Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sea Walkers

Do you realize that we've spent the last month walking on water together? If you try, you can almost feel the water splashing against your feet and the brisk wind coming off the sea as the sky begins to glow before the dawn. Can you hear Jesus calling us out of the boat even though it seems utterly foolish to hope that we could do such a thing? We have walked together by faith, and God has seen our feeble efforts and allowed us to spend a few moments with his son, standing where people do not stand. And as we get back in the boat, the only thing that seems right to do is exactly what the disciples did 2,000 years ago. They worshiped Jesus and confessed, "Truly, you are the Son of God."

Now that Benjamin is home with us and the boat is safely back at the shore, I know that some of you will praise God for his power and move on to other things that God has called you to do. One child cannot consume the prayers of so many forever. May God use Ben's life to encourage you as you serve our Father wherever you go. But Adrienne, Ben, and I are captivated by the one who has had mercy on us, and if you want to come along, I'll continue to tell the story of what God does in Ben's life as we try to keep following the one who has led us this far.

It's good to be home,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Monday, January 29, 2007

This Just In

I just got off the phone with Adrienne, and Benjamin's doctor said that Ben could go home tomorrow (Tuesday) if he passes his sleep study! Ben has been cramming for this test all day by staying wide awake and drinking lots of coffee so that he'll be totally exhausted when test-time rolls around. Here are a few more photos to keep you occupied until we know whether he passed his final.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Now Hiring

Ask not for whom the stomach growls; it growls for me.

Due to some recent statements made on this blog about a certain multi-talented family member, I have found it necessary to bring on some additional help to keep things going smoothly around the house. A position is now available for someone who would like to be a taste tester for all of my meals. If you enjoy trying foods from from all over the world while searching for pieces of broken glass or traces of hazardous substances, please submit your resume to me as soon as possible. Previous experience is preferred but not required.

One other position has also opened up. My ghostwriter is tired of working for peanuts and has accepted another job writing scripts for daytime cable infomercials. Until this position can be filled, I will be forced to post essays from my 11th grade American History class to fill the space. So unless you want to start reading posts about fascinating topics like "Monetary Policies of the 1930s", please submit your resumes at once.

Now that we've got that bit of housekeeping out of the way, I've got more excellent news about Benjamin. Yesterday afternoon Ben had his MRI, and we got the results back today. The actual word used to describe the results of the test was "unremarkable". Typically if someone says this about your child's brain, it is grounds for punching them in the stomach and throwing them out the window, but in this case, it is totally awesome! They did not find anything that they would consider an abnormality. I can not tell you how much of a relief it is to hear this news.

A few weeks ago, the doctor who performed Ben's tracheostomy told me that, due to the severe oxygen deprivation that Ben experienced at birth, I shouldn't expect that Ben would be going to Harvard or even that he would be able to go to school at all. I just smiled and nodded at the time, but it felt like she had just ripped my heart out through my chest. Mercifully, the next thought that popped into my head was that I pictured Ben as more of a 'Yale' guy than a 'Harvard' guy anyway. I'm not mad at her, though, because God used her talents as a surgeon to help save my child's life. It just makes everything that God will do through Ben in the future that much more amazing.

I know that so many of you having been praying constantly that this test would come out okay, and I wish I could do more than just saying "thank you" for your faithfulness in prayer. I wake up each day, energized by the thought of getting to share stories of God's tangible steadfast love with people all over the world. All I can hope for is that through his Spirit, you can feel that same steady hand in your own life too.

To God be the glory forever,
Whit, Adrienne, and the "unremarkable" Benjamin

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Parenting 101

Never brag to your son about your parenting superpowers. He will produce baby kryptonite and promptly bring you to your knees. I changed a diaper a couple of days ago that had its own halftime show, overtime, and post-game interview. Just when I thought he could make no more and I could wipe no more, he started up again while maintaining a perfectly innocent look on his face - knowing that the nurse watching the whole episode was getting a kick out of it too. This event proves the second law of baby physics which states that three times the amount of milk that goes in can be expelled out either end of the child. Round two goes to Ejector Boy.

While we're on the topic of superpowers, we have been very fortunate to have my mother-in-law stay with us the whole time that Ben has been in the hospital. Kay has two superpowers that I have observed. The first is her incredible ability to serve others with a seemingly endless supply of energy. Whenever she's not helping Adrienne at the hospital, she's cooking meals, doing laundry, and pacifying the cat when he starts trying to tear the house apart. What an awesome grandma (or ouma for our South African readers) who will show Ben what it means to serve like Christ. Her other superpower is the ability to throw her stomach growls so that it sounds like something is rumbling on the other side of the house. On the surface, this gift may seem somewhat less useful, but I think she could take that show on the road and make quite a living for herself. I'm sure she'll let you know how that pans out.

Benjamin shed a silent tear this weekend as his IV and tube of fat were wheeled out of his room - never to be seen again, we hope. The rest of his weight gain will have to come the old fashioned way, mom's milk going through a tube and directly into his stomach. Do you want to know how I burp my baby? I turn a valve connected to the feeding tube, pull some air-filled milk out of Ben's tummy using a syringe and then plunge the semi-digested milk back into his tummy after all of the air has escaped. As you may have guessed, this is also not in any of the parenting books that we have purchased; though it does have its advantages over the whole spit-up rag routine.

I'd like to thank Bob and Mary Ann Harper for letting us stay at their place this weekend as we prepared for the storm of the century in Tulsa. Four to ten inches of snow and freezing rain were expected. One inch of regular old rain came down, but we still enjoyed the excuse to spend some quality time with another lovely couple from our congregation.

Ben's MRI should be coming up in the next few days so we ask for your continued prayers that all of his brain functions are normal. He seems alert and active to us, but we'd love for these tests to prove our suspicions that all is well.

May God turn your blizzards into showers,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Thursday, January 18, 2007


My heart is heavy this evening because one of my childhood friends was suddenly taken from this world yesterday afternoon. Adam Langford, who played on my soccer team back in the day and was in my class at Oklahoma Christian, died in a violent car accident in Uganda. Adam moved there a year ago to work with the church in Jinja so that he could bring hope to people who didn't know Jesus, especially those who had contracted AIDS and had been shunned by society.

Here's a quote from his last blog entry:
While I will never stop trying to eliminate the suffering in this world,...I am beginning to believe we need more people who are willing to enter into the suffering of others whether they can help or not. I want to choose to suffer for the sake of others. I am not always sure how to do that or what it looks like, but most days I wake up and can’t think of anything else to do. Uganda has problems, I pray that God will solve them, but until He does I will also pray for the strength to suffer.

Here is a man who saw suffering in Africa and poured out his life so that others might know that our Lord is a Lord who has suffered with his people. May we have the compassion and the courage to suffer as Jesus Christ and his follower Adam Langford have.

Adam's brother Ben also works in Jinja, Uganda and receives some support from Memorial Drive. If you could visit his site at
http://www.jinjamissions.org and leave him a note of encouragement, I'm sure he and his family would appreciate it.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, our Ben continues to look healthier and healthier each day. Yesterday, he had a procedure to put a feeding tube directly into his tummy because he was still having problems keeping the milk down that he's been drinking through his nose (imagine that). I think you'd have acid reflux too if you drank milk that way. This new tube should allow him to put on weight much more rapidly. Ben is now set for the challenge of gaining 42 times his current body weight in order to exceed the 350 pound limit of his current crib and attain "living legend" status in the NICU.

During Ben's procedure, we had the chance to sit down with another doctor and discuss what happens next. If all goes according to plan, Ben should have an MRI next week, and if that goes well and he handles the feeding tube,
we could take Ben home in 10 days! The surgeon wants to wait until Ben is sixth months old to remove the cyst so please pray that we will do a good job of taking care of Ben's special needs at home until he's ready for the surgery.

Your prayers have been answered again and again; a week ago we could not have dreamed of bringing Ben home so soon. Thanks for sharing this bittersweet day with me.

In memory of Adam,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Monday, January 15, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Live From St. John

We're coming to you live today for the first time here at Benjamin's bedside, where the hairdos are messy and the diapers are even messier. I consider making it through 28 years of life without changing a diaper to be quite an accomplishment, but the streak has come to an end. It is said that some people have a sixth sense; as for me, I've got about three and a half. My selective hearing has had its benefits throughout my life, and now I've found that my almost total lack of a sense of smell has also started to come in handy. Even the most toxic looking diaper is no match for my newfound superpower. I hear they get much worse in the next few months so I'll let you know whether father or son wins out. Round one goes to the Senseless Wonder.

The snow and ice have been coming down here pretty well over the last day or two, and anytime we get over an eighth of an inch of ice in Tulsa, the entire city shuts down for three days. Thankfully, Chris and Linda Jones have extended their hospitality to us and allowed us to stay in their home, which is just down the street from the hospital, until the weather improves - yet another example of how great our church family is.

One more large machine has been rolled out of the room. This time it was Ben's other ventilator. That's right, Ben is breathing on his own through his trach pipe now! I can't tell you how happy I am about this. God is healing Benjamin must faster than any of us could have imagined. We can now do more of the fun stuff that other parents get to do. I held Ben in my arms for the first time. I'd show you the pictures of this, but they are trapped on my camera since my USB transfer cable is on the other side of town. Technology has a long way to go to overcome all of man's stupidity.

Ben is also off all of his medications except for some antibiotics to fight off a staph infection that is developing in the area of his tracheotomy. We'd love your prayers that this will not turn into a serious problem.

My new most favorite thing in the world: singing my boy to sleep with great songs like Blue Skies and Rainbows. My new least favorite thing in the world: watching Ben cry with no sound coming out. You would think that a baby crying on mute would be great, but it's actually scary to watch. It's good that I can use my most favorite thing to fight against my least favorite thing. I suppose God works the same way. He uses his greatest gifts, love and hope, to drive selfishness and fear out of our lives.

I'm going to get out of here soon before the next round of snow and ice hits, but I hope to get you those pictures as soon as the weather clears up. This is Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin signing off from St. John Medical Center.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

World View

After reading all of your comments over the past few days, I wish I could sit down and talk to each one of you face to face, especially those of you who ate all of my Christmas candy. The break room is a privilege, my friends, not a right.

I witnessed an event the other day that blew away my previous parenting world view. As you know, we've been praying that Benjamin would someday be able to drink milk; well there he was in his new crib with a tube in one nostril happily drinking milk through his nose. That was not in any of the parenting books I read, and I want my money back. God certainly has a sense of humor when he answers our prayers. Unfortunately, Ben's tummy hasn't handled the milk too well up to this point. I find it strange that the law of physics which claims that matter cannot be created or destroyed does not apply when feeding milk to an infant. The way I see it, at least three times the amount of milk that is fed to the baby comes back up the other way. I'm sure there are some useful scientific applications we can derive from this principle, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Benjamin also had his first official weigh-in yesterday. He can now
officially be considered a NICU super-heavyweight at 8 pounds 14 ounces. Apparently Ben shares his father's love of the late night snack while no one is looking. I have requested that the chips and salsa be removed from the NICU kitchen until further notice (for his sake and mine).

Some of you have been asking that more pictures be posted. Your wish is my command - eventually. Today Ben had his first professional photo shoot done by Jenny Connell, a friend of ours from Memorial Drive. She does great work; if any of you in the Tulsa area ever want incredible pictures of your newborn baby, she's the one to go to. As soon as we get them, I'll put some out there for all of you.

I've let this go too long, but I want to give a huge thank you to all of our brothers and sisters at Memorial Drive Church of Christ. We showed up on Sunday, and you poured out your love on us until our empty tanks were full again. So many of you knew exactly what to say to encourage us, and it was just another reminder of why we fell in love with all of you in the first place. You have taken care of our food and transportation needs, and you have built us up so we can face the challenges of the week ahead. You are the hands and feet of Jesus to us.

I'd also like to brag on our preacher, Terry Rush, who has preached several sermons that have prepared us for the storm we are in. In one of these sermons, Terry challenged us to imagine how we would deal with tragedy in our own lives after several people in our congregation passed away within a short time of each other. He didn't want this to be a morbid exercise, but he wanted us to envision ourselves doing things God's way even under terrible circumstances. I imagined losing both Adrienne and Benjamin during Ben's delivery. I saw myself disappearing into my bedroom at the house and not coming out for months, not talking to anyone, not doing anything. This exercise made me realize that I didn't want to end up like that if something bad happened. God deserves better than that from me. Thankfully, that worst nightmare has not occurred, and we can rest in your arms as we deal with the frustration of not being able to take our baby home. Thank you Terry for preparing us for this, and thank you church family all over the world for not letting us silently disappear when trouble came our way.

May you have the same peace that you give us,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Working Lunch

I'm on lunch break right now up at my office so come on in, pull up a chair, and I'll get you caught up on everything that's been happening since we last talked. There's coffee in the break room if you want something to drink but keep your hands off the leftover Christmas candy. I've already counted it all so I'll know if one piece goes missing.

Your faithfulness in prayer has been rewarded as Benjamin continues to grow stronger each day. I thought about listing all of the countries where people are praying for us, but I soon figured out that it would be much easier to list the countries that I haven't heard from yet. If you have family in Antarctica or Guam, please fill them in on what God has been doing during the last week.

Yesterday afternoon a surgeon came in to visit Ben and perform a Bronchoscopy, which basically means they put a tiny camera down Ben's throat to see what's going on. Originally, they thought Ben had a rare condition called laryngotracheo-esophageal cleft (LTEC), aka improperly formed trachea and esophagus. After looking around Ben's trachea, however, the doctor believes that Ben does not have LTEC but something called a laryngeal cyst.

In keeping with our theme of mixing amazing medical technology with caveman technology, I now present to you the drawing our surgeon made for us after he completed the procedure. After looking at his drawing style, I have determined that he must have attended the same art school that I did. I have added labels to his picture for clarity.

From what the doctor can tell, Ben's trachea and esophagus are formed correctly. There's just a huge cyst blocking almost all of his airway. The cyst was so large that he was not able to see what what the trachea looked like between the cyst and the tracheotomy incision, but he does not believe that there are any other defects further on down past the cyst. This is still a serious condition, but not as bad as the doctor's had originally thought.

The doctor wants Ben to get bigger and stronger before he performs the surgery to remove the cyst so it could be many months before that happens. We are so grateful that it doesn't look like the massive reconstruction surgery that they thought it was going to be. There is a possibility of damage to Ben's vocal cords, but it's also possible that they could be totally unaffected by the cyst.

That leaves one more big unknown for us to pray about. Early tests on Ben's brain function have been encouraging, but it will still be a while before the scans can be done to determine if damage has been done. I'm hopeful that God has healed Ben's mind as well as his body, but we try to wait patiently for God and subject ourselves to his decisions.

For the first time yesterday, Adrienne was able to hold Ben in her hands while the nurses changed his sheets. I just watched in pleased silence as she gave him kisses on his little swollen head. Because the tracheotomy site is healing well, they are able to put Ben on his side for the first time. This should allow some of the fluid to start draining from his head, but for now he looks like a little bulldog as the built up fluid moves into his face. Mom doesn't seem to care though, since they have finally taken the tubes out of his mouth and nose.

All these events have made me think of a story from the book of John. The disciples of Jesus saw a man blind from birth, and they asked Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." Thank you for being our fellow witnesses as we see the mercy and works of God displayed in our little son.

Do it all for the glory of God,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Well, it happened. Benjamin is only 6 days old, and he has already been handcuffed. On Thursday night after we had gone home for the evening, Ben decided to make things interesting by knocking out his ventilator tube. The punishment for his insurrection: Velcro baby restraints on both his wrists to keep him from trying any other stunts. I'm sure he is plotting another escape attempt even as I write these words.

So many good things have happened over the last two days that I'm not sure where to start. The biggest development was probably his switch over from an oscillating ventilator to a standard ventilator. The picture at the right is the high tech oscillator drain sitting on top of the oscillator (which I'm sure costs more than I make in several years). No, the drain isn't hiding behind the Styrofoam cup; it is the Styrofoam cup. This is the only modern medical equipment I can truly understand. Anyway, the oscillator pumps hundreds of shallow breaths into Benjamin every minute which is better for his fragile lungs, but if he stays on this machine for too long, it can keep his lungs from working properly in the future. Needless to say, we are very happy that the oscillator is no longer in Benjamin's room. I'll have to ask whether they recycle the cup for the next patient.

The nurses also rolled one other large machine out of the room today. Ben was receiving nitric oxide to improve blood flow in his lungs, but he no longer needs that either. I get the feeling that the doctors and nurses are surprised that he is off of these machines so quickly.

The best part of all of this, though, is getting to see Benjamin start responding to us. For the first time yesterday, Benjamin was able to wrap his little fingers around my finger. That was a moment of pure parental bliss that will never leave my mind as long as I live. His grip was not the light grip of a baby barely holding on to life, but a grip that would have pulled out all of his wires and tubes, if the rest of his body would have cooperated.

Even after this, God was not through giving us late Christmas presents. Today, I saw Benjamin open his eyes for the first time. I don't think he wanted to look me directly in the eye after all of the pranks he's been pulling, but we got a nice long look at each other. My son knows who I am now - we have seen each other face to face.

In all of this great news, the days are still not without sadness. I see my wife sitting quietly in an empty nursery every day, pumping milk for a child who may never be able to drink it. I will never be able to comprehend how difficult and disappointing it is for her right now, but she continues to walk by faith nonetheless.

I'll wrap this up by showing you my new most favorite picture in the world. I have seen the Mona Lisa, as well as masterpieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, and many others, but this smile on my wife's face as she looks at my only son makes all those other works look like finger paintings.

May God give us all the strength to smile like this when times are tough,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Thursday, January 04, 2007

All The Difference

The great mohawk rebellion of '07 has been suppressed. Last night, Benjamin was doing well enough for the doctors to hook him up for an electroencephalogram (EEG). His hair has been matted down, and his head is now covered with electrodes that are monitoring the electrical activity in his brain. It's still not a full brain scan, but hopefully we'll get a clearer picture of what's going on after the test is completed this evening. Ben was not going down without a fight; however, and he managed to overflow his urine container so that the nurses had to clean up quite a puddle on the floor. His uncle Les did inform me that Ben's hairstyle is actually a fauxhawk because the sides are not shaven so maybe Ben isn't as much of a rebel as I originally thought.

Last night, Ben was also taken off of his dopamine drip so he is down to one heart medication called dobutamine that they have started to cut back on as well. One other thing that the doctors have done is change his sedation medicine. He is still asleep all of the time, but he moves around a lot more than he did before. This should keep him from getting sores and from losing muscle, but it also means he has a higher risk for knocking out his ventilator tube. It makes me kind of nervous to watch him move around with everything hooked up to him, but I know it's good for his little body.

Because he is moving around more, I actually got to see him try to yawn for the first time today. Unfortunately, it was while I was trying to read him a story. I told him that I know Benjamin Bunny is not exactly a cliffhanger and Beatrix Potter can be an acquired taste for some, but he should at least give it a shot in my opinion.

You will not guess the last book I checked out from the library and started reading right before Ben was born. It's the latest book by Philip Yancey called "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" I may finish up the book some day, but I must say that all of you have helped make the answer self-evident: Prayer Makes All the Difference in the World! I am strengthened daily by your prayers and words of encouragement; I see my son improving day by day, and I know that I would not have any peace in this situation without God's comforting Spirit.

I will not be posting a blog entry tomorrow so that I can make sure I spend enough time with my beautiful wife, but please continue to speak with God about our son. Thank you for your overwhelming love and care for us.

Hope and comfort to all of you,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kids These Days

As I walked into the NICU this morning, I said hello to Benjamin and told him it was my birthday today. Ben is sedated twenty-four hours a day so that he won't mess with all of his tubes, but that doesn't mean he can't move his little tongue around. He started blowing bubbles to celebrate with me. I've always been one for understated birthday parties, but there was no holding Ben back.

I was also surprised to find that Ben is now sporting a two-inch tall mohawk. I didn't think that I was going to have to deal with this kind of behavior until he was a teenager. The NICU nurses are definitely a bad influence on him.

Ben also appears to be disappointed that there are no cheese burgers in the NICU, but he seems to be happy with the alternative. One of the syringes contains nothing but fat that is pumped directly into his body. He is living the American dream.

Today has been a great day for Benjamin, and we continue to find strength in God through all of your prayers. Many of you know that I was a computer science major at OC and have no real knowledge of anything in the medical realm, but I will now attempt to give you my "Medical Lingo for Dummies" version of what the doctors and nurses have told me. Ben has been totally taken off of his Epinephrine drip, which was keeping his pulse rate up. He is also being weened off of Dopamine which was keeping his blood pressure up. This is great news because it moves him one step closer to being physically ready for surgery to repair his trachea and esophagus.

We also received report back from a brain ultrasound that was done yesterday. This is not a full brain scan, but it checks to see whether the structure of the brain is normal. They wanted to see if any capillaries had ruptured due to the trauma of his delivery. We are happy to say that they did not see any damage.

On top of all that, Adrienne was released from the hospital on Monday and has been recovering quickly. She is my joy in sad moments, and I know Ben gets his toughness from her.

What a blessing to hold my baby's hand and get so much good news on my birthday. I know there will be days when he will have setbacks and struggles, but I want to thank all of you for praying so hard for our little boy and sharing the good times with us. We read all of the comments you leave here and they touch us deeply. Please pray for all the doctors and nurses who have been serving us with their talents. We have nothing but great things to say about all of them.

With much love,
Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Big Ben

There are so many things I want to say to all of you who have been praying for our little Benjamin. We thank all of you for pouring out your love on us through prayers, calls, visits, and gifts. How can one doubt the love and goodness of God when he uses you as his arms to hold us and his shoulders for us to cry on?

I'd like for you to get a glimpse of what we have gone through these past three days so that the situation will be more real to you as you pray to God. I know it can be difficult to pray for someone when they are just another name on a prayer list. (You can skip to the bottom of this post if you just want to know the basic facts.)

Benjamin's due date was the 28th of December, but he decided that he was quite happy with life in the womb and could wait a few more days for life on the outside . One of our friends suggested that we serve him an eviction notic
e, but Ben apparently has little respect for the law. Adrienne tried a few other labor-inducing techniques but to no avail. Then we finally figured out what to do. Since Adrienne's family was in town, we decided to take them to an authentic diner on Route 66. Adrienne ordered a plate of cheese fries and a chocolate milkshake. Within minutes Ben must have decided that life on the outside can't be all that bad, and if he was out on his own he wouldn't have to share his cheese fries with mom anymore. Adrienne started having regular contractions so we made our way to St. John Hospital around 7:00 p.m. on December 30th.

Adrienne's mom, Kay, and I were with Adrienne through the whole labor and delivery process. Adrienne wants me to make sure I recommend epidurals to all the future mothers out there. In her words at the time, "This is AMAZING. I haven't felt this good in months." Her labor progressed steadily, and by about 4:00 Sunday morning we knew the time was getting close. Adrienne pushed and pushed but also made time to remind her mother to breathe so she wouldn't pass out while helping to coach the delivery. It was a struggle, but at 5:35 on Sunday morning, December 31st Benjamin Kent Gatewood was born.

I was so proud of Adrienne for how hard she had worked these past nine months to bring Ben into the world. The next thing I knew, a nurse was handing me scissors and telling me to cut the umbilical cord. I cut the cord and gave Adrienne a giant hug and kiss.

Then things got crazy. It took a few moments, but I noticed that a lot of people were gathering around Ben at the table across the room. I cannot explain how absolutely terrifying it is to witness a delivery and then realize that the baby is not crying. Adrienne was being stitched up and could not see what was going on, but I watched in horror as my baby rested motionless on the table as doctors and nurses tried desperately to resuscitate him. Minutes passed by and none of the doctors or nurses said a word to us. We knew it was bad, and at that point I started dealing with the possibility that our baby was dead. I crumpled to my knees and cried out to God in groans that only his Spirit can interpret.

But the doctors and the nurses kept working and working. Eventually they told us that there was a blockage in the baby's throat that was keeping them from getting sufficient oxygen into the baby's lungs. The nurses were hand pumping oxygen into him, but he was barely hanging on. They realized that a surgeon would be needed to do an emergency tracheostomy so they could bypass the blockage. We sat there stunned in the delivery room with Benjamin for two hours while all of this was going on.

When the surgeon finally came, the three of us were taken out of the room. One of the doctors let us know that we needed to prepare ourselves because there was a good chance Benjamin wouldn't make it. Well he did make it, and the surgeon came in and told us that they were moving Ben to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She said that things did not look good at all for him because of all the trauma he had already endured, but they would do all they could to keep him going. We found out that Ben's esophagus and trachea had not formed properly and that he would need further surgery to repair the birth defect.

After all of this, I can't tell you how discouraged I was. I knew in my mind that God could do anything, but my heart had a more difficult time believing that there was any hope for Ben. Many people from the Memorial Drive Church of Christ came up to pray with us throughout the day and lifted up our spirits up during a very dark hour.

There are many other stories I can tell you about the last three days, but I'll finish up with this one. After they moved Benjamin down to the NICU, they let us go down to see him, and we finally got the chance to touch our little one. I wept so much when I saw my innocent child hooked up to so many machines. Babies shouldn't have to go through any of that. But I came in the next day and had a chance to be with him by myself. I had the urge to tell him a Bible story so he would at least know something about God before he went to see him. For some reason, I began to tell him the story of Jesus walking on the water and how amazing it was to the disciples - they thought they saw a ghost. But Peter told Jesus that he wanted to come out on the water with him. Jesus told him to come so Peter started to walk out to him, but he looked out at his surroundings and began to drown. Jesus pulled him out, and said "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" I realized then that I will not doubt Jesus any more. My baby is still alive and while he is still alive, I will have hope, not despair. And if God takes him from me, I will have faith and not doubt that I will see him again at God's right hand.

Here's where Benjamin stands right now:
Benjamin was born on December 31st at 5:35 in the morning. He weighs 7 pounds 6 ounces and is 19 and a half inches tall (I like that better than long). He is in critical condition in the NICU and has a respirator keeping him going right now. He is receiving many medications that he
will need to get off of before he can have more surgery to repair his trachea and esophagus. It will probably be a couple of weeks before that surgery would be possible. If that is successful, he would next have a brain scan to see if there was any damage due to the low oxygen levels that he had in the first few hours of his life. The doctor said Ben would need to be in the hospital for several months in order to recover from all of this. We serve a God who can heal Ben completely, and I hope that you will pray for that. But I also hope that you will pray for God to give our family the strength to handle whatever he decides should happen. Thanks for reading this, and I will post more news here as I have the strength to write it.

God's peace be with you all,

Whit, Adrienne, and Benjamin