Author Archives: kimstin

“Look Not Behind Thee…”

It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. The Christmas tree lights are on. My babies are asleep in their beds, occasionally coughing. I text Shawn at the hospital. Happy New Year’s Eve. What a year this has been. What joy we’ve felt. What peace. And then what heartache, anger and frustration. I start to feel myself sinking. Sinking into sadness at the direction my life is taking.

I need the Spirit. I need my soul to be taught. I say a small prayer and act on the first thought that comes into my mind. I find a video about New Years. And my soul soars.

We had a hard year. We’ve been terrified. We’ve learned many medical terms that I wish I didn’t know. We know how to take care of NG tubes and PICC lines. We have watched our baby endure surgery, blood draws, and watched as his belly fills up with fluid only to get to the point where he is struggling to breathe and needs the fluid to be drained. 8 times now. 8 times in two months. We are watching him waste away. Watching as his spine sticks out more and more. Watching as his arms and legs and bum get skinnier and more saggy with just his skin. It’s hard. It breaks my heart.

We haven’t said anything yet but when we came into the hospital this last Monday, we found that his portal vein is clogged. This is the reason we can’t get his fluid buildup under control. His surgery worked. It worked! But there is this weird disconnect where his liver is able to drain the bile but the blood can’t circulate the way it needs to because of the clog in the portal vein and the scarring of his liver. This means that the fluid leaks out of the veins into his belly. There is no fix except through a transplant. So the decision was made to list Beckett for a transplant. We were relieved. Finally a reason for why he is still so sick. Finally a direction to go. And then reality hit. A transplant. He is not even five months old. He’s so little. He’s so scrawny. Now we’re moving to major surgery. And lots of waiting for an available liver that matches him. Knowing that he is going to get so much worse before he gets better. We could lose him. We haven’t had enough time with him. So much fear and anxiety.

I’ve had many moments of wanting to go back. Wanting to go back to the time when life was easy and perfect. When we didn’t know about liver disease. When I didn’t know heartache the way I know it now.

But I’ve made a choice. I am not Lot’s wife. (Genesis 19:17,26). I will not look back. “She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently, she thought that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as what she was leaving behind” (Jeffrey R. Holland ‘The Best is Yet to Be’).

As I watched the New Year’s video last night about Lot’s wife, I had a glimpse of my future. I saw vacations with my whole family. I saw laughter. I saw late night conversations. I saw a little boy running around with joy on his face. I saw a future missionary for our church. I’m never looking back. I’m never wishing away this life I have now. I’m never wishing away the person I am becoming nor the people I’ve met who have helped me and changed me. I know that this year is going to be hard and painful as we potentially will watch our son receive a transplant. We will have many scary days. Lots of time in the hospital. And yet, I know that the Lord has such amazing plans for my family, whatever form they come in.

Today is the first day of 2015, the first day of the rest of my life. The first day of the rest of all our lives. Stop looking back. Focus on the future. Because it’s bright. And shiny. And wonderful. And God loves us. He loves me. And He loves my son. IMG_7496

 

 

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I Am Not Forgotten

I hesitate to post this. I hesitate to share the reality of my life sometimes. Because it’s not always pretty. I hesitate because I worry what people will think of the way I react to situations. But it’s my truth and sometimes I just can’t keep the thoughts in. So here it goes.

We’ve been home for two days. And they’ve been rough. Within hours of being home, we managed to clog Beckett’s feeding tube. The medicine was just too gritty but being newcomers to it all, we didn’t even think about it. We tried to flush the tube. No luck. Pretty soon we were both so frustrated. What do we do? Do we pull it out? Do we call someone? Meanwhile, it’s 9:30 and our girls are running around crazy. Beckett is starving and crying. We feel frantic. Do something. We start blaming each other and our words get harsh. We get mad at the girls. Finally they are in their rooms. We pull his tube out. Completely clogged. I spend five minutes unclogging it. Now what? We need to start his overnight feeds. Frustration is mounting. I finally just put the tube in. We get the feeds going. Relief for about 30 minutes until Beckett becomes restless and starts having a hard time. His belly is not adjusting well to the overnight feeds. We get him to sleep and crash ourselves. He wakes in the middle of the night and pukes. I rinse out everything and clean him up. Shawn helps get him situated. We are exhausted.

Morning comes and we get going and Shawn goes to work. I’m on my own. I don’t sit down all day. Our next night is not better. After a day of running around and feeling tired, we get home late from a family Christmas party and it starts all over again. We are at our wits end. We get his feeds going and get the girls to bed and it looks like we might actually get some much needed alone time together. But Beckett won’t fall asleep. He is writhing in his bed crying. He is so tired. We try everything. More food. Binky. Lavender lotion, Rocking, Sshhing. Gas Drops. Nothing will help him. We strip him down and lay him on our bed, trying to calm him. Two hours later, he finally settles down. We fall asleep, angry and exhausted. Beckett wakes up at 5. He has blown out of his diaper. All over our bed. We take the sheets off and clean them up. All the sudden he starts vomiting. More time spent rinsing and cleaning and soothing this sick baby who is struggling. More angry words at each other. We are stressed. A couple more hours of sleep. Once we wake, Shawn gives Beckett his meds and he throws up again. I cry. I can’t do this. Shawn has to leave to work again.

The girls need me. Beckett needs me. But I’m angry. And exhausted. I’m confused and my mother heart aches for this sweet baby who is suffering. The girls argue a bit and I lose it. I completely broke down sobbing and yelling. Yelling at the girls for fighting. Yelling at God. He gave this trial to the wrong person. Trials are supposed to bring you down to ultimately help you grow and become a better person, more Christlike, with more empathy. But this trial is not doing that. It is breaking me and turning me into someone I do not want to be. So I was angry. And then the guilt set in. How can I treat my children this way? Why am I not stronger? Why am I such a brat to my husband who is just trying to help? Guilt leads to depression. Why do I feel so alone? Why am I forgotten? Why is God not helping me? Why can’t anyone see and understand this pain and hurt I feel EVERY day? It’s Christmas time and it’s supposed to be magical and wonderful. It’s not. It is stressful and frustrating and scary. I look at the world going on around me and all the joy and I feel so forgotten and lost. I plead with my Father, please help me. Please do not let me drown. Please do not let me shrink. Please save me.

After hitting rock bottom, I start taking care of the things that need to be done for the day. My head pounds and my eyes ache. My doorbell rings. It’s a dear friend. She takes one look at my eyes welling up with tears and asks if she can come in. All she came to do was drop some coloring books off for the girls but oh how I needed her. We talk for hours. In that time span several other friends reach out to see if I’m ok. Later on I talk on the phone to another good friend. Another friend reaches out to see if the girls can come play. All of these women say things that I need to hear. They validate my feelings. They address my deepest fears without me saying anything. They love me. I am not forgotten.

My hard days are just beginning. It feels terrifying to know what we have in front of us. I feel like I will not be able to handle it when I have a hard time with these minor things. I know many tears will be shed. But my Father in Heaven showed me something today. He will not take my hard days away. But He has not forgotten me and he will prompt others to reach out so that I always feel His love. And those little texts, or calls or drop by’s show me that I am not forgotten.

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Doubt

Ever since I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was a mom. Growing up, I loved to watch my siblings and eventually I started babysitting other families. I loved it. I may not have been the best babysitter but I learned a lot. And I was so excited and ready for my own family.

After Shawn and I were married it didn’t take us long to decide that we were ready for kids. And then Addie joined our family and my dreams came true. I was a mom.

Being a mom came easy to me. Sure there were hard days and frustrating times, but it felt like I was made to be a mom. I had natural instinct about what was going on with her.

Then came Raemee. Everyone said two kids was hard. But I figured it out and it didn’t seem so bad. And then Beckett. Everyone said three kids was rough. It didn’t take long for us to fall into a routine. Being a mom was easy. I was able to make decisions and I knew what to do for my kids.

So why do I question everything I do as a mom now that Beckett has this disease? Why do I doubt every decision? Why does every little thing scare me?

My confidence has shattered. My ego has cracked. I find myself scared to make any decision, fearing I’m messing up. I kick myself all the time that I didn’t pay close enough attention to his skin color before he was diagnosed. I’m angry at myself that I couldn’t see just how distended he was before he needed his belly drained. I don’t trust myself.

I am like that fourteen year old again, not doing a very good job but wanting so desperately to be enough. To be good enough. To be trusted to do the right thing.

I remember a couple months before Beckett was born visiting my best friend in the hospital where her newborn daughter was having a hard time and was in the NICU. I remember how scared I was for her and how strong she was. I remember saying to her, “I could never do this. I could never be the mom to a sick kid.” And then just a few short months later here I am.

There is no manual. There is no guidebook. There is nothing but myself, and my fervent desire to be a good mom, a great mom. I have to let go of my failures. I have to learn. I have to trust. Trust myself, that I am good enough. That I can do this. I can be a mom and a dang good one. Because I’m trying and because I care.

And there are others who trust me too. I can see it. Our doctors trust me. My husband trusts me. My girls trust me. And my beautiful baby boy trusts me. But most of all, my God trusts me. So I will trust in Him and let go. Let go of the fear and the pain and the doubt. I will piece back together my confidence. It’ll take time. It’ll be hard. And I’ll cry a lot. But I was born to do this.

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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 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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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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