1.31.2009

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You HEB!!!!







Ok, so I am officially designating HEB as the Greatest Store With the Most Kind Hearted People In All the World!!! They wrapped up the diaper drive yesterday with quite a few little (and one big) surprises that really blew us away! Seriously, they could not have met the need more head on nor done it in a better, more thoughtful way. They presented us with over 8,000 diapers that the community donated to us! The community outreach alone was phenomenal and we are so grateful to each and every person who pitched in!

Along with the community donation, HEB matched the amount of diapers given in the form of gift cards which worked out to over $2000...on top of that, they had a grocery cart full of other little baby need items, toys, and other goodies...and then on top of that, they had a backpack full of markers, stuffed animals, and other kid stuff for Eliot...and then on top of that, they gave us a personal shopper for a year who will do our grocery shopping for us and deliver them to the house...AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT...it just keeps going!! They gave us a very generous gift of several more gift cards!!

But wait, there's one more thing that I think puts the cherry on top of the sudae...they contacted the Wilkinsons of Cedar Park - the quint family who has helped us out along the way - and donated to them as well!!! Are you kidding me?? How COOL is that?! They absolutely thought of everything and went waaaaaayy out of their way to make sure they did everything RIGHT!!

WOW!! Thank you so much to everyone at HEB who made this possible, who worked extra to put up displays, who took the phone orders, who moved diapers all over the place, who helped load the truck, who helped in any way whatsoever...THANK YOU!!!!!
God Bless,
Ethan

1.30.2009

GREAT NEWS - These Girls are Fighters!!!

Great news on Lila and Ryan - both of their heart problems appear to be gone!! Lila's PDA is completely gone as is the other small hole that she had. Ryan's PDA is still there, but very, very small!! YEAH!!!! The cardiologist actually came into the NICU while Casey was holding Lila to confirm that they had done the echo cardiogram on the right baby because he didn't believe the results!! From this point, they will not be doing any more tests or medication unless they pick up another murmur when they listen to their hearts as part of their normal checks on the babies. Thank you all so much for your prayers, stories of success from similar situations, and all around encouragement!!!!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.27.2009

How Can You Possibly Believe This All Happened By Chance??!


Quick update: Good news on Lila, but not great news...yet. The PDA is smaller than it was, but is definitely still there and is definitely still a problem. They are not continuing the meds for the time being, but also are not pushing to operate either. They are going to re-check her heart again tomorrow. We should know more about Ryan's heart late today or tomorrow. Please continue to pray!!

One of the cool things about spending time in the hospital and talking with doctors on a daily basis about Casey or the babies is that you get to learn a lot of really fascinating things about the human body. For example, did you know that much of the amniotic fluid that developing fetuses spend their days in is actually from the baby's urine? Kind of gross, but fascinating at the same time, right? Or this really interesting tidbit - babies learn to coordinate sucking, breathing, and swallowing around the 32nd week of pregnancy. They can suck, but they forget to swallow. Or they swallow, but forget to breathe. Kind of makes it difficult to take the new baby home which is mainly why ours have to stay in the NICU for so long.

Not only is it fascinating to me that our bodies are programmed to know these things and perform these functions without our needing to do anything about it, but it is also really cool to me that we know that our bodies do these things. How is it that we know that cerebral palsy is caused by a group of blood vessels in the brain that bleed in premature babies and from other trauma? I don't know, but I am thankful for that knowledge and I am thankful for the tools we have to diagnose the problem early on. How do we know that giving the expectant mother two shots of steroids during the 28th week of pregnancy will help the baby's brain, lungs, and intestines to mature faster if it is born in the next four weeks? Again, I have no idea how we know that, but I am forever grateful to the doctor who figured it out!

When I come across a nugget of wisdom about our amazing bodies, my belief in our design is emphatically reinforced. I am awe-inspired by the level of sophistication that went into the biological processes that we take for granted. Some of the simplest and sometimes most annoying aspects of our bodies often turn out to be vital to our survival. Ever thought much about ear wax? Try typing "ear wax" into Wikipedia then try ever taking ear wax for granted again. Annoying? Yes. Gross? Sometimes, yes. Vital? You betcha! It turns out that ear wax is one of those incredible little things that seems to be something so simple yet is something so incredible when you dig a little deeper! Some see a simple biological function, others see amazing design.

As I listened to Dr. Hodges, the Seton neonatologist, explain what is going on with two of my daughters' hearts, I had one of these moments that I get from time to time when learning about our complex little world. These moments - they come and go at times expected and times unexpected - are times when I feel a warm and comforting sense of the power that surrounds us. I've had "moments" on the beach, I've had them on top of a mountain. I've had them at church, at work, and at school. I've had them in hospital rooms and now I've had one of these moments in a neonatal intensive care unit as I slowly rocked my barely two pound daughter and listened to her doctor speak.

You see, Dr. Hodges was explaining that there is a blood vessel in all of our hearts that is designed to be open during pregnancy and closed after pregnancy. He was explaining that our bodies know that our lungs need more blood while in utero than after we are born and that is why our bodies know to shut this vessel once we are born. He also explained that in premature babies, this vessel sometimes doesn't close because our bodies were designed to last longer in the womb and as such didn't know that it was time to close the vessel.

The fact that we know all of this about our bodies is amazing enough. The fact that we know what to do about it is even more amazing. Dr. Hodges went on to explain that there is a medication that we can give the babies that can close this vessel. "Well how does the medication know to close this vessel without closing other vessels?," I asked. He said he didn't know. Is there something unique about this vessel that causes it to react to this medication without affecting the others? "Yes," he replied, "there is. It was designed to close after birth and it is the only vessel that we carry that is pre-programmed to do this."

And that's when the moment happened...the comforting warmth that enveloped my body and put a smile on my face. In moments like this, I know there is a creator with a plan for our lives. In moments like this, I know there is design and purpose to our lives and I am reminded of the complexity of it all. And I am awe-inspired by the rhythm and beauty of the design. Some see simple biological processes, others see design.

I don't get it, personally. I don't know how you can say this all happened by some evolutionary accident. Believe in evolution if you will, and I'm not getting into that debate here, but don't tell me that this all happened by chance. Don't tell me that because we have science we need no God. I can't make my mind work that way. I simply can not accept that the complex beauty of life - the beautiful struggle - just happened and we are all the lucky holders of a winning evolutionary lottery ticket. If you want to believe that we are products of evolution, that's fine. On some levels I can accept that explanation for the way nature has worked itself out. But I can not accept that explanation if you remove God from the equation.

See, those who see what is happening with my daughters' hearts as a simple biological process have a little issue they have to deal with. Though they claim to have the answers for how it all works, what they will never be able to explain with any level of credibility is how it all began. How did the first domino fall? How did something all of a sudden explode out of nothing? With all of our scientific knowledge, that question now and always will go unanswered. I don't see simple biological processes, I see design. I see the hand of God at work in complex issues like what is happening in my daughters' hearts and I see it in the most mundane of biological processes...and yes, that even includes ear wax!

God Bless,
Ethan
http://www.joneslife.net/

HEB Diaper Drive - Phone Orders

First, a quick update. We'll know something on Lila's heart at some point tomorrow. They did another echo cardiogram on Ryan today and it appears that the hole in her heart (she also has a PDA) is smaller than it was originally which means she is definitely responding to the medication. She is being put on the same round of treatments that they now have Lila on and we will know more about her condition in a couple of days. Please continue to pray for Lila and add Ryan's heart to your prayers as well!!

A good friend of mine who actually took the call from HEB about the diaper drive asked if he could "guest blog" for me to update some of the details. Since he has been coordinating everything with them, I figured that was a good idea...

My name is Dean and my wife and I are close friends of Ethan and Casey. We've been so blessed to see the outpouring of support from not only our church and Austin, but from around the country! For those of you not from Texas, HEB is the largest grocery chain in Texas with over 300 stores. They are THE grocery store in Austin. HEB has been so incredibly generous with how they have rallied around the Jones family with this community diaper drive, and now they want to open it up to those who can not physically get to this specific Austin HEB location. This HEB location will take phone donations at 512-336-7700. Just tell them you want to make a donation to the Jones Quintuplets diaper drive and they will take it from there and match your donation! The diaper drive goes through this coming Friday, January 30th.

On behalf of Ethan and Casey and their entire support group we want to thank, individually, the wonderful folks at HEB who have stepped up to make this diaper drive happen over the last week. Leslie, Jill, Tamra, Leticia, Xavier, Chad, Cynthia, and Jeff. Jeff actually came in at 3:30 a.m. on his day off to finish up the wonderful in-store displays. Also, a very special thank you to Mr. Charles Butt, the CEO of HEB. Mr. Butt personally got involved when he saw the story on the Quintuplets and said "We HAVE to help this family". HEB did not have to do this diaper drive, and they have asked for no PR or recognition in the process. They did it because they are a caring organization that is made up of absolutely wonderful individuals. You can see why they retain their employees so well and maintain such a fantastic work environment.

For those of you that have already taken the time to donate to the drive, a huge THANK YOU. We'll update everyone after the drive wrap up Friday! And again, thank you to HEB for allowing those not in Austin to be part of this phenominal event! Dean

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.26.2009

Lila's Little Heart...Please Pray for Her!!

It turns out that Lila was not responding to the meds they gave her to close one of the holes in her heart (the PDA) after all. Though they couldn't hear the murmur any longer, the echo cardiogram they performed on her today not only confirmed the hole is still there, but also that it is a very large hole (the fact that it is very large is probably why they couldn't hear it any longer). At this point, they are stepping up the meds to make a last ditch effort to get her to respond, but the doctors are not real optimistic that it will do the trick. If it does not close on its own and does not close because of the meds, the only options will be to wait it out or to operate.

She is not showing any ill effects from the hole at the moment, but there is still plenty of concern that she will begin to have issues. The question for us will be do we go ahead and operate while she is doing well so that she can handle the operation better or do we wait until she starts to have issues before we operate. Clearly, this is not a decision Casey and I would like to be faced with!

We were contacted through the blog by a mother of triplets whose child had to go through this operation. She said that it went great and her daughter did much better once everything was over. Thank you, Shelley, for your words of encouragement! I don't believe that this is an all too uncommon thing for premies to go through, but it is a scary one nonetheless. We should know something in the next couple of days. In the meantime, please pray for Lila's little heart!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.25.2009

No Bald Babies

We've been trying to figure this out since they are born - do these babies have hair and if so, what color is it? We knew that several of them had some hair up there, but weren't certain which ones or what color because we haven't seen them without their beanies on since just after they were born. Well, finally today the mystery has been solved. Brooklyn, Britton, and Ryan are brunettes while Jack and Lila are blondes! Who knows what color they'll end up with, but it's fun to know for now what the mix is for the moment!

A Great Day for The Jones 8!




The Jones family - all eight of us (nine if you count the newest resident at our home, Casey's mom) - had a great day today! Casey is doing better, the babies are continuing to bore the nurses (not really, but they don't have many issues they have to deal with - that's a really good thing!), Eliot had all kinds of new adventures, Grandma got to visit with friends and spent more time with the babies, I got to hold three of the five, and we all got to see several of our Marriage Builders friends who came up to see the babies...good times for all!!

Casey had it really rough all day yesterday. She spent a lot of time in the NICU holding babies, but for some reason, she was really nauseous and worn down all day long and into the night. Our guess is that she's probably pushing herself a bit too hard, but poor girl is being torn in two different directions! She has doctor's orders to stay completely off her feet for all but one or two hours a day from Dr. Reich, but she also has doctor's orders from the neonatologists to be in the NICU as much as possible. I bet you can guess which order she is complying with...

Today, she woke up feeling much better and didn't have any of the same issues as she did on Saturday. She held Britton for about an hour and held Lila for nearly two hours. Right now, she's getting some good Eliot time, cuddling on the couch while Eliot "paints" whiskers on her mama's face... :)

Eliot got to spend lots of time in the NICU, then got a surprise trip to Chuck-E-Cheese...yeah another trip for Eliot to C-E-C's without daddy!! One of our good friends, Ryan Jones (or Uncle Jonesy to Eliot) came up to see the babies and took Eliot off our hands for awhile. She had a blast, of course, then came back to the NICU and helped Nurse Stacy give Brooklyn a sponge bath. That was really cool to watch - she was totally into it! Hopefully that is a sign of things to come when the babies come home!

For my part, I got to spend most of the day in the NICU to make up for not being able to come at all yesterday. I spent Saturday playing catch up from the last 2+ weeks away from home and work. Today, I held Ryan, Brooklyn, and finally my boy, Jack! That's Jack in the picture above.
The babies are all doing very, very well! Seriously, the nurses have very little to report to us anymore when we come up. The only issues worth noting are Ryan and Lila's heart problems, but we also have good news on that. Whoops - I just realized I haven't posted info on Ryan's heart problem as it just showed up yesterday. She has one of the same issues that Lila has - a hole in her heart that is allowing too much blood to get to her lungs. Both girls have responded well to the medication they've been on and the large holes they both have (the PDA's) appear to be closing up. There is still a decent possibility that the holes will open back up however, so it appears that this problem will be on our minds for a while. Lila's little hole is not something that is helped by the medication so they will continue to monitor that as well.

We couldn't be more excited with how well the babies are doing...these little squirts are proving to be a plucky bunch! It appears that Britton has won the Diva award for now as she continues to make her demands known to all within earshot of a squeaky little 2 pounder. Ryan has quieted down over the last couple of days so she is out of the completition for now. Brooklyn and Jack are still competing for the most chill while Lila is just hanging out and taking it all in. They are all taking feedings pretty well and their little infections have all cleared up. As the doctor said yesterday, they are all at various stages of EXCELLENT!!!!

God Bless,
Ethan

1.24.2009

Baylor Comes Through Again

When I returned to class Thursday evening, my Baylor classmates had a little surprise for me - a very generous group donation! Before class began, one of my classmates stood up and was telling the rest of the group about the diaper drive that was to begin the next day (she didn't realize that I was there at the time). After her announcement, another classmate got up, said a few good words and then presented me with an envelope filled with donations from everyone in the class. It was awesome!!

You may not be aware that Casey and I found out about the quints four days before I was to begin my orientation week for grad school. I was really torn as to whether or not I should stick with the program given the time constraints and financial burden it would become with the babies on the way. Fortunately, I couldn't ignore the nagging feeling that I should wait to make a decision because I'm still with the program today and I have no intention of dropping out.

My classmates, the Baylor staff, the professors, the director, and the university as a whole have been incredible from day one! They have allowed me the flexibility I've needed to take care of my family, provided financial support, and have shared in the excitement every step of the way. Thank you again to Baylor University, the faculty, staff, and my classmates for all you've done!! To sum it up: BAYLOR ROCKS!!

For more info on the support Baylor University has provided, follow this link to a blog post I did a little while back: http://joneslifeaustinblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/baylor-rocks.html.

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.23.2009

"Various Stages of Excellent"





Whew!! What a wild day this turned out to be! It started with the kickoff to the diaper drive at HEB, rolled through three TV interviews, nearly six hours in the NICU, a few momentous occasions, and is finally coming to a close with this blog post. Casey and I are pretty exhausted (and so is Eliot!) and we're hoping we can catch up on a lot of busy work and rest this weekend...that's the plan, anyway. We haven't had much success sticking to the daily plan lately so I guess we'll just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings!

So here are the highlights:

- As you see below, HEB kicked off a week long diaper drive for us at the four points store (click the HEB logo for details)...very exciting! The folks at HEB were incredible!!

- I got to hold one of the babies for the first time this morning!! I held Britton for about an hour while Casey held Brooklyn for the first time. It was also the first time that we got to see all of the babies without their beanies and eye shades...their little faces are so perfect! It seemed like the world stood still for a while as we held each baby, slowly rocking them and telling them about the new world they are now a part of...so peaceful!

- The KVUE interview was really neat because we got to hold a couple of the babies (Brooklyn and Britton) up for the cameras and introduce them to Austin! That was the first time that I had really "handled" any of them and believe me, I was nervous! I know just about all men have an irrational fear of holding babies because they are so fragile and we feel like we're going to break them, but with these little guys, that's a real concern! They are so frail in your hands it feels like if you sneezed you'd probably break a few ribs!

- When we were taking a break from our first time in the NICU, KEYE called and asked to come up for another interview. We met up with them 30 minutes later, talked with them for about 20 minutes, then ran upstairs for a second round with the babies.

- In the afternoon, I got to hold Lila while Casey held Ryan, again for about an hour. Lila was the second smallest so I held the two pip squeaks of the bunch today.

All in all, the babies continue to do very well, however we still need prayers for Lila's heart problem. They performed an echo cardiogram on her today to determine what exactly was the cause of her heart murmur. The news wasn't unexpected, but it wasn't welcome, either. She has two holes in her heart, one big and one small.

The big one is called a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and is relatively common in premies. There is a vessel that is supposed to be open during pregnancy to allow more blood flow to get to the lungs which is supposed to close upon birth. In premies it oftentimes does not close. They started her on medication tonight to get the vessel to close up. If that doesn't work, she will likely end up being operated on, though the doctors do not expect we will get to that point.

The small hole is between two of the hearts chambers and it is called a ventricular suptal defect (VSD). I think these are also somewhat common in premies, but I'm not certain. This hole can not be treated with medication, but is not a big enough problem yet to require surgery. It will hopefully close on its own or never cause any complications that we should be concerned with, but no one can say for sure what it will do. The doctors will monitor the VSD closely, possibly beyond her stay in the NICU. Both of the holes in her heart, if they become problematic, will cause difficulty breathing and eating and will stunt her growth.

Despite this news about Lila, one of the doctors described the babies' conditions as being in "various stages of excellent" and we couldn't agree more!! Thank you to everyone for continuing to lift our babies up in your prayers and please continue to do so!

Pictures of all of the day's events will be uploaded to the website soon!

God Bless,
Ethan

HEB Diaper Drive!!!!


I am about to head up to HEB at Four Points for the kick off of a week long diaper drive that they are doing for us. This is really cool - apparently, Charles Butt, the son of the founder, Howard Butt, and current CEO, heard our story on the news and wanted to help out. He personally set the wheels in motion to make this happen.
The drive is starting today and will continue until next Friday. HEB is going to match all donations and is planning on making a surprise donation at the close of the diaper drive!! Diapers are probably the one item that we need more than anything as it will be an on-going need for several years. We are so grateful to the HEB family for making this happen!!!!

Check the website for other details!

God Bless,
Ethan
http://www.joneslife.net/

1.22.2009

Baby and Casey Update




I'm going to try to make this relatively quick because it's late and I've had a crazy busy day, but I wanted everyone to have an update on things. In general, the babies continue to do very well with everything though they all still have their little issues. Lila's leg sore is looking much better as are the Ryan and Jack's belly buttons. Brooklyn, Jack, and Ryan are no longer on the Billy light (the light that helps them get rid of their jaundice).

We got a bit of GREAT news today when the doctors sonogrammed the babies' brains. They do this to determine if there were any "brain bleeds". These brain bleeds are known to cause cerebral palsy and are common in premature babies. Click here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_palsy) for more information on Cerebral Palsy. Evidence of a few brain bleeds in each of the babies would not have been surprising, though would not guarantee that they would have CP. The bleeds usually occur in the first 4 or 5 days of life and after that, the risk is greatly reduced. Well, the GREAT news is that none of the babies had any brain bleeds!!

There is one issue that I would like to ask for everyone to add to their prayer list. They have picked up a faint heart murmur on little Lila which means that one of her valves is leaking. Again, this is something that is common in premies, but can develop into something very serious, including heart surgery. Click here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_murmur) for more info on heart murmurs. Please pray for Lila's heart to heal up on its own, without intervention from the doctors!!

Casey is still dealing with high blood pressure, swollen calves, and a lot of soreness from her incision though she continues to make good improvements every day. She spent most of the day at the hospital and got to hold Jack again. She got to hold Lila last night for the first time while Eliot was there - pictures coming soon - and tomorrow she should get to hold Brooklyn. Ryan and Britton should get their turn by the end of the weekend!!

I know I've said this a lot, but I'm going to keep on saying it - we can't believe how blessed we have been through this process. Yes, having five babies all at once is incredibly stressful and at times overwhelming. However, there are so many things that could have happened along the way to make this journey exponentially more difficult. We are continually in awe of God's work in our lives through these five little miracles!

More info and pics to come sometime this weekend!

God Bless,
Ethan

1.21.2009

First Contact - Jack William




Casey got to hold one of the babies for the first time last night and guess who the lucky baby was? My main man, Jack William...what an experience! They took him out of his isolette and placed him on Casey's chest, skin-to-skin, for about 30 minutes of good cuddle time. He just settled right in and stayed perfectly content for the entire time. As you can imagine, Casey had a hard time giving him back!!

The nurses call this kind of contact "kangaroo care" and once all of the babies are healthy enough, they will all get the same treatment. Jack is the healthiest so far with Lila and Brooklyn in competition for the next spot. The goal is to hold each baby for 30 minutes to an hour every day as it has been proven to be beneficial to both baby and mama's health. I know, shocking news, right? Thank God they did a study to tell us that it is healthy for a mom to hold her baby!!
There will be a few more pictures uploaded to the media tab of the website later today.
God Bless,
Ethan

1.19.2009

Update on the Babies...and oh yeah, Casey, too!!




Babies, babies, babies!!! Did I mention we have lots of babies?? Wow! That's all I can say to sum up the last couple of days...WOW!!!

Alright, so here are some updates on the Fab Five:

- Brooklyn has been the most relaxed of the five...she's just totally chill everytime we go up. She was moved to an isolette (incubator) to help her maintain her fluids and heat. Eventually, all of the babies will make this move and will stay in their isolette for several weeks.

- Britton is going to be our little beach bum - you can tell she has really enjoyed freedom from the womb! Several times when I've been up to the NICU, she's been completely stretched out like she's laying out at the beach...too funny! She has a little issue that popped up today that they are watching pretty closely. She has a raw spot on the inside of her right leg that was probably caused by some urine getting between her legs. With her skin being so sensitive, it caused a really nasty looking sore to develop. They are trying to keep her legs open so it can heal up and not get infected. She has also been in competition for the loudest and has already been awarded the most high maintenance award. The instant she has a wet diaper, this girl is letting the nurses know!!
- Jack is also a little chill bug. Everytime I'm up there, he is perfectly content and chilled out! He doesn't fuss, he doesn't squirm, he just lays back and takes it all in. He is probably doing the best of all of the babies which is surprising because usually the premie boys don't do as well as the girls. He is the only one so far to take a feeding and actually digest the milk. That's my Jack!! Did I mention how big his hands are...HUGE!! ;-)

- Lila Addison is also pretty relaxed. She doesn't make much of a fuss and doesn't seem to be bothered by much. Her jaundice has been worse than the other babies so they have had her under special blue lights to keep it under control.

- Ryan is in competition with Britton for the loudest one of all. She is the only baby who was making noise in the operating room and she hasn't stopped yet! They are keeping a close watch on her belly button as it appears to be developing an infection. The doctors have put her on IV antibiotics and are keeping the area moist with some triple antibiotic cream. They are not too concerned at this point, but are really monitoring her closely.

In general, all of the babies are doing really well for their age and weights. They all have little issues that they are watching, but the doctors are very happy with how they are handling everything. Everytime we go up to the NICU, the nurses give us a full report on each baby - they really throw a lot at you! By the time this is all over with, Casey and I are going to be able to take over...yeah, right! The babies are expected to remain in the NICU until we near their original due date, March 27th. It's a long time, but they are in really good hands so we are not complaining. There is no question that these babies would not survive if it weren't for all of the amazing care they are receiving!

For her part, Casey is still dealing with a lot of pain and discomfort. Her belly is extremely sore, her legs are still swollen, and it is still really difficult for her to do just about anything. It is a team effort to get her up out of bed and then back in again. It is frustrating for her because she isn't able to stay on her feet for long which means she can not go up to see the babies very often. We made it up twice today for a total of about an hour and a half. Ladies, can you imagine only being able to see your newborn for an hour and a half every day? And not being able to hold them?? Not cool...

The good news, however, is that Casey will get to hold a couple of the babies starting tomorrow. They will do skin-to-skin holding with the two healthiest babies for about 30 minutes each. Studies have shown that this contact helps the babies grow better and helps Casey's milk to come in better. It also allows Casey to come into contact with the germs that the babies are exposed to which will cause her body to build up antibodies to fight these germs. Casey will then pass these antibodies to the babies through her milk...AMAZING! Unfortunately, since there is no medical benefit to the babies, I won't get to hold them for a few more days.

All in all, life is very good being a father of six! The days have been hectic and stressful, but it feels really good to know we've got five healthy babies working overtime to enhance the quality of our lives for years to come. It's only been 3+ days and these five have us hooked!

Please continue to pray for Casey's quick recovery, the babies' health, and the well-being of the NICU doctors and nurses!

God Bless,
Ethan

1.18.2009

Advice You Don't Normally Get From a Doctor

We got some prayer advice from an unexpected source yesterday afternoon...the neonatologist, Dr. Hodges, who was in the operating room and was responsible for the babies' care for their first two days. What a blessing to have a Christian man making decisions for our babies when their lives were in such critical need! He gave us a few things that we should be specifically praying for and so we invite you to join us in lifting up the following:

- Development of the babies' ability to eat well and process foods on their own. The sooner they can do this, the sooner they can pull out the IV's.
- Protection from infection. This is one of the greatest dangers to the babies' health. The more IV's they have and the longer they have them, the higher the risk of infection.
- Clarity in decision making and general well-being of the NICU doctors and nurses...please don't forget about these amazing people who have provided their love and expertise to keeping our babies healthy and growing!

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and support throughout this journey! The babies are all doing very well!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

Mama and Big Sis Visit the NICU




Casey and Eliot finally got to meet the new additions yesterday afternoon. Eliot got to go first - I took her up mid-afternoon for her visit. She didn't have a whole lot to say, but you could see the wheels spinning in her mind. She was excited, for sure, but not certain what to think about these five little things -they don't quite look like babies she's used to seeing! It will be very interesting to watch as she processes everything that happens over the coming days, weeks, and months.

Casey and I went up around 7:00 last night for Casey's first visit. She was pretty emotional when she saw the first one, Baby A. As she went around to each of the bedsides and talked to them all, the tears were replaced with smiles as the nurses debriefed her on their condition. She was a little scared to touch them (as was I at first) because they just appear so fragile and tiny!

Here's one quick story about the day of delivery I haven't yet had a chance to share. After the babies were born and I had gone up to the NICU to see them for the first time, I went back down to the recovery room to check in on Casey. At that point, I hadn't seen her since I left the operating room with Jack to make the transfer upstairs to the NICU. When I walked into where Casey was, with tears in her eyes, she asked if the babies were ok. With adrenaline still coursing through my veins I exclaimed, "yes, they're doing great!" She responded with the pleading emotion I think any mother would have in her heart given what she'd just been through, "Really? You're not just saying that? They're really OK??" By that time, both of us were a mess of emotions and the tears were rolling as I told her, "yes, sweetheart, they're all ok."

God Bless,
Ethan


We Have Names!!


We finally had a chance to get the names figured out. We've known the names for quite a while, but didn't know who was to get which. Now that Casey had a chance to visit the NICU, we have it figured out. So, here they are:

Baby A - Brooklyn Faith
Baby B - Britton Grace
Baby C - Jack William
Baby D - Lila Addison
Baby E - Ryan Elizabeth


All day yesterday we tried to find a reason to attach one of the names to one of the babies. Baby B and Baby E were making the most noise in the NICU so we were trying to give them the names were the feistiest. Baby A meanwhile was the most relaxed so we were trying to give her the daintiest of the names. In the end, however, it became apparent that we were really stretching to do this so we decided to go completely random with it.

Other than Lila and Jack, here's how we did it. We put the three remaining names on different slips of paper, put them in a cup, and pulled one out at a time. At the same time, I had different cards with the babies' letters and weights on it. As Casey pulled a name from the cup, I pulled a card from the stack. We matched them up and made it official!

Lila is a different story. As I was taking Eliot around to see them all for the first time, she didn't have much to say about any of them. I think it was all a bit overwhelming for her because she was uncharacteristically quiet. However, when we got to Baby D, Eliot blurted out, "this one is Lila!" The reason she gave: because she is the wildest one! Throughout the pregnancy, whenever Casey was having a problem with one of the babies being in a painful position, Eliot would say that it was Lila that was causing all the trouble. Other than that, we have no idea where that came from or what she meant by it, but we decided it should stick.

I haven't gone up to the NICU since then to officially "christen" each of the babies - that will happen this morning -but the nurses will be very excited to drop the letters! It will be a lot of fun to watch how each one "grows into" their new names!

God Bless,
Ethan
http://www.joneslife.net/

1.17.2009

In Good Hands... :-)


There is quite a bit going on with the babies and their care right now so I thought this picture would be helpful to most of you (and us!) who are unfamiliar with NICU care. THIS IS NOT ONE OF OUR BABIES, however, it is a really good illustration of the care our five are receiving. This baby is a little smaller than ours are, being born at 26 weeks, but they look very similar. As far as I can tell, all of the tubes and monitors attached to this baby are the same as what are attached to ours.

I want to make something very clear: the babies are not hurting, are not uncomfortable, and are not in distress. In my four years as a daddy raising Eliot and being around her little friends, there is something I have noticed about little ones - they are very good at letting you know they are unhappy. This is the case for a newborn all the way up to at least 4-1/2 years old (Eliot's age). If they're hungry, they cry. If they're cold, they cry. If their diaper needs changed, guess what? They cry. If they are uncomfortable in any way, they either cry, scream, whine, or all of the above. Babies and toddlers let the world know their joy as well as their pain which is the most endearing and sometimes frustrating qualities of a child. Our babies are no different. They are spending most of their time sleeping, fussing a little, then sleeping some more.

What a joy it has been, through our weary eyes and open hearts, to witness the first 24 hours of five precious lives! The miracle of life is alive and well here at Seton Medical Center as it is in delivery rooms, nurseries, and NICU's across the globe. The nursing staff and doctors that we have encountered both pre- and post- delivery have been phenomenal, a true credit to their industry! Through dutiful application of God's gift of scientific knowledge, the Seton team has put their talents and God's blessing on miraculous display!

God Bless,
Ethan

1.16.2009

PICTURES!!!!!












Here you go! From left to right and top to bottom is Baby D then Baby E. Below them is Baby B then Jack William. Finally, Baby A is at the bottom. Tomorrow, Casey will get to see the babies for the first time all together and we hope to get the names assigned at that time. All of the babies are doing very well and are spending most of their time tonight sleeping. Three of the babies need a little bit of extra help breathing (that's what the blue tubes are), but not to worry, they are doing great! There will be more photos uploaded to the website soon on the media page.
Good Night and God Bless!
Ethan

We're on the News!!

Still waiting on that battery to charge, but a couple of the news stories from today have been uploaded to the website. Check them out on the media page at www.JonesLife.net!!!

God Bless!!

Happy Birthday, Quints!!!

Ok, pictures are coming soon, but we're contending with a dead battery...we wore that thing out today! The babies are all doing "better than average for their age and weight" according to the NICU doctor who checked them all out!

What an experience from start to finish! Casey is doing very well, resting, and anxious to see her babies - she only got to see a flash of them in the operating room before they were whisked away for further care. Unfortunately for mama, she did all the work and missed out on all of the fun... :(

Here are the weights:
Baby A - 2 pounds, 13 ounces, 16-1/4 inches
Baby B - 2 pounds, 2 ounces, 14 inches
Baby C - Jack William - 2 pounds, 11 ounces, 14-3/4 inches - that's right, as with the entire pregnancy, Jack was right in the middle in the birth order!
Baby D - 2 pounds, 3 ounces, 15 inches
Baby E - 2 pounds, 10 ounces, 15-1/4 inches

We won't know which baby gets which name until after Casey is able to go up to the NICU with me to figure it all out. Whew!! What a day! More to come later...

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

It's Go Time...FIVE BABIES TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

Here we go!! Casey's kidneys have started to fail as indicated by an extreme drop in her urine output over the last 24 hours. Though her labs all came back pretty good - platelets are way up - we can't wait any longer. We're scheduled for noon~ish today!

Please pray for Casey's continued health, the health of the babies, the hands and minds of the doctors and nurses, and for peace for all!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

P.S. Thank you again to all who posted on statesman.com...because of you we effectively, respectfully, and definitively changed the conversation!! I am most likely going to be on 590 KLBJ Monday morning!

1.15.2009

Positive Energy Always Wins!

Thank you to all who have posted comments on statesman.com as you have successfully taken the attention off of the negativity that was gaining ground earlier today! This morning almost every post was negative, but now you have to get to the bottom of the second page to get to the first hateful comment! God love you all!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

One More Thought...

If you have time, you can also email 590 KLBJ to request that they allow me some time to correct the inaccuracies of their reporting and the listeners' assumptions. Here is a link to their website:

http://www.590klbj.com/

If you write, please go above and beyond to be gracious in your comments.

God bless you all!!
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

Update on Casey 1/15 and Austin American Statesman Article

Life is good! Casey had another good night, though not as good as the previous two. She didn't sleep quite as well, but her contractions have been fairly well spaced and not as intense as they have been. They decided not to do labs again until tomorrow so we live another day without the threat of delivery unless her body takes a turn for the worse. The doctors are actually talking as if she can hold out another week to ten days...WOOHOO!!

We are also very excited about the FRONT PAGE news article the Austin American Statesman did on us this morning! The reporter, Andrea Ball, did a wonderful job of conveying our story and keeping the facts straight which is a big relief. They also did an on-line video story that was really well done. Check out the stories here:

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/01/15/0115quints.html

The video link is off to the left side of the article under "More on This Story".

I have to say, however, there is a good bit of disappointment we're dealing with this morning in regards to the response to the article. If you read many of the readers comments on-line below the article, you will get a good idea of what direction the topic of discussion went on 590 KLBJ this morning. There was quite a bit of hateful, self-serving feedback which, unfortunately, was mostly predicated on misinformation that people either deducted from the article or got from what was mis-reported on the radio this morning. Disheartening to say the least.

Because we know first and foremost that these comments do not represent the truth, nor do we believe that the hearts of Austin are as jaded as these comments suggest, I would like to ask for a little help. If you have the time, please log onto the article and register as a user so that you can post your own comment to the article. It may be a small token, maybe just a blip on the radar, but maybe it will change the direction of the conversation. And maybe, just maybe, it will allow God to work in the hearts of some of the folks who posted a negative comment this morning. I have already emailed KLBJ to offer my time to help answer some of the critics and provide the accurate information that was not reported this morning. Though I know we will never change everyone's mind, I at least want one opportunity to set the record straight.

The main reason that we decided to publicize our story is because we believed that God could use us to impact lives that we otherwise would not be able to reach. I believe that he is doing this and I believe he will continue to do this as long as we keep the focus squarely on him. For our part, we will continue to get our story out to further this goal. Until we are led in a different direction, this is our call, and we will do everything that God allows us to do to answer that call.

God Bless,
Ethan
http://www.joneslife.net/

1.14.2009

No News is Good News


I have very little to report this morning...yeah! Casey had another great night sleep and seems to be settling into some sort of pattern. Good night sleep, decent morning, awful afternoon, decent evening has been the course over the last couple of days so we'll see if that continues today.

Contractions are her constant companion, but they vary in frequency which makes a huge difference in her condition. Both Monday and yesterday, starting in early afternoon and lasting until early evening, the spacing was every 2-3 minutes. These are the roughest patches she goes through and they get everyone's senses up that maybe the time has come. Yet, so far at least, the time has not come and the contractions back off to every 12 or 15 minutes by early evening.

She is still Pre-eclamptic, but she is stable and they will not be checking labs again today. Therefore, the only thing that would force delivery is if she goes into full out labor, the contractions never back down on their frequency, and her cervix begins to dilate. The exciting news about her cervix dilating: Casey's was sewn shut at week 14 and if it begins to dilate, the suture will hold, while her cervix will not. While this does not present a significant health risk, the hope is that her labor will not progress so rapidly that this happens as it is certain to be incredibly painful...fun times!

Please continue to pray for Casey's health and the health of the babies. The mental aspect of this fight is going to take its toll eventually and Casey will need all of the strength she has to keep her sanity. She's one tough mama, but everyone has their breaking point. Let's pray that this does not happen before her body decides it has had enough!!

God Bless,
Ethan

1.13.2009

A Rare Sight...And Many More to Come


You're not going to see this every day - two women, 10 babies (soon to be anyway). On the right is Rachelle Wilkinson, quintuplet success story who lives in Cedar Park. She gave birth to her babies 18 months ago and she still has all of her hair...can you believe it?? I've even heard rumors that she can be seen running around her neighborhood pushing a 20 foot long stroller with five little babies strapped in and enjoying the ride. Apparently, there is life after quints!

Rachelle reached out to us early on in the process and has been our advisor ever since. She stopped by Monday night to check in on Casey and offer her support from one of the few women who have been there, done that. Her and Jayson, her husband, have been very gracious in welcoming us to their home and allowing us to peek inside their very busy, very efficient, very loving lives. We can't wait to get the 10 babies together for an incredible photo op!
God Bless,
Ethan

P.S.

I'm having a lot of fun with this this morning: they weighed Casey a little while ago and she has gained 67 pounds since the pregnancy began. She tipped the scales at 182.4 which means she officially weighs more than I do...ha!!

She has gained over 12 pounds in the week since we've been here at the hospital. Unfortunately, most of that is fluid that she is retaining which has chosen to settle in her legs. Her legs are ballooned up like you wouldn't believe. She has a roll on both ankles and her calves are stretched so tight they feel like watermelons. The funny thing is that she has not a bit of stubble despite going more than a week without shaving because her legs are so puffy.

This is one of the many discomforts that Casey is dealing with along with everything else that she's faced over the last few months. Of course, as with most everything else, very little can be done to relieve her. But she keeps on smiling through it all...AMAZING!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

A Daily Dose of Amazement!

As we continue through this process, I am continually amazed at the resiliency of the human body and the strength of Casey's spirit...and the knowledge of the medical staff...and the power of prayer...and the rallying of support...and the unpredictability of life...and the calming presence of God in your life...and the...

Casey had a great night sleep, only waking up a couple of times...amazing after what she went through yesterday evening. There was a two hour time frame from about 5-7 where we were pretty certain things were progressing and everyone was on high alert. But everything calmed down and Casey slept better than she had in weeks (and so did I with the help of our friend, Ambien)!

So they are running labs as we speak - testing everything that they've checked before - protein in the urine, liver enzymes, blood pressure, platelet count, etc. If everything checks out ok, then we continue the waiting game.

It appears that no matter what happens with Casey's body, the doctors will hold out for every last possible hour before delivering the babies. Even Casey's water breaking will not mean that we make a mad dash for the operating room! Apparently, as long as the babies have a little bit of fluid in their sack, they can continue to survive and grow inside the womb. Even if Casey goes in to raging labor, we'll still have about four hours before the operation begins.

This up/down/stop/start game we've been playing has been stressful on us all, no doubt, but we are glad to do it as long as Casey stays pregnant. Casey's focus has continued to wow us all! Though she is in complete misery, she has not complained other than to say that she's frustrated that she may have to deliver before she's ready to give up the fight!

Please keep up the prayers for Casey's strength and health and the health of the quints...the prayers are working!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.12.2009

No Babies Today!

Casey had a decent night sleep last night until about 2 am when she started having pretty intense contractions. At that point, she had to have pain medication regularly to keep things under control. However, her labs came back this morning and everything looked good. As long as her contractions do not progress to "real" labor, we will not be having any babies today!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.11.2009

Update on Casey #2

We saw Dr. Berry a couple of hours ago and got some good info from him. He did a quick sonogram to check on the babies' heart rates and all was good there. He also did a measurement on the fluid level in each sack and again all was good. Checking the fluid in the sacks is an indication of how much room the babies have left to grow inside Casey's belly.

He didn't change anything with Casey's meds, but they are going to scale back the pain med because little Miss Casey has been pretty loopy this afternoon...funny! The good thing though is that her contractions have spaced out a good bit.

The big news is that they are going to run Casey's labs again in the morning and if her platelet count has dropped, the delivery will be scheduled. If it has not, they will likely run the labs again on Tuesday. Dr. Berry gave us 33% odds of delivery tomorrow and 50% odds of delivering by Thursday. So the waiting game continues...

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

Very Cool Timing...The Birth of Molly Joy McKinney




Friday night I slept at a friend's garage apartment that is a few minutes from the hospital while Casey's mom pulled the night shift with Casey - thank you, Quentin and Jaymie! As I was getting ready to come back over to the hospital around 6:30 am, I got an email from a good friend and fellow Riverbend Marriage Builder, William McKinney, that updated us on the status of his very pregnant wife. She was due to deliver their first baby on New Year's Day and here we were on January 10th with no baby yet. The update was great however - Haley was in the hospital and half way home on bringing their little girl into the world.

I sent Will a quick text to find out where he was and to see if I could stop by. The answer: he was two door down from us! So I stopped in, gave Haley my love, and talked a little while with the dazed-daddy-to-be. Just a few hours later, Haley's mom knocked on our door and invited us to come see the new addition. Another friend and Marriage Builder had just stopped by to bring us some food so she and I went down to check in. We got there just in time to see little Molly Joy get placed in her mama's arms for the first time after being bundled up. What a site to see! As grandma and grandpa worked the room with a video camera, a small digital camera, and a bigger camera on a tripod, Payton, William, and I just looked on and enjoyed the scene. Later, Will snuck Molly into our room and let Casey hold her for a quick second before the nurse came and smacked Will around for breaking the law!
I've never been so close to a birth other than Eliot's. It was really incredible to be in the room and share in the experience with the current two happiest people in the world! Very cool timing is all I can say about the experience!
Our prayers are with Will, Haley, and Molly Joy as they begin their new life together!
God Bless,
Ethan




Update on Casey

Casey had a rough time last night as her contractions started to come more frequently and increased in severity. At one point they were happening every few minutes. As such, she didn't get much sleep and was really struggling this morning. One of the doctors on call for Dr. Reich came in and checked her cervix which turned out to be a really painful experience for Casey. The good news from that check, however, is that she is not dilating yet.

Dr. Berry called in around the same time to check on things and between the two doctors, they got Casey on a mix of Morphine and Phenergan (Morphine for the pain and Phenergan to counter act any nausea the Morphine may cause). They also are planning on giving her a dose of Procardia which is a blood pressure medicine, but is intended to slow Casey's contractions down. The Morphine seems to have taken the edge off of Casey's nerves which has resulted in the contractions spacing out to about every eight minutes. It hasn't helped the pain much, however.

The intent now is to maintain Casey's labor at the point to which it has progressed. By doing that, they are not forced to deliver the babies because her labor is progressing too quickly. They would rather the Pre-eclampsia be the driving force behind the decision to deliver rather than allow her labor to force their hand.

We are supposed to see Dr. Berry this afternoon so I'll update again once we visit with him. At this point, my feeling is that Casey will not be able to hold out more than a couple of days.

Thank you to all for your well wishes, support, and offers to help! We have been well taken care of by both the hospital staff and our friends and family through this exciting, scary, crazy time!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.10.2009

No Babies Today!

The title says it all, no babies today! Casey's platelet count was exactly the same as last time they checked and all else is stable so we live to fight another day...yeah!!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.09.2009

Eliot and The River

I thought y'all might enjoy these two quick, little notes...

I was on the radio this morning to talk about our story which was really cool. The River 102.3, a local Christian radio station, had me in studio with their morning show for about 30 minutes. They really gave me a great opportunity to talk about Casey and the quints and also to give props to all of the wonderful people who have been helping us prepare for the Quint Invasion. We'll have the audio files on the website soon, but you can check it out here: http://www.theriver1023.com/cc-common/podcast.html. Thank you to Roxanne at The River for inviting me on the show!

We may never get to see our daughter, Eliot, again after this weekend. She went with a friend of her's, Maddy Brown, to Maddy's grandma's farm. I can honestly think of no more fitting place for our crazy, little monkey than a farm! She is going to have the time of her life riding horses, chasing chickens, and running through the fields with wild abandon! We wish we could be there to witness the wildness, but her stories will just have to do. Please come back to us, Elle!

God bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

Is it Time...The Rest of the Story


Quick addition: Dr. Berry stopped by after I posted this blog. He does not expect that Casey will deliver tomorrow, but definitely believes the babies will be born in 5-7 days...here we go!!

Ok, so here is the deal. Casey has pre-eclampsia...not good. Her blood platelet count was low, then it went up and down a couple of times, but the last time it was checked it was down...not good. She has high levels of protein in her urine...not good. If her labs do not stabilize by tomorrow morning, it is go time for delivery! As a matter of fact, we were told that if this were a singleton pregnancy, we would have delivered the baby today. The lab work will be taken early in the morning so by the time most of you wake up and catch your first cup of coffee, we will know one way or another if we are bringing 5 babies into the world or not.

If her levels have stabilized or improved, there will be no more labs done until Tuesday which means no babies until Tuesday for sure unless Casey's physical symptoms take a turn for the worse. I'm not sure exactly why we wait three days to take the labs again - it was a nurse who explained all of this to me, not our doctor, and she wasn't clear on the reason. Trust me, I'll get to the bottom of this!

Yes, we have passed a major milestone by getting to now 29 weeks with this pregnancy, but I guess we're getting greedy. We really want 3 more weeks for these babies to develop better in Casey's belly! I was in the NICU today and saw a baby that was 28 weeks and just over two pounds...TINY! His arm was the size of my pinky!

At this point, Casey and I are content with the fact that we have done everything in our power to ensure the babies health. We have controlled what we could have controlled and whatever happens next is entirely in God's hands. We would love for the babies to stay in her belly longer, but we are confident in our faith and know that we are walking the path laid out for us. So my request tonight is that you pray for the babies' health, pray for the doctors' clarity in their decision making, pray for Casey's health, and pray for our peace with whatever comes our way.

God bless,
Ethan

Is it time?

More details this evening, but just wanted to let everyone know that we might be having babies tomorrow! They confirmed this morning that Casey has pre-eclampsia and if it is not under control by tomorrow morning, then we're headed to the operating room! Prayers, please!!

1.08.2009

You'll Never Know Whose Life You'll Impact


There is a twist to our story that I’ve mentioned briefly before, but which hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. For some reason preparing for the quintuplet invasion has overshadowed a few other parts of our lives. Well, it’s time this twist had its day in the sun.

It’s crazy to say, but we’ve actually seen much less of my parents since finding out about the quints than what we are accustomed. This has been hard for me because my parents have always been the involved type. From baseball games to basketball games to soccer games to football games - ok, all I did growing up was play sports – but they were always there to support me…always. My dad was my coach on several baseball teams, my mom used to run me to the batting cages whenever I asked, and both of them were there at almost every game I ever played. In college, they were there for parents’ days, they were there to help me move in and out of dorms and rentals, and they were there to help me build a wall for a new room at the fraternity house. They even used to drive down from Denton to take me to lunch on my birthday then hop in the car and drive straight back. Eight hours of driving to buy lunch for an ungrateful, arrogant, frat-daddy who at the time did not properly appreciate just how good I had it…now that’s love!

So the fact that they haven’t been around much lately is a hard pill to swallow…for them and for me. Thankfully, their absence isn’t the result of a falling out or any drama like that. No, thankfully there are a couple of qualified excuses. There’s the logistic reason – we haven’t been able to travel since September; and then there’s the real reason – my parents are in the process of adopting two little girls who were rescued from Child Protective Services.
Before the news of the quints hit us, the big news in the Jones family was these two little girls who came to live with my parents in late July. Mom and Dad got a stir in their heart five months prior while watching a segment on a Dallas news program called “Wednesday ‘s Child” which highlights a different story each week of a child (or sibling children) in foster care. They decided that their life had become too much about their own lives and not enough about others’ lives and that God was calling them to do better. So they answered the call and went to work. They filed the paperwork, took the classes, conducted the interviews with CPS, made the necessary changes to the house, and talked with close friends about this life change they were contemplating. Basically, they jumped in head first saying all along that they would pull back when God told them to pull back. Well, guess what? He never did so neither did they and quicker than they expected, the process was complete, the girls were brought to their home, and their once quiet life was suddenly anything but quiet.

So two little girls now live with my nearing-age-60-faster-than-they-would-like parents. Two little girls, ages 6 and 7, who were rescued from their horrible living conditions by Child Protective Services. Two little girls named Summer and Angel who last saw their biological mother as she was being handcuffed and driven away to a cage she won’t see the outside of for 18 years. Two little girls, half sisters whose fathers couldn’t be found and who went unclaimed by other family members over the course of seven months in foster care. Yes, thankfully, my parents haven’t been around as much as we’d like, not because that’s the way we want it or the way it’s become in a broken family, but rather because they’ve got their own call to tend to.

Amidst all of the excitement of the incredible changes taking place in our family, there has also been a bit of confusion and frustration. Selfishly, Casey and I want them here and we want them more involved in our lives. Just as selfishly, we want to be able to be more involved in the lives of these two little girls. Selfishly, we want things to be like they used to be. Selfishly, they want the same thing as we do. They, like us, question the timing of all of this. They, like us, do not understand why God chose to drive our lives in opposite directions at a time when we want nothing more than to be closer than ever. But unselfishly, they tend to the call that God placed on their hearts with every ounce of heart that they have…even if that means being involved from afar in the incredible events surrounding their son’s life. Involvement from afar is not what the Jones family is accustomed to and it hasn’t been easy. And though we’ve questioned the timing of it all, we’ve never questioned whether it was right.

I am heartened by the fact that many of my closest relationships and many of the most profound, life-perspective-changing lessons that I have learned have been forged through adversity and struggle. And maybe that’s the point in God’s timing of all this. Maybe he saw a man who needed to mature beyond the shelter and comfort of his parents’ love. Maybe he saw a mature couple who had gotten too comfortable in life and decided to give them more, knowing they had so much more to give. Maybe he saw a family that could be so much closer, so much better at living the life he designed. And maybe he decided that the best way to help them reach that potential was to allow a little adversity and struggle into their lives. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

So now two little girls have a chance at life where before they had none. Two little girls who most likely would have ended up on drugs, living with abusive men, and eventually waking each new day in a prison just like their mom’s, now have a better chance at life than most because of two incredible people I call mom and dad. And now two people who had been around the block a time or two and were oh so close to sailing off into retirement instead find themselves reliving a life they thought they’d left behind. Two lives changing two lives moment by moment, day by day.

No, this isn’t the script we would have written for our family, and this certainly isn’t the way we would have timed it, but that’s life, right? But through it all, somehow I think there will be more than just our family’s lives impacted by all of this. That’s our hope anyway. That’s how it’s always been in my family, that’s how we were taught to live life. My dad once told me that you’ll never know whose life you’ll impact by your actions and my parents have lived their lives with that truth as one of their driving forces. Sure, there is some struggle and adversity that comes into your life when you live it that way. It probably means that your heart will sometimes get pulled in opposite directions. It sometimes means that you’ll have to put your own dreams aside, no matter how noble they may be, to help another achieve their own. But then again, isn’t that the point?
*CPS rules prevents me from posting a picture of the girls, but rest assured, they are cute as can be!
God Bless,
Ethan

A Mixed Bag - Update from Last Night

We got a mixed bag of news this morning from the new round of testing they did on Casey. One of the indicators for pre-eclampsia is now back to normal and one is still being tested. Here's where the mix comes in - a new indicator for pre-eclampsia has popped up. The short story is that we will not be having babies today...YEAH!!

Here's the slightly longer story. They have decided to keep Casey here until the babies are born, but we are still hoping to hold out another 2 or 3 weeks before that happens. The new indicator of pre-eclampsia is that her blood platelet count is low (this is what causes your blood to clot). If it continues to drop, this will be very problematic - it's kind of hard to cut someone open if their blood doesn't clot, right? I don't know yet what they intend to do if this level continues to drop, but Dr. Reich told us that Casey would be getting a lot of attention if this did not normalize.

Casey had a good night (for her) and is doing pretty well at the moment. We are actually happy that we will be staying here for the remainder as it was getting pretty difficult to manage her care at the house and she was just miserable all the time. Apparently, my bedside manner isn't as gentle and patient as it could be...who would've guessed?? Eliot in the meantime is well taken care of by a small army of good friends!

I'll update as often as I can. Please continue to pray for Casey's health and the health of the babies!!

God bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.07.2009

Calm Down Casey, It's Not Time Yet!!


Well, I'm writing this blog from a hospital room where Casey and I are settled in for the night. Casey's blood pressure acted up again today at a regular ob/gyn visit and she had Casey admitted to the hospital so further tests could be run and her blood pressure could be monitored. So far, the blood pressure has calmed down, but while she was here, the contractions she's been having for a couple of months decided to intensify. Finally, two of the tests that they ran showed an early indicator of pre-eclampsia which, according to Wikipedia is, "a medical condition where hypertension arises in pregnancy (pregnancy-induced hypertension) in association with significant amounts of protein in the urine." Problem is, pre-eclampsia is a very dangerous condition for Casey and the babies and can only be cured by delivery of the babies.

We don't know much more than that at the moment. They are monitoring Casey's contractions as well as her blood pressure and will run another round of tests tomorrow to determine if her pre-eclampsia has progressed beyond where it is now. Our doctor really can't give us any expectation of what the tests results will be as she has seen the condition run in both directions. And so we wait...and we pray...

We are not ready for these babies to come into the world. Reaching the big milestone of 28 weeks was a huge relief, but our goal all along has been to make it into February to give the babies the best chance of a great start in life. Please pray for Casey's body to quiet down, at least for a couple of more weeks. Please pray for the health of the babies if they do make their debut sooner than we would like. Please pray for God's hands at work in the lives of our doctors and nurses who will be faced with so many difficult decisions over the next few days and weeks!

God Bless,
Ethan

1.06.2009

Quick Update

We've had a couple of busy days and I'm running a little behind, but I wanted to post a quick update so everyone knows that all is pretty quiet on the Quint Front for the moment. We have two doctor visits this week - one tomorrow with Dr. Reich and one Thursday with Dr. Berry - but so far not much has changed in the last few days. Casey is certifiably miserable right now, but isn't begging for the babies to be pulled out just yet. It's safe to say she hasn't lost her sanity...yet!

We had a great Sunday kickoff at our church, Riverbend, this week and we were on TV again this morning, but I'll have to blog more on those topics later. Go to the media page of the website for the link to the TV interview!

Thanks so much to all of you for your continued prayers and support!

God Bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

1.03.2009

The Nursery Takes Shape





















Over the Christmas break, the nursery really started to come together. My mom and I went out to buy curtains for the room (an activity that proved to be much more difficult than I imagined!) and my dad put them up. Then on New Year's Day, Payton, Mark, and their daughter, Harper, came over to bring us lunch and hang out for a while. Before heading our way, they stopped by Babies 'R Us to pick up two of our cribs that had been delivered and they helped us put them together while the girls played and Casey held down the couch (Thank you, Merriman's - y'all ROCK!). With that, the last thing needed to complete the nursery will be the three cribs that haven't been delivered yet. I think the babies will like it...even Jack!
God Bless,
Ethan

1.02.2009

The New Normal

Throughout the pregnancy, the way Casey feels on a day-to-day basis has changed quite a bit. Unfortunately for her, the change has not usually been positive. The first couple of months, she was nauseous...a lot. After that, she had major food aversions, but was hungry all the time. I'm not talking just hungry, I mean famished, like she hadn't had sustenance in days. She was also growing very fast and had a lot of swelling and other aches and pains during this phase. And oh yeah, by the way, she had two surgeries during this phase - one planned, one unplanned. Ok, she's going to correct me on this one - the unplanned surgery wasn't technically surgery, but whatever, she had to be rushed to the ER, drugged up, stuck with a really long needle to drain a huge cyst on her ovary, then spent the rest of the night in the hospital...I can call that surgery if I want!

Next came the pressure down low and the acid reflux. After that, sleepless nights were the norm, along with just about everything else mentioned above except for the nausea. Back pain came along shortly after that and difficulty moving around. Shortness of breath, major baby movement, a freak sharp shooting pain up her spine, bleeding gums, stuffy nasal pressure, false labor, one more night in the hospital, and bed rest all came along in November. December has brought more of the same as well as a sore throat, just more intense than before. Now that January has arrived, the intensity has ratcheted up a bit more.

All of these symptoms have sort of come in phases which have lasted anywhere from 2-4 weeks before the next phase begins. Through it all, whenever I've asked her how she feels, she generally rattles off her list of current ailments which for the most part have been consistent with whatever phase she was in. So for us, the phase became "the new normal". She'd run down a list of 5 or 6 issues that would be awful to deal with, but truthfully had become her norm and were therefore not much cause for concern. Basically, "the new normal" meant, "I'm miserable, but no more than what I've been and there is nothing to worry about at the moment." Great way to go through life, huh?

Well, it seems lately that "the new normal" has only lasted a few days before a different new normal has taken its place. She has been feeling really rough since the day after Christmas and it has gotten a bit worse every 3 or 4 days since then. I think the new normal from here on out is that she is going to be beyond miserable and it's going to take every bit of strength that she's got to keep from losing her mind. She's dealt with a lot up to this point, but we're about to see just how much this girl can take. It's tough to watch because there is so little that can be done to make her comfortable. She's shown a toughness that I've never seen and hopefully she'll never have a need for again once all this is over. She'll need to match misery for grit every step of the way. That's right, Casey Ann and grit go hand in hand these days!!

Pray for her as often as you will. Pray for her strength of spirit, pray for her relative comfort, pray for her patience, pray for her perseverence, pray for her health. Pray for her in anyway that you can think of, but please pray for her. We both know that God will see her through this last month in his way, but we also know how valuable everyone's prayers have been up to this point and how valuable they'll be as the pregnancy wages its final battle on her body. Please pray...

God bless,
Ethan
www.JonesLife.net

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