Category Archives: Perspective

Angels

“Mom, can I have a sleepover with you?” My favorite words when I am here alone with the girls. Addie always wants to sleep with me. And I let her. I put her to bed on Shawn’s side and go downstairs to relax for a little while.

A couple hours later, I quietly climb into bed. Suddenly I’m wide awake. All I can hear is the sound of Addie breathing. I turn onto my side and stare at her. IMG_8375 - Version 2At my beautiful first born. How peaceful she looks. How still. And perfect. She is an angel. My eyes well up with tears. I reach out and put my hand on her to feel her breathing as I cry. I love having her sleep with me when I am alone. She makes me feel safe. She makes me feel peaceful and calm. She is my angel here on earth.

D&C 84:88

88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Oh how I love angels. And need them. My family is surrounded on a daily basis by many earthly angels who love us and take care of us. From all the gifts, to texts and calls, and then to those that help us regularly. My friends are angels. The friends that take Addie to preschool every day, that take my girls on play dates. The ones that are there for me emotionally. They let me be who I am. They let me go through whatever emotion it is I’m feeling. Even if it’s the same emotion we talked about the week before. They love me. They hug me and cry with me. They are amazing.

And then there is my mother in law. She is an angel. She has so much going on in her life and yet, she is there for us. She never hesitates to check on us. She watches my girls constantly and never complains. She loves my children. She makes sure that they know they are loved and not forgotten. She hugs me and encourages me when I am scared out of my mind. I will never be able to express to her just what her service has meant to me. How much I respect her and want to be just like her when I grow up.

Earthly angels are around me everyday. I also like to think that there are some special angels watching over us, especially my little man. I have a few in mind that I pray will protect my son and help him, four to be specific. The first is my great grandma Ruby. I wasn’t particularly close to her but I remember her vividly and have always felt a special connection to her. I pray that she is with me comforting me and helping me take care of my family.

The second is Shawn’s grandpa. Grandpa Rogers passed away a couple months before Beckett was born. He was an amazing man and had so much love for everyone around him. I like to think that he and Beckett were close in Heaven before Beckett came to our home. I like to think that he prepared Beckett and encouraged him. And I like to think that he is here a lot, taking care of his great grandson.

The third angel is Dru. Dru was another BA baby who fought fiercely against her disease until her little body couldn’t fight anymore. She was a beautiful soul. Whenever we are in the hospital with Beckett, I love to picture her by his side. She went through what he is going through. I like to think she helps him conquer these tough situations and cheer him on when he’s doing well.

The last angel is a special one to me. Before we had Addie, I lost a baby. Both Shawn and I felt so strongly that the baby was a boy and it was a devastating loss. I think of that baby constantly. And when I struggle, or when I celebrate, I like to wear a necklace that has a charm to represent that baby. It makes me feel like that little one is with me. I know that some may not agree with me, and that’s ok. But I feel that baby is near us, watching over his brother. Protecting him. Loving him. And that brings me peace and joy.

I truly believe that whether we recognize it or not, angels surround us at every turn. Earthly angels and heavenly ones. And they are there to protect us and lift us up, to lift our spirits. To help us feel peace and comfort. I love that. And I will thank my Father in Heaven every day that I have so many angels in my life.

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He is Yours

As I was driving home alone the other night to spend the evening with the girls, I found myself contemplating the day. We had just been told that Beckett would be listed to receive a new liver, that there were no other options. Our doctor was out of ideas and Beckett just wasn’t responding to any of them. I had handled the day well, processed what was happening and hadn’t cried much. It was dark outside. I was focused on driving, the cars around me, the lights. But then my thoughts drifted to that morning when we had gone to pick Beckett up from interventional radiology where he had gotten his belly drained. When we arrived, he was limp, and unresponsive. His blood pressure was lower than I’ve ever seen it. The nurse was trying everything to wake him up. To stabilize his blood pressure. I’ve never felt so scared or so helpless.

My eyes welled with tears in the car as I recalled our morning. Then as I continued to reflect on Beckett being listed and what that entailed for him, getting really sick, major surgery, possible complications, life long medications, blood draws and doctors, I started to feel so small and I began to weep. Furiously brushing the tears from my eyes so I could focus on the road. But they wouldn’t stop. Then came the sobbing. I started to pray out loud, to express my frustration, my fear, my relief. As I was praying I said, “He is yours. Heavenly Father, he is yours. Please take care of him. I will do my part. I will love him and take care of him to the best of my ability, but ultimately he is in your hands.”

He is yours. Liberating words. I can’t do all of this alone. I don’t know what will happen to my son. But I know God has a plan and I trust him, no matter the direction.

I see Addie struggling. I hear her cry because she loves her brother. All she wants is for him to come home. “She is yours.”

I see Rae regressing. Throwing tantrums. Trying to control the situation around her while her life feels out of control. “She is yours.”

I see Shawn. He is so strong. But then I see the slow tears run down his face or he gets real quiet and shuts down. I don’t know how to help him. “He is yours.”

And I know where I am at. Trying to hold it together for everyone. Trying to make sure everyone is loved and taken care of. That no one is forgotten. Trying to swim and not drown. Trying to stay positive. “I am yours. Please take care of me.”

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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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Light

“We see no reason not to move forward and list Beckett.”

Oh the words that I’ve known were coming. It came out of the blue though. We have been in limbo for quite some time. Beckett’s liver labs and bilirubin levels keep going down and yet we’ve been in the hospital almost weekly dealing with massive amounts of belly fluid (ascites). Nothing works and yet they kept telling us that he was fine. It was so hard. How can he be fine when we are here all the time getting his belly drained? So when we found that there was a potential clot in his portal vein the doctors made the decision to move forward with listing Becks for transplant.

I saw the light. Finally. Instead of drifting around aimlessly, I finally felt like we could see the lighthouse. Our little boat had direction. We could now navigate through the big waves and stormy seas because there was the light. Even though I knew the light was still far away, I could see it! And then our week exploded.

We met with countless doctors, kidney doctors, surgeons, infectious disease doctors. Beckett had a cat scan, more ultrasounds and he had an incredible amount of blood drawn. We knew that we would still need to meet with social workers, financial aid people, and our liver team for a day of education. Holly, our liver transplant coordinator, brought by an entire binder of information for us. In the meantime, we were trying to get Beckett’s ascites under control. They drained his belly twice. They left the drain in. We tried IV diuretics. We tried multiple new diuretics. He started getting fevers. He wasn’t eating much. But as stressed as I felt, I could still see that light. He was being listed. The end was coming. Eventually.

We solved some of the problems. The drain was taken out and the fevers went away. We started TPN (total parenteral nutrition) and lipids (fats) which is a boost of nutrients, proteins etc to give him the calories and nutrition he needs so that he starts gaining good weight. We started him on a blood pressure med and several new diuretics in “industrial sized doses”. And suddenly his belly stopped growing as quickly. We were finding answers. Because of the cat scan we found that his portal vein was not clotted but instead it is incredibly narrow causing the same effect.

“Because we have things under control and his vein is not clotted, we are going to hold off with the listing.”

Just like that the light was snuffed out. We were adrift in the ocean, being tossed about, lost. No direction. This has happened before. We find a solution. It works for a couple days and then we are right back in the hospital. I don’t think I can do this. There is no ending. Will we spend days in the hospital? Months? Years? How do I raise my children when we have no security? When our lives are constantly tossed to and fro?

I was devastated. Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled that he was doing well. But I have a hard time trusting that these solutions will work when they never have previously. It’s not that I want him to have a transplant at 6 months. I would love for him to be big and strong before he needs it. But I don’t know how to survive for a long time when we spend so much time in the hospital trying to get him to be ok and he’s not even listed. Mentally those hospital stays are easier when I know that transplant is coming. Now I just feel plunged into the darkness and the despair.

Then my baby boy laughed for the first time and a light appeared. He rolled over for the first time. Another light. His belly stayed small for 4 consecutive days. It did not slowly grow bigger, but it stayed small and soft. Light. We had friends and family reach out and bless our family. More lights. We came home and I watched my children together. Saying sweet things. Watched as Beckett couldn’t stop staring and touching Addie. Watched his smile. More lights appeared. In my mind I looked around and realized that I am in a dark field looking to the sky. And it is full of stars. As my world gets darker and scarier, more lights appear in my sky. Some are little, others are large. But they are my hope. That this will end. That things will get better and brighter.

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Life’s Battlefield

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I was given two weeks off by my employer for the holiday season. Due to Beckett’s health, I have spent three whole days outside of the hospital. The family/home situation has been a little tricky and so Kim has spent a majority of the hospital time at home with Adalyn and Raemee. It has been such a blessing for them to have their mother around. I think it has helped them feel ok about their brother being gone.

While being alone with Beckett I have experienced some of the best moments of my life. Quickly followed by some of the hardest. I have learned things about my son that I probably never would have paid much attention to. His development in some areas are prohibited and yet he is shining in others. He has found his imagehands and his mouth during these past two weeks. He keeps me on my toes as he grabs all the wires and tubes attached to his body. My favorite is when I put my face close to his, he will reach up from his hospital bed and start to run his fingers and palms over the skin of my face. He does it so gently, inspecting every little part of me, and then will occasionally stop at my nose and squeeze. It makes me laugh every time and turns my insides gooey. I love the feel of his soft skin and scrawny fingers as he explores my facial features.

As I look over him peacefully sleeping, I am overwhelmed with feelings. Feelings of all kinds. Feelings I have never felt before. I have so many wishes. Wishes for Beckett. Wishes for our family. I am conflicted. I feel in over my head. I feel more love than I thought was ever possible to feel. I have to go back to work tomorrow and it pains me to leave my lil buddy’s side. Since our first child Adalyn was born I have bonded deeply with my girls. Yet, there is something different about Beckett. It is almost like, I can’t take his battle away from him, but being by his side makes me feel like I am fighting it with him. I want to spend every possible minute with him. The reality of Beckett’s possible future haunts me and I don’t know how to properly manage my feelings with what I have to do and am personally responsible for. Which is go to work and bring home the bacon.

imageI keep telling myself that if I don’t go to work, Beckett has no chance for survival. His battle would be over without our insurance and income. Does that mean our battle fields are changing? Can I still a member of Beckett’s army but can no longer fight by his side? He stays and fights in the hospital and I take the fight to the office? The weight is setting in and I realize that I have to bite the bullet. There is strategy in battle and a war is never won on a single battlefield. Some battlefields however may be the turning point of a war. Losing on the financial battlefield would absolutely be the turning point for Becks and our family. As I leave my general’s side, I know that this is the fight that must be fought. It’s a fight against my emotions. It’s a fight for survival. It’s a fight because I love ya Beckett! I’ll be back fighting by your side just in time for the weekend.

 

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“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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Life is Everything but Routine

“So, they drained between 400 and 500mls of fluid. We are going to have him stay the night and monitor the output of his fluid through the drain. We should have him home tomorrow.”

“Just another routine stay right Dr. Book?”

She stops, turns around, looks up at me and says, “There is no such thing as routine. Each one of these kids is special.”

IMG_01655 miserable days later Beckett and I still find ourselves in the hospital. It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the most magical time of year and it feels anything but magical. If there is one thing I have learned from this hospital stay is that life as we know it is anything but routine.

There is a 2 year old boy from St. George, UT with Pneumonia in the room next door. St. George is roughly 5 hours away from Salt Lake City where Primary Children’s Hospital is located. He has a 1 year old little brother at home. Both his parents are here trying to get him home before Christmas. All he has to do is drink liquid orally and they can go home. He doesn’t want to.

Down the hall there is the most precious little girl who is just under the age of two. She was born with one kidney and has fought through hospital stays her whole life. They found out earlier this week that she needs a kidney transplant. They have been able to stabilize everything except one of her levels. If it stabilizes then they can return home to Idaho for Christmas.

Then there is Beckett. This boy has taken me to the cliff and brought me back from the edge. Only because of how much I love him. In the past 3 months we have now stayed 29 days/nights in the hospital. This stay out of all of the others has been the most painful and excruciating for me. I believe Beckett feels the same way.

IMG_0185Kim and I felt strongly that we needed to bring him into the hospital last Friday. We knew something was not right since Beckett’s demeanor changed drastically over a 24 hour period. Since then, he has endured being drained twice, daily blood work, IVs, a picc line, multiple antibiotics, change in diet, hydrating oxygen tube, and a catheter. For 4 days he wouldn’t sleep more than 1 hour for every twelve hours in the day. His breathing was strained, he ran a fever, and the only way to console him was to push him around the hospital in a stroller. I have never seen him so worn down and uncomfortable. In the meantime, nurses and doctors confirmed that something was wrong but didn’t seem to know the right course of action. When trying to address one issue, it would create others.

As a parent you can imagine the fear and frustration. You can imagine the pain I felt for my child who was suffering. I was confused. I still am confused. Regardless, slowly the anger snuck in. “Fix him! Figure it out!” Beckett’s behavior started reminding me of a visit we made to one of our liver friends who was teetering on existence in this life and how uncomfortable and irritable she was. I began visualizing my future with Beckett. The horror struck as I realized that this will one day be my constant reality and that Becks is only going to get worse before he can get better. I was not prepared for this life lesson and rude awakening.

I was praying constantly. So many people reached out and mentioned that they were praying as well. Yet Beckett, wasn’t getting any better. I began to feel like I was not praying correctly. “Maybe I am not worthy of God’s miracles” I thought. Why is Beckett not getting better? My faith began to crack. Doubt crept in. I felt the only way to be able to fix him is if I do it on my own. Yet, I didn’t know where to start. I am not a doctor. All I have is limited knowledge that has accumulated over the past 3 months. I knew I was missing something and I didn’t know what. I couldn’t see the clear picture. I wanted to scream and throw things. I remember just wanting to break something. At the same time, I knew that none of my desired temper tantrums would help.

IMG_0176Pondering Beckett’s scenario and racking my brain trying to come up with what God is trying to teach me, I realized that these feelings apply in so many scenarios. Knowing that you need a new career but not knowing where to start or where to go. Being turned down interview after interview. Understanding if you don’t get a new job your family is in jeopardy. Or having a loved one struggle with addiction. Doesn’t matter what kind. They are all consuming and life threatening. How do you help them? What do you say? Why do they keep doing these things despite how much you fast and pray? The list goes on.

Life is everything but routine. There are no official manuals or how to books that say “Do this and your whole life will be perfect!” However, there is a source of self dependency and humility that is required in these terrible situations. If you are not humble enough to admit you do not know what to do, that you need Gods help, and if you are not willing to grab the reigns and do your part then nothing is going to get better. I strongly believe it’s ok to be afraid, angry, and doubtful. Those feelings are normal as long as they drive you in the right direction towards results and hope.

We finally found the right direction with Beckett. He slept through the night and we are restarting his feeds today after withholding them for 24 hours. There are many obstacles that lay in this warriors path, but we will take them as they come. For now, we will give him what he needs and keep hoping and praying for the Christmas miracle.

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