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Perfect Little Moments

It’s 5 pm. I’m making dinner. Music is playing loudly in the background and I can’t help but dance a little. I hear the girls playing upstairs, their laughter echoing through the house. As I stir our dinner, I feel a little tug on my pants. I glance down and see a perfect little face beaming up at me. Beckett scrunches his nose and smiles at me. I laugh and watch him as he crawls away to his high chair and pulls himself up. He looks back at me and smiles again. “Love you bubba.” I turn back to our dinner. And the tears start to fall.

I have moments like this almost daily now. Where the complete normalcy and beauty of the ordinary comes shining through. I love these moments. Moments that remind me just how far we’ve come and what we’ve learned. This week especially has been extremely emotional. On Thursday, it will have been exactly one year since B was diagnosed. One year. I remember so vividly the fear and worry that we were experiencing. And now our lives are so happy and joyful. A year makes such a difference.

Things at home are so perfect. Sure we have our ups and downs but overall life is just so wonderful. The changes that have occured over the past couple months are huge. His picc line was pulled out. No more lipids! We went from twice weekly blood draws to once a week. This has been great since we don’t have the picc line and have to poke Becks each week. We have been going to the doctor every 2-3 weeks instead of weekly. His belly has been staying stable and we introduced fats into his diet. He did great with that so we introduced milk. He hated it at first but once we introduced him to chocolate milk, he’s been doing just fine. We’ve gone from 15 meds down to 10 with a couple more looking like they will disappear soon. We’ve discontinued more than 5 but have added a couple in. It’s fine though because we discontinue heavy meds and add in simple ones like a multivitamin. So many people take multivitamins!!! I’m thrilled that some of his meds are simple ones. He has gone from barely drinking 1-2 ounces of water/apple juice to drinking 25 ounces, 20 of that is milk! Because of this we have cut back how much he gets through his feeding tube. He was getting 17 ounces but now only gets 5-7. We are hoping the feeding tube comes out soon. He eats 3 meals a day and has a couple snacks. He likes pretty much everything!! Just over a month ago I was feeling discouraged because he would barely put anything in his mouth. Our speech therapist was pretty stunned the last few times she came and he had made huge leaps. He went from not being able to sit, to sitting, army crawling, real crawling, pulling up to his knees and now pulls to standing. He is even letting go of the furniture with one hand and has rock solid balance. He is catching up so quickly. I am astonished.

One year ago, we were about to embark on the scariest journey I have ever been on. I kept thinking why us? Why Beckett? But now all I can think is Why NOT us? Why NOT Beckett? Look at how our lives have changed. Everyday is beautiful. Everyday I see the beauty in the ordinary that I never noticed before, at least not with any regularity. I see it in everything we do. I cry tears of joy almost daily thanking my Father in Heaven for his abundant blessings and his wisdom in teaching us a very valuable lesson. A painful one but one that changed my perspective and has made me a better person, wife, and mother.

And so I look forward to future little tugs on my pants, and my heart. Constant reminders of how blessed we are and how wonderful life can be if you’re willing to look for the little, ordinary, perfect moments.

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Faith of a Child

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

“Addie, what’s wrong?” she asked.

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

“You want Jesus to come to our house?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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my Liver Kid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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My 2014 Twenty & 14 Grateful List

In the spirit of Thanksgiving I decided to take a step back and make a list of the top Twenty and 14 things that I am grateful for. I have decided to leave them in random order because putting a numerical or symbolic meaning next to each of them is ridiculous.

  1. Beckett is on a medication that helps him pee the extra fluid in his abdomen out and he doesn’t need to have to carry his yellow accessory (drain) with him.
  2. Beckett’s poop has dark colors. Light/white poop is a sign of liver failure. The color of poop has never meant so much to me.
  3. That  “Number 1” and “Number 2” on my Twenty & 14 Grateful List both have double meanings. Do you get it? Number 1 and number 2. Seriously can’t stop laughing right now.
  4. We will be spending Thanksgiving at home and not at the hospital. Kim and I were worried for a while that this years feast would be taking place in the Primary Children’s cafeteria. May God bless those families who will be there in our place.
  5. Adalyn June. Addie is our oldest child. She is the symbol of love in our family. There is nothing that she wouldn’t do for her brother or sister. The sacrifices she has made during Beckett’s battle have been just as hard as any sacrifice that Kimmie and I have made and it doesn’t go unnoticed. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t thank God for this princess being my first born. Love you June!
  6. Dr. Weston Spencer at Alpine Pediatrics in American Fork. The man gave us a chance by recognizing Beckett’s rare disease immediately and running the right blood tests. I will be forever grateful for him!
  7. The best neighbors. Seriously the best. We thought we were loved and cared for before but we had no idea what a neighborhood could do. Now it’s our turn to pay it forward.
  8. Subway sandwiches. You can’t beat the Spicy Italian. Lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, olives, mayo, mustard, and black pepper over pepperoni, salami, and some sort of processed white cheese.
  9. Our “primary” nurses. You know who you are. These nurses aren’t just employees of a hospital. They are family. We are so grateful for their willingness to accept our request. They take care of our son and watch over Kim and I. The weight they carry is just as heavy as ours as they counsel with our doctors. With tears in my eyes, we love you and are so grateful to have you angels apart of our battle.
  10. B E C K E T T. When Kim informed me that she was pregnant with Beckett, it took me several months to get on board with the idea of having another child. I wasn’t ready and was perfectly happy with my two sweeties. Becks, one day you will read this and I want you to know that you mean more to me than life itself. I would give everything I have up for you to live the life that you deserve son and to carry your BA torch. I am proud of you and will fight every day with you in battle.
  11. High by Young Rising Sons. I came across this song when Kim was in the last weeks of her pregnancy with Beckett and it became the theme song of her pregnancy. It has now turned into the theme song of Beckett’s life. Touches my core every time I give it a listen.
  12. Technology. How blessed are we to live at a time when medicine practices have never been better? Not to mention that when my family needs the prayers of others I can Tweet, Facebook, and Instagram a request to hundreds of people. There is nothing I can’t do from a smartphone/tablet. Working has never been easier in this time of needing to balance life and work.
  13. Family. What a beautiful thing family is. There is no better way to understand how our Heavenly Father feels than being a parent. I am grateful for my parents, in-laws, and the many other individuals who have acted as parents in my life. I am grateful for my siblings and the strength that we draw from each other.
  14. Domo, Inc. This company takes care of their own and I am proud to be a Domosapien. By the way, we’re hiring.
  15. Raemee Kay. This peach leaves me speechless on a daily basis. From the beginning she has been my stress ball. She is the most physically dirty kid I have ever known. She is the instigator of mischief and she is more gifted than most. There is not a thing my Mimi girl can’t do. I am willing to bet that she can make anyone smile. Rae, don’t change because you are perfect sweetheart. Saying I love you is an understatement.
  16. Snow capped mountains. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute and admit that it’s breathtaking and a scenic view doesn’t get much better than snow capped mountains. If you want to argue with me than take a look at this picture by my friend Br1dger and sit back down.
  17. Our home. It’s cozy. It’s warm. It’s located in a city that I swore I would never live and now love. It’s perfectly located for our little world where we live our life.
  18. My Father in Heaven. We have had some words lately. Despite my frustrations and pains he has always listened to me. However many times I fall he sends me help. He loves me and shows me so I don’t forget it.
  19. Freshly shaved legs. You’d think I’d be meaning Kimmie’s legs. Don’t get me wrong, those are hot, but I am talking about my own. Oh, daddy. There is nothing like getting in bed or putting on a pair of pants over freshly shaved legs. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
  20. Kimmie. She is my world and my strength. She is my best friend and my eternal love. She is compassionate and forgiving. Kim has a way with our kids that amazes me. Since day 1 she has been my living example of the Savior and has continued to be my example since then. I would be lost without her and am so grateful she is my companion in this life and the lives to come.

And

  1. Sound of water. Now I am not talking about from your sink. I mean from a river, stream, or waterfall. The sound of constant crashing and flexible adjustments that water makes as it gets tossed, turned, and dropped by running it’s course. I find the sound soothing and peaceful. I think there is a deeper definition of “going with the flow” that we often glaze over.
  2. Organ donors. These individuals are true life savers. These selfless individuals understand what life is about and want everyone to live life to the fullest. If you’re not a donor, you should be. A wise woman that I greatly respect once said, “if your child needed an organ to save his/her life, would you take it? If yes, then it’s reasonably expected that you’d be willing to donate.” Click here to register today.
  3. My sister. This woman keeps going. She inspires me. I hope to be more selfless like her.
  4. Nacho cheese. So freaking good! Right?!?
  5. Cycling. It’s freedom on two wheels. It’s my pain playground. It’s the time where I channel my heart, mind, and muscle to move as one. On the bike I learn the power that my body has and how all of the moving pieces inside God’s beautiful creation come together to take me to my desired destination.
  6. Our Liver Family. These liver families have brought Kim and I so much peace and have helped fortify Kim and I. It’s a family that focuses on love and support rather than judgement. The circumstances of our association are not ideal but we are better people now that we are rubbing shoulders with them.
  7. Sunshine. Ahhh! Let’s face it, there are no words to describe it’s beauty.
  8. Car sunroofs. What a brilliant idea! It’s a perfect place to let the fresh air flow into the car while letting the sunshine in from above. It doesn’t matter where you are when your sunroof is open you feel like you are vacation. You feel cool and on top of the world. Everyone deserves to feel that way. If your car doesn’t have a sunroof. Sell it. Get a car that does and soak up the rays.
  9. Life Trees. You’re probably like “Whhhat?!?!” A life tree is a tree that has equal or more years of life than you do. They are tall, strong and have deep stubborn roots. However, no matter how big they are, no matter how strong, nor how deep their roots run, they find new ways and areas to grow.
  10. Dreyers Mint and Peppermint ice cream. #numnum
  11. Mexican food. Doesn’t matter what it is. Taco Bell, Del Taco, Taco Time, El Azteca, Maria Bonita, Mama Chu’s, La Costa or Red Iguana. I’ll eat it. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, taquitos, tamales, enchiladas, or tostadas. I’ll eat ’em.
  12. Our liver team. Dr. Book, Barbie, Holly, Brook just to name a few know exactly what they are doing. It’s not their first rodeo and we feel so blessed to be with one of the greatest doctors and teams in the country.
  13. Jesus Christ, my Savior. When it comes to the sacrifice of The Redeemer of mankind, I have always focused on the repentance aspect and being cleansed from my sins. I am learning now what people mean when they say “by His grace we are saved.” His grace saves me when I am feeling discouraged, tired, and scared. I am saved by the strength that he provides me. I am saved because he gives me hope.
  14. You. If you are reading this it means you care. I am grateful for your support. I know you want to help our family. One day, I will ask you to. Today isn’t that day and it’s not the right time. Until then, please stay curious. Please stay involved. Please keep praying that Beckett gets stronger and don’t ever hesitate to ask Kim and I for anything.

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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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I Can Do Hard Things

When Beckett was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia we were put in touch with Andy, a mom of a little girl who also has BA. This woman has become a very, very dear friend and someone who I completely admire. Through all the crap that they are going through with their daughter she is always positive and willing to lift others up. The other day, I received a gift from her. It was a cute onesie for Beckett and also a necklace that says “I can do hard things.”

IMG_7012I’ve been wearing the necklace for the last week to give me courage as we heard difficult news from doctors and now deal with stressful situations with our little warrior. And that sentence has been in my mind constantly: I can do hard things. I’ve reflected over the past weeks that we have been dealing with everything with Beckett. And I have come to the realization….

I CAN do hard things.

I can administer 6 different meds, two times a day to my baby without him spitting it out. Some of the nurses were having a hard time and it was getting everywhere. But I was able to do it. And then he started throwing up the meds. One night, we spent 30 minutes giving him meds. We finished and he threw them all up and the doctors decided that we needed to re-administer them. We took our time so he wouldn’t throw up. After we were done, I looked at the clock. Meds had taken us two hours from start to finish. That was hard. But I did it. And I’ll do it everyday for the rest of his life.

I can watch as the IV team inserts IV after IV after IV. Five in fact, all in the span of five days. One head IV, two in his left foot and two in his right. It was hard to see him like that. It was hard to see the nurses flush his IV and realize it went bad. I cringed every time I heard a nurse say his IV was sluggish. It was so hard to see him bleeding from blown veins. It was hard hearing him cry so much. But I did it. And I was there to comfort him after.

As hard as it was hearing bad news about his liver and belly, I went in prepared to hear bad news about that. I did not expect to hear that I had to stop nursing. That was a hard pill to swallow. Even once we realized it would most likely be temporary, it was still hard. It was and still is hard to pump every three hours just to turn around and feed Beckett a bottle of special formula. It takes a lot of time and that’s hard. But as hard as that is, it’s much harder to know that I can’t hold Beckett when he’s hungry. I tried. He nuzzles and tries to nurse and cries so much. It’s hard to not be able to comfort and feed him. But I can do it. I can make it through.

It’s hard knowing that I have two precious girls who need me at home and a little warrior who is sick and needs me at the hospital. I can’t be in two places at once. It’s hard having my mother heart split in two. It’s hard knowing that others are taking care of them when I so fervently wish that I was the one home with them. But we made it work. We survived. And we are closer than ever. It’s hard to know that in the future we will be apart for much longer periods of time. That thought breaks my heart. But we will do it. I can do it.

It’s hard being at home all by myself trying to juggle everything. Trying to do our everyday things like breakfast, lunch, and dinner; getting the girls ready for the day, naps, laundry, dishes and even preschool. Then adding in pumping and Beckett’s meds. And on top of all that trying to take care of myself and giving the girls enough time with me and giving them my undivided attention. The attention they desperately need. I struggle finding enough time during the day to do EVERYTHING. It’s a battle. A hard one that I seem to be losing. But I can do it. It may take me time and I may need help for awhile but I will figure it out and it will become our new normal.

If I have learned nothing else through the past two difficult weeks, the one thing I have learned is that I CAN DO HARD THINGS. I am strong. I am stronger than I ever knew. And it’s empowering. I got this.

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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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Beckett’s “Simple” Follow Up

(null)The past two days have been hard. Really hard. I’ve been looking forward to and completely dreading Beckett’s follow up appointments. I wanted to know how he was really doing but at the same time I was terrified to know exactly what our future looked like. We had two appointments set up. 10:30 am with the surgeon, Dr. Scaife, and 1:40 pm with our liver doctor, Dr. Book.

Today arrived. I prayed really hard for peace. I just wanted to feel peace no matter what news we received. When I woke up, I was feeling pretty good. Apprehensive but good. We packed an overnight bag just in case, got the girls settled and packed the baby in the car. We drove up to Primary Children’s. As we started driving, it was silent. Too silent. So we turned on Taylor Swift’s new CD and jammed. It helped take my mind off of the day. But the closer we got to the hospital the more ill I felt. I was so nervous.

We headed up to general surgery and checked in. They then took us to get some labs done. Sweet Beckett was quite the charmer as the nurse prepped his foot to get pricked. He bled good for her and then we headed back to general surgery to meet with Dr. Scaife. As we waited in the room for him, we noticed a mural on the wall. There was a saying on it that if we looked closely we could see all the letter A to Z. We spent the next 15 minutes trying to find the letters. They may have designed that for kids but 1, it was hard and 2, it was a great distraction for us as parents.

Dr. Scaife walked in. “How are you guys?” We smiled. “You tell us.” We laid Beckett on the table and lifted up his shirt so Dr. Scaife could look at his belly. He told us that his belly looked distended and he wanted to send us to get an ultrasound to figure out what was going on since it could be several different things. We asked about his incision. He told us that it looked fabulous. No issues there. Perfect! The lab work still hadn’t come in so he told us we would have to wait until we saw Dr. Book. We headed out to the main room to see if we could get in for an ultrasound. I don’t know how we lucked out but we were sent straight down to radiology for the ultrasound!

When we got there, our tech, Brad, called us back. Now Brad was the same tech that did his initial ultrasound exactly 4 weeks ago today. It felt nice to have a familiar face. Brad is awesome. He asked us questions, did the ultrasound quickly and laughed at all of Shawn’s jokes. Shawn made some comment in regards to how much money the surgeon makes and it made Brad laugh so hard that it took him a good couple minutes to compose himself to continue. That’s one thing I’m so grateful for. Shawn knows how to keep things lighthearted even in the midst of massive stress. Laughing our way through all this crap makes it a little easier. As Brad was doing the ultrasound, he told us all the black on the screen was fluid. I’m no tech but even I could see that there was way way too much in there. I immediately started kicking myself. We’ve been measuring him everyday and the measurements didn’t change until the past day or two. So what was I doing wrong that he had that much fluid and we couldn’t see. I’m not cut out for this.

After the ultrasound was over, the head radiologist came in and talked to us about the results. He said that in his opinion there was a “large amount of fluid” and he thought that Dr. Book would most likely want it drained. In order to drain it, Beckett would need to fast for 6 hours. Well here it was noon and he hadn’t eaten since 9 am. So I figured our appointment with Dr. Book was in two hours. It wouldn’t hurt to hold him off in case she did want it drained. Then we would already be ahead of the game. We left and went to get some lunch before our next appointment.

After we ate, we just sat for a minute. It was hard to know what to say. We still felt clueless. All we knew was that his belly had tons of fluid, something could be massively wrong and we had no idea how well the surgery was working because the labs weren’t in. We decided to head up to Dr. Books office early just in case they could get us in. While we waited we looked over the valley and tried to sort through the limited information we had. Soon enough it was our turn.

We headed back to the room and before anything was done, they went and grabbed Dr. Book. The radiologist had seen her on her way over and told her about Beckett. At this point, our appointment turned sideways. Instead of talking with her about things, all the sudden she was there telling us that we were headed back down to radiology to get his belly drained, they were going to place an IV and we would need tons more blood work done. Then we would be sent to the RTU (Rapid Treatment Unit) to recover and wait for results. Most likely we would stay overnight.

Before we headed down we asked our liver nurse, Holly, a bunch of questions. She was great as we tried to process what was happening. I asked her about his bilirubin levels. Before his surgery his levels were at 8.4, now three weeks later they were at 7.4. I’m not a doctor but that difference doesn’t seem that great. Dr. Book came back in and got us moving since radiology was waiting for us.

Back down to radiology. We went into a little procedure room and that’s where we met the doctor who would be performing the draining procedure. It’s also where Beckett got his IV. The nurses came in to do the IV and went straight for his head. They didn’t even try in his hands or feet. He screamed bloody murder and I sobbed in the hallway.

IMG_6945[6]After the stupid IV, they took us into this big room, the Jazz room. There are pictures of all the Jazz players, signed sports memorabilia and the ceiling tiles have all the signatures of all the players, past and present. It was pretty awesome. They got Beckett situated and then took us to a waiting room. Through all this I hadn’t been able to feed Beckett. But I had no idea that this was going to happen so even though we were prepared with overnight bags, I did not bring my pump. No big deal I thought, I’ll just use the hospital stuff. Nope. In looking into it, because what we were doing was an outpatient procedure and we would not be admitted even though we were staying overnight, it would cost $100 to use the hospitals stuff. Yeah, not happening. So I dealt with the pain until I could feed Beckett again.

The draining itself was actually super fast. Like 20 minutes and they were back to get us. They said that they drained 460 mL from his belly which equates to about 15.5 oz. and there was more in his tummy. He was awake and they said he did awesome. He never cried, just hung out. He was looking around and was calm until he saw me. Then he started screaming bloody murder. The Dr. said I could feed him since he was doing so great so we walked to the RTU and got into our room and I started to nurse him. Oh how quickly he calmed down. We just let him rest and hang out and had to put a sock over his hand so that he wouldn’t pull the IV out from his head. Then we waited.

After a couple hours, Dr. Book came in to talk to us about everything. She said that the fluid they took out of Beckett was milky. They tested it and determined that during his surgery his lymphatic system was damaged. There is fat from his food leaking through the lymphatic vessels. Then she proceeded to tell me that in order to fix the problem, I can’t nurse him anymore because breast milk is super fatty. He needs to be on a special formula. And if he won’t take the formula then they will put him on a feeding tube until his lymphatic system is healed. I am devastated. She said that its temporary, maybe 3-4 weeks but that’s a hard pill to swallow. That your milk is actually causing the damage to your baby. That the comfort and bonding that your baby enjoys can’t happen anymore. Pumping and saving my milk to hopefully nurse him in a month is the only solution. That was hard to hear.

She then felt his belly and said his spleen was enlarged. This could be from the pressure of his liver and the fluid. Not a great sign. I asked her where they want the bilirubin levels to be and she said under a 4. We’re at a 7.4. So that’s not super optimistic. She said she was going to keep an extra close eye on him. She then told us we would be staying overnight to get the rest of the fluid drained and to make sure he was taking the formula. And that we would be back next week for follow ups. She encouraged us, told us we would get things under control and that he would be ok, whatever course that may be.

IMG_6950I love Dr. Book. She never skirts around the issues but she is a glass half full person. She already cares about us and will do everything in her power to help Becks. I hate this situation. I’m not handling it well. But she gives me courage. I know Becks is being taken care of. And for that I am and forever will be eternally grateful.

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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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