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Healing

Certain smells, sights and sounds can bring back memories. The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking reminds me of my mom and coming home from school, or the smell of certain colognes remind me of high school. Rain reminds me of nights in my room with the window open, soaking in the smell and sound and feeling peaceful. But over the past year, Shawn and I have noticed lots of similar triggers that bring back not so great memories. Some that literally send us into a panic. We will be watching a TV show and if there is beeping both of our hearts start to race as we worry that Beckett’s pump is going off only to realize that he doesn’t even have a picc line or feeding tube anymore. I instinctively want to pack a bag the night before we have clinic because seeing Clinic in my planner triggers memories of being admitted to the hospital every clinic visit for almost a year. And yet we haven’t been admitted to the hospital in over 9 months. And one of the most vivid ones for me is certain types of soap because the smell instantly transports me back to the hospital.

It’s been an amazing year and we have only had minor bumps and bruises and I still kept wondering why I would have such hard days and painful memories. We were always able to push past but they were still there. I even struggled through this latest pregnancy. I tried not to think of the baby growing inside of me. It was a defense mechanism. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt. But I digress. To really understand what I’ve been feeling, I need to back up. To almost 2.5 years ago…..

After we had Beckett, literally minutes after, when we were sitting in the hospital room holding our new little son, 2 months before we even knew he was sick, Shawn and I had a very strong impression. We started talking about baby number four. Now I had just given birth about 3-4 hours earlier so this was seriously crazy talk. But neither of us felt it was odd at all. We just knew that there was another baby for us. We talked about possible names and what gender we thought this other baby could be. Crazy right?!? Looking back, I truly believe that this was a tender mercy from my Heavenly Father. He could see our path and knew I would be terrified and so he gave me strong feelings to help me stay where he wanted me to be. I’m not sure if I would have tried for another baby after Becks if I hadn’t felt so strongly about it before he was diagnosed.

Although there has never been any indication that his disease is genetic, it’s hard to not let your mind go there. After we conceived, I worried and prayed about this baby. Then I did the opposite and just pretended that this whole situation wasn’t happening. I made myself busy and some days truly forgot that I was pregnant. I can’t get hurt if I don’t get attached. I did not want to again go through what we did with Becks. We found out we were having a girl and chose her name. Finley. But still when I prayed, I didn’t use her name. I didn’t want to get attached. Now I was still excited to be having a baby, I was just afraid and so I distanced myself from her.

November 29th came and this beautiful little girl came rushing into the world.

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I was in labor for only 4 hours. After 2 hours of intense contractions, we headed to the hospital and I had her 2 hours later. I didn’t even push, she just came right out. It was the first time I didn’t get emotional when they handed her to me. I didn’t cry. I just felt shocked. No matter how much you pretend to not be pregnant or try to push it from your mind, once that baby is here, it’s REAL. I held her and looked at her. Then the nurse mentioned that she was having a bit of an issue breathing and that’s when it hit. The emotions came rolling out of me. I was crying, feeling such intense love for this little person. I kept asking if she was ok and they suggested skin to skin. After several hours of this, her breathing was much better. She never had to go to the nursery, and they never had to call anyone to come check her out.

It’s now been a month since Finley was born and she is healing me. Bits of my soul and my sanity are piecing themselves back together and I’m feeling whole for the first time in a long time. I felt like I was robbed of so much of Beckett’s babyhood and Finley is showing me that it’s ok. It’s ok to love fiercely and deeply no matter what we’ve gone through. It’s ok to open yourself up to pain because you never know what will happen. I’ve been so afraid of getting hurt, I check Finn’s poop religiously to make sure it’s the right color and am constantly asking Shawn if she is looking jaundiced. But in opening up my heart to her, I am filled with so much love and joy. She is a light. She is peace. She reminds me of all the good in those around us. I’m learning to not freak out at every little sound that reminds me of the hospital. I’m letting myself forget. I’m letting love win.

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Moving for a Miracle

4:32am: I feel pressure on my shoulder. It’s Kimmie. My first inclination is to pretend like I didn’t feel anything and fall back asleep. I then hear Beckett. The voice in my head calls him a monster. He woke up
at 4:30am the previous day as well. Starting to feel like Groundhog Day.  I roll out of bed and get him taken care of. I rest my hand on his face, he reaches back and grabs my fingers. I love this lil Booger!

4:45am: I am back in bed. Stress hits me. I start thinking of my travel for the day and my meetings while I am out in Chicago. AGENDAS!!! I hate meeting agendas but they are the necessary evil. I haven’t prepared them yet. I need to get them sent out. I tell myself that I will do them on my flight. FLIGHTS!!! I haven’t booked my flights yet for my trips coming up. Anxiety is now rattling my cage.
5:00am: I can see the darkness in the room changing tone. Ugh. What am I doing awake? I turn to Facebook. After a quick browse I put my phone down. I start thinking of new friends. Oh how I like them. My mind gradually slips into thinking of old friends and then really old friends. I can’t help but reflect on how they have all changed. How they have changed? How much have I changed? How much have I changed in the past week? Seems small but deep down I know it’s bigger than I am giving these changes credit for.
5:30am: Scripture time. Might as well do it now and maybe I can read myself back to sleep?
6:00am: My body is now restless from forced attempts to fall back asleep. I roll over. The closed window blinds are now glowing around the borders where the gaps are. The sun is rising behind Mt. Timpanogos. I pull my headphones out from my bedside drawer. Maybe music can help distract me and I can rest?
6:30am: Still wide awake. My alarm goes off and I roll quickly out of bed and begin stretching. Oh, relief.
6:45am: I pull on my running pants. Emotions trickle through my body. The emotions reach my eyes and I quickly blink and think of manly things to distract me from tearing up. I finish getting ready and take two steps down the stairs and then….
“Crrrrrrrreak!”
It can only be one person. It’s my oldest. She has a long history and a sick sixth sense of interrupting my desire to begin a workout on time.
“Good morning, June!”
“Hi Dad, I waked up super quickly so I could see you!” I couldn’t help but laugh. Sixth sense confirmed.
7:00am: Finally out the door. To begin my first day to a new commitment. The commitment of #movingforamiracle. Bill and Andy, the parents of Dru, one of the most beautiful little girls you will ever see, 15 days ago started running a mile a day with the commitment of doing so until Beckett receives his liver transplant. When Dru was on the waiting list they did something similar and I was blown away when they began running for Beckett and asking others to do so as well. How could I not join them in the cause? If I don’t join them, how could I expect others to do so?
7:05am: I get to my starting point. I begin skipping. Don’t ask. It’s what I always do before starting a run. I think it helps me find a rythim. I generally have headphones but not today. I wanted to pace myself to the beat of my heart and listen to the gravel crackle beneath my feet. I take a deep breath. I smell the dew resting on the grass in the fields by our home. It takes me to a place deep inside where harmony and balance reside. I pick up the pace.
I feel great. I feel in control. I then hit a hill. I can feel the resistance increase. My breathing gets harder. I think of Beckett. I can hear him breathing heavy in my mind. My memory is now flashing through all the times that he has done so because of the pressure on his lungs caused by fluid inside his abdomen. A fire inside starts burning and I am determined to conquer the hill in front of me. With this new determination, I lift my head up and I see the shadow of a church steeple. Comfort calms the fire burning as I realize how amazing our church ward/congregation has been. So much love. So much support. So many prayers and people fasting. They are making sacrifices for our family. As I focus on the steeple, it’s shadow moves and the sun emerges. It hits me. It’s warm. In its warmth I receive answers and confirmation that God is aware and he loves me. I am blinded by the light, I can’t see anything in front of me. God is reminding and teaching me that I don’t need to see everything clearly. That trials, obstacles, stress or worry are blinding objects in life. Even though I can’t see, the Lord is my light and can see clearly the path before me. Tears begin slowing rolling down my cheeks. They feel cold. For a moment I feel vulnerable. It’s just me and God and I don’t have to hide from myself. This sense of freedom empowers me to reach my destination. I get to the top. For the first time at the end of a run I didn’t want to stop going. So I didn’t. I kept moving forward and eventually made my way home.
7:30am Home.
It’s in the moments we least expect that friends emerge and God shows his hand. I never knew how much I needed to move for a miracle. The miracle of Beckett receiving a liver and the miracle of myself finding peace when I have not been able to for so long. Ironically we found out today that Beckett’s Kasai surgery to give him more time is no longer working. Every day now, I move for a miracle and I invite you to do the same. #loveyaBeckett

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“Suffering Might Indeed Be Unfair…”

The past few weeks have been a little rough on the family. Beckett was admitted and the decision was made to list him for a liver transplant. A few days later I was up in Canada for work, when I got back I went straight to the hospital to take care of him so Kim could go home. Because my flight was delayed she left before I could see her. We planned several outings so I could see the girls and my wife but everything fell through. We were told multiple days in a row that Beckett “might” go home tomorrow. That never happened and we are still here. It could be another week before we go home because of the setback he had today. At least this is the timeframe we have in mind but Beckett’s doctors don’t want to give us a timeframe or criteria he needs to meet to send him home. It’s been discouraging to say the least.

While struggling with the situation that life was presenting me, I came across this:

“Now all this suffering might indeed be unfair if everything ended at death, but it doesn’t. Life is not like a one-act play. It has three acts. We had a past act, when we were in the premortal existence; and now we have a present act, which is mortality; and we will have a future act, when we return to God.” – James E. Faust, Oct 2004

Reading these words pulled me back to real reality and changed my perspective. What’s two weeks of not seeing my wife and daughters if it means I get to spend eternity with them and take care of my son? Granted, I don’t want to miss their entire lives but how often do I have the mindset that my world is crumbling to pieces. I’ll tell ya, it’s more often than I should. If a miracle happens, and I believe one will, Beckett will be past the worst in about two years. Our roles may be challenging and I might regret saying this, but a couple years of unfair moments is minuscule in this thriller that God has us a part of.

Lights. Camera. Action!

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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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I Want….

I want to hear my girls crying because they don’t want to share toys. I don’t want to hear Beckett scream because he had to have his 3rd IV in one day.

I want to watch tv with Shawn. I don’t want to watch monitors.

I want to clean up spilled milk and sticky faces. I don’t want to clean up vomit because Beckett fights his meds.

I want to nurse my baby. I want to comfort him when he’s sad. I don’t want to wait for the smelly, thick formula to warm up.

I want to lie down because I’m tired from chasing the girls around or running errands. I don’t want to lie down, exhausted because Beckett is so uncomfortable and can’t sleep.

I want to get a headache because my kids are loud and crazy. I don’t want to deal with a migraine because I’m more stressed than I’ve ever felt before.

I want to make dinner and eat as a family. I don’t want cafeteria or cold fast food.

I want the well check visits where the pediatrician tells me how great my kids are looking and to keep up the good work. I don’t want conversation after conversation about how sick my baby is and wondering what I could have done differently.

I want to take a rushed 5 minute shower so that I can hurry to stop the girls from getting into trouble. I don’t want to use a communal shower.

I want to spend forever trying to put a fussy baby to bed. I don’t want to spend forever trying to put him to bed only to have nurses wake him and poke him every 30 minutes.

I want to hear him coo and giggle. I don’t want to hear him choke and gag.

I want, I want, I want. I want my old life back. I want the piles of laundry, the runny noses, the clutter. I don’t want the liver disease, the doctors and the worry.

I want a healthy baby.

I’m sure the day will come where I feel more positive about things but for now I want to be angry. And I want to cry.

But most of all I just want my healthy Beckett back.

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Beckett Oliver is Born

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I need to start at the beginning. The birth of our sweet little son Beckett. I found out I was pregnant around Thanksgiving. I was super excited but also nervous because we hadn’t been trying for very long and it caught me a little off guard. Again our kids would be super close. We went in for our first u/s and found out I wasn’t nearly as far along as I thought I was. My due date was pushed back a couple weeks to August 10th. We decided to wait until Christmas to tell our families. We took a picture of our two girls Adalyn and Raemee holding up our u/s picture of our future child. We gave the picture of the girls holding the u/s photo to our parents. I loved it and it was fun to see the reactions as our parents took a second look at the picture and it dawned on them what it meant!

We went in at 16 weeks for an early gender test. I just couldn’t wait. We didn’t care one way or the other which gender this baby was but we were dying to know. It was glaringly obvious that we were having a BOY! Oh my, I was so excited. We immediately went and bought a few outfits for our little man cub. Shawn was nervous at first but the more he thought about it, he got super happy for a son.

This pregnancy was so easy. I was still sick the first trimester but it came and went versus feeling sick constantly. The only thing that was hard was I couldn’t eat sausage! It made me so sick. Second trimester was a breeze and third was tough but manageable. I got super uncomfortable once I got large but he moved great and I still had pretty good energy. He was such a sweet baby, even inside of me. He would move gently, never kicked super hard. If he pushed out, I would push back and he would push my hand. Not hard but he would push out. It was so fun!

I thought for sure that I would go into labor around 38 weeks just like I did with the girls. But nope, I kept having false contractions but it never would turn into anything. I had scheduled an induction date with my OB for August 4th. Even up to that day I had tons of contractions. We tried walking, spicy food, the works, and nothing. So I went to my last appt and we decided to move forward with the induction. We were told to come to the hospital at 7 am on August 4th and we would start everything. I had a hard time sleeping the night before knowing that I would be seeing my boy.

We showed up at the hospital just after 7 am and got changed into my gown and got situated with an IV. I had to have meds because I tested positive for GBS. After about 30ish minutes I asked for my epidural and was able to get the epidural at the same time that they got me started with pitocin. They also broke my water. My doctor sat on the bed and broke my water and I couldn’t believe the gush. This is my third time and I’ve never felt that big of a gush that lasted so long. My doc hurried and got up and was frantic trying to get more towels. It was so funny. At this point I was about 4 cm dilated. My doctor told me he thought I’d be having this baby around 2ish. Then he left.

After we got situated with everything, I started getting the shakes from the epidural. That was annoying. I couldn’t stop shaking!! We just hung out talking and laughing and waiting. I don’t know what it is about having a baby but the wait goes quickly! Around 10:30 my nurse came to check and see how we were doing and to turn down my pitocin because my contractions were coming too fast. She checked me and I was at 7 cm. Awesome! We were making good progress. She told me she’d come check on me in an hour but if I needed her before that, to call her. About 15 minutes after she left, I started to feel pressure. I mentioned it to Shawn and he suggested calling the nurse but I felt like it was too fast. There was no way it was true pressure. So we waited a few contractions. I was about to call her in when she came in to turn the pitocin down again. I told her I was feeling pressure and she checked. I was complete!!  She hurried up and called the doctor in and we got ready to push. I pushed for about 5 minutes and out came my beautiful baby boy! I couldn’t believe it happened so fast. 3 1/2 hours from start to finish!

Beckett Oliver born August 4th, at just after 11:00 am. 8 lbs 7 oz, 19 1/2 inches long. Such a cute, cute boy! We had the girls come up to see their new brother. They were enthralled and immediately started to kiss and love on him. Oh how happy it made me to see all three together!! We are so happy that this sweet little man has joined our family!!

Written by: Kimber

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