This past year has been full of challenges, but there has also been so many blessings. My wife has done a really good job letting everyone know about Poppy, how she’s progressing, and the plans for her care. I thought I’d let everyone know about what God has done for us and how he’s blessed us in the midst of this trial.
July 3rd, 2012 we were so excited to find out that Crosby was going to have a sibling! In fact, as we were waiting for the test to reveal our blessing we talked about the size of our house. I can remember making an agreement with Christi that if she is pregnant we should put the house on the market and look at something bigger to accommodate our growing family.
Sure enough we decided to test the market and see if our house would sell amidst a struggling housing market. God’s plan was in effect and we found ourselves moving to an apartment because our house had sold. Our landlord of our new apartment even agreed to sign our lease for month to month. I look back on this and realize how big of blessing this was. I couldn’t imagine having a mortgage payment or rent due while trying to take care of my family at this time.
We found out about our daughters condition on December 17, 2012 which stands out in my mind as an important date permanently etched in my mind. If it wasn’t for the ultrasound tech noticing that there wasn’t something quite right about our daughters heart, our journey could have gone so much differently. It would have likely involved a mercy flight with no forewarning, and a very blue baby.
(As a side note, Poppy was born with what appeared to be very good numbers and looked very healthy. In fact one of the doctors at Seattle Children’s mentioned that if her heart defect wasn’t spotted on the ultrasound, it could have likely been missed after she was born and she would have been sent home only to be faced with disaster just days later.)
Now that we knew about our daughter’s heart condition, we could prepare as best as we could. The hard part was figuring out where to begin. I can remember calling our church and asking for prayer. I know God can heal our little girl if that is his plan but I also know that I need to trust in his plan no matter what happens. I remember telling the prayer meeting that no matter the outcome our biggest prayer for our daughter is that through her life God will be glorified. This is one of those statements you say with a lump in your throat. In the back of my mind I’m begging God to just fix this issue so I can just go on with my life. But, as I read my Bible I realize that there isn’t a single person in it who faced a trouble free life. In fact everyone in it faced great obstacles that they had to rely on God to get them through it. Psalms 23 states: “…..As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil because God is with me.” It doesn’t say that we walk around the valley but rather through it and God will be with us. So in short, I trust God to get my family through this.
Over the next few months, we were fortunate because we had a community that has been so supportive. News of our daughter began to spread over the nation. We created this blog and Facebook page in hopes that people would join us in prayer for our little girl. What we found was there are people that we’ve never met who pray for our little girl’s health. I can’t even begin to explain what this means to our family.
We arrived in Seattle on February 11, 2013. Our initial thought was to rent a hotel until we would be able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House. There was a waiting list to get in, and the house had lost several of its rooms due to remodeling. The chances of getting a room were slim.
I can remember arriving in Seattle and stoping at a restaurant to regroup and figure out a plan. The moment I stepped out of the van, Christi’s phone rang. It’s funny because I can remember being a little irritated and thinking ” Come on Christi! I’m hungry, just call em back!” Little did I know that it was the Ronald McDonald house calling to let us know that they had a room for us! God has provided for us each step of the way!
After several months living in the Ronald McDonald house, we began to realize that our time in Seattle wasn’t going to be over soon, given Poppy’s rocky course. We were welcome to continue to live at the Ronald McDonald house, but as much of a blessing that it was, it to was taking a toll on our family. Imagine living in a hotel room for 3 1/2 months with a toddler, it’s not sustainable nor conducive to a healthy family lifestyle.
I am currently working towards completing my masters in special education and I am in my final year. There have been many times I have wanted to quit and just focus on taking care of my family, but I have a loving wife that continues to remind me that I need to finish so that I will hopefully be able to land a job that supports our family once things calm down. My problem was that I didn’t have a consistently quiet space or a place to study. I spent many nights huddled in the corner of our room trying not to wake Crosby. We needed our own space. Needless to say we began to pray ask ask God for direction.
It wasn’t long after that we were doing laundry and ran into a friend that we met at the Ronald McDonald House. He said he was moving his family to an apartment that was only a block from the hospital, and there was one apartment left. The price was even within our budget. It didn’t take us long to realize that it was an answer to prayers. Not only could I have a place for homework, but we could start to function as a family again.
The other day I was reading the story of a blind man found in John chapter 9.
It tells of a man who was blind since birth. Jesus heals him as an adult to reveal who he was. I can’t help but think of what it was like for his parents when he was little. I’m sure they wondered why there child had to suffer with a disability. They didn’t even know that one day he would be healed. But when it did happen , it was to glorify God. We pray this for our daughter, that Poppy’s struggle no matter the outcome is not in vain, but rather glorifies God.
Only days after moving into our apartment, we received word that Poppy was getting a new heart. It’s really hard to describe the emotions of this, but I’ll give it a shot. When you first hear, its sheer joy! The kind of joy that causes you to sob uncontrollably. You really don’t care who’s around, you just want to grab the nearest person and give them the biggest bear hug of their life. (Kind of a funny mental image, me balling and squeezing some helpless soul, but I don’t know how else to explain it) As you begin to process what is going on, you begin to realize that at the exact same moment there is a family grieving the loss of their child. You realize that their gift to you came at a great price. One one hand you feel such amazing joy that your child now has a real shot at life, but the realization sinks in of that what we’ve been blessed with is such a priceless gift. It’s absolutely humbling to realize that in order for my child to live, another had to die. It brings a whole new depth of perspective to what Christ did for us on the cross. Jesus didn’t deserve to die but he took the punishment of the world’s sins so that we would have eternal life in heaven.
In the last few weeks it seems as though we are going through phase 2. It’s no longer the heart as a issue, it’s the brain. We find that we joke with the doctors and nurses that Poppy just missed them so much that she thought she’d check herself back in. But truthfully Poppy has seemed put the heart issue on the back burner and take on a brain issue called hydrocephalus. It isn’t an issue that can be treated with a pill but rather with surgery. Poppy wasn’t born with hydrocephalus, but it is a unfortunate side effect of having to go on the bypass machine during her very first surgery. There is absolutely nothing that we could have done differently. It’s no one’s fault. But, there is a silver lining. The silver lining is the fact that the hydrocephalus wasn’t present until after the heart transplant. If this was a major issue before transplant, it may have knocked us down the list for receiving a heart. In fact we may have not even been a candidate. The timing was so perfect for Poppy.
I have to say that despite all the issues that we’ve had lately, Poppy still knows my voice when I walk into the room. As a family, we still hurt every time Poppy has to go into the hospital, but we trust ultimately that God has a plan for her life. Even when we don’t know what that plan is.
On another note, Our family is being tested both with Poppy’s health and an accidental issue that came up. About a week ago Christi came back to the apartment to say goodnight to Crosby and tuck him in. He was so excited to have mommy home! Christi laid down in his bed and Crosby sat right next to her. He got so excited to lay down next to mommy that he flailed back with full force and slamming his head into Christi’s mouth! There was blood everywhere, and it wasn’t coming from Crosby. Both Christi and I were horrified to see that he knocked several teeth loose. In a panic I tried to call a dentist but I couldn’t find anyone at that time of night. She was able to get into a wonderful dentist the next day but I there wasn’t much to be done at the moment except wait and see if the teeth take hold and firm up again. Today she is going in for a follow up appointment. Needless to say Christi needs prayer for her teeth.
On a closing note, I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support for our family. We are truly humbled and grateful for everything we have received. Those who pray for us, support us financially, encouraged us, send us little gifts to remind us that we have people who care. To simply say “thank you” doesn’t seem adequate for how grateful we are for the support we have received. Because of everyone’s prayers and support, we have been able to remain together as a family and focus on the needs of our children. We’ll always be grateful for your love and support.