Wiersma Family Blog

A glimpse into our lives as a family with micro-preemies. Our twins boys (Lovingly referred to as our Miracle Men) were born almost 16 weeks early.

Our journey continues when our son Max was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 3. This is his story....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some good, some bad

We got the results of the boys' heart and brain ultrasounds.  Both boys have PDA, which means that the valve that is supposed to close at birth in a full-term baby has not closed.  That is not good news, but we were probably expecting to hear that.  The brain scan for Wes was great, no evidence of bleeding at all.  Max's brain scan showed roughly the same thing the last scan showed, which is good also.  That means that the hemorrhage is not actively bleeding.  This is key because the doctors can treat the PDA with medicine to try and get the valve to close, but only if there is no active bleeding because the medicine reduces the amount of platelets in the blood, so clotting becomes more difficult.  We are happy with these results.  The brain bleeding cannot be stopped or treated in kids this size, but the PDA is very common and very treatable.  We certainly pray that the medicine (which they have already started to administer, it is given every 24 hours for three days which equals one "course" of treatment) is able to cause the valve to close.  The doctors said that they can try the medicine for up to 3 "courses", but after that, surgery will be the likely method of closure.  Do to the delicacy of their skin, this would not be done for 10-14 days.  Overall, the boys had a good day.  Wes continues to need only "room air" or 21% oxygen to keep the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in his blood where the doctors like it to be.  Max has consistently been in the 25% range, but they did have to bump him up a bit this evening into the 35% range because his oxygen saturation dropped a bit.  They have both been fed breast milk directly into their stomachs now for more than 24-hours.  They have tolerated this well so far, but we are still waiting for Wes to have a BM.  The doctors and nurses do not seem terribly concerned about this yet, but they are keeping an eye on it.

We were sad to hear that Kate is healing so well that they kicked us out today.  We thought that we were going to have another day there because of the length of time Kate has been on bed rest, so we were not mentally prepared to come home.  It turned out to be a very difficult trip.  We hung out with the boys a lot today and went back down to see them after dinner.  We prayed with them and loaded up and came home.  Kate was very emotional about leaving the hospital and being so far away from the little guys.  We realize that their livelihood's are in the hands of their Abba Father, but there was a lot of security for Kate and I in being so close.  When we got off the highway at the 16th street exit, the tears started to flow. In our dreams, we would be coming home from the hospital with Max and Wes sleeping in their car seats.  The reality is that we will be commuting 30+ minutes to spend time with the boys for many many months.  In the same breath we are praising God for the gift He gave us with these two amazing little boys and we just love them so much.  It is such a strange mix of emotions which apparently manifest themselves in the form of tears.  I probably should have pulled over because I could hardly see through the tears, and I am fairly sure I killed a small animal with my car.  We pulled into the garage and just wept.  We almost left to go back to the hospital because the thought of going into the house and seeing the nursery and the empty cribs just seemed like too much.  After we prayed and asked God for the strength we would need to handle the physical separation from Max and Wes we decided to go inside.  We were bracing for a crushing wave of emotions, but what we felt was a surge of love.  Our house had been cleaned up, people had purchased food (thanks Mom and Dad and some other food fairy), my sister dropped of a pump that one of her friends lent to Kate...all things that made "coming home" a lot more bearable.  I know for a fact that this place looked like a pig sty after Kate had not been home for 20-days and I had only stopped by to shower and change my clothes.  Then I went outside to get some stuff and noticed that someone or something anonymously edged the landscape all the way around our house and put down all new bark.  Kate and I really almost feel embarrassed.  What did we ever do to deserve all of this love, kindness and selflessness?  Our feeling is that we did nothing to deserve it.  What an amazing representation of Christ's love for His people.  We hear society say things like, "how can you believe in a god that you cannot see?"  I wish that those people could see the world through my eyes.  I cannot turn my head without seeing God.  I see Him in Max and Wes, in Kate, our families, our friends, in emails, posts on this blog, in fresh food in our fridge, and bark in our yard.  Thank-you all for being Jesus to Kate, myself and our sons.  And thank-you God for being so very different and so much bigger than we can imagine.  We are sinners that deserve nothing but an eternity in Hell, but Christ loved you and I so much that He selflessly gave His life for us.  Now that I am the father of two precious boys, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross has become even more unbelievable to me.  I would give my life for either of my two boys without a seconds notice.  God the father watched his son Jesus die on a cross for me, and He held the power to change the circumstances and did not.  What I once thought was an amazing story of God's love for His people has, over the last 4 days, become and unfathomable story.  Because if it was my son on that cross and I held the ability to save him at the expense of every believer and non-believer on this earth...we would all be going to hell.  I will spend my life wondering how You could do that, because my human mind cannot comprehend a love that deep and that wide.  I pray that I will spend that same life glorifying Your name because of that love.


  1. Mark, you are an incredible writer! Every post so far has made me both laugh and cry! I love how you include all of the details, making it so honest and real, and I love how you're giving God all of the glory and honor. I've been checking your blog obsessively all day long to hear how the ultrasounds went, and I will be praying like crazy that the medicine causes their valves to close right away, and that their breathing continues to improve. I'll also be praying for you and Kate in your adjustment to being home without your precious babies. We love you guys!

  2. Mark & Kate, your faith astounds me. If nothing else, your story is an incredible journey of your powerful faith that so many of us can learn from and aspire to! God is, indeed, amazing! There are no words to accurately describe how powerful His presence can be... especially when we are desperate for Him. I was up north this past weekend and I was blessed to see a clear night sky just blanketed with stars... and I thought of you guys. I was marveling at how incredible God is... being so immensely huge that He created this incredible universe and planet just for us... His prized Creation. And then I thought of your precious baby boys... and how He loves them (and each of us) infinitely more than those incredible stars. What a magnificent God we serve!

    I am praying fervently for you both and for Max & Wes. It is comforting to know that God is cradling them in His hands... what an amazing and beautiful reality!

    God bless you both and your boys! Thanks for the updates and the pictures... they are precious!

    Janna Kuiphof (Sara Maatman's sister) :)

  3. As I read your update just now, I was thinking of these verses, God cares so much for you that he keeps track of all your tears...He cares so much for you and your boys that he holds them in the palm of His hand...engraves them!
    God is able to do so much more than all we can ask or imagine! Keep looking up and giving Him the Praise~You encouraged me tonight! I will continue to pray for your family.
    You've kept track of my every toss and turn
    through the sleepless nights,
    Each tear entered in your ledger,
    each ache written in your book. Psalm 56:8
    See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; Isaiah 49:16
    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
    Blessings, Love and prayers from a Sister in the Lord,

  4. i fell asleep last night praying for max and wes and for their strength, for for some good news after their tests. i'm so happy to hear about your friends and family taking care of things at your home, you must be wonderful people and loved by so many. what you are going through, you DO deserve all the support and love in the world, and it is just as important to be able to *receive* that love as it is to give it, even when you are obviously so humbled. you take that gift and glorify God with it! it just overflows onto others, and in the midst of this struggle, you are giving back. god is definitely smiling on you. bless you all, your faith is an amazing example.

  5. Mark and Kate,

    Your faith and courage have blessed my day already! My devotions last night was about having courage in the Lord and Joy in our suffering...you are the highest form of that! While your homecoming was so hard, you saw Christ in everything around you and are continuing to strive for Him! I praise God for your faithfulness and courage, and we will PRAY for the boys and the treatment prescribed for their hearts. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us! We love you guys!

  6. Mark and Kate,

    Blessings to you and your precious boys. Wes and Max are very lucky to have your as their parents. I look forward to meeting them, which will most likely be at Geoff and Stacy's.

    I don't know Kate's family but I do know Mark's and I can vouch that they make great relatives and grandparents. I can see how much our shared grandchildren love them (for those reading this and don't know, Stacy is my daughter). Your little guys are blessed with a family that holds a lot of love for them.

    On Sunday the Pastor made this statement, "I do not know what each day will bring but I do know who is in charge". It is comforting to know we are not alone and we are able to turn our burdens over to Him.

    I continue to keep all of you in my prayers.

  7. Mark and Kate: It is my privilege to read your blog everyday and I want you to know that everytime I read it, I pause to say a prayer for the four of you. We lead a small young marrieds group and some of your friends are in our group. We are studying about prayer - about breakthrough prayer and last week, we were all on our knees praying at the end of our discussion. We specifically prayed for you and your boys and will continue to do so.

    I want to remind you of God's names today:
    El Elyon—Most High God
    El Shaddai—God Almighty
    El Roi—the God who sees
    The God who hears
    Jehovah Shalom—God our peace
    A God of hope
    Jehovah Shammah—God who is there
    Mercy and comfort
    Abba Father

    All that He is - He is for Mark and for Kate and for Wes and for Max!

    Believing in His names for you today!!

    Marlae Gritter (a fellow Moms In Touch mom with your mom Mark)

  8. Mark and Kate,
    It was nice meeting you yesterday but even more encouraging to read your blog today. I know the pain of driving home without your little one in the car. Having a picture in my mind of the car ride home is still very vivid and I can't wait to have it come for real when we get home later. I know you probably have that image of coming home from DeVos already as well. Someone told me and I'm going to share with you something that comforted me and helped me create an image of Reece during the nights we had to leave him and travel to Hamilton. She told me that Jesus is sitting by Reece's side and comforting him in his isolete. He's holding him for me and kissing him and loving him even more than I can ever fathom. I know when you leave Max and Wes Jesus is holding them too. He's the one holding their hands comforting them and loving them and kissing them and caring for them. They are His just as you are His and He loves them very much. May peace be with you in the days and drives ahead.
    -Sue Nykamp

  9. I am so happy for the news of the USG results! At least there was a little bit to prepare for. I wll continue to pray for all of you! God is GOOD!!

  10. Mark and Kate, what a great answer to prayer about Kate's recovery and the brain ultrasounds, and we will pray that the treatments close the heart valves. How wonderfully blessed you are with the way people have shown their love! You have truly 'praised him in the storm' which is a very difficult thing for many to do, but you both do it beautifully. Thank you for sharing everything; your worries, emotions, prayer requests, praises, funny stories and most of all your strong faith. You are an inspiration to us all!

  11. I am continuing to pray for you and your boys day and night. I look forward to reading your blog every morning. Your faith has been such an inspiration to me. I hope you are keeping copies of these blogs to show your boys someday. What a way to show them how much you love them, even before they were born! I will keep praying for encouraging news in the weeks to come for Max and Wes.