The Time Has Come…..

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Blah. That’s how I’ve felt this week. It’s not all bad, I’m just worn out. Plain exhausted. Picture me with my hair in a high bun with random hair escaping, oh and add in Houston’s humidity and my normally straight hair has some curl to it…well the random fly-aways do. So annoying. I forgot my hair dryer and really don’t have a reason to dry my hair anyway so it just goes up!

Last Sunday Chaney, Michael and I drove down with our truck loaded full of items for the next few weeks. The next time I see my home we will have Tyler with us. Chaney flew home Wednesday so it has just been me and Michael for a few days. These past several weeks are somewhat a blur with the weekly trips back and forth from Houston and the sense of urgency to accomplish and satisfy my nesting compulsion. Nesting is hard when you aren’t home very often, especially in the weeks and days leading up to delivery. I’ve done my best to prepare our home for Tyler’s arrival and have driven everyone else crazy in the process. The bummer is he won’t come directly “home” from the hospital as we will be 500 miles away! Talk about doing things completely different this time.

However, even with this impending deadline looming I’ve been able to slow down and savor time with my family. This family of mine consisting of us five, for the last time. Over the past few weeks our family has enjoyed pizza and movie nights, manicures & pedicures, fall festival at the school, breakfast dates before school, fun at Fiddlesticks Farm, lunch dates with just me and the girls. We’ve also experienced Julia’s school musical, Katelynn’s eye appointment and her first pair of glasses. We have snuggled on the couch, folded lots of laundry, cleaned rooms and picked up toys. I’ve helped with homework and listened to the girls tell me about books they are reading. Basically the mundane, but as my friend Bailey would say the magnificent mundane. We have been enjoying everyday life with a few special events mixed in, but overall my focus is on the intentionality of each moment and offering myself fully available and engaged to my family. All of the things on my “to-do list” can be tackled later, or not and it won’t be the end of the world. (I tell myself this as my OCD kicks in mid-conversation).

Breakfast before school. Mom really needed to go to the store, buuuut the girls LOVED it!

I’m not sure why I become so sappy, aside from the obvious pregnancy hormones, but with the birth of each of our children I go through an emotional process. I am fully anticipating the joyful addition of new life, yet grieving what phase of life we are leaving behind. When Katelynn was born I had no idea what we were getting into with parenthood and was basically scared out of my mind. I was grieving the loss of independence but had no idea the joy that would come when she made me “Mommy”. With Julia’s arrival I was unsure how our family dynamic would change. I already felt I was lacking as a mother to Katelynn and didn’t see how I could love both children without taking away from the other. When Michael’s due date approached I FREAKED out because we were about to do this baby thing again, but this time with two school age children. Thoughts that cycled included….“Am I too old for this? Will this take away from my availability to my girls?” Yet without fail, the arrival of each of my children quenched any anxiety and I forgot my initial fears. We made it work, because of the overwhelming love we had for our children. For all of our children. There has never been a shortage of love but abundance. Love grows.

Fun at Fiddlesticks Farms

With this pregnancy I haven’t gone through this process because most of my focus is directed on appointments and tasks. I haven’t thought much about what everyday life will look like with another sweet baby boy at the Vines house. Partially because I have no idea when we will actually bring him home so it just seems like an idea, but also because I haven’t taken the time to slow down and contemplate the season of life we are embarking on. Yeah, I know I’ve had months to prepare myself. Chaney laughs at me to no end because he thinks I’m a space cadet. I voice my thoughts and concerns often inquiring his opinion and am usually surprised how he has processed the same thoughts weeks prior. It takes me longer to work through the entire process in “thought-land” and I spend much of my time there. Just call me an idealist or a dreamer, but I really find this form of processing very productive and healing. I’m currently in the midst of this process. I don’t really know how I feel. I’m still working through it all, so it has been difficult writing a blog update. I’ve tried to write this for the past 5 days and I don’t want it to be solely information. I’d like to be transparent and real, but I can’t be vulnerable when I’m unsure where to go with it. That’s about as real as I’m able to be right now. I’m overwhelmed and the words aren’t coming as easily as I am used to.

We went to my appointment on Monday and based on the results of the ultrasounds, the doctors have decided to deliver sooner than we originally had planned. Basically my MCA scans were elevated and I am past 35 weeks so an IUT was not an option. Dr. Moise is confident that Tyler will be okay until delivery as there are no other signs of anemia, but he doesn’t want to keep him in the womb for the original goal of 37-38 weeks. We set the date for induction for next Wednesday and that has given us time to take several steps furthering Tyler’s development. I received 2 steroid shots aiding his lung development and a medication that will help develop his liver. Specifically this medication helps his liver have the ability to process bilirubin and lessens the likelihood of major jaundice issues. The doctors also increased monitoring of Tyler as anemia can set in extremely fast. They don’t believe this will occur, but it helped put me at ease. We found out Tyler is measuring 2 weeks ahead of his age and already weighs around 7lbs 12 oz (at 36 weeks). Although he won’t have the opportunity to grow to full term and be a monster baby like his big brother Michael, it looks like Tyler will also be a healthy size.

Tyler will have a mandatory observation in NICU when he is born and several blood tests to measure how affected he is by my antibodies. Several of these tests will continue for weeks after he is born. We don’t have any idea how long his stay will be in NICU and won’t know until he is here. There is a possibility of Tyler needing blood transfusion(s) after he is born, either immediately or over the next few months. All of these procedures are much less dangerous and intrusive once he is out in the world rather than in the womb. We are leaving these decisions to the medical team who see babies affected by antibodies on a regular basis. The problem continues after his birth if my anti-kell antibodies have attached themselves to Tyler’s red blood cells. This can cause late onset anemia and other health issues until the antibodies are cleared out and Tyler is successfully creating his own red blood cells. This is the reason for continued blood draws and monitoring for up to 12 weeks after birth. We have contacted Cook’s Children’s Hospital to be assigned a pediatric hematologist. Our local pediatrician will partner with Cook’s by writing weekly blood orders so we can have these done at home. Our hope is to prevent travel as much as possible while not sacrificing quality of care. If these tests and results are not monitored closely life long health issues can be the result. As long as we stay on top of these tests, Tyler will not have any long term health issues.

Chaney and I toured the NICU at Children’s Memorial Hermann (where we are delivering). I didn’t expect to be so emotional, but I LOST it. I’ve never been to NICU before and I realized not only how hard this will be, but also how blessed we are. This journey we are on is full of amazing medical staff and resources available to us and is something I don’t ever want to be ungrateful for. Although I have anxiety, it’s not about the care we will receive. This is just a brand new experience for us with a lot of “unknowns”. We are in great hands. On top of this, the Ronald McDonald House in NICU will be available to us if we need it. It is separate from the house we weren’t approved for.  If I’m released from the hospital before Tyler, this will be very useful in remaining close to him to nurse and getting rest myself. The RMH is on the same floor and the same wing as NICU with day rooms available for naps & showers and a separate waiting list for evening stays. Our apartment is only 1 mile away from the hospital (another blessing) but I’d rather not be that far away if not absolutely  necessary.

Fun at the Houston Zoo

The girls will be here next weekend to meet their new baby brother. We had already planned for them to come down and celebrate Katelynn’s birthday next weekend so we are sticking with the original plan. I’m bummed that I will be unable to go around town with them, but I’m overjoyed and full of anticipation to hug their sweet necks. Who am I kidding I’ll bawl my eyes out when I get to hug and kiss them! They will just have to deal.  Michael and I were able to visit the Houston zoo with friends this week and had a blast. I know the zoo is on Katelynn’s short list along with the aquarium. More than anything, I’m so thankful we will all be together for her birthday. I can’t wait for our family to be together…all SIX of us. What?! It will take us awhile to settle in to our normal as the next weeks and months are unknown, but it will be wonderful. It will be our wonderful. It may take a while for the word mundane to apply, but soon enough the days and weeks will turn into years and it will seem like it has always been.

I’m relying on my Jesus so much through this all. I allow myself to remember all the situations in my life that have been difficult. I remember how my relationship with Him has grown stronger. When I have fears I voice them, I don’t try to hide them. I have no idea what the future holds, yet when I trust Him it all works out. When the next doubtful situation arises I remember what the Lord has walked me through. Trust has been formed. Hope is a real experience, not something merely spoken about. I still have new doubts and questions, but in my Spirit I trust my Comforter and Counselor. I just have to hold onto Him and trust the outcome to His plan.

Thank you for experiencing this pregnancy with us. I pray the Lord has blessed you abundantly as you’ve taken the time to pray for us. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to update our progress over the next few months, but know that I will do my best. It helps me to be vulnerable in the midst of it all and I’m so grateful for your support, comments and messages. I pray Tyler’s life be one the Lord continues to use to bring others to Him. I know Tyler has brought me closer to my King and I haven’t even seen his sweet face yet. We all have purpose to be used for His glory, may we not forget this highest calling.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”  Proverbs 19:21

Our Beautiful Chaos called Life

Life has been chaotic and wonderful for us as summer wraps up and school has begun. The girls have had a great ending to summer and were busy travelers these last several weeks. My mom took them to East Texas to visit her parents for a week and they had a blast visiting family and spending some extended time with Mimi. Michael had been sick and I had a doctor appointment so we stayed here. Several days after the girls arrived home, Chaney took them on a camping trip to Colorado. (We also managed to squeeze in some photos with the talented and ever so sarcastic Kaylea Gaines some of which you’ll see featured in this blog.) The weather wasn’t ideal for their first major backroad off-the-grid camping trip, but they still had a wonderful time bonding with their daddy. Michael and I stayed in town, as I had a doctor appointment and Aflac appointments, but we enjoyed the low-key, quiet time just the two of us. Well, it wasn’t completely low-key as my sweet 17 month old boy chose the week of the camping trip to begin climbing out of his crib. The days of safety in the crib are over and I’m mourning the loss of sleep. Although we will need the crib in a few months for “still un-named” little man, I wasn’t quite ready for Michael to make the transition into a toddler bed. This transition period of Michael discovering his independence has been rough. He is discovering all these new physical & cognitive abilities but not appreciating the boundaries we have put in place for his well-being. It is safe to say that this man child of ours is just as stubborn, strong-willed and determined as the rest of his family members. Katelynn & Julia started at a new school this past Monday and absolutely love it. There was some anxiety leading up to the first day but it has been beautiful to watch the Lord love on my daughters bringing wonderful teachers & new friends into their lives.

Basically all of this to say, life goes on and doesn’t stand still. Even with the complications and additional monitoring of our pregnancy (read here if you missed the previous blog & anti-kell explanation) life continues moving. Life is beautiful, chaotic sometimes mundane yet it consistently is moving forward. Life doesn’t stop, although if I’m honest sometimes I wish it would. When tragedy occurs or some life event shakes up my norm, I wish time would just pause for a moment and allow me the courtesy to adjust, to re-calibrate before continuing on. Alas, the world doesn’t revolve around me and my emotional state. If you ask my husband, I miiiight throw fits acting like it does every now and then. But don’t worry, Chaney does a wonderful job of firmly keeping me in reality and not putting up with my tantrums, which I’m thankful for. (Don’t tell him I said that though. I’ll say you’re making it up.) Truly, how thankful I am for a godly husband whose faith is deeper than the circumstance. My man challenges me to look back to Christ and not “go sideways” by getting hung up in the details of trying to understand it all.



That can be hard. I’m all about the details. It is easy for me to pray with the intention of wanting the answers. It is something I struggle with constantly when I dig into God’s Word. Instead of soaking in His presence and allowing Him access to my heart, I tend to seek to understand. I do believe that God gives us great discernment and wisdom (Jas. 1:5, Phil 1:9) into situations; however in my experience He first wants my heart. The answer always begins with surrendering my need to understand in exchange for trusting Him. Trusting Him with my life… heart… burdens… fears. When I get off the throne of control and allow Him back in the His rightful position of authority, everything else falls into place.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 I think the major stress factor comes into play as each week I visit the doctor knowing I may have to go to Houston that afternoon. I make plans each week but also have it in the back of my mind that it may all change. Anti-kell tends to become very aggressive after the 24 week mark and we are now there. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that things aren’t going well. I’m 25 weeks pregnant and so far all of my weekly MCA scans have been great. They have consistently been under the 1.5 MoM that we want to avoid. (Again, read my previous blog here to get up to speed on what the heck I’m talking about.) If at any point the scans do become elevated, which mean our boy has become anemic, I will travel to Houston for an intrauterine transfusion (IUT) to be performed so baby boy will not develop further complications including fetal hydrops. If we begin IUT’s these will continue until delivery at an interval of every 2-3 weeks. The goal is for our boy to remain in the womb as long as possible. If my antibodies become too aggressive the IUT’s give him this opportunity. However regardless of the need for transfusion, the longest I will be allowed to carry him is somewhere between 37-38 weeks. The cause for this is the available data is not super accurate past 35 weeks to measure anemia. There is still quite a bit that I don’t understand, especially some of the effects anemia can cause after birth, but we are praying for a healthy full term baby boy.

With all of these additional possibilities and need for medical procedures outside the norm we have decided to deliver in Houston with Dr. Moise and his team. We feel this gives us the best possible NICU, blood bank and medical staff with familiarity of our specific situation. I’m hoping and praying that the delivery and postpartum care required is no big thing, but want to have the resources around us if necessary. We don’t have all the details figured out yet, but are at peace with this decision. Of course, it’s not that simple but again I’m doing my best to take it one day at a time and not get overwhelmed with what it will look like.

 “We walk by faith not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Throughout this entire situation I have to lean on Jesus to take care of it all. I don’t have a choice unless I want to be a complete cuckoo bird. Katelynn’s birthday is in November and of course I want to be here for that. She’s even voiced her concern about the baby interfering with her birthday. The girls have chapel programs at school and one of Julia’s may fall during the time I’m still in Houston. I guess we all have to learn lessons the uncomfortable way that the world doesn’t revolve around us. My tendency is to protect and shield my kids from these uncomfortable growth opportunities but I’m not doing them any favors if I continually interfere with life lessons having potential to mature them. In this circumstance I may have no choice but to watch them grow. Chaney has his plate full with business obligations as it is, without adding in the extra responsibilities that I normally take care of. Michael is a hot mess already exhibiting some of the wonderful characteristics of the terrible two’s and believe it or not, I don’t want to miss a moment. I don’t want to miss a minute of our crazy normal “everydays”.


But life doesn’t pause when I need a moment. So I seize my own moments in the middle of it all to just cry, laugh or most importantly…. just lay it all down at the feet of my King. I cannot do this on my own. Praise Him that I was never meant to! HE will comfort my children if I am unable to attend an event or special moment. HE will give my husband strength to carry the extra load. HE will provide community to wrap us in prayer and support. HE will meet us right where we are…..EVERY time, without fail, because that is who HE is. HE is our loving Abba Father, El Roi. I just have to focus on Him each day and He will get us through. El Roi is the One who sees ALL, so I don’t have to try. He is the One who sees me exactly where I am and meets me on my knees.

 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1