Monday, May 13, 2013

when WE became THREE

Four years ago on May 12th, we became 3......

It is not big secret to anyone that having a child is a "life changing experience".  But for me this was multiplied by a million.  This was something we had waited for.....something that we had been trying for so long......something that had already been taken from us multiple times.  So when Braxton was born on May 12th, 2009 we were over the moon, to say the least!  What a great moment to receive such a wonderful gift from God.  And no matter what issues followed the past 4 years, he is perfect in our eyes.

Our pastor, Andy Stanley, once taught on a series of Five Faith Catalysts and talked about pivotal circumstances in life.... that unexpected moment that comes your way and you decide to take it as a divine opportunity.   You see, the ironic part about this moment is that going into delivering Brax I knew that all was going to be "ok", but in an arrogant way. And to be completely honest, I thought that because of what I had been through the prior year, that it was owed to me to have a "perfect delivery" and "perfect child." Oh, how silly was I to think this way!  Little did I know that these few months following Braxton's birth were my pivotal circumstance.....My unexpected moment in life that I chose to walk forward....that I chose to trust.........that I chose to let go of control......that I chose to follow. It was that simple.

Those months were filled with many "scary" words that I never want to encounter again....... MRI, spine problem, spina bifida, blood transfusion, Lipomyelomeningocele, spinal lipoma, surgery, anesthesia, neuro-surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, infections, plastic surgery, butt flap lift (yes, he has had one), NICU, ambulance, tethered cord, wound care,  nerve damage, drainage tubes, physical therapy, casts, wound packing, urodynamics test, ultrasound, antibiotics, urologists, rehab, AFO's, rhino cruiser hip brace, hip dysplasia, neurologists, etc.
But he made it, we made it!

And again......
He beat the diagnosis.  
He beat the Google searches. 
He beat the text books.  
He beat the odds. 

Our life was a world-wind blur from May to August of 2009 and Brett and I still look back on those months and think "How did we get through that?"  Grant it, there were many moments of tears, anger and despair but through it all an overwhelming feeling of peace never left me.  It is very hard to was like a "physical peace" was as if Jesus was standing beside me the entire time, gently placing His hand on my shoulder just to let me know that He was there. And that is all that I needed.

So on Saturday we celebrated his 4th birthday and fitting enough we celebrated with a Super Hero theme. And every year I think, "Ok, we have got to slim this party down next year" but I have a hard time NOT wanting to celebrate so big because of what he went through.  And although he has no idea of what he endured at such a young age, I can't wait until the day that we get to tell him his story and how he is our FAVORITE SUPER HERO!

I can't thank our family and friends enough for all of the support that you have given our lil super hero over the past years! (you all know who you are)

His doctors that believed in him and that believed us when we would say that he would beat this. Especially Dr. Robert Bruce for hearing us when we said "no" to hip surgery and gave us time to heal his hip in prayer.  And agreeing with us when we say that he is a miracle and for calling his smaller hip, "perfectly perfect."

His physical therapists, Cindy Stocklin & Kim Izzo. Two amazing women who "battled" this strong willed child and taught him to hit all physical development milestones with minimum delay!

And most importantly God, for giving him to us....for trusting him to us.....for showing us this miracle because we needed to see it oh so very much!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rufus & Me

Almost 9 years ago to the day, our first baby was born.  The 4-legged kind with more fur than you could ask for and a whopping 40 lbs when we took him home at 8 weeks old!

And with much sadness, today we said goodbye to our sweet Rufus.

He was diagnosed with bone cancer about 7 months ago and took a turn for the worse this week. He was really suffering the past few days so we made the decision to go ahead and say goodbye today.

If you have seen the movie Marley & Me, you would fully understand our life with Rufus. I swear that movie is really about us.

He was the dog that was too lazy to take a long walk and the moment he saw fit would take off running home to be lazily sitting on the front step as if to ask "What took you guys so long?"

He was the dog that constantly stole food.....freshly baked pecan pies (yes plural), an entire turkey carcass at Thanksgiving, a cylinder vase full of m&m's (vase and all), and roasted potatoes right hot out the oven to name a few.

He was the dog that ruined my old Ford Explorer by eating a dozen fresh eggs and attempting to drink a gallon of milk in the back seat while we were in Home Depot. And perhaps it time to confess this and send an apology letter to the dealership that we traded that car in for not disclosing this information and covering up the smell with Febreeze as we drove it in the lot.

He was the dog that caused us put a lock on our pantry so that he would stop breaking in and eating all of the food.....wrappers and all.

He was the dog that jetted in the gate of The King and Prince pool in St. Simon's Island, not only to run from us but periodically stop to shake the water off of him and give all of the sun bathers a luxurious shower.  We were lucky to escape that situation alive!

He was the dog that constantly flipped garbage cans.

He was the dog that could have strands of drool a two feet long.

He was the dog that stole peanut butter sandwiches right out of my kids hands.

He was the dog that caused me to have slight anxiety every time I walked in the door, anxious to see what mischief was had in our absence.

He was the dog that always knew I was was pregnant before I did and would give me a sign by constantly staring at me with such intensity as if we were in a World Winning Competition.

He was the dog that wouldn't leave my side for months after Avery & Grace died and after my miscarriage.

He was the dog that welcomed Braxton and Wyatt into the world with open paws.

He was a gentle giant.

He was our Rufus.

He will be missed.

photo by

Saturday, May 4, 2013

behind the title......

The definition of perfection is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” 

As far back as I can remember, I have wanted the perfect life….to be the perfect daughter…..the perfect friend……the perfect sister……the perfect wife……to have the perfect family……you get the “perfect picture?”  So coincidentally, every time I did not succeed in this striving for perfection, I was let down tremendously and retreated.  It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that by setting these impossible expectations of myself and the world around me was actually allowing myself to always be “let down.”  I wanted to learn to stop myself….to stop expecting….to stop trying to control and relinquish my life to Him.  

In 2007 my husband and I found out that we were expecting twin girls….to say we were on “cloud nine” was an understatement.  We were ecstatic to think that not only were we about to experience the miracle of a child but that this experience was going to be multiplied!  Wow!  How special were we???  How perfect was our life????  At 5 ½ months pregnant we lost our girls to Twin-to-Twin Transfusion.  We were aware of the possibility of this disease due to them being identical but the chances were low so in medical terms we really didn't expect it.  Well it happened…..and it happened fast….there was nothing that we could do.  By the time we made it to our “second opinion” appointment we heard the words that will play over and over again in my mind,  “I’m sorry, they are both gone.”  Ultrasound machine off, doctor exits room, I get dressed, walk out to the car, walk into the hospital, get induced and deliver our girls, Avery Love & Grace Louise……..we were devastated.  All I could think was Why????  Why did this happen to us?

2008 was the hardest of my life….I felt so out of place in life.  Everyone around me knew about what happened, people I would eventually meet already knew….they had heard.  The level of insecurity was almost unbearable at times.  About 3 months later I found out I was pregnant again.  And 11 weeks into my pregnancy I heard those words again, “I am sorry, the baby is gone.”  WHAT????  I wanted to just scream!  Was this seriously happening again????? And again….why, why, why?????  
Later in the Fall, about 3 months after that miscarriage I took a pregnancy test and it showed positive.  Excited???  Well sort of.  Nervous????  Ummm yep!  That was the longest 9 months of my life!  Let me repeat, Longest 9 months ever.

In May of 2009 we welcomed our son, Braxton Robert, into this world.  We did it!  He’s here….in my arms….10 fingers…..10 toes……ahhhhhh perfect, what a GREAT feeling!  You mean, what a great feeling for a day.  Within minutes the nursing staff noticed a few hemangiomas and swelling on his lower back.  They assumed it was from delivery but went ahead and scheduled some tests to make sure.  We are getting settled in our room as a new family when the phone rings.  It was our pediatrician calling to tell us that it is a spine problem and that Braxton would need to be ambulanced over to the Scottish Rite (local children’s hospital) and would be admitted to the NICU.  After a week stay and a series of tests he was diagnosed with a Lipomyelomeningocele (I know, say that five times fast).  It is under the Spina Bifida umbrella which I am sure most of you have heard of.  The immediate treatment would be surgery as soon as possible.  I vividly remember sitting in the NICU with him and praying to God that this not be true.  That everything I Googled that night would be false.  I pleaded with God to let Braxton beat the odds…to show me a miracle in him.  I desperately needed that in that moment. That is the night that I made a promise to God that I would no longer fight for control and I let Him take the wheel.

On July 15th 2009, Braxton had his spinal cord surgery to untether the mass that was at the base of his spine.  He was just 8 weeks old.  Any mother that has been in a surgery situation can attest to the gut wrenching feeling when you release your baby to the surgical team nurse and can’t help but think, “Will I see him again?”  And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Hours later he was back in our arms.  Safe.  The doc came in and we chatted a bit.  I can remember Brett asking him, “Will he play sports?” His response, “Well, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.”  This just broke my heart.  He explained that the mass was much more entwined than he anticipated.  He got as much as he could but we should expect another surgery in his future.  When?  We are not sure, so right now we wait.  This surgery, to our surprise, would actually not be his only surgery at that time.  We had many complications with the healing of the incision site, extreme bacterial infections, blood transfusions, damaging of major nerves in his left leg that actually led to him have 3 additional surgeries in the few weeks following.  We basically lived at the hospital for about 6 weeks until he was well enough to be taken home.

Since this day, our family has experienced nothing short of a miracle.  Every day a boy runs through our house that doctors at one point couldn't even tell us if he would walk. He jumps. He kicks. He is potty trained.  He rides a tricycle. He swims. He dances in the rain. He digs in the mud. He is a perfect boy. He beat the diagnosis.  He beat the Google searches.  He beat the text books.  He beat the odds. 
Our Family has also grown in the past years.  Most of our family and friends thought we were crazy to try so soon for another baby but we trusted God to bring him to us healthy and whole and in November of 2010 we welcomed another son, Wyatt James.

Through these years I have learned to “Let go and let God.”  I know, so cliché but SO life changing.  Once I took the control out of the equation and allowed Him in my heart without any false expectations set; I could take a deep breath and truly appreciate the gifts in my life.  Little did I know that these past years were part of God’s perfect plan.  I may never have the answers to the “why” questions of the past but what I do have answered is that my life is forever better with the trust that I put in Him.

God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand His wisdom, but we simple have to trust His will. - Psalm 37:5

You see, I have realized that this is not my life. It is God’s life for me and I am learning to embrace His perfection.