NICU Reunion - Forever a Part of Us

Today was a really special day where we went back to St. Margaret Mercy Hospital and visited our NICU nurses and doctors in their annual reunion. It was so nice to see the familiar faces who walked with us as we watched Maurah and Hayden fight to be strong enough to come home. After 80 days total of pretty much every day with these people, they became an incredibly important part of our lives. We were told a few times how the nurses were especially looking forward to seeing the twins and that warmed my heart so much. Not only are they special to us, but we remain special to them as well. Here are some pictures from the day and then I've included the thank you that I wrote to the nurses and doctors, just to show you how deeply the feelings run.Dr. Kakkera (the twins' doc), the Mannes, Dr. Ojomo (my doc whom I told that I am paying him a visit tomorrow - one of my earthly heroes!), and Sue, a wonderful NICU nurse
Laurie (holding Hayden) - a wonderful nurse who, incidently, reminds us a TON of my Aunt Jean and Linda (holding Maurah) - my angel nurse, who, as you will see in the note played an enormous role in our time in their unit

Dear Dr. Chandra, Dr. Kakkera and all of our NICU nurses,

This letter comes so belated. While we finally got adjusted to the new size and schedules of our family, the holidays were upon us and my desire to write you kept getting pushed off.

I can’t believe that in just a few days, our girls, Maurah and Hayden will be turning a year old. So much of that is due to you all and how you cared for them for the first three months of their lives. As I look at them now, it seems like a dream that they were ever in the hospital having health concerns. Many people we come across comment that they would never be able to tell that the girls were preemies. I consider that a huge compliment and encouragement!

Dr. Chandra and Dr. Kakkera, thank you so much for your skilled hands and the way you treated Jake and I. I appreciate your straight talk, given with much care and tact. You both never left me with unanswered questions and always tried to make sure that I was given some hope when the girls, particularly Hayden, were at their worst points.

To all of our nurses – I wish I could name you one by one, but this letter would never end! ☺ Please know that I will never forget you and the love that you gave to my girls when I wasn’t able to. Even now, a year later, tears fill my eyes as I think about all of the time that my babies didn’t have their mom. I know they won’t remember it, but it was such a difficult time for me. I couldn’t have made it through if I thought they weren’t being loved. And I’m so thankful to all of you that you do that – you don’t just take care of the babies’ health needs, but you love them too. I hope you know how much that means to us as their parents! My best days were coming in and having our nurse that day be so excited for the progress the girls had made overnight. You were our cheerleaders, giving us strength and encouragement in the hard times.

I have to say a special thank you to Linda, who let us hold the girls for the first time, on Cole’s birthday and who also did a fun photo shoot of the girls, washing their hair and finding out that both of their heads were filled with tiny little ringlets! Both of those days I will forever hold in my heart.

Also, thank you to Janet for being such a rock of support on the day that I broke down. Hayden had been incredibly ill, my milk supply was non-existent, and I felt like I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing. You just looked me right in the eye and told me to dig way down because I had the strength it took to continue on for the girls and be there for them when they needed me to be.

I want all of you, from daytime nurses to nighttime nurses to the doctors to know how much I love you all and appreciate you! I feel so blessed to have been transferred to St. Margaret’s and to have my girls in your care.

Here is a picture of them from Thanksgiving time. They are getting so big! We hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your families and we look forward to our reunion with you!


Megan Manne

The Word Is Out!

We've been waiting a bit to share, but since our church family now knows, I'm ready to post to my bloggy friends - I will type this very slowly, so you don't fall over in shock. The Mannes are expecting the sixth member of our family to make his/her appearance about seven months from now. Simply put, I'm pregnant.

Yes, it was a surprise. A BIG surprise. Like, gargantuan in size.

And yes, I've done all of the math: 4 kids under 3 1/2 years old, 3 of those kids came in 1 1/2 years, we have our own volleyball team, basketball team plus a sub, and too many people to be in a bowling league together. We've had the questions of what we'll do if there's two or more - I don't know. I'm trying to make it through with the idea that there's one, thank you very much! We've had the questions of if I'll go early - I don't know, but prayers that I would go full-term would be greatly appreciated! There's just a lot to consider this time around, isn't there?

Pretty much, we'll be having a lot of craziness just when I thought it couldn't get any worse. I'm thinking the worst part will be the beginning (just imagine a 3 1/2 year old, two 19 month-olds and a newborn all wanting YOUR attention!) and the end (when I lose my firstborn love one year, TWO girls the next and then my baby the next year). Empty nest is going to smack me across the forehead harder than I ever imagined - and if I'm saying that now, I know it will be bad once it's here! So, while I'm sort of dreading the exhaustion that has already ensued and how it will grow as the new little one arrives, I'm trying to count my many blessings - even the three who refuse to take naps! :) And if TLC wants to put us in a show so we can make millions, who am I to say no?

From Him to Us and Vice Versa

Just a little note of encouragement to take with you today:

James 4:8, "Come near to God and he will come near to you."

Basically, if you ask Him to, He will come alongside you and put His arms around you, drawing you closer and closer to Him. I don't know about you, but somedays I could just really use a hug from God. Somedays it would take a bear hug and others, just a hand on my shoulder. I received a warm embrace when I came across this verse this morning. So, just how I love to snuggle with Cole on the couch while he's watching a movie, all wrapped up in a blanket, warm and cozy, God wants to do the same with me. What a loving picture!

As you go through your day today, ask God to be near to you; to give you a snuggle or a pat to let you know He's nearby. It'll bless Him to know you want Him near.

Authentic Faith

In all of the craziness that ensued this last weekend, I never got around to posting about the conference that Jake and I attended Friday and Saturday. It was awesome! It was much smaller than what we've been to before, but I think we needed that kind of a pace/environment this year.

The first session we went to was led by the V.P. of Lifesong. This is an organization that comes alongside and gives aid to orphans around the world, even giving interest free loans to families who are interested in adopting. Think of this verse: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) Psalm 68:5 says, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

Holy cow! So, really, how many of us are following a religion that God accepts as pure? How many of us care about orphans and widows? Proverbs 31: 8-9 says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Again, where do we fall in these commands?

The statistics we were given made me sick to my stomach. I'm not able to write them all down as I would like because they're on our other computer. But there is so much going on in the world that we don't even realize. Have you heard of child trafficking? Where children are lured by being promised that they will have fine jobs and earn money for their family and then the girls end up being forced into prostitution and boys are modern day slaves? Do you know that slavery is more prevalent today than it was during the Civil War? As I write this, I just want to scream,


I think the saddest thing was only having five people sit in on this particular session. The next day, the session was canceled because so few were interested. You can bet the church growth sessions were filled to the brim though! It's very obvious, as Christians even, where our hearts lie. I was angry walking out of that room. Angry at all of us who say we want to live like Jesus and then keep striving for more, more, more. If I look at the verse from James again, I see how we've been polluted by the world to neglect the orphans and widows and to think of ourselves and our own gain instead.

Now, I'm not perfect in this either. I do happen to have a heart for adoption and I am finding that part of God's purpose in my life is to be an advocate for orphans. That's why I'm so passionate and probably coming off as rude, which I apologize for (sort of). My dream is to adopt a little girl from Thailand, where it is the highest percentage of child trafficking. How amazing to rescue someone from that life! But just because God has called me to actually adopt and He may not have called you to do that, it doesn't mean that those who aren't called to adopt can just sit back and ignore what's going on. If you feel you can, then I would encourage you to go back and read the above verses. There are so many ways to be an advocate for orphans. Just learning the facts and talking about them will enlighten people and perhaps spur them on to find out more about how they can help.

Even with my passion for orphans, I still live life with blinders on, focusing on only my kids and my family's needs. It isn't that my family isn't important and should take a back seat, but I can't ignore what's happening anymore. I've been told that we just need to "take care of our own first" - meaning, we need to pay attention only to ourselves and America. I would argue though, that I don't think God looks at us and sees America here and Haiti there and China over there. I think He looks at us and sees us all as children. He has given us the opportunity, the command - the privilege - to care for each other. Why should it be different when we cross a border line?

I'm not sure if all of this is coming together the way I hope it would. I was intending to write about the entire conference, but obviously, this is something I needed to get off of my chest. I will write about the other sessions another time and I promise it won't be as heavy! Until then, will you do something? Will you set aside the American way and go beyond yourself to see the needs of the world around you? This is the challenge I'm making for myself too. I hope I'll see you on the journey with me!

What a Weekend!

I'm worn out. I'm trying not to complain, but I'm just so worn out. Here's just a taste of what the last few days has been like for us.

  • Jake and I meet for coffee in the morning while a friend is at home with the kiddos - not a bad way to start off the day!
  • After coffee, I call my mom only to find out my dad was trying to get a hold of me to let me know that my mom had been in the ER and was being transferred to another ER's heart center. I get in my car and make the three hour trek to Grand Rapids.
  • The moment I walk around the corner and see my dad, the doctor comes out, says everything is okay and they're sending my mom home. Happy that she's going home. A bit disappointed I had driven so far to find out all was well.
  • I wanted to turn around and drive back home since Jake and I had planned an overnight trip for the next day, but was way too exhausted. Stayed the night at Heather and Adam's.
  • 3 a.m. - wake up and drive for home after a few sleepless hours, hoping I wouldn't miss my alarm. A long, lonely drive back to IN.
  • 6 a.m. - arrive home only to shower and get ready to leave in the next hour and a half.
  • And we're off to Peoria, IL - a land of nothing, I might add!
  • Jake and I enjoy some great sessions at the conference we attended. Called home to find out the girls had been vomiting and having diarrhea all day. Jake's poor mom!
  • Finish the conference and return home, hoping the girls were better.
  • Arrive home, no change with the girls.
  • Jake goes to church. All three kids are sick so I'm home with them. I realize that something needs to be done for Maurah and Hayden.
  • 1 p.m. - Jake and I enter the ER with the twins to stay for 8 1/2 hours while they were given IV fluids and having blood drawn, etc.
  • Mind you, Jake and I are totally separated the entire time since we had two patients and therefore were in two rooms. Dreadful.
  • Finally, the doctor decided not to keep the girls overnight, but to let us go home. Everyone sleeps well through the night.
  • Girls are still sick. They've only been awake for 2 1/2 hours total today and when they are awake, we're forcing fluids down them.
  • Just got back from the doctor for a follow-up appt. It's exhausting taking two babies to the doctor by yourself! The back and forth with both of them screaming......I have no words.
  • Come to find out, they might have rotavirus. Joy.
So, yes, I'm worn out. I've figured out that at least one of my children has been incredibly sick almost every day for the last three months. I'm starting to feel like we'll never be healthy again. I really can't picture it! But I know the day will come.....too bad I don't believe in fortune tellers so she could let me know when that day would be!

Alas, Lysol has become my best friend and, at this rate, I bet our friendship will last quite a while.

I Wonder What Einstein's Mom Was Like.....

I have to brag about my son for a moment. Really, it'll only be a moment, I promise.

Cole was watching Sesame Street and they showed a screen with four pictures on it - a gorilla, an umbrella, an airplane and something else I can't remember. They asked the question, "What picture starts with 'u'?" Cole shouted out, "Umbrella!!"

I was stunned. He is turning 3 in 24 days (yes, we have a countdown!) and already he's able to discern beginning sounds with his letters. It just makes me wonder what kind of a mom Albert had and if she and I would have done playdates together had our kids been born in the same century! I'm not sure about that one, but I'm pretty sure Cole will be able to take care of Jake and I in our old age and that's something to be thankful for! :)

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...