a jumble of an update.

i’ve been thinking about how to write this post for 6 weeks and i’m still totally unsure on how to say what i want to say. this post will not rank very highly in the eloquence category, so consider yourselves warned. also, if words like “uterus” make you feel squeamish, go ahead and click over to the next blog post in your reader. 

i’ll start with a little background fact: the Perrys do not have fun 20-week sonograms. at Owen’s, our emotions took a plummet as we went immediately from the thrilling moment of having his gender written down for us, to hearing that my uterus had grown an amniotic band that could cause disfigurement should Owen interact with it, and that Owen had spots on his heart and brain. i’ll never forget how i felt in that room, like the blood was draining out of me, like i couldn’t protect a being though it be fully enclosed by my own body. we had monthly sonograms after that, each showing that Owen seemed to be doing well, but toward the end my ability to sustain him was dwindling. fluid levels lowering, placenta calcifying, movement lessening, he had to be removed from me 3 weeks early by emergency c-section. by God’s grace, the heart and brain spots proved to be nothing, and he never interfered with the band, which turned out to be attached to a uterine septum, a “heart-shaped uterus,” a division. 

a touch over two years later, we giddily walked into the sonogram for baby #2. once again, we asked that the gender be written down for us to open later, and we were thrilled when it was easily deduced. and then came the plummet,

“Well, almost everything looks good, but this baby has club feet. They could have been caused by him kicking against your uterine septum.”

in case any of you are under the false impression that my initial reaction to everything is “well Praise the Lord,” i’ll just inform you that my thoughts in the moment after the doctor spoke were well outside the range of blog post appropriate.

the doctor went on to explain that he didn’t see any other issues at this point, that the feet were likely an isolated incident, as most cases of clubfoot are. clubfoot is a birth defect that occurs in 1 in 1000 births, 40% of which show the defect in both feet. clubfoot can also be a sign of spina bifida or cerebral palsy. no reason to think the baby has either of those conditions at this point, the doctor told us, let’s do a follow up in six weeks.

let’s go to Antigua and never come back, I thought. 

in the weeks since that appointment, we have traveled to Antigua (that will get a “Praise the Lord” from me), hosted the first fosters, and had a follow-up sonogram. i have questioned why we have experienced such a string of strange, not life-threatening but not minor health issues, and why my body seems intent on causing the lives within it to struggle. the follow-up sonogram was consistent with the first, showing clubfoot present in both feet but no markers of a larger issue. my thoughts are still working themselves out.

i am a mix of thankful, frustrated, incredulous, fierce, annoyed, exhausted and ready. in other words, i’m a mother. i’m struggling, i’m processing. i’m learning and preparing; that’s what mothers do. 

from what we have gathered, Gabriel will need to see a Pediatric Orthopedist within the first week or two after his birth. at that appointment, he will have his legs stretched and casted, and we will return for new casts every week for several weeks. once casting is completed, he will be fitted for boots with braces and a bar that goes between his feet, most likely to be worn 23 hours a day for a few months, then fewer and fewer hours until he wears it just at nighttime, probably until around age 4. the treatment is extremely effective and, while he will probably walk later than most children, he is likely to gain full usage of his legs and feet over time. for that, we are very thankful. 

while we are extremely grateful at the thought of the outcome, we are also recognizing that the process is no small thing. all the “baby stuff” that can come with it’s own set of joys and frustrations, trial and error, like nursing, bathing, babywearing, clothing and playing, has to be thought through a little differently this time around. nursery workers and babysitters will need extra information. sleep scheduling will have to take a backseat to weekly trips to Houston for casting and extra soothing on uncomfortable days. blankets and pillows will be constant companions for supporting awkward limbs. it’s not unmanageable, it’s not nearly as hard as it could be, and it’s also not nothing. i can be so quick to downplay my hardships in comparison to those of others, and i don’t necessarily plan on trading in that quality anytime soon. but this time around, i’m at least letting other people know what’s going on. i’m at least saying that i have completely bought into the “it takes a village” philosophy for raising children, and if someone wants to help, i’ll be saying yes. 

we would love prayers for finding the right doctor, Owen’s adjustment to a new baby who will require extra attention, wise financial planning as we prepare for a new onslaught of medical bills and my mental and emotional stability as we prepare to climb a new mountain. 

one thing is for sure, our lives are never boring. they never fail to give opportunity to let our true colors show, to ask us if we will choose Christ and joy or self-pity and apathy. i’m praying that by choosing to struggle through my feelings and prepare for this baby with all the foresight and tenacity i can, that i’m choosing Christ. He’s never asked me to shut down those screams inside that say but this isn’t right, to ignore the mothering instinct that is sickened by the thought of her child in pain. i’m hacking away at the lies and accusations that attempt to keep me from taking those appeals to Him. i’m reminding myself that the desire for wholeness, the desire for health and peace and good and right comes from Him. He is the only One who can show me how to live in this in between, in this world where I know of His always goodness yet live inside the nowhere near perfect. 

a friend once gave me a Bible with Proverbs 3:26 underlined in it. “The Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.” i never thought that verse would have such a literal meaning to me. it’s become my verse to pray for Gabriel and myself together. Gabriel, whose name means “The Lord is my Strength.”

strength and confidence. uncaught feet. let’s add those to the prayer list, too.

these days.

as springtime speeds rapidly by, activities and change and newness abounding, a little update on the goings-on of our family seems to be in order.

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we are expecting Baby #2 in early October!
we are completely elated, amazed at God’s goodness in giving us another little one to love. i was extremely sick in the beginning but have felt better much more quickly than i did during my pregnancy with Owen. the fatigue is much stronger this time around, but i’m betting that there is some sort of correlation between pregnancy, chasing a toddler and exhaustion. Jared has been a total superhero in terms of taking care of both Owen and me while i’m at less than full-capacity. (side note: ladies, marry men who rise to the challenges that will come, because they will come.)

we have reached the home study phase of our foster care license (which is another way of saying, “yes, we are still pursuing our license even though i am pregnant.”).
if my health during pregnancy allows, we will provide respite care for other foster families prior to baby arriving and determine the best time for a long-term placement after he or she (any guesses?) is here. we are excited to see what happens and trusting that the Lord will give us the wisdom to determine what we can handle/what will be best for our family and every child in our care.

i am now a Wellness Advocate for doTerra Essential Oils.
this endeavor appeals to so much of what i care about and is a great fit for the priorities our family has already established. i love taking care of our family in a natural, healthy way, it’s important to me to continue growing in my knowledge of how God created our bodies and the world around us, and i want to honor God with our finances and resources. doTerra provides me the opportunity to do each of those things, as well as the chance to potentially educate others as i’m learning, which is something i love to do.

occasionally, i will share a testimony or two of how essential oils have helped our friends and family, but that will be about it in terms of oils and this blog. in the same way that i write about friends having babies, foster care, or any of the other adventures in our life, i will write about this pursuit as it naturally comes up. if essential oils intrigue you or you would like to learn more, email me at abbyjoyperry(at)gmail(dot)com.


there are several more things i could write about today – our fabulous trip to visit dear friends in Louisville last week, our upcoming Jared-and-Abby-only vacation to Antigua, my continued bliss over so many babies being born among our friends, mom life, work life, church life, etc. i suspect each of these things will show up in a post or two in the weeks to come. life is rapid yet peaceful, full in the way of rich harmonies and the abundance found in priorities aligned and pursued. we’re thankful, above all else.

thanks for caring about our family enough to read this little update. we value each of you! 

2014: the beginning.

it’s the first monday of 2014, the first full week of the year lingering close. i feel somewhat poetic and reflective in response to this reality, but mostly i’m just ready to get my game face on, ready to run toward the newness.

i see you 2014
 i see you, 2014. i’m coming for you.

my sister and her fiance will marry on Saturday, a joyous beginning to the new year. these upcoming days will be filled with guests and greetings and plans and promises and i could go on for pages with my thoughts on covenant and union and jubilee but there are seating charts and silverware and celebration to attend to for now, so the philosophizing will just have to wait.

i’m starting a new job this year as the program & communication coordinator for His Grace Foundation, serving the patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of Texas Children’s Hospital. our family’s best friends founded the organization and my mom runs it now.  it’s a perfect fit, completely meshing with my lifestyle as a stay at home mom. this opportunity was just about the only thing that could have taken me away from my previous position, from which i leave grateful, better, bittersweet. the new beckons, so onward i go.

i’m dreaming big dreams for the blog this year. big dreams that involve goal-setting (via Lara Casey’s PowerSheets!), stretching, inching my toes a bit closer to the edge, fully aware that falling off is all the more possible the closer i get. it’s just can’t imagine that playing it safe with this space is going to lead to anything good, anything that matters. i’m risking, believing, anchoring, hoping, wild & free-ing in many areas and praying this is the place i can make some sense of all of it.

i’m dead set on intentional motherhood this year. always have been, pray i always will be, but this season demands instinct, focus, drive, vision like i’ve never had or needed before now.  Owen is 17 months old, a charming, curious, friendly, engaging little boy whose baby days have slipped away and we’re marching into the thick of character, personality, foundation. these moments matter. now.

there’s so much more. there’s foster care and a husband abroad at least twice before the year is half over and new home projects and friends and church and somewhere in there i’m claiming 2014 as the year i submit to God’s commands to rest, sabbath, be. those i know who accomplish the most, who remain the most humble, whose mouths’ drip with words of life prioritize rest. i’m taking this year to investigate the theory that lists and goals and hopes and dreams won’t be negated by rest, they’ll be enhanced by it. i’ll take a little of that win-win situation, please.

this week, i’ll pop back in with a few more pieces of my 2014 plan – a book list, a few goals, maybe another thought or two. i’m inspired by the creation account in Genesis as I pray my basic hope for this site in the next few months – may it take form to then be filled. i need structure here, the freedom that comes from boundaries. once those are in place, i don’t know what will come from them, but it could be something really beautiful.

we’ll see.

it’s a new year; anything could happen.

an attempt to savor & believe & celebrate.

it’s the most wonderful, busy, heart-pricking, thought-provoking, tidings of comfort and joy time of the year. i started decorating today, playing Christmas music and letting Owen stomp on bubble wrap as i fluffed garland and thought about who will celebrate in our home this year as we host Christmas dinner for the first time. just moments ago, Owen crawled into my lap with his two stuffed puppies and fell asleep, the sign of a morning well spent.

i suppose i’m feeling a bit sentimental today, although it feels like it’s something a little stronger than that. a need to recognize these days as fleeting, and a desire to savor this snoring 16 month old in all his sweat and sweetness. just yesterday, he handed our foster care application to the postman and stared at his wide-eyed mama as she took the moment in, the official beginning to a countdown, a decision further solidified, a craving and longing and hope and fear mingled and released. i snapped a picture of him holding the envelope before mailing it, a picture that will be sealed in my heart forever as one both precious and presumptuous as we ask our unknowing son to begin an adventure with us that will have immeasurable impact on how he sees his childhood, his parents, others, Jesus, the world.

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are we doing right by him? my timid flesh asks occasionally, and without hesitation the Spirit affirms, yes. teach him to love the least, to steward not own, to care not control, to give not grasp. oh that i could impart to my child that which i daily struggle to learn myself.

we’re walking hand in hand, Owen, Jared and i, and we’re begging the Three in One to knit the three of us more closely together with Him as we open doors and make beds and say hello and goodbye and ask why and shout yes.

Immanuel. God with us.

i’m intent on recording my awareness of just how very near He is this year. how very meaningful His presence on this earth, in a form like yours and mine, was to all eternity and reality, how very comforted i am by the Spirit’s testimony to me daily, hourly, moment by moment of Who God is and what that means about me and for me and in me and through me. a friend reminded me recently that God will continue to call us “further up and further in” [C.S. Lewis] as we follow His voice. perhaps that captures all of these jumbled thoughts best of all. what a fitting season to ponder that truth.

tidings of comfort and joy, indeed.

the weakness & the lowly.

i’m just not sure what’s going on right now.

i’ve been in bed for 10 days. i can’t really lift Owen. i can’t really stand up long enough to make dinner or really even long enough to take a shower. i can’t really understand why this is happening.

i’m dizzy. i have high antibody levels. i’m nauseous and exhausted and my face is tingling. my entire left side is uncomfortable and when you tell a doctor something like that you get sent to the ER.  and then you have six vials of blood taken and a CT scan performed and they tell you nothing is wrong and you can’t decide if you’re happy or sad, because where are the answers?

amidst all this i had to take a steroid. i hate steroids, but i like the thought of feeling human again, so i tried it. marginal improvement, and it forced me to wean Owen. regardless of the fact that we were just nursing at bedtime and he doesn’t “need” it anymore, it was a heartbreaker for me. we’ve loved nursing. it’s been a gentle happiness amidst 13 months of circling and spiraling and, like i knew i would, i miss it very much [mamas – if you ever find yourself in this moment, this post was such a comfort & encouragement to me]. so here i am, missing my baby in every way and entrusting others to care of everyone and everything in my life and feeling completely leveled after trying to take a 10 minute walk around the backyard.

moments like these are so prosaic…so unoriginal, i’m not sure why that’s coming to mind right now or why it bothers me so much. like i didn’t pick up on the cycle repeating and i should have known this was coming. life was starting to level out, to be full and somewhat smooth and just spontaneous enough. then the rug is pulled out and the control is lost and nothing in life is ever actually normal, is it?

i know that He is good. i don’t have any poetic feelings or lovely thoughts about how i know that or how i am experiencing it right now, but i know that He is. and i’m really thankful for that, because all else is vague and disheartening today.

i don’t even know if this post makes sense. my head is spinning as i write it and i’m re-watching episodes of the newsroom because i feel too hazy to read a book so intelligent television seems like the next best bet. that and i already finished re-watching the entire series of parenthood.

i have an appointment with a neurologist on monday as well as two MRIs . maybe we’ll find some concrete answers, maybe we won’t. right now, i wouldn’t be surprised if there were no answers to be found, if maybe there’s more to be found in the weakness and the lowly than healing and solution.

whatever the case, He’ll still be good. we’ll still seek the joy of His presence. He’s the Healer of all things in His time, and He’s the strength i need to wait. goodness and mercy, all the days of my life. the house of the Lord forever. the storm rages on but the peace is perfect.

when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
[the solid rock]