1 in 10,000

HeartStatistics are one of those things that we talk about a lot in our flat. Almost always these numbers are in conjunction with some health challenge, and my pediatrician husband frequently has the same general statement: 99% chance that this is nothing, BUT if you are the 1%…well, it’s now 100%.

Our daughter Jeanne and her husband Kolya are expecting their third child — our first granddaughter — in early February. They have two young active boys (ages 3 and 18 months-ish) and are more than thrilled to be welcoming a little girl into the family. Already they are discussing names and dreaming about how life will look with three little ones in the home.

Last week Jeanne received a call ten days after a routine ultrasound and she was told to travel to Annapolis (from Salisbury on the Eastern Shore of Maryland) for another sonogram. It seems that the baby was so active and uncooperative (shy?) that they could not get a clear picture of the heart for routine measurements. No big deal. She and Kolya made the drive on Friday leaving at 7 a.m. for the 9:00 appointment. How do you say thank you to a friend who will take all day with your grandchildren so that the parents could go to the center without the distractions of the boys?

Well, once there the staff seemed quite surprised that no one had prepared Jeanne and Kolya about the seriousness of the baby’s condition. What? Are you serious?

It turns out that precious Baby Girl has pulmonary atresia, a condition that affects 1 in 10,000. Pretty good odds. Unless you’re the 1…see what I mean? For those interested, you can read more about this congenital heart defect on this site from Boston Children’s Hospital.

Turns out this little one will most likely be facing three separate heart operations by the time she turns 4 years old, beginning with one within the first days or hours. The birth will now take place at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore…over 100 miles from home sweet home. We are so thankful for the team that is forming to be ready to treat her immediately, as needed.

For my praying readers, would you be so kind as to lift this dear family up in prayer as the Lord brings them to mind? Would you pray that this little heart will not deteriorate further between now and delivery? Would you pray that the medical team will seamlessly work together to bring about the best results possible? Would you pray for safety on the roads as Jeanne and Kolya make multiple trips for continuing evaluation of Baby Girl? Would you pray that Jeanne and Kolya will know without a doubt that God has this under control, that He is not at all surprised by this, and that He has hand-picked them to be the perfect parents for this little one? May the Lord pour out His grace on them during this time of waiting.

I would love to hear from any of you that have experience with open-heart surgeries in newborns!

May God be glorified through all that takes place. He is good.


Kyiv to Frankfurt to Philadelphia to Salisbury to Delmar

So, have you missed me?

Just kidding.

We were so busy before finally heading to the States that I just couldn’t get pictures onto the computer and blog posts written. I have some GREAT pictures that I will post of some moments before we left, but have finally found a few minutes to actually post about our time here so far.

How much could have happened in just a weekend, you ask? You’d be surprised.

We left Kyiv in the wee hours of Saturday as the city was trying to warm out of a deep freeze. Our dear friend Cara offered to pick us up at 3:00 a.m. and get us to the airport. (Is that a good friend or what?!) The roads had been clear and no more snow had fallen, so what could go wrong, eh?

Well, to start with, we weren’t exactly ready to go when she arrived. Packing and creating space in drawers for house guests while we’re gone…and cleaning so they wouldn’t turn around and leave…took longer than expected. I must say I wasted a bit of time trying to check in online … FINALLY made it happen, but without time to print the boarding pass. Ugh.

So, anyway, Cara is behind the wheel and we notice that the roads are getting a bit slippery. That is, when we could even SEE the roads. Fog completely engulfed us several times and we wondered whether we had missed exits, etc. Didn’t help when the main road we were on was totally closed to traffic. No warning. Just barricaded. We turned around and Cara set out on a back-road plan to get to the airport. But again, we couldn’t see any landmarks along the way to know whether we were still even going the right direction. A bit scary, but Cara did a SUPERB job of navigating. We went to check-in — normally an obnoxiously long process in Kyiv — and we waited only a few minutes before someone pleasantly checked us in, weighed our bags, and sent us on our way upstairs. Once upstairs, we again had a minimal wait at security and also at passport control. Quite possibly the easiest departure we’ve ever had.

Flew to Frankfurt, switched planes and headed to Philly. Again, no problems. Managed to stay awake to watch a couple of movies — gotta love Footloose (the original) with Kenny Loggins singing the theme song. I was trying not to dance out of my seat — I taught many an aerobics routine to that soundtrack! Fun.

Time to grab a bite to eat in the Philly airport before flying the last leg to Salisbury, Maryland. How sweet to have Jeanne, Kolya AND Milan waiting for us. Unfortunately our little guy eventually woke up and wasn’t interested in sleep when we got to his house. Jim and I both went to bed before Milan. (Sorry, Jeanne and Kolya. Just couldn’t stay awake another minute!)

The next morning I was up early and thought I might as well get my shower over with before everyone else was up. Five of us needed to be ready for church by 9:15. When I entered the guest bathroom, I just grinned…yeppers! We really WERE at their home — not just a dream!! (Thanks, Aunt Biz, for making bath time such fun!)

Milan and his daddy skyped with relatives in Ukraine before we all headed to church. A very special service and a wonderful afternoon followed. But that’s going to have to be another post…

First metro ride

I love this picture of this sweet family’s first metro ride. I think that Milan can adjust to new things as long as his daddy’s arms are holding him! What comfort. (Makes me remember to trust my own Heavenly Father’s strong arms supporting me when I venture into new areas…)

Today the clan is returning from western Ukraine to Kyiv to begin the last minute shopping, packing, visiting that will take place before their early departure on Thursday. I am looking forward to hearing about Milan’s adventures with his other grandmother and multiple aunts, uncles and cousins.

Please pray for them as they travel back today. For the trip out, Kolya’s brother drove them. Today they are using public transport — small buses (one transfer) for this 5+ hour journey. Milan isn’t a big fan of being held all day, so the small bus could present some challenges, to say the least. And the buses can become quite stuffy…even sometimes a bit chilly…so praying for a comfortable temperature. Otherwise, off will come Milan’s pants so he’s not overheated…followed, most assuredly, by passengers trying to keep him bundled! Folks here have no problem expressing their views on how you care for your child!

Sleep, Milan. Grammy will stay up with you tonight, as needed.

Name that tune

A musical interlude during Milan’s visit with his great-grandmother. He rather likes the baby grand piano, and didn’t even need to watch his fingers. Any requests?

I understand that there is a video of these two playing a duet — can’t wait to see it!

Looking forward to seeing both of these characters at the end of the summer.

(Safe travels on the return to Maryland, Kotiash family!)

Road trip

I love that Jeanne, Kolya, and 8-month-old Milan have just made their second 12-hour road trip to visit his great-grandma in Ohio. And I love that friends will take that sweet little family in and make them feel right at home.

And I love that skype works across the miles and I get to see everyone, too. Just a teensy bit envious that they’re all together, but thankful that I can observe.

The little munchkin adjusts so well…happy, sleeping appropriately, investigating his new surroundings.

Love, love, love.

Obolon green

I ran across this picture a few weeks back — taken a few years ago — and have just been waiting for St. Patrick’s Day to post it.

Kolya’s first-ever experience with green beer. It might well have been his last, but I can’t say for sure.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Can it really be the third?

So hard to believe that Kolya and Jeanne have been married for three years! Today is their first wedding anniversary as parents! (What a difference a few years make)

For some reason I cannot get the computer to upload the pictures that I wanted to put on this post, so I am going to change my plans and simply post links to each “January 12” post over the last three years!

So, to hear about the actual activities leading up the wedding, be sure to click this link. A couple shots of the bride and groom were posted the following day. See those here.

First anniversary post here. And second anniversary post here.

Love this couple so much…and so excited to see how God is working in their lives.

Hugs to you both.

A nearly perfect Friday

Such a great day today.

It started off with fresh-brewed coffee and devotions with my sweet husband. Our usual morning. Among other things, we’re reading through the Bible out-loud together this year. We’re both noticing little bits and pieces that we’ve missed by reading it silently… I love the mornings.

Anna sent a message reminding us of her wisdom tooth surgery scheduled for today. All went well and she has absolutely no swelling. I believe she said that if the tooth fairy doesn’t come tonight she will post pictures of the three teeth tomorrow. (Come on, tooth fairy! Spare us the pictures!)

Then later in the day, Ira Kostyuchenko came by for a quick visit. I can’t believe that it’s been a year since I’ve seen her — she used to be a regular visitor here and also sang in the church praise group. Funny how getting married and having a child can change-up a schedule. Now her little family of three is preparing to move to Phoenix…in less than a week. If she comes to mind, I’m sure she’d appreciate prayers for the trip, for the transition, and for her mom who lives here in Ukraine. It will probably be three years before they will be allowed to travel.

Then I met Caitlin and Mandie and we made our way to the infectious diseases section of one of the children’s hospitals to pay a visit to any orphans or abandoned babies. These little ones are born to HIV+ mothers. Mothers have the option to take their babies home or to leave them at the hospital. If left, these little ones come to “my” room. The precious one-week-old baby girl had long dark hair and was already seeming to be aware of her surroundings. I fed her from a small bottle and then we three visitors rotated holding her. And stroking her little face and long fingers. And kissing her forehead. Snuggling her. And simply loving her. I am so thankful for Olga and Kristoslava who spend six days a week in this room loving on these children.

I returned home to find Jim talking via skype to a colleague in Holland. As I prepared dinner I could tell that this call was encouraging as well as challenging. It’s great to hear two godly men discussing issues of the heart as well as issues of medicine.

And then we received a skype message that Jeanne and Kolya had heard a little heartbeat for the first time this morning. There’s no describing that!

Ahhh. What a glorious day!


“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.” Proverbs 17:6

“’As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord. ‘My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 59:21

Wow, those verses take on a whole new significance after receiving news that there will soon be another generation in our very own family.

The gift of life

We are thrilled that Kolya and Jeanne are expecting a child of the covenant this fall. What a blessing to claim His promises!

[I had to create new tags today: grandparents and grandchildren :o]

Two years later

Happy 2nd anniversary, Kolya and Jeanne.

Love you both bunches.