Sunday, December 11, 2011

So Much Going On

Whew, I can't believe it has been over a month since I have posted about the whirlwind day we had visiting with preemies in Tulsa. Since I have posted my cousin's baby has come home and is doing well and the Moss twins are home! They are doing great and growing. Our friend Pepper had open heart surgery and came through very well. She is home too and already growing. I know it is a weight off of her family's mind to have that surgery over with. There was a benefit held in town for her and it raised nearly $18,000 dollars I heard. That is awesome. God has great plans for Pepper and is making sure she is getting taken care of very well.

Today, we heard that Errin Trammel was having her C-section. It was planned for tomorrow but they went ahead with it today. Her little girl Taylee was 31 weeks 6 days and she weighed in at 2lbs 3oz. This family has begun their NICU journey and they need lots of prayer coverage as they go forward.

On the NEOPOP front, we are working with some parents in Tulsa to try to get some things going up there. It is beginning to look promising to have at least one mom who is interested in supporting preemie families who is close to the hospitals where all of them start out. Please keep that in your prayers. We are not growing as fast as I would like, but I know it will all come in God's time and it will happen how He wants it to happen. From the beginning this was His ministry and He has allowed us to minister to so many already. We are so thankful.

On a personal note, you know our story and if you don't go to the first post on this blog and you can read it. Our son, Isaac was born at 30 weeks and 5 days. We are now expecting our daughter Anna in February and Ashley is 30 weeks today. There is little to no sign of the pre eclampsia that plagued her first pregnancy, so we are looking good to make it past the point in this pregnancy that we made it to in our first! We are very excited. Please help us in celebrating every day we go past December 16. We are really hoping that Anna goes to term and even to her due date if they will let her. Please be in prayer for Ashley. She is having the regular symptoms of pregnancy but after Friday she will be in uncharted territory. She suffered plenty from pre eclampsia and the toll it took on her body, but going further into pregnancy she will experience things she never has before. Also, pray for me as I try to make her as comfortable as possible and as I try to help more with Isaac. I have to say she is a pretty hands-on momma and does alot with Isaac. I get to have fun with him and she does alot of the hard stuff. Pray that I can fill that role so she can concentrate on finishing out the pregnancy without a whole lot of stress.

I guess that is all for now. Again, if you or anyone you know wants to get involved with NEOPOP just let me know. You can find us all over facebook and here on this blog. Until the next time I get a minute to set down and type anything of this length, God bless and keep praying!

Brian

Friday, November 4, 2011

An Overwhelming Blessing

Yesterday was overwhelming, and an overwhelming blessing. I experienced for the first time a sense of doing exactly the things that God laid on my heart over 3 years ago and it has refreshed and renewed my spirit more than I can even explain today.

Yesterday started as a normal day until I checked my email. I got an email from a friend and parent of an amazing little girl named Pepper. We had corresponded about her little girl even before she was born as she had some trouble and there was a point where she thought Pepper may decide to make an early appearance. She was able to hold on to term but yesterday morning she was thinking that her cousin may not. So, she asked me to pray for her cousin, pregnant at 26 weeks and admitted to the hospital with low amniotic fluid. Through her email I got to contact her cousin and her cousin's mother, who were both quick to express their gratitude that I would take an interest in what was going on and that there were so many people praying for them. Little did I know this was just the beginning.

Earlier this week we had been praying for my cousin's son Tyler. He was born just about a week early, but was having complications due to the fact that there was some blood mixing between him and his mom during delivery. She has a negative blood type and he has a positive. He was sent to St Francis NICU and yesterday we found out that he was going to have to have a blood transfusion. My cousin's parents were watching their other little girl and couldn't take her into the NICU so Ashley and I decided to go up and be with them while they were doing the transfusion. It was such a blessing! I got to talk with my cousin and his wife more than I ever have before. It's not that we don't speak, just that family gatherings are hectic and this setting of the two of them and the two of us talking about Tyler and our shared experience of having a baby in the NICU brought us to a level of conversation where I began to see them in a different way. I guess some would say we bonded. I would say that God brought us together in a fellowship that breaks down walls and barriers of communication in a way that is unique to the NICU experience. We spoke in terms that we were familiar with and they were learning. We were able to share with them the details of Isaac's birth and they were able to share their concern not only for their son but for all of the tiny babies in the rooms around him. They were genuinely interested in knowing about the various issues that preemies have and what makes every preemie different. Their boy was technically born early and they were definitely concerned for him but I saw my wife and myself in them. They had begun to have a heart and concern for the babies that were much worse than Tyler. Looking back on it now, it was an amazing work of God in theirs and our lives.

To backtrack a little, on our way to Tulsa I received two more prayer requests, one from my aunt about a friend's daughter who is pregnant in her early first trimester who had a serious seizure yesterday. The other was actually about Pepper. She was on her way to St Francis too, to have a feeding tube inserted. Little Pepper has Downs Syndrome and one major issue she is having is gaining any weight. She has a heart defect that is effecting her eating and growth. They are inserting a feeding tube because she started losing weight instead of gaining this week. This family is very supportive of what we are trying to do with preemie families and I have been working with Pepper's mom on a blog where she has been sharing the up's and down's of Peppers journey. You can find the blog at sweetpepperspath.blogspot.com.

To top off our day (turning into night) of visiting with preemie families we got a chance to meet Natalie Moss and her twins George and Jack for the first time in person. If you get my emails, look at our NEOPOP facebook page or our blog (neokpreemies.blogspot.com) you have seen me mention the Moss twins several times. They were born at 25 weeks and have had several surgeries and issues that has made their NICU stay a roller coaster. We were in contact with Natalie from the beginning through my sister Shelly (we aren't blood but she is my sister, she will tell you). They are friends since college and this being a preemie family and twins (I am a twin) my heart was connected to this family and it showed when we met. We talked with Natalie last night as if we had known each other forever. George and Jack are doing well and we talked about celebrating their leaving the NICU soon. She also showed lots of concern and knowledge about preemies and the NICU. It was really great to get to meet them.

We left the hospital in the evening, tired, but so excited. My comment to Ashley was, "I could do this all day every day." She just smiled and said, "I know." We talked about our afternoon all the way home pretty much and just how great it was to be doing what we know God has called us to do. I have always heard many ministers of all kinds talk about how we should allow God to fill us up with His word and His wisdom and minister to people out of the overflowing of His love. I haven't experienced that any more clearly than I did yesterday. The thing about it was that He kept on filling us up while we were ministering. He kept on encouraging. The mother I spoke of at the beginning of the email posted on Facebook that her amniotic level had risen from 4.2 to 8 and gave praise to God. Tyler's transfusion went off without a hitch and his levels are higher. As I write Jack Moss is getting ready to go home and George is having what we hope is a final minor procedure on his eyes. I know that all preemies do not experience such good outcomes as these (and ours), and I know that there will be very tough days when it comes to encouraging preemie families, but yesterday was not one of them. Yesterday was a good day, and all praise, honor and glory for that goes to Jesus Christ, who comforts us with such a great comfort that we are able to pass it on to others.

In His name and for His glory,
Brian Wagnon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Hey Everyone! Whew! Have I have been busy. I have been letting the blog go for lots of reasons, all of them good but I should have kept up better over the past few months. I have some quick updates on preemies we have been following and praying for as well as news about an awesome event coming up.

First, two of the preemies we have been requesting prayer for are home! Parker Hancock and Connor Pace are both home and doing well. I got to see Miss Parker Sunday at church. She was there with her family and she is doing great. Connor is moving with his family to the Tulsa area which is going to allow his mom to get to stay at home with him and to be closer to some doctors who need to see him periodically. He is doing good as well. The twins, Jack and George Moss are still in the hospital but doing well. They are both eating and growing and before we know it we will be reporting that they are going home too. God is so good and kind to even the smallest of living thing. We should not be surprised that He is working miracles in the lives of these families. Please continue to pray for them and their families as well as some others. Please pray for Pepper Scott and her family. She is not a preemie but was born back in June and diagnosed with Mosaic Downs Syndrome. I have been helping her mom put together a blog at sweetpepperspath.blogspot.com. You can keep up with her progress here and there.

Finally, I want to encourage you to visit a website http://www.preemiepower.org/. This is a contest site hosted by a group I have mentioned before, Hand to Hold. This is a way to raise awareness about prematurity and the organization and a great opportunity to celebrate the courage and resilience of preemies and their families. If you have a preemie you can enter them in the contest and have your friends and family vote. While they are there they may want to make a donation to this wonderful organization doing so much in Texas to help preemies and their families. You need to enter your preemie by October 16th and voting starts on the 17th. Thanks and God bless!

Brian

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Are All Connected

It amazes me when I hear stories of how prematurity connects so many people together. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though because we believe that even in the midst of the troubles and trials that preemie families face, we believe that God is working all things for the good of those who love Him. I have been able to connect with so many people specifically because of Isaac's early birth and our experiences in the NICU and beyond. I have talked with preemie parents from Texas to Canada and from Seattle to New York City, and they all seem to have this in common, they are convinced that they need to support other preemie parents and share their stories so that other can be comforted.

Just the other day as I was trying to catch up on a set of preemie twins whose parents we have been in touch with through a mutual friend, I saw a comment by their mother that made me smile from ear to ear. She had met another preemie family that we know, the Sparks (Parker Hancock's grandparents) and Parker's grandma got to share with her that our church had been praying for the twins since before they were born. God continues to use us as a channel of his blessings and the great thing is that we are blessed over and over because of it.

The Moss twins are progressing as most preemies do, upping feeds, weening off vents and watching for issues that may arise. Jack has 2 brain bleeds but they are shrinking. One is concerning his doctors some because it is in an area of the brain that they know is a risk for cerebral palsy. Pray that this just goes away and that both George and Jack come out of the NICU healthy and free of issues. Miss Parker Hancock is still waiting to have surgery that will connect her esophagus back to her stomach. They are hoping it is coming up soon and that they can take her home soon after. Connor Pace is still in the NICU as well but he is growing fast and should be out by his due date which is in early September.

As an update concerning our efforts to provide support for preemie families, I have been in touch with the group of doctors that services Hillcrest and St Francis and they have said they would help us with outreach events whenever we set some up. That is a huge deal. All preemie parents think that they are pros after they come through the NICU but we can only help from our specific experiences. For instance, Isaac never had a brain bleed, so I cannot speak much to that issue. But having doctors available to explain some of these issues will be a great benefit.

Finally, don't forget to go like our page on Facebook, Northeastern Oklahoma Parents of Preemies. Thanks and God bless!

Brian

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Power of Prayer August 8, 2011

Here are some updates on families we are praying for:

The Moss family: Jack has had 2 surgeries, one for a hole in his stomach and one to close his PDA valve. Both successful and both he came through well. George is being tested to see if he needs the PDA surgery.

The Pace family: Connor is up over 6 pounds and growing and eating well. He should be headed home soon.

The Hancock family: Parker still has not had surgery she needs to go home. Please pray for her mom and dad as this hospital stay has dragged out very long, even for a preemie.

I have a family to add. I was contacted by LaCosta Herrion from Oklahoma City. She had a little girl, Jalesa at 27 weeks last year. She is in need of prayer and support just adjusting and coping with some of her worries and fears about having a preemie. Please keep her and her 3 kids in your prayers.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do We Care, or Do We Just Say We Care

Part of this blog is going to be about working through some issues both personal and theological regarding our motivation (and hopefully yours) behind working to support preemie families. So bear with me and you might find that you have thought some of the same things I have or something I say may cause you to think.

I have never been one to shy away from emotions or passion toward an issue and I have been accused of being overly-passionate about things. Supporting preemie families is something I am passionate about, but often it seems that my passion exceeds my ability to get things done or exceeds others willingness to step up when called upon to help.

First off, let me say, I can't help it. If anyone knows me, they know that when my son was born at 30 weeks, it radically changed my outlook on almost everything. It strengthened my faith in God, it made me aware of just how precious life is and it made me take notice of the hurt all around me in regards to those families affected by prematurity. From the start, I knew that realization would shape my life and my family's life from then on for the rest of our lives. I soon began talking to Ashley about the love and support we had received from our family, our church family and from Hospitality House of Tulsa, which was our home away from home while Isaac was in the hospital. I started saying, "Man, it would be great if they could get that building across the drive and open up more apartments." and "Ashley, how can we give back to this place that has been so good to us during our time of need?" I also began dreaming of trying to help preemie families like ours in concrete, as well as spiritual ways.

When we came home from the hospital with Isaac it was rough. We were scared. No doubt about it. He was a pretty needy baby and we poured ourselves into watching him and caring for him around the clock. We also struggled with the trauma of what had happened to cause Isaac to be born so early. We struggled so much that our marriage struggled and we both found ourselves being treated for depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). As Isaac grew and we began to com to the realization that he was going to be just fine, we were able to begin to think about things more clearly and what surfaced was this thought: "We have a wonderful family, a wonderful church (2 churches really as we switched churches around the time Isaac was 1) and most of all we have our faith in God. If we struggled this much with all of the support around us and if we felt alone and afraid, how must others feel who may not have such a great support system in place? How must single moms feel who have preemies? How must preemie parents feel who lose their child or whose child has a disability due to prematurity? How must someone who is lost, who does not know the saving Grace and Comfort of Christ?" We came to the conclusion that they must feel even worse than we do. We came to the realization that we had been blessed by God because Isaac was healthy and because our family was held together by His loving hands. We came to the realization that it was time for us to share the comfort that we had received with other preemie families.

So, in late 2009 we started talking and praying about what we could do. We started trying to make contacts with people closer at hand to the hospitals in Tulsa where there were NICU's. We started trying to reach out to preemie families that we heard about through family, friends and other avenues. We knew they were out there, we just wanted to find a way to let them know we were here and we were here to help.

Since then, our efforts have seen some success. We have successfully participated in 2 March of Dimes March for Babies events and gotten some publicity for the group. We have also been able to reach out to some preemie families to let them know that we are praying and we are standing by to help. Still, we have also seen some disappointment and discouragement. I have to say that it has not and is still not as easy as I had dreamt it would be when God gave me a vision to start this group. Most discouraging of what I have found is that many people (myself included at times) want to say that they care but do not do anything to show they care. On the flip side of this, many people want to say they want support and help, but most seem to think that it is strange that anyone would want to help them. It is something I don't quite understand, but it is a fact we have seen play out several times. I think the problem with both not actually helping and not actually wanting help is one in the same.

When it comes right down to it, we are selfish. We go about our day every day thinking mainly of ourselves and only ourselves. Our world is fine as long as no one comes along to rock the boat or to point out anything that we are doing wrong. Bottom line, we don't take the time to care or allow ourselves to be cared for. We think that if we ignore a problem it will go away. I hate to be negative at all on this blog, but the reality is, prematurity is not going away any time soon. What we are left to deal with is it's aftermath. I have seen it in some small way firsthand and many times it is not pretty. A large majority of preemie parents, both mothers and fathers will report when asked that they suffered from depression, PTSD, and other types of mental anguish. This is on top of all the physical challenges that a preemie may face themselves. There is a laundry list of ailments, defficiencies and disabilities associated with prematurity and having someone who has been there and seen their way through it by your side is something that I think many, even when in the situation don't see as being as valuable as it could really be. As a believer, I am called to use my experiences like being the dad to a preemie to comfort those going through similar situations. I am not going to apologize for reaching out or for calling on others to reach out, to get out of their own comfort zones to make a difference in someone elses life.

If you are a preemie parent, then much of what I have said is not new to you. Still, if you are setting there thinking, "I really think he is right. I should do something to help other preemie families," then I have good news for you. YOU CAN. All you have to do is let me know you want to help. One thing that can be a help (to you and others) is for you to write your story down. I would be happy to publish any preemie stories I get on this blog. Another thing you can do is take an active part in reaching out to any preemie families you know or hear about. That could be through this group or on your own. Finally, I need help. If someone would like to share the responsibilities of running this group from the blog to Facebook to making contact with families, hospitals, and those who might be able to help us fund our effort, I would be more than happy to have the help. It is a large undertaking, but I promise you it is worth it. Preemies and their families are special and precious. You will never be sorry for reaching out to someone in need. Through it all I have never once, no matter how difficult or awkward been sorry I took an extra step to contact a preemie family, and I don't think I ever will be. God has seen to it that this will be a part of my family's life from now on, and it can be a part of yours too.

One last thing. Hospitality House of Tulsa got that building across the drive last year. They have since remodeled it and opened up 7 more apartments for those families who have extended care patients at Hillcrest. Many of those families are preemie families. I wish I could say that I had more to do with them getting this done, but one thing that we did do was pray for them all the time. You can find out more about Hospitality House of Tulsa and their mission at http://www.tulsahospitalityhouse.org/

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Power of Prayer August 2, 2011

> Please pray for Braxton. He is 9 months old and was a preemie. He has had issues with his skull not forming correctly and is set to undergo surgery for it on the 8th. His adoptive parents are some good friends of mine, Kevin and Cheryl Fletcher.

> Continue to remember the Moss family, the Pace family, the Hancock family and the Scott family. All affected by prematurity and all in need of God's peace and provision in their lives.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Power of Prayer July 31, 2011

Around this blog we are going to be unashamed in stating that we believe in the power of prayer. We are going to share with you prayer request, praises for answered prayers and stories of preemies and others who have been affected by the Hand of God in their lives. I have a few today. I want this to be a daily or at least weekly post, so if you have prayer requests, preemie related or not, send them to me and I will post them under this heading as often as I get them.

> Please pray for the Moss family. Natalie and Robb Moss are friends of my friend (really like my sister) Shelly and they were expecting twins. Last week she was 25 weeks and her water broke. They live in Tulsa and were able to get to Hillcrest where the next morning she delivered twin boys, Jack and George. They weighed 1lb 13oz and 2lbs. They are stable but anyone who knows about prematurity knows they have a long road ahead. (As an educational aside, because I don't assume everyone knows about gestational ages and prematurity, that makes them 15 weeks early. Considering that alot of early preemies stay in the hospital until their due date, they are looking at a very long hospital stay.)

> Please pray for Pepper Scott and her parents Justin and Nicki (and big brother London.) Pepper is only a couple months old and has been diagnosed with Mosaic Down Syndrome. It is a rare form of Downs Syndrome that only affects certain cells, unlike the Downs Syndrome we are familiar with that affects all cells. So far, they know that it is affecting her heart and alot of her muscles involved in eating. Both of these things are very serious and will take alot of medical attention. Pray for God's peace and provision over their family and health to little Pepper. Her parents are so determined that she is going to have a bright, bright future and we are praying that God does mighty things through her and her family.

> Other preemies that I know of that need our prayers: Parker Hancock, who has been in the hospital since she was born in March, and Connor Pace who was born in June I believe. Both are growing and both are going to be going home soon hopefully. Pray for their parents as they transition home and for any upcoming procedures and issues that may arise.

Thanks and God bless,
Brian

Our Story, Our Calling


April 9, 2008 is a day that my family and I will never forget. It was the day that my son Isaac was born. In normal circumstances it would have been a wonderful day full of family and celebration. My family celebrated his birth and many of them were there with us, but the circumstances under which he was born were anything but normal. His due date was June 12th, and he was born April 9th. He came to us over 2 months early. My wife had pre-eclampsia, a disorder that effects many pregnant women and is one of the leading causes of babies taken early by c-section. My wife’s body was poisoning itself and her liver and kidneys were about to shut down. A fast decision had to be made to save my wife and my son’s life and so a c-section was done at 30 weeks and 5 days, making Isaac 8 to 10 weeks early. Little Isaac weighed 3lbs 1oz when he came into this world screaming at the top of his tiny lungs. Everyone wants to hear their newborn baby cry, but that little cry was an answer to our prayers in so many ways. It was a cry that broke our hearts and made them whole all at the same time. We did not know then what a long, winding road we had ahead, but we knew he was alive and we knew he had the power to cry. That meant he had the power to breathe.

 Isaac’s birth was only the beginning of our journey into the center of an issue that has captured the heart of my family ever since. Almost at once, God poured out His comfort and blessings on us in so many ways that led us quickly to a point of dreaming of ways we could repay all the people who helped us. Out of this dream grew what we believe to be a vision from God found in the book of 2nd Corinthians Chapter 1 verses 3&4. It reads: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our Merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. This simple principle of comforting others in the way that God has used others to comfort us has become, for us a practice that we are actively seeking to live out in our daily lives. We have been blessed to have several other families join us in this effort who all have different stories, but have one thing in common. Their families have been touched by prematurity. With them, we have formed a support network, Northeastern Oklahoma Parents of Preemies (NEOPOP). Our group is still in its infancy, but we are hoping to impact the lives of many premature families in our area by seeking to provide for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs and living out this vision of giving comfort wherever it is needed. Our group has discussed many ways to do this and one of the easiest ways we have found to have an immediate impact is to partner with the March of Dimes. Our group participated in the March for Babies for two years now, and our son, Isaac was the Ambassador for our area march in 2010. We know that this is only scratching the surface though. We want to grow our group and gain independent funding to do much more for preemie families in our area and we want to make connections with other groups like ours around the country. Those connections are growing. We are already strongly connected to a group out of Austin, TX. Their model for helping preemie families is something we look to as an example, and their leadership in the person of Kelli Kelley has been a great encouragement to my family and to our group to follow the vision that God has given us. You can find Kelli's group at http://www.handtohold.org/

There is no rhyme or reason to whose family prematurity touches. It affects rich and poor, black and white, healthy and unhealthy and everyone in between. You won’t have to look very far among your family or friends to find a preemie or maybe several, in the group. It can happen over a period of weeks where expectant mothers are on bedrest and possibly medication or it can happen in a flash when a mother goes into labor at 24 weeks or when a mother’s blood pressure skyrockets to lethal levels over a matter of a couple days (that is what happened to my wife). Having a preemie is a scary thing and it happens too often.


You see, Isaac’s story is just one of the many stories that our premature family support group has, and one of the millions across the country and the world. One in eight babies are born prematurely every year in the United States and that number seems to be climbing. My family got a crash course in prematurity with almost no warning and no education about the ordeal we would face. Isaac is now 3 years old and will be turning 4 this spring. He is an amazing miracle of God’s grace and power, and we are thankful every day that he is here with us and able to enjoy everything that this life has to offer. Isaac loves life. He loves being outside, swimming, fishing, and playing with everything from his dog to bubbles. He is already showing interest and acuity in many things that little boys do and he keeps us very busy with new discoveries every day. We do not take this for granted. We are truly blessed to have Isaac and my wife Ashley, happy, healthy and whole. This blessing is why I am writing. The reason we believe Isaac is healthy and whole is because of the hand and power of God. We will always give him all the glory for our little miracle. We believe that God is working in many ways to help Isaac and children born early like he was. We want to be at least a small part of this work. We do not know where this journey will take us but we want you to come along and see.