Tag Archives: family

Opportunities to Do Good

Shortly after discovering Beckett’s diagnosis of BA (Biliary Atresia) Kim was introduced to Michelle Rowan by a neighbor of ours. Our neighbor had a feeling that Michelle could help us since Annie, Michelle’s daughter, received a liver transplant a few years back. Michelle welcomed us with open arms and provided us with introductions to our new liver family. These amazing liver people are so accepting and understanding of the situation we found ourselves in. We were the lone deer in the headlights and these people slowed down from their busy emotional lives and helped us find our way to a safe place.

Without fail, every time I watch the video of Annie and the experience of the Rowan family my emotions get stirred. First, I can’t imagine being in their shoes knowing that my child only has 48 hours to live without a transplant. Second, our neighborhood and friends have rallied around our family in very similar ways that Annie’s did at the time of her diagnosis and transplant. We have been drowning in the kind acts of others. The toys have been played with, the meals and goodies have been tasty, the conversations/letters and messages have brought tears to our eyes, and the many prayers in our behalf have been felt. As strange as it sounds, my faith in humanity has been restored. There are so many good people living among us. I feel the love of my brothers and sisters and am beginning to understand what it means to be a child of God and a part of a heavenly family living on the earth.

I now have a weight on my shoulders. A weight that I don’t know how to repay. There have been so many people that we know and don’t know who have helped our family. How could I ever repay all these people? How could I ever truly express all of the gratitude that I have for them? The worst part is, I know I have more to ask of these individuals. It’s painful. I’m not accustomed to asking for help. It’s humbling to realize that I can’t do this by myself.

What I have learned through all this is that because of others I will look for opportunities to do good, to show people I care, and to jump in on big or small acts of kindness. There is a fire burning inside to pay it forward. It’s because of others that I now know more than ever that one prayer, one thoughtful message, one hug, or one single smile can make all the difference. I hope that one day I can be the difference that others have been for Kim and I.

Please share with us an act of service that others have provided for you that you are grateful for. We would love to hear your stories.

Written by: Shawn

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11 Days of Dishonesty

It’s dark. It’s late. I’m tired. I can’t fall asleep because I can finally feel. In this moment my net is wide open and vulnerability is scoring. It’s been 11 days since I subconsciously put the wall up. 11 days since a tear was shed. It’s been 11 days since I have felt honest with myself and my emotions.

It’s a necessary evil to make the decision not to feel. It seems to make talking to others about Beckett’s liver disease more comfortable. It makes it easier to play the situation off as a natural part of life. It also shows I am strong and faithful. Or does it? Does it really do all of those things when deep down inside I am scared shitless? When every single time I change my sons diaper and see his giant scar across his ever expanding abdomen. Or when he smiles at me and I look him in the eyes to smile back and all I can think of is, “agh, his eyes still look yellow.” What about when others kindly ask, “how is Beckett doing?” and I have to sheepishly admit that I have no idea. As his father, I have no idea how Beckett is doing. What I can tell you is that he is still yellow and he blows out of 3 outfits everyday because we are forced to use a bigger size of diaper than a kid with his weight would traditionally use because his stomach is huge.

Ask me about one of my other kids, I will tell you exactly how they are doing because they are healthy and they are living their lives the way they should be. Or are they? Is it normal for your four year old (Adalyn) to ask you every morning if Beckett is going to see the doctor that day? Which we have learned is her way of asking if Grandma is coming over so Mom and Dad can go stay at the hospital for days. She also thinks that it’s now perfectly normal for people to show up at dinner time with bowls of food for us to eat. Is it normal for your two year old (Raemee) to walk through every room in the house screaming your name and crying because she didn’t see you walk downstairs to change the wash? No, it’s not. Why? Because the first two years of her life she didn’t care what part of the house you were in because she wanted you out of her business. Nowadays all she seems to care about is my approval of her.

So here I am finally being honest for the first time in 11 days. I’m scared. I’m terrified that I may lose my son someday because he won’t get the liver that he needs. I’m nervous that a transplant will have complications and he rejects the new liver or that his body makes him pay the price for having a transplant. The unknown date of this future event seems to haunt me. I’m not just scared for Beckett. I’m worried about Kim and the burden that she has to carry as the mother of our home. I’m sensitive to her emotions and feeling but don’t know how to help her. I’m worried about Adalyn and Raemee and the lives they will have to live now that their brother has freakin’ Biliary Atresia. The mysterious disease with an unknown cause that can only be cured by receiving someone else’s liver. You want honesty, ok. It hurts. It sucks… And I feel like as the provider of my home I am failing to provide my family with what they need. I can’t just go to the shopping mall and pick up a liver for my son. I can’t stay home from the hospital with the girls and leave Kimmie by herself in that depressing building of pediatric medical miracles. Which means I can’t stay home to provide my girlies with the parental love and comfort that they have grown accustom to their whole lives and deserve.

So now what? I guess I hit the lights and rebuild the wall in my sleep. When I wake up in the morning I guess I will be feeling, OK.

Written by: Shawn

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Little Warrior

IMG_6708When we first started figuring out what was going on with Beckett, I posted a picture to Instagram about what we had experienced. I mentioned that Beckett was going about everything with such a happy demeanor and I called him my little warrior. I don’t know why that word popped in my head specifically instead of a more common word like fighter. But it came so clearly. He was a warrior. I’ve pondered a lot lately trying to figure out why that word was so important. As I was thinking about it last Wednesday, a story in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ about the 2,000 stripling warriors came to mind. I decided to make that the object of my scripture study the next day.

It just so happened that Thursday, Shawn took Addie to preschool and Beckett took a long nap. We had a very quiet morning and I was able to spend some good time with my scriptures reading the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors and thinking about it. This story is about a group of people who after repenting of their wickedness, made a covenant with God that they would never take up arms again. Well war came upon them. Their brethren were fighting for them and they felt bad because they weren’t helping. They were about to take up arms and fight when their sons (who had NOT made the covenant) said that they would go to war for their fathers. As they fought, they were injured but NOT ONE of the 2,000 sons was killed in battle. What I learned from reading this story was amazing. It has changed the way I view our situation.

I started in Alma Chapter 53 and got to verses 20-21.

20 And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted…

21 Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.

Then I moved to Alma Chapter 56:46

46 For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth…

Here Helaman (their commander) is describing these young men. I felt so strongly in my core that this is Beckett. I believe that my little man is so courageous and is doing much better with this situation than either Shawn or I. It doesn’t matter that he is a two month old baby. I remember when he first smiled at us after his surgery. There was a look in his eyes. He had this. He was ok. It was like he was telling us that he was fine. His courage strengthens mine. And then I read that last line again, “Behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth.” How true this is. Our God is behind us. He will watch over us and protect us. Those 2,000 warriors knew that and they went forward in faith. Beckett is the same. He is so happy and trusting, even with the scary things that have happened to him.

I then moved on to Alma 56:47-48.

47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death… yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

 48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

Now I have read this story many times in my life. I have always thought of how amazing those mothers were. But reading it this time with Beckett in mind, it struck me so differently. I am now the mom of a warrior. This is me. This is my responsibility. And in order for me to teach my son, I need to believe this. And live it. Faith. It all comes down to faith. Their mothers instilled such faith in them that they were willing to go into battle. I want my son to be strong. I want him to be able to handle things with courage and with happiness no matter how bad things get. And in order for that to happen, I need to be the example. By this point I was in tears. I felt such a greater love for those mothers. I knew that I wanted to be just like them.

At this point in the story, these young men went to war. Alma 56:56 reads:

56 But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power…

And then moved to Alma Chapter 57:21, 26-27.

21 Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.

26 And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.

27 Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

I started to think of Beckett’s future. Oh how I wish this for him. He has already proved to be so strong but I pray that he can fight with the strength of God as he undergoes many challenges in his life. I know that he can have a wonderful life despite the health issues. I love that last verse because I can see my son in it. He is young. His mind is firm. And I can see him putting his trust in God for the rest of his life. I know God is there for him. Christ knows exactly what Beckett has been through and what he will endure. He knows it perfectly and is the perfect person to rely on through all this.

That’s not to say that we aren’t going to have hard days. We will. Probably a lot of them. We are going to struggle at times. But if we will trust, if we have faith in our Savior, we will conquer whatever comes our way.

I love my son. I love him so deeply that I will be strong for him. I will teach him what I know. I will teach him faith. We will make it through this together.

Written by: Kimber

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The Messenger

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We have been home from the hospital now for almost 24 hours. It’s an amazing feeling to be in the comfort of your own home. However, even though I am comforted by the familiarity, now that we are home, I feel heavy. My head hurts, it’s hard to breath, my stomach still feels sick, and my eyes just want to close. I’m pretty sure these are the side effects of being overwhelmed, scared, and completely weighed down from the pressures of life. As the hours pass by I gradually accept that these feelings are going to be my new way of life.

Kno, knoc, knock! Kimmie and I look at each other with a puzzled look. “Who could be at the door?” I thought. I open the door and recognize the mans face but I don’t know his name. He introduced himself and mentioned that he is a member of our ward (a ward is an group of members of our church defined in a specific area). He was holding a plate of cookies and I felt like I should invite him into our home. He came in and informed us that he was prompted to stop by yet had no idea what he was doing or why he was now sitting in our home. The next 15 minutes were filled with this man bearing testimony of the divinity of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the power of prayer, and even though we are scared of the unknown, God knows exactly what he is doing. He looked me in his eyes, called me his brother, and promised me that everything was going to be ok. The Spirit of God surrounded me like a warm hug and I knew what this man was telling me was true. I knew that God had sent this man as a servant to deliver a specific message for Kim and I.

The weight was immediately lifted and I could feel of Gods love for our family. I was suddenly ok and accepting of this new way of life. What an indescribable and marvelous feeling it is to have confidence that God is in your corner. I am not oblivious to the facts that the road ahead is going to be hard and will stretch me in ways that will hurt, but I am sure that we won’t be on this journey alone. Our Father in Heaven knows what his children need and with this knowledge I find peace knowing Beckett is in better hands than my own.

Written by: Shawn

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Life Lessons from Primary Children’s Hospital

This past week as we have spent numerous days in the hospital, I have learned several little life lessons. To make sure I don’t forget them I really wanted to write down the things that I’ve learned.

1- Everyone has trials and pain

I know this one seems so obvious but as I have watched so many people here in pain, it has become so clear to me that everyone goes through so much. And most of it is not visible to the naked eye. It reminds me of the hymn Lord I Would Follow Thee which says “In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.” Oh how true this is. And how deep that pain goes.

As we sit in our hospital room, we have seen families get admitted. The looks of anxiety, fear and sorrow on their faces can be overwhelming at times. My heart just aches because I can now relate in a way that I never have before. I know just how deep that pain goes. It gives me greater empathy for what others may be experiencing.

2- The world is more kind than we realize

I felt so very alone when we came here. Then we have met countless doctors, nurses, social workers, staff and families of sick kids that have reached out to us and pulled us in. I have had several moms of kids with Biliary Atresia reach out to me and show me that I am not alone. They don’t even know me. But the love that they have showed has made a huge impact in my life.

I’ve also noticed small acts of kindness that go such a long way, from the waitress who gave us a free appetizer just because, to the people who have graciously donated to help us out financially, some who we haven’t seen or spoken to in years, to the nurses who stroke our baby’s head and talk to him instead of just taking care of his needs, to the smiles and nods of encouragement as you pass a fellow parent in the halls, to the surgeon who stops what he’s doing to put his hand on your shoulder and make sure you’re ok. It’s amazing how kind and caring the world is if we really pay attention to it.

3- We are a family

As I started to realize just how many others are going through similar things that we are, I started to feel like we were part of a new family. It dawned on me that our “families” can come in so many varieties and sizes. We all have our immediate family and our extended family but we are also part of bigger family units like our church family or school families. And it was made so clear to me that we have joined a very special family when I met with some of the liver doctors and their social worker and the first thing the social worker said to us was, “Welcome to the family!” As I’ve spoken with parents of liver kids, I felt so included. I felt like I had met my sisters.

4- It’s the small things that matter

Another thing that has been reinforced in my mind that I knew previously was that it’s the small things in our lives that really matter. It’s the smiles, the kisses and hugs, the kind words that matter. The big stressful stuff just doesn’t matter in the long run. It’s our relationships with others. It’s the love that we feel and show. It’s service. That’s what matters. That’s what helps us all get to where we need to be.

5- Celebrate the victories

This was a powerful testimony to me this week. Celebrate the victories and forget the failures. As we waited for simple things like bowel sounds in Beckett, I thought about how important it is for us to relish those victories, no matter how small they are. A victory is a victory, no matter how small. When Beckett pooped for the first time after his surgery, we were so thrilled. Yep, over poop. Because to us it meant the world. It meant that after surgery on his intestines and moving them around, they were waking up and working. So poop was an important victory for us. So we celebrated by making a “POOO” ghost to put on the window of our room.

We also had a fantastic victory this morning with Becks smiling for the first time since Monday. Oh how my heart melted. What a great victory. This whole process has helped me realize that I need to find the victories in my day to day life and celebrate them whether they are little, like making a warm breakfast for my kids or big, like Beckett surviving major surgery. I am determined to do a better job with finding those victories and forgetting all the things that I didn’t get done, the “failures”. Because in the end, who cares. Who cares that they laundry didn’t get done or the dishes are dirty. I choose to focus on those things that I do accomplish.

6- The Lord is in the details

Oh how I know this is so true. I know that my Father in Heaven is aware of me and my family and our struggles. He has shown us so many tender mercies this week and I will forever be so grateful for him helping to make our trials a little bit easier.

When we were here last week, a friend in our ward sent me some contact info for a friend of hers whose daughter had liver issues. This woman added me to a couple facebook groups and through that we actually found out that across the hall from us was another family whose daughter has Biliary Atresia and is here waiting for her to get a liver transplant. I spoke with her online briefly and then the next morning as I went out to get a snack off the cart, I saw her. I introduced myself and she gave me a huge hug. We have since spoken several times and she has been a source of great comfort to me. I’m not alone. There are others who know what we feel like, who know the pain of finding out about this awful disease and feeling like you were punched in the face.

At the end of the week, we found a news article about a family in Pleasant Grove whose daughter, Mona is almost four. She had the Kasai when she was a baby and now was in need of a transplant. Her mom was a match and because she didn’t need a full liver, her mom was able to donate to her. So amazing. It gave us hope. Well, as we were waiting for Beckett to get out of surgery, we happened to overhear a phone conversation and quickly figured out that this woman was the grandma of Mona. We were stunned. Their live organ liver transplant was happening at the exact moment that Beckett was having the Kasai. When she got off the phone, we apologized to her for eavesdropping and then told her we knew who she was and told her about Beckett. She was amazing! Such faith. Such strength. Oh how that woman will never understand how she helped me through the scariest moment of my life so far. Later that day she sent Mona’s dad out and he talked to us for awhile about everything. Tender mercy for sure.

I know that the Lord has been with us. He has placed people in our lives at the right time to help us through. To help us process. To help us heal. Without Him I don’t know how we would have survived. Oh how I need him. And my eyes have been opened to see just how involved he is.

Written by: Kimber

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