What we know

-Emmie had her MRI on August 16th.  She did amazingly well and Mark and I pulled through with a few tears but we made it.  It helped that she fought the sedation instead of going in to a deep sleep.  She's a fighter.

-The MRI showed NO neurofibromas (tumors) on her brain or optic area (a concern with NF).

-What we thought was a plexiform neurofibroma, is a plexiform.  It extends down to her spinal cord but is not yet pressing on anything which would cause problems.

-Because of the location and the fact that the plexiform is increasing in size, our pediatrician was anxious to get the MRI scans looked at by a pediatric neurosurgeon.  Our geneticists were already working on this.

-We heard back from the neurosurgeon today and he did not feel she needed surgery at this time!  We will be following up with a neurologist very soon.

-Just because she does not have to have surgery at this time does not mean she will not have to have surgery in the future.  Especially if it continues to grow.

We are praying and praising God that at three months she doesn't have to face surgery right now.  The older and bigger she gets the better it will be for her surgery.  So, please pray that she continues to grow strong and healthy and that the plexiform will slow down its growth.

What we don't know:
-When she will have to have surgery or what will constitute the need.
-What NF holds for Emmie on a day to day basis.
-If her tears are normal baby cries or cries of pain (seriously makes it harder to be mommy when I just can't tell some times).
-How this will affect her or our family in the immediate and far off future.

We are trusting God and leaning on Him as He holds our hands (and sometimes carries us) through this journey.  He has already blessed us with amazing people in our path, my best friend from high school who just "happens" to be a doctor at the hospital that we are going to and a pediatrician who we consider a friend and who takes lunch breaks and after hours to work on advocating for us and getting answers.  And who we know is praying for Miss Emmie as we walk this road.

A friend recently commented that she didn't know how we were doing this.  Honestly, some days I just get really angry and others it's just a normal day.  But on the vulnerable moments I bow my head and pray.  And I know that I couldn't get through any of this without God's love wrapping around us.  I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, we are so blessed that God chose us to be Emmie's parents and to be Zoe, Ace, Liam, Josiah, Ceili Rain, Bryant, and Malachi's parents too.  What a privilege we have to love them the way Christ has loved us!

And if you are wondering, this is still a blog about our whole family.  I definitely have plans to post more happenings because in the midst of all this uncertainty, we are still living and doing.  Hopefully, I can get more pictures up soon but again, we are living and doing and our life is so full right now.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

On Our Toes

Emmie.   Our dear girl.  With all the business and craziness a large family entails, this little one does not want us to forget she is here.  From the beginning, she has wanted to make her voice heard and I pray she does that for the Lord's glory.

We've been waiting to write this until we had a confirmation.  Waiting and thinking.  And yet, I would try and think of what to write and I had nothing.  Nada.  How does one go about discussing a life changing diagnosis.  And especially when it involves your baby.  I guess we start at the beginning.

It began with a few coffee/milk color spots.  We noticed one on her leg.  I decided to look up what those birthmarks were called and Dr. Google delivered way more than I ever wanted to know.  After finding out that the spots were cafe-au-lait spots, I did a glance over on Emmie.  She had seven.  Hmm, interesting.  Dr. Google told me that six or more indicated a genetic disorder but could really be nothing.

So, we waited two weeks.  We waited until Emmie's check up.  As those fourteen days crept by, we noticed more spots starting to form.  Getting darker.  By her appointment we were up to at least sixteen noticeable ones.

Our pediatrician confirmed our fears and started the referral process to specialists.

Today, we met with a geneticist in Atlanta.  And what was suspected by our pediatrician was confirmed by the specialist.  Emmie has a clinical diagnosis of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).

While the chances of this being life ending are extremely slim, there is a greater chance that it could be life altering.  There are a lot of "well, we just don't know right now"s floating out of our mouths.  This is a genetic disorder that has an extremely wide range of complications and, as of right now, there is no way to predict what to expect.

Here's a video from Children's Tumor Foundation (one of the leading researchers in the field of NF) that starts the explanation (this is also a plug to support their foundation...just fyi):

Here is a link giving a bit more information on NF.
Information on NF1 can be found here.
And here is information on the different types of neurofibromas.

Right now, Emmie meets the criteria to be diagnosed.  I'll try to answer some questions but if I don't cover a question, please feel free to email us.  We are willing to talk about it.

She has six or more cafe-au-lait spots and, according to the geneticists and our pediatrician hers are classic spots.  She's getting more.  They are barely noticeable in some light.  Apparently, the darker your skin pigment the easier it is to see them.  Emmie is very pale so at times it's hard to spot them.  But they are there.  On her thigh, trunk, neck, arms, legs.  And she is getting a few more.  Some of them really look like light colored freckles.

She also has freckling in the groin area (okay one freckle).

We knew about these two symptoms going in to our appointment today.  However, another complication was also confirmed today.  That one took my breath away.  We noticed some swelling at the nape of her neck just before her two month check up.  Of course, we  mentioned it to Dr. B.  She checked it out and felt that it was just a lymph node.  But, it's gotten a bit larger.  How much larger, I'm not sure since we didn't measure it but it is noticeable that one side of her neck is swollen.  The geneticist confirmed that there is a strong possibility that it is a plexiform neurofibroma.  Because the neurofibroma appears to be growing, we have requested an MRI to rule out any complications from it.  That will happen some time this month.

Right now, Emmie is growing and developing right on track for her age.  She is right on the growth curve in all areas.  She is hitting all of her milestones full force.  And she continues to be a delight (well, when she's not overtired and screaming), to her brothers, sisters, mommy and daddy.  Please don't pity her.  Please don't pity us.  Emmie is a blessing.  A gift from God.  I could not imagine our family without her.  And I am so very grateful that God chose us to be her family.  I don't think any one could love this girl more than her mommy, daddy, brothers, sisters, grandparents and a slew of cousins plus could.  So, please no pity.  A hug if you see we got a little emotional and are crying. Prayers with and for us are also wonderful blessings.  But pity...we just don't have time for that.

This is getting long.  I know I need to end.  There is so much to say but yet I don't want to bore any one.  I am keeping a journal.  On real pages. In my sloppy ol' handwriting.  And I'll share more from it and from my heart later (preferably when I've had more than a few hours sleep).  Please know we feel blessed and know that I can see God's might caring hand at work now more than I believe I ever have.

June Randomness

Mark requested this for his Father's Day gift.
That would be Rush Limbaugh's Two if by Tea.  He purchased the original because the peach tea was out of stock.  Honestly, it was not the sweet tea we are used to.  It was okay but just a tad too much lemon for our taste.

 Warm days meant some time to play outside with the family.  Malachi's required "Take a picture me!" shot.

 Ace had help washing dishes this nigiht.  I love his expression as he played "Bubble Monster" with Malachi.
 Josiah's birthday gift was a fish tank with fish.  Malachi loves to watch them swim and swim.

 Liam, "Okay, so you know, I told Ben it was okay if he drag me down the stairs." One epic carpet burn and broken spindle later.  Ben was a visiting friend and this occurred one Sunday after church.
 "I Strong!"

 Aw, I love you too Emmie!

 Mark requested snickers cake for his Father's Day cake.  Yummy!

 Mark took the kids to see a ventriloquist at our local library and Liam got to volunteer to assist.  He was quite funny!
 I had to get a picture of Aunt Yaya taking selfies with the kids.  Apparently, they perfected what is known as "the duck face."

A neighbor comes over to visit so we sit in the driveway and draw with chalk.  Normal day in our 'hood.

Emmie's Cuteness in June

Just because I know there are grandparents who can't get enough pictures of their grandkids.

Zoe has really enjoyed loving on baby sister. 

Miss J.  Future Cubbies teacher and expert baby holder! 

 Ace was so excited that he got her to sleep.

 Neighbor play date. L. is exactly a month older that Emmie.

I surrender!

I'm thinking.  I'm thinking.

Quick! Get pictures of her in smocked dresses before she outgrows them!

 Malachi:  Take picture me and Emmie.

 Trying to catch those first smiles...

She was quite amused at our efforts.
 Milk coma!

 Malachi says,"Emmie wants to see me.  I love Emmie."  She is  now the first one to get his cuddles in the morning and the only one who gets his goodnight hugs.  I'm almost jealous.

The changing table is the best place to get some rockin' smiles.

June Visitors Part 2

Papa and Grandmere came up to visit Josiah for his birthday.

 Emmie loved her hugs.

I had a project for Papa & Mark...extend our patio in the back with pavers.  They started to work on Friday and found this...
 Not just one.  A whole nest of mice.  Mark was gracious and moved them to the hill to be snake food safety.

Bryant thought he would help.  He's holding the toy box down.  Sunny, the dog, was the supervisor.

 And of course, there were stories to be read!

June Visitors

Ge & Granddaddy came up in June to help celebrate our summer birthdays.  They also brought along some special guests, cousin Jacie and Aunt Yaya!  We were so thrilled they could come and not only meet Miss Emmie but also check out our crib.

 Ge got her birthday gift from us, a family and friends birthday calendar inspired by this pin.  She was super thrilled with it.  I can't wait to make one for us too!  Hopefully, that will keep me from missing a birthday...nah.
 Aunt Yaya was super thrilled to love on her new niece.  They also share a birthday which means Emmie loves her Aunt Yaya even more!

 They trapped Granddaddy and "forced" him to read to them.  He looks like he's suffering, no?

 Next up came trio playing time.  I think they were taking pictures.

 Jacie enjoyed snuggling with Ems too.

 Gift time!

 These kids are growing so much that I requested that Ge give them pjs for their birthdays.  She accepted the challenge!  They got some fun gifts too but these made this mama's heart happy.  They wear mismatched pjs that usually are waaay too short and pjs are just something that I always forget to purchase when we do our clothes shopping.

 A truck for Malachi.  What a surprise!

 Bryant thought his trucks were pretty cool as well.

 Granddaddy stole Emmie from Jacie and Yaya for some quick cuddles and smiles.

 Caught some Ge and granddaughter cuddles.

 I love that smile on Ge's face! 

You can't really see Emmie's shirt but it says, "I love my aunt."    Such a great gift from Yaya and family.

Happy 7th Birthday, Josiah!

Josiah's birthday fell on the same day as karate belt graduation.  Before we left for graduation, we sent Josiah on a scavenger hunt to find his birthday present.  He had a lot of helpers.

He has been asking for fish for several months now so his gift was an aquarium.  We picked out the fish the next day.

Papa & Grandmere came over for the morning to celebrate and take Josiah out to breakfast.

After graduation, we headed out to eat.  Birthday days mean the birthday child can pick out one place to eat out and what they would like to eat for either breakfast or supper.  Josiah chose to eat out at Steak & Shake which turned out to be a good deal due to their kids eat free policy.

That evening, we enjoyed some fun with friends as we dug in to the lego cake.  Now, before I show this cake, please note that this was the first time I had ever made marshmallow fondant and it was late and I was tired so it's not the most awesome cake ever but he was happy with it.  When I finished decorating it, Mark woke up Josiah so he could see it in case it fell apart.  Thankfully, it held together and we enjoyed munching it that evening.

The cake was a vanilla cake with strawberry cream frosting.  And it was yummmy!

Then, after we were stuffed with cake and supper, Josiah opened gifts.  I love his faces!

He remains our little Mini Mark and is so much fun to watch grow.  He still loves trains and Legos are the latest craze as well.  I can't wait to see how he grows this next year.