Saturday, April 26, 2008

Playing Catch Up

So we're still trying to catch everyone up on how Beckett's been doing and we'll have some more frequent blog posts now that we have this thing up and running.

We went back to see the surgeon on Friday for a follow-up appointment and he says that Beckett looks really good. He weighed 7 and a half lbs and is gaining weight like a champ...I promise we're not doing any weight training in the gym yet.

A few people have asked about what his scar looks like. We'll put a few pictures below and one has a good view of his manly scar.

Leaving the Hospital

Old Man Beckett Pose

Battle Wound

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beckett's Story...Unexpected, but Miraculous

This is a list of the emails we sent out for a few weeks right after Beckett was delivered:

March 17, 2008

Much to the Rakes' surprise, Beckett Micah Rakes was born this morning around 7 am. He is doing well and is breathing with some assistance from a ventilator. He was 17 3/4 inches long, and Matt said he had "chubby little cheeks." Beckett weighed 4 lbs 13 oz, which the doctors say is very good for his age and for being delivered early. Likely, they'll perform an operation on Beckett in the next few days to address the hernia condition, but for now he's stable.

Courtney went into labor Monday morning around 1 am and they headed to the hospital. Doctors performed a C-section around 7 am and put Beckett on a ventilator to provide some assistance with breathing. Matt said Beckett is doing most of his breathing on his own, which is a miracle from the Lord. They have not been able to see him much yet, but will get to spend more time with him later this morning.

Matt was really optimistic about how well his son was doing. This is certainly great news and they're very excited. We can continue to pray for lung development and for Courtney to recover quickly. They don't know about visitors yet, but he'll send another note once they have more details.
March 18, 2008
Just an update on how things are going...
Beckett did well during his first day. Given his progress, the doctor believes that there is no reason to delay the hernia surgery so they will be operating later this morning. Matt asked that we pray the surgery goes well and that Beckett recovers quickly. The first 48 hours after the surgery are important so if he can progress through that time frame, the doctors consider that a big step in his recovery.
Courtney is doing fine as well. She did get to visit Beckett once yesterday. She's recuperating and is eager to recover quickly so she can spend more time with her son. She's in transit from the recovery room to a private room at Parkland so they aren't quite settled yet.
Matt and Courtney wanted to say thanks for all your prayers and support. They'd love to have visitors, but it might be easier once they're settled in a private room. I'll send another update after Beckett gets out of surgery.

March 23, 2008
Courtney and I have finally had a minute to get back from the hospital and send out an update on how things are going...and send some pictures :-) Thanks to Scott for sending out emails earlier.

It's certainly been an eventful week. As you know, Courtney's water broke Sunday night and Beckett was born on Monday. He had his surgery on Tuesday, which was a lot sooner than any of us could have hoped for. They told us then that the next 48 hours were critical to his recovery. Beckett made it through those 48 hours with only a minor set back that he has now recovered from.

Since that time, Beckett has been exceeding all expectations. He is now breathing completely on his own and is pretty much just being treated as a premature baby. He's receiving small amounts of breast milk that are increasing every 12 hours and he's tolerating that very well. They're hoping to remove some lines that are giving him fluids through his belly button tomorrow. Once those lines are removed, he should be moving to a less critical room where they can provide him care, but don't have to watch him as closely.

Honestly, I don't think there is any doubt that this is a miracle sent from above. In November, we were told that he had a 1 in 5 shot of survival, and now today we're being told that we need to start putting a nursery together. What an amazing turn of events. Pretty much every nurse and doctor that we've come across has been almost in disbelief as to how well this has gone. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the staff:

"I've worked in the NICU for 14 years and seen a lot of babies with this condition. I have to say that this is really impressive."
From the surgeon, "He literally could not be doing any better post surgery. This is truly the work of the Lord."

Others have used the words "unbelievable", "amazing", and probably more that I can't think of. I tell you this to illustrate that God has really answered all of our prayers...and then some! From the time we found out about this condition none of this has gone according to our plan. What this really has shown us so far is that His plan is perfect.

We again thank you for all of your prayers and ask for continued prayer for Beckett's recovery as he does still have some ways to go before he'll be released from the NICU.

April 10, 2008
We just wanted to give everyone an update on Beckett. He pretty much flew through each step of the process to leave the NICU and after an amazing three weeks, we were able to bring home Beckett on Tuesday. What a great feeling to bring him home at all, let alone after only 3 weeks.

The nurse that discharged him told us that she had worked in the NICU for 35 years and that babies that survive this illness are in hospital for at least 8-12 weeks and many times have a lot of problems throughout their life. As I said in a previous email, we heard stories like this all throughout our stay at the hospital.

The last couple of nights have been pretty crazy with little sleep, a crying baby, and even a 3:30am piling in to the closet after hearing tornado sirens. We thank God that we are able to start this adventure.

We know many of you are eager to meet Beckett and we can't wait for him to meet all of you too. However, please be patient with us as the doctors and nurses restricted us from bringing him out to public places and coming in contact with other children for awhile. Even though he's been given a virtual clean bill of health, he is still premature and thus much more susceptible to illnesses.

I know that we've said this before, but we thank all of you who were so faithful to pray for us over the last several months. God has answered our prayers and then some. We give Him all the glory and know that we serve a God who is more powerful than the grim odds we were given.

Beckett's Story...Pre-Delivery

So Beckett's story is pretty amazing and for those who haven't followed from the beginning, we thought it'd be cool to see the emails over the months:

November 30, 2007

We had our sonogram yesterday and they found some things that they wanted to look at more in depth with the baby. We went into a specialist today at 2pm and were told that the baby has something called a Diaphragmatic Hernia. Basically, this means that the baby has some organs that should be growing in the abdomen that are actually growing higher up in the chest. This means that this is not leaving enough space for the lungs to fully grow.

The doctor told us that from what she saw today, the baby is fine within the womb, but once it's delivered, there is a long road ahead. She told us that when they find this problem this early in the pregnancy there is a 20% chance that the baby would live upon delivery. If that happens there will need to be a lot of treatment and surgeries to help the baby breathe and hope for the lungs to properly grow.

Needless to say, we are pretty shocked right now and could use your prayers.

December 6, 2007
Hello Everyone,

For those of you who haven't heard, we went in for a 19 week sonogram last week and got some pretty startling news. Our baby boy was diagnosed with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. This basically means that there are some organs growing in the upper part of the chest cavity and making it difficult for the lungs to grow properly. We were told that the baby has a 20% chance at living once he's born.

We've received a ton of calls and emails from many of you and that sure does mean a lot to us. We have people praying all over the place and I'd like nothing more than to respond to each of you in April with news of a miracle.

To keep everyone in the loop and know what to pray for, we figured we'd send out any periodic updates as we can.

Today, we went in for an amniocentesis. While we were in, the doctor did another sonogram and it showed that the stomach is still forming in the upper part of the chest (hence the lungs don't have much room to grow). She made it through the actual amniocentesis like a champ and it seemed to be successful. She's at home and doing well right now. This test is basically to determine whether there are any defects such as Down's syndrome with our baby. We'll get the test back in a couple of weeks.

With all the things on our plate right now, we'd sure love to get some good news back in a couple of weeks from those test results. If you all wouldn't mind praying for the results of that test along with the growth of the baby's lungs, we would appreciate it.

Thank you again for all of your love and support.

December 14, 2007
Hi All,

Just wanted to share a bit of encouraging news with everyone. We went to the Pediatric Cardiologist yesterday to make sure that our baby's heart is ok. Apparently, there are sometimes some issues with heart disease and impingement on the heart with this congenital diaphragmatic hernia diagnosis.

We had an ECHO test performed and everything seems to be normal with the heart...except for a displacement to the right which the doctor didn't seem worried about at all. Apparently, this is easily resolved with the surgery to reposition the stomach. Seemed like it should be more complicated to us, but it looks like that shouldn't be a huge concern.

Anyway, we were excited to get any good news we could at this point. Our next step is to get those results back from the amniocentesis regarding any chromosome defects. Please continue to pray that those all come back normal. That would be an excellent Christmas gift :-)

We'll send out another email once we receive those results and then we probably won't have much to update everyone on until the due date in April.

Thanks again for your prayers. We really feel encouraged with all of your support.

December 21, 2007
Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to pass along some good news we got at the doctor's office yesterday. We received the results of the amniocentesis back and our boy has normal chromosomes. Needless to say, we were both very excited and relieved by this news. I think we're both glad to know the extent of everything we're dealing with.

Thank you so much for your prayers. We feel that this news was definitely an answer to prayer as the risk of these chromosome abnormalities increases dramatically with the congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Please continue to pray for the baby's lungs to develop over the next few months and that we hear a big loud cry when he's born.

We probably won't have too much to update everyone on until it gets closer to April and we plan a due date.

March 11, 2008
Friends and Family,

It's been awhile since our last update, but we have some news to pass along. We went into the doctor last Friday (33 weeks along) and was put on bed rest. She went back on Monday to take a test that determines whether she's at risk to deliver in the next week or two. This test came out positive. This means that she has a 50/50 chance of delivering in that time frame. For the baby, it'd be best if he can stay in the womb as long as possible (or til April 18th when they want to deliver him).

As far as the baby's condition, we found out that part of the small intestines are working their way into the upper chest. We knew this was a possibility, but it's of course best if nothing else moves up there. We still don't know much more about the lung development and won't know the extent of the development until he's born.

We has another appointment scheduled for Thursday to see if she's progressed any further. If she has, she may have some more restrictions placed on her. Either way, we're hoping that they'll allow her to go to a couple more appointments she has scheduled in the coming weeks to check in on the baby's condition.

Even though this has been a difficult few months, we know that we have a God who is walking through this with us every step of the way. We know that He is hearing all of our prayers and that with Him, all things are possible.

Thank you all for all of your support and we'll keep you updated in the coming weeks.

March 13, 2008
We just thought we'd update everyone on some news from today's doctor appointments. She was examined and is still at risk for pre-term labor. They allowed her to stay at home on bed rest as opposed to being hospitalized which is nice for now. She's at 34 weeks now and we're hoping to make it at least another 3 weeks.

We also went down to Dallas for a Fetal MRI scan. Courtney was a trooper and laid in the MRI machine for 40 minutes (in a very tight space!). Afterwards, we reviewed the results with a doctor. She told us that they could see some lung development in our baby. The right lung looks to be decently formed and the left lung (where the hernia actually is) shows a little development. The physician was encouraged that there was some lung development on the left side as some babies with this condition don't have any formation at all. Overall, she gave us a "good prognosis for survival outside of the womb." She also mentioned that the longer he stays in the womb the better chance he has to develop his lungs further.

Needless to say, this is some of the best news we've heard in awhile! Thank God!

Thank you all so much for your prayers. We appreciate that more than you know. We also thank everyone who has been so kind to email or call with words of encouragement.

Please continue to pray for Courtney as she's still at risk to deliver early as well as for our baby's lungs to continue development.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Baby Blog

So we're a little late in getting this blog up and running. Beckett was a wonderful surprise and thus we've been running around getting things ready and hadn't had time to devote to the all important baby blog.

We're so excited to have the little guy home. In future posts, we'll backtrack a little and tell a little bit more of his story, but for now here are some of our most recent pictures.