Zachary’s Story

I have come to realize that since Zachary was born, 5 years ago, 
I have never really shared the story of his birth.
Many of you followed the journey through the website
which Brian created when we were in the hospital at the time,
but I don’t believe I have ever told it myself.
Seems like a good time as any…
(I know this will be long… bear with me.)
immediately after birth
Brian and I started trying for kids in 2003.
Between 2003-2006 we had 2 miscarriages.
It was a much more difficult dream 
than we had ever thought it would be.
We moved to PA in 2004 so Brian could attend Seminary in Gettysburg.
In 2006 we moved to Edgewater, MD for Brian’s internship.
During this time, 
I was fortunate to obtain a Kindergarten Teacher position. 
My insurance was really amazing as it covered a lot of infertility avenues.
I was so sure this was where God had sent us so that we could get the help we needed.
Well, The Tuesday before Thanksgiving of 2006, 
Brian and I had our consultation with a great clinic in the area. 
Went home to PA for Thanksgiving.
Got sick.
Found out I was pregnant!
I can’t really share adequately how I was feeling at the time.
It was a mixture of excitement and horror.
All I could think about was having another miscarriage.
The next several weeks were emotionally rough.
The day we went in to hear the heartbeat
 will be a day I will never forget.
You see, the miscarriages I had were not natural.  
Each time we went in to hear the heartbeat we discovered something was not right.
As you can imagine,
When Brian and I heard that beautiful sound, nothing could be said.
Only tears came.  We cried and held each other and cried a lot more.
My favorite pic.  
This was before they hooked him up to everything.
So the pregnancy was “normal”.
That is, as normal as I thought a pregnancy could be…
morning sickness, food aversions, exhaustion, 2nd trimester golden days…
Then Easter came.
(Which was also April 8th in 2007!  Z was born on a Tues morning 5 years ago.)
On Maundy Thursday I began to bleed.
At first a lot, but it subsided.
It scared us terribly.
Thankfully Zachary was fine.  I could still feel him moving around.
After some tests on Monday they determined all was fine, but I was put on 2 weeks bedrest.
At the end of those 2 weeks, I went into labor.
Did not even realize what it was at first.
Brian and I were watching a movie and 
I mentioned to him that I thought I could be in labor.
Off to the hospital we went.  It was Friday, April 20th.
My beautiful nephew was born on that day!
I was dilated to 1cm.  They wanted to stop the labor.
So they did.  It was not a fun med to be put on, but it worked.
My mom drove down to MD that weekend to be with me.
On Monday a special ultrasound was done.
Z was fine, but I was loosing fluid.
They determined that somewhere along the way my water had broke.
Because of that, I was going nowhere. 
Whether he came in a week or 10, I was hospital bound.
They had given me a steroid for Z’s lung development which needed 24 hours to really take hold.
Thankfully, I held on that long.
Later that day I went into labor again.
This time they could not stop it.
It was the most terrifying time for us,
and yet there was also such an amazing sense of peace.
We believe it came from the prayer that was surrounding us.
By this time, Brian had started the website to keep family and friends informed.
We shared Zachary’s name and asked for prayers.
We were stunned at the response, the love…
There are no words there.
I had amazing doctors and nurses.  Just amazing.  
After many hours, my doctor recommended a C-Section to me
as Z was showing signs of distress.
I was ok with that.  
I truly believe the C-Section was a gift to him.
I can not imagine his little body going through the stress of natural delivery.
Zachary Brian Spahr was born on Tuesday, April 24th at 3:47 AM.
He was 2 lbs 1 oz.
The most amazing part of it all…
He cried!!!
Everyone was stunned.
I remember a nurse coming up to my face saying,
“Did you hear that?  He is crying!!!”
A 26 week old being born crying was definitely a rare thing.
It was amazing.
He was beautiful!
Of course they needed to wisk him off to the NICU.
I sent Brian with him.
Holding Daddy’s hand.
Zachary was on a ventilator for only 1 hour. 
He was breathing so well on his own that he only needed a nose tube.
They gave him one for breathing and inserted one for feeding.
After recovery and some rest,
I was able to come and see him.
It was an emotional encounter.
I wanted so much to hold my baby.
But I needed to trust him completely 
to the care of the doctors there and to Jesus.
I cried so hard as Brian wheeled me back to my room.
There was such a long journey and a huge battle for Z to fight now.
I vowed I would do everything I could to help him fight.
Brian an I spent so much time with Z. 
As much as we could.
We talked with him, read out loud so he could hear our voices.
And we held him as much as we were able.
Kangaroo Care was the most beautiful time.
We held him skin to skin. 
It’s amazing the research that shows how vital this time is for babies, 
and especially these little ones.
It was a beautiful time for us as well.
The nurses in the NICU were so wonderful.
They wanted us as involved as possible in his care.
We “bathed” him.
We “fed” him
All of these things were little ways to help him learn skills.
He was beautiful, tiny, fragile and so strong.
He was a fighter.
This is our favorite pic.
Brian’s wedding band is on Z’s arm.
Daddy’s Hands
The NICU was quite an experience.
We were blessed with a beautiful, private room NICU,
but you still could hear all the beeps and alarms.
Zachary made it through the NICU with no brain bleeds 
and only 1 minor infection that a nurse noticed very early on.
Our main nurses were Christian and blessed us daily with prayers, gifts and God’s love.
One of the most difficult parts of this journey 
was leaving Z at the hospital.
It was necessary.  For him and for us.
He needed rest.  We did too.
When I would wake up in the middle of the night 
and first thing in the morning,
I always called the NICU to check in on Z.
We were allowed to any time.
They always updated us and assured us that he was doing well.
There is a beautiful giftedness to those who work in the NICU.
Amazing skills, compassion and care.
The other most difficult part of this journey were the Bradys.
(bradycardia – basically sleep apnea)
Preemies were very prone to stop breathing.
Alarms would sound and someone would need to touch him,
massage his back or tummy and literally revive him; remind him to breathe again.
Every day, over and over,
doctors, nurses, mommy and daddy
would save Z’s life…again and again.
Thankfully he began to grow out of them, 
enough to come home.
He had to come home on a monitor,
but that was more as a precaution.
Zachary grew stronger and bigger each day.
Until finally, he came home at 5 lbs.
Zachary saying good-bye to many of his nurses.
We only took around 500 pictures of that time in the NICU.
Seriously, we did!
But this post is long enough as it is.
One day I will do a post with just pics of his journey.
They are all beautiful.
We are so thankful for the miracle of Zachary.
What an amazing thing our bodies can do in having children.
How amazing our bodies are to grow and heal and fight.
How beautiful God created us with a spirit for life and a will to live.
Brian’s Wedding Ring
Zachary is 5 this year.
Strong, healthy, vibrant, smart…
Thanks for allowing me to share this story with you.
And thank you for walking with us through it all.
I do not mean for this post to end by asking for money.
However, I can not help but share our March of Dimes Team with you.
It is something that we believe in.
We appreciate your prayers for babies and families even more than financial support.
If you live in the Charlotte Area, come walk with us!  
It’s amazing and we would love to share the experience with you.
We walk every year for the March of Dimes.
They support research to prevent premature birth 
as well as support families who are going through it.
The financial part of this kind of journey is staggering.
We were thankful to have had great insurance 
through my job at the time
as well as the amazing generosity of friends and family.
Please consider joining us as we continue to raise awareness 
and support those who travel this road,
through prayer, walking with us,
 and/or your financial support.
Thank you.


Is it not the biggest roller coaster ride?
The most thrilling, exciting, scary and emotionally draining ride 
we have ever been on?
Of course, I would not trade it for the world,
even on the days when I wonder how in the world I will make it 
to the end of the day’s ride.
But I am learning, every day.
I know it will be a forever learning process.
But I am learning,
that without the strength, hope and grace I find In Jesus,
this ride will make my head spin.
Joy, from Grace Full Momma spoke truth into my heart today;
“It isn’t so that we can be a great mom,
 it isn’t so that we can raise great kids, 
it isn’t even so that we can have strong, happy families.  
These things are all good, 
but the real reason we learn and study and grow in these areas [motherhood] is so that 
we can know Christ and display His Gospel in our lives for HIS glory.”

Truth that is sometimes hard to swallow.
I want to be a great mom and have great kids and have a strong, happy family!
The truth is that I do.
I just tag on perfection to those areas,
standards that only make me feel like a failure.
I have not been focusing on what my heart really desires,
for my kids and my family to be rooted in the hope, joy and grace that Jesus gives.
This is the desire of my heart.
And I am learning,
that if I want this for my family, if I really want it,
it must start with me.
I need to know Christ.  I need to display His Gospel in my life.
But I can not do that if I am not abiding in Him, every day.
I must be in prayer, in His Word, in His presence.
And so I recommit, like I must do every morning,
I recommit my self to Jesus,
asking for forgiveness, grace, strength and courage
to get on the roller coaster today with joy and anticipation
for the climbs and the falls and the curves.
Here we go!

Thankful for the Vine

During this season of giving thanks,
as I have been reflecting on being a
mom, a stay at home mom, a wife, pastor’s wife, 
keeper of my home, teacher of my children, daughter, sister,
friend, godmother, child of God…
I easily become overwhelmed and also humbled. 
I am so thankful for all I get to do in this life,
but I also know that I can not do all this on my own strength.
My blog post today comes directly from the book I am reading
during my morning time.
It spoke into a deep part of my heart today,
and I wanted to share it with you.
Whatever stage of life you are in,
even if you are not a mom,
I believe what Karol Ladd has to say
can touch a deep part of each of us.
I hope it speaks to you.
From The Power of a Positive Mom
by Karol Ladd

“Our children are watching our actions and hearing our words every day.   
They are learning how to act and how to live as they read us. 
It is probably the most influencial book they will ever read, 
with the exception of the Bible.
In fact, reading it is guaranteed to be life-changing.

What are some of the chapters in our Living Lessons Saga?
Hopefully the table of contents read something like this:

Chapter 1
Maintaining Self-Control Even When You’re Tired and Frustrated
Chapter 2
Showing Patience in Traffic Jams and Grocery Store Lines
Chapter 3
Saying Kind Things about Others
Chapter 4
Telling the Truth, Even About the Little Things
Chapter 5
Helping others while they need a hand.
Chapter 6
Grumbling Less, Complimenting More
Chapter 7
Using Table Manners and Other Forms of Good Etiquette
Chapter 8
Obeying Traffic Rules and Laws
Chapter 9
Praying about all things, Worrying about Nothing.

Unfortunately, Many of our texts read a little differently…

Like it or not, our lives are an open book, 
continually read by the little eyes in our homes.  
The lessons we deliver to our children verbally may be wise and good, 
but lasting lessons are caught, not taught. 
It is rather sobering to realize that all the “right stuff” that comes out of our mouths can be made null and void if our kids do not see good character qualities lived out in 
our day-to-day lives.  
It is hard to be a good example. 
In fact, at times it seems downright impossible.
The apostle Paul spoke about this common struggle of knowing what we should do,
yet doing what we know we shouldn’t.

Romans 7:18-25 
“For I have the desire to do what is good, 
but I cannot carry it out. 
For what I do is not the good I want to do; 
no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing. 
Now if I do what I do not want to do, 
it is no longer I who do it, 
but it is sin living in me that does it… 
What a wretched man I am!  
Who will rescue me from this body of death?  
Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!!!!”

Paul knew that apart from Christ, we are hopeless.
But with Christ, all things are possible.
Jesus gave his followers hope when he said,
“I am the vine; you are the branches. 
If a man remains in me and I in him,
 he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
 – John 15:5

Trying to be a good example in our own power leads to eventual failure,
but abiding in Christ brings fruitfulness and hope…
Is it the branch’s job to create the fruit and make it grow?  
No, the branch simply remains attached to the vine 
and receives the nourishment the vine brings. 
Detached from the vine, the branch can not bear fruit. 
But as it stays connected to the vine day by day,
 the fruit begins to grow naturally.  
How can you live as a good example in your home
 [work, school…].
Stay attached to the vine!  Abide in Christ. 
Continue in him; keep following him; rely on him;
 remain in him.  Stay close.  
To me, abiding with Christ means opening the door of my heart and saying, 
“Come into my house and abide here.”

Is Christ dwelling in you?
Is he just an acquaintance,
or is he an important part of your day-to-day life?
Remember, without him we can do nothing,
but with his strength we can be a good example.”

A blessed Thanksgiving to you all, dear family and friends!

Take A Moment

African Hug by Lynne Marie Davis
Found this as I was cleaning out some school stuff today.
I hope it encourages you as it did for me.

Take a moment to hear today,
What your children are trying to say.
Listen today whatever you do,
Or they won’t come back to listen to you.
Listen to their problems.
Listen to their needs.
Praise their smallest triumphs.
Praise their smallest deeds.
Listen to their chatter.
Amplify their laughter.
Find out what’s the matter.
Get to what they’re after.
Tell them that you love them
every single night.
And as you tiptoe out, say
“Happy dreams, sleep tight.”
Turn out the light.
Turn around and say,
“Oh, by the way,
Regardless of our differences today,
Tomorrow everything will be alright.
And things between you and I are bright.”
Take a moment to hear today.
What your children are trying to say.
Listen today whatever you do,
And they’ll come back to listen to you.

-Denis Waitley

I will always wave back

photo by Brian Auer –

A friend of mine has this quote on her blog:
“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around and why his parents always wave back.”
– William D. Tammelus
I happened to click on her blog today and this quote struck me.
Probably in part because it is Mother’s Day and I’m naturally reflecting on motherhood.
I won’t even try to analyzed or explain my thoughts on understanding human nature,
I just simply know how it feels to watch my son on a merry-go-round.
It’s one of the things that brings out natural smiles and laughs from him.
And every time around, he smiles and waves at me.
And even though it’s repetitious and silly,
I never want to miss a wave.
This season of life won’t last forever.
One day he will be grown and on his own.
But for now, he is 4.
He is wild, all boy and a mood-swinging maniac,
He is beautiful, smart and a free spirit,
and he is a part of me.
He is my son.
 I would not trade this time for anything!
So every time that smiling little boy yells, “Hi, Mommy!” and waves.
I’ll be there to smile and wave as well.
And when the time comes around for my little girl to do the same,
I’ll watch her smile and wave and I will always wave back!