Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trip to the beach

My mom, G.G. (Georgeous Grandmother), finished with her last round of chemo on October 2oth!!! God has been so good to us throughout this entire process. His perfect timing amazes me. To celebrate this milestone we went to Grayton Beach, FL for a week. It was wonderful and a great way for mom to relax. She held Lucas quite a bit which seemed to be the best therapy for her :) Here are some pictures from our trip.

One month stats

Lucas did really well at the doctor on October 3 and he weighed 10.1 lbs and was 22 3/4 inches. He is in the 90-95th percentiles. He is a growing boy! He was fine until the nurse had to stick his heel for a blood sample. I don't know who had the harder time with it - him or me. It is so hard to see your baby in pain! He calmed easily.

He also marked his territory so to speak in the doctors office by peeing all over the mat he was sitting on. Daddy was so proud!

Two Week Pictures

Jennifer Haney Neely came and took Luke's infant pictures. She is so talented. Jennifer and I have known each other since we were probably 5 years old. It was so special for her to come and take pictures of my son. She has two precious boys of her own, so she knew exactly how to photograph an infant. Luke of course peed on his outfit right before she arrived - good thing we only did diaper and naked photos. He then proceeded to pee on me and Eric at two different points of the shoot...oh well the pictures still turned out great!

Lucas' Delivery Story

OK, so I have written all about the NICU experience and Praise God everything is perfectly fine with our little man now!! I wanted to get down how Luke came into this world before I forget. If you don't want to read this story (I won't get too graphic, but some people who are especially squimish may not want to read) no big deal, I just wanted to make sure I have it for later.

On Wednesday September 2 I went for my weekly check up at my doctor's office and she once again told me that there was no change and to go ahead and set up an appointment for the following week as well as an ultrasound. So I had it in my mind that Luke was going to be late so I go on to work after the appointment. Eric and I went to Logan's for dinner and then came home where I promptly fell asleep on the couch - not unusual at this stage of my pregnancy. We went to bed around 10 pm. Around 12 am I had a strong urge to go to the bathroom - also not unusual for me at this stage of the game - so I rushed to the bathroom and my water broke (how lucky was that??). I called several times for Eric who is a pretty sound sleeper and he came running to the bathroom. I told him I thought my water broke and we both just paused for a few moments before we went into full throttle. I took a shower and got ready while Eric got all of our bags in the car. I called the doctor's office and was told to come on in since my water had broke so off we go to St. Vincents. I was not having any contractions at this point. In fact, I felt great. I was so excited! We called our parents on the way to the hospital and they met us up there once we were settled in our room.

The nurses were great. They checked me and unfortunately I still had not progressed any so they started me on Pitocin around 5 am. Well, Lucas did not like it at all when I had a contraction and his heart rate dropped several times, so they made me get in different positions while they stopped the meds to try to get his heart rate back up. This happened several times, but he always returned to normal fairly quickly. My doctor is at her satellite office in Jasper on Thursdays so she was not there to deliver Lucas. Dr. Edwards was on call and he is such a wonderful doctor so I had no problem with that (when you go to such a large practice there is always the chance that your doctor won't be there to deliver your baby). Dr. Edwards kept coming back to check me and I just never changed so finally at 2 pm we decided to do a c-section because he said we could still be there Friday afternoon with no baby with the way things were going and I did not like that Luke's heart rate kept dropping, so I was fine with a c-section.

The OR staff was fantastic and I had a wonderful anesthesiologist. Eric came in after I got my spinal and I was strapped to the table. Dr. Edwards kept me informed of what was going on (not too much detail mind you-there is no way I could have stomached that!!). We had fun talking with them - Eric even invited the entire OR over to our house for Thanksgiving! Then at 2:51 pm the sweetest sound ever came - Lucas crying! Eric and I started crying too! It was the most precious moment for us and we were so blessed. He weighed in at 8 lbs 7 oz and was 21 3/4 inches.

We were taken back to our room where our fabulous nurse, Rhonda, gave Lucas a bath and then I fed him. Such a sweet moment! Then once we had our family time the our parents and my brother came back to meet Lucas. My mother held him first and it was so amazing to see them together. My dad commented that Lucas is what had helped my mother do so well with her chemo treatments - she wanted to make sure she was well for this day. God is so good. After the grandparents and Uncle John had their turn it was time for the rest of the gang to come in and meet Lucas. Great Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all came that day and through the night. It was such a sweet day!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We are home!!

That's right! We left the hospital today and it is so nice to have Lucas home with us. Thanks for all the prayers. I will post plenty of pictures and update soon. God is good!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

News about Lucas

I apologize for not updating in a couple of days. First, let me say thank you so much for all the prayers because they are definitely working! Thank you for all the calls, emails, and text messages. I am so sorry that we have not been able to respond. We are exhausted!!

Luke was on an isolette warmer Saturday night, Sunday, and most of today. Today they moved him to a crib because his breathing has been so good! Praise God!! They were holding all of his feedings on Saturday and part of Sunday. They did this because they did not want him to aspirate on his feeding making the matter worse. This has been the main concern since his breathing has been faster than normal. Sunday afternoon the doctor decided that he could receive feeds through an NG tube which is a tube that goes down his nose into his stomach. He tolerated this well. It was hard to see our son with a tube down his nose, but we kept reminding ourselves that this was a positive step in the right direction. Sunday afternoon the doctor decided that he could have some feedings by mouth via bottle. This was even better news. The nurses checked his respiratory rate prior to every feed and if it was below 60 then he could have a bottle, but if above then he would have to have the feed via the NG tube. He had to have 1 NG tube feeding but the rest have all been bottle. Let's just say that the pump and I have gotten very close over the past couple of days! I was able to start nursing again today as well which of course says that everything is going in the right direction.

The doctor has said that if everything keeps going according to plan then Lucas will stay tomorrow and Eric and I will spend the night tomorrow night in one of the family rooms with him just to make sure that everything is OK and if everything goes well then we will be able to take him home on Wednesday!! PLEASE PRAY FOR THIS!!! Eric and I were discharged from the hospital today and let me just say that it was so hard to come home without our little guy. We serve an amazing God who is so good to us and we are so thankful for the many blessings he has already given us with Lucas. Let's just say that Saturday Eric and I were still saying that it still hadn't hit us that we were parents. After all of this we definitely feel like parents because we didn't realize how we could love something so much that we haven't even known for more than a few days. It is amazing!! Thank you again for all of your prayers. I will post more pictures in the next few days. Please keep the prayers coming, and as you pray for our sweet Lucas please pray for all the other infants that are in NICU because there are some very very sick babies out there that need our prayers too!! Thank you again! We love you!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Prayers are needed!!

We just got back from seeing Lucas. He was in an isolette with a warmer. He was sound asleep. We talked to his nurse who helped to really put us at ease. She said that more than likely Lucas has "watery lungs" meaning there is still fluid in his lungs from birth since he was a c-section and didn't get the chance to have it squeezed out so to speak. She said that if he does have an infection they have already started IV antibiotics as a precautionary measure. They have sent off blood cultures that will be ready to read in 3 days. So, best case scenario, we will get to take Lucas home on Tuesday and worst case scenario it will be 7-10 days till he is able to come home. This could be so much worse so Eric and I know that we are blessed. It is just hard to leave your baby with others.

We did tell Lucas though that he didn't need to worry because while we could not be there with him all the time that God was with him in our absence. Who better to care for Lucas than the One who created him??

Original Post:
On Thursday, September 3, 2009 the most precious gift God has ever given to Eric and I arrived. Lucas Charles O'Neal was born at 2:51 pm. He weighed 8lbs 7 ozs and was 20 inches long. I must say that he is the most beautiful baby that I have ever seen!! God is so good to us!

I will post another time a little about our labor and delivery story, but first we need your prayers! Lucas' respiratory rate has been high today which is an indication that he may still have fluid on his lungs (which is common for babies born via c-section like Lucas was) or it can be an indication of infection and for an infant with no immune system this is not good.

Lucas has been transferred to the intermediate nursery which is a step down unit of the NICU. Let me just say that was the most emotional ride that I have ever been on. The doctors and nursing staff here at St. Vincents are fantastic and we have been very blessed to have such concerned nurses/doctors by our side. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but as a new (and evidently very hormonal) mom it was very hard to watch them put my precious son in this unit. My heart breaks for those parents who have to visit their babies up there for an extended period of time. They do not feel that Lucas will be there for long (praise God). We will be able to stay at the hospital for 2 more days and then we will discharge home, although it is highly likely that Lucas will still be in the hospital at this point.

Please pray for our little man!! God is so good and we are trusting him completely. We thank Him for the priviledge of being Luke's parents and we thank you for loving our son!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

His Grace is Sufficient!

Mom got the results of her CA125 count today and it was 23!!! The doctors want the number to be below 35 and my mom is at 23!!! This means the cancer is no longer active!! She will continue to finish her last 2 rounds of Chemo and be done October 20. God is good and He is doing a great job of showing His love and grace with us. That is exactly how we feel...graced. I guess I really didn't understand the true meaning of that word until all of this happened. Even when we had no idea what was going on or what would happen with Mom, He provided his Grace - and it was sufficient!

Never once has my mother asked "Why?". It has always been, "Well this is what we have been dealt and now what do we do?" She has completely surrendered to God this problem and He has blessed her for doing so. Once again His grace is sufficient! God's timing is always perfect and how I wish I wasn't so dense that I don't pick up on it till after the fact.

Why do bad things happen to good people? It is a question that I have asked before. I do not believe that God gave my mother cancer. I believe that God allowed this disease to happen to my mother. I beleive God allowed this to happen to her because He knew that she would Glorify Him through this. Through all of this my mother has never lost her faith. Never once has it been shaken and through her example the rest of us have never lost our faith either...His grace again! My mother is one to give credit where credit is due and she will be the first to tell you that her doctors are amazing and in the same breath tell you that it is because of God that He sent her to the amazing doctors who are men of God.

Another way He has graced our family is through His gift of laughter. Now, my father and brother happen to be two of the funniest people on the planet. I can be amusing, but I am not nearly as quick witted as they are. My mother, bless her, comes up with the corny jokes - she gets some zingers in some times though. One of my favorite things about my mother though is her laugh. I got my laugh from her. It is obnoxious and contagious all at the same time. It takes you by surprise the first time you hear her laugh. You have to hold the phone away from your ear when she gets to laughing. My mother often laughs until she cries. The great thing about her laugh is that it is not wasted. My mother and I both laugh at everything (even her corny jokes - no one laughs as hard as my mother at her own jokes!). We have laughed every day since this happened. Even when it was the darkest and things were not looking good at all we found something to laugh about. Once again His Grace is sufficient.

I am rambling so I will stop it here, but take time to think about the ways that He has graced you today! Thanks again for all the prayers! Don't stop - there is still more to be done!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


That is exactly what the nurse practitioner said to me today "Nothing"- as in no change. Lucas is evidently quite content where he is and he has no inclination to make his entrance in this world any time soon. I know that this really doesn't mean anything because I have had several people tell me that their doctor told them that there was no change and they ended up going into labor that week. Let's remember though that this will be Eric's son and well there is a little bit of a stubborness there...just teasing...sort of. My due date isn't until next Friday so I'm really not trying to rush things, but...

Life is still good. Mom just finished her 4th round of chemo so next week is an off week then we start the 5th round which means there are only 6 more treatments! She is excited to be even further through the process. She should know the latest CA125 count tomorrow so I will update everyone then.

Hope everyone has a great evening!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Other happenings...

OK, let's see...

Eric has started training for triathlons!! I am so proud of him!! He has done so well. He began in January really training and has done 7 races since then (mixture of 1/2 marathons, duathlons, and triathlons). You can catch up on his training/progress at his website (see my sidebar). We have learned a lot about the sport and he has definitely been bitten by the bug!

Back in March my mom was having a lot of trouble breathing and she went to the emergency room and Brookwood Hospital. They took x-rays and discovered that she had fluid on her right lung. She was in the hospital for a few days while they drained the fluid and then tried to figure out what was going on. To make a long story short (email me if you want more details) we went from she has some fluid on her lung to my mother's diagnosis of Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer.

Life was hard for several weeks while we were in a hurry up and wait game with doctors and tests. She had a full hysterectomy with exploratory surgery. Her surgeon, Dr. Barnes, felt that he had gotten 90-95% of the cancer. Praise God! Dr. Barnes is a fantastic doctor and we feel blessed that God allowed us to be under his care. As mom was healing from surgery in the hospital we met her oncologist, Dr. Yeilding. He is also an amazing Godly man who puts his patients first in his practice and you feel loved and respects by this man. He reassured us that my mother was going to get through this fine. It was during this time that we found out that we were going to have a little boy. Looking back God's timing is always perfect.

We have had some ups and downs with all of this of course, but my mother is a pillar of strength. She is 1/2 way through with her chemo treatments and is doing amazing. The doctors use the CA125 marker to indicate how active the cancer is in the body with ovarian cancer. Prior to mom's surgery her CA125 was 225 and the doctors want the number to be below 35 so we had a long way to go. I am so proud of my mom because she is only 1/2 way through with her treatments and she is already at 38!!! Just 3 more points and we will be on the high end of normal!! The treatment is working!!

We have been so blessed throughout all of this. Let me just say that I don't know how people can get through something like this without God. There is no way we could have gotten through day one. There have been many low times, but never once have any of us turned from God. He is the only thing that has gotten us through this. It is very scary to think that you could lose you mother and believe me I have prayed for complete healing of my mother every single day. He hears our cries and the wants of our hearts. He knows our desires. We do not always get the desires of our hearts, and we have readied ourselves for that possibility, but God has too much work here left for my mother to do. She has been so amazing through all of this. She has run toward God when it would have been so easy to run from Him and to feel abandoned. We have all prayed that God would not allow our hearts to harden to Him through this and he has been so faithful to us.

God has blessed us with so many friends and family to care for us. Thank you so much for your prayers!! As I said God's timing is perfect because at first we were wondering why now of all times? Not that there is every a more appropriate time to get cancer, but we had so much joy going on in our family (my brother was graduating from college, I was pregnant, my cousin was getting married, etc). There were too many things going on that mom wanted to be a part of, well let me tell you she hasn't missed anything. How silly we were to question His timing. This was a perfect time for all of this to happen because it has brought such joy to a time when could be a lot of sadness and despair. Not with my mother though. Our family has laughed so many more times that we have cried (if you know my family then you know how we can get). Thanks again to all those that have prayed. My mom has a Caring Bridge website just go to and type in Toni Keyes and it will take you to her site.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good!!

And we're back...

OK, I'm back. I have been such a good stalker for all these months that I decided to get back into the blogging world. I left because there was absolutely nothing for me to talk about and then a week after I deleted the blog we found out that we were pregnant. So as all you mothers out there know, there has been PLENTY to blog about with pregnancy, but for crying out loud I didn't have the time nor the energy!! With our little man due in less than 3 weeks (OH MY GOSH!!) I thought well I would start one up again so that I can keep a journal for our family and this is easier than writing with a pen and paper.

Let's see...a lot has happened in the past 9 months. We found out that we were pregnant a few days after Christmas. We were thrilled!! Those first few weeks though I was absolutely exhausted. It is a tired unlike anything I have known and it was all from doing absolutely NOTHING. Seriously, I would take a shower and have to rest because it wore me out. I didn't see Eric much those first couple of weeks because as soon as I stepped foot in the door from work I was on the couch asleep. I have called Eric my "good little house wife" because he did EVERYTHING-cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc. Now I know that there are a lot of husbands out there that do these things even when they don't have a pregnant wife at home, and Eric does too, but he did all of it for about 3 months (he will tell you it was much longer) with no help at all from me!

The second trimester brought back my energy thank goodness. I really cannot complain about my pregnancy because it has been wonderful. I was only sick a few times in the very beginning, but that was all. So sorry to my friends out there that were sick for 6-9 months of pregnancy.

I have entered the stage of being uncomfortable often especially when I am "sleeping". I use quotation marks because you can't really call what I do sleep since I am up at least every hour to either roll over or nature is calling (OK screaming) for me to answer. Since I am on my feet all day (which has been a very good thing during pregnancy) I have cankles that would make an elephant jealous by the time I get home.

Let me just say that there is no better feeling than to feel my son move. My grandfather put it in a really great way when he asked me if I had felt life yet. I love that! Yes, I have felt life and believe me he is full of life!! God has been so good to us!!

Our little man is supposed to arrive on September 4th. It gives a whole new meaning to Labor Day Weekend for me. We have named him Lucas Charles O'Neal. The Charles is from Eric's side as all the men in his family have the middle name Charles and we just really liked the name Lucas. Many have asked what we will call him and we will call him Luke/Lucas or LUCAS CHARLES O'NEAL through gritted teeth I am sure. That is just a brief update on my little man/pregnancy. In the next post I will share about all the other happenings from the past 9 months.