Tag Archives: feelings

Quit Missing the Miracles

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I am lounging on the corner of the hospital couch. Kim is fast asleep occupying most of the couch on my left. I can’t blame her. Being beautiful ain’t easy! Beckett is sleeping comfortably in his bed to my right. It’s the first time this week that he has slept more than an hour without waking up. The only light in the room is from the glow of monitors that are pumping fluids into Beckett’s body. Outside the closed door of our plainly painted hospital room is the nurses station. I can hear them chatting it up and laughing. I feel comfort knowing they are so close.

These hospital weeks are brutal. I thought they would get easier. The problem with them is the tension starts long before the hospital stay begins. We have always had appointments on Wednesdays with our liver doctor. Monday rolls around and your body begins to tighten with anticipation. On Tuesday your stomach is sick and your head is wanting to explode from all of the unknown and “what if” scenarios that have been racing through your brain. Wednesday, your heart beats outside your chest and you have a shortness of breath because you know something bad is going to happen.

IMG_0126This week for some reason has been unusually harder than others. The initial shock of Beckett’s liver disease has officially come and gone and now we are facing the bare bones reality of it all. I am feeling overwhelmed from the stressful/emotional roller coaster. From good news that Beckett’s Kasai surgery is working to bad news that Beckett has Portal Hypertension, which could cause him to need a transplant sooner even though his surgery is draining bile from his liver. Good news that Kim can start breastfeeding again to bad news 24 hours later that leads Kim to decide to stop breastfeeding entirely. Good news that “you’ll go home tomorrow” to bad news of “it will be three more days.” I watched our doctor drain 16.5oz of ascites fluid from Beckett’s abdomen. I have been covered in multiple ounces of throw up on several different occasions. Tomorrow I will learn how to stick a feeding tube up my sons nose and down his throat into his stomach.

It is not uncommon that when we are in the hospital we receive extremely encouraging words and support from friends and family. Most often these messages come via Facebook and Instagram. These notes of love keep us going and help us see the positive in all the negative. Today I received a text message from a friend that said:

“Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. Those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion, which polish you for your everlasting benefit.”— Richard G. Scott

IMG_7344 copyIf I step back a minute from liver disease, discussions of transplant timeframes, vomit, and feeding tubes I can count the blessings of all that is going right. I can see the growth that Kimmie and I have experienced. I can take pride in what I am doing and what I have learned. I can feel comfort and peace from the prayers of hundreds who are reciting Beckett’s name in personal and family communion with God. That is a miracle! I question. How many miracles have I glanced over because I have been selfish and not compassionate? Would this week have been better if I had opened my perception up to greater understanding? Have I disrupted my own spiritual growth pattern because I have chosen to be comfortable with my attitude and daily routine?

Tonight as I ponder how miserable my week has been, my feelings turn to gratitude for the reminder that I received today from a friend. I am grateful for why these hospital stays are hard. I take pride in understanding that my Father feels I am prepared and ready to grow. It’s not fun and it’s not something I wake up in the morning and look forward to. It’s hard. Growing pains are uncomfortable and unlocking true understanding is going to take some practice. It’s a challenge and I don’t know if it will ever get easy. What I do know is that I don’t want to miss the miracles that are taking place all around me.

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A Glimpse of Heaven

It’s 2:30 am. I’m tired and Beckett is hungry. Shawn and I work together to get his bottle ready and change his diaper. Neither of us wants to feed him. We want sleep. It’s my turn.

I cradle this baby boy in my arms and feed him the bottle. My eyes are heavy. He finishes and I lift him to my shoulder to burp him.

And then it hits me. That smell. Oh that precious baby smell. I’m wide awake. I’m breathing him in. My heart. My soul. In the dim light, I see his perfect little mouth and feel his little chest rise and fall as he sleeps on me. I rub my cheek against his. It’s so silky and smooth.

And then I’m crying. Oh how blessed I am. God sent me this perfect little bundle of heaven. I see him for who he is. An angel in my life. I see who he will become. I close my eyes and kiss his cheek, again and again and again. I pull him in close, breathe him in. And then I lay him down in his bed to sleep.

Tonight I have glimpsed heaven. Tonight I have felt a part of the love that God has for me. And I am blessed. So very blessed.

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Understanding the Universe

“In a very short period of time, our understanding of the universe changed forever… The immensity of the universe didn’t suddenly change, but our ability to see and understand this truth changed dramatically. And with that greater light, mankind was introduced to glorious vistas we had never before imagined.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I have thought often the past few weeks on these words. I can relate to them. They tell my story. I see the value and meaning of life differently than I had ever seen or pictured it before. The veil over my face has been lifted to see a greater universe than I knew previously. I strangely feel the dark and sunny places of other individuals emotions and can relate to them. As much as my own experiences will allow me to of course.

Before Beckett’s diagnosis of Biliary Atresia, we had what I considered a great life. Kim and I found the chaotic rhythm for our family of 3 beautiful well mannered kids. Our marriage was thriving as we established weekly dates and activities together. I was starting to find the groove of my career after being promoted to a new position of visibility. Talk of insurance and financial planning was for “other” people. Adalyn and Raemee, our two oldest girls, have never had ear infections. No medical threats would ever happen to us. Life was as close to perfect as it could get.

IMG_3184The text message I received from Kim on that sunny Tuesday was the start of my eye opening experience that is now the life I live. Since that Tuesday, 35 days have past. In those thirty-five days, 17 of them to this day have been spent in the hospital. Puddles of tears have been shed, hard conversations have taken place, and ultimately God has provided me with a humbling blow to my core that has made me grow up in areas I have never wanted to. Nor did I know existed within me or my capacity. I think we have all experienced this to different degrees.

In the end I am grateful for the deeper capacity of gratitude, empathy, perspective, and emotion that I feel for others. It has enabled me to love. To see the universe for what it’s supposed to be. I have a changed soul and I can’t describe it. You can’t put words next to something like what I feel inside now that is so powerful. I can say that it runs deep, it’s consuming, and it requires me to take action.

I’m not grateful for what is happening to Beckett. I would never wish this on my son. Though he be a warrior, it’s not a fight I want him in so that I can learn a soul transforming lesson. However, I am grateful for the level of communication it has provided me. As I looked into Beckett’s eyes last night, I saw him. I saw the fear that exists inside him. That same fear I see on the faces of parents of sick kids in the hospital. The same look I see when I look in the mirror. I felt how tired he was from a week of being poked (5 different IVs and multiple blood draws), sedated (twice), and drained (the excessive fluid from his abdomen). I understood for a brief moment the exhaustion of being administered 6 different medications one after the other, or the toll that deep vomiting multiple times a day can take on a 3 month old body. When he wrapped his little fingers around my thumb, he was asking me to not leave him alone and I heard through his expression him say “I am trying dad!” For a second, time stopped and I was learning from my man cub. He has a mission to complete. A battle to fight. My son has a purpose and he knows it. We all do. Just like I love my son, our Father in Heaven loves us all. I understand now why “in the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land” (Matthew 27:45) and in the ninth hour “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” (Matthew 27:51) It wasn’t easy for the Son, and clearly it wasn’t easy for the Father, but they saw and were aware of the glorious vistas of the universe.

Beckett is a warrior. Even though he has already been through so much, his battlefield is going to get harder, scarier, and so much worse. In all of this there is a lot that will be asked of him. He will pay a steep price to gain the life he has waiting for him post liver transplant. I am so proud of him and through him I am finally seeing and understanding what life is really about. #loveyaBeckett

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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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Bicycle Therapy

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Now that we have been home from the hospital a few days and have had some time together as a family a few things were becoming very clear. First, the girls are getting extremely clingy and needing some love and attention from Kim and I. Second, as much hope and comfort as Kim and I feel, we spend far more time feeling pain and hollow. Third, I’m starting to feel cooped up at home and the take out/cafeteria food from the hospital is making itself comfortable in my abdominal region.

The girls were upstairs for quiet time so I asked Kim if I could escape for an hour. I quickly threw on my cycling kit, did a few necessary stretches and was out the door.

Getting on the bike had never felt so good. It had been weeks since my last ride and I was definitely having some withdrawals. I couldn’t exactly tell why at first. I thought it might be because of the warm air passing through my kit or the smells of the outdoors. It wasn’t until I approached a small hill that I recognized exactly why and what I was feeling deep inside. My first challenge. I stood up on my pedals and thrust my right heel into the ground and pulled up with my left knee and repeated one after another. I could feel my heart rate increase. The beating not only pounding in my chest but pulsating in my arms and head. I changed my grip on the handle bars to a firm grip and I was now pulling up on them with my upper body. During this beautiful moment of synergy I look down at the ground ahead of me to see my shadow. The realization hit me, “you are in control!”

Since Beckett was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia I hadn’t been in control of anything in my life. Everything was determined by Beckett’s needs and what the hospital nurses or doctors would say that we could do. On the bike I felt alive and free again. I knew that the pain I felt in my legs was self inflicted and was managed by my own desires. The pain wasn’t forced on me like the facts that Beckett will someday need a liver transplant and the life that we dreamed we/he would have will never be what we originally wanted for our son.

I get to the top of the small hill and sit back down on my seat. An overwhelming sense of freedom hits me followed by the same amount of emotions. I yearned to be in control of my sons fate. I wanted all the answers to questions that nobody could give me. I wanted our old life back. The one where all we worried about was what was for lunch and dinner that day. The one that didn’t require administering 3 kinds of prescriptions numerous times a day for the rest of our boys life.

For the remainder of my ride I pondered about the decision I needed to make. I could feel angry about the lack of control I have over life, or I could control what was controllable.

So for now, I will love my son. I will cherish every minute I have with him and be grateful for every day he is alive. I will put faith in God that the lifestyle that Beckett will have and timing of a transplant is in His hands. I will seek the best medical attention and rally my support group for prayers. I will voice the need to be an organ donor to as many people as my voice can reach. Once I am done, I will count my blessings and start over again. Wouldn’t you do the same?

Written by: Shawn

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