Monthly Archives: November 2014

Biliary Atresia Awareness

IMG_7088December 1st is Biliary Atresia Awareness Day. A day I never thought I’d know.

We are blessed to be part of a very loving liver family. They have welcomed us in without question. They have cried with us and celebrated with us. Each has their own story to tell; each story is unique and equally amazing. Some are in the middle of their journey and others, like us, are at the beginning. I wish that I could tell everyone of all the wonderful people we’ve met and the incredible stories we’ve heard and the amazing miracles we’ve seen. But there just aren’t words.

So to honor our little warrior Beckett and all those who are currently living with Biliary Atresia or have a child with BA or have experienced loss because of BA, we ask that on Monday December 1st, you wear either yellow for liver disease or green for organ donation. Post a picture. Hashtag #loveyabeckett and #biliaryatresia and #organdonation. Help us spread the word. Help us raise awareness!

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My 2014 Twenty & 14 Grateful List

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I decided to take a step back and make a list of the top Twenty and 14 things that I am grateful for. I have decided to leave them in random order because putting a numerical or symbolic meaning next to each of them is ridiculous.

  1. Beckett is on a medication that helps him pee the extra fluid in his abdomen out and he doesn’t need to have to carry his yellow accessory (drain) with him.
  2. Beckett’s poop has dark colors. Light/white poop is a sign of liver failure. The color of poop has never meant so much to me.
  3. That  “Number 1” and “Number 2” on my Twenty & 14 Grateful List both have double meanings. Do you get it? Number 1 and number 2. Seriously can’t stop laughing right now.
  4. We will be spending Thanksgiving at home and not at the hospital. Kim and I were worried for a while that this years feast would be taking place in the Primary Children’s cafeteria. May God bless those families who will be there in our place.
  5. Adalyn June. Addie is our oldest child. She is the symbol of love in our family. There is nothing that she wouldn’t do for her brother or sister. The sacrifices she has made during Beckett’s battle have been just as hard as any sacrifice that Kimmie and I have made and it doesn’t go unnoticed. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t thank God for this princess being my first born. Love you June!
  6. Dr. Weston Spencer at Alpine Pediatrics in American Fork. The man gave us a chance by recognizing Beckett’s rare disease immediately and running the right blood tests. I will be forever grateful for him!
  7. The best neighbors. Seriously the best. We thought we were loved and cared for before but we had no idea what a neighborhood could do. Now it’s our turn to pay it forward.
  8. Subway sandwiches. You can’t beat the Spicy Italian. Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, olives, mayo, mustard, and black pepper over pepperoni, salami, and some sort of processed white cheese.
  9. Our “primary” nurses. You know who you are. These nurses aren’t just employees of a hospital. They are family. We are so grateful for their willingness to accept our request. They take care of our son and watch over Kim and I. The weight they carry is just as heavy as ours as they counsel with our doctors. With tears in my eyes, we love you and are so grateful to have you angels apart of our battle.
  10. B E C K E T T. When Kim informed me that she was pregnant with Beckett, it took me several months to get on board with the idea of having another child. I wasn’t ready and was perfectly happy with my two sweeties. Becks, one day you will read this and I want you to know that you mean more to me than life itself. I would give everything I have up for you to live the life that you deserve son and to carry your BA torch. I am proud of you and will fight every day with you in battle.
  11. High by Young Rising Sons. I came across this song when Kim was in the last weeks of her pregnancy with Beckett and it became the theme song of her pregnancy. It has now turned into the theme song of Beckett’s life. Touches my core every time I give it a listen.
  12. Technology. How blessed are we to live at a time when medicine practices have never been better? Not to mention that when my family needs the prayers of others I can Tweet, Facebook, and Instagram a request to hundreds of people. There is nothing I can’t do from a smartphone/tablet. Working has never been easier in this time of needing to balance life and work.
  13. Family. What a beautiful thing family is. There is no better way to understand how our Heavenly Father feels than being a parent. I am grateful for my parents, in-laws, and the many other individuals who have acted as parents in my life. I am grateful for my siblings and the strength that we draw from each other.
  14. Domo, Inc. This company takes care of their own and I am proud to be a Domosapien. By the way, we’re hiring.
  15. Raemee Kay. This peach leaves me speechless on a daily basis. From the beginning she has been my stress ball. She is the most physically dirty kid I have ever known. She is the instigator of mischief and she is more gifted than most. There is not a thing my Mimi girl can’t do. I am willing to bet that she can make anyone smile. Rae, don’t change because you are perfect sweetheart. Saying I love you is an understatement.
  16. Snow capped mountains. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute and admit that it’s breathtaking and a scenic view doesn’t get much better than snow capped mountains. If you want to argue with me than take a look at this picture by my friend Br1dger and sit back down.
  17. Our home. It’s cozy. It’s warm. It’s located in a city that I swore I would never live and now love. It’s perfectly located for our little world where we live our life.
  18. My Father in Heaven. We have had some words lately. Despite my frustrations and pains he has always listened to me. However many times I fall he sends me help. He loves me and shows me so I don’t forget it.
  19. Freshly shaved legs. You’d think I’d be meaning Kimmie’s legs. Don’t get me wrong, those are hot, but I am talking about my own. Oh, daddy. There is nothing like getting in bed or putting on a pair of pants over freshly shaved legs. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
  20. Kimmie. She is my world and my strength. She is my best friend and my eternal love. She is compassionate and forgiving. Kim has a way with our kids that amazes me. Since day 1 she has been my living example of the Savior and has continued to be my example since then. I would be lost without her and am so grateful she is my companion in this life and the lives to come.

And

  1. Sound of water. Now I am not talking about from your sink. I mean from a river, stream, or waterfall. The sound of constant crashing and flexible adjustments that water makes as it gets tossed, turned, and dropped by running it’s course. I find the sound soothing and peaceful. I think there is a deeper definition of “going with the flow” that we often glaze over.
  2. Organ donors. These individuals are true life savers. These selfless individuals understand what life is about and want everyone to live life to the fullest. If you’re not a donor, you should be. A wise woman that I greatly respect once said, “if your child needed an organ to save his/her life, would you take it? If yes, then it’s reasonably expected that you’d be willing to donate.” Click here to register today.
  3. My sister. This woman keeps going. She inspires me. I hope to be more selfless like her.
  4. Nacho cheese. So freaking good! Right?!?
  5. Cycling. It’s freedom on two wheels. It’s my pain playground. It’s the time where I channel my heart, mind, and muscle to move as one. On the bike I learn the power that my body has and how all of the moving pieces inside God’s beautiful creation come together to take me to my desired destination.
  6. Our Liver Family. These liver families have brought Kim and I so much peace and have helped fortify Kim and I. It’s a family that focuses on love and support rather than judgement. The circumstances of our association are not ideal but we are better people now that we are rubbing shoulders with them.
  7. Sunshine. Ahhh! Let’s face it, there are no words to describe it’s beauty.
  8. Car sunroofs. What a brilliant idea! It’s a perfect place to let the fresh air flow into the car while letting the sunshine in from above. It doesn’t matter where you are when your sunroof is open you feel like you are vacation. You feel cool and on top of the world. Everyone deserves to feel that way. If your car doesn’t have a sunroof. Sell it. Get a car that does and soak up the rays.
  9. Life Trees. You’re probably like “Whhhat?!?!” A life tree is a tree that has equal or more years of life than you do. They are tall, strong and have deep stubborn roots. However, no matter how big they are, no matter how strong, nor how deep their roots run, they find new ways and areas to grow.
  10. Dreyers Mint and Peppermint ice cream. #numnum
  11. Mexican food. Doesn’t matter what it is. Taco Bell, Del Taco, Taco Time, El Azteca, Maria Bonita, Mama Chu’s, La Costa or Red Iguana. I’ll eat it. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, taquitos, tamales, enchiladas, or tostadas. I’ll eat ’em.
  12. Our liver team. Dr. Book, Barbie, Holly, Brook just to name a few know exactly what they are doing. It’s not their first rodeo and we feel so blessed to be with one of the greatest doctors and teams in the country.
  13. Jesus Christ, my Savior. When it comes to the sacrifice of The Redeemer of mankind, I have always focused on the repentance aspect and being cleansed from my sins. I am learning now what people mean when they say “by His grace we are saved.” His grace saves me when I am feeling discouraged, tired, and scared. I am saved by the strength that he provides me. I am saved because he gives me hope.
  14. You. If you are reading this it means you care. I am grateful for your support. I know you want to help our family. One day, I will ask you to. Today isn’t that day and it’s not the right time. Until then, please stay curious. Please stay involved. Please keep praying that Beckett gets stronger and don’t ever hesitate to ask Kim and I for anything.

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My Little Beckett

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Oh how I love this little boy. My little Beckett. He amazes me everyday. He is perfection.

Because of everything going on, part of me feels like I’m being robbed of his infancy because I’m so concerned with what is happening medically. But at the same time I feel like I notice things more and little developments are more important to me. The day he found his hands will forever be etched in my memory. IMG_7146We were in the hospital for the third time and I remember worrying that he wouldn’t develop at the same pace as other babies his age. I knew he would spend a lot of time in the hospital in a bed and that fear overtook me. Then he started grabbing his hands and staring at them. It was my own little miracle. My vision of his future. He would be ok.

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This boy can melt my heart with one smile. He can melt anyone’s heart with his smile. We had so many nurses call him a flirt because he gives up smiles so easily.

He can speak to my soul when I look in his wise eyes. And he gets whatever he wants when he puts on his pouty face. IMG_7183

I soak it all in. I soak in his expressions. I soak in his eyebrows telling a story. I soak in his snuggles and little grins. Each time he reaches out and grabs my face, my mother heart bursts. IMG_7166

 

 

 

 

 

I love watching him sleep.
He is so peaceful and perfect. I often wonder what he is dreaming about. I wonder who is watching over him. Being home with him the past few weeks and not being in the hospital has really made me enjoy our boring mundane life. I can almost forget that there is anything wrong with him. I can almost pretend that he is perfectly healthy.

When I was pregnant with him, I just knew that there was something different about him. I knew he was a boy. I knew he was special. Then he was born and I felt instantly connected to him in a way that I can’t describe. It was very different than with my girls. At first I attributed it to the fact that he was a boy. That mother/son bond. But now I KNOW that isn’t the case. He is my gift. He is my treasure. He is my angel sent from heaven. His is a life that I will learn from daily. And we will not let his disease defeat us.

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Dru

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It’s been a few days since Dru left. It just doesn’t seem real. I replay the night and the moment so vividly. Kim was laying on our bed looking at Instagram and I was trying to get Beckett asleep. I could hear the shock, fear, and pain as the words came out of Kimmie’s mouth.

“Shawn, Dru died!”

Tears. Shock. Lots and lots of tears. Followed by fear and pain.

Since that moment I have mostly been numb. There is just too much to really feel and comprehend all of my emotions.

I have wanted so badly in her memory to post the perfect picture with the most perfect caption. Many times I have opened up Facebook to write Dru’s parents a note to bring them comfort and to tell them how much we love them. How much we admire them. How knowing them has eternally impacted our lives. Or even to simply say, we are praying for you and hope that you find some sort of peace through this hellish and nightmare of a situation. But every time I have tried coming up with the right thing to say I have actually ended up closing my app/browser with no words on the screen.

What do you say? What could I say that would make any difference? How could I possibly help at all? I think everyone has probably felt the same way at some point with some sort of experience.

imageDru was the first BA baby that we met. I remember, like it was yesterday the morning that we met Andy, Dru’s mom at the hospitality cart down the hall from our rooms at Primary Children’s Hospital. She gave Kim a hug and was so kind to us both. Dru and Andy have been the light and strength to our family. Bill, Dru’s father became my role model. He is my example of how to be a supportive husband, and how to manage your hospital child with your children at home, while managing work all at the same time. 

I only got to see Dru a few times during our hospital stays. However, it didn’t take more than 5 minutes till I fell in love with her fierce and sassy personality. She was referred to by everyone who knew her as Miss Magic. I’ve never had a chance to ask who came up with her nickname but it defines Dru in every sense. The lil lady was magical. She put a smile on everyone’s face. She changed communities of people. She impacted my family and changed me personally. Have I mentioned that she was only a year old?

Dru was one of two liver kids that we were aware of who needed a liver transplant and was a permanent resident at Primary’s while waiting for her gift of life. One received her liver on Sunday. Dru passed away on Monday and today will be laid to rest. I will never forget Dru. When I tie my running shoes I will think of #movingformissmagic. She certainly moved me. I can keep moving for her. When Kim wears her necklace that says “I can do hard things” I will think of Dru and her family and how they have gone through the hardest trial. When I pray at night, I will remember Dru and ask God to send her to watch over Beckett as he fights his liver battle. I can’t think of a more valiant warrior than Dru to protect my son.

Love you Dru. Thank you for being a light in my life during the darkest days I have lived. You made me a believer. I believe in magic.

Click here to read more about Dru and her amazing family. Please pray for them and honor her by becoming an organ donor.

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A Glimpse of Heaven

It’s 2:30 am. I’m tired and Beckett is hungry. Shawn and I work together to get his bottle ready and change his diaper. Neither of us wants to feed him. We want sleep. It’s my turn.

I cradle this baby boy in my arms and feed him the bottle. My eyes are heavy. He finishes and I lift him to my shoulder to burp him.

And then it hits me. That smell. Oh that precious baby smell. I’m wide awake. I’m breathing him in. My heart. My soul. In the dim light, I see his perfect little mouth and feel his little chest rise and fall as he sleeps on me. I rub my cheek against his. It’s so silky and smooth.

And then I’m crying. Oh how blessed I am. God sent me this perfect little bundle of heaven. I see him for who he is. An angel in my life. I see who he will become. I close my eyes and kiss his cheek, again and again and again. I pull him in close, breathe him in. And then I lay him down in his bed to sleep.

Tonight I have glimpsed heaven. Tonight I have felt a part of the love that God has for me. And I am blessed. So very blessed.

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I Can Do Hard Things

When Beckett was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia we were put in touch with Andy, a mom of a little girl who also has BA. This woman has become a very, very dear friend and someone who I completely admire. Through all the crap that they are going through with their daughter she is always positive and willing to lift others up. The other day, I received a gift from her. It was a cute onesie for Beckett and also a necklace that says “I can do hard things.”

IMG_7012I’ve been wearing the necklace for the last week to give me courage as we heard difficult news from doctors and now deal with stressful situations with our little warrior. And that sentence has been in my mind constantly: I can do hard things. I’ve reflected over the past weeks that we have been dealing with everything with Beckett. And I have come to the realization….

I CAN do hard things.

I can administer 6 different meds, two times a day to my baby without him spitting it out. Some of the nurses were having a hard time and it was getting everywhere. But I was able to do it. And then he started throwing up the meds. One night, we spent 30 minutes giving him meds. We finished and he threw them all up and the doctors decided that we needed to re-administer them. We took our time so he wouldn’t throw up. After we were done, I looked at the clock. Meds had taken us two hours from start to finish. That was hard. But I did it. And I’ll do it everyday for the rest of his life.

I can watch as the IV team inserts IV after IV after IV. Five in fact, all in the span of five days. One head IV, two in his left foot and two in his right. It was hard to see him like that. It was hard to see the nurses flush his IV and realize it went bad. I cringed every time I heard a nurse say his IV was sluggish. It was so hard to see him bleeding from blown veins. It was hard hearing him cry so much. But I did it. And I was there to comfort him after.

As hard as it was hearing bad news about his liver and belly, I went in prepared to hear bad news about that. I did not expect to hear that I had to stop nursing. That was a hard pill to swallow. Even once we realized it would most likely be temporary, it was still hard. It was and still is hard to pump every three hours just to turn around and feed Beckett a bottle of special formula. It takes a lot of time and that’s hard. But as hard as that is, it’s much harder to know that I can’t hold Beckett when he’s hungry. I tried. He nuzzles and tries to nurse and cries so much. It’s hard to not be able to comfort and feed him. But I can do it. I can make it through.

It’s hard knowing that I have two precious girls who need me at home and a little warrior who is sick and needs me at the hospital. I can’t be in two places at once. It’s hard having my mother heart split in two. It’s hard knowing that others are taking care of them when I so fervently wish that I was the one home with them. But we made it work. We survived. And we are closer than ever. It’s hard to know that in the future we will be apart for much longer periods of time. That thought breaks my heart. But we will do it. I can do it.

It’s hard being at home all by myself trying to juggle everything. Trying to do our everyday things like breakfast, lunch, and dinner; getting the girls ready for the day, naps, laundry, dishes and even preschool. Then adding in pumping and Beckett’s meds. And on top of all that trying to take care of myself and giving the girls enough time with me and giving them my undivided attention. The attention they desperately need. I struggle finding enough time during the day to do EVERYTHING. It’s a battle. A hard one that I seem to be losing. But I can do it. It may take me time and I may need help for awhile but I will figure it out and it will become our new normal.

If I have learned nothing else through the past two difficult weeks, the one thing I have learned is that I CAN DO HARD THINGS. I am strong. I am stronger than I ever knew. And it’s empowering. I got this.

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Understanding the Universe

“In a very short period of time, our understanding of the universe changed forever… The immensity of the universe didn’t suddenly change, but our ability to see and understand this truth changed dramatically. And with that greater light, mankind was introduced to glorious vistas we had never before imagined.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I have thought often the past few weeks on these words. I can relate to them. They tell my story. I see the value and meaning of life differently than I had ever seen or pictured it before. The veil over my face has been lifted to see a greater universe than I knew previously. I strangely feel the dark and sunny places of other individuals emotions and can relate to them. As much as my own experiences will allow me to of course.

Before Beckett’s diagnosis of Biliary Atresia, we had what I considered a great life. Kim and I found the chaotic rhythm for our family of 3 beautiful well mannered kids. Our marriage was thriving as we established weekly dates and activities together. I was starting to find the groove of my career after being promoted to a new position of visibility. Talk of insurance and financial planning was for “other” people. Adalyn and Raemee, our two oldest girls, have never had ear infections. No medical threats would ever happen to us. Life was as close to perfect as it could get.

IMG_3184The text message I received from Kim on that sunny Tuesday was the start of my eye opening experience that is now the life I live. Since that Tuesday, 35 days have past. In those thirty-five days, 17 of them to this day have been spent in the hospital. Puddles of tears have been shed, hard conversations have taken place, and ultimately God has provided me with a humbling blow to my core that has made me grow up in areas I have never wanted to. Nor did I know existed within me or my capacity. I think we have all experienced this to different degrees.

In the end I am grateful for the deeper capacity of gratitude, empathy, perspective, and emotion that I feel for others. It has enabled me to love. To see the universe for what it’s supposed to be. I have a changed soul and I can’t describe it. You can’t put words next to something like what I feel inside now that is so powerful. I can say that it runs deep, it’s consuming, and it requires me to take action.

I’m not grateful for what is happening to Beckett. I would never wish this on my son. Though he be a warrior, it’s not a fight I want him in so that I can learn a soul transforming lesson. However, I am grateful for the level of communication it has provided me. As I looked into Beckett’s eyes last night, I saw him. I saw the fear that exists inside him. That same fear I see on the faces of parents of sick kids in the hospital. The same look I see when I look in the mirror. I felt how tired he was from a week of being poked (5 different IVs and multiple blood draws), sedated (twice), and drained (the excessive fluid from his abdomen). I understood for a brief moment the exhaustion of being administered 6 different medications one after the other, or the toll that deep vomiting multiple times a day can take on a 3 month old body. When he wrapped his little fingers around my thumb, he was asking me to not leave him alone and I heard through his expression him say “I am trying dad!” For a second, time stopped and I was learning from my man cub. He has a mission to complete. A battle to fight. My son has a purpose and he knows it. We all do. Just like I love my son, our Father in Heaven loves us all. I understand now why “in the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land” (Matthew 27:45) and in the ninth hour “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” (Matthew 27:51) It wasn’t easy for the Son, and clearly it wasn’t easy for the Father, but they saw and were aware of the glorious vistas of the universe.

Beckett is a warrior. Even though he has already been through so much, his battlefield is going to get harder, scarier, and so much worse. In all of this there is a lot that will be asked of him. He will pay a steep price to gain the life he has waiting for him post liver transplant. I am so proud of him and through him I am finally seeing and understanding what life is really about. #loveyaBeckett

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