Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Please Vote!

Please Click on this link to vote each day this month for our sweet little guy, Carter, to be the next Gerber baby. :) Or at least win the monthly prize! Either way, we hope we can share his story/God's story, through this experience!


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How neat to watch Carter play. What an awesome Creator we have!

Thankful Thursdays

I am so thankful today for the fact that I am so rich. Yes, that's right. I'm rich. And it's the greatest thing ever.

Am I rich by the world's standards? Probably not. We drive a car that is 10 years old and one that is 12 years old (we like our cars and they're both payed off!), our kids share a bedroom (and love it!), and we mostly eat at home.

But I am rich. Why? I have a husband who I love and he loves me no matter what and cares for me and our children. I have an almost 3-year old daughter who is a joy. She loves to talk, sing, and dance and is so happy! She wants to be a Mommy when she grows up. I have a 5-month old son who loves to smile, laugh, and give hugs. Really, he does hug us! It's great. We have a wonderful time together as a family. I am also blesssed by our decision and desire for me to be home with the kids, raising them to love the Lord, even if that means we don't have the newest cars and the biggest house. That's okay, because these things make me rich, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Proverbs 10:22
"The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Meals
So, I usually plan my dinners out for a two week time period to help me keep budget and be more productive with my time at the grocery store. I don't always follow the plan exactly, but at least I have what I need for two weeks of inexpensive, tasty meals. I thought I would post what our plans are on a weekly basis, not because I know of any one is who interested, but because I thought it would help keep me accountable and keep us from spending money eating out! So here goes...

Monday: Tacos
(I usually make a pound of meat at a time and freeze it in 1/2 pound servings.)
Tuesday: Spaghetti and Meatballs
(I made a super easy big batch of meatballs and froze them.)
Wednesday: Dinner at Church
Thursday: Pot Roast
Friday: Dinner for Ten
(10 youth will be coming to our house for dinner)
Saturday: Grilled Pork Chops
Sunday: Chicken in the Crockpot

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 21

So, where are we today, you may ask?
Looking back over the past 5 months since Carter was born, it is amazing to see the growth I have gone through emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Emotionally, I have gone from crying often because I didn’t know how Carter would do things with only one hand, to crying tears of joy and amazement when I see him ALREADY using his arm to do many things. Mentally, I have gone from constantly thinking about his missing hand and concerning myself over what that means, to rarely thinking about it and being unable to imagine him any different. Spiritually, I have always known that God created Carter with only one hand. But the change has come in the way I trust God’s plan. In the beginning, I worried a lot about how he would do things (from crawling to holding his wive’s hand one day), but now I am excited about what God is going to do in Carter’s life and how he is going to use him for His own glory.

Do I still get emotional sometimes? Do I still cry? Yes, there are times it is still quite emotional. A little while ago I looked at Carter taking a nap. I saw his arm, and many emotions came flooding back. There are times now that my heart breaks when I see him playing with his toys on his highchair tray, and he gets frustrated because he can’t reach them. He doesn’t know why he can’t, but I do. These things are emotional and sometimes leave a little lump in my throat, but I have no doubt that God created Carter the way he is, that it was no accident, and that the Creator will take care of him always.

We are excited to see how God will use Carter’s life for his glory and hope that maybe, through sharing this journey, He already has. We look forward to the day that Carter attracts attention because he is doing something “one-handed” and he then shares about God, who created him that way.

I remember a conversation I had with my mom a few days after Carter was born. (Did I already share this?) Things were still so new, but even then I told her that I felt like maybe one day I would stand in front of others, maybe a MOPS group or something else, and share how God had used this situation in our life and Carter’s. That I could encourage others who may be going through a difficult situation. The specific thing I told my mom, though, was that I HATE to speak in front of people. But I could see how he was already changing me to one day be able to share. I may never have opportunity, but to feel that change in my own spirit is neat.

As far as Ryan’s thoughts at this point, I am going to let him share. I will put it up as my next post. He wants to write from his perspective. Maybe I can also get Caroline to share some things – that would be awesome!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 20

We are so thankful for a program called Early Steps. It is actually a state-funded therapy program for children ages 0-3 who qualify. Through this program, Carter will receive an hour of Occupational Therapy every other week in our home. We know that Carter doesn’t need the therapy to learn how to use his arm. He uses it in amazing ways already. However, having a therapist come and observe how he is growing and using his arm is a great way to monitor everything and helps us as parents know we aren’t missing anything. The therapist has been very nice and is great with Carter. We look forward to all we will learn in the process and can pass on to others who may not have the opportunity to see a therapist.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 19

Not long after Carter was born, we began to hear people talking about Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. We had several parents tell us their children were sponsored there. I didn’t know what that meant and begun to research it. After not really finding any information, we just so happened to find out that a church member’s good friend was a Shriner. Within days, he called us and offered to sponsor Carter at Shriner’s Hospital. We didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but later found out that they will be a great support to us as Carter grows up.

We were signed up for an appointment with Shriner’s in Tampa the beginning of March. It was an emotional time for us. As we pulled into the parking lot of the hospital it just hit me all over again as to why we were there, that I never imagined we would be. It also overwhelmed me that we could be there, at a very special place, because other’s care about kids. As we sat in the waiting area we watched many other children run around, read books, play, or sit with their parents. There were children of all ages there. I was choked up pretty much the whole time we sat there. I realized Ryan was pretty quiet too. I asked him how he was and he said, “I was just thinking how everyone here actually kind of knows what we have been thinking and feeling. Here people understand.” It was interesting to think about how in that waiting room, Carter wasn’t so different.

There were children there with all kinds of orthopedic things going on, some with more than just orthopedic. How wonderful to realize that God was using that place to minister to us and other families.

We met with a Care Coordinator first, who basically will be a contact person for us if we need anything! She was so kind and helpful, ready to help with anything. We saw a nurse practitioner who checked our Carter and looked at the x-rays we brought. We were able to meet another little boy (around 9 years old) who has the same limb difference as Carter. It was great to meet someone else, who seemed happy and doing great.

Shriner’s will provide Carter with care (in regards to his limb difference) and prosthetics through the age of 18. Isn’t that wonderful? (We don’t necessarily want him to have them, but we want him to have the opportunity if he chooses to do so. Most kids don’t want them and as adults don’t really use them either.) They are going to see him again when he turns 1 and see how he is progressing. Our time there was a wonderful experience. We are so thankful!

(On a side note, we were told while we were there that because of funding they may not always be able to provide this service free of cost. (Prosthetics are very expensive.) So, let me encourage you to give to the Shriner’s you see when you are out and about! It is a wonderful service to support, and so many kids they are reaching (in more difficult situations than Carter).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 18

At some point in those first few weeks after Carter was born, I was reading Psalm 139:13-14. I had read it many times in those weeks, and several people had written it down in emails or messages. But, for some reason it really hit home and made sense to me that day.

Psalm 139:13-14
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

You see, it wasn’t until that day that I really thought about the fact that God MADE Carter. I mean, I had said it and all, but it was the first time I had really thought about how He specifically made Carter with one hand. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a mistake. It was His plan. When God was knitting him together, He made him with one hand. There is a reason. There is a plan. Isn’t that wonderful?

So, I have two children. Caroline, 2 years old (very soon to be 3) was born with two hands. Carter, 4 ½ months, was born with one hand. Both were created by God. Both were fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s works are wonderful. I know that full well.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 17

It is so interesting to hear things Caroline, and other children, say about Carter’s arm and lack of a hand. I thought I would share a few of them.

Caroline was sitting beside me holding Carter not long after he was born. She was looking at a little book which he happened to touch with his arm. She said, “Carter, you can’t have a book! You don’t have a hand!” It was the first and only negative-type comment she has said. It took me by surprise, and almost made me cry, but then I realized that she was only saying what she knew. In her eyes, she thought, “He can’t hold this book without a hand.” So, I talked to her about how he will be able to do just about anything he wants to with his arm. That God will help his brain to know how to learn to do things without his hand. And that was that.

One of Caroline’s little friends, Nathan, looked at Carter one day and pointed to his arm and said, “Hand? Where hand?” This was after having been around Carter for quite some time. It took awhile for him to even notice.

Caroline was in the nursery one Sunday with Carter (only 6 weeks old) and a little girl, Madison, just a few months older than Carter. The teachers kept referring to Madison as a baby. Caroline corrected them several times by telling them she wasn’t a baby. When they finally asked her why she thought Madison wasn’t a baby, she said, “Because she has two hands.” So, obviously Caroline thought (or thinks maybe still) that all babies start out with just one hand, and eventually you get the other. On the way home from church we talked to her about how Carter will not grow his other hand. We reminded her that God made her with two hands, and Carter with one.

Another friend’s little girl, Carly (4 years old) was talking to her mom one day about something she did when she was a baby. She said, “Hey mom, when I was a baby, you know, when I only had one hand, did I…..?” She said this several times to her mom in those months after Carter was born.

My nephew Connor (2 years old) was at our house (along with his siblings and my sister-in-law) for a week helping me out around the house and with the kids. One day I was holding Carter, and Connor pointed to him and said, “Hand?” It took me a second to realize what he was referring to, then he said it again, “Hand? Broke?” He knew it wasn’t there, but didn’t really know why. So, I told him the same thing we tell everyone who asks about it – God made him with only one hand.

These are the ones that stand out in my memory right now. I’m sure there are more, and I am sure there will be many others!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 16

It is amazing how quick God was providing encouragement for Ryan and I through other parents. My mom quickly found out that a neighbor of hers had a 7 year old grandchild (I think it was a grandchild) with an arm just like Carters! She passed along my email and she sent me a very nice note encouraging me in many ways. She talked about how their son was sponsored at Shriner’s Hospital, how she sewed his clothes to make them work better for her son, and how he did anything he wanted to do. That was neat. I also met a lady on facebook who has a son about a year older than Carter and he is also missing his left hand. She was a Christian and sent me several notes, sharing with me things that I felt, but couldn’t put into words. My sister-in-law’s friend had a son born a few months before Carter with down syndrome, and she even felt a connection. She got my address and mailed me a wonderful card. How encouraging! Of course, all of these things made me emotional, to experience God’s faithfulness to take care of us and to provide us with others who understand. You see, until you have been there, you can’t really understand, and there is nothing wrong with that. But it is nice to know others who do.

Several of these ladies shared the same poem with me. I would like to share it with you.
(I would like to say before you read it that there are a few things that I don’t like about the poem. First, it talks about a disability. I believe Carter has a “difference,” but if you look up disabled in the dictionary, you will never think he has a disability. Second, the poet says she will never, ever get over the pain...I have to disagree with that. Other than those two things, it’s a sweet poem that allows you to imagine what it feels like, at least in the beginning.)

Welcome to Holland
By Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea -Part 15

Thanksgiving was just a few short days after Carter was born. What a wonderful thing to be thankful for! We had a great celebration with my parents and enjoyed the day. When we all sat down to eat, Carter was napping. As soon as I took my first bite of food, he woke up and was ready to eat! Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to happen? It was quite funny.
The next day my brother, Jeff, his wife Christy, and their three kids (Caleb, Claire and Connor) drove up from Florida for a visit. They wanted to meet Carter and just love on us. It was quite special to me (and Ryan) and it meant so much that they could make it up to see us during this time. I can still remember watching Christy hold Carter. I didn’t know how to “start” the conversation about his arm. I knew we would talk about it, but how? I remember just asking her, “Do you want to see his arm?” I pulled back the blanket and we talked about it for a few minutes. It was quite an emotional time for me. But at the same time, it was good to open up the conversation and let people know I could talk about it.

Christy, Jeff, and the kids all seemed to enjoy meeting Carter and loving on him! Caleb especially loved holding him. Carter would sit with him for long periods of time, and Caleb would hold him as long as he possibly could. I loved having the kids around. In conversations with Jeff and Christy, and my other brother Andy and Lauren, I still remember asking them how their kids reacted. Each of my sister-in-laws sat their kids down and explained to them that Carter was born and how exciting that was. They also explained to them that he was missing his hand and part of his arm, and that God made him that way. That he was okay, just born with one hand instead of two. It meant so much to me and always makes me emotional to think about how the kids responded. It wasn’t a big deal for them. They might have asked questions, but they just were excited to have a nephew! Praise God for the eyes of a child. We specifically asked my brothers to let their kids ask us whatever they wanted, and not to tell them not to say anything. We wanted to hear what they had to say.

I had said several times over that first week at home that I just felt like I really just needed to cry. That everytime I started to cry that I would just stop myself. I just needed to let it out. One night, while sitting and talking with my family, someone asked us, “How are you doing Kim? Ryan?” Well, we started to share, and I just lost it. I remember sharing how worried I was for Carter, how I hoped it wasn’t my fault, that I don’t understand why he would have this happen to him, and I just cried. I remember I couldn’t even control myself. Ryan just held me and I think we all cried. It was a good time for me. And Ryan too. And the family. Looking back, although I don’t think it was really said much outloud, I think my family was worried that I would deal some with postpartum depression if I wasn’t encouraged and focused on the right things. Even my brother Andy and his family that couldn’t be there, they called and checked on me too and showed their love for us. I love them all, and it meant so much to have them all on my side, rooting for me. Ryan’s family and all our grandparents also shared their love for us and Carter during this time. I can never thank them enough for loving me, loving Ryan, loving Caroline, and loving our precious new son, Carter.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 14

We loved having Carter at home and, along with Caroline, had a great little family! Those first days were sweet, yet challenging at times as well. Carter was such a sweet, easy baby who just seemed to go along with everything. He definitely was held a lot by his Mommy, Daddy, sister, Grandma, and Grandpa a lot! There were times Ryan and I felt like we were adjusting well to what our new normal was going to be, then there were other times that I just couldn’t help but cry. We would be overwhelmed with all the what-ifs of Carter’s future. I sometimes caught myself worrying over how he would crawl, or eat, or pick up things, hold his kids one day, and lots of other things. I would worry about how to teach him to tie his shoe with one hand, or do other things with just one hand. Where would he wear his wedding ring one day? Would kids make fun of him?
Ryan and I would talk about things and I would cry some. But Ryan always reminded me that we had to take it one day at a time. That it would be okay.

Sometimes, I just cried watching someone dress him. You see, those first several days after Carter’s birth Ryan or my parents changed his diaper and dressed him. When I saw him laying there with no clothes on it was such an obvious reminder of his missing hand/forearm. It is not like we were used to seeing a baby with only one hand, you know? It is hard to explain, but it was difficult. And still today, even though it is so normal and I don’t think about it much, it is still sometimes a big reminder when I see him without his clothes on. I wish I knew better how to explain this.

I forgot to mention an important moment for me while in the hospital. When the nurses first dressed him right after he was born in the little onesie, they didn’t roll up the sleeve on his left arm or anything. It just dangled there. It stayed that way for maybe the first day. I hated the way it looked. I didn’t know why, but I knew I didn’t like it at all. At one point, I remember folding the sleeve up so that his arm was showing. I think I realized then that the reason it bothered me while it was hanging down was for two reasons: 1. I felt like it was kind of trying to hide what wasn’t there, you know? And I didn’t want to hide anything. 2. To me, it made him look like something was wrong. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just didn’t like the way it looked with his shirt all dangly. That probably doesn’t make sense; it’s hard to explain.
I felt like this was a pivotal moment for me. When I really was beginning to accept the fact my baby didn’t have a left hand and part of his arm, and then move on from there and do everything the best we can.

I know I have said it before, but those first days were hard at times. I cried a lot, or at least stopped myself from crying a lot. I felt so bad about crying, especially when I knew I loved my son so much. I didn’t know why I cried sometimes, except that I was sad for Carter, because I didn’t want him to have anything difficult in life. I remember hearing several people tell me that it was okay to cry. It isn’t that I didn’t love Carter, it was just that your mind has to fully grasp what you didn’t expect.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I didn’t love Carter. It was never an issue of that. I LOVED him from the moment I knew I was pregnant, when I first felt him kick, and even more so the moment I saw him for the first time. He was my son. Our gift from God.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 13

We headed off to our appointment with Dr. McMath, the pediatric orthopedic doctor. We had seen him once before when Caroline had a possible leg length discrepancy, so we were somewhat familiar with him. I cannot say enough about how wonderful our visit with him was.

I was holding Carter when he walked in and he just sat in front of us and took a look at Carter’s arm. I was emotional right away, but did my best to not cry. Dr. McMath was gentle with Carter. He was kind to us, and had wonderful bedside manner. He right away told us a few possibilities as to why he was born missing his hand/forearm, generally referred to as a limb deficiency. First, it could have been something called Amniotic Band Syndrome. We had heard about that in the hospital as a possibility, but we didn’t really think that was it. Basically, there are bands that sometimes pull away from the uterine wall and float around in the amniotic fluid. Occasionally, those bands can wrap themselves around parts of the baby, and in turn stop blood supply to whatever is beyond the band. That part of the body just stops forming and basically unattaches. Dr. McMath did not believe that was what happened with Carter. Carter’s arm stops a little below the elbow and there are a few fingers that had begun to grow. If it had been an amniotic band, those fingers would not have been there at all.
The second thing that could have caused this is basically just a stop in growth. For whatever reason, sometimes growth just stops. There was a better word for it, but I can’t remember it. As Dr. McMath said, “It doesn’t matter how it happened, it won’t affect anything now or in the future. We just know that here is Carter, and he’s going to be just fine.” The doctor continued to talk to us about Carter’s arm. He took a few x-rays and found out several good things:
1. Carter’s humerus bone (upper arm) was completely there. It was the same as the other arm, and the shoulder joint was normal, also. This means that Carter should have normal growth in that bone, and normal range of motion with the shoulder.
2. The elbow joint looked normal.
3. The radius and ulna (lower arm bones) were not fused together, which means that he can rotate his elbow. Also, this might allow for some continued growth in that part of his arm, also.
4. Carter has 2 fingers, one a bit smaller than the other, and the bud of another finger that had started to form. It is amazing because these fingers, all 3, actually grow fingernails! Wow.

Dr. McMath said that all of these things were great signs that Carter was going to have a lot of use of his arm. I told him about Carter holding my hand in the hospital with his elbow joint, and he thought that was wonderful. He said we would be amazed at what he would be able to do. He also said that most kids like Carter don’t want prosthetics and that they would rather use their own arm to do things. He also said that some parents, when tiny fingers are present, sometimes want to have them surgically removed. He encouraged us not to, because they may be what allows him to do something later in life he would not have been able to do otherwise. This really comforted me. To be reminded that everything has a purpose.
Dr. McMath also told me never to worry that it was my fault. There was nothing I had done to cause this. I needed to hear that…I thought often in those days, “What if it’s my fault?”
Before we left, he encouraged us to come back in 6 months so he could monitor Carter’s growth. I asked him what we needed to do. How will he crawl? How will we teach him to do certain things and who is going to teach us how to teach him? Dr. McMath said, “All you need to do is love him. He will teach you way more than you can ever teach him. Just go and give him lots of love.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 12

Carter was born on Friday and he had his first pediatrician’s appointment on Tuesday. He had shown some signs of jaundice and we were just going in for them to see how he was doing. Ryan didn’t go with me because he had come down with a stomach virus overnight. My mom gladly went with me though. As we waited to see the doctor, I remember asking my mom, “So, do I tell them about Carter’s arm before I unwrap him from the blanket, or do I just let her see and see what she says?” I knew I was going to be emotional about it either way.

Dr. Rice and the nurse came in and when they were oohing and aahhing over him I went ahead and told the doctor about his arm/hand situation. She was SO loving! She checked out his arm and was just real encouraging to me. I cried while she shared about her college roommate who had an arm just like Carter’s. She shared about how she became so adept at using her arm, that most people didn’t even notice she was missing anything. It wasn’t that Dr. Rice was trying to tell me people wouldn’t notice, but she was trying to encourage me that he will use that arm and be able to do most anything. I was amazed that our pediatrician had a close relationship with someone like Carter. Wow. I have no doubt that God ordained that appointment. It was encouraging.

Dr.Rice said that somewhere down the road she would put us in contact with a pediatric orthopedic doctor. I told her we had gone ahead on our own and made an appointment with someone we knew of for the next morning. I asked her if we should go now, and she encouraged us to keep the appointment. She said that it would be good for us to hear what the orthopedic doctor had to say and be encouraged by him also.

So, I left there emotional and encouraged. Amazed that God had placed Dr. Rice in our life for a day such as this. We were really excited for our appointment the next day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 11

A lot of talking, prayer, and crying went into the preparation for going home from the hospital. Ryan and I were both excited to take Carter home. We were especially excited for Caroline to get to meet her baby brother. With this excitement came the uncertainty of what she would say about his missing hand. We had not talked to her about it yet, because we wanted her to see his arm at the same time we were talking about it. Would would she say? What she be scared of his arm? Would she not love him because it was “different”? Would she think something was wrong with him? What if she asked why he was like that? How would we talk to her about it without becoming emotional? We knew we wanted to be honest with her about it and we would not hide our emotions, but we know that whatever we portrayed to her would be how she would react too. Caroline might have only been 2 ½ years old, but she is quite observant and verbal!
So, we headed home from the hospital, very excited yet a little anxious too.

I can still see Caroline come running out the door when we got home. She couldn’t wait to see Carter! We were excited to see her and ready to explain to her about her brother. My parents were there, but they just allowed the four of us, our new little family, the time to sit and talk. All Caroline wanted to do was hold Carter! Before we got him out of the car seat, Ryan talked to Caroline.

Ryan: Who made you?
Caroline: God. Can I hold baby Carter?
Ryan: Well, God made Carter too. You know how he made you with two hands?
Caroline: Yea. Can I hold him?
Ryan: Well, he only made Carter with one hand. (And we showed her Carter’s arm.)
Caroline: Oh, ok. Well, can I hold him now?

So we finally let Caroline hold Carter.

Pretty special to us that Caroline didn’t care that he only had one hand. It wasn’t a big deal. She just wanted to hold him. Isn’t that neat? She wasn’t concerned with what we found ourselves worried about. She just wanted to love on her sweet baby brother. My prayer is that that will always be our attitude. That we will try not to worry over the what-ifs, or over how Carter will do things. But just love on him and allow him to be who God made him to be.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 10

Carter was born on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Our church was having a big Thanksgiving banquet on Sunday night, as they always do. It is a time of sharing good food, worship, and then a time with opportunities for people to share what they are thankful for. My mom stayed with me while Ryan went to the banquet. He felt like he wanted to share with the church family about Carter. We assumed most had probably heard by now about his arm, and he wanted to share with them personally. He wanted to share with them so they would know how we were doing as a family. He wanted them to know it was okay to talk to us about it. We wanted them to know that it was okay to let their kids ask questions. We wanted them to know they could look at his arm and not feel like they were bothering us. More than anything, Ryan and I wanted them to know that we didn’t want them to ignore it and act like it didn’t happen. You see, at church that morning, no one really said anything to Ryan about it. They congratulated him on Carter’s birth, but said nothing about his arm. We were not hurt by that. He knew it was only because people didn’t know what to say, and didn’t know how we were doing emotionally. But, we also needed people to ask about it, so we could talk about it with them. We welcomed that, and that showed us people cared about Carter almost as much as we did!

While Ryan was gone to the banquet, one of the nurses came in to go over a few things with me in preparation for our heading home the next morning. When she was finished, she asked, “How are you doing with everything?” I knew she was referring to Carter and his arm. I was then able to share with her how it was hard at times, but that we also have the hope that God made him, that he is perfectly formed, and how we can trust in that. Of course, I was crying through all of that. The nurse just stared at me, as her eyes filled with tears. I was pretty sure that was such a foreign concept to her – that she had trouble understanding my faith. She said nothing else, but nodded, and left the room. God impressed upon my heart in that moment that He would use Carter’s lack of a hand to open doors for us (and later for him) to share His love with others. I cried, realizing that, only days old, Carter’s life was already being used as a testimony to the Lord.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 9

I was so impressed with how quickly I was able to do things after the c-section this time around. I know everyone says you heal faster after the first one, but I believe it was all part of God’s plan for those days. Instead of being sick and hardly able to move, I could move and didn’t feel sick at all! I could focus on Carter and just loving him.

Within a day or so after Carter being born, Ryan and I were better able to grasp all that had come as a surprise to us. Although still quite emotional and dealing with all sorts of feelings, we both knew that God was not a God of mistakes. This was part of His plan for Carter’s life, and the path we would all take as a family. Would it always be easy? Probably not. As humans, we assume things about the future and can so easily worry about situations that are to come. But, knowing that God loves us and purposed all this to happen, we knew we needed to take one day at a time, trusting Him completely. Would we always do that, without moments of doubt? Most likely not. But it was what we needed to strive to do.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 8

There were many joys those few days in the hospital.
I was reminded of what a wonderful husband and father Ryan is. I know it was a wonderful and tough day for him. I remember thinking how exciting yet difficult it must have been for him to call our families and close friends and let them know that Carter was born, but also explain to them that he was born without his left hand and lower part of his arm. It also made me so happy to see him thrilled to go meet Caroline at the nursery to introduce her to her brother! When we talked about all the what-ifs in regards to Carter, Ryan was also quick to remind me that we had to take one day at a time. He shared his emotions, and was just an awesome guy to be with! I loved watching him with Carter.

On the day of Carter’s birth, one of the many times that I just was sitting and holding him, I was looking at his arm. I was thinking about how I had pretty much neglected to touch his arm or hold it. I had held his other hand and felt his fingers over and over, just like every new mother does. But, I realized in that moment that I had not really touched his other arm at all. I think I was nervous, or something…I don’t really know how to describe it. As I sat there and stared at Carter, he moved his left arm (the one without a hand) over and hooked my fingers in his elbow and held it tightly! It got my attention so fast. He was holding my hand. It was like he was saying to me, “It’s okay, mommy. I’m okay. Just hold my arm.” I just wept. In that moment I knew that God was using the experience to let me know that it was all ok. I had been thinking about how I would never be able to hold that hand, and instead, Carter showed me that I could – because he held mine.

These are just a few of the joys from those first days.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 7

Due to the flu being so prevalent that time of year, the hospital had a strict visitors policy. Ryan and our parents were the only ones allowed in the room. Before the birth, I remember feeling so disappointed that Caroline couldn’t meet Carter right away, and that we couldn’t have other visitors those days we were in the hospital. But, by the end of our hospital stay we knew that God had even a purpose in this, too.

You see, those days were so important for us as a couple and a family. We were in shock, to say the least, for awhile. We also needed time for Ryan and me to process all that we were thinking and feeling. We had so many questions…some for God, some for each other, some for nobody in particular. How did this happen? What did I do wrong while I was pregnant? Is it my fault? I knew they said it was nothing I did…but still, what if they were wrong? Is Carter going to be sad? Is he going to be okay? What will Caroline say? People are going to make fun of him, aren’t they? How will he crawl? How will I teach him to tie his shoes? How will Ryan play ball with him in the yard? Is it going to be okay? Why? These are only a handful of what all we talked about. Questions we asked ourselves. I won’t lie and say it wasn’t a tough couple of days. Yes, we were overjoyed with our son. Our son…a precious gift from the Lord. We were just unsure of so much and trying to pray our way through it all. We were really leaning on the Lord. This was/is the hardest thing I have ever gone through.

As I was saying before, if we had been allowed to have visitors, there would have been friends and church members showing up at the hospital right away that morning…not realizing the situation they were coming into to. I would have felt bad for them, because I know it would have been difficult for them too…they had walked through the pregnancy and all the ultrasounds with us…praying along the way too. And I know they would have felt uncomfortable because of all we were dealing with as a family.

Also, Ryan and I needed those days to have privacy…a time to talk together and begin this journey together. We spent the nights (and days) thinking, talking, crying, and praying through everything. We needed to talk about all that had changed in just a few short minutes…or at least what had changed to our knowledge. It was always part of God’s plan for us. We needed to leave the hospital together…in more ways than just physically, but also spiritually and emotionally. And we needed to just love on our little boy.

I also cherish the days I got to sit in the hospital room with my mom or dad or both of them, and talk about Carter and what God had planned for him. To just sit quietly, or cry with them. Whatever emotion came at whatever time.

So, as I said before, God had a plan in even the little things. If we could have had visitors, it wouldn’t have been a quiet time away for us…a time to do all that I mentioned above. This time was so special for us.

I am also so grateful that my parents were there for Caroline. They took care of her, brought her up to see Carter, had lots of fun with her. That allowed us not to worry about that aspect of life at that time. We knew she was taken care of. And instead of Ryan trying to coordinate her whereabouts, he could be with me and love on sweet little Carter.

We also had the opportunity to have conversations with my siblings and their spouses during those days in the hospital that were very special and meaningful, as did Ryan with his family. They were nothing but encouraging…and it was so good to know that they loved our son so much.

I can also remember walking out to meet Caroline at the nursery so she could see Carter. She was such a big girl now. She had only seen Carter in the nursery window, so I wondered what she would say about his arm when we brought him home.

I appreciated friends' emails and phone calls. I can still remember one dear friend calling not longer after he was born and saying, “Kim, I just wanted to call and say I love you.” And that Ryan and I were going to be awesome parents for Carter. Then, she cried on the phone with me. How meaningful this was for me.

Those days were so important.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 6

Ryan and I just spent the day loving on Carter. My mom hung out with Caroline during the day and visited with me and Carter some too. Ryan and I had some time to begin to talk, work, and pray through all that had changed so quickly (to our knowledge, but not the Lord’s, of course). It was so emotional at times. It is hard to explain. Maybe in the next post.
There were lots of joys during the day. All the nurses said Carter was the cutest little man they had ever seen. Carter nursed way better than Caroline ever did. The nurses were the best ever…and really took wonderful care of me and Carter. (And they were never there unless you needed them!) It really allowed my mom and Ryan to care for Caroline and be there for me emotionally.

My dad was supposed to come up the day after Carter was born, but when he heard about Carter’s arm, he left right away. It was a blessing to us to have him with us, and meant so much to me to hug my dad that day. He got in around 10:00 that night and came to our room to meet Carter. What a special time. I can see it so clearly in my mind.

Oh, and Ryan took Caroline out to dinner that night. She got to choose where to go…and where did she choose? Waffle House. Yea, that was odd. But, it made for a good laugh. And yes, that’s where they went.

(read more tomorrow)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 5

Ryan headed off to the nursery to be with Carter while I was stitched up. I sat there trying to figure out how this was all mistaken on the ultrasounds. I realized the first technician had her lefts and rights wrong the whole time. Before I was taken to recovery the doctor talked with me for a moment. I cried through all he had to say. He just apologized for all the mix ups on the ultrasounds, but assured me that Carter seemed healthy in all other ways. He said he would be just fine, that he was a beautiful baby.

My mom had come into town the night before and was at home with Caroline. Ryan had called her after Carter was born so she and Caroline could come up to see him. I was taken to the recovery room and minutes later my mom showed up. They brought Carter in right away also. I can still remember holding him, all wrapped up in the blanket, and just crying with my mom. I don’t know how to explain what I was feeling, really. I feel bad to say I was crying, but it wasn’t a sad cry necessarily. It was a cry of joyfulness at this birth, yet also being scared of what was ahead, and partly sad, wondering why he would have to deal with this. My mind was racing…will he be okay? How will he do things with one hand? Is this real?

I can vividly remember pulling Carter’s blanket back to look at his arm. It was so hard. My mom cried with me. I was so worried for him and scared. Why did this have to happen to him? His arm stopped about a third of the way between his elbow and where the wrist would be. This is when I noticed that he also had a few really tiny fingers on his arm. That worried me too…why did he have to have those fingers there? Wouldn’t that give something else someone could make fun of him for? I felt bad for him. My heart ached. But overall, I felt such a strong love for him.

(I'd love to know if you are reading this and God is using it in some way!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Many months ago I posted a link asking everyone to sign up for swagbucks as a referral from me. I thought I would give some more information in case you are interested! I have already earned over $130 in Amazon gift cards by cashing in my swagbucks, and have 5 more to purchase the first of the month.

Swagbucks is a website that is just a search engine like google or something else. (It's actually powered by google.) However, as you use it to search the world wide web you earn "swagbucks", which can then be used to purchase gift cards to places like Amazon or Starbucks (lots more to choose from.) You can also shop at a lot of online stores through their website and earn 1 swagbuck for every $5 you spend. When you sign up using my referral link I earn swagbucks every time you do. Plus, you can have someone sign up under you and earn more swagbucks for yourself! Since starting this, I have already earned tons of swagbucks for doing nothing but what I usually do! When I get to 45 swagbucks, I can buy a $5 Amazon gift card! They add up quickly, and I have bought lots of things we need and want but couldn't otherwise buy. It's pretty cool!

And here's a tip....if you sign up, you can make swagbucks be your search engine on your internet page, and then even search the things you know the web address for. That is what we do and it is how we earn the most bucks. (like facebook, weather.com, etc.) I type it into the search box, then clikc on the website that shows up below...it is just as fast and I earn bucks every day!

Consider doing it....

If you are interested, sign up at Swagbucks.
Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 4

I had to have a c-section on November 20. Minutes before his birth, Ryan and I chose a name for our son, Carter Luke Vermilyea. We loved it! While the c-section was taking place, I was asking Ryan what he was seeing. I could tell from the light in his eyes that he had seen our son! Within seconds, I thought about the hand/arm situation and asked, “Ryan, does he have both arms?” Ryan couldn’t see yet, but within seconds they were holding Carter up for us to see. Dr. Ralsten said, “Here’s Carter Luke! He is a beautiful baby boy!” They held him up and I saw right away that he was missing his left arm and hand. My heart stopped I think. I can still remember it like I was still there. I thought, “But wait, they saw his right arm. They said that it was all there.” Then I realized that it was his left hand/forearm that was missing, not the right as had been suspected originally.

Despite the shock, he was the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen. I was excited, yet overcome with all kinds of emotions.

I held Ryan’s hand. We talked about how beautiful he was and briefly mentioned his missing arm. We thanked God for him. The doctor was so gentle and kind and the nurses couldn’t have been more wonderful. They were all talking about how beautiful he was. And he was. He is.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It was two weeks later when it came time for the Level 2 ultrasound. We went into this ultrasound with the same ideas as before…trusting that God was in control and was Creator.

An assistant began the ultrasound before the doctor came in. She spent a lot of time looking and finally asked, “Does anyone in your families have birth defects?” We answered no. She said she was having trouble finding it too. When the doctor came in, she said right away that she could see the right hand and forearm. We were quite relieved! She checked the rest of his body, and said she couldn’t see the left arm and hand, but that she was not able to get him to roll because he was so big! Her words were, “I can’t see both arms, but I can see the right arm and hand, and if they saw the left, then it is all there.”

We left, relieved about the news. Not because we didn’t want a child with one hand, but for all the same reasons as before. Life can be hard enough at times, and we didn’t want any extra struggles for our child. However, we both said that there was a part of us that wouldn’t believe it until we saw him for ourselves. We still trusted God to be growing and forming our child.

After that day, we never really talked about it again because both hands/arms had been seen. That was at 35 weeks or so. A few days before our son was born, I never even thought about it at all.

(read more tomorrow)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Carter Luke Vermilyea - Part 2

Week 32 arrived and we went back to the doctor for the follow-up ultrasound. I was a little hesitant, but felt like we would find out everything was normal with our son’s arm. Once again, the technician could not see the baby’s right hand and forearm, but said it was unclear whether it was actually not there, or just hidden under the baby. Ryan and I talked about it with the doctor and decided we wouldn’t do any more ultrasounds, since the baby was getting too big to really see well anyway. We knew the ultrasound wasn’t going to change anything, so we didn’t plan another one.

We left the doctor that day feeling differently than we thought we would. We thought for sure that we would leave having seen both his arms/hands. Instead, we left more unsure than before. But, once again, we knew that God was in control. We continued to pray for God to heal him if it was true about his missing limbs, but also prayed with the confidence that no matter what, God was forming a baby in me the way He planned him to be. He was being created by THE Creator. We still hoped for him to not have to deal with extra difficulties in life, but we trusted in the Lord. The next day we talked with the doctor again and decided to have one more ultrasound, a Level 2 (just more indepth) to see if it would be more clear. We just wanted one more opportunity to have some clarity. So we scheduled a Level 2 ultrasound.

(read more tomorrow)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I have had several people ask that I share more about Carter, his situation, where our family is at this point in time, and how God is working in the life of our family. For many months I have wanted to share, but haven’t been able to put into words all I want to say. I still don’t know that I can, but I thought I would never know until I try. It’s a lot to share, so I will just do what I can whenever I have a chance. Some of you know that I can be real wordy, so it may get long. But, I have wanted to write it out because I don’t want to forget anything. I’ll just post a little bit of it each day, until I get caught up. And something tells me our story will continue for many years to come. I pray through our story, through Carter’s life, that someone will come to know the Creator. That God will use our family for His glory.

So, here goes.

Just about a year ago we found out we were pregnant with baby #2 for our little family. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to find out what we were having and to welcome the sweet baby into our (then) family of 3. The pregnancy progressed nicely and we were excited as the appointment came for the 20 week ultrasound. We found out we were having a boy! At this same appointment, the ultrasound technician and doctor let us know that they were unable to see the baby’s right hand and forearm, but that they were sure it was just because of the baby’s positioning at that time. A follow-up ultrasound was planned for 32 weeks.

We left the appointment a little concerned, but pretty confident that the baby’s arm was there and all was fine. We prayed that it would be okay, and that God would heal the baby if there was something not quite right. Of course we didn’t want him to be born missing a hand/arm, but only because we know life can be hard enough and we didn’t want him to face extra struggles. However, Ryan and I both said that no matter what came about, that we knew that God was forming the little one, and that he would be perfect no matter what.

Even despite all this, I never really thought it would really be true.

(Read more tomorrow!)