Sunday, September 5, 2010

"I get on my knees/ There I am before the love that changes me/ see I don't know how but there's power/ when I get on my knees"

Sunday 4pm
I’m trying to type the world’s fastest blog before I am off to the hospital again. Thursday, after I was discharged we headed off to Children’s for a quick visit with Charlotte. She was doing well though still a bit groggy. At that nights visitation we found out that she might be having the shunt surgery the next morning. I knew all along that this would most likely be the case, but it still was hard. She already had a long incision down her back and bruising from multiple IVs. It just seemed too much to ask this little thing to endure another major surgery. I was a mess most of the night trying to grapple with the reality of another surgery. It is hard to hand your child over to God’s full care even though you know His love for them is infinite. I prayed and prayed for strength and courage for myself and for protection for Charlotte. I know so many of you were praying as well, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday morning we found out that the shunt would indeed take place, and we headed off to the hospital at 9am. Ben warned me that Charlotte would be upset because she had not been fed since midnight due to surgery. It was so hard to see her in such distress and be totally helpless, but I knew in my heart that she was in the care of the Great Physician. We followed her down to surgery and then began the waiting process. The surgery went faster than the first, and eventually Dr. Wellens (our wonderful surgeon) came to tell us that she had done well. When I heard the news I broke down once again in relief. I wondered and have continued to wonder how I can ever thank God enough for His mercy. It is endless. Friday night I was actually able to try to feed her (holding her on her side). It was a bit overwhelming for both of us because we were both new to the game but we had some success.

Saturday was a bit better in terms of feeding, but I was utterly exhausted by the end of the night. I know so many of you have probably wondered why I haven’t called or written a blog sooner, but the days seem to be jam packed. My day usually goes from pumping early, then to the hospital till 2pm, then lunch, then pumping, then maybe a 30min break maybe not, then back to the hospital till 10pm. I don’t want to miss a second with my girl. I still choke up every time I see her at the beginning of a visit and when I have to leave. It takes my mom and Ben holding me back not to attend the visitation from 12am till 6am. But they are right; I have to take care of myself so I can fully take care of her.

Speaking of care, I have learned a bit more about how to provide for her these last two days. She is latching on and feeding much better and I’ve figured out more about reading her stats and knowing which leads go where. I’ve also been trying to change her diaper as much as possible because this is a major process. She has to have a fair amount of care in this area because the incision is so close to her bottom. The problem we are facing right now is a bad reaction to the “mud flap” (a plastic flap used to keep stool off her incision). She is developing a bad rash which a nurse warned us can become quite irritated and even bleed. Compared to everything else she has been through I guess it doesn’t seem like much, but I feel like she has already gone through plenty. Please pray that this issue would resolve itself. The other part of her care that I have not learned yet is the In and Out Catheterization. We are hoping that she doesn’t have to have this at home, but it is a definite possibility. Good news is that Charlotte has not had to have them as frequently as of late.

We are hoping that if things continue to go well we might be able to start the rooming in process. This just means we stay at the hospital a night and they teach and train us on Charlotte’s care. Ben and I are both so excited to bring her home though of course we want her to be fully ready. We can’t wait to show her off. However, she has had a rough beginning and we ask that those of you who plan of visiting please refrain for awhile if you have any type of cold or contagious illness. We are also asking that those of you who visit please apply antibacterial lotion before touching or holding her. We will provide it as that is all we seemed to be putting on our hands these days. We are trying to take as many precautions as possible since she is still in a fragile state.

I want to thank you all for your compassion, support, prayers, friendship, and the many things you have done for Ben and me. God has truly blessed us. I don’t know how to thank you properly or enough but know that I appreciate everything from the bottom of my heart, as does Ben.

Sunday 10:45pm
Just got back from the hospital. I was able to feed her around 5pm which was great though she was fussy. Beth, my sister-in-law was able to come which was wonderful. She was able to see Charlotte in a more alert setting. Unfortunately, Beth was not able to hold her because now the only time she can be held is during a feeding. This is so that she can be on her stomach with no diaper covering her rash to allow it to heal faster.

After feeding and changing her I headed back to my Grandmother’s for a quick supper. I wanted to get back to the hospital fairly quickly because our nurse was going to let me bath her. The bath was good for me to learn to do but very miserable for Charlotte who bawled the whole time. After the bath I was able to feed her again. She seemed to eat well though she stayed fussy the entire time. And when we left she was still crying. It was absolutely miserable to leave with her still crying; it broke my heart. We think it is due to the fact that she has to be back on her stomach and the rash on her bottom is causing her pain. However, I fear that I didn’t feed her well enough, or that she is getting sick, or maybe I’m just not doing well at mothering. It is so hard to leave and not know why your baby is upset and not be able to sooth them. I am hoping that tomorrow morning she is doing better and that we get a positive report from all the doctors. As far as coping tonight, I’m going to try and trust God to take care of her like He has done so lovingly thus far. “Be anxious for nothing”


Beth B. Patterson said...

Thank you so much for letting me steal a few kisses and spend such sweet time with Charlotte! I could look at that beautiful face all day!! I am so glad I was able to see her again!! I am praying for ya'll and love all three of you so much!! Hang in there! You are such a great momma and it will only get better from here!!

Elizabeth said...

Oh Esther - all that you write - here it is 6:35 am in South Alabama (Elizabeth here, in my hometown) and I was so thrilled to see this update. Bless your heart for squeezing in the time to do that. Charlotte Charlotte, she's beautiful and perfect - and I am definitely praying for all those issues. Helps us to get specifics as to how to pray. I feel all those emotions for you - oh man - the mother's heart gets pulled so tight and hard with that sort of thing. I can't imagine how hard it is for you to leave her each time. For those of us watching, you and Ben are glowing with the power of Christ in you - really. Amazing how those trials/blessings really do reveal the Savior in you. I can't tell you how it blesses me to read all that you write and see your leaning on HIM, knowing the way your heart is feeling it all. Much love, Elizabeth.

Mary Ann said...


I have seen pictures of Charlotte on facebook, and she is simply scrumptious, absolutely adorable. I am so thankful she is safely here, and that you are okay. I pray God's mercies, grace, and blessings will continue with the three of you in all the days ahead.

Mary Ann Wilkerson
(sister of Elizabeth Rhodes)

Aunt Dana said...

You're doing such a great job! Remember... YOU are the one He chose to be her mother. And He knows that you can handle it with His help! This Sunday, Pastor Rob summarized the book of Esther by saying that it is the story of Esther being called to do a work that she didn't ask for and wasn't expecting, then seeking prayers and support from those around her, and finally God's provision for her to complete the work He would have her do. (The sermon wasn't about you, but this particular part really struck me.) In raising and caring for little Charlotte, you are doing His work!! I'm excited to see how He will continue to bless her and your family in the days/months/years to come! Love you!

becky a said...

Esther, 1st--- you are so loved child! 2ndly--- thank you ever so much for allowing us to share in this part of your life... your deepest and most inner thoughts and emotions. God is faithful and he will provide you with all that you need and all that Charlotte will need. God will provide you with the greatest strength that you will need to finish his work that He has set before you. You and Ben are such loving parents... Praise God that we can depend on His love, goodness and grace. We love you Esther Little Bratton

Susan B. said...

Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Charlotte! I hope your day was special! Love reading your blog and love those pics, esp the videos! Sweet!!! Hang in there, Esther. You'll be HOME before ya know it!

Love to all,
Aunt Susan B.

ann said...

Esther, my heart breaks for you to have to leave Charlotte at the hospital as she is still unhappy. I can only imagine the way your heart must feel so pulled to be there, right beside her. Mom is right, Christ in you is evident during this time. Thank you for sharing thoughts, emotions, and specific ways we can pray. Tomorrow morning is our ladies' prayer time. I will write these specific things down and we will pray for them in the morning. Love you guys!

Meghan said...

I have to agree with Elizabeth, that it is so wonderful that you are personally keeping us updated with what's going on, and we appreciate it so much knowing how little time you have to spare. And also about how Christ is shows in you so much as you go through this.

I know I can't even imagine anything close to how it feels to leave your sweet baby girl each day, but I'll confess that I seem to find myself in tears every time I read your blog and my heart just fills with compassion for you and Ben. Someday y'all will be home playing with Charlotte and just be saying, "Remember when she was first born, how we couldn't wait to get her home?" and it will just be a memory as you enjoy your lives together. And Charlotte won't even remember any of the surgeries or bruises.

Whenever I am recovering from something (like when I accidentally stabbed myself in the hand and had surgery and physical therapy for months), I try to remember that "this, too, shall pass" and just become a memory. I'm not trying to downplay how huge this is or draw comparisons to something I've been through in any way. But it seems to make it more palatable for me when I go through hard stuff, so I thought I'd share it in case it helps you too.

Lastly, there's this song we sing sometimes at church, and we sang it this last Sunday. It made me think of what y'all right now, and my heart filled with prayer for you. Here are the lyrics (, and here is the link to where you can hear the song (

Love you so much!!

Anonymous said...

Sweet Charlotte, I love you already and have never ever seen or touched you. I will never forget the video of your dad feeding you the bottle and your mom whispering sweet nothings in your ear. Your big beautiful eyes were looking around as if to say I love you mom and dad. God surely gave me the most wonderful parents. I do believe you lifted your head slightly. Welcome to this beautiful world and may God bless you through the journey of a lifetime. Your GREAT grand Mimi and Dada