowd in the room, "She's not helping anymore, I am doing all the work." And they assured me that it was my job to push the baby out not Finnley's to find her way out. I guess I just didn't have the words for it at the time to make them understand my feelings. A line from one of the Hypno-birthing affirmation series came back to my mind - "I am prepared to meet whatever turn my birthing takes." I relaxed and knew whatever it was, Finnley and I could get through it. In hindsight, I feel I was being prepared for what was about to take place.

My husband finally pulled me out of the water to get the baby delivered. I was more than resistant and did not want to get out of the tub. However, as soon as I stood up - I knew it was time. Finnley was born 3 minutes later at 10:22pm, Feburary 24th, 2008.

She was placed immediately on my chest and we all started to cry. She was a bit blue but got her pink color in a minute or two and looked great. 10 fingers, 10 toes and a little lamb like cry - which she still has today. I had her on my chest and tummy for over an hour while they took care of me and did whatever it is nurses do after someone has a baby. We were all in a nirvana like state. Cindy was busy snapping pictures and the love in that room was overwhelming. She was 8 lbs. 4oz and had the cutest back fat and plump little lips. She looked just like her father and had thick, black curly hair. Finnley was beautiful. We passed her around and everyone got to hold this precious little angel that we had waited so long for. She was a miracle.

The nurse began to notice her lips going blue here and there and then a little gasp for air and the color would come back to them. I noticed that her eyes would focus for a second and then swim from side to side and up and down. I just assumed that she was really tired from the labor. She jerked a little here and there but I didn't think anything of it either. When we tried to get her to nurse she wouldn't latch on and basically just lay there. Once again - I thought she was just tired but the midwives knew better. Early in the morning - one of them had already called Children's Hospital for a transport but they hadn't told me yet. They tested her blood sugar and it was very low so they gave her some glucose and it barely went up. It was then that they told us to get ready to go to Children's just to have things checked out. We thought it may be the strep infection so we weren't too worried. The midwives were very good at keeping me calm because if I had really known their worries I would have lost it. The transport team arrived and she stopped breathing while they were putting her in the incubator. The got her breathing again with a bag and I don't know why I was so calm about it. I was exhausted is the only explanation I have.

My husband and I followed the ambulance down and Cindy took Angie home. We waited in the waiting room for over an hour while the doctors checked her out. It was about 5:00 am when the doctor came out. He said that they weren't sure what was going on with Finnley but that they had to put her on a ventilator to keep her breathing. They were running blood tests etc. and putting in the pic lines to get medicine to her. He said that seizures were pretty severe and that they would need to sedate her as soon as possible. I fainted as the doctor was taking us back and they had to get a wheel chair for me. I am sure it was from loss blood during delivery and being completely exhausted. We hadn't slept since 3:45 the previous morning. By the time we went back, she was hooked up to more tubes than I thought were possible for such a little baby. She was in a comatose state and the ventilator was taped in place. All we could do was cry. I couldn't talk to her to tell her it would be OK because all of a sudden I didn't know if it would be. The thought of leaving her there and not taking her home was more than I could bear but it was going to be a reality. The doctors told us to go home and get some sleep because this was going to be an ordeal that we need strength for. Paul was very strong for us both and was able to talk to Finnley and let her know that we would be back soon. We kissed her hands as we left and we sobbed and prayed fervently the rest of the way home.

We weren't allowed back until 11:00 am. The doctors didn't know much more than they did earlier. They were waiting for the labs to come back and were monitoring her seizures but that was about it. Only parents were allowed into the NICU but Paul asked if he could bring another member of our church to give Finnley a blessing. The chaplain gave permission and they returned later to give her a blessing. I remained at home fielding phone calls and letting people know what was going on. Prayer was a constant thing and my prayers had never been so intense and direct. All three phones rang constantly and I must have told the story 200 times. I couldn't turn them off because the hospital may be the one calling so it was really hard.

Paul and Chris(our friend) returned to the hospital that afternoon(Monday the 25th of February) and gave her a blessing. I asked Paul what was said and he told me that Finnley was blessed that the doctors would find out what was wrong, that she would make a full recovery and live and long and healthy life. I was reassured because I have faith in the Savior and in His ability to heal the sick. I thanked Him in prayer and asked for direction. In my mind I saw Finnley coming home within a week and that she would be all better. But, I still cried. To know she was laying there all alone with just nurses to see to her- about killed me. I went back to the hospital that night with Paul and cried some more. I was still unable to talk to her and they didn't want us to touch her because it would set off the seizures. I was angry with myself for letting everyone hold her when she was born. I didn't get enough of her and I wanted her in my arms more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. Of course looking back - I wanted everyone to see what a blessing she was and experience the joy that I was feeling with my new baby - I wanted them to hold and love her. But right then - looking at my baby, not able to touch her because of her tubes and sickness - I was angry. We returned home, cried and prayed some more.

The next day(Tuesday), I was still very sore and trying to recover in between the phones calls, visits to the NICU and friends coming by. I asked Chris and our other friend Mike if they could come give Paul & I blessings. Paul was coming down with a terrible cold and wouldn't be able to visit Finnie if he was sick. I was unable to sit by her incubator and needed that healing to be stepped up with a little 'celestial' help. I could not even sit in the chair while Chris gave me the blessing. Instead, I was turned around and kneeling on it. As Chris gave me the blessing he blessed me with mental strength so that I would be able to handle what was about to take place. Blessed me again with mental strength to be there for my family and for Finnley. He must have said mental strength about 10 times in that blessing with no mention about my physical needs or help with that. I was confused as I made my way back to lay on the couch (because I still couldn't sit) and wondered why it was just my mental well being that was being addressed by the Lord. On Wednesday evening, I found out why.

Wednesday was a blurr. As I looked at my little girl, so tiny and helpless- I noticed the woman by the next incubator holding her preemie baby. I began to cry uncontrolably and Jane, the NICU nurse for the afternoon, put her arms around me. "I just want to hold her," I said. "Why can't I just hold my baby? I didn't get enough time with her the night she was born and I just want to hold her!." Jane explained that some of the tubes have to be kept at certain levels and that the pic line in her belly went into an artery and if it was moved they would have to reset it again etc. I knew all that but it didn't help. I ached for that baby. Jane left and came back a few minutes later. She looked at me and said, "Do you want to hold your baby?" She had found someone to help her unhook and rehook all of Finnley's tubes so that I could have some time with her. I cried and cried until they put her in my arms. It took over ten minutes to make it all happen but I swore I would not move a muscle to keep all of the tubes in place. I sat there for two solid hours, in place, without moving- smelling, kissing and cuddling with my baby. Paul was so kind to let me have that time - I knew he wanted to hold her as well. Jane took our picture and it's the only time I looked up. Paul was surprised that I was even able to sit down for that length on time - but I didn't feel anything but Finnley in my arms. Jane earned her spot in heaven as far as I am concerned. All the nurses in the NICU took the best care of our little one and we can never repay them for what they did. Brandi, Finnley's head nurse, let me hold her and even kangaroo with her the rest of the week. It got me through.

On Wednesday night, Paul went alone to the hospital. My sister had flown in to take care of me and give me a chance to recover. Joanna saved me! I will be eternally grateful. It was getting really late and Joanna went to my other sister's home for the night. Paul didn't come home after visiting hours but wouldn't pick up his phone. I wasn't too concerned since we had to turn our phones off at the hospital. When he came through the door, I could see that he had been crying. He said that we needed to talk. He sat next to me on the couch and said, "The doctors say that our little girl isn't going to make it." "Ok, I said. And why do they think that?" Paul said, "I just told you that our baby wasn't going to make it and you said ok?" I explained (very calmly) that we had a priesthood blessing and it said that she would make a full recovery. I am not worried about it." Paul then explained that they did a CAT scan that afternoon and that the brain stem was highly developed but that the cererbal cortex was non-exisitant. They said that the brain was just grey matter and that she was brain dead at this point and only being kept alive by the machines. He also said that the head of radiolgy stayed after his shift once he saw the scan in order to inform the doctor of the NICU that the scan looked like the brain of someone who had been dead over a week. I have to admit that the news was shocking to hear but I remained calm and steady in my belief that she was going to be ok. Paul cried as he explained more of what the doctors had told him and that he agonized over telling me. He had made two phone calls before coming home to friends and family to ask how he was going to tell me the news. We held each other the rest of the night and prayed. We prayed as we had never prayed before and felt the peace of the Lord in our home. I was blessed with mental strength that night and for the rest of the week and in the upcoming months. The next day, I sent out this email with these pictures.

Dear Friends-

Our family was blessed with a beautiful little girl last Sunday night but she was very sick with infection. Finnley Kate was given a wonderful blessing that promised her doctors would find the answers, she would make a full recovery and live a long healthy life.
However, the doctors have not been able to find out what's wrong and have not given much hope of her recovery. They are in fact, kind of tossing up their hands and preparing us for the worst. I can understand their medical point of view and that they are frustrated. But here's my point of view.
We believe in the healing power of Jesus Christ. We believe in miracles that happen today as well in the times of Christ. We believe in the Power of the Priesthood and Finnley was given a promise from the Lord. We believe that faith can move mountains, heal the sick, give sight to the blind and fill up empty fishing nets. I am not giving up on my baby and they can't either. They basically said it would take a miracle. Then that is what has to happen.
The Bishop asked me last night what kind of spirit Finnley is. After pondering that for a few moments, I would like to share what I shared with him. Finnley Kate is a gentle soul. She is calm and loving and very patient. She is a soft touched leader like her dad and she is a peacemaker. She brings a warm sense of love and belonging with her - she is so sweet. I want all of you to come to know her as I have over the past nine months. She is needed in our home and in the world. I have already seen miracles take place as a result of her sacrifice to go thru this physical test. She has changed our lives forever and I feel she has so much more to accomplish.
Finnley Kate needs your prayers and your faith. We are praying for her recovery and are praying that her doctors are led to the answers that will see that she gets there. We are starting a fast on Saturday night thru fast Sunday and invite you to fast and pray with us. Never have we needed you and your fervent prayers more than now. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the hope that it brings. If it is His will, please help me bring my baby home. Please feel welcome to send this to any family and friends you have - the more faith the better - and ANY faith is ok. Jesus Christ extends to all of us.
We have the names of the doctors if you would like to pray for them by name - (they won't know what hit them) - Dr. Evans, Dr. Katheria & Dr. Nespeca.
We love you all and will get updates to you as soon as we can.
Sincere thanks and love - Care, Paul, Angie and Finnley Kate Messer

With that email- the prayers and faith of everyone we knew began to reach heaven. Many more whom we do not know also began to pray for our baby - we thank you. We began to get emails form different churches around the country who added her name to their prayer roles. Her name went into temples around the world and people that weren't even sure there was a God, prayed for our little girl. We felt each and every prayer. They got us through each hour.

On Thursday, it began to hit me - the questions and doubts of "Why me? and What if she does die or is brain dead? What will be do with that? How will be survive that? How will Angie deal with losing her little sister? After all this time and all those miscarriages, why would God let this happen to us?" My heart went back to my conversation with my Bishop. I am grateful for that conversation because it put me back in touch with God's plan for all of us. And once again, I felt your prayers and the peace came.

Paul's brother-in-law Allen, who is a doctor, drove in from out of state to help us meet with the doctors. We are so grateful he came. Friday brought with it a mortality reality check that opened my soul to the most severe pain and sorrow I have ever felt. We had to meet with the doctors and decide when we would take Finnley off of life support.

They explained that they really had no explanation for what exactly happened to Finnley. The strep infection had been taken care of but that was secondary. Paul and Allen looked at the brain scan with the doctors and went over the test results. The doctors finally diagosed her with Encephalopathy. Basically- permanent brain injury that can't be explained. They assumed that her cord was kinked sometime during labor and delivery and that it just cut off circulation to the brain. They said if she survived for awhile, her hands would never come out of the fist position, she wouldn't suck well, her seizures would get worse, her eyes would swim and she probably wouldn't see and then her hearing would go last, if it wasn't going already. They said that the whole part of her brain that held emotion and learning just wasn't there. The doctors wanted to remove life support that day but it was just to soon. We knew that we wanted to take her home but they weren't even sure if she would make the car ride to get there. They said it was possible that she could last a few days because her brain stem was highly advanced but that they couldn't guarantee anything. We decided to wait until Monday and bring her home with Hospice support.

As we left the hospital, Allen explained the diagnois and agreed with it. My heart wouldn't fully grasp it. I was still holding on to the Lord saving my baby. I had prayed harder than I had ever done, I had made deals with the Lord. I am sure any parent would in this circumstance. I had faith but then I looked at these doctors who had medical evidence that there was nothing there. I just couldn't accept it. Paul seemed to accept it and he was very patient with my denial. That night we met with a church leader, President Winter, that we were close with.

When we got to his office, I broke down. All of the doubts in the Lord and His plan came back with a vengence. "Why would He take my baby?" We had a blessing that said full recovery. I don't understand. I have the faith that she will be healed but the doctors are saying one to three days! What do I do with that? I feel so alone - why would He do this?" He let me cry, or maybe wailing would be a more accurate term for what took place that night. The sorrow was just too much.

He then began to talk about the Atonement of Christ. He reminded me that Christ had suffered all things for me. That He felt my pain - literlally in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ hung on the cross and died for all of us that we might live again with God. Finnley would be with me again. He asked how I had been able to get through any of the past week if Lord had left me. I knew the answer - I ONLY got through the week because the Lord was with me. But I wanted my baby with me now - not later. And he said, "If the Savior needs your little Finnley, she'll be with Him. Wouldn't you want this precious little girl to be with the Savior if she couldn't remain with you?" Of course I did. If staying here with me meant that Finnley may suffer in a body that didn't function or be in pain every day during her mortal life - what mother wouldn't want her to baby in the arms of the Savior? "But the blessing? It was a healing blessing right?" He asked me what feeling came with the blessing - not the words of the blessing but what did I feel inside when I heard what the blessing said. I thought a minute, cried and regained my ability to speak. "Peace." I felt peace and knew that everything was going to be okay. The Savior let me know that Finnley was going to be okay."

Then the Spirit testified to my soul with a powerful feeling that ran through my whole body. Finnley would be okay because this is all part of God's plan. Whether it's here or in the next life that she resides in - Finnley will be okay and we will be able to handle it whatever God has in store for us. Then the real peace came. I knew that I was sealed to my baby because of the covenants we had made in the temple and that she was ours forever. If God needs her now, then I will be with her soon and it will be okay. I knew that I would miss her and really need my friends and family to see me through this time but I felt the Lord and knew He would be there as well. Pres. Winter said a prayer with us and we returned home - hopeful and stronger.

The next few days were almost sureal. We felt like we had been going through this for months but it hadn't even been a week. We made plans for a funeral and where we would bury her. I knew that I wanted bagpipes and Amazing Grace to be played and that she would be buried at the feet of her Great-grandmother in Paul's hometown. We ordered her Blessing dress but knew that we would use it as a burial dress. This was all done very calmly and privatly and we felt the peace of the Lord. It truly was His call but we were still hoping for a miracle.

But that Sunday - everybody prayed. Prayers were joined from all over the world on behalf of this little baby. We fasted and prayed for a miracle- you fasted and prayed for a miracle. It was a blessed Sunday. So peaceful and sweet. We spent the day with Finnley. Holding her and loving her and letting her know what was happening on her behalf. What a wonderful life she had led in just a week. She had people on their knees who hadn't been God for a long time. Finnley had people who didn't even know God praying and hoping for a miracle. Finnley had changed my life and recommited me as a follower of Christ. I wanted to live a perfect life to get back to my wonderful baby and the Savior. This experience changed me from the inside. Thank you Finnley and thank you God.

We went home and changed clothes and gathered some family & friends. We returned to the hospital to give Finnley a name and a blessing. Her blessing dress had not arrived and a friend had brought over several white dresses that I could chose from to bless her in. It was a lovely afternoon but tore at my heart to think that tomorrow I may have to say goodbye. Bittersweet is the only way to describe the day.

The next morning was filled with anticipation and fear of the unknown. Hospice nurses had briefed us on what could happen and had stocked our fridge full of medications to keep her comfortable. The oxygen tanks were delivered and the house was prepared for any medical needs that Finnley may have. My friend Cindy flew in her daughter who takes our family photos. Brittany and Cindy set our house up for a photo shoot so that once we came home, we would have some family photos with Finnie. My other friend Jenn, brought over a gal to take hand impressions of my girls so that we would have keepsakes of our little ones. Food, phone calls, emails and prayers flooded our lives during this time. Even people to walk our dogs showed up. It was truly overwhelming and we will forever be grateful for the love and support. Everyone agreed to make their visits short and the rest of the day would be just us - with our baby. I asked the Lord for 24 hours to say my goodbyes. Just a day and then she could be yours. Although I would understand if He needed her sooner. God's will is peaceful.

We watched anxiously as they took the tubes out of her little body. The ventilator came out and she was breathing fine on her own. Brandi was removing all of the tape residue off of her face and arms while I cried and held onto Paul. I dressed her in pink polka dots and wrapped her in a sock monkey quilt and we said goodbye to the most wonderful group of nurses in the world! It was a long, tearful ride home but she WAS coming home!

Close friends and family were there once we arrived and I actually gave them all a brief turn at holding her. The same friend who brought over the blessing dresses had also brought over bags and bags of other dresses to choose from for this special photo shoot. I have amazing people in my life. Finnley still had a lot of medication in her system so she was very sleepy through all of this. Brittany took the most amazing photos of our family and they now cover our walls. We got our hand impressions and then everybody left. It was our family time.

We held Finnley and cried. We rocked her, smelled her, kissed her and squeezed her. I prayed that the Lord would never let me forget what it felt like to hold her in my arms and what she smelled like. We let her meet the dogs that she had heard bark from inside of the womb for 9 months. We played with her hair and wondered if her eyes would have been blue or brown. It was the longest and shortest day of our lives. Time is so precious.

Paul and I didn't sleep that night. We were so afraid of her not breathing or needing something that I just held her and Paul stroked her face. Paul wouldn't take her from me. He wanted me to have her for every bit of time God gave us with her. That was a huge sacrifice for him and I knew it. I tried to share but he wouldn't have it. I love him for that. Although our hearts were breaking we were joyful and full of peace. The hardest thoughts were on how her life would end. Would it be peaceful or painful and would we be able to comfort her. Time was slipping by and my twenty four hours was almost up.

The next morning came and Angie and I took turns holding her. The Hospice nurses came and Finnley seemed to be fine so they left. And then - that afternoon, she acted like she wanted to eat. She began rooting and whimpering. We called the nurses and they said it wouldn't hurt her, just give her a little formula. I called my friend Julie who runs a day care and she ran some over with some bottles. Finnley sucked it right down like a pro. (She may look like her dad but she gets her appitite from me!) Finn ate every two hours on the dot and began to be more alert. The seizure medications began to wear off as well and her eyes would open one at a time like Popeye. She still slept a lot but seemed content and happy. As night approached I thanked the Lord for giving me more than the twenty four hours I had requested with Finnley and every extra minute I was thankful even more to Him and His Grace on our behalf. We didn't sleep again that night and she was still with us in the morning.

Over the next few days we had the same routine. We would wake up, gather as a family, pray and thank the Lord for the extra time, cuddle and feed our baby. The hospice nurses would come in the early afternoon, check her out, see how we were doing and tell us to call if we needed them. We just loved on our baby and spent time as a family. We tried to keep everyone informed as to what was going on but I didn't want to put her down for second. Our friends were, and still are, amazing. Meeting our needs before we could even express them. We can never repay such kindness but will forever try to do so. Here is the next email I sent out.

Dear everyone -Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, love, caring, fasting & understanding. We feel the strength from all of you and it has been helping each day. Finnie is 11 days old and still with us. Each hour is a blessing and she is adorable.

The doctors found what was the cause of her condition. Sometime during labor or delivery her cord was kinked or she was kneeling on it and it deprived the front of her brain of oxygen. The main part of her brain that controls her body functions (heart, lungs, liver etc.) is highly advanced like a newborn. The front half of the brain that is the thinking, feeling, learning part is just dead cells. You would never know it to look at her and since she is eating and has such a sweet spirit about her - she seems perfectly normal.
We are loving her and letting the Lord guide us each day. She may be here awhile or leave today. We are at peace with whatever takes place and cherish every moment. It is still in the Lord's hands and only He knows the plan for her miraculous little life.
On Monday - our family photographer came to our home and took some photos. Here are a few that she has emailed me until the CD comes. We love you all and appreciate your emails of love. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers and know that we love you.Love - The Messers

Click to play Brittany's Photos
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The love and support continued to pour in. Meals were taken care of, bills were paid by unknown do-gooders and even baby formula was mailed to our house. The Hospice nurse, Liz and I became good friends and her visits dropped down to once a week because Finnie was doing so well. It was truly amazing and we were all witnessing a miracle.

Hospice is something you never aspire to use in your lifetime - but thank the Lord that Hospice is available. We have never met a more caring group of people. They were there for every question, every worry and for any medical need we could have possibly had for our baby. They helped with our insurance and really took the pressure off the extreme finances that we were facing. Liz listened to me cry and walked with me through all of the emotions that come with a dying baby. She is truly a gift from God and the work that she does touches people's lives. I'll never forget what she did for me and Finnley during this time.

I started to venture out a bit during this time. Finnley HATED the carseat and would scream as loud as she could the entire car ride. It was terrible. But once you got her out of the car you could calm her down quite easily. I began to think that there WAS some emotion left in that brain of hers. She was just plain ticked off and didn't like being restrained. I am the same way.

I really should let the singer, Josh Groban, know how grateful I am for his music. His music is inspirational and his voice is something from heaven. It was through his Christmas album that I began to really believe that a miracle was taking place with my baby. While I was pregnant, I must have listened to his new "Noel" CD at least 10,000 times in the car. I cranked it up like it was AC/DC and sang right along with him. (Poor Josh!) But it was my music of choice and was very soothing to me even after Christmas. One day, while Finnley was screaming her head off in the carseat - I put the Noel CD in and turned it up. Within seconds, Finnley completely shut up. It was so abrupt, it caught me off guard. I thought she had gotten so upset that she'd had an anurism or stopped breathing all of a sudden. I pulled the car off the freeway and jumped into the backseat. Her eyes were wide open and she was turing her head towards the music. She was content and calm. Now I knew for sure that she could hear and that music could calm and soothe her. If she was brain dead, how could that happen? If all the emotion parts of her brain were gone - how could this be possible? I got her out of the carseat, held her and cried. I knew there was something going on inside that head. It was like she wanted me to know that she hadn't left yet and didn't want me to give up on her. She rested her head on my shoulder and we were just peaceful. We finished the whole CD and then went home. Thank you Josh for doing what you do! Your music touched our family more than you'll ever know. Someday - I plan on taking my girls to one of your concerts. Finnley's already a fan!

Our next email -
Dear Friends & Family -Our little miracle baby is still here and oh so sweet! She has gained 1.5 pounds over the last few weeks and NEVER skips a meal. (Wonder where she got that from??) She smiled on Easter in her new dress and we actually caught it on the camera. She is tracking with her eyes now and likes the mirrors around the house just like Angie! She loved the flowers on Grandma's shirt and is facinated by her crib mobile. I am trying to put her down occasionally and wash a bottle or two but other than that - I fear I am creating a monster that wants to be held all the time. Oh well - I'll live with it. It's hard to believe that she is just not perfect - cause in my eyes, she is! We are so grateful and humbled for this time.

Your continued prayers are felt and we appreciate all that have done for us over the past 5 weeks. The Lord has truly blessed us with peace and wonderful friends and family. Not to mention a wonderful addition to our family. Everyday with her is a reminder that God is good and that His grace is here for us all. The power of prayer is real and the Lord never gives us more than we can handle. Sometimes we may feel like it's too much but what comfort He will give if we just ask. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts and we will update you as
things change. Love - Care, Paul, Angie & Finnie

At this point, I knew in my heart that Finnley was not dying. Not yet anyway. I was afraid to say it outloud for fear that they would cart me off to Bellvue and fit me with a straight jacket. They would surely just think I was a crazy mother in denial right? Well maybe I was but Finnley was acting just like a normal newborn. Well, a newborn on Hospice care. I finally got up the courage to talk to the Hospice nurse about seeing a pediatrician for a second look at my baby. She agreed since all her visits were more like well baby visits and Finnley was on no medicine whatsoever. They reccomended a wonderful Dr. and we made an appointment. Here is the result.

Dear Family & Friends -All of your prayers are paying off and we are so grateful! We are happy to have some good news for all of you. We are still in shock but very hopeful and optimistic for the future of our little girl.

Last week we saw our new pediatrician that specializes in neurological injured babies. I went into the appointment hesitant because I see Finnie improving daily and getting stronger and the doctors have never had anything positive to say about her condition. The doctor did a newborn workup and took her measurements. She said - and I quote,"This baby is not dying. She has a better chance of dying by getting hit by a bus." She couldn't explain it but things have changed with Finnley. (Of course I can explain why things have changed - prayer and fasting by 10,000 people!)
As long as her head keeps growing at it's current pace, we should be fine. This doctor also saw the initial scan and agreed with the diagnosis the doctors had given us 7 weeks ago. She said that she would have given that same diagnosis to me. But now - she has upgraded the diagnosis to "brain injury" and the 'brain dead' one is not longer applicable. It was music to our ears but has taken us several days to grab a hold of the news and really believe it. We are waiting to do another scan because they would have to put her under with an IV and we will wait until she is older.
We are now in the process of checking all of Finnley's functions to see where she is and if everything works or has deficiencies. We already had her eyes checked by a specialist this past Friday and they are PERFECT! Finn can see and there is no structural or nerve damage. We will see the ear specialist this Friday and then next month the neurologist. We will also see the Occupational therapist and Physical therapist for evaluations to make sure that she is moving properly for her age. So please keep us in those prayers - they are powerful and we would like more good news in the weeks to come.
It is truly a miracle to be almost 8 weeks out when we were given 1 to 3 days for Finnley to be with us. We know in our hearts that is through the prayer and faith of all of you that Finnley is improving and living her sweet little life. There are not words to express our gratitude to our Lord and to all of you. If it be God's will that she continues to improve we are accepting of that. If it's not, we are still accepting and feel blessed to have been part of the miracle we call Finnie bug.
We love all of you- - and are here if YOU need us! - God bless you - The Messer Family

After 9 weeks, we offically were released from Hospice care. We wanted to do it sooner but Hospice insisted that they make sure our needs were going to be met by other resources before they left us high and dry. Not many paitents "graduate" from Hospice unless they are on their way to heaven! I have really missed Liz coming to visit! She was more than a nurse to us. Finnie was always doing so well - Liz & I got a lot of time just to talk and cry. When Finnie turned two months old, my brother-in-law Tod, took some pictures in her blessing/burial gown. We also did a few others just for fun. Here they are with our next email.

Hello everyone -I should just break down an open a blogspot for Finnley huh? Then I could update you more. She just gets stronger everyday! She is 2 & 1/2 months old today and SMILED THIS WEEK!! We are so grateful to the Lord for allowing her to remain with us. Everyday and every moment spent with her is cherished and is appreciated. We are starting to get into a routine and venture out even though she HATES the carseat and screams the whole time she's in it. She had her immunizations 2 weeks ago and we see the neurologist at the end of May. (Won't he be surprised!) She passed her hearing test - so eyes and ears are normal for a newborn as well. We are amazed at her health and know it is due to everyones faith and prayers. The Lord has a plan for all of us - it takes it's twists and turns but it is always for our growth. Our acceptance of His will see us through anything we may face. Thank you all so much! There is no way to repay...

Here is a picture of her "tummy time" and she gets stronger by the day. Her other picture is one that my wonderful brother-in-law took on her 2 month date in her blessing dress, but it wasn't here in time to bless her in so it then became her burial dress and thankfully - we didn't have to use it for that! I will post some more photos as I can - my program is acting up right now. We love you all and hope to keep sending good news!!
Love - The Messers

We continue to receive emails from friends about how Finnley has touched someone in one way or another. I know that she has saved two different pregancies from being terminated and I pray for those babies and their familes each week. What a blessing these little lives are and I hope they continue to do the good they are meant to do.

Paul has wonderful co-workers who kept me on task when they hadn't gotten any updates on Finnie. I am grateful they pesterd me(with love) so I can look back on the right order in how things have progressed. Here are the rest of the updates.

Dear Everybody -Thank you for your continued faith and prayers! By the will of God and His loving compassion for my family, Finnie is thriving and was here to help celebrate Mother's Day! It truly was the best Mother's Day ever. Both of my girls in spring green dresses ready for church - on time - no less!! (That's pretty tricky nowadays) We continue to be in awe of her and how she has blessed so many lives. She is the yummiest, & sweetest tempered little baby and Angie loves to fuss over her. I am so grateful for both of them and have to express my gratitude to the Lord for blessing and enriching my life with these angels.

Finnie smiled a real smile on April 30th! She has a dimple on her left cheek and smiles best after she has a full belly. (Hmmm, where does she get that from??) We can't tell you all how much we love that you have shared in our little miracle baby and hope you'll continue to do so. We see the neurologist at the end of the month and will let you know how that turns out. Best wishes to you all - Love, the Messers

Hello all -I am sorry this update comes so late. I am having a hard time getting to my email because I don't want to miss a second of this baby! She continues to change daily and only gets cuter! Thank goodness she has her dads calm personality and never makes much of a fuss (as long as she has your undivided attention that is!). Angie is getting quite good at feeding and even shares in the diapering. She loves to pick out the clothes and can cuddle her to sleep. I can get a little housework done after school now and sometimes even a hot dinner!

Last Tuesday we saw the same doctor who gave Finnie a few hours to live. He said he took a double take when he saw us on his schedule for the day and reviewed her chart. He said the word amazing about 50 times during the visit. Finnley had just eaten and was fat & happy. While doing the exam - all he could say was, "This is amazing." He was so surprised that she could follow his face and track stuff. She responded to his voice and was just the perfect little baby. He wants her to start phys. therapy and then see her back in 3 months - so we start that next week. He said that we have to wait and see if there are any developmental delays because she's just to young to know right now. We are not worried at all because we understand the miracle behind this little girl.
He said he just didn't have an explanation for this - I jumped right in with, "Prayers doctor - you have no idea how many earnest and sincere prayers went up for this baby. That's how Finnley is explained." He said, "I gotta find out what church you guys go to because this is amazing!." I told him that one church couldn't take credit for this one - every religion had a part of this miracle. But it's the same God for all of us and to Him we are so grateful. The visit couldn't have gone better and Finn continues to amaze us as well.
We thank you for your continued prayers and concern. Finnley is doing great and the Lord is with her each day as she grows stronger and gains more pudge! Here are her latest photos. The yummy red and green outfit is from my friend Ali - she has wonderful taste!
We love you - and keep YOU in our prayers!! Love- Care & Paul

Dear everyone -
Once again we are here to say thank you! Paul had both his girls to celebrate Father's Day this year. They had a brief nap and I caught a picture which promptly woke Finn up! He also had a steak which really made his day!
Finnley had two different evaluations last week from two different physical therapists. (different agencies - I have to have my second opinions ya know!) Both said she is on target for her age and we are going to work with both of them just to make sure nothing creeps in that I won't catch. She has begun to reach for toys and still loves the ones that light up and make sounds. She loves her hands and they are in her mouth most of the time now. Her legs are kicking constantly - she's finally gonna work off some of those calories!
The biggest milestone since our last update is that - she slept in her crib all night. This is not a milestone for Finnley - it is MY milestone. It about killed me to let her sleep out of my arms. I got NO sleep and layed on her floor all night checking on her everytime I heard a sound. It was ridiculous and I need to get over it! But- I am working on letting her go for a few hours at a time. She's content - it's me who has the problem!
Angie & I are looking forward to summer with Finn. It will be a lot easier to venture out with such a great helper! Angie is becoming quite the expert on her little sister. Anyone have any ideas on how to get Angie or her dad to do dirty diaper duty?? Seems I am the only expert on that subject!
We thank you for your continued prayers on Finnie's behalf. We still have a long way to go this year to make sure that brain is doing the right thing. The Lord blesses us each day with her sweet presence and there is nothing more precious. Miracles do take place and we have pictures to prove it!! Praise to the Lord for His sweet and tender mercy for all of us.
Love you - The Messer Family
PS - I will be getting to that blog now that I have Angie to hold Finn here and there!

Now the blog is created and everyone can visit as often as they would like. I will do my best to post recent pictures and keep you updated as we go along. Finnley is truly a miracle. A modern day miracle. Proof that God still hears and answers our prayers. It may not always be how we want them to be answered but they are answered in the way that is best for us and our progression in this life. And if God does decide to take Finnley sometime in the future - it's okay. We'll be with her again and are so grateful to have had this time with her.

We can never repay all those who have prayed, fasted and helped us during this time. You are continuing to do so and we are so thankful for you. We love you all and pray that the Lord bleses your lives like you have blessed ours.

1 comment:

xladylaken said...

Just reading this one post my faith in God has increased sooo much! I'm now going to spend the rest of my day catching up!

About Me

I am a mom of two beautiful girls. Our family has been greatly blessed by the Lord. His message of love and hope needs to be shared and my girls are a testimony of His plan for all of us.