Category Archives: Beckett

One

Such a simple number – One. But it is my favorite number. I’ve seen the power in this number. One smile, one miracle, one good day, one happy moment. One act of service that lifts a burden, one healing cry. One phone call that changes your world, one nurse or doctor that makes all the difference, one hug when you need it the most, one milestone you never thought someone would reach. One life altered forever.

And now one more ONE that means more to me than I ever thought it would. One year old. There was a time when Shawn and I were not sure that we would see our baby boy reach this day. Now it’s here. It means more to us than I can express in words. Our hearts are so full and I’ve found myself crying multiple times. This is our miracle. This is our one major moment in our lives that has changed us forever.

Looking forward, we will take our life one day at a time, experiencing each moment to the fullest. I will never take one moment for granted because I know how powerful those moments and events are. I love my life. I am so blessed. This ONE year old is a miracle. He has a spirit unlike any I have ever encountered and he is already doing amazing things with the ONE life he has been given. He is changing the world. He certainly changed mine. Happy 1st birthday, beautiful baby boy. We love you so much!

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Faith of a Child

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One evening 3 months ago we had just got the girls and our man cub settled into bed. Kim and I nestled in on the couch and started our nightly routine of, “what do you want to watch?” As we were scrolling through our Netflix list trying to make a decision Kim heard the unique sounds that only a child knows how to make coming from the stairs. She turned around from the couch to face the stairs to discover which of the two mobile children it could be. It was Addie. She had tears in her eyes. Kim noticed the tears immediately.

“Addie, what’s wrong?” she asked.

“I just want Jesus to come to our house.”

“You want Jesus to come to our house?”

“I just want Jesus to come to our house.”

I chimed in, “Addie, come down and talk to me sweetheart.”

Version 2She came quickly running down the stairs as if trying to escape a fire. I pulled her onto my lap and asked why she wanted Jesus to come to our house. She replied,  “I just really love Beckett. I want Jesus to come to help Beckett and Mommy feel better. I just want him to come to our house. “As the realization struck Kim and I of what Adalyn was saying and what she had been internalizing in her little mind, our eyes welled up with tears.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was speechless and felt stumped by my 4 year old. How do you tell your child that Jesus isn’t going to come to your house? He is not going to knock on our door and we are not going to get to see him. How do I explain this to her?

I wrapped my arms around her and I thought about it for a minute. I decided a prayer would be our best course of action. I asked her if we could say a prayer and she agreed. In that prayer I asked that Mommy and Beckett would be watched over by Jesus. That seemed to do the trick and Addie went back to bed.

I have pondered this experience countless times since it has happened. I have played it back in my mind over and over again. I think sometimes as adults we over complicate the simple and easy things. We poke fun of those who are innocent. We grown ups “know” too much when in reality we forget that the beauty is in the innocence of not knowing. We over analyze rather than seeing the situation or truth for what it is. We anticipate and make plans for the outcome or future without really having a knowledge of what the future has in store. At least I do. We (big people) draw a line in the sand between faith/hope and reality of life. To children this line does not exist.

IMG_1270As much as I prayed for a miracle that Beckett would get his transplant I did not exactly feel confident that he would get one. For a while the plan that God had for Beckett seemed unclear, uncertain, and often times completely non existent. My hope was diminishing quickly. I could honestly compare myself with the father in the New Testament who took his child to Jesus and said, “Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief.”  After watching Beckett’s miracle gift come together and looking back at all the moving pieces there is no doubt in my mind that God was at the helm the whole time. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a true miracle and nothing short of a miracle. I feel ashamed for doubting. I am embarrassed by my lack of faith. I was trying so hard to be a father, protector and a provider that I completely overlooked the fact that I needed more than ever to become as a little child.

This afternoon Adalyn and Raemee are coming to visit their brother in hospital for the first time since his liver transplant. I can’t wait to squeeze them both and tell my oldest princess, “Guess what Addie? Jesus came and Beckett’s getting better!”

 

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How foolish was I?

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Over the last 48 hours I have physically felt changes happening inside me. I have thrived off the adrenaline that can follow after receiving bad news. I can remember the moment when I felt my mind suppress my fears and true feelings and place them into a deep corner. It’s a dark corner somewhere that does not allow me to honestly process how I feel about the cards being dealt on the table. I am very aware of how I should feel but at the moment I feel hollow and empty. As the weight and pressure in my head increases I realize the adrenaline is gone. Exhaustion is setting in and it’s getting harder for me to continue to neglect my emotions. The breakdown is on the horizon.

(null) (3)I thought I was prepared. I had months to get myself ready. How foolish was I? To think I have been worried about what is on the other side of the fence when I haven’t even explored the side or area that I reside and am encompassed by. I have been so worried about the potential risks post transplant that I have completely ignored what has to happen for Beckett to receive a new liver and a second chance. Common scenario with transplants is the child listed has to decline and get worse in order to move up in priority on the transplant list. Get worse to get better. I admit to being ignorant and not worrying about Beckett getting worse. My anxiety has been focused on the small percentages of uncommon horrible things that could happen after Beckett receives his gift of life. I take it all back now.

(null) (4)I can’t explain what it’s like other than saying it is excruciating to watch my man cub transform slowly. It started with his skin and eyes changing color. I miss my pale faced and rosy cheek son. Many comment on his big blue eyes but all I see is yellow. His personality took a hit next. He stopped smiling. He became irritable. Groaning, moaning, and any other sound that he could come up with to express his dissatisfaction and discomfort. The latest changes include glazed eyes and constant desire to be sleeping. It feels like I am watching my son slip away. I am not ok with it. I am not ready for it. I want a do over. I want more time to get ready. Sadly, I now understand that no amount of time could ever prepare me.

This looks like it could be the potential of a very long road. I will wake up in the morning. I will stretch. I will tie my shoes. I will put a smile on my face for Beckett. I will keep walking down this road by his side. No matter how long it takes.

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A Letter in Colors

Dear Beckett,

Ever since you were born, I have seen the world differently. Small things mean so much more; I see things so much more vividly. And everywhere I look, I see colors. Colors that remind me of you. Colors that make me laugh or make me cry.  So I wanted to write them down so I always remember how colorful you make our lives.

Red- The first thing I think about when I see red is that little tongue of yours. Always out of your mouth, ever since you were born. It was always a sign of you being happy and then once you started smiling, it always accompanied the smile. Now your tongue hangs out because your mouth is so dry. But it’s still the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Red now also reminds me of blood. Oh there have been way too many times that I have seen your blood. Weekly, sometimes daily, blood draws and most recently bloody noses. It’s hard to see your blood because it’s a constant reminder of what you battle every day.

IMG_8188Orange- Orange makes me laugh. It reminds me of when we were just starting out with your feeding tube. We had a learning curve. And we wanted your sisters to be involved. So Addie asked to help give your meds. We agreed. Your dad kinked the tube, put your syringe in (the one with the orange vitamins), and then told Addie to push it. One slight problem. He forgot to unkink it. Addie pushed with all her might and BAM! Orange medicine exploded everywhere! Both you and Addie started screaming! I think it scared you both. In the moment it wasn’t funny but now looking back, I can’t help but chuckle when I see the color orange. P.S. Orange is one of my favorite colors of clothes on you. You look darling.

Yellow- Yellow used to be one of my favorite colors but now it scares me. Because when I see yellow, all I can think of is your jaundiced skin. It’s hard looking back at some of your photos and seeing just how yellow you were. And knowing that you will most likely get that yellow again as your liver continues to fail. Even now, I see the yellow returning to your eyes. And it petrifies me. Yellow also reminds me of your TPN. I looked yesterday and you’ve been on TPN for 118 days now. 118 days. That’s 1/3 of the year. I can’t believe that it’s been that long.

Green- Oh I love the way green makes me feel. It reminds me of fun. Your bouncer is green and man oh man, do you love that thing. You get it bouncing like crazy. I can always get you to smile when you are in it. Sometimes you even fall asleep bouncing. Your favorite toys are also green. The first is a rattle with jingle bells on it. Sometimes after you’ve shaken it for 10 minutes straight I just want to throw it across the room, but then I look at you and see how content you are and I just smile. Your other favorite toy is mine as well. It’s a little green matchbox car. When I give you that car, you look so intently at it, and with one little finger you reach out and spin the wheels. I love seeing that. You are such a smart boy. And you keep learning how to manipulate the world around you. Oh how I love it.

IMG_8751 Blue- One word. Eyes. Oh your eyes. So big, so round, so blue. Whenever anyone sees your pictures or looks at you, they always comment on how beautiful your eyes are. And they are. You are an old soul. And that beautiful soul radiates through your eyes. I hope they don’t change color. I hope they stay blue forever. They are my favorite feature of yours.

Purple- Purple brings shame and sorrow. When your belly started getting big, we discovered that you had portal hypertension which caused your veins to become so prominent. Every time I change your clothes or bathe you and I see your big purple veins shining through your skin, I feel sadness. The shame comes from an accident that you had during one of your many hospital stays. I had just arrived at the hospital, given you kisses and then went to grab some food. When I came back I thought you were asleep so I started to eat my dinner right outside of your room. A couple minutes later, I heard a blood curdling scream. I rushed in to see what was the matter and to my horror, I found you on the hospital floor. The side of your crib was down and you had rolled out. I screamed for the nurse, and immediately was sobbing. I cradled you in my arms. A couple nurses came running in and started checking you out. I looked at one of the nurses and kept sobbing, “I put the rail up. I know I put the rail up.” I was devastated. How could I have done this? How could I have hurt you, unintentionally, but still. We later found out that the rail of that particular crib wasn’t latching right. You had to really make sure that it locked in place. So although I did put the rail up, it hadn’t locked. Oh the guilt I felt. And for the rest of that week, I was constantly reminded of it because you had bruises. Purple bruises on your leg, your cheek and your forehead. It could have been so much worse and I’m so grateful that you had angels watching over you.

Peach/Pink- Your lips. Your skin. Those rosy cheeks. Oh I love to kiss your pink skin. I treasure the pink that I see in you because I remember when you weren’t pink and I see the pink going away. So I will kiss your cheeks over and over and over again.

White- I dread white. White reminds me of the hospital. Those stark white walls. The moments we received horrible news. Stuck in those rooms for days on end. I don’t love white. So sterile, so boring, so restricting.

Brown- Brown reminds me of your hair. I know that sounds silly but I treasure your hair. When you were born your hair was brown and I was so happy. Addie has blonde hair and although Rae’s hair started out dark it is so much lighter now. So I was thrilled to see the dark hair on you. As we started into your liver disease your hair stopped growing and then as your nutrition got worse, all your hair fell out. Within two days, your hair was gone. I remember pulling chunks out. It was so sad. And then the TPN kicked in and your nutrition was better. And within a week, your hair was back! And it was still dark brown. I love how fuzzy your hair is, I love your crooked hairline. But most of all I love your long brown eyelashes. Everyone comments on them and they just keep getting longer! You’ve even been called a girl a few times. You’re so lucky to have such long eyelashes. They compliment your blue eyes so well. You are such a handsome little man.

Family-131Black- This color has become one of my favorites. Because when I think of black, I think of several very vivid moments. Each happens in the middle of the night. I wake up and the room is pitch black. I quietly climb out of bed and walk over to your crib. I watch your outline. I reach my hand into the crib and place it on your belly or your back. I feel you breathing. I feel the peace and quiet. I usually end up crying at your perfection. Oh Beckett. I love you. I will never forget those moments. And I will continue to watch over you in the night.

Thank you Becks. Thank you for bringing so much color into my life. Thank you for helping me enjoy the little things and let go of the big. Thank you. I love you baby boy. My cup runneth over.

Love you forever and a day,

Mama

 

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my Liver Kid

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It’s 10:30pm. It’s been a busy night on the hospital unit. Cranky RSV kiddos everywhere. Beckett’s been fast asleep for the past few hours. Love my boy. I am sitting outside his room and have been attempting to write a blog post and am starting to get frustrated with the results. It’s evident that my writers block is going to continue. At the end of the station, Ashley, Beckett’s nurse, stands up and walks towards his door. My attention is now focused on her. She is opening his door. I pull my headphones out and am close behind her.

I enter the room. Ashley is untangling him from his chords. He is clearly not happy. I spot his bink and immediately grab it and put it under the faucet. He loves his binky wet before he takes it. I think it has to do with his diuretics drying his mouth out. He takes it and starts rubbing his eyes. All good signs that he will be back asleep soon. Once he is comfortably situated Ashley makes a move for the door. I begin to follow and Beckett starts screaming.

“Ok. Ok, Son. I am not going anywhere.”

I return to his crib side and he lifts his hand up. We look each other in the eyes. He doesn’t want to be alone. I lean in. His tiny little hand cups my cheek. His fingers begin tickling my face. He slowly moves his hand up my face to my hair. He is now grabbing and twirling my hair. His eyes close and his breathing returns to a regular pace.

(null) (1) copyI decide to stay a few minutes and soak in what just happened. As I step back from his bed, his eyes open. I’m still here. He is still calm. I walk over to the other side of his crib. He rolls over to follow me. I see the blinds are still open on his door so I walk over to close them. He rolls back over and watches me. Once I am done, I return back to the other side of his crib to sit on the couch. He rolls again and follows my every move. My heart melts a little knowing that I am enough for him. After a few minutes, he grabs his blanket and pulls it over his face. That’s the sign, he is ready to go back to sleep.

I am either sheltered or may be biased (and I very well could be both of those things), but I have never met anyone like my Beckett. He captivates me. Though he cannot talk he has been blessed with a gift to communicate deeper than language with those he interacts with. I felt terrible tonight as I recognized our blog posts and updates are dominated by his disease and the emotional pain that Kim and I carry from being parents of a liver kid. Yes he is sick, but he is such a good kid. Such a fighter and will be a far better man than I can ever hope to be. I am scared of him receiving a transplant but I am comforted by knowing he has a mission to do great things in his life. Even with pumps, tubes, and steady fluctuations of health, this boy continues to be the strength that his parents and sisters need. How can someone so little make such a big impact? Makes me wonder a bit what I am doing with my life. Makes me ponder Christ’s teaching to become like a child. Makes me grateful to be his father. #loveyaBeckett

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I’m beginning to learn…

Life with Beckett has magnified anything and everything’s capacity to be difficult. Raising kids, marriage, faith, employment, and I won’t go into the personal interests that have been tossed out the window. It’s been frustrating and exhausting on all levels. Several people and friends have told Kim and I that we are amazing and they don’t know how we do it. Thank you but let’s take a time out. Don’t overlook the hard things that you have to deal with. Don’t discount your own trials because we have a sick kid. Fact of the matter is, life is down right ugly and dirty, ruthless, hard, and sometimes very unforgiving. That’s how it was intended to be for everyone. Not just the family with the sick kid. Yet, there is supposed to be great joy with all of this. Tunnel vision and focus on the hard things make it difficult to experience joy and learning.

At some point you have to accept that you cannot do it all. For example, what comes first, church or family? Wait for it, wait for it… Neither. God comes first. If you are building a relationship with Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven then you know which things should take priority. When you know what God wants of you, there is no guilt. Guilt doesn’t come from God. God only motivates and invites you to become your best self. You cannot transform when feeling fear and guilt.

I strongly believe that your best self changes depending on the scenario you find yourself in. For the past two weeks I have come down with an anger problem. I have never been a very angry person. However, my behavior reflects my four year olds when it comes to me being frustrated and not getting what I personally want. It’s embarrassing and I’m ashamed but while discussing my feelings with Kim she said the following:

“Where there is a greater capacity of anger and emotion, there is a deeper capacity for happiness and love.”

So do I feel more anger now because I feel more love than I ever have in my life? I think so. My anger is now an expanded part of my emotional system because I care about my family, relationships, and people more than ever before.

Beckett’s turnaround to good health after the holiday season was nothing short of a miracle. It was a much needed answer to prayers to prayers that for a while I thought were not being heard. It was a tender mercy from heaven that touched our family’s spirits in so many ways. It was a sign that God lives and he is ready to help. He is a loving Father who knows how to help is children stretch themselves. About a week into our “healthy vacation” as I call it, Kim and I began having interesting feelings. Promptings that we shouldn’t get too comfortable. They have prepared us for the past two weeks as Beckett has spiraled steadily into a state that has his medical team and parents concerned.

This crazy train has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. It has brought out the best and worst side of me. I have questioned my faith and I have doubted my doubts. There are a few things which are clearer than others. I have learned more than I ever would have without this trial, sometimes I am grateful for that and sometimes I’m not. Yet, the thing I feeling strongly about right now is I have to find a way to understand what it means to have a true relationship with God. Lip service and Sunday worship is not going to do it any longer. Past experience has taught me that when life decides to do its worst I am not strong enough on my own to do my best.

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Our New Normal

We have now been home for a week. And we are starting to settle into our new normal. It goes a little like this:

7:15- Beckett stirs in his bed. Addie also comes in the room. “Hi Beckett!” I smile and lay in bed for a few more minutes while my oldest sweetie talks to her little brother.

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7:30- Beep! Beep! Beep! Beckett’s TPN and lipids are done. We have to unhook the tubes, saline flush his picc line and then flush it with heparin to prevent clots. We finish by placing a sterile alcohol cap on the end. We pick him up and cuddle on him now that he is tube free.

8:00- Rae starts to stir and Shawn prepares all of Beckett’s meds. 6 in the morning. A vitamin supplement, two diuretics, an antibiotic, a blood pressure med and a med to help keep his bile thin. He puts all the meds into Beckett’s feeding tube. Thank goodness for the feeding tube so we don’t have to fight him to choke them all down.

From 8:15-9:00 we get ready, head downstairs, let the dog out, feed Beckett, eat breakfast, sometimes get the girls dressed, and Shawn heads to work.

9:00/9:15- Tuesdays and Thursdays Addie goes to preschool. Oh how lucky I am to have a neighbor who takes her and picks her up. I don’t know how I’d do it. Beckett gets tired and I take him upstairs. Thankfully, he is starting to get back to his old self and has been putting himself to sleep.

9:15-11:00- The girls and I play, I clean, they play and make messes, we work on potty training Rae, I stop fights, we snuggle.

11:00- Beckett wakes. He is hungry again. He takes 2.5 ounces. It’s amazing. He used to only take 1 ounce every 4 hours. So this is huge for him. He now gets excited to see the bottle. We are making progress!!

Noon- I feed the girls and myself. Usually something easy like sandwiches or soup but sometimes I feel ambitious and make spaghetti or stir fry.

12:30- Nap time/Quiet time. Oh I love this time. It’s crazy getting the girls situated in their beds. And we just switched Rae to a big girl bed so it’ll be interesting to see if this time exists anymore. Once the girls are down Becks and I get a little time to ourselves before I put him in bed.

1:00- Beckett goes down for another nap. I head downstairs and clean up the kitchen. Straighten up the house a little and then I get to sit down. I either nap a little or I watch a show.

2:00- Addie’s done. She comes down to get a snack and watch a show while her siblings sleep. I clean some more or read a little.

3:00- Beckett and Rae get up. (Oh please Rae! Please take a nap in your big girl bed today!!) I feed Beckett again.

3:00-5:00- This is the time I usually get a lot of phone calls. The liver clinic will call, or home health. We change his meds every few days based on his labs. And home health is constantly talking to me about bringing me deliveries of NG tube supplies, or picc line supplies or the pharmacist calls to discuss his TPN and lipids. I also get calls from the home health nurses checking in and seeing if his picc dressing needs to be changed. Then I get calls from the delivery drivers letting me know when they will be coming by. The girls and Beckett just play and make messes. I love hearing the laughter and coos.

4:30/5:00- I put Becks down for a mini nap. And then I finally start thinking about dinner. Sometimes I make something nice. Sometimes I’m super prepared and throw something in the crockpot around 3. Other times we just make grilled cheese. Or grab take out.

5:30-7:30-  Shawn gets home from work, we eat, we clean up, we play, we dance, we feed Beckett. Then we like to watch a movie together and eat popcorn or ice cream.

7:30- The utter chaos starts. I head to the fridge and pull out Becks TPN, lipids and vitamins. I head upstairs to get it all ready and Shawn starts working with the girls to get them ready for bed. I’ve gotten pretty quick with setting up the TPN and lipids. I have to set the pumps up, prime the tubing, infuse the vitamins into the TPN bag, connect all the tubing, and change the end of his picc line. All while keeping everything sterile and clean. If I touch things, I have to start all over again. IMG_7622It’s quite the process. Meanwhile Shawn is battling the girls, getting jammies on, getting them to go potty, cleaning their rooms. Finally we reach a point where we all gather together, sing songs and say prayers. Then we put all three kids down. And then battle them to actually go to sleep. Becks is the easiest. He crashes and lately has been sleeping much better. The girls are a different story. Addie gets out several times, to tell us she loves us, to go potty, to get a drink. Then she goes right to sleep. With the introduction of the big girl bed, we are working on Rae staying in bed. We put up a baby gate so she can’t leave the room. Last night she yelled for Addie to save her. She also likes to strip naked at night. So it’s a work in progress.

Usually by 9:00, it’s quieter and we get a chance to relax a little. Talk about our days, watch some shows together. Then we head to bed around 10;30 and pray that all the kids sleep fairly well so that we get some rest.

My life is chaotic. My life is messy. My kids probably watch more tv than they should. We don’t always eat healthy. I get stressed and short tempered sometimes. My house is cluttered a lot. Things get neglected. I forget a lot. And guess what?

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT.

I love that we are all together. No one is in the hospital. Beckett is rolling over and has become a tummy sleeper (which is terrifying with all the cords). He is laughing. My girls are BEST friends. They love each other so much and are closer than I ever thought possible. They giggle and play pretend. They get to be kids and make messes. Shawn and I get to spend time together. We aren’t trying to keep our marriage strong from two different places. We are in the same house, the same room. We are happy. We are finally feeling a break from all the massive stress and fear. We are closer than ever. As much as I wish that Beckett didn’t have to go through this, that my girls wouldn’t tell people that their brother has a broken liver, that I hadn’t had to cry and worry as much as I have, I would never NEVER trade my life now. I love our new normal.

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