Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Plus many, Minus one

Greetings to all! Well, the Cantrell's arrived home today, not quite how we expected. The journey that we had mapped out did not exactly turn out the way that we had planned. We never thought that thousands and thousands of people from around the world would come to know our family and the journey of our precious Cate so intimately.

This past Monday as I drove to the hospital for another of Baby Cate's procedure I was praying as hard as I could, I was begging Jesus to fix Cate's heart, and I quietly heard the words, "Not today, I am not finished my work." I knew that it was God, there are few times in my life that I have audibly in my heart heard the voice of God, but over the past two weeks I feel like he spoke to me everyday, most of the time I didn't want to hear it, but it was the truth, again, just another little props to Baby Cate, she made God talk to her Dad ALOT! That afternoon after they finished the procedure Dr. Salazar came and met with us, he informed us that her little body was beginning the process of shutting down, her lungs were filled with fluid, she was starting to have a bacterial infection in her kidneys, and indeed her heart was not going to be able to recover from the surgery, due to the complex anatomy of her heart. A lot of tears and snot ensued, and then Ali and I went to Baby Cate's room and knelt by her bed and we prayed. We prayed in thanksgiving for the wonderful and joy-filled seven months that we had with Cate. In her prayer, Ali thanked God for the opportunity to have Cate as long as we did, because, if you have followed us all along or gone back to the beginning of this blog, Cate was not supposed to make it past five months in utero. We called my parents who were watching our kids, and had them bring the kids that night to Houston. We brought them into the hospital waiting room, and with the help of a wonderful, faith-filled child life specialist we began to talk to them about Cate, about her sickness, and about everyone’s feelings, and then we had them make cards for Cate. After they headed back to the hotel for the night, and Ali and I stayed at the hospital. The nurses moved Baby Cate over to one side of the bed so Ali could lay on the bed with her, and of course she did! She lay there with her all night long, and I sat in the rocker on the side of Cate's bed and kept vigil, enjoying the last night of my little girl's earthly life. It was about 3 or 4am that I was woken up by the sound of a voice saying, “She is already gone,” I looked at the monitors and they were still going, I was like, no she is not. And I closed my eyes and went vigil-ing again. We got moving around 6am and it was like all we could do was to keep looking at the clock, because 8am we were storming the beaches and it was going to be either, make it or break it. Before we walked out of the room around eight and we prayed again and I told Ali, what I had heard earlier in the morning and she said that she had in fact heard the same thing throughout the night. They made one more attempt to ween her off of her machine, but nothing in her little body was working right. They called us in, and told us the news, we cried, we felt let down in our miracle. The gentle nurses, dressed Cate in her hospital gown, and covered her with her own yellow blanket. They were able to remove as many monitors and IV tubes as they could. She looked beautiful and peaceful. We then began circling family through Baby Cate's room to say their good byes. After the family was done, we brought, Ella and Dude into Cate’s room. We wanted them to see that Cate was sick, and that she didn't just leave with mommy and daddy one day and then they not come back home with her. We wanted them to know that Cate was very sick and that she was not going to get better. Dude, sat her on bed and rubbed her hair and kissed her forehead over and over. Ella cried, she cried hard, and she took it a lot harder than I expected, but it was part of the journey that they are being forced to walk down. After the “big kids” kissed her, gave her the cards they made for her, and said their good byes. They left with the child life specialist and our family, they went and played and Ali and I stayed in the room. We talked to Cate, kissed her, and then around 12:20pm they began taking all the tubes out so Ali could hold her. The last thing they did was to turn off the Ecmo machine and the Ventilator, she never took a single breath on her own, because as God had told us, she was already gone, which was such a comforting feeling. They wrapped her in her blanket and gave her to Ali. We just sat, quiet, no beeping, no hum of the Ecmo, no ventilator, just quiet. We cried and we talked, but we knew she wasn't there anymore, that kid was already causing a ruckus in heaven. After a long while, we laid her on the bed in her yellow blanket, and we went down to get our other two kids and we left the hospital to get some lunch at McDonald's, cause he let us stay in his house for almost two weeks, gotta support the team right? We took the kids to the Zoo that afternoon, we just wanted to spend time with them. You know, we always have enjoyed our children, we make it a priority of our family, but with Cate's passing, there is even a more renewed sense of the day to day. To literally slow down, to listen when they talk, to play paper dolls, and to shoot spider man webs all over the room. And so that is what we did, we enjoyed the beautiful gift that God has given to us, what we call our family.

When Ali and I reflect on Cate’s life, we agree that it was an AWESOME seven months, Ali and I do not regret one single thing. We treated Cate, just like our other two children, with a LOT of love, a LOT of fun, and a lot of "tough-it-out" kid attitude, and she did. For a child being born with such a serious heart defect, we did not spend much time at ALL in Doctor's offices or hospitals. Cate's progress surpassed our expectation.

I told Ali, that I was not sad for Cate, that she was going home, to the place that we all long for, a place where there is nothing to "need" because we are completely and totally satisfied in our loving God. That she would NEVER have to experience the wages of sin, the shame that often comes with it, or the guilt that so many of us drag around our WHOLE lives. That she would leave this world, HOLY, PURE, and PERFECT, the worst thing Baby Cate probably ever did was poop out of the back of her diaper, and last time I checked that wasn't on the ten commandments. I wasn't in any anyway sad for her, I was sad for us, for Ali and I, who would from this time on have a hole in our hearts that was taken out when little Cate left this earth. I was sad for her brother and sister, who at such a young age would have to experience, sickness, dying, death, and the grieving process, (which is hard enough for most of us, "Grown UPS" and I use that word lightly because I know some of the people reading this blog:).

There are a few things that we have learned through this process that I wanted to share with you all. First, God can use ANYONE to reach out to the world, literally, the WORLD! Our little girl lay on her deathbed, almost lifeless and she still united the world in prayer, Ali and I are so humbled to be her parents, and we proudly stand in her shadow. We have learned that hope is not based on a certain outcome. That hope is what gets us through everything. Just because the prayers of many were not answer in the particular way, that we thought they should be, doesn't mean that WE, all of us, should give up HOPE. My hope is that we will be better people, that we will be better evangelist and allow God to minister through us to get His message out. My Hope is that my wife and I will be a better husband and wife because of Cate, that we will better love each other and continue to honor and support each other. I hope that we are better parents; soaking up lavishly the love, the beauty, and the joy in situations that God continues to reveal Himself in through our kids. WE, my family and I, are HOPE FILLED! We are not letting up on our faith in God, in our prayer, or in our hope, because if we do Cate's life was in vain! And I can't let that happen, and I ask all of you who have come back into relationship with God or allowed God to renew your relationship, to not let this shake you, this is life! God DID NOT GIVE CATE THIS HEART CONDITION, He DID NOT GIVE CATE TO ALI AND I BECAUSE WE ARE RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE, nor did He give us Cate because HE THOUGHT WE COULD HANDLE IT. This world is imperfect, it has been since the fall of mankind and we are still living with the consequences. The consequence of sin is death, everyone dies, all at different times. What matters is what we make of this life. God can allow good to come from any situation. Look at Cate, a little seven month old girl laying on a bed DYING, and people are RUNNING back to their faith, is that not Good being made of a very difficult situation. Ali and I are honored that we got to be a part of that Good, we are proud that we got to watch the mighty works of God through our daughter, so if you give up, then Cate's journey was in vain, don't give up because WE, her family, are not, we are HOPE FILLED and plan on remaining that way for a very long time.

If you would have told me two weeks ago that there would be over 50,000 hits on Baby Cate's Blog in less than 4 days I would have laughed so hard, but God did a mighty work, Wow, praise to you Lord Jesus Christ! This Blog isn't ending, the Cantrell's plan on continuing to share their Journey, through the grief and the laughter, through our trials and victories, as we continue to press into the heart of God with all of you… if you want to stay tuned it will be quite a ride.

We will continue celebrating Catherine "Baby Cate" Francis Cantrell's life in the next couple of days, Friday, June 27th, will be the Wake from 10:00am to 10:00pm at Martin & Castille Funeral Home on St. Landry St. in Lafayette, LA and the Funeral Mass will be on Saturday June 28th at 11:00am at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rayne, La, we would love for you to come celebrate Baby Cate with us.

We love you all so much and thank you for journeying with us, and running this marathon. The race is over, and Cate was victorious. We all win that way. We do ask that you remain, Hope Filled, with us as we stand together, plus many, minus one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hope Filled

Blog coming soon. Stay with us. We love you.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Mother's Love

The heart of Cate: June 23, 2008, 8:26 am
To those who battle & to those hope,
I must begin by first addressing that by my calling I am a wife, and a mother, but a teacher by trade. So, with that being said, it is no surprise to many that my “bedtime reading” with Cate (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) comes with a character analysis. Hang with me here… in Narnia; there is a deep magic that goes back to the dawn of time…

In Chapter 10, Father Christmas arrives bearing gifts for the children. For Peter (a.k.a. Charlie), Son of Adam, he presents tools not toys. He said, “…the time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well.” With these words he handed Peter a shield and a sword. For Lucy (Baby Cate), Eve’s Daughter, Father Christmas gave her a little bottle that looked like glass and a small dagger. “In this bottle,” he said, “there is a cordial made of the juice of one of the fire flowers that grow in the mountains of the sun. If you or any of your friends are hurt, a few drops of this will restore them. And the dagger is only to defend yourself in great need.”

“…Peter did not feel brave, indeed he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do. He rushed right up to the monster and aimed slash of his sword in his side…and Peter’s tired army cheered and the newcomers roared, and the enemy squealed…then they found Edmund, he was covered with blood, …and then almost for the first time Lucy remembered the precious cordial. Her hands trembled, and she looked eagerly and wondered if the cordial would have any results. When at last…she found him standing on his feet and not only healed of his wounds but looking better than she had seen him look….”

And there you have it…Charlie, our Peter, stands guarding and protecting our family and our hearts, his shield and sword are ready to face the battles and defend us all. We know his strength through the Lord will prevail, no matter what befalls us. And then Cate, our Lucy, is the one who really saves the story. She is the one that is restoring all of us. Her little life is restoring us in our faith and in our hope in the Lord. Her dagger is ready when the greatest need emerges.

And so, to steal a few lines (and paraphrase them ‘cause I like it better this way…no offense St. Paul) from Ephesians…We, as a family, have put on the full armor of God. We are rooted in our Lord’s faithfulness, and we stand firm with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. We have each taken up our shields of faith and our swords (or daggers) of the spirit. We remain steadfast in his truth and vigilant in our hope.

The day has already begun for Cate, she begins her daily exams at 4:00 am, and her doctors have already started their rounds. We, also begin our day praying for her, waiting for her, and waiting on good news.

In the midst of waiting come the struggles of the anger, frustration, and true sadness, yet there is still joy and goodness to be found. She does continue to improve slightly some days, and we continue to be encouraged by those moments of progress. I couldn’t help but rest my head on her bedside a few days ago after her mornings procedure and sob uncontrollably, I miss holding her and rocking her to sleep, and what I wouldn’t give to have her cry at three in the morning and stumble downstairs for a bottle. Again, I take comfort that she can hear us, early a few mornings ago, before Charlie had arrived, I went to her room and as I began to whisper to her she opened her eyes and looked at me, I cried instantly. I wept because there is a longing that comes from being a mom and in finally surrendering your children… blindly, with no guarantee of return.

Charlie and I do find support in other parents of heart patient children and we lean on each other in moments of “humanness.” A very cool eclectic mom gave me a rhinestone heart pin …oh yes, you heard me a pin, you know the kind that your first grade teacher wore with her denim jumpsuit, layered socks, and white canvas Keds…yeah that kind (no offense to any teacher, I too, have worn my share of the cheesy “teacher gifts”)! But you know the beauty of the pin was that it spoke of the common bond of our children, and that we are all in this together. God really is good…even if he does show up through red rhinestones.

Thanks for remaining with us, for praying with us, and for battling with us. Now…You boys go get your swords…we girls will get our daggers (and our rhinestones), and we will meet you at the battle lines and march onward to the prize!

my love to you all, Ali

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You know How I Feel

Greetings to all! Thank you all for you of your thoughts and prayers, Ali and I continue to lean into them, sometime in minutes, hours, morning, afternoon, nights or whole days we lean into them harder. I am back at the hotel for the night, my mind is mentally exhausted and my body is struggling this evening. I type this message as a group of people gather in the center of our hometown of Rayne, Louisiana to pray for our family as we walk this unknown path. If you went tonight to the rosary or prayed a rosary at home, at school, in your car, on a plane, train, a bus, well you get the picutre, We thank you and I know for me I am leaning HARD into them tonight! I truly feel like Ali and I make a good team, beacause whenever she is falling apart I have the strength and whenever I am falling apart, she sends me back to the hotel, wait a minute! Totally kidding, God, really seems to balance us out in terms of breakdowns and strong moments. Again last night we had an unexpected visitor, another disciple, showed up, RANDOMLY! We were sitting in the section of the waiting room that we always sit and I saw a gentleman and a young lady walk in, they kinda meandered around and then left. I found it a little odd, the ICU waiting room is not typically somewhere where people just kinda stumble in and then leave. A while later the "Black Phone" rang, I walked over, answered it, and the receptionist said, Mr. Cantrell, there is a man here who would like to go upstairs and pray with Cate, I said, I don't think so, hold him RIGHT THERE, I'll be there in a minute. I walked toward the front desk and saw a man sitting on the couch, he stood up and said, Mr. Cantrell? I said Yes, He introduced himself and we sat down. He began to tell me the story of how he had gotten there that night. A gentleman from Louisiana had called him, and told him that he had to go check this Blog out online, that there was this Baby girl that really needed prayer. So, the man told his friend who had called, let's pray right now, so they prayed then. Well, yesterday morning, the man from Louisiana called again, asking if this guy had gotten a chance to go online and look at the blog, to which the gentleman replied, no my internet is still down. He said, then then Holy Spirit told him that he need to go and pray with this little girl or her family. So, he found out that we were at Texas Children's, got in his car and drove all the way from Victoria, TX, which is two hours from Houston! He did not have our last name, what floor cate was on, he just drove. He made his way to the waiting room we were in somehow and then receptionist wouldn't give him any information, so he made is way up to the ICU and sat outside the doors and prayed for Cate, and prayed, for while. Then he came back to the receptionist told her his story and that is when she called me. I told him that we could not go up to Cate's room because her chest was still open and we were only letting grandparents and Ali's sisters in there for sanitary reasons, but I said you can pray with me. So, we bowed our heads and we prayed together, He prayed, I prayed, we said AMEN. He then got up gave me a hug and his card with his contact information, and left to go back to Victoria. Amazing how God works!!! Yesterdya afternoon I decided to put a counter on Cate's blog, because Ali and I have been very overwhelmed by the amount of comments and emails we were getting from all over the country and around the world. So, at about 4:00pm yesterday I put a counter, that counts how many times this page is viewed, as of 9:00pm tonight there was over 8,000 hits on this blog, UNBELIEVABLE! I told Baby Cate about all of you all this afternoon, she was SPEECHLESS, literally. Two, funny stories for yall, There has been a couple that we have seen around the waiting room for the past few days, there little boy just had his second heart surgery and still has to have one more. Ali got to talking with the Mom last night and mentioned that we had a blog, the mom said, "Baby Cate's, I know I have been reading it, everyday" and then Cate had a new medical personel in her room tonight that we hadn't met before, I said, Hi, my name is Charlie, I'm Cate's dad, He said, Hi, my name is so and so, I have been reading your blog. I was like WHAT! I mean I didn't say that out loud, but I was like here are two people in twenty-four hours that I have NEVER laid eyes on in my life, that are reading my daughters Blog. Cate's reach, her heart, and what she is doing for the power of God are unbelievable, I am so proud to be her daddy, my little evangelist! Ok, this is what i want to leave you with tonight to pray for us. First, i want you to pray for Baby Cate, that her lungs dry out, that her valve stop leaking, and that whatever bacteria has developed in her kidneys just be due to the cathader(sp?). Also that if they do the operation tomorrow that it be SUCESSFUL, it would start around 8:00, I will let you know. Second, I ask that you pray for Ali and I, this afternoon, I will be real honest, after I heard that she had bacteria growing in her kidneys, I felt like I got kicked in the chest, actually, you know what it felt like? Do you remember your first love? Do you remember what it felt like when that person dumped you, well, maybe some of you cool people out there never got dumped, I was chubby in high school, and that hasn't changed much, and had a really bad hair cut, so I experienced these feelings first hand. So, let me put it to you another way if you haven't every been dumped, Do you remember the first time you got your heart broken? There was that pain in your chest, that physical hurt! I felt like tonight, like my heart was breaking physically. I sat in the Target parking lot with Ali, and cried, I told her that, I can't imagine going home without Cate. But, I am am tired of hoping, I didn't say I was hopeless or that I am giving up hope, I said I am tired of hoping. This morning friends of ours brought us communion at the hospital. I asked if they had brought there magnificat book with them, figuring they had, knowing the "good catholics" they were. They had, so I asked if we could read the readings and pray before receiving communion. There was a little meditation in the book after the reading and it was entitled, "Do Not Be Afraid" and this was the last paragraph of the meditation:

It seems to me this is what courage of faith is: it comes from the Lord himself, when we welcome his Word and his sacraments as our light and our truth. It is at the same time audacious and humble, wholly concrete in its works and spiritual in its source, profoundly human, sensible and sweet, and yet resistant and hard as rock.

Lord, BE Ali and I's hope, We seek your sacraments often and have even kicked it up a notch because we feel like we need them even more right now. We are audacious enough to beg you to spare our daughter's life and if necessary to change Your mind if we have to, but we are humble enough to accept whatever befalls us with grace and hope. We have seen hope concrete in the friends who are dedicated to prayer and the random strangers who have showed up to pray with us. We have also seen hope spiritually, where you have spoken to the quiet of our hearts and made us aware of the spiritual battle that rages on. It is as sensible and sweet as our little girl who lay in that bed, waiting on Your healing. And it is resistant and hard as rock and the determination of her Mama and Daddy and the meriad of people who stand with us in your hope for your immediate healing of our Baby Cate.
We love you Lord, BE OUR HOPE! Amen

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bring Out the Big Guns

Greetings to all. Today was a day of rest for our little family. They left Baby Cate alone all day, well, I say they left her alone, I mean they did not try any operations. They are constantly working her 24 hours a days for the past eight days. Dr. Salazar, her Surgeon, came by today to check in on her. The plan was to try again to ween her off the machine again tomorrow, but he said her lungs still look pretty bad and that her valve needs to stop leaking. He said he can't do anything until her lungs get better, he said he can possibly work on that valve if necessary, but the lungs are going to be up to Cate, with a little help from the staff. He said that he is going to let her rest again tomorrow and to be honest that is fine with me, I don't know if Ali and I can take another stressful day of waiting on news and being let down if its not good, it is just a very difficult thing to go through. He also seemed different today in the way that he talked about Baby Cate being on the Ecmo machine, he said that he has known kids on the machine for up to 30 days, AGGGHHHHH! Doctors, you love them one minute and could squeeze them VERY hard the next minute. Everything else (besides her lungs) on Cate looks fine, her brain is good, well she is a Cantrell, so she does have superior intelligence and is extremely strong willed. Ali said today that we have pulled out the BIG GUNS and we have a "small" altar growning at the head of Baby Cate's bed. It now contains First Class relics of Blessed Seelos and St. Therese (thanks Missy), it also has a really pretty crucifix that one of our couple friends gave us for Cate. I got word today that news of Baby Cate has reached Rome, the Mother Superior of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sorrows was called by one of this sisters that we know. Mother Superior said that she would spread the word and told the sister to get a First Class relic of their Foundress Blessed Elisabetta Renzi and to send it to us, it will be arriving tomorrow, and so the altar grows! Dr. Salazar said he would recommend St. Rose of Lima, that's his personal favorite, I don't know anyone who has a relic of her, so if anyone out there wants to add to Baby Cate's reliquary (just let me know:) My goal is to get is all the way to the top, THE POPE! Ali continues to decorate her room. She has now started take quotes from your comments and putting them on scrapbooking paper and putting them around Baby Cate's room. Becca, Ali's youngest sister, brought Cate a pearl braclet and the nurse put it on Baby Cate last night, so Cate is stylin in the CVICU! Today, was a huge day of confirmations on the spirtual attack that was occuring. It was happening throughout our spiritual family, and I got so many comments and emails about it, so we must remain vigilant and aware of the attacks on our hope and pray strongly against it. Baby Cate is a very strong force for the Kingdom of God at the ripe old age of 7 months. I got an email today from someone who said they had not been to church in a few years except on certain occasions to keep their family happy and because of Baby Cate's journey, went to Church last Sunday and is anxious to go again this Sunday. We also had a comment on the blog from someone who had never prayed and they have started because of Cate, and just so you know whoever you are, your doing it right!!! and that they would be going to church for the first time this weekend. Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever for Baby Cate, she is bring us to our knees and to the love of the Father. I say this because I want to reaffirm the fact she is a powerful force for God and therefore her little life will be under attack, so continue to pray for her protections and healing. Also, the prayer request for tonight, please pray that Baby Cate's lungs dry out SOON and that her valve stops leaking. Thank you for continuing to run this race with us. We love you all.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Greetings to all! First and foremost I want to thank each one of you for you dedicatedness to this blog, to our family, to prayer, and to our loving God! Before I can go into what I have to say tonight I need to give you a little background because there are many of you who do not know me and my wife personally or our spirituality. My wife and I believe that the God of all creation reigns in each of our hearts and that if we are to truly and I mean truly live, then we must live out of the freedom that can only be found through that God, who lives in each one of our hearts. Therefore, Ali and I have been on a journey into our hearts to find that God and that freedom for the past few years, and it has been a ride, one that I am glad we have taken and one that we still walk. Now, with that being said, if we believe in God, then we must acknowledge that there is a force that is fighting against that God, and therefore fighting against us in our journey to find that God and our freedom. Ali and I believe that in the life there is spiritual realm that we do not see, but plays an active role in our day to day lives. This may sound strange to you or it may not be part of you spirituality, but it is part of ours and I want to show you, in the unfolding of todays events how an assault can happen and did happen. Actually, let me back up to yesterday, Ali shared with me yesterday, that she did not think it was any coincidence that it was Baby Cate's heart that was not working well. She said, "Charlie, you and I strive to live out of our hearts, to listen to what God is saying in our hearts and to follow that and lead our family from that. It's not her kidneys, its not her lungs, NO, its her HEART." I said, wow, I had never really thought about that. As we got to the hospital this morning, there was a different feel in the air, don't get me wrong, its been a week now, and its been a long week, but up until today we had pretty much been a united front. Ali went and laid down to get some rest and my in-laws showed up as they do every morning, but there was something different about them this morning. I noticed that my mother-in-law cried more than she had in the days past. My father-in-law came up to me and said, "I sure am glad there are alot of people praying, cause I am done, I am pissed off Charlie," too which I understood and felt very similar. As the day progressed and news got worse, I began to see things falling apart. My mother-in-law and I had what you would call a bit of an exchange of words, not really so much an exchange, more me unleashing pure fury on her, my wife and I lossing it at our Baby Cate's beside to the point that my eyes hurt, alot of blank stares all around. I found myself praying that God just take Cate, I asked the Perfusionist if her organs could be used for someone else, I think there was a part in all of us, who threw the towel in, and as I sat in the waiting room I heard the words, "you can't maintain this hope, this is ridiculous, she is going to die," spoken in my heart. Ali, finally went back to the Hotel to shower and have some alone time. I went outside the hospital and just walked and prayed asking God, "what happened today?" And I heard the words, "you were attacked," to which I responded, "ok, I know how to handle this," and I began to pray, I prayed against any evil spirits there were at work in our hearts to steal our hope, I prayed that Christ send down a legion of Angels to surround my wife and defend her heart and that He send down another legion to surround my daughter's bed and fight for her life." I continued praying and thinking and realized, YES YES, there is an attack on us, LOOK AT THIS BLOG PEOPLE, go back and read comments, there are so many comments that are from different people who say they are coming back to Jesus, through this situation. Baby Cate is bringing people to CHRIST!!!! She is uniting a small, but not really that small nation, under the banner of God, and that does not make, the opposing team happy, I don't name him, cause he is not worth the text. Of, course there would be an assault on her life and her family. If we give up hope in her and her recovery then WHO HAS IT!!!! I got back upstairs to the waiting room and there was a large envelope on my computer. It was filled with T-Shirts that a family in Crowley, I believe, had screen printed. On the front it says, Baby Cate's Team and on the back it has the scripture verse "For in Him our hearts have joy; in His holy name is our hope." Psalm 33:21. I pulled my shirt off in the waiting room and put this shirt on. I thought you know what if I give up, if I give in, then I give over the power, and to HELL with that, literally! I am her dad, and I will fight for her to the end, I am going to be her biggest defender and cheerleader. So, I marched into her room, I sat and I talked and laughed with the nurses, we told funny stories, because I wanted her to know that her dad was there, he was by her side and he had HOPE! I got word that Ali was waiting outside the ICU because I had been inviting our family in one by one to talk to Cate and sit and laugh and to enjoy hope. I walked out of the doors and Ali was sitting there, we chatted for a minute and she said, "I feel like I was robbed of hope today" I had not told her any of what I had experienced earlier in the day, THERE WAS THE CONFIRMATION, that what I had prayed against was true! And she said I feel different tonight, I feel like my hope is returning. THE POWER OF A HUSBAND AND FATHER is so important and that has been proved to me over and over in my marriage and in my fatherhood. So, I told her what had happened when I had prayed early in the day and that I felt like I needed to pray against, the opposing team, and that if we lose hope then he wins, and that aint happening under my watch. So, Ali went in to see Baby Cate and to bring joy and hope into that room and I went down and called a team meeting. I gathered our parents up, mine came today, they have been keep our other two crazy kids, and I told them what I felt had happened, that there was an assault on our hope and that we must reclaim it. No matter what happens to Baby Cate, we are a people of hope and NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY. Our reconvened under the same banner tonight, united in Hope and united in the Love of Christ. My prayer request is specific tonight, PRAY AGAINST THE HOPE STEALER!!!! This may not be something you do or have ever done, but I ask it on behalf of our family. And so I end this message of hope by praying; That we, all of us and all of you, come under the banner of Jesus Christ tonight, the hope of the world! We rebuke Satan and all his spirits who prowl the earth, seeking the ruin of souls. We come under the authority of Jesus Christ and the power of the Cross and break any bonds, chains, or agreements that we have made with the evil one. We command them to the foot of the cross where they shall receive judgment and be sent back to hell where they belong. We love you Jesus, you are hope!! And we lift baby Cate up to you tonight and we stand vigilant in that Hope. AMEN
Please pray for us!

Hands shaking

Its hard to type my hands are shaking so bad. Cate is still on the machine and we didn't even get a base hit today. The valve that brings blood back to Cate's heart is now leaking and her right lung has fluid in it. Its three steps back for sure and a kick to the gut, hard. The fact that Cate's lung has fluid in it takes her off the transplant list all together. Dr. Salazar said that everyone is telling him to not give up on her, he is not, they are not, and we are not either. He believes that Cate will tell us what she is going to do in the next few days, either she is going to come off the machine, or she won't. Ali and I were talking after the meeting and we feel like we now know what Mary must of felt like sitting at the foot of the cross. I now know what it feels like to be completely abandoned to, not by, but to God. We are not at the end of our rope, we can't even see the rope. We are remaining in Hope, we believe in our Girl and we believe in our God, and we know that no matter what we will stand as a family. Continue to pray...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In it to Win It

Warning Grammar probably stinks, I am exhausted so please bear with me.

That is the saying that our surgeon repeats often and right now that is what we are living by. Let's go on and get the day's news out of the way, Baby Cate is still on the machine, there were improvements, her "squeeze" or the pumping of her heart was better today than yesterday, but her volume of blood was not that great. The problem that still remains is the thickness of her septum wall, which is the wall of muscle in between the two ventricles is very thick, due to its thickness it still remains stiff from the surgery. The cardiologist, Dr. Dreyver, who was in the room today with our surgeon Dr. Salazar said that the stiffness is the last thing to work itself out. He is very hopeful that Cate can kick this on her own, which is very good news, and we are grateful for good news, I told Dr. Salazar as long as she is improving I want to continue with this course of action. The main concern is that she has been on Echmo for six full days now, and although Cate has been compliant for the most part it still is not good for her to be on a machine and so many medicines. They will try again tomorrow morning to ween her off the machine and I ask for hard core prayers, harder than ever before. The reason why I ask for a more intensified prayer is that the clock is starting to run out on us unfortunately. There is only so long that they are comfortable with a baby being on the Echmo machine due to the high risk of strokes, brain bleeds, and complications with her other major organs. Baby Cate's Surgeon and the Cardiologist that was in the room today are still optimistic that she can do this on her own, but the window is beginning to close, BUT THERE IS STILL TIME, and I told both of them that I believe in two things 1) my daughter, she is a Cantrell, so she is a bit stubborn and she will fight like hell before she throws in the towel and 2)I believe in a God who is bigger than all of us and bigger than any medical complication, so I know that He could literally just pass his hand over Baby Cate and she would be healed, to which they both agreed. Now, Ali and I have talked about this for the past couple of days and have decided its time to share it with all of you, our spiritual family. The cardiologist who was in Baby Cate's room this morning was Dr. Dreyver, he is the head of the Transplant Team at Texas Children's Hospital. He was there to take a look at Cate and her heart and to see what the likelyhood of her being a potential Transplant receipiant. We knew that the possibilty of this was coming and have just been pondering it in our hearts. We cannot wait until Cate's heart is not working anymore to start this process. The other issue is right now her brain is good, her lungs are good, her liver is good, her kidneys are good, if something goes wrong on the Echmo, the chances of her being a transplant recepient drop dramatically. So, we must start now, remember the hurricane analogy, well we are at home depot loading up on supplies. Now, with that being said Dr. Drevyer was very encouraged by what he saw Baby Cate's heart doing today and is not giving up on the fact that she may pull through this on her own. He said the best transplant there is today, is the one we never do. As parents, guardians, and decision makers for our sweet little girl we must start looking ahead in the event that her little heart just cannot function on its on. So we met with Dr. Drevyer for over an hour this afternoon, just learning all about heart transplants, what to expect and how drastically our life will be different if this is the road we must walk down. There are alot of issues that go with heart transplants, time of stay in Houston, family seperation, financial issues, rejection of the transplant heart, the possiblity of Cate's life being much shorter than the average kids, things that we never thought we would be facing, but we must, and we are, with hope. I do not want to go into all that transplants entail right now, because honestly we are focused on tomorrow, we are focused on praying for Baby Cate and that she has a full recovery and never has to endure all that comes with a transplant. The reason Ali and I felt like we needed to go to share this with all of you is that if this situation comes to be, I want you praying NOW for a new heart to be made available quickly and a good heart too, not a mean angry heart. If we must cross that bridge I will share more at that time, but for now Ali and I want to concentrate our prayers and attention on the next seventy-two hours, that is what we need. I know that all of you have been faithful to us and to our family and I ask that once again you kick it up a notch, we are now down to the wire and I believe that we can and will be faithful to the call that God has so so deeply place in so many peoples hearts to pray unceasingly for our Baby Cate. Let's make sure that Cate doesn't have to have a transplant, we believe in the God of Hope and Faitfulness and we stand firm in that belief and ask that you stand with us. The operation to ween her off should begin around 8:00am tomorrow morning and will be a couple of hours. As soon as I know something I will let you know. We love you guys very much!

Family Request

Greetings, We do not mean for this to sound rude to anyone who has come by to visit and offer support, but right now Ali and I are asking for no visitors at the hospital. We have just had very dramatic news given to us over the past few days, and all the energy that we can muster is dedicated to Cate, each other, and making decisions that will effect our family. We ask that you please honor our request at this time. Thank you so much. I will be writing a blog later this afternoon after we have received and processed some more information from the Doctors and Surgeons. It is very important and we will need your prayers to strongly continue.

Pray Hard

Greetings from the TCH 17th Floor waiting room, its 6:22am I am sitting watching a huge sun rise of the city of Houston. Everyone elses life if beginning out there, there are more cars on the streets and more horns honking. It feels like everyone elses life is going on as normal and ours hangs in the balance. I don't have many words this morning I really just wanted to ask you to pray. I am sure you get tired of hearing me say that, but we are running out of chances. I woke up this morning saying, This is the Day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad and that is my Declaration of Hope this morning. They are going to attempt again to ween her off the machine around 8:00am, this will be one of the last chances from what I can tell. Please brothers and sisters in Christ pray just a little harder. Know that Ali and I love you and as soon as I hear something I will let you know.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Big Sigh, but not of Relief

That's right, she is still on the machine, let's go on and get that out of the way. Now, with that said, Dr. Salazar said there were alot of improvements today. He said that he is very encourgaged by what he saw, but still does not feel that her heart is able to pump on its on and wants it to rest more. I believe that they are going to try again tomorrow morning, so we need to continue the rally, I have my rally cap on as I write this message, literally, I think the "new" people think I have lost my mind, but who cares, I am still rallying. It was a hard pill to swallow today, but our chins are still high and Dr. Salazar is hopeful. He said he has seen kids get better on the fifth day, seventh day, and even the eighth and so Ali and I stand knee deep in hope and we must wade out just a little farther. As they looked at Baby Cate's heart again today, everyone that has looked at it has said they have never seen anything like her heart before, that's comforting uh?? There have been numerous cardiologists and even the chief of surgery said they have never seen a heart quiet like Cate's. The average kid Baby Cate's size would have a heart the size of a plum, her heart is about the size of an orange due to the thickness of her muscle tissue that has built up over the past few months. This is part of the problem with her heart not pumping correctly, because it was in surgery for so long and not beating for so long, what they call "klamp" time the heart became very stiff. Dr. Salazar believes that with another day or two or three it could very well do the trick. Now, with that being said I have to once again call for some serious prayer and I mean serious. We had to have a hard talk with Dr. Salazar today. He, as the Surgeon must look beyond today or tomorrow. He informed us that they have to start looking at other options if Cate's heart does not recover. They cannont wait until day seven and then start preparing for these other options. The best analogy I can give is, and you Louisianians will probably better understand this. It's June, which means hurricane season is upon us. It's the time we start getting batteries, bottled water, gas for our generators, and canned good in case a hurricane hits, we may have a quiet season and not need any of those things, but we have to be prepared in the event that one would strike our area. Well, that is what is going on with Baby Cate right now, they are having to get other options and other teams lined up in case Baby Cate's heart does not recover. So, we are going to have start meeting with other Doctors and Surgeons to prepare for these possible events. These are options that no one wants, but options that we are forced to start considering and planning for. Please Please pray that Baby Cate's heart will kick back in and these plans will never have to be put into motion. If these events are put into motion we will, at that time, then begin to keep you all informed on the new procedures that we will be pursuing.
Now, my two God stories for the day. First, We were planning on attending Mass here in the hospital because they have it on Wednesdays at noon, but due to the length of Cate's operation today and meetings that followed we were unable to make it. We were a little dissappointed that we were unable to receive the Eucharist, especially today, but we were called into duty as parents so unable to attend Mass. Ali and I sat and had tearful conversations for a while after meeting with Dr. Salazar and then proceeded to go upstairs to see our precious Baby Cate. We rounded the corner heading to the elevator and we nearly ran into the Catholic Chaplian of the hospital Fr. Noble. He was shuffling some papers through his hands and asked, Are you the Cantrells? I immediately figured he wasn't with the IRS, that would be low, even for the IRS. We said yes we are, he told us that he had just come from praying with Baby Cate and asked us if we had a good support network, I kinda laughed to myself, thinking Father, if you only knew. We told him yes and that we had friends who had been bringing Communion to us. He told us that they had Mass on Wednesdays here in the hospital, we told him that we had all intentions of going, but due to consultations were unable to make it. He asked, Do you want to receieve Communion, Our eye's lit up, Ali and I both said in one voice, YES, he pulled the pyx out of his pocket and said, well, let's do this. Again, Jesus coming in the middle of the storm! The second run in with God, was after we went to see Baby Cate we were heading down to get some lunch in the Cafeteria. We got on the elevator and there was only one gentleman on it, which is odd, the elevators are usually full during the day. I stood looking at the buttons on the elevator because I couldn't figure out where we were going, so my lovely bride hit the button for me, to which I replied, I don't even know where I am going in life. The guy behind me looked at me and said, "Then you need to strike a match, light your candle and get back on the path, and if your on the path that everyone else is on, your on the wrong path." Ali and I both just stopped in our tracks looking at this guy and him looking at us. The door opened and we got off. There was a resolve that fell into my heart, not an easy resolve, but at least a resolve. God is in our midst and we are seeing Him move. Just continue to pray that we may be sustained by Him during this time. We love you all, thank you for your continued support and for running this marathon with us, please do not let Baby Cate or us go, you will never know how encouraged we are by your messages and support. We love you all!

The Ride of our Life

Warning this is kinda raw:
Greetings, I wanted to write to you all with a prayer request, again. I know that you are all praying and I ask you to continue, but today I ask for an intentional prayer for Baby Cate's mom and dad. Are we faithful, yes, are we full of hope, yes, are we tired today, yes. This has truly been the most scary, exhausting, and emotional experience of our lives and marriage. You always see commercials on TV or read article about this kinda of thing happening to people, and you never think it could or would happen to you. Its different to be the one sitting in the waiting room, waiting, waiting on news, waiting on change, waiting for improvement. Everytime the "black phone" rings in the waiting room, you throw up in your mouth a little bit out of fear of the worst. Everytime you have a consultation as you walk in the consultation room you begin immediately trying to read the face of the Doctor or Nurse who is meeting with you. It is tiring, last night I think Ali and I both hit the wall in terms of emotional exhaustion. I went back to the hotel and she went down to the Ronald McDonald House and we both had the same experience, anger, sadness, desperation, each alone, crying to Father, cursing at imaginary people who frustrated us during the day, and wishing this was all over. As a parent, you just want to see you child smile, you want to hold your child, you want to smell their sweet breath on your face, and you can't, and you don't know when you will be able to again and the possibilty is more prevelant than ever that you might not, don't mistake that as a loss of hope, understand it as when you are face to face with lossing a child, it is a horrifying experience, one that I hope you never have to experience, and if you have you understand. I don't have the energy to hear that people "understand" or "know" how we feel or make some comparison to some activity going on their life. I feel like I am incapable of "bull-" you know what, I don't have the capacity at times to be gracious and so I don't answer my phone because I don't want to say something to someone that I will regret. Please, I know this is pretty raw, but Ali and I were talking earlier this morning, and she was saying I don't won't to give people a false impression of where we are at, we are not always raising our hand and praising God, that there are moments that we are face down on the floor in the waiting room crying and begging for the little bit of comfort, peace, or good news. This is a road that I never thought I would have to walk down and one I hope I never have to again. Ali and I are a united front, but there are moments that we lose it with each other or those around us. As we sit in the waiting room this morning, waiting to hear if our child's heart will be able to work on its own, we are tired and its only day six. Knowing that we have weeks ahead of us is incomprehensable right now. We miss our other kids, we miss the day to day activities like cutting the grass, washing dishes, doing the laundry, sitting in the living room with the roar of our kids running and laughing around us. I know that this may be hard to hear, and I don't want you to take it as a loss of hope, because its not, but it is reality and Ali and I don't want to be anything but honest with all of you, because we need you. Ali asked if you, our spiritual family, could pray for her for stamina and energy. As far as daddy goes, I want peace and graciousness to those who reach out to us. We love you guys and we need you. Ali and I both felt like this needed to be said, we did not want to project any false sense of reality, but always want to be truthful with who we are and where we are at. Again, I reiterate this is not a loss of hope nor a lack of faith, it just the road we are walking and the marathon we run.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Short and Sweet, But Very Important

Greeting to all we are just quieting down for the night, Ali and I are emotionally and physically whipped today, but trying to not complain about it, there are alot of people who have been here ALOT longer than us, so please pray that our hearts may continue to be gracious, it doesn't come easy after 6 days with little sleep and the emotional ride of you life, and seeing your child lie motionless on a table, but we truly desire it and so Ali and I ask you to pray with us for graciousness and peace. Dr. Salazar is going to try again in the morning to ween Cate off the machine, he is more confident than I have seen him in a while. So, we are once again petitioning you to pray, to knock harder, to tell God that we are really think that this a great idea and there are ALOT of us who think the same, so jump on board! Ok, folks exhaustion has now offically set in, I just told God to, "Jump on Board." Please Please pray I will write more when my brain is functioning at its normal capacity of 37.5761%. I love you, PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYER tomorrow morning at 8:00am. I will update you as soon as we hear something. God Bless you all!!! Good night!

Crack in the Throne Room Door

YOUR PRAYERS ARE WORKING, but we are not done yet!!! The procedure this morning went very well. The surgeon is very encouraged, by Baby Cate's progress. He said that the left ventricle looks ten times better than it did on Sunday. He is not ready to take her off the Echmo machine yet. He said that he could, but she would only limp along and the amount of medication they would have to give her in order to strengthen her heart, he is not comfortable with. All the medical staff in Baby Cate's room for the procedure agreed that another day on the Echmo is the best decision for Baby Cate. Dr. Salazar said that Babies who are getting better, get better. He said that her brain, kidneys, liver, and all her other major organs looked great and that she is responding well to the Echmo. He told Ali to continue reading to Baby Cate, that it is good for her, needless to say that earned me a slap on the shoulder and a, SEE I TOLD YOU SO, from my lovely bride. He is very encouraged by todays results, but we are not out of the woods. We will need to bang just a little hard tomorrow morning on the throne room door and let God know that we are not going anywhere, that like many who have gone before us, we are standing firm in faith and in Hope! They will try to ween her off the Echmo again tomorrow morning so let's remain vigilant in prayer and once again convene at the door to Throne room and push in harder. Thank you, Thank You, Thank You, be ENCOURAGED by today's results and do not let your hearts be trouble for today is a day to Rejoice in God's faithfulness, Ali and I are rejoicing and we ask that you rejoice with us and We thank and praise you God our father for your faithfulness to your people. The message of Baby Cate has reached the ends of the earth, literally, thank you to all of you in Australia, Croatia, France, England, Hawaii, China and Ireland who have joined us in prayer for his beautiful little child. God Bless you all today, know that Ali and I are praying for all of you, we are offering this time of suffering for you and your intentions. We love you and ask again, remain with us and Baby Cate, let us finish this marathon locked arm in arm. We remain in His Love.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Converging on Heaven in the Morning

WOW WOW WOW, I was telling Cate this afternoon how many people are praying for her and that she is a pretty famous little girl, she just laid there humbly and took it all in:) You really don't know how encouraging it is to Ali and I to read your messages of prayer, support, and encouragement. In the moments where we have to just sit and be quiet, both of us are at our computers just reading your words of love, usually crying, saying did you see the one from so and so, or did you see the anaymous prayer from anaymous, funny, whoever you are, and thank you for praying. Ali and I are beginning to get a pace, just beginning, but at least we are beginning, more and more people are telling me I look tired or just bad, things get real honest in the CVICU waiting room, one of the mom's even told Ali today that she noticed that Ali's hair was getting rather oily, it really is the funniest thing. Its like a common bond that you form with these people who are walking the same road you are walking. Its kinda like being at a retreat, your tired, your emotional, you sleep really close to people you really don't know to well, you eat junk that you normally wouldn't or shouldn't, you are VERY honest with people, and there is always coffee, that tastes REALLY bad by the end of the day. Ali came back to the hotel for most of the morning and afternoon, showered, to which everyone noticed when she got back, and slept. I pulled the day shift with the aid of, the mother-in-law, and I even got to take a nap at the Ronald McDonald House in the hospital, God Bless Ronald McDonald, please go by a Big Mac tomorrow and support the cause, and Ali got a room there tonight so she will be able to sleep in a bed ALL BY HERSELF!!!
Ok, so prayer request then a couple of God showed up today stories. Ok, folks, we need you to put your rally caps on tomorrow morning. We need you banging on the door of the throne room. Let's let God know that we are not going away until he hears our prayer. They are going to try again tomorrow to ween Cate off the Echmo machine. The procedure should start around 8:00am and go till about 12:00pm. This is Cate's second swing at this. She still is having some irregular firings of her electronic system in her heart so we are just going to have to see how this plays itself out. But, we need you praying and praying hard for her little heart to kick back into motion on its on. So, tell everyone you know to please be praying at 8:00am, you definitley can start early, she wont mind and we won't either, but let's focus our energy and attention on the time she is in the procedure.
God showed up big in two ways today, that we saw, he probably showed up more than that, but due to exhaustion He has to YELL in our face or we don't notice. First, a dear friend of mine sent me a text message last night, I think, days kinda bleed into each other, asking what do we need, that she was willing to bring anything, I asked for a sleeping pill and a forty ounce bottle of Old English, to which she asked if I was serious cause she had both at her house, just kidding. I really took some time and thought about what we really needed right now...the EUCHARIST! I sent her back a text message and said asked if she could make sure to have the eucharist delievered everyday to the hospital. What more could we need than the Bread of Life! So, I got a text message this morning from another friend of ours saying that he and his wife were going to bring Jesus in the Eucharist to us this afternoon! They showed up, we sat and visited and then he pulled the pyx, which holds the eucharist out of a little case. We stood and prayed and recieved our savior and calmer into our bodies and hearts, it was awesome! Later in the evening Ali and were sitting with some friends who came to visit and these two ladies approached us and asked if we were the Cantrell's, to which I replied, it depends, are you with the IRS, they said no, so we pulled up chairs for them. They explained that someone they knew in Arkansas had called them and told them about Cate and us and that they felt compelled to drive from Magnolia, Texas, which is probably about an hour away, to PRAY WITH US. These ladies did not know us, they did not know anyone who was related to us. They just felt called to come and pray with us. That sat and talked and prayed with us for probably 30 minutes. They asked us if we had any intentions that they and their Church could pray for. We had a few, but one of them was that they pray for all of you who are supporting us through your prayers, so know that you all have a Church in Tomball, Tx praying for all of you and your intentions. When we were all finished we all hugged and they got up and left. What disciples! Thank you Jesus Christ for the many ways that you are making yourself known to our family, you are faithful to us and we will be faithful to you!!!
Please remember to pray tomorrow morning from 8:00am-12:00pm. As soon as we know something we will update you all. We love you more than words for your love for our little girl and your love for us! We remain faithful to our God as we run this race!

Day of Rest for Cate

Greeting to all of you! Ali and I are sitting in the CVICU waiting room both typing on our computers, kinda feels like we're back in College, tired, wearing the clothes we had on yesterday, drinking bad coffee, but not to much, just a cup or two, not a POT or two, feeling like we just got hit in the face with a two by four. Today they just want to let Cate rest, they really poked, proded and moved her alot yesterday. The plan is today to just leave her alone and let her rest. Her oxygen levels in her brain dropped over night, still at a safe level, but about twenty points lower than it was yesterday morning. They said it was probably just due to the amount of stress she went through yesterday. Its back up this morning to where it was to before they messed with her yesterday. She has developed a little arythmia and her heart rate has dropped pretty low and they can't figure out why. They are talking over the possiblity of putting her pace wires in so that they can regualte what is going on with her heart. Ali has taken to decorating Cate's room. It really is quite funny, there are pictures EVERYWHERE, I keep waiting for her to ask the nurses if they could moves their equipment so she could bring in some potted plants and a fake ficus tree. Yesterday, after decorating Ali took to reading to Cate, because Cate is very advanced for her age:) the reading selection is, The lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. Yesterday when Ali was reading to Cate, Cate started moving and was trying to open her eyes. Out of all of our children Cate is the most OBSSESSED with her mother. It really is the most endearing thing to watch when we were at home, Ali could walk in the room and Cate would literally hurl her body towards her mother so she could just watch Ali. She would just sit and stare at Ali until she could catch Ali's eye and then she just erupts into the biggest smile. It really is one of my favorite things, Cate can't even concentrate on eating when Ali is around, which for a Cantrell is a very strange occurance. Ali, had the opportunity to witness to one of the nurses last night, thats my girl!!!, We have a 1st Class relic of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos on Cate's Bed right next to hear hed. Cate's nurse asked last night what it was, so Ali told her the whole story of who Father Seelos was and how we got turned on to him, and why we ask him for his prayers for Cate. It was awesome, the nurse was tearing up and she told Ali that she was going to go do research on the computer to find out more about Fr. Seelos, my wife ROCKS!!!!! I wanted to share with you all a vision that I had last night. After i posted the blog yesterday afternoon I was was just reflecting on my words and request that you remain with us because we need you. I was immediatley taken in my mind to Garden of Gethsemani, where Jesus spent his his Agnony in the Garden, and I could hear the words, Will you stay awake with me for one hour. He knew it was his hour and he knew the road ahead. We don not know the road ahead but we know that their will be life and resurrection, but we must remain in the garden of agony for now, and so I know that my sweet Jesus, understands our agony. I know that he knows our hearts, the pain, the fear, the surrender, and he understands my plea to my friends, because He too uttered the same words. Isn't our God awesome that he can come to us and has experienced what we go through in this temporal life? We are comforted to know that there is Ressurection, that there will be life again. And so we wait and we pray for this is our Hour.

Please sign your name at the bottom of your post, so we can know who you are, unless you have a need to remain anoynamous

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And the Storm Rages On...

Greetings all, I have to be honest I write this blog with tearfilled eyes. First I want to say that our faith is unshaken and our Hope is strong! Disappointed, Yes, but not Afraid! The operation this morning did not go as we had hoped. Cate's heart is not ready. Neither one of the ventricals are pumping like they should. The right ventricle is not pumping correctly due to the large amount of muscle that was removed, but the left vetricle could have been one of two things: 1) its just simply exhausted from the surgery or 2) that there might be some coranary artery issues. He ordered a Heart Catheterization which is where they inject dye into her blood and take pictures of her heart. He said Coronary Artery is fine, which is really good news, we don't need another surgery right now, but at the sametime its frustrating cause it means that we have to wait longer and we are still not completely certain what is going on. Yes, Cate is still on the Ecmo machine and a ventilator and will be for the next couple of days for sure. The surgeon wants her heart to rest for a couple of days before they try anything again. The words its a marathon are ringing very true right now. We have only been in this for 3 days now and it feels like a month. We are tired, dehydrated (by our own doing, DANG YOU STARBUCKS) and hungry, something that I don't frequently experience, and this is only day 3. This afternoon Ali and I's emotions have been running wild, I sat on the bed at the hotel and cried, LOUDLY, for fifteen minutes, I just want to see her smile, I want to hear her laugh, I want to feel her little hand on my face, but I can't and that is just hard right now. I know that we are in the best place we could be, so I have to take some comfort in that. I know that all of you are praying deligently, and I am grateful for that. Our friend who is a fellow here at TCH came by on his day off when he heard about how the morning went, He has been calling getting updates on her. He took one look at me and said, no more coffee, 2 large bottles of water, 2 larger bottles of gatorade, and you need to go to bed right now. He asked me how much sleep i have gotten since friday, I thought about it, 6 to 8 hours, he said GO TO BED. He said, your little girl is on the "circuit" that is shoptalk for the Echmo machine, he said she is on cruise control right now, does it suck, yes, is there anything you can do, no. He reminded us again that this is a marathon and we must pace ourselves. I think we are going to take the evening to rest, thank you all for your comments, you really don't know how much they mean to Ali and I, they truly give us encouragement right now. I have to be ask a huge favor, Please do not forget about Cate or Us, we need you, in a day, a two, or three, we will still be here and we will still need you praying for Baby Cate and Us. Ali and I have said on many different occassions that we have truly felt your spiritual support and we will continue to need it in the days and weeks to come, so that is my request, please be deligent with us, because we NEED you! Our faith is not Shaken by todays events, Our hope is not weakend in the least bit! Today as we got the news that Cate was going to have to stay on the machine and tears filled my eyes I looked through the glass doors of the waiting room and there stoody Deacon Ed Gosline, a dear friend of mine's dad, and he had in his hand a pyx with the Holy Eucharist in it, it was like in the midst of the the waves crashing in, there was Jesus, my calmer. I walked over and just cried on Deacon Ed's should as he held the Eucharist close to my heart. So we will remain faithful to our faithful God. I got to see Cate a few minutes ago and she looks beautiful. They cleaned her up and put a little blanket under her, so you know what, the world is good. My girl is resting, her heart is resting, and before long her mommy and daddy will be resting. We love you guys, please stay with us during this time!

Quick Update

They just called from to let us know that they are just getting started, its 9:00am

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Good, just a little Tired (physically that is)

Well, day 2 is coming to a close. Your prayers were answered it was a pretty "boring" day, just what the surgeon prescribed! Our parents got to go in and see Baby Cate for the first time today, she remained steady throughout the day. I made the mistake of saying she was "stable" while in her room and the nurses looked at me like I was stupid and that didn't notice that my child was on a ventilator and that her pulse was a flat line. They said, "Charlie, I would'nt say she "stable." So, I simply explained to them that if she wasn't stable, they weren't doing their job and I was cutting their pay by 50% until they could get her stable, to which they laughed and kept on working. Cate has two full-time nurses at her bed 24hrs a day. She kinda has alot going on with her all at one time. The Doctors and Nurses at TCH in the CVICU are some of the most knowledgable, deligent, patient, and encouraging medical personel that I have ever met. If the surgeon says he was her blood pressure at 40/over whatever, if its 41 they are frustrated with themselves until they can get it right, and they usually figure it out within a couple of minutes. Cate had some blood drainage problems from her chest today, probably from when Ali was singing to her and Cate about flung herself out of bed, to which she got a quick shot of sedative, needless to say Ali didn't sing to her again today. They did an ultrasound on her brain this afternoon and everything was CLEAR!!!! I am not sure if that means they did not see a brain, which she is my daughter, it might just be hard to see, or there was no swelling or bleeding, I am going assume it was the latter of the two. Dr. Salazar came in this afternoon to see about the bleeding problem, he and his crones cleaned house in Baby Cate's chest and then left her alone. Now, here is where the serious prayer request begins so pay close attention. Tommorrow morning Cate will be with the Surgeon and his team again. They will begin around 8:00am. They are going to try to ween Cate off the life support and see what happens. They will allow her heart to fill with blood because right now it is completely empty. Our hope is that it will begin to pump! If it does they will sit back and watch it pump for about an hour, monitoring it very closely. Most kids who are on the Echmo machine are on it for 3 to 5 days, by tomorrow morning Baby Cate will only have been on it for a day and a half. The surgeon turned the machine down a little this morning to allow a small amount of blood into Baby Cate's heart this morning and it began pumping, so he wants to see what will happen tomorrow. He said he will not leave her off the machine if he is not 100% confident that she will be able to manage on her own. He also said that we should not be dissappointed if she is not ready yet, she may need more rest. This procedure will take about 4 hours. So, from 8:00am-12:00pm we ask that you pray and you pray HARD!!! When the procedure is done I will post an update on the blog to let you all know what the outcome was. Dr. Salazar told Ali and I that we needed to take a break this evening and rest, I think he could see that we were both exhausted and he has confidence in the team in the CVICU to take care of Baby Cate. Ali and I got to go to dinner, OUT SIDE THE HOSPITAL, our family stayed back in case they called the waiting room for us. Ali and I relaxed, had dinner at one of our favorite resturants and then headed back. We stopped in kissed our sweet angel good night and are taking the night to get some sleep. Before I go I wanted to tell you all what happened today to Ali, because it is too amazing to make up and we both know that it was a confirmation from our Loving Father! As you know the title of the blog this morning was "Let the Storm Rage!" Ali's sisters, Jenny and Becca, showed up this afternoon from Louisiana. They went in to see Baby Cate and then they made Ali go outside and take a walk with them, just to get out of the hospital. They were walking down Main Street in front of the hospital and there was a Bible on the ground a ways in front of them and the wind was literally ripping the pages out the Bible. There were pages of scripture just blowing in the wind. Ali stopped and picked ONE page off the ground and this is the first thing that she read:

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

Praise to you Jesus Christ, Our Calmer of the Storm! As the seas rage in the life of our family we know with CONFIDENCE that you are at the head of our boat. We love you with all of our hearts and we place ALL of our trust in You! And most of all we place our sweet Baby Cate in your hands. Thank you!

We love you all! Please keep praying! Our Heavenly Father is confirming your prayers today!

Let the Storm Rage!

"Be relaxed and resigned. Let the storm rage until it is raged out, even if the waves break over your head. You will merely be washed, not drowned. To be sure, you must accept it graciously, if you have to swallow a few mouths full of bitter sea water. Afterwards, God will again give you sugar." Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos

As the storm of medical personel hover over Cate's bed and the storm rages to keep her stable, her mom and dad, family and friends will stand firm and let it rage. Her Fr. Seelos relic was in surgery with her yesterday and is next to her head in her bed right now. We wait and we ask for the sweet taste of that sugar from God, however He chooses to deliever it, right now I would take it in a Starbucks Coffee to be honest, but however is fine with me. Ali and I got to "sleep" from about 3:30am till about 6:00am. Then we were back at Cate's side, we have to pace ourselves, its a marathon as I said, and we are at the beginning. Cate is still on the Echmo, which is the life support machine, so she is not having to do anything on her own, it is all being done for her. She did wake up this morning and they quickly put her back to sleep, but the surgeon said that her waking up is a good sign of brain activity. There were 10 doctors in her room this morning meeting about Baby Cate, they used more letters and numbers than I could count or keep up with, but our surgeon tells us to keep our eyes on the Big Picutre, not the shop talk, that they do. Cate got her gums and tongue brushed and a quasi wipe down by one of the sweet little nurses this morning. The surgeon wants a "boring" day today, so that is your prayer request for today. He wants Cate's heart to just relax and lay completely flat today, it went through so much yesterday that he is just not ready to ask it to do anything on its on. He said possibly tomorrow morning they will bring her back in the operating room and slowly take her off the support machine to see how her heart responds, it just all depends on how the next twenty-four hours go. I will let you know if it happens and what time that will be and ask your full prayful attention to that time. Ali and I are doing well, seriously. Our confidence is in our God and we are not afraid of this storm. We stand hand in hand, with each other, and all of you. Your comments of love and support are extremely encouraging during this time. We laugh ALOT, its the only way to stay sane right now. We feel the grace from the prayers of all you, so please keep them coming, and as I said this is a marathon, please stay with us, we NEED you, and I mean that! As I sat in Cate's room this morning I prayed for all of you and offered this time of suffering that God may hear the intentions of your hearts individually. We love you very much!!! I will update again today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Clinging to Jesus

Wow, if you would have asked me last night how tommorrow would go, I would have told you, without a hitch. Its like taking tonsils out at this place. They do this all the time. As many of you know my last request was a begging, and Ali and I are still on our knees. Cate's surgery, which was supposed to last about 4 hours total, from pre-op to post-op, ended up being 12hrs. Dr. Salazar said in all the surgeries he has done which is about 250 per year, he has never seen anything like this. He said that when they did the echocardiogram this morning they had a much clearer picture of what was going on in Cate's heart, then they had ever had before. And it wasn't a simple procedure he thought he was facing. I will not go into all the details because of lack of sleep and pure shock, but Dr. Salazar had to work on Cate's Pulmonary Veins, Pulmonary Artery, the two holes in her heart, work on the pulmonary valve and carve, literally carve out her right ventricle because it was almost completely shut because the muscle in was so thick. By the time he got finished doing all of this, Cate's little heart was absoluted in shock. He put her on a machine called and Echmo machine, which is the same as life support. He does not want her heart to have to work at all, because of how much it went through today. His hope is that she will only have to be on this machine for the next few days. They left her incesion open instead of stitching it up because they will have to go back in there to remove all of the tubes and to reconnect her sternum. He said he is confident in the surgical part of day, he said the rest is up to how Cate's heart will respond. There are some very serious fears, of which I will not metion, but believe me when I say they are serious, she is no where near out of the woods. We need your prayers for her now more than ever, this will be a marathon, and not the sprint we were expecting. Your emails, text messages, comments on the blog are so appreciated and your prayers are felt, and I mean that. Ali and I are holding up, as I said, I truly believe we are just in shock right now and we need our spiritual family shaking the gates of heaven on Cate's behalf, our behalf, and our other two beautiful children at home. I want you all to know that Ali and I will be remembering all of you and offering up this time of trail for you, our family and friends. As I went to laid down last night, I prayed for every person the uttered a word of petition to our loving Father on our behalf. We love you all more than we can put into words and our gratitude for you is placed at the feet of Jesus. I will keep continue to keep this blog updated so please keep up with Cate's progress. We remain clinging to Jesus in sweet surrender.

Hit your knees please

Cate is still in Surgery there are complications with her ventricles, they are not responding properly. She will be in surgery for another couple of hours. Please pray...Please call anyone and everyone you know and ask them to pray. We will update you as soon as we know more.

3rd Consultation Update

We just got a call from the operation room. Cate is doing well. The were able to leave her valve alone!! Praise be Jesus Christ! The had to put a piece of conduit in her pulmonary artery to widen it. HER HEART IS BEATING ON ITS OWN!!!!!!!!! She is still on the heart/lung bypass. They are now putting all her chest drainage tubes and pacemaker wires in, just to get and keep her heart on a natural rhythm, until it gets used to beating again, it has not beat for almost 7 hours now. Dr. Salazar is complete with the repair and should be finished up with all the finishing touches and sewing her little chest back up in about an hour and half. We will have a consult with him when its all said and done. Praise be Jesus Christ, Thanks sweet Loving Faithful Father, and thank you wonderful Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos! Once we talk to the Dr. and Cate is in the CVICU I will update you all.

2nd Consultation Update

Alright, we met with Doris again just minutes ago. Everything is still going well. Cate is still on the heart lung/bypass machine. They have closed the two holes in her heart and were able to use her own pericardium, which is the sack which her heart sits in, so they did not have to use any artificial material. Dr. Salazar is looking at the Pulmonary Valve right now. He is concerned that it might not be work well enough. He is not sure. So there is a possibility that they will take her off the bypass machine to see how the valve will work now that the holes are repaired. If it does not function at a level he is satisfied then they will put an artifical valve in. The bad thing about that is that putting an artifical valve increases the chances that Cate will have to have another surgery in the years to come. The nurse said it will definitely be 6:00pm or after before they are finished up. We should get another update around 5:00pm. Ali and I are doing very well! Our Father is faithful and Cate is a fighter, we have alot of faith in BOTH of them!!! Love you guys....KEEP PRAYING!

1st Update Consultation

Doris, Cate's nurse came to give us the first update at approximatley 2hrs 30min into the operation. Cate is now completely sedated, the have opened her up and she is now on the heart/lung by-pass machine. They are now assessing Cate's defects visually and how they plan on repairing them. They are giving 6pm as the approximate finish time. We will have another update in approximatley 2hrs. Pray HARD PLEASE! Love you!

Game On

Cate was taken back into surgery at 11:15am. Will give you all an update soon! Pray for Dr. Salazar, other doctors, and nurses!

Circling the Airport

The nurse came in about 8:45am and told us that Cate got bumped from 1st up to 2nd spot. So it will be at the earliest between 10:30-11:00am before they even bring her in to pre-op. Please pray for her, she is hungry and she is a Cantrell,
we are not pleasant people without food in our bellies! Love you guys

Waiting Game

hey guys,

Just wanted to give you brief update. Its 7:30am they came in
at 6:15am and told us they were coming to get us. So, we are
running a bit behind schedule. Once Cate is in surgery I will give
yall an update. Thanks for th prayers keep them coming. Baby
Cate was doing good till about 20 minutes ago when she realized
that she hasn't eaten since 11:30pm last night and that her crying
is not getting her feed, so she is a little upset right now. Pray for
a full belly for her sake!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good Day

Greetings to all, we are quietly sitting in our room before our families show up for a visit so I thought i would send you all an update about Baby Cate's day. We arrived at Texas children's hospital at 8:00am this morning. We were immediately taken and given massages and spring facials, SIKE. We were immediatley taken to get an EKG, then Chest X-Rays, Bloodwork, meetings with the Nursey Practioner for anastesiology, a Physicians Assistant to the surgeon, a childlife specialist, and went on a tour of the 3 floors that we will be on while Cate is here at TCH and this was all before 12pm. So, needless to say it was a very busy morning. We ran into a friend of ours who is in his Fellowship in Cardiology here at TCH, just a great connection with a close friend who could explain everything and answer anything us dumb cajuns still didn't understand. He even stopped by our room tonight just to make sure we were feeling good about the day and to give us his number in case we had a freak out session during the middle of the night. God is amazing, he has gently calmed our fears and reminded us that again he is here and we need not worry. Ali, Cate, and I went and got some lunch down in the food court and then went back up for our 1:30 appt. with Dr. Salazar. While waiting on Dr. Salazar, Cate's favorite nurse of the morning came and got her, took her around to everyone that was working to show them how cute Cate was. Everyone we met today said, we're not supposed to say this, but she is absolutely beautiful. We were like, yeah we know. Then Dr. Salazar came in, I think my wifes heart went piter pater. He was awesome! Very clear, very calm, told us like it was. He said you know I can say with 97% certainty that everything is going to go smoothly tomorrow. He said, would you like a 1 to 3% chance something might go wrong or 50/50. I said I would chose the 1 to 3%. He agreed, so I think we are going to go shoot some hoops later and we will probably be friends. Yesterday as we were driving here I got to thinking about Blessed Xavier Seelos and how he has been with Cate for almost her whole life now. I decided that I was going to go out on a limb and ask Dr. Salazar if he would take our 1st Class relic of Fr. Seelos into the operating room with Cate. So, as we were wraping up our meeting today, he said, You can send Cate into surgery with her favorite blanket, bear, bunny, whatever, and I am thinking HERE IS MY CHANCE! I said Dr. Salazar my wife and I are devout Catholics and Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos has been our intercessor for Cate since we found out there was complications in Utero. We have a relic that we would like to send in to the operation room with you all so that he can physically be there with yall. He smiled, he said, "In the morning ask the anastesiologist (sp?) if that would be ok, actually just kinda insist that it has to go in with her. In fact, tell them that Dr. Salazar said that he is going to put it on his Loups Box, which is the instrument that holds the magnification glasses I wear during surgery. And you've got to tell me what they say." I was like YES, mission accomplished, Fr. Seelos, will be with Cate in the operating room! Fr. Drew Wood, my old boss/pastor from St. Laurence Parish in Sugar Land, Tx, came by tonight to see us and Cate. We gathered with our family in the hospital room and we all prayed for Cate, the Surgeons, Doctors, and Nurses who will take care of Cate during this time. it has been a great day and a great night. Ali and I are truly at peace right now and out trust is in our Heavenly Father, who has had Cate in the palm of his hand, since the moment of her existence. It has been a long day and we are all tired, but NOT CATE, she is wide awake, pulling on the IV that is in her foot and rattling the metal bars of the baby bed she is "resting." The phone calls, emails, and text messages are ALL appreciated and encouraging! We are keeping track of all of them so that we can tell Cate in a few years from now all the people who were thinking and praying for her. So, if you were her to know that you care about her at all you better send her a note, hehe. We love you all and ask that you say a special prayer about 7:45am tomorrow morning this is when the surgery will begin. The surgery should last until about 12:30pm. I will update you all as soon as I can. With that I sign off in sweet surrender of our beautiful family to the arms of our Loving Father.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Greetings to all! Wow, its been seven months already! Its hard to believe that we are in Houston, just a mile away from the Hospital. Its as though we are on the edge of the battle ground, waiting for orders to proceed. The order have come and the time is now. This is what our family and all of you have prepared and prayed for for the past seven months. Today was a little more difficult than I expected. We talked to our kids on Sunday evening about Cate's operations and they were fine with it, in fact they asked if we could leave the next day. I wasn't sure how to take that, so I decided it was that they were just excited about "sleepovers." As my mother inlaw showed up this morning I was compeletely overwhelmed with emotion, of course holding it together until they were down the road and I was in the bathroom by myself, then the floodgates opened. They were fine, happy as could be on their way to a playdate and a couple of weeks without the ironfist of their dad. We are staying at a very nice hotel just down the street from the hospital thanks to the generosity of some of our wonderful family members! Ali unpacked everything and I went to the grocery store, you know, good cajuns can't be without their essentials: Coffee, food, cold beer...Ali, I can't get her off the stuff...hehe. Today is my bride's 30th Birthday, so I am taking her out to her favorite resturant in Houston with a couple friends of ours. Cate begins the process of approval for surgery tomorrow morning at 8:00am. All goes well, they will admit her tomorrow afternoon and begin to give her fluids for surgery Friday morning. I will be updating the blog at least daily . Please pray for her, Ali and I, and our two other wonderful loving kids, Ella and Dude, and the wonderful team of nurses, doctors, and surgeons. Off to dinner, love you guys, check back tommorrow!