12.31.2011

Happy Happy New Year!

In January 2011, we found out we were pregnant for the second time. Scared, but excited- we talked about names and whether we were hoping it was a boy or girl. We hoped for a girl. In March, we had our first ultrasound and found out we were expecting a baby boy. The second we saw that it was a boy, visions of Judah and his little brother playing ran through our heads. We were so excited to meet him. We named him Gabriel. Near the end of March, we had our second ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech didn't talk much. She said she could not identify all 4 chambers of his heart. We thought that it was because Gabe was so active. The next Monday, we were rushed into an appointment with a genetic counselor and an ultrasound which confirmed that Gabe only had half a heart- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. We were leaned on to terminate our pregnancy- that Gabe's life may not be worth living.
Nick and I went home and sobbed- but we knew we would not end our pregnancy, we were already in love with our son Gabe.
We researched online and found that it WAS possible for our son to live. Bowen's story inspired us (www.bowensheart.com) to fight for our son. We researched the best hospitals we could take him to (none were in Idaho)- and we called Seattle Children's Hospital. They arranged everything, after a referral from our OBGYN. We went up to Seattle at 30 weeks pregnant to have another ultrasound and meet the people who would work to save Gabe's life after he was born.
At 34 weeks pregnant, I went into preterm labor. I was flown into Seattle at 35 weeks pregnant with 'delivery imminent'. When we got to Seattle, I was hospitalized with Gabe. They put us in a delivery room with a jacuzzi- but suddenly- everything stopped happening. I waited a week in the delivery room before they finally let us go... But we had to stay at a hotel nearby- since the baby could be born at any moment. We stayed in 3 different hotels towing Judah and all his things around during this time. Finally, at 38 weeks on the dot- Gabe was born at 2:20 in the morning. He weighed 7lbs 11oz. He was born with Down's Syndrome, half a heart, and a hole in his heart walls. After I held him for a moment, he was taken from my arms and quickly given prostaglandin- a hormone that would keep his PDA (an artery only present in utero) open so that he could await his surgery.
When we got to Seattle Children's Hospital (we delivered at University of Washington)- things were grim. Gabe's heart function had decreased to practically nothing. It wasn't squeezing, it was leaking... It was grim. Gabe was not a candidate for surgery.
We waited for a miracle, but nearly every day someone from cardiology was there to talk to us about taking Gabe home to die. We weren't ready to accept that it was over- and I thank God that we didn't every day.
Gabe's heart function (Through God and melrinone) miraculously improved into near perfection. His squeezing was perfect and his leaking had slowed to barely a trickle. He was a candidate for surgery- but we were yet again urged to take him home. We were told that his quality of life would not be enough to justify the surgeries, but here I am laying with him in bed, his gentle and sweet spirit, his happy and loving heart- knowing that his quality of life is higher than many babies out there.
Gabe had his first open heart surgery at fifteen days old. He was put on bypass for a while during this process, so afterwards he was extremely puffy. His chest remained open after his heart surgery for about 10 days, and finally his body let the fluid go from surgery- so his chest could close and heal.
Gabe took his time in getting out of the hospital, getting a few colds and infections, waiting for his g-tube and taking Mommy and Daddy for a ride. At 3 months of age, Gabe finally successfully left the hospital to the Ronald McDonald House, where we all await his second surgery.
It has been a busy year here.. Life changing. But in the best of ways. I value life more, love more, hug more, care more. I hope that Gabe inspires you to do the same!
www.gabrielshope.net
HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY 2012

12.25.2011

Job and asking God for blessings, rather than accepting fish slaps (Veggie Tales analogy) :)

Job taught me several important things.

First, you never know what God is thinking, so don't try to guess at it.

Second, lifting your hands in all circumstances makes you look really really awesome.

And Third, Don't flop on your back like a fish when things get rough and wait for God to throw you back into the water.

I'm not trying to say that I lift my hands in all circumstances or point any fingers at me. I mean, if I was trying to point fingers it would be either at Jesus (Happy alleged birth-date, Jesus, my savior), or at Job and what an amazingly faithful man he was.

I mean, quite honestly, if I were to try to analogize what he was going through in his relationship with God, I would use a marriage where you were practically POSITIVE your spouse was cheating on you and had taken all your money and your whole family died too- but still loving them and giving them words of adoration. Not that God is a cheating spouse.. Bad analogy?

What I really mean to say is, Job's life sucked. I mean, really sucked. But it didn't. It rocked.

Job had his eyes on one thing- God. He had his eyes on heaven and his treasures were there. (And I can honestly say I have no idea how sure he was about even getting into heaven back in that day). He watched his children all die- his slaves (poor Job ;)) and his livestock, but he sat there looking up to heaven saying... "I must have done something really terrible, because you are God and I will praise you despite getting these horrific life experiences."

I don't think that Job knew that what was really happening is that he was proving to Satan and to all of mankind that it is possible to go through literal 'hell on earth' and still worship God. I have to say, Job deserves some kind of chariot of gold. Let's be honest here, can you say that you would praise God if you knew he was allowing your family to die so you could prove to Satan what an example of a servant of the most high was?

I mean, Job thought "I definitely did something to truly break your heart God, because I am getting a whiplash amount of pain day in and day out. Everything that has value to me (besides my wife) is dead or withered and I have nothing to show for my entire life on this earth."

And the whole time Satan is laughing saying "Haha, this guy is totally going to curse you and die."

And God sits there, watching his servant, using his servant as a totally bizarre (can we all agree it would be a pretty bizarre thing in this age to have ALL of your children killed at an event) example of a servant.

"All of Job's possessions are destroyed; the 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys carried off by Sabeans, the 7000 sheep were burned up by 'The fire of God which fell from the sky,' the 3000 camels were stolen by the Chaldeans and the house of the firstborn collapsed, due to a mighty wind, killing all of Job's offspring, but Job does not curse God but instead shaves his head, tears his clothes and says, "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return: Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of Lord."

I am pretty certain that this counts as bizarre. I'm also pretty sure that all of Job's relatives were like "Job, man... seriously, what did you do wrong? I mean, you have nothing. You are as good as a beggar on the streets, God's blessings have all been taken from you (including your kids...) How are you praising God's name?"

Woah Woah Woah. Job says later on. "Should I accept blessings from God and not receive evil?"

Ahem, Job, Man. I think you might want to call God out on this one. He promised you blessings. I think you might have the "Too afraid to ask for more blessings." Thing going on.

Now, Job is an excellent example of a perfect servant, loving God even when stricken with all the horrendous ailments and pains you could imagine.. But he didn't ask God to bless him again. Why? Most likely because it never occurred to him to ask before. I mean, he was sooo blessed. He had everything he could possibly want. He had a big family, a big farm, a wife, love, he was just rich beyond anyone's dreams. The only reason it could all go away- in his mind, was because God was mad at him.

Well, then.. Job's friends all come over.

What do they do? They sit there, around him, pretty much silent. They can see that Job is in pain and they don't know what to say. Pretty much, they tell him nothing and don't even try to help him through the many illnesses he was dealing with. Hey friends, if your presence would do it, why would Job need God anyway?

Some friends.

Well, Job ends up cursing the day he was born, because he assumes he was a mistake.

Then, God is mad at Job's friends. God pretty much says that Job is wrong in the way he thinks of God and that his friends didn't say anything that was correct about who God is. (Imagine that).

So, what is Job wrong about?

God had a lot of power. That's what he's wrong about. He assumes that God is sitting there bestowing his blessings and if they are withheld he shouldn't even bother asking about them.

It's kind of like if someone has been feeding you for the past 90 years and then stops feeding you. Then you think.. I must have done something to stop this from happening rather than... "Hey, I really need food down here... Where are you almighty powerful food-supplier!?"

I am pretty certain in my heart that all Job had to do was praise God in a different route.

"God, my land has been taken, my livelihood, my family, my blessings. You are the God who made the land and sea, the God of the stars, the God of all. I know you can restore me. God, bless me, bless my land, bless my livelihood."

Can you imagine if Job would have prayed that prayer.

God didn't say that Job wouldn't be restored if he asked. He said that Job wouldn't 'curse' God if his blessings were taken from him.

God wasn't expecting Job to lay on his back like a floppy old fish and hope that God threw him back into the water. I think it probably was a little disappointing to find that he just rolled with the punches.

I mean, GO JOB for praising God despite your challenges, but look at ALL you went through before God restored you back (which he did).

I think the point of this message is that God is the God of the impossible. He wants you to beseech him, to ask him what you need, ask him for blessings, for hopes for fears, for restoration of ailments, for restoration of family (relationships in my mind), for restoration in finances and welfare.

Don't just roll with the punches like Job. Stand in front of God, humbly, and ask him to fertilize your land. To give you the things that you need or desire. The worst that can happen is that God doesn't do what you ask of him. And if you don't ask, what are you waiting for anyway?

I hope this helps you to bring your needs before your Father.

<3 Bless you

12.21.2011

Waiting for the bottom to fall out.

Our human condition.

Pessimism.

If there's one thing that urks me more than the people who are so optimistic they don't believe anything bad can ever happen, it's the pessimists.

The people who don't believe that the good will happen. The people who are waiting for the bottom to drop out of EVERY good thing that they have ever had.

The people who's joy is always tainted with the sorrow that they believe will defeat it. And odds are, it may. Sorrow may follow great joy- it happens more often than not... But if you lose the joy by focusing on what 'may' come, then how can you live life in the way that God intended you to?

Being joyful in all circumstances does NOT mean not experiencing pain. It means that you don't focus on the pain. That you focus on the little moments that bring your heart great love, great happiness, great memories.

I will give an example.

When I was tiny, probably around 4, I smashed my finger in a window. My brother and I decided it was our job to open our heavy windows in our house, and the window fell and smashed my finger. It was broken, and extremely painful.

I was crying and crying, but my Mom said I needed to stop focusing on it for it to stop hurting so much, so she had my big brother James read me a book. It was about tickle grass. As he read to me, the finger throbbed for a moment, but I got so lost in the story that I forgot about the pain altogether. It didn't mean that the pain wasn't there. It meant that I wasn't focusing on the pain anymore. When he stopped reading, I suddenly remembered the pain was there again.

This is the way life works.

When you focus on the sorrows, the pain, the terrible things that have 'happened to you'... You become bitter and sorrowful, you cannot rise up and find the joy you need to get you through the painful times.

So I will not wait for the bottom to fall out. I will practice focusing on the joy, the happiness- the love.

And I hope this inspires someone into joy today. I hope this changes someone's thinking so that they can walk through the difficult times with their head held high and live as God intended.

<3

Beauty from Ashes

Today my heart is mixed in so many different emotions it is difficult to word them.

With yesterday's news, and today's news, sorrow, pain, joy- all are present in these moments.

A friend had emailed me a couple weeks ago letting me know of a baby that was in our hospital who had HLHS as well as transposition of the great arteries. Her name was Hope. I was in a whirlwind of business at the time, and thought I would get to it later. Then, a few days ago, I got an email from a different friend about the same baby, Hope. I remembered that I hadn't tried to reach out, and my heart felt heavy. I thought "After Nick's neck heals up from his biopsy and I from my small procedure... I will get over there and bring a note."

Well, another friend posted a link to Hope's blog. I started reading it and it said that they had no options. Hope was dying, and they were going to have to let her go that night. Then I realized, that was two nights ago.

As I read this, my heart became so full of grief for this family that I fell back into the memories of when we were told Gabe did not qualify for surgery, that his life was over. I was in that boat, and I somehow ended up with this baby here, in my arms, as I read through Hope's post.

When I was pregnant with Gabe, every time I bought him something I wondered if he would ever use it. Would he ever wear a onesie, would he ever play with toys or be able to wear a hat? Would I ever hold him after that first moment?

Today, they are in that reality. Surrounded by carseats and toys and clothes for their little sweet Hope, they are still rejoicing in the moments they had with her.

I want a faith like that. I want to be the person who- in the midst of the unimaginable pain of loss- is rejoicing in God for the moments I had my son. I am so lucky he is here right now.

Please be praying for Hope's family. She was a miracle conception as her Mom has endometriosis and conception is a miracle for them. The have an older child, a son, as well and I know lifting them in prayer could bring a soft peace to them as they are mourning.

--

The next news we got was yesterday. On the way inside of the Ronald McDonald House, we ran into a friend of ours, Randy's Mom. Nick asked her how she was doing, and she told him Randy was back in the hospital.

Randy had been doing so well, had his trach taken out a while ago (but then replaced), but was nearing the time in which he could finally go home. They had been there for a year.

We asked what was going on, and she said that his tumors were back.

We stood there for a moment, waiting for more, but she didn't say anything.

"So what's the plan?" Nick asked.

She paused. "There is no plan." She said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Nick and I looked at each other and both of us began to cry. We love this family so much, and this moment was so unexpected.

I hugged her, crying and praying, and Nick hugged her too.. Then we got on the elevator and the ride upstairs was silent.

Nick had just had his tumor removed from his Neck to be biopsied, and he needed to rest, but couldn't. He went to the hospital to pray for Randy and his family.

The tumor he has is wrapped through his spinal cord and brain. It's inoperable and does not respond to chemo or radiation. But You are God of the impossible, aren't You?

Please be praying for Randy and his family.

------

The last is good news. Our other friends, Adam's parents- knocked on our door an hour ago. Here they are holding their son, Adam. He is officially out of the hospital- after his rejection was stopped and his new heart is working. He is still on oxygen, but doing so much better.

Please pray for Adams family that Adam does well with his discharge. What a great Christmas gift.


So as you can see, our hearts are a bit full of joy and quite a bit heavy as well.

I know that Hope's parents prayed for her every step of the way, they were prayed for by so many.

I can't wait to meet God, I have quite a few questions for him.

Gabe's cath lab procedure is scheduled for the beginning of January, so we will know then if he is ready for his second open heart surgery.

Please be praying for us. We are so in love with this little bundle of miraculous joy.

12.15.2011

My Story

My story is awkward. I won't tell it and I won't explain it.

I was bullied.

Deeply hurt.

Tried to end it all.

Lived through it.

Forgave myself for the past.

And finally became the person I was meant to be.

I think that's all that matters. I finally fell back into the place where God and I made sense again. And then every piece of the puzzle fell into place in this life I have.

Why don't I have anything to say about it? Because it hurts too much.

But this, where I am. It doesn't hurt at all. It's a beautiful adventure. Because I certainly know... Things could always be much much worse.

12.09.2011

The "Pause" Moment

We all get to that moment in life where everything just pauses and we truly take in our lives, our circumstances- in the light that they are to us.

I think I've had quite a few 'pause' moments in the past years, the births of my two boys, Gabe's first heart surgery, the moment we didn't know if he was gone or with us as we went to meet with his surgeons, the moment I saw that he had downs syndrome, the moment I breathed out and said "I don't really care- he is mine." and the moment I had to hike up my 'strong' pants and start trudging through this journey.

Well, occasionally the strong pants get a little loose from all the wear, but I can always find a way (with God's help) to hike them back up and throw a pair of suspenders on as I keep on trudging.

Yesterday, I found another pause moment on this journey.

I saw my family sitting together on the bed, Gabe in the middle, Nick and Judah on the sides and me at the end of the bed, and I knew immediately how blessed we were. How this is what God had in mind for us, and this moment was ours to hold onto.

That moment went by in a flash, but it's engraved on my heart tonight.

Just like the time when Judah started chanting "Dad-dy- Dad-dy- Dad-dy!" everytime Nick came home from work, and the moment when we felt Judah kick for the first time. Just like the time Gabe opened his eyes for the first time since birth and looked at us. (the day before his surgery, coincidentally).

Just like the time I saw my son's heart beating inside of his chest.

You never know how blessed you are until you pause and take it in. Blessed with pain, even. Blessed with knowing who you are. Blessed with having a beautiful partner to walk with you through this journey... Blessed in so many ways.

People have it SO much worse than I do. I look at people who have been through the same circumstances as I have, but have not been able to deal with it, to process it, to put on their 'strong pants'. I've seen marriages lost, families broken, children lost, parents forever hardened by things like these.

But we have been effected ONLY in positive ways. How can this be?

Well, as I described in an earlier entry, I think we are in a snow globe. The storm rages outside of the snowglobe, in my mind, and we are inside, unaffected, or if effected- recovering so quickly it's a bit ridiculous.

People are always asking me why we aren't falling apart.

Honestly, we get to those points a lot, where we are arguing with each other, everything is going the wrong way, Judah is sick, Gabe is sick, Mom is exhausted, Dad is exhausted... But we always find a way to pause our day and look at each other and remember...

We are in it together- blessed to be with each other, blessed to have a beautiful family, blessed to be alive.

And if anything else goes wrong in our world, we will just sit down and write another chapter for Job....

Jussst kidding.

<3

12.03.2011

3 things

1.

God has given you the tools and abilities to thrive in the EXTREME circumstances.
When the storm rages around, God has given you the ability to find peace.
God didn't equip you with less than what you need.

2.

God has destined you for greatness. Not settling for the easy life, not living the path of life that seems most 'sane'- but to be great. To raise a child with difficulties no other parent could understand. To fight for the children who have no voice. To build a nation that knows God in his great beauty, for his love and his mercy.

3.

God has taught you EXTREME love. He showed you what it looks like. Extreme love doesn't mean you really adore someone. It means that you are willing to sacrifice yourself for the CHANCE at their well being. When Jesus died for you, he died for the CHANCE that you might live.
Extreme love shows a few things:

All lives are valuable.
All lives are worthy of fighting for.
True love is EXTREME.


Just a few notes from my head for today. <3

11.19.2011

Winter

Nick and I didn't pack for winter. Whether due to optimism or pessimism, we expected to be home before it was 'very' cold, and yet.. Here we are. I wear two jackets underneath my coat, but I am so excited to get home and pack up some warm clothes.

Judah and I are traveling to Boise this coming week. We are packing up our apartment and organizing and cleaning the best we can. And getting warm clothes for Nick and I (YAY).

We were recently told that our doctors would not want to discharge us to Boise at this point... So we will most likely be staying here at the Ronald McDonald House until after his next surgery. It's not too far away 2 or 3 months... and Gabriel is a heart kid that needs extra oxygen, which means that any sickness or virus will hospitalize him with even more extra oxygen assistance needed.

We found this information out a few days ago. We are kind of in a difficult spot mentally- we are both homesick... But we will not have a 'home' to go to when this is all said and done. Weird. (Except of course our loving family members).

Nick's work messed us up financially pretty hardcore. It's pretty painful. We haven't even added up the money (though it stopped quite a few paychecks ago). Basically, when we originally came here we were told we would be given vacation donation (we were so blessed). Well, we got a few paychecks of what we thought was that... and it ended up being a mistake (they called us this week to let us know.) So, here we are thinking we were breaking even at the 5 dollars we had left in our pocket and then all of the sudden it's around negative 3 grand. (with taxes).

Not trying to be whiny... But this really sucks. We were planning on saving up for a deposit for our apartment... Not to mention Christmas presents for Judah.

Sigh.

Nick and I have been saving our Christmas decorations for when we could finally have our own Christmas tree in our own place. So, right now things are more bitter than bitter sweet.

But, we have our family and we have a hope for the future, so that is a blessing all on it's own. <3

11.09.2011

Ice

We were so excited to take Gabe home (or away from the hospital, at least), for a few days. It was surreal, as I wheeled him down to the car. He had been fussy since before we had packed up to leave, but he fell asleep in the car.
Judah was in the other side in his carseat asleep too. It was the perfect moment.
When we got to Nick's parents house, unloaded all of Gabe's equipment (There is a lot of it), he cried. He cried every second he was awake, passing out for a while and then waking up very upset again.
I felt like something was very wrong, that it wasn't normal baby crying- but of course no one wants to admit this, that we need to take him back in. So, we toughed it out. We bounced, rocked, jiggled, swaddled, unswaddled, and tried.
I knew pretty quickly that it wasn't going away, although I hoped I was wrong.

The problem with being married is that you have to be in agreement, and neither of us wanted to admit that our first attempt at normalcy had ended. In trying to be diplomatic, I suggested we take Gabe in if he still was inconsolable after his nap.

We got to bedtime, tucked him in his bassinet and hoped for the best. Gabe woke up every hour or so crying, having terrible diapers and his breathing rate just wasn't slowing when he went to sleep. Nick and I both agreed that it was time to call it quits and take him in. We called his cardiologist and let them know what was happening.

When we got to the hospital, Gabe's blood gas wasn't looking good, as we suspected. He was extremely upset when we got there. They placed an IV and withheld his food... Which was terrible since his middle of the night feed didn't complete, so he hadn't eaten since 1am. The poor guy didn't get to eat anything until 11am, after hours of us demanding he be fed. (He calmed down immediately after it started).

We were told that he would be checked in again, and most likely stay till his g-tube surgery.


I think this blow was especially hard. We got out the doors, only to turn right around.

It's a lot to deal with, mentally.

It looks like going home for thanksgiving is out of the picture.

That really hurts right now- I have to be honest, it's been so difficult lately. Not knowing what is going to happen is hard.

11.04.2011

You can have my Christmas presents, but you sure can't steal my joy.

One of the many lines that tell me that my depression is trying to steal my joy- is when my mind suddenly thinks that everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) is hopeless.

Usually, I can cut it off before this point, but yesterday I definitely got to the point where I defined everything as hopeless.

I should laugh at myself here. Hopeless? How dramatic!

Then I think of the line "Who stole your Christmas presents?"

Nick and I always chuckle when Judah has a seriously huge meltdown over something very small. You would think his world was falling apart when he didn't get to pull all of the keys off of my laptop with a set of keys he found. He melted down and sobbed. I said "Aww, did someone steal your Christmas presents little man?" and then thought... Who stole mine?

I mean, in all reality- they call satan a stealer, not because he steals your money or your livelihood... But because he steals your joy.

Just like Judah's falling apart because he was in trouble for doing something that was naughty... He felt like it was hopeless, it was the end of the world. He was in trouble, no one loved him or understood him, no one wanted him to be happy.

Am I like a little child?

Well, yesterday I felt like I was. I was laying there, lining up all the things that sucked in our life at the moment and I saw no hope. I saw hopelessness. Like Judah, I couldn't see past the immediate moment that was in my face. Past my failures, my lost dreams, my fears, my hurts. I was stuck with that thought that everything was totally lost.

Today I stare at that image of myself feeling so badly... And I wonder what on earth was going on.

Satan stole my Christmas presents. He stole my joy. I let him steal my joy- and I froze in terror as he did. What I should have done is turned around, looked him in the ugly face and said "You can have my Christmas presents, but you sure can't steal my joy."

Now, the people that I know that don't really believe in Satan- you still believe in good and evil. Well, evil thoughts or hindering thoughts (which I believe are from the devil working his way in your mind) are easily rebuked- and if you rebuke them with Jesus on your side, it's not a battle. It's just a "throw your hands up in the air" situation. It's nice.

"God, pour a joyful heart onto me. Give me a heart of gratitude and don't let satan or evil take a foothold in my life. In Jesus name, I call my mind and spirit strong and whole, not broken or weak. I will lean on You."

:)

10.30.2011

Seeing Gabe's heartbeat

Before we had Gabe, we knew that his chest would remain open after surgery for a couple days (it was about 10 days, actually). I remember thinking that it would probably be hard.. But when I saw it- it was totally beautiful.

I could see my son, who had just been cut open and pieced back together, laying on a table, puffy and sedated- and there was his heart beating. I could literally see his heart beating in his chest.

It was- quite oddly- the most exciting and breathtaking thing you could ever see. Knowing that his heart was beating, was working. It was a miracle.

What caused many to look away in horror, inspired me. It made me want to lay my head near his chest to see if I could hear it better.

Just like every time during pregnancy we heard his heart beat. I knew that he was strong, he was okay.

So, seeing his heart beating. That was a miracle. I will forever treasure that moment when I saw it for the first time.

My little warrior prince, Gabe.

10.27.2011

When did life stop being worth fighting for?

Okay, I don't like to post contraversal matter on here, but since I have a downs syndrome son- I have been absolutely horrified by the fact that 90 percent of downs syndrome babies are aborted.

It makes me sick to my stomach. Maybe it's because people are under-educated. Maybe it's because they are over-educated. Maybe it's because they are just too scared to go through something that may be 'more difficult' than they might otherwise have to face... But I truly am disguisted at this fact and statistic.

It's not because I think that abortion is evil and will damn you to hell. I think that abortion is the death of a person, a life, a beautiful thing. I think it is a tradgedy and I do NOT think that it is 'okay', however, I do think that there are reasons that I never want to face, that people need to have them done.

I was reading a post the other day that a woman had posted about aborting her son with downs syndrome. She wanted feedback- and I was reading through the posts.

Most of them were hateful from people, who like me, see the beauty and perfection in the imperfections that downs syndrome brings- but don't know how to say it without condemning and damning people with their words.

Then, I read further down the page.

A woman had posted a story of her daughter, who they discovered at an ultrasound had the most severe kind of brittle bone disease that you can have. Her bones were literally breaking because of her muscles growing. She was in pain, in the womb. She would not survive delivery- and most likely would die in the womb before she made it to term. The woman had never considered an abortion in her life. She had never thought of her child being in pain, severe pain, for every second that she was alive.

The woman and her husband decided that they could not let her continue to suffer. They delivered her early. She was born already gone, her body broken like she'd been thrown down stairs several times.

As I read her story, my perspective opened up. My eyes widened at the thought of having to make THAT decision. To decide to let your unborn loved one suffer in agony, or to end their painful journey.

In this case, I realize- I don't know what I would do. I don't know how I would face that.

Now, onto abortion for other selective reasons.

I do not believe it is okay to use the system the way we do now to end life. With the accessibility to birth control, the accessibility to knowledge, how can we live with this sort of irresponsible careless neglect of the unborn's parents?

Parents are not required to go through counseling before they abort. They aren't required to see an image of their child's gestational age and size. They aren't required to see their child via ultrasound before the procedure.

They walk in, sign a form and are asked once if they are sure. Then, it's done. Life is snuffed out.

What kind of society lets a HUGE desicion that will impact so many be such a careless act?

HLHS babies are terminated every day. Parents are told that there is no hope, that the surgeries are experimental, that their babies have no chance at life. They are pushed to give up.

80-90 percent of chromosomally healthy babies with HLHS will live. Many will thrive. (If surgeries are done at a well established facility who experiences many cases a year- which there are MANY of).

40-60 percent of Downs Syndrome babies with HLHS will live. Many will thrive.

So why is it, that when we made our decision to fight for our son that we were pushed so hard to give up? From week 7 of pregnancy we were told that his life was soon to be over. From day one of his life apart from me, we were pushed to take him home and let him die.

Who have we become, as a society, that life is so invaluable that we ought to not fight for it?

Any mother who is forced to be barren will tell you that they would fight for the life of their baby. They would grow sick at the thought of a mother giving up so easily on their little life. At the tiny person who could be.

Any mother who has walked a day in the shoes of a mother of an extremely sick baby or child would tell you that they would rip out their heart for their child if they could.

Any parent, mother, or father who has looked at their child and had to imagine or actually had to tell them that their life would soon end... Those are the parents who know what life is valued at.

Nick and I don't try to look into the future right now, not too far. Far enough to plan... Not far enough to fear.

We sometimes mention the small, scary fact to each other that our son will fight through all of this, just to find out when he is 15-30 years old that his heart will no longer sustain him... And because of his Down's Syndrome he will not be able to get a donated heart. We don't like to think of it, but it stays there in the back of our minds.

We wonder- did we make the right decision in fighting for our son?

Yes. Undoubtably yes. You see- Jesus fought for us.

He died on the cross not just for those who will proclaim His name. But for the broken, the ones who will proclaim his name in hatred.. Because, even though some will die... We are all worth fighting for.

What would Jesus do?

Jesus would give us EVERY chance he could possibly give us.

So, if you are facing the decision to fight for your child- for your family member, for your marriage... I hope this helps you in some way.


*** Remember, most of these thoughts are my young, 22 year old mother thoughts. They are not from years of thought processes and prayer, but from our concentrated years of prayers and the beliefs that have developed. ***

10.25.2011

Burdened

Today, just a few minutes ago- we took Gabe to the surgical waiting area to have the doctors take him into the Cath lab. We are praying, hoping, believing that this will help him get off of oxygen so we can finally take him home.

I never cried when Gabe was taken before. Today, I choked back tears before they could fall. Probably because the attachment has been difficult to avoid the past weeks, watching him become himself, developing his personality very slowly and surely underneath my eyes. I kept thinking, I should have waited in his room. Handing him to the doctors who were very quickly going to be putting him to sleep- intubating him, and preforming a procedure that could be life threatening if done wrong... It took a lot of courage to let him go.

I think it shocked me a bit to realize that.

But the past few days have been difficult all on their own.

Yesterday, Nick's Aunt Kelley came and talked with me, shared some visions and some scriptures with me. I needed it, the encouragement and the fellowship of knowing that I am not alone in these struggles and being reaffirmed that the weight is not on my shoulders to fight these personal battles.

Lately, it seems like my dreams are constantly about Nick and I, our marriage. They are nightmares most nights, about us falling apart, Nick stopping caring, or me leaving. It's awful. They are so real in my subconcious that I wake up and reach over to him, needing to know that he is still there and he still loves me...

It's silly, that our dreams can be the place where evil messes with us the most.

Last night, however, I had a good dream again. Finally. After weeks of nightmares, I had a good dream about our marriage.

I think that Satan attacks this, because marriage is the one thing in my world that I know where I stand. I know that marriage is forever, and I have been blessed immensely with a man who feels the same, loves me forever, and committed to continue falling in love with me until one of us kicks the bucket :).

I would like to say that I am superhuman and I don't struggle with negative thoughts, but I am weak.

Sometimes you have to head back to those childrens songs- from nursery class.

"I am weak yet he is strong, Yes Jesus loves me!"

The reason we have to acknowledge our own weaknesses is not because we are pitiful, but because Jesus is the one who gets to fight for us, we have to lay our burdens upon him. He already took the pain and died for them, it's pointless to drag ourselves through the mud when we have already been freed from these pointless chains.

If you aren't laying it down for your Father- why do you think he died in such a terrible way? Do you not trust him to relieve your burdened heart?

Something to think about.

Please be praying for me, and let me know what you need prayer for. The people of God are called to pray for one another, to lay their burdens down, and to constantly remind each other of the things we should already know..

<3

10.22.2011

Umm... Satan- who invited you?

I've struggled with mild to severe depression most of my life (since I was about 13-14. I've tried medications briefly, but they just don't work like Jesus works. Medications often tend to make things worse, for me- personally. I know that they can and will help many people, and there is nothing wrong with using them- they are tools that God has given us to assist us.

A major part of my depression tends to happen when I just have too much time to focus on myself and not enough time to focus on others. It gets worse when I'm indoors, but part of it makes me want to stay indoors constantly (counter productive). It happens when I don't get enough excersize, eat right, or get enough sunshine. All of those things help. It helps to have places to take a drive to and relax with my family at... But all in all, depression is something that can happen at any time, for any reason, and it's not simply because I am too self focused... It's also because of hormones, and because of the fact that our lives have been very, very up in the air lately.

My depression tends to smack me in the face so hard that I don't see it coming. And the only thing that helps is time and prayer, and Jesus.

Seriously, Jesus heals depressed thinking. Speaking Jesus' healing over my mind and calling all evil or terrible thoughts out of my mind, it truly helps. It doesn't always work immediately, but always, within a few days- I feel at least more able to mentally rise above it.

Right now, homesickness is playing into things quite a bit. Also, having no idea when we are going home, or what is going to happen next... And the future after this first surgery.. All of that is contributing.

Well, as you probably guessed, my mind and Satan are conspiring against me the past few days. It's been difficult, but I know it will pass and the sun will again shine on my heart and break up this little bout of sadness.

If you don't hear from me lately, it's because I am fighting my own little battle right now. But, it's not terrible and it's going to pass. :)

Thank you for the extra prayers for my mind and well being tonight. I appreciate you!

10.17.2011

Inspired

Leaves are falling off of the trees here in Seattle. First they turn a miraculous orange, then they finally begin their fall to the ground, where lately, Judah and I are watching in amazement.

Life truly takes on a new meaning when you are experiencing it with your 18 month old. Judah's fascination with all things outside is inspiring. We took a walk the other evening, after a particularly stressful day at the hospital- and Judah melted it away. He took a leaf from the ground and threw it in the air as hard as he could. We watched it float to the ground together, and it was almost like we were in a normal life. Like we were just Mommy and Judah- and nothing crazy was going on. Our lives were temporarily perfect for that moment.

Then, Judah took a leaf out of a puddle of mud and rain water and shook it in my face vigorously. I laughed and shook it back at him. His big grin and bright blue eyes don't leave room for any annoyance at the mud that became plastered to my glasses and hair. Life is wonderful.

Gabriel and Judah have not had much interaction. Judah has seen me hold him a few times, and he knows he is a baby... But it's not going to click until that baby is home with us in Boise. Then, Judah will realize that he's our baby.

Judah has a doll now, which his father hates, but is a much needed practice baby. We rock the baby doll to sleep and sing it songs, give it a binky and are sweet to the baby... Until Judah gets bored and throws it on its head.

I bought this doll on purpose, because I hoped that in some way it would slowly and gently introduce Judah into the concept of a baby in his world. I think it's becoming apparent that the baby concept is going to have to make it's own grand entrance... And how it will go, I am unsure.

Gabe will be coming home eventually (we hope and pray), and that eventually could be soon or it could be months away. But as it is now, he will have at least a feeding tube and most likely oxygen. I think the concept of a baby brother is difficult enough with out adding in the 'extremely fragile' part. Of course, you have to be gentle and careful with other babies, but what Judah won't realize is that this baby is already changing Judah's life tremendously.

First, we came to Seattle where the Ronald McDonald house is our 'home base' and Judah has been back and forth to grandparents and aunties houses from time to time while we attend to Gabe. Not only that, but when Gabe finally does get to come home, Judah's playground days will be limited and sanitized.

Judah has been a greats sport in all of these changes. He has been our joy when it's hard to see past this situation. When we run low on hope, he keeps us inspired.

For now, we continue to take this journey day by day, and we are thankful beyond words for our Judah and our Gabriel.


JUDAH 18 months:

GABRIEL 7 weeks:

10.08.2011

Prepared?

Sometimes I wonder if God was preparing us for Gabe when Judah was going through his difficulties... and then sometimes I wonder if Gabe is preparing us for Judah.

When you become parents, there is no manual. There really ought to be, but unfortunately you can do everything right and it will be all wrong for your child.

It doesn't matter how many green vegetables your child eats, he still is going to scream bloody murder all the way through the checkout line or when you go to eat at a restaurant.

Judah cried and cried and cried and cried and cried for his first 4 months of life. He never stopped crying except when he was passed out from pure exhaustion.

He was starving, but couldn't eat. He was eating, but couldn't breathe. He had gas, his formula constipated him, he just was sad. We bounced him and bounced him and bounced him. We did everything we could think of to get him to stop crying. Nothing ever worked for more than a few minutes.

Judah did not have colic, he was starving due to difficulties that no one seemed to be able to diagnose. Finally, when he was so small and quit eating entirely- we knocked on our doctors office every single day for a week. We were terrified. We didn't know what was going to happen to our son. No one could tell us what was wrong or how to fix it. All we knew was he was withering away before our eyes.

Finally, someone found the answer and the crying slowed. Whining still happened, but the crying.. The constant unstoppable crying ended.

We thought that was the end of the world. It was the end of the world- for us. It was the scariest thing you could go through, being helpless to save your child. Being helpless to fix him.

When Gabe was diagnosed with HLHS- we were helpless. All we knew was that his only option was surgery. It was out of our hands. It is all out of our hands. We knew that we could not save him. We knew that we could not fix him. We knew that we were doing nothing wrong. That it was not in our hands- it was in God's and the surgeons hands to save him.

Now, in comparing those two situations... Which one was scarier?

Judah.

Judah scared me more than Gabe's situation ever has. We were prepared to be helpless with Gabe. We knew we couldn't change what he has to go through to get a chance at life. The weight was off of our shoulders.

In facing the two circumstances again, if we had not experienced what we did with Judah- we probably would be wrecked. We probably would be out of our minds with this situation. That's normal.

But I honestly thank God for Judah's circumstances- because they prepared us.

And now, we get the parenting skills through all the things we are going through with Gabe to use on Judah. Patience, slow to anger, loving, and just enjoying him more than ever.

Life comes at you fast. So you suck in every day, the entire day. You appreciate the bad along with the good, because they both teach you. I have learned so much about love and trust. Trusting God. Trusting a surgeon to do his best, with God's help, to save my son for just a little longer.

Thank you Jesus for preparing our hearts for Gabe's heart.

10.05.2011

You're better than drugs...

Last night was scary. I was having a good time since Gabriel was so awake, sitting up and looking at me... But he was breathing so quickly and heavily. His morphine wean hasn't been quite as easy as we were hoping it would be.

Last night was one of those moments where fear got the best of me and I stared helplessly while waiting on the doctors to order and bring up a breakthrough dose of morphine. 30 minutes of watching him struggle to get air and they finally brought it up.

Poor Gabe.

Hoping today is easier- since we slowed the amount of weaning. Slow and steady... I suppose.

<3

10.04.2011

Groaning and Growing :)

I guess the main thing that has been on our minds lately is how blessed we really are. Gabe is perfect in our eyes and beautiful and ours. He is doing well despite all the odds stacking against him.

I think our main fear is the very huge lack of hope we were given for Gabriel's future. I haven't been able to find anyone with the heart issues that Gabe has that is still living. There have been a few babies with similar defects, but they have passed away. So I guess it would be normal for my fears to be elevated looking into the future of our little man.

We were lucky we were so expectant on God in the first weeks (as we are now). If we hadn't been, Gabe would be gone. I believe that entirely, because they didn't want to operate on Gabe even when his heart function had improved to near perfection. They didn't want to take the risk. We were almost unaware of the fact that our son was born with poor heart function on top of his HLHS and AV Canal Defect- and Downs Syndrome. We just knew that he needed to be fixed- so we pushed for it. We hoped and prayed for it.

Day three, I sobbed all night long. I cried in the middle of the night out to God. "Please let me keep my son. Please save him." From that moment, I had a very amazing peace that stretched across my life. My husband's peace came the next day.

Our son's heart function improved drastically. It was truly a miracle. The heart medicine he was on may have helped, but they actually don't think it's the reason. His heart was healed- so much that they could no longer use it as a reason to deny him surgery. Our prayers were answered.

We were given more time.

...........................

In other news- Judah has turned into a complete Mommy's boy. It's shocking in every way possible, because Judah has never been a huge fan of being rocked or cuddled- and suddenly he requires being rocked to sleep. He doesn't want me to be out of the room and will cry hysterically if he thinks I am leaving. I didn't expect it. It's kind of nice to get a little neediness from Judah... He has never been the type. He has wanted to be independent since he was born.

He is learning so many new words. Bankie (Blankie) and ite Pease (bite please) have been a couple of my favorites. He still does his 'nonie nonie no." when he doesn't want something. He also shakes his head no for no apparent reason (until he is dizzy).

He is a master of the up on stairs, but going down is a different challenge. He thinks he can, but he skips steps and steps where there aren't any.... It's a tad frightening.

He has grown substantially since we've been here, but unfortunately just taller and not much rounder. He is inbetween 12 months and 18 months clothes, which is unfortunate since those sizes don't exist.

Wish there was a pause button for Gabe or for Judah. It would be used quite frequently!

9.27.2011

Dear Jesus, when did I become a judgemental, coldhearted, ninnymuggins?

When I was 5, almost all my imaginary friends where crippled in some way. I kid you not. They were in wheelchairs and had crutches and all sorts of silly things related to illness.

I never considered them 'sick'. They were just my imaginary friends who were in a wheelchair.

I had one of those hearts where I loved like Jesus. (I like to think...)

So when in heavens name did I become a judgemental, coldhearted, ninnymuggins? When did I start feeling awkward around people with disabilities? When did I start pulling away from them in crowded places? Was it taught, or is it in my nature?

When did I start thinking "Thank God that's not my child?"

When did my Jesus eyes go out the window?

The past few days I have noticed some people in the hallways of the hospital and out and about who are disabled. One man was mildly disabled, and two of them were severely and painstakinly visibly disabled. They were in mobile chairs, a woman with only the use of her feet and obviously unable to verbally communicate. She was writing with her feet while sitting in a wheelchair. The man was in a large wheelchair as well, he was just sitting there, looking at the ground, unable to lift his head. I found myself looking away- trying not to stare- stuck in that mentality that I didn't want him to catch me staring.

Today I was talking to God and I was asking him to help me see people through his eyes. I wasn't talking about the disabled, but as I sat down to write about that I realized that these were the few people that I remembered throughout the day. These were the people I had a hard time seeing through Jesus' eyes.

Don't get me wrong, I don't have 'judgement' towards them, but I do have an 'attitude'. The attitude was to go around them, to avoid them, to be almost mildly afraid of what they would say if they could tell me what a ridiculous jerk I was for treating them that way.

Jesus sees their hearts. He knows what they are feeling, what they think. He knows how they felt when I stared at the ground in fear of making eye contact with them and realizing that they caught me looking at them.

My son has Downs Syndrome. It could be severe or mild, who knows. Who cares? My son is beautiful and I fought for him- we fought for him. God formed all these people in his image and with his purpose in mind.

I imagine they are the people who see reality in a way that I cannot grasp. They know the truth- the raw truth. There's no covering up what issues they have with makeup or lies- there's no hiding.

If everyone could see my issues on the outside... I'm sure they would be awkwardly staring at the ground and fumbling by- trying not to make eye contact.

Its the people who see past my flaws and know my heart- those are the people who love like Jesus.

It's the people who can see past the external and the issues who love like Jesus. Imagine that.

:)

I hope I can be more like that person.

9.26.2011

Homesick but moving forward

I don't think I had any idea what I was getting myself into when I told my husband that I thought it would be great to have 3 children while I was young, so that I had little friends to hang out with. Okay, maybe I did. Maybe I would do it all over again.

I would. I definitely would.

But I imagined it a little differently. I imagined my 2 boys and 1 girl (Yes, it was all worked out) running together, playing together, dancing, singing, going to church. I would be super mom (as I remembered my Mom being) and we would have all sorts of fun family memories together, imagining, playing.

1 year ago today, I wasn't sure if Judah would ever get off of a feeding tube. I wasn't sure if he would ever stop aspirating liquids into his lungs. I wasn't sure if people would always be asking me 'what's wrong with him?'.

Then, God made a way. I know it was God because it was a chance happening that Sky mentioned that Judah's frenulum (tongue-cord, as I referred to it) seemed 'quite tight' and needed to be clipped. This little tiny tongue cord, this silly little thing- it was the key to Judah's difficulties. We think it was what caused him trouble in the beginning, although his laryngomalacia (floppy larynx) and stridor were scary- it might have not been surgical had someone just noticed this little thing.

Judah- he is thriving. More than thriving, really. He looks small still- and he is- but he is thriving. He eats well, plays constantly... nonstop- all day- and he is brilliant. I'm not just saying he is brilliant from a silly Mom view (okay, maybe a little)... But he truly is incredibly intelligent and percieves so much that it baffles me. He is adorable in every way. It's easy to fall in love with him- just like the day he was born. It is so easy.

Gabe is the one facing the challenges at this moment. The question today is- "will he need to be reintubated?" His life- we take it one day at a time. We learned a lot from Judah's experiences. We were ready for the hospital. We learned that much of what you see in a hospital looks scarier than it is (we hope)- and that you cannot kill yourself with worry.

I am so blessed to know a Father who loves me. I know that God has Gabe in the palm of his hand.

A few weeks ago Pastor Susie told me that God was squeezing Gabe's little heart- she saw Him doing it in a vision she had. Suddenly, shortly after she told me this, Gabe qualified for surgery. His heart that had not been squeezing adequately before... It began to squeeze marvelously. His leaky valve all but stopped leaking... He amazed all who saw him.

Our friend Ricy said that he could not stop hearing the words "Gabriel's Hope" in his head when he was thinking of Gabe. Suddenly, it was in my head too. God put it there.

Hope- Gabe- Hope- Gabe- Hope.

Maybe this is what steadies my heart on days like today where I can't imagine breaking away from chores and Judah to go to the hospital and be with my other little one. I enjoy greatly my time with Judah- but I have a hole when I am with him, and a hole when I am with Gabe.

Someday, when I have them both in one room- I will lavish them with kisses and bask in the ability to have my boys all together. All three of them.

Gosh I am so blessed.

For those of you who have been blessing us with letters, with love, with support, with words of hope, encouragement... I am listening. I take it all in. I take every piece in. I wish I had a computer in my room that worked adequately to type long- well spoken replies to you.

Thank you for showing God in your words, in your gifts... Just in your love and prayers.

<3

9.22.2011

Peace

I can never seem to finish these stupid bog entries... It's ike I run out of words- and then out of patience with my broken keys.

It's a miracle- the amount of peace Nick and I have felt over the past weeks. I think we dealt with a lot of turmoil when we were diagnosed prenatally. Back when people were praying for healing directly from God- I was preparing myself in case God's plan wasn't in that direction. I was in a giant amount of turmoil through the pregnancy, off and on. Crying and feeling despair at moments... But preparing.

I think perhaps I mourned over my idea of a perfect situation long enough that when the time came- I was as ready as I could ever be. Poor Nick, having to hear me going over and over how hard it was going to be and how I was never going to be ready.

So far, I've had one day where the depths of despair hit me. Day 3. And the rest of this time has been spent in waiting, hoping, praying, begging, and of course with Judah.

The thing that is bugging my head lately is the future- because we have no idea where in heavens name we will be in the months ahead. We come back for the second surgery in March (or earlier) and our lease is up in January.

This has kept me wondering... Why did I get an upstairs apartment? Why? Can I even imagine the appointments (3-4 a week for Gabe)- going up and down stairs with two- and possibly a feeding tube set up, getting them in the car. You can't eave one alone in the car where you can't see them... This is my stress right now. Haha...

Here we are recovering from surgery- the bumps hitting us and my big fear is how I am going to get my boys in the car for appointments. Silly me :).

Nick and I were discussing how much amazement we have that we feel peace right now, when our family members have such turmoil still. We prepared ourselves to fight for our son. We knew that staying awake all night and not resting when we needed to would not change his outcome. We told ourselves that we would take it one minute at a time.

The reality is, after all three surgeries, his expectancy is 15-25 years. He will not qualify fr a heart transplant because of Downs Syndrome (Trisomy 21). HlHS is not a heart defect that can be fixed.

So... We are not waiting for them to fix him. We are enjoying his life as it is. We are thanking God for each minute, each day, each week, each month, each year, and so on.

9.18.2011

Frozen

Yesterday Nick and I went to Kohls. It was incredible- simply because it felt like we were back in Boise for a moment (we went to Kohls quite a bit when they were mailing us 10 dollar gift cards :)). We bought Judah some warmer clothes, and enjoyed each others company.

Judah is spending the weekend with his grumparents. (grumpa and grumma)

Nick and I can't figure out what happened to summer. We lost it somehow in all this craziness. We remember a few warm days, but most of our time was spent inside, keeping Gabe baking away.

It feels kind of like we are stuck in a snow globe- looking out at everything on occasion, but mostly stuck in our own bizarre world. The flakes pick up occasionally, and we forget to look out at the outside world when that happens.

Gabe is doing well. His sats are up a bit, but we are still not entirely in 'recovery' yet. When his swelling goes down and his chest is closed, that's when we expect to be in the recovery stage.

Nick and I prepared quite a bit, you know. We haven't been shocked by most things. We researched, we read, we connected with families who had already been here- and we saw pictures. We knew that he would be covered in wires and tubes and have his chest open. Maybe that's why I wasn't ready for his birth- because I knew the journey we would be on.

It doesn't phase me. Maybe something is wrong, but I don't notice the wires, the tubes. They are the small things. They aren't really there for me. I notice his hands, his eyes, his ears, his toes- his hair.

more to come...

9.09.2011

Hard to Say

I haven't posted in quite a while. This is mostly because of the frustration that comes from having to copy and paste a my o's and l's.

Gabe is more than impressive. His heart function was so bad on his first echo that he did not qualify for surgery. Prayers were sent out, and his heart function improved to near perfection. I am so proud of him.

Judah has grown substantially during our time here. He is earning words, balancing very well- and enjoying a the hospital faces. He brings joy to so many with his high pitched squeeling while running down the halls. He is my sweety boy, I am so proud of him as well.

Gabe is 11 days old today. Nearly two weeks. His first surgery will be on Tuesday, most likely. I can imagine that waiting in the hospital- not knowing- will be the most difficult part...

More later...

9.02.2011

All of Me

Matt Hammitt's song "All of Me" is about his son, Bowen.

Bowen inspired us with such great hope for Gabe.

www.bowensheart.com

8.30.2011

Sweet Gabriel

Oh my sweet boy. Loves to be held, his feet are VERY ticklish, and he sucks on his breathing tube like a binky. I would do anything, anything at all to take every moment of discomfort away from him. I would do anything at all to save him from every second of pain.

I am so exhausted, but sleep is so hard. I am afraid I will miss something. I can't sleep if he is alone- because I am afraid he will feel alone and not fight. He just has to fight.

His heart was the best heart on the monitors, you know. Before he was born, they always said he was the best heart, the most beautiful baby on the floor. I listened to the galloping so proudly, knowing that he was the strongest, as he needed to be.

Crying out to God, not recognizing myself at the moment. My eyes are so swollen I was having a hard time seeing for a while.

The support, it's so needed. It's so wonderful. It's more than a blessing. It's more than a gift. It's everything.

I feel like I have a heart condition right now. I would break my heart in half to give him the other half.

Hearing that a heart transplant wasn't going to happen because of his 'quality of life' if he has down syndrome.. Since he has it... It made me almost angry. But I expected it, due to the research I'd done prenatally.

My baby- my sweet Gabriel... He deserves a heart- a whole heart. He deserves a fight, to fight. He deserves to live. We love him... So much. And we will love him with all our hearts every day we have him. We want him forever.

Hear my Cry Oh God, Attend unto my prayers
From the ends of the Earth, Do I cry unto thee.
When my heart is overwhelmed,
Lead me to the Rock

That is higher than I.
That is higher than I.

Oh Gabriel, get stronger. We love you- so many people love you. You are our baby, and we will never give you up or replace you.

8.28.2011

Gabriel Abraham McAllister!

Gabriel Abraham was born at 2:20 AM after three pushes. It was the easiest, fastest, and funnest delivery- we are so lucky. He weighs 7LBS 11OZ- and looks like a giant in the NICU.

I am waiting to go give him his blanket in the NICU and kiss his sweetness again before they transfer him to Children's in the morning... So while I keep myself awake with my sweet husband resting- I thought I would write what emotions I felt when I saw him.

We knew/know that Gabe has a possibility of having Downs Syndrome. In my heart, I think I knew he probably did, but I kept saying that he was probably just a little short with a big head like my sweet husband Nick.

So the second I laid eyes on Gabe, of course I knew that he looked like he did. But all I could think is "It's him. It's the little boy I fell in love with before I met him... It's Gabe." There was no moment of sorrow for the more 'perfect' baby, though some fear of what this might mean for his heart surgeries in the future... But Gabe is strong, he is a warrior, he is my son.

When we met Judah for the first time, we were so in love, but we didn't know Judah- we knew the kicks, we knew that we couldn't wait to have our baby in our arms, but we didn't see him instantly as the "Judah" we had been waiting for... Not because Judah wasn't as special, but because we didn't develop the same bond at first with Judah- it came after delivery (we love them equally, of course!)

When Nick and I saw Gabe, we knew him. We knew his heart, knew his chubby cheeks, knew his movements, knew it was the boy we had been praying for, the boy God gave to us.

Downs Syndrome is not a fear of mine. I thought at first, as I said before, that Downs was a hard possibility to face, but when I talked with God, this fear left me. I had prayed early in this pregnancy that God give Gabe a healthy heart, that I didn't care about the possibility of Down's Syndrome, though some fear it deeply.

Now, we aren't 100 percent sure if Gabe has Downs or possibly another chromosomal issue- but I can tell you that he is completely the boy I wanted, the boy I love, and I am not disappointed.

I will never for one second question my love for him, and I will do everything in my power to fight with him and for him every second of his life. I will be the mother that Jesus gave me the ability to be.

Gabe has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He has an incredibly strong, beautiful heart. He is so snuggly, so sweet.

Gabe is my son.


He is our Gaberham, our Gabraham, our Gabe the Ham, our second son, our little man, our angel.


And in this fight, the last thing on my mind is which chromosomes he has. I would give my heart to him if I could, I would save him from what he is about to go through if I could, but I promise to love him with every fiber of my being that God gave me to love him with.

So if you think I am disappointed, please know that I am not. I am so happy. I am blessed beyond measure. <3

8.22.2011

Jesus asked his father if there was any way he could avoid experiencing the pain he went through for us. He asked his father if the cup could pass from him- because I imagine the thought of what he would have to go through to justify saving us from our sins was more than terrifying.

I think I have asked my fair share if this cup could pass from us. Sometimes it feels like I am oh ye of little faith's embodiment- fearing the pain of the future and hoping with a mustard seed mentality that the next weeks ahead could somehow be avoided.

Here it is upon us, that moment- and I am still in the same position I was when we found out about Gabe's special heart. Wondering if I will hold him for one second of his life or for years.

But my goodness gracious... I am so excited to meet him. Finally, the excitement and joy is back and the fears are momentarily faded.

One of the things people often say is that God picks special parents to go through things like this. I kind of hate hearing that, to be honest. I think the opposite is true. I think parents can become special and refined when they go through the fires with their children, with their lives in general.

Letting it mold you in a soft way is the challenge- I think.

We could become calloused and rough and hard through this, and I pray constantly that we become softer, kinder, more loving, more thankful.

Gabe is officially in the 'safer' zone. 37 weeks yesterday means that when he comes, he will be 'ready'. Will we? I don't think we can be 'ready'- but I think we are ready to hold our little one, to touch his sweet cheeks and to just love on him.

I have two things on my list to get before he arrives.

1: An extremely soft blanket to cuddle him since I can't. (way harder to find than I thought)
2: A soft stuffed animal just for him.

7.24.2011

Last few weeks in Boise, for now...

I have been slaving away here trying to organize the many baby clothes that we have for Judah. We have some pretty cute stuff, and I'm imagining Gabe will look pretty darn cute in all these things.

Slaving away isn't quite accurate, since the massive belly and fear of early labor keeps me going at 30 minute intervals... 30 minutes on... 2 hours off. Haha, slightly pathetic, but no matter what the fear of having Gabe is, the fear of having him too early is much worse- so I will take it slow and steady over the next 3 weeks.

While cleaning, I spotted my bible in the corner of our closet. I remember putting it there, though I didn't realize I would feel so guilty now when I looked at it. I want to pick it up, to find the comfort in there that I might stumble upon... But I know the one thing that I will be looking for will not be in there.

Why? The why's will not be in there, though I've formulated plenty of reasons why in my head- speculated that evil is the only thing responsible, but wondered if this was to train our hearts to be more open.

Nick and I talk about Gabe every day (though barely coherent, as it is usually 12:30 am when we get a moment to really 'talk'). We talk about our fears, our worries, our wonders, our joys, our blessings, our pains and our hopes. We talk about God and we wonder together what lesson we are learning, and if there is a different way to learn it.

One of the things we've talked about is the dramatic effect that pain has on lives. Pain, when we experience it... Through deaths, through traumatic events, through painful life events... It changes you. There's no way around it, no way to avoid it. The only thing you can do is let it make you better, rather than make you worse.

Pain can shut you down to the world around you. It can cause you to dry up where you are at, to sink into a turtle shell- with only enough room to stick your head out. But pain can lead to an immensely beautiful surrender. To making a life worth living, rather than quitting on life altogether.

Many women and men that have lost their little ones have decided to fight for other people's little ones. To do the many 'walks' in support of research and change to make their child's lives meaningful. Nick and I know that Gabe's life has been immensely meaningful already. We feel like we know him as much- if not more than we knew Judah when he was a month old. We are deeply in love with him, our Gaberham, our little tomato face boy. (He has very round cheeks!). We are so in love with him- that we plan for his future. We have planned for the good, for the bad, not as much for the ugly, but we don't want to plan for that.

This blog is not to mention only that we are prepared for pain, but we are prepared for the joy as well. Pain, is watching your child be ill. If for one second- if for one day- if for their entire lifetime. But to let it make you beautifully and wonderfully aware of the blessings that are small, the time to touch their lives, to let the touch other lives... To every milestone they get to hit... Celebration.

I hope that when Gabe learns to crawl, we aren't more excited than we were for Judah (I know we won't be, though it might seem that way). When Gabe gets to his very first birthday- CELEBRATION! When Gabe graduates kindergarten- CELEBRATION.

When Gabe proves to the world that he is a wonderful, miraculous child of God- CELEBRATION.

Just like we have had celebrations for all of Judah's over comings, though smaller they might seem- being grateful is what we have learned thus far.

We are now at 33 weeks- though I have a feeling we will meet Gabe a couple weeks earlier than his due date- like Judah.

Keep up the prayers, the bible says- "The fervent prayers of the righteous avail much."

I will go ahead and peel my bible out of the closet... Lets see what God brings me to! I think he might be saying.... "It's about time!"

7.17.2011

Overwhelming Support

Today, we got a morning to go to church. It was so nice to be there, to worship, to see friendly faces and to hear how many people are praying for us, thinking of us... Supporting us.

Again I find myself thinking of all the moments that I have felt a 'refill' of energy, of strength, of ability to handle this absolutely shocking diagnosis- and I feel like Abraham is the perfect middle name for Gabe.

I know that God hears all the voices that have been sweetly lifting up our family in prayers. I know when I feel an irrational sense of well-being that it's God bringing the peace to our family- listening to the prayers of the men and women who are thinking of us.

I had it in my head to create a facebook page for Gabe so that we could keep updating something while we were in Seattle, just for Gabe. Keeping family and friends in the loop while they prayed over him... So I made the page.

If you would like to be updated on Gabe through simpler means (less wordy- lol)- feel free to add yourself to the group.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/101611786604000?id=103309283100917&ref=notif¬if_t=group_activity#!/groups/101611786604000

We have received so many kind words and notes on his page- so many prayers too, through the past days since we created it. Thank you for all your support... It means more to us than pure gold knowing that so many voices our lifting up our Gabe.

Thank you for your kind words, your support, your love. I hope we seem as grateful as we are, because it's hard to express in words how humbled we are becoming through this experience...

7.15.2011

I think we all start out with this preconceived unrealistic idea in our head that life will go as we anticipate it to. It doesn't seem so unrealistic, because it seems like everyone's life tends to go in a pretty forward direction..

But then the bottom drops out from under you. The plans you had vanish and are met with a jaw dropping moment where you have no idea what direction you are going in.

Wait... What just happened? Where did all our plans go? And you are staring at your life, your spouse, your future with this dazed look...

This wasn't what we had in mind... This wasn't what we expected... Is the only thing running through your head for a moment. Then you are stuck in a puddle of mud paddling as fast as you can in no certain direction. All you know is that you have to get back into the regular pond because you were not cut out for this. You need a large bathtub, at the very least- to sink up to your chin in. Bubbles too, please. It wouldn't hurt to have a novel to escape into and a large glass of iced-something.

I've been going through pre-traumatic stress disorder. I think it must exist, since I seem to be going through it. It has some moments of near hyperventilation followed by long- super squeeze hugs from my sweet husband to bring me back out of it.

But I cry it out, get my hugs in, and keep on paddling in the mud- because eventually someone will throw a hose in and it won't feel quite as hard as it does right now.

7.12.2011

I miss my childhood imagination. It was so real- I could practically live anywhere I wanted and be whoever I wanted while I was playing.

I had lots of imaginary friends (with three brothers and no sisters, you need at least a few), each one of them with their own unique background. I remember one was in a wheelchair- though I don't remember the reason why now.

We lived next door to an orchard- the perfect play area for me. Trees to climb- grass taller than I was to run through. It was perfect for my imagination, since I hardly had to imagine anything with all the beauty.

I find myself lately wishing I could use that imagination to escape for just a little while. Just to imagine being in Africa- or in a cottage of my own having tea- relaxing.

Thank goodness for long relaxing baths that take me far enough away from reality to keep my sanity.

9 weeks is too soon. I wish life had a pause button. So we could prepare adequately.

<3

7.09.2011

Dear God,

Why do some live and some die?
Why are some prayers answered, and some not?
Why do people who smoke and drink their whole pregnancy get healthy little miracle babies- but not us?

Why do I really not want to know the answer?

What lesson are we learning through these challenges? Isn't there an easier way?

Can't we take the easy road?

Right now I am focusing on the beauty around me, but it is very bittersweet lately. I am enjoying the sun, the beautiful Boise landscapes, my little Judah bear, the kicks from Gabe, my husband's sweet face...

But it feels bittersweet. I know we are blessed in ways that many are not. I know it could be worse... But couldn't it be at least a little less challenging?

I've been waiting for life to settle down around me. For routines to kick in with our family so that we can plan out playdates and friendships. Will it never settle down? Will there always be some crazy thing going on that I can't find someone to relate to on?

I guess I am praying for peace again. The weather of this is definitely coming back and I need peace.

Peace and healing for Judah's chest and aspiration.
Peace and healing for Gabe's heart and other possible complications.
Peace and comfort for not having my parents in Seattle through all of this.
Peace and healing for how much I miss church lately.
Peace for my husband's hectic school and work schedules.
Peace financially.
Peace for the future.
Peace in knowing that there is nothing I could have or can do to change these circumstances.

God- please give me that overflowing crazy peace where people think I am in denial just because of how well we are handling things. I'd like that once again.

And please bless all the Mommas and Daddas who are going through these painful feelings.
<3
Bless every broken heart and every sick baby and child.
Bless all the little ones who don't eat well.
Bless us with the ability to keep on moving- even when it's scary.

7.06.2011

Prayers please...

How little control we really have over anything. And comforting, too.

The little things are piling up, we have a lot to do in the next 5 weeks and I don't know how we are going to do some of it- or any of it. The hormones of pregnancy have kicked in pretty harshly- and I am trying so hard to not fall apart- but it's definitely frustrating.

I miss worship- church worship. MGT worship. I have dreams about being in congregations worshipping from time to time- gosh I need that break. Just to absorb the love that God pours over when you truly lose yourself in His presence. It's better than any energy drink, than any airborne vitamin drink... God I need you.

Gosh darn hormones don't leave room for the face I can usually put forward- the face of 'I'm doing good, I'm doing great, I'm doing okay.'... It's turning into the face of "God how are we going to do this? Why do we have to do this? Can you please keep us from going through this? I'm not ready- not in 9 weeks- not in 9 years. I don't want to grow up this much right now. I don't want to go through the pain we are going to go through, watching this- going through this. I've seen this and I want to run the other direction as fast as I can."

So right now- dealing with some major financial issues still from when we got married and went from 2 well paying jobs to 1 not so well paying job, having a baby, dealing with car issues... and School too (Nick is seriously overloaded right now- poor guy)- and then dealing with the mental and emotional battles this is bringing... Along with running out of juice to keep up with Judah already... I need some prayers- some good, maybe long prayers.

Please keep our little family in your prayers if you have the time- we so appreciate it.

7.03.2011

Anemia

Dizziness, lightheaded, exhausted constantly, irritable, eating ice cubes like candy...

Could Iron be the cure for many of my problems lately? That would be nice.

I crave watermelon and strawberries, but just kicked in with wanting bags of icechips (I had that last pregnancy too).

Ahh something with a fix, I truly hope that is the explanation for my worst 'symptoms'. I am so tired of feeling exhausted- feeling like I can't even pick up Judah. Now waiting to hear back from my nurse- but even so I have a feeling iron will improve things.

Apparently I am not a very good iron absorber through prenatal pills- if so.

Gosh- I am much too sleepy to think about anything else today. <3

7.01.2011

Breathe

Every time I sit down to write more- all I can think is just 'breathe'. Just breathe and keep breathing. Keep moving forward and keep breathing.

The one thing I was glad to hear, although I had already suspected was the case was that the hospital would not want to do a c-section or induce labor even. That was awesome to hear confirmed. Something that is going to happen normally- without complication. Its healthy for heart babies like Gabe to be born naturally- it clears out their lungs in ways that they can't simulate for c-section babies. Gabe's lungs are effected by his heart. Half of your heart works on pumping blood to your lungs, you see. The other half pumps blood to the body.

In Gabe's heart- the half that pumps blood to the lungs is the large- functioning part. The half that pumps blood to the body is relatively non-existent.

The reason why this isn't a problem right now is because of two things. The first is the placenta is doing a lot of the circulatory work at this point. The second is that the PDA artery that is present in utero is allowing blood to be pumped to the body. It's an extra artery that closes in healthy babies within 48 hours of birth. The prostiglandin (sp) that they give to him after delivery will keep this open to give surgery more time to be successful.

So they will work on making it so that the lungs get 'enough' oxygen, but not too much (there is a balance, apparently)- and making it so that his body is getting enough blood to work right. In a few months- hopefully around 4-6 months after the first surgery, they will need to do another fix to keep it working well.

After the final surgery, at 4-5 years of age- his heart should work and do a good job until he is in his teens. At that point, he will likely need a transplant. So that is something to pray for. I'm hoping and praying for a superior heart that works until he is older than I am.

They have said that nothing is set in stone. All heart babies are different. All hearts are like fingerprints, unique. There is still opportunity for some change in his heart before birth, small or great- and even that surgery is more successful than they could imagine. Both things I will pray for :).

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. We feel like we know much more than we did before, and if you are wondering something that I can't answer, it's probably something I need to ask myself!

Judah is doing wonderfully with all the traveling and all the things going on. He is at that point of life where he is getting his boundaries all figured out, and it's definitely been interesting. He is a little bit mischievous and likes to smile when he does something he knows is naughty- but he also knows when he is in serious trouble. It's kind of cute :)

Nick is hard at work with school and work keeping him continuously busy. Sometimes we stay awake extra late to watch a show together, and we have deep conversations every night about all the things we are dealing with and all we have dealt with.

We are happy- though exhausted. We all came home with a virus which left Judah and I pretty puky. We are feeling a lot better and hoping to be at our 100 percents so we can get to church on time for once this year, lol.

We were told by the cardiologists that taking Gabe to church is a no-no due to his immune system being rattled by his heart. I half expected to hear this- but it's still a big life changer. Our church better get some audio video presentations with live links soon ;)

Well, this is more of a journal situation lately- so I will head off to bed.

Love to all of your families.

6.30.2011

Home from Seattle Consultation

Well- we are home. Still feel like my brain is lagging from the ride home, but Judah did wonderfully and practiced his walking quite a bit on the stops we took. He is practically a pro now. (I think he started walking and running at the same time- so his walking is semi dangerous as he is always at full speed- and not always at full balance). It's such a joy to watch him changing and learning these new things- darn my exhaustion level gaining by the day for the last 10 weeks of this pregnancy.

Our appointment went well, we were so happy to have researched and talked to so many other families with different heart issues (mainly HLHS)- because we knew what to ask and we feel like we really have a handle on what to 'expect'.

Gabriel has HLHS with AV- which is actually good. AV is a hole in the heart, but in HLHS it is a hole that is needed (he has 2 holes). If his 'septum' was intact, it would make surgically repairing his HLHS far more complicated, and the hole is helpful for the surgeries.

We were also told (there has often been back and forth on this) that his femurs and arms are measuring at least a week behind in growth- which could be from his short genes. (Nick and I are short people at 5'5" and 5'7"). What this indicates is possible Down Syndrome, as they have said before- but it doesn't 'really' indicate it, as it could just be a normal variant.

The only reason it matters if it is DS is that the complex 3 surgery heart 'fix' is apparently not possible for DS babies. The third surgery, the Fontan doesn't seem to go well with babies with DS- no one knows why- but they just don't fair well afterwards like other children.

Other than that- we wouldn't care if he had down syndrome, but no 3rd operation means the 'fix' for the heart cannot be completed- and we aren't really sure how they would go about it otherwise.

For now, we are going to just not worry about it- since it won't change the first or second operations and there is nothing we can do either way.

We left feeling vindicated as far as the amniocentesis goes. When we asked the Seattle doctors about it- they said they don't recommend an amnio- since at this point it carries a 1 percent chance of triggering preterm labor- which is the last thing we want for Gabe. Not only that, but when Gabe is born they will take some of his cord blood and do the same tests- which will be back to us with results in 48 hours. So in all reality, they don't need the test.

This made me want to HA in our doctors faces, but I just feel happy to know that we did the right thing for us and stuck to it. That's what really matters to us.

As far as breastfeeding goes, that option flew out the window, as until he is recovered a lot from his surgery he will not have the option of even trying. We will be pumping (we were donated a breast pump from an extremely generous woman- an extremely nice one)- and giving him everything we can possibly give him. This was a huge blow for me- although I did expect it. Not getting to breastfeed Judah and not really having an idea of how to pump enough to make it happen that way was so frustrating. I was so looking forward to trying again.

I also wanted to do a natural birth at a birthing center and be a sling baby carrying mommy with a hugely fat baby- and that's not the cards I got played. So yes, I am definitely dealing with some major disappointments right now. But I just want to get to see my baby. I want to be with him, and I want to keep him for as long as possible. That is what matters to me.

So we will head up to Seattle around the 15th of August and be there until birth. After birth, the surgery will take place between 4-10 days of life- and the hospital recovery for it is about a month on average.

We will get to hold Gabe for a few minutes when he is born. Then he will go to recieve a medication called prostaglandin which will keep his extra artery (PDA) open and keep him doing well until surgery. While his on the medication, he must be monitored closely- because it can make babies sleepy and sometimes they need intubation to remember to breathe. He will be transferred to the Children's hospital within a couple hours of his birth- and I will work on recovering to get over there. Although I want to be there the whole time, until I can get around well, I am probably going to let myself rest for a moment- since I exhausted myself so much trying to be with Judah when he was born that I could hardly function. I want to be there- but I want to be rested and ready to be there for my little one.

The Children's Hospital is wonderful. It was fun to tour, it has a pool that is open for an hour every day to Judah- very warm pool. It has a beautiful outside playground and some awesome indoor things too. It's going to be wonderful to have Gabe there, since Judah will have things to do too. My brother Jonathan is going to come up with us and watch Judah when we can't after delivery- and this makes it even better. A place to take Judah- woo!

At risk of overloading information, I am going to leave this here for today and write more later. Judah is looking for some Mom time fun- so Bless you and your families and keep us in your prayers <3

6.24.2011

Off to Seattle

I am supposed to be finishing up getting ready, but I thought I would do a short entry before we get everything put in place (since the car is getting adjusted at the moment, anyway).

We had an ultrasound yesterday (apparently for no purpose at all, so we just got to have fun and look at Gabe). We told the tech about Gabe's special heart and she took a look to see if it was immediately noticeable.

She didn't say anything for a moment, so I asked if it was. "Oh yeah." She said.

I can't say I was expecting it to be gone or anything, but hoping that it was less noticeable was definitely in my head. Hoping for a miracle- but I think (as I have thought since we found out) God's miracle is coming from the surgeons and what their hands will do for Gabe.

25 years ago my baby would have died within 2 days of birth- nothing they could do- nothing could change it. 10 years ago his survival rate was probably in the low 20-30 percentage, if that high at all. Now, my son is looking at 85 percent success with all the surgeries, and upwards of 20 years before he will need anything else.

Knowing that I would have been preparing for immediately losing Gabe without a miracle- just 25 years ago- it's humbling to think about. I can't help but wish that our odds were 100 percent- but I will take 85 over 0 or 30 any day.

Now- calculating in the prayers that everyone has been sending out for Gabe, I'm giving him at least 110 percent survival chance.

Giving your child's circumstances to God doesn't mean not acknowledging that they are there- that you are going to go through an extremely crazy journey- that's reality. The journey may or may not have the outcome we are expecting (though at this point we don't really 'expect' anything). It means that you don't put the burden on your shoulders- because that won't give you the strength to fight the battle.

I know God is going to use Gabe's life for something beautiful.

And I am so excited to see what it is.

Just looking at all the other families with "Heart Babies", I know without a shadow of a doubt that Gabe will do something beautiful in our lives from the second we get to meet him (even from the second we met him via kicking :).)

There are so many families that have heart babies, and I am so happy to have them around- even though I wouldn't wish the journey on anyone- these families have hearts of pure gold. They are loving, beautiful, and they know the value of every second you have with your child.

So God- fortify our hearts through the journey we are on. Refine us into shiny gold people who make people excited for Jesus- excited for miracles- excited for love and it's amazing powers.

Back to the packing!

Bless all of you and your families. <3

6.20.2011

Raining Peace

I cried the day we found out about Gabe's heart. I cried the next day too. That was enough for me- because I mourned for the things I had been hoping for- and I let it go. I lifted up my hands and threw back my head and told God it was in his hands- because that's what you have to do.

You can't leave the burden of it on your own shoulders. You can't let it shove you down.

If you don't throw your hands up with the burdens, then you are suddenly in a pit of sinking sand. You are struggling, and you are fighting- but the harder you struggle the faster you sink... And it will become a load that is unbearable. You throw up your hands, lay down before God and crawl out of under the weight of it. It's not as easy as I would like it to be, but it's something you must do- for I know that God can't give you a miracle if you aren't giving him the problem.

Now- I laugh about it sometimes. I laugh at the small irony of my thought processes when we found out we were getting another sweet baby. I laugh at the ironies because it's not a weight on me.

People have a hard time reacting around us when we bring up Gabriel's sweet little heart. I don't bring it up often anymore, because no one knows what to say, how to handle it- and they usually end up awkwardly standing there, looking at me for clues as to how to react.

Some people find it weird that we make jokes about singing Christmas songs to Gabe to help his heart grow- but it puts a little smile in my heart and I hope Gabe can feel that too.

We leave on Friday night (if it goes as planned) for Seattle. Our appointment is all day Tuesday and we come back Wednesday (Nick has class on Thursday).

We don't know what to expect. We don't know if it will be better or worse than what we have in our heads- we don't know if it will change our plans- we don't know if it will change our lives even more than it already is going to- but the truly nice thing is that we don't need to know. We know that Gabe is in the best hands- God's hands. He has a place for him in our arms and in his arms.

At first, I was very concerned about getting Gabriel dedicated when he was born. I wanted to make sure it was done, just in case... But I realized very quickly that we had already given Gabe to God. We already dedicated him to God- and I don't have to worry about that. I don't have to worry about having a ceremony because we pray every chance we get that God will keep Gabriel in his arms and use Gabriel for his works.

HLHS is scary. We aren't ignorant of the complexities that we are about to face- but we are very well aware that it is far beyond our control, or our wisdom.

So God bless every family who is diagnosed in Utero with something complicated and scary- or even minor and scary. Bless them with the ability to lift up their hands and lay it down. Bless us to continue being able to lay it down as this journey continues. Bless families going through all struggles of life right now to be able to take the grace that you have given. Bless them with strength and with hope and with peace that surpasses what we can fathom in times of stress.

<3 Bless you.
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