Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Get Up

For Christmas, I thought I'd share my favorite passage of Scripture for this past year. When I read it, it gives me chills.

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.
After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. Mark 5:35-42

We have all lived this passage together this year. God is STILL with us. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Down Under

Before Benjamin went in for surgery on Friday morning, Dr. Digoy explained to us that Ben would be undergoing a procedure called marsupialization. This is one of the more amusing medical terms I've heard so far. Ben already exhibits some of the characteristics of a koala (cute from a distance, but possessing perilously sharp teeth and claws) so having him marsupialized seems somewhat redundant. Dr. Digoy went on to explain that this just means he would be talking the crud out of the middle of the cyst which would leave an empty pouch to heal back normally.

The procedure took a few hours, but everything went smoothly. While Dr. Digoy was working on the cyst, he found some other problems that will require more surgery before Ben can get the trach out. Because the cyst was so large, it pressed against the false vocal folds so that they are now also blocking Ben's airway. If the folds do not move back to their normal position once the cyst heals, Ben will have more surgery in 4 to 6 weeks to remove some of the tissue that is still blocking his airway.

Dr. Digoy also noticed that Ben's trachea has collapsed above the area where the trach was inserted so he will probably have to use a piece of one of Ben's ribs to reconstruct part of Ben's trachea. In spite of all of this, Ben's doctor is hopeful that the trach could be removed in the next three to six months if these other procedures go well.

We're all back at home now recovering from a tiring weekend, and we want to thank all of you for your prayers. God continues to give us strength through your faithfulness.

Whit, Adrienne, and the koala

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cyst Removal: Take 2

Ben goes in for laser surgery to remove the cyst that is blocking his airway at 9:30 on Friday morning at OU Children's Hospital in OKC.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Woodchuck Gallery

No wood surface is safe in the Gatewood house these days.

That last photo was taken by Ben's uncle Hal while he and Emilie were visiting from Montreal last week. For more photos of Ben and family, you can check out Hal's Flickr page.

A few weeks ago we took Ben down to OKC for a second opinion by Dr. Digoy, and things are now moving forward quickly. Dr. Digoy said that the cyst that was blocking Ben's airway appears to have grown back. We're going in for an MRI and overnight observation on November 30th, and then Ben will have another laser surgery to take another shot at removing the cyst. The good news from all this is that if the procedure goes well and Ben heals properly, he could have the trach out in a few months instead of years like Ben's other doctor was talking about. We are pumped about that and would love your prayers over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kiss You I Must

A short time ago, at a party far, far away in Wagner, Oklahoma, Ouma Kay came across...

...the wisest Jedi master of them all.

Hey don't laugh. You don't want to make him angry.

That's better.

Yoda was gracious enough to sit for a photo op with Olivia and his new friend Super-Kaden. Coincidentally, Yoda also seems to have a problem with direct eye contact.

But as we all know, even Jedi masters can be influenced by the power of the dark side.

Kiss or kiss not. There is no try.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Great Outdoors

Now that Oklahoma is cool enough for people to go outside again, Ben has been getting in touch with his inner Aussie while sporting his oupa's Akubra.

No it's not the River Dance; whenever we put Ben down on the grass, he does a little jig to keep his feet from touching the ground.

Benjamin shows his appreciation of nature by preparing to consume the local flora.

Grandma put in a special request for a picture showing Ben's scholastic side. In this shot we are reading Touch and Feel Kitten and discussing the philosophical and practical implications of yanking handfuls of kitty fur. Gordo is pretty sure that Ben did not pay any attention to what I was saying.

On a more serious note, it took about 50 phone calls, but we finally have an appointment with a Pediatric Otolaryngologist in Oklahoma City on November 7th. I want to thank Phyllis Thornton for helping us track down someone in Oklahoma who specializes in Ben's type of medical condition. She also directed us to a website that actually describes Ben's condition at birth. Appropriately, it's called CHAOS.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007


No parenting experience is complete without a drive to the ER through the pouring rain in the middle of the night. We had ours last weekend at 2:00 Saturday morning. Benjamin was wheezing horribly and struggling to breathe; at one point his pulse was over 200 beats per minute. That was enough for us so we drove across town to St. John and had an all too familiar evening in the hospital. Thankfully, Ben was only diagnosed with acute bronchitis and nothing more serious. By the end of the weekend, Adrienne and I had come down with our own colds. It has been a very sticky week in the Gatewood house.

It's been quite amusing to watch how kids respond to Benjamin and his trach. Awhile back, Benjamin made his first trip to Wal-Mart. A few minutes into it, Ben was gurgling pretty loudly and needed to be suctioned. A five year-old in the produce section took note of this and watched as Adrienne suctioned Ben. When she was finished, the kid turned to his mom and said, "Look mom, that lady has a baby vacuum!"

Kids also have some funny questions. Unfortunately, the most common question that I've fielded about Ben is, "Is that a boy or a girl?" This is one of those "where have I gone wrong as a parent" questions. The only logical conclusion is to reinstate the fauxhawk as soon as possible. If that doesn't work, I may have to resort to temporary tattoos.

We also have some new developments in Ben's trach care. I've been working with our HMO and Ben's pediatrician, and it looks like we're going to be able to get a second opinion at the National Jewish Medical Center in Denver, which has been rated as the #1 respiratory hospital in the country for the last ten years by U.S. News and World Report. It's not a done deal yet, but things are looking good. By the way, several people have asked if Ben is enrolled in the Sooner Start program, and I just wanted to let you know that he is.

Thanks as always for your prayers and thoughtfulness,
Whit, Adrienne, and Mr. Benjamin

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

OU Tryout

I'll have another blog entry coming soon, but while you're waiting, here's a clip to get you ready for football season.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Show Me A Sign

On Friday, Benjamin had another bronchoscopy and also had more excess tissue removed around his trach. After the doctor had a look, he told us that Ben's trachea is constricted due to the scar tissue that formed after his cyst was taken out. He said that it could be years before Ben is ready to have the trach removed.

In my mind, I had been building this image that the trach would be out by the end of the year, and Ben would just be a few months behind developmentally. Now that this looks less likely, we have to prepare more seriously for raising a child who may have little or no speaking abilities for several years. As a first step, we picked up a sign language book this weekend and will start working a few signs into our daily routine. Whether God continues to bless Ben with quick healing or gives us the challenge of dealing with the trach, we'll try to see it as an opportunity for God to do great things through Ben.

And now it's time for some professional photos taken by Jenny Connell.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Hajj

It's that time of year again; the time when I drag Adrienne off to some place without sufficient air conditioning in celebration of our anniversary. In keeping with our theme of tourist destinations long past their prime (Eureka Springs, Galveston, Keokuk, Lawrence, and Hot Springs were our stops the previous five years) we topped them all by heading on up to Bartlesville, Oklahoma for a weekend getaway.

Those of you who have been brushing up on your Oklahoma Christian University history will know that Bartlesville is the university's birthplace back when it was Central Christian College. No one can be a true alumnus without making at least one pilgrimage to the site during their lifetime. The school is now Oklahoma Wesleyan University, but Adrienne and I think it has more of a Casa Bonita feel to it. Just think about the business model OC missed out on - "Oklahoma Christian, the place for a quality Christian education and low-budget-all-you-can-eat-Mexican food all in a small-town-faux-Spanish-villa setting."

After the hajj was completed, we swung by Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper. We'll save the discussion on why Bartlesville would need skyscrapers for another day.

And last but not least, we stopped by the Woolaroc ranch and museum where we snapped a few pictures that I think Hal would be proud of.

I know most of you who stop by the blog are looking for the kiddo so here is his latest video. Since Ben can't use his vocal cords yet, his oupa is teaching him to speak "duck". You'll probably need to listen closely.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

6 Month Reflections

Today Benjamin is half-way through his first trip around the sun. That's about 180 days more than I expected during those first few hours after he came into the world. Every one of those days has been a gift from God; though I have often forgotten to acknowledge it. Here are a few things I've been thinking about now that Ben has made it this far.

Ben's first five months have been the hardest five months of my entire life up to this point (followed closely by our time in Abilene). At times it felt like God had given Satan permission to beat our marriage with a shovel. Having a child with health problems put stress on our marriage that I was totally unprepared for. I know that your prayers helped us through those days, and the last three or four weeks really have been much better.

Ouma Kay is an incredible person. Her care for Ben, Adrienne, and me has been tremendous and has lightened our load considerably. What a blessing to have grandparents close by.

My faults seem magnified when compared with Ben's innocence. I desperately want him to succeed where I have failed and be so much more than I am. I want to teach him that the only way that can happen is by putting everyone else above yourself and following Christ with all your heart. May my example never be a stumbling block as Ben learns to follow God.

Anyway, here are a few more photos for your viewing pleasure:

Benjamin carries on his father's tradition of being just a bit awkward around the ladies. I suppose direct eye contact is something we'll be working on during his seventh month. He's probably feeling a little pressure after Shane "The Matchmaker" Coffman announced Ben's upcoming marriage to Olivia in front of the entire congregation the Sunday after she was born.

This is one of those pictures I've really been wanting since Ben was born - four generations of firstborn Gatewoods. Great-grandpa was in town with us this weekend to celebrate his 87th birthday.

And finally, this is a picture of our first top-secret campaign strategy meeting. Ben did most of the talking and decided the voter apathy that was apparent from our poll earlier in the week is a sign that the country may just be indifferent enough to allow a 6 month old and a cat to run the whole show. He already has uncle Hal working on the official campaign T-shirt.

Thanks for your love and prayers over these past six months,
Whit, Adrienne, and El Presidente

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Campaign 08

After surveying the current field of candidates and finding them lacking, Benjamin has decided to form an exploratory committee to assess his chances of becoming president in 2008. His platform of mandatory siestas, "a bottle in every pot", and aggressive tort reform just might put him over the top. To help us out, please select who you would vote for if the 2008 election were held today.





If Ben's campaign falls apart, my second choice will probably be Huckabee. He meets my seven criteria for president. He openly confesses faith in Jesus Christ, is anti-abortion (the number of babies aborted in the U.S. in the past week is higher than the number of U.S. soldiers lost during four years of war in Iraq), doesn't believe we came from monkeys, wants to abolish the IRS, plays the bass guitar, pronounces nuclear with only one 'oo', and has a sense of humor. Take a look.

This message brought to you by the Ben/Gordo 08 exploratory committee.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


If you're wondering where the blog entries have been over the last month, they have all been flushed down the toilet for being boring and whiny. Theresa and Shane have both been talking about blogworthiness recently, and let's just say you should be glad I've had a bad case of blogstipation. Thankfully, Father's Day has been the metaphorical prune juice that this blog has needed. Let's all hope it doesn't lead to the dreaded blogorhea that Shane has warned us about.

And now for some pictures of the boy who put the fun back in fundoplication (special thanks to Little Mrs. Pinkie for several of the photos):

There comes a time in the life of a man where he must decide where he stands on one of the most important philosophical questions of our time: "To comb over or not to comb over?" Due to Ben's early onset hair loss, he has been forced to answer this question after only five months in this cruel world. Much to my dismay, he has chosen in favor of the comb over. I don't have the heart to tell him how silly it looks, but maybe the puzzled glances of some his peers like Will, Sam, and Olivia will bring him to his senses.

Next up, we have Ben with Ouma and Grandma. To defray some of Ben's medical costs, we're going to have him do some part-time trach modeling. I think we'd all buy a trach if this picture were on the box. "Trachs - when one nose just isn't enough."

My handsome boy and beautiful girl.
Just when you thought the Claw was vanquished, his evil twin strikes unexpectedly. It's anyone's guess what happens now; all I know is that the ectoplasm is flowing freely and no one is safe.
It has been a very good first Father's Day, and I hope to be back here again sooner rather than later.

Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Blogging a struggle
Mired in an endless funk
Haiku to rescue

Baby gains slowly
Feeding child constantly
Bottom three percent

Tissue grows around
trach, needs to go soon, minor
surgery June 1st

Gurgling as he eats
Swallow study upcoming
Surgery once more?

Baby needs prune juice
Dirty diapers rare; when seen
Wife does dance of joy

Rejoice always, pray
without ceasing, in all give
thanks, I am failing

Ben loves powered swing
Cheesy music pacifies
Dad happy and sad

When I come home, Ben
smiles at me; could there be
anything better?

Haiku just for fun
Stop counting the syllables
Admit it, you were

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Join the Club

My in-laws are no longer certified Maine-iacs. This past Thursday Noel and Kay closed on a home a mere mile and a half down the road from us. Who would have guessed that Ben's oupa (pronounced o pa) would end up being an Okie living in Bixby? My dad, not wanting to be left out of the exotic foreign nickname club, has recently styled himself as faux pas. If you see him around, you can make his day by calling him this, but don't be surprised if my mom just shakes her head when she hears the beautiful "language of love" butchered once again for comedic purposes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You Might Have a Four-Month-Old

If you pull up to a traffic light and have a deep inner struggle about whether you can get a nap in before the light turns green again, you might have a four-month-old . And if you come home and tell your husband about this struggle and instead of being chastised for your lack of safety consciousness, he says he wishes that he thought of it first and will try it the next time he's on the road, you might have a four-month-old. If you get a free hour to go on a date and choose to collapse on a blanket in the park, you might have a four-month-old. And if every shirt in you laundry hamper has drool stains over three inches in diameter, you might have a drooling problem, or you might have a four-month-old.

Thanks to God, a surgeon, and a laser beam, our little Benjamin is now cyst-free. Ben was in surgery for about three hours, and the surgeon said that they were able to get the whole cyst out without any problems. He spent the night at the hospital and was doing well enough that they discharged him on Wednesday evening. Right now we're doing all of his feedings through his stomach tube, which is a two-person job since he's been a lot fussier since the surgery, but hopefully he'll get back to regular feeding some time next week.

The surgeon also told us that the opening to Ben's windpipe is smaller than other kids his age so it may still take a while for him to start breathing normally. He said that it could be years before they take the trach out, but I'm hopeful it will be much sooner than that.

Ben's weight during all of this has been one of our biggest frustrations as he is almost four months old and still under 10 pounds, which puts him in the bottom 3 percent of babies for his age. As you can imagine, this can be pretty stressful for a mom to deal with on top of everything else that's been going on. If you could pray about that situation, we would be grateful.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Big Day

Well Ben's surgery is coming up at 12:30 today, and I'm having trouble sleeping. It has been a while since I've put a video out there so here is Benjamin's sophomore production for your enjoyment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Change Would Do You Good

Apparently my first attempt at getting on the cat scripture site just wasn't good enough, but I'm going to give it one more shot. You'll have to help me choose which verse to pick though.

1 Corinthians 15:51 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—"
Matthew 18:3 And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you
change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Good Friday to all of you. Today Christians remember an act of selflessness that brought us hope and reconciliation with God. It's an act that Jesus amazingly calls us to reenact on a daily basis. Have I ever had one day that lived up to Jesus' sacrifice on the cross let alone doing it day after day after day? Praise God for his mercy and undying devotion to perfecting us through the blood of Christ.

This afternoon God gave us the chance to experience some much needed reconciliation of our own. Two of our former teammates, Carlos and Maribel Preciado, who were part of our mission team that was going to plant a new church in Miami, were in town for a gospel meeting and stopped by our place for a visit. There are numerous reasons why our mission team fell apart before we even finished our training in Abilene, but one of them was our inability to work out our differences with Carlos and Maribel. Feelings were hurt on both sides, and we at least, left Abilene with a bitter taste in our mouths.

Some say that time heals all wounds, which is a total lie, but God can certainly heal any wound we ask him to heal. When he forgives us of so much, how can we continue holding a grudge against our own brothers and sisters? As I talked with Carlos in our living room, I was so happy to hear of all the things that God was doing in their lives. Though our team fractured, God is mending all of us and using us to do his work even if we are in different places.

After they left, we opened up a gift they brought for us. Inside was a rock engraved with a cross, a dove, and a scripture. The scripture was Psalm 33:5 which says, "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." I'm going to keep it on my desk at work as a constant reminder of God's power to reconcile us to himself and to each other through the cross and the Holy Spirit. Thank you Carlos and Maribel for visiting and may God continue to bless your work in Miami.

In other news, we got a great report from Ben's surgeon after he took some pictures of the cyst in Ben's throat. He said that the cyst doesn't appear to be growing, and Ben has grown enough that they will be able to do the surgery on April 17th instead of waiting until the summer. The pictures were incredibly clear so I thought I'd share one with you. You can see the dangly thing in the back of Ben's throat and the big blob just below it to the left is the cyst that is blocking his wind pipe. It's amazing how one little fleshy bump can change your whole life, and I'm not talking about Ben's uvula.

I know this post has been going on forever, but I've got one other thing to share. Adrienne's grandmother has made some great Swarovski crystal gospel bracelets that I am selling for her on eBay. These bracelets are a great conversation starter and give you the opportunity to tell others about the faith you have in Jesus. If you're interested, just follow my eBay link on the right side of the page. Man what a good day, Christ dying for my sins, reconciling with fellow Christians, a new surgery date, and brownie points with the grandmother-in-law.

Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Thursday, March 29, 2007


As many of you know, I have never had the reputation of being a morning person or a multitasker. I'm sure that very few of you have witnessed me string together a series of coherent phrases before 11AM. This problem only gets worse on Saturday mornings. Lately, my Saturday morning responsibilities have been expanded, and the caveman in me has been forced to adapt accordingly. The following pictures show off some of the new skills I have picked up as a dad.

The unforeseen side-effect of this morning multi-taskedness is that I have started to grow long spaghetti-like tentacles out of my face. (It's actually Benjamin's suction machine tubing hanging perfectly in the background).

Speaking of tentacles, the reign of terror in our household is coming to an end. The sun is quickly setting on the Claw's dominion as the Chasm's time has come. This past week Ben discovered how to fit the entire Claw inside his mouth, reducing the Claw to a slobbery shell of its former self. I have documented this changing-of-the-guard with before, during, and after photo evidence.

Just one more proof that good always triumphs over evil in the end,
Whit, Adrienne, and the Chasm

Sunday, March 18, 2007


It amuses me that Benjamin's most sinister enemy during his first three months of life has been his own hand. Sure it looks so little and innocent, but when left unattended, it becomes an eye-gouging, face-scratching, hair-pulling, ear-pinching, nose-picking, daddy-punching claw of destruction. Imagine its power if we could harness it for good and not evil.

Ben and the claw had their first chance to meet with the church two weeks ago. The claw was on its best behavior, and Benjamin managed to keep from crying the whole time he was up front being introduced to the congregation. Shane gave us the opportunity to thank everyone for all their prayers and generosity, and we all gave God the glory for his mercy and power in Ben's life. After we sat down, Ben was quickly ejected from the auditorium for fussing, but we had a pretty good ten minute run of happiness before he had to leave.

The big news is Noel and Kay's arrival in Oklahoma last week. I joke about outlaws, but things have gotten much better around here since they showed up. It's a huge blessing to have grandparents around who can help us take care of our little guy. Here are a few of Ben's reactions to the new arrangements.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Before and After

I've got a game for you to play. Can you find the difference between the following pictures? Take your time.

Give up? The first picture is before seven-foot tall, powered, inflatable stork with sign (BSFTPISWS for short), and the second picture is after seven-foot tall, powered, inflatable stork with sign (ASFTPISWS). I'm surprised you didn't get that. Our friends Bobby and Melissa Smith are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl named Olivia Rose who was born on Saturday. I figured there was no better way to celebrate than installing a massive lawn ornament in their yard during high wind season in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, after I drove all the way across town to put it up, I realized that it had to stay plugged in to stay inflated. Of course there was no outlet on the front of their house to plug into, and my plan was almost foiled. Just as I was about to give up, their next-door neighbor, who I have never met before, drove up and saw the sad deflated scene. I'm pretty sure she thought I was a crazy person, but I told her what I was doing, and she found an extension cord and let me hook up the stork to her garage outlet. The great stork disaster was narrowly averted, and the big guy was there standing tall and proud to greet them when they came home from the hospital. Big thanks to Mary Daugherity for coming to our baby shower and providing us with this gift that just keeps on giving. You give the best gifts Mary.

Back at our place, over the last few weeks Benjamin has discovered the dieting "holy grail" of eating all you want without gaining an ounce. If I can just get him to share the secret with me, I'll make billions. I've tried to teach him the one blink for "yes", two blinks for "no" system, but Ben is master of the staring game and can go for quite a long time with his eyes plastered open. He has earned the nickname Moth Man in our house for the way he stares at any light that happens to be on. Don't quit your South Beach diet yet.

Since Ben is still short of 9 pounds the doctors have ordered that he be put on a continuous feeding machine for twelve hours a day. I've got to tell you this kid is a sneaky one. I'd thought we'd seen the last of that machine in the hospital, but he's figured out a way to get it back. Hopefully, the machine will help Ben transform from a stick figure into a sumo in the next month or two.

Moth Man also got to meet with the church for the first time on Sunday. But I'll save that story for next time.

May all your storks be powered,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin