Still in the NICU

Well, Callum definitely won’t be going home this weekend. He has had a few setbacks so I’m trying to readjust my timeline and my expectations on when we can bring home our baby. His hematocrit dropped to 25, which isn’t too bad (they usually transfuse between 22-24) but he wasn’t feeding well, he was having some oxygen desats and his retic was still super low (meaning he isn’t making his own blood yet) so they decided to go ahead and do the blood transfusion. They put an IV in his foot which made me so sad because it looked really painful. Since it took a while for the blood to be available I went back to the RMH to sleep and when I came back in the morning he had an IV in his hand because the foot IV didn’t work. He had just finished having his blood transfusion when I got there and his skin looked so pink and healthy.

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He was awake and hungry so I breastfed him and he took a whole feeding without falling asleep, which is awesome! A few minutes later I heard him filling up his diaper so I decided to change him. When I opened up his diaper there was quite a bit of blood mixed in with the poop. The doctor came to look at it and she said he could either have a dairy allergy or he could have something called Transfusion Related Gut Injury (TRAGI) which can sometimes happen in micro-preemies who have blood transfusions. He’s definitely not a micro-preemie so we are hoping it is just a dairy allergy. The timing, though, suggests that it might have something to do with the blood transfusion. The doctor is x-raying his abdomen right now to try to get answers and I’m cutting all dairy out of my diet just in case. They are putting him on gut rest until they can figure out what is going on. Callum’s ferritin (iron) levels are really high on top of all of this. Before the blood transfusion his ferritin level was 1,216 and the normal range is 25-250. Since he was given adult donor blood which has high levels of iron in it, his levels are probably much higher now. They are running liver function tests to see if his liver is being affected by all of this extra iron in his body.

It is hard not knowing how much longer we have to live here in Atlanta separated from our family and our normal life and our sweet baby Callum. And can I just say how absolutely unnatural and weird it is to have a NICU baby in the first place? It’s unnatural to give birth and then never touch or hold or even see the baby for hours after that. It feels wrong for my baby to go through painful procedures without me there with him to comfort him. I show up and he’s suddenly got an IV or he’s had a vaccination, etc. and I wasn’t there to hold him when he cried. It’s completely unnatural to ask a stranger if I can please hold my baby or change his diaper or feed him. I’m his mother. I should be the one giving permission to others if they want to handle my baby. Nora still hasn’t even met Callum and Josh has seen him for maybe a couple hours in the past two weeks. All of this feels off but thank goodness it is temporary. Part of me feels incredibly privileged to even have a baby in the NICU. The one and only dream I ever had of Lucy after she died was of her in the NICU. I was going to visit her and I walked into the hospital, up the elevator to the next floor and down a long hallway to my baby Lucy’s crib. She was so sweet with chubby cheeks and brown hair and oh, I loved her so much. I was so happy to be with her in that sunny little room. Then I woke up to my nightmare…swollen, milk filled breasts and empty arms and a permanently mutilated heart. I was gutted. I begged God not to ever, ever let me dream about her again because I couldn’t stand waking up to my life. I will just wait until heaven. Thankfully He heard my pleas and hasn’t ever given me a dream about Lucy again. It would be too painful. But after I had that dream I struggled any time I heard a NICU mom complain about her living baby who was still in the NICU. I envied her. Now I get to be one of those moms with a living baby in the NICU and I am so, so grateful (and yes, I still complain about the hard stuff.) Even though it is inconvenient, it is stressful, it is exhausting and it feels unnatural, I know we are very blessed to be in this situation. Do you know what is truly unnatural? A mama saying goodbye to her baby for good. A mama living the rest of her life without her child.

So, yes, it is hard and we are exhausted but we are so thankful.

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Please continue to pray for our baby Callum to get over whatever is hurting his belly, to get better at his feedings and for his blood levels to normalize. We appreciate all of you so much!

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IUT #3


Baby boy is still doing great and handled his third IUT like a pro. My third IUT was a little bit more dramatic than the others but in the end everything was fine. We found out that I did develop a second antibody and it’s called anti-Kidd (jkb) antibody. This makes it more difficult to find blood for me since they now have to match donor blood with both of these antibodies. The blood bank worked all last weekend trying to find donor blood that matched mine and finally called Dr Trevett the night before the transfusion to tell him they got it! Well, the next morning I arrived at 5:30 am for the IUT and started getting ready for the procedure. Here I am with my GIANT belly at 32 weeks and 2 days:

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Dr Trevett came in with a really frustrated look on his face. He said after all that work to find the right blood, the courier had forgotten to drive it to the hospital so there was no blood for the baby. This meant that we would miss our 7:00 time slot in the operating room. The courier was doing his best to get the blood to the hospital so all we could do was wait. There is a 24 hour time limit for when you can safely use the donor blood after collecting it, so the clock was ticking. It was stressful to wait and not know if the blood would get there in time. The hours leading up to an IUT are difficult anyway because it is a somewhat dangerous procedure and I never know how it’s going to go. Since I had a bad experience with my very first IUT ever in Alabama, it is often hard to feel hopeful. I never felt Lucy move again after her IUT and the doctors would not scan her again for a week. Lots of fears go through my mind before every IUT. Is baby’s heart rate going to plummet when they stick the needle into the cord? Is he going to develop a blood clot? Will they have to do an emergency c-section in the middle of the procedure? Would they get him out in time? There are so many what-ifs so it was difficult to have added stress during that time. I got a sweet text from another mom who has been through several IUTS who I helped through her own kell pregnancy. She shared a verse with me and encouraged me. I knew many of you were praying for us and that gave me strength. We finally were told that the blood had arrived and we had an OR room booked for 12:00. The hours ticked by and finally a little after 12:00 Dr Trevett walked in looking super frustrated again (poor guy had a long day!) He said there had been two emergency crash c-sections and we now did not have an operating room available but the 24 hour window to use the donor blood was about to close. Our only safe option was to do the IUT in an ultrasound room, which would mean I couldn’t have the sedative/pain medication for the procedure since we weren’t in the OR. It also meant if baby went into distress they couldn’t deliver right there, they would have to move me up to a different floor to an operating room before getting the baby out. The other choice was to let the blood expire while we waited for an OR to open up, then the blood bank would have to search for more donor blood that matched my antibodies. It could take days to get the blood and in the meantime baby would be getting more and more anemic, which would obviously be very dangerous. I agreed with Dr Trevett that we just needed to go ahead with the procedure in the ultrasound room so baby could get the blood he needed.

I really struggled with my anxiety at that point but two verses came to mind that helped. The verse my friend had shared with me earlier that day:

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7

And this simple verse that I love:

For He Himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:14

I made a conscious effort not to focus on the fear or the list of things that could go wrong and instead to find things I was thankful for. “Thank you Lord that I’m not in Houston trying to get an intrauterine blood transfusion in the middle of a disaster. Thank you for Dr Trevett and his patience, his kindness and his competence. Thank you for getting my son all the way to 32 weeks alive. Thank you for another chance to trust you in a difficult situation.” These small offerings of thanks brought me great comfort. I also thought of the other verse I mentioned, “He Himself is our peace. He is my peace. He’s bigger than the situation and the fear and the risks. He is my peace and He’s right here with me.” These thoughts calmed me, although they didn’t calm the contractions that started coming more frequently as I was moved into the ultrasound room for the procedure. The contractions kept coming throughout the procedure, which was really annoying and painful (having a long needle going through your uterus during a contraction is not something you want to feel.) Thankfully Dr Trevett and Dr Gomez, who was assisting, were very careful and patient working to get the blood into baby’s umbilical vein through all the contractions. Baby’s starting hematocrit was 24 and ending hematocrit was about 43. Baby handled the procedure well. Dr Trevett decided that he didn’t want to risk going in a second time to do the IPT (put extra blood into baby’s belly) since I was having regular contractions. I was thankful again for his caution and unwillingness to take extra risks when it isn’t absolutely necessary.

After the IUT, Dr Trevett wanted to monitor the baby and me for several hours and my contractions got closer together, although they weren’t changing my cervix at all or starting actual preterm labor. Dr Trevett had me stay overnight and they monitored baby’s heartbeat and my contractions all night long just to be safe. Since Josh had to work and couldn’t be there, my mom and Nora had come with me to Atlanta for the IUT. Nora brought so much joy to my hospital room while we passed the time on the monitor.

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Love pats for baby brother.

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And here’s Nora laughing at nothing:

The baby looked good all night long and my contractions eventually subsided so we were discharged from the hospital in the morning. Since Dr Trevett didn’t do the IPT we can only wait about two weeks until the next IUT and we will probably have to deliver a week earlier than we hoped. The next (and last!) IUT will be Tuesday, September 12th when I am 34 weeks and 3 days. Then, depending on how that IUT goes we will deliver two or three weeks after that at 36/37 weeks. I cannot wait to meet my son!

I had my appointment with the MFMs at UAB Hospital this past week and to be honest, I left feeling very discouraged and depressed. I’m feeling a bit better now and I’m working on the blog post to share how it went with everybody so hopefully I can post that soon. We appreciate all of your prayers and encouragement. They mean more than you know!

Up Next Week: 3rd IUT and a Big Appointment

I had my 36th ultrasound yesterday to check on baby one last time before the IUT on Monday and to check his weight. The weight estimate is very important because the doctors use it to decide how much sedative/paralytic to give the baby before the procedure, and how much donor blood to give him during the transfusion. As usual, he’s measuring ahead (which we love!) and weighed 4lbs 10 oz at 31 weeks 6 days. I think that is about the average weight of a 34 week baby. The bigger he is, the easier the transfusion is for Dr. Trevett and the better off baby will be when he is delivered early. There were no signs of hydrops or distress during the ultrasound but baby was definitely the stillest he’s ever been and his MoMs ranged from 1.5-1.72 so that made me anxious. They drew my blood for the normal pre-IUT blood work and then I was on my way home to Alabama, just barely missing Atlanta rush hour traffic. About and hour later I got a call from the hospital. They told me I needed to turn around and come back because they had just received my blood results and there was a problem. It looked like I had developed another antibody, possibly the Le(a) antibody, which I know absolutely nothing about. They needed to draw more blood and do more tests to clarify what was going on. So, I turned back around, drove back to the hospital and had my blood drawn again. I won’t know more about this until Monday but I’m hoping that I didn’t really develop another antibody. The reason they do blood work before every IUT is because they have to check to make sure I haven’t developed any new antibodies. They have to carefully match the donor blood to my blood before every IUT because if they accidentally gave the baby blood that doesn’t match my antibodies, my body could destroy the baby’s blood right after they give it to him. Anyway, it was a long day and I’m thankful to be home with a day to relax with my family. Well, you know, do dishes, cook meals, do four loads of laundry, pack for Atlanta, clean the house, diffuse one thousand toddler melt downs and all of the other things a “relaxing” day with three young children entails. Tomorrow, my mom, Nora and I will drive back to Atlanta and stay through Tuesday for the IUT. Please pray that the baby is safe until then and that the procedure goes well. It’s stressful to feel his kicks slow down as he gets more anemic every day leading up to the IUT. Here’s our sweet boy during yesterday’s ultrasound-

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I also would love for you to pray for a very important appointment I have coming up next week. The appointment actually doesn’t involve my current pregnancy. It is about Lucy. I’ve been wanting to make this appointment for about four years now and I finally worked up the courage a few weeks ago to schedule it. The date has crept up on me and now it’s just a few days away, August 30th. Even though I’ve been wanting and needing to have this appointment since Lucy died, I’ve also been dreading it.

The appointment is at UAB Hospital (in Birmingham) with the head of the MFM department to discuss everything that happened with Lucy. We will also go over all of the test results that I never saw like her autopsy, my placenta analysis, amnio results, etc. I have a lot of questions that I’ve never been able to ask since I never had this appointment after Lucy died. Usually, after a baby is stillborn the doctors set up a “preconception appointment” for several weeks later to discuss what happened with the baby and to go over any test results and questions the parents might have. They also discuss future pregnancies and what the treatment or monitoring would look like if the parents did want to try for another baby (thankfully we won’t be discussing that.) I had scheduled my preconception appointment at UAB after Lucy died, but one of the main MFMs called me about a month after we lost her and told me I could cancel the appointment. He said he had seen my placenta analysis report and decided that I had had a fetal maternal hemorrhage which caused Lucy’s death (other doctors disagree.) He thought we could go on to have another baby naturally so he decided there was no need to have my preconception appointment. I was so overjoyed by this news that I cancelled my preconception appointment, which I now know was a really bad decision. I never got to ask the MFMs about the treatment and lack of monitoring I received during my pregnancy with Lucy (that contributed to her death.) I never saw her autopsy results, or any of the test results or anything. As far as I know, no one was held accountable for what happened or was even notified that a baby had slipped through the cracks left gaping by their hospital’s outdated protocols. I never got to ask them why they “don’t change protocol just because of one baby.” I am curious to know how many babies need to die before they decide that their protocols might need to be updated. Now I just sound bitter, which is not what I want. I hope to get some answers, to better understand the decisions the doctors made, to forgive the mistakes that were made and to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other babies in Alabama.

Preparing for this appointment and writing down my questions has been emotionally difficult to say the least, but I feel like I have to have this appointment to get a little bit of closure regarding my experience at UAB. I am dreading the thought of going over her autopsy, thinking about my precious baby being cut open. How can a mother bear those thoughts? But the weight and responsibility of protecting other babies whose mothers go to UAB for treatment weighs heavily on me. Nora and this baby boy on the way are my daily reminders of how Lucy’s story could have played out if only she had received the right treatment and monitoring. Please pray that God gives me the strength to get through this appointment and find some peace afterwards. Also pray that the MFM department is humble enough to learn from Lucy and that they change their protocols regarding management of isoimmunized pregnancies.

Four Years In Heaven

Oh my baby, how I miss you. Every day, every minute for these past four years I have ached for you. That chamber of my heart that is only Lucy shaped remains empty. I know how your biggest brother Liam feels in my arms, how your big brother Asher feels in my arms and how your baby sister Nora feels in my arms, but I don’t know how you feel and my arms ache for you. A mama’s arms belong around her babies. I wish you could be here to play with your little sister Nora, you would love her so much. Your absence in our family is felt every single day. I see the space where you should be that nobody else sees. I miss you.

I miss you.

It has been four years since Lucy’s heart stopped and mine was irreparably broken. It is a feat, surviving four whole years without your child. I feel like I should be awarded a medal just for still being here, four years later, without her. The beautiful thing about living this life with my God is that He has more for us on this earth than just surviving. The past four years have been the saddest and most difficult of my entire life, but they have also been the most beautiful, the most redemptive, and the most productive years of my life.

As most of you know, when Lucy died I was told I could not have any more babies. It felt like an extra cruel blow because of who God had created me to be. He made me very maternal from infancy. I have always been obsessed with babies. They were the best thing in the world to me. My undergraduate degree is in Early Childhood Education. I was told that a degree in Elementary Education would be more useful so I eventually agreed to go one more semester to also get my Elementary Ed degree, but all I really cared about was getting that Early Childhood degree because I just wanted to teach the babies. My whole life I waited and dreamed about having a baby of my own. I wanted to fast forward time until I held my baby in my arms for the first time. My greatest wish for my life was to have a big family; LOTS of babies. For God to allow my baby to die and then to leave me with a pregnancy condition that would repeat itself and make my pregnancies “fatal” seemed so cruel. It felt like a custom made attack, designed to destroy the most beloved part of who I was.

I couldn’t even look at babies after Lucy died, they physically nauseated me. During my counseling sessions I had therapy for PTSD and had to work through the most terrifying scenarios like, “You’re at the grocery store and suddenly a woman comes around the corner carrying a baby, what do you do?” I remember being on a flight only a couple months after losing Lucy and there was a baby next to me on the airplane. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Every sound she made caused a physical pain in my chest. I could not believe how agonizing this adorable baby next to me was. My pain originated from my deep love for babies, especially my love for my baby girl who had been killed by my own body, and the love I had for my future babies who would never exist because of anti-kell antibodies. Every baby I saw reminded me of my dead dreams for my family and my dead daughter. And if I’m truly honest, they represented the lie that for some reason God loved those other parents more than He loved me because their babies were alive. The parents of the baby next to me on the airplane seemed to sense my discomfort. They probably thought I was just one of those adults who gets irritated with loud babies on planes. If only they knew the truth.

If only I knew the truth, that God was not using my tragedies as a custom made weapon to destroy me. God was going to take my little Lucy’s life and my tragedies and He was going to fashion them into a custom made ministry just for me. And guess who God has me ministering to now? Women and their BABIES. Beautiful babies who are possibly in danger like Lucy was. Babies in Pakistan, babies in Canada, babies in Australia and Egypt, babies in the UK and the US, babies in Germany and Israel, Cambodia, Switzerland, Russia, France and even babies right here in Alabama. I get to help babies every single day and it is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done. I get to encourage and empower women who have babies in the womb, women who have babies in heaven, women with babies waiting in their future, women with newborns and women with broken hearts. I love these women, and I desperately love their babies. God uses every single one of these parents who reaches out to me and He uses every single baby to restore a small piece of my broken heart and to restore my hope in Him.

Here I am four years later, and now I am able to look at a baby and see redemption, hope and the greatness of God. Oh the redemption that God has brought through these babies and their moms!

And so, without any more delay, here are some of the beautiful babies that have been helped through Lucy’s story and my blog. Thank you Jesus, for each one of these lives that has been touched by my Lucy’s.

COOPER cooper

CLAIREclaire

EVAeva

JESSA JADEjessa-jade

TYLERtyler

JACOBjacob

KRISTIAN (in heaven with Lucy) and MIKAHkristian-and-mikah

JULIA JOYjulia-joy

SAGE (in heaven with Lucy)sage

KETHRYNkethryn

ROSE with big brother and sister Logan and Havenrose-with-big-brother-and-sister-logan-and-haven

SHUA, ARI and MOSELLEshua-ari-and-moselle

LIAMliam

ELLIEellie

MILAmila

MATILDAmatilda

LUCY ANNElucy-anne

GABRIELLA GRACEgabriella-grace

OSCARoscar

WESLEY JAMESwesley-james

SKYLAR ROSEskylar-rose

AVAava

BRIANA ANNEbriana-anne

LANGSTONlangston

OWEN BLAKE (being born right now, on Lucy’s birthday!)owen-blake

HADRIANhadrian

BABY BOY ROBILLIARDrobilliard

ASAIAHasaiah

NYAHnyah

And of course, NORA JULIET who would not be here if it weren’t for Lucy

And this is baby Hudson, whose mom did not come across my blog until a few days after her son was stillborn this past December. This is why I push so hard to get Lucy’s story out into the world, because Hudson would be here today if only the doctors had provided the right monitoring and treatment. Lucy would probably be here today if she had been given the correct monitoring and treatment too. I will keep telling our story and fighting for the Hudsons and the Lucys who deserve to be here with us.

“I wish I had read your blog whilst pregnant because I would have had the knowledge I have now and possibly could have saved my baby Hudson who was born sleeping on 29th December 2016 due to Anti-K antibodies and having no close monitoring – I was totally unaware of what most of it all meant until I read your blog.”

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The love I feel for these babies is unreal. The very tragedy I thought would push babies out of my life has brought so many babies into my life that I have a deep affection for. They are my “yes” from God.

For anyone who feels like God has turned His back on you, for anyone who has suffered unimaginable loss and for those whose lives have not turned out the way they planned, just decide to trust God anyway. Because I am convinced that when there is great loss combined with great trust in God, miraculous things happen. Yes, even a one pound baby girl who never took a breath outside of the womb can leave a legacy that reaches throughout the world.

Happy fourth birthday in heaven, Lucy Dair. I am proud to be your mama. You were worth it all. Four years closer to having you forever. Despite all the pain and agony of waiting to have you, I absolutely love being your mama.

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Treasuring Up All These Things

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

This verse in Luke is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Mary had just given birth to her first child and a little while later a group of shepherds came running in, telling her about angels that had just visited them in the fields. The angels were praising Jesus, the same Jesus Mary had just given birth to. What must have been going through her head at that moment?

As 2016 draws to a close I realize that this year has been a year of treasuring up and pondering; like Mary did in her heart when the shepherds came rushing in after Jesus was born. I can only imagine how overwhelmed Mary was after going through labor and delivery, then facing these visitors and their message from God. Sometimes the weight of a moment is too much to take in right then. Sometimes God reveals things to us that we can’t possibly fathom. Sometimes the beauty and wonder of the moment deserves more than the time it’s given. Life is so fleeting. I often wish I could pause time to fully take in the wonder before me, chubby arms and legs, toddler sized proportions in nothing but a diaper, the sweet five year old love ballads to Mommy, the gentle kiss from biggest brother to tiniest sister. Since I can’t stop time I treasure up the moment and soak it in, ponder it in my heart, store it up to take out later and admire. My year has been full of these moments that I want to keep forever. Moments that point back to God and His goodness.

The moment when Mary stopped to treasure up all the things that were happening around her, to ponder the message God was sending her about her child, often reminds me of a day when I did the same but in very different circumstances. February 8th, 2013, the worst day of my life, when my daughter’s heart stopped and my body became a tomb, God made His radical promise to me, “I WILL REDEEM THIS.” I had no energy or clarity of mind to even attempt to grasp what the words meant, so I stored it up for later. Like Mary, who probably could not believe what was happening to her or how the path of her life had suddenly gone a completely different direction than expected, I struggled to take it all in. I was in shock. But God spoke over and over again, an audible voice in my head, “I WILL REDEEM IT.” And each time He spoke I took His promise like a treasure and stored it away to ponder later. Since that day, almost four years ago, I have contemplated the promise many times, turning it over in my mind. God promised to redeem my daughter Lucy’s death and all the loss and pain that came with it. But did He realize how much was lost on that day and all the days since then? That promise of redemption feels too large. It feels impossible. The first year or two after Lucy’s death I reached in and took that promise out in anger, wielding it like a weapon towards God, “You promised me! But you let more tragedy strike instead! Why would you make a promise you could never fulfill?” How could He possibly repay me for my daughter’s death? Over the years God has patiently and carefully crafted my story, moment by moment, using all the loss for good, mending broken places and making the barren wasteland fruitful. And yes, even redeeming parts of my Lucy loss that I thought would never be redeemed on earth.

This year especially I have seen the redemption He promised emerge more than ever. There have been countless moments of glory, beauty and joy that I never thought I would experience again on earth, too many to list here. Many of these moments involved my miracle baby Nora and many of these moments involved other women with high risk pregnancies who were looking for support. I treasure all these things up and praise God for them (especially my baby Nora!)

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There have been other moments this past year that felt surreal, heavy and empty at the same time because Lucy wasn’t in them:

The play date where all the babies have their preschool siblings along too but three year old Lucy is missing. I’m supposed to choke down my chicken nuggets and smile like everything is normal. I’m the only one who sees the empty space where she should be.

Folding up and putting away her empty stocking on Christmas Eve after the other three have been filled with toys and chocolate.

Telling her brothers that I am sorry, I don’t know what she would look like today and watching their hot tears stream down.

Suddenly realizing in the middle of an English lesson that the little girl I’m teaching is the exact age that Lucy would be today. Her big brown eyes staring up at me, her little laugh. Would Lucy look like that? I don’t even know what her laugh sounds like. I weep for my baby girl the entire drive home.

Over the course of this year God has been teaching me to pause right then and ponder the painful moment, gather it up and give it to God to be redeemed later. I’m learning to trust that He WILL redeem even that terrible moment. Every tear shed, every time the weight of grief feels too heavy to bear, every single thing I miss with Lucy will be redeemed, repaid and restored. God can redeem the deepest loss, even your loss. He can bring beauty from ashes, He can even heal parts of your heart that you thought were broken forever. Some things can never be mended until we get to heaven, but these things that He does redeem on earth are our foreshadowing of the glory and restoration to come.

If you are reading this I have prayed for you. I’ve prayed for your 2017, that God would bring about the most beautiful redemption in your life. I’ve prayed for your healing and for your joy, that God would give you the desires of your heart and would grant you the request of your lips. Be bold and ask Him for the thing you so desperately want. Gather up all of your hurts and hand them over to Him to be redeemed. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.

Psalm 126  When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

Where Is Your Sting?

This is a heavy post. My grandfather is dying right now. He is 93 years old and he’s in a hospital bed in my old bedroom in my parents’ house down the street. We have been keeping vigil by his bedside for the past four or five days, never leaving him alone for more than a few minutes at a time. Days ago we thought that he surely wouldn’t last another day, another hour, but the body that has worked well for almost a century is not willing to give up so easily. It is heartbreaking to watch, emotionally draining and depressing. We know that he is going to heaven and that he has wanted to go to heaven ever since my grandmother died five years ago, but it is still painful to watch the transition. I keep thinking about Lucy and my three babies on earth. Liam, Asher and Nora will all die one day and I probably won’t be here to make sure their transition to heaven will be as comfortable as possible. This is a distressing thought. Will my babies be well loved in their last hours? Will they be scared? Will they be in pain? My Daddy-D, he is somebody’s baby boy, and that’s how we are treating him…the way we want our children to be treated when they die.

Nora and Daddy-D have had a special bond, especially these last few days. She loves sitting on his bed next to him, patting him and babbling at him, even saying his name. His face would light up when he saw her in the last few days that he was aware and still in control of his body.

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Daddy-D being silly with Nora


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Playing peekaboo with Daddy-D


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Nora gives love pats while my sister moistens and cleans Daddy-D’s mouth.

She played peekaboo with him, touched his nose, laid her head on him, and all I could think of was Lucy doing the same things with him soon, in heaven. How long until he goes from playing with my daughter Nora, to playing with my other daughter Lucy? Days? Hours? Minutes? And he will get to know her before I do, my own daughter. How do I process this?

As he has slowly deteriorated and faded, we have been speaking more about the people who are waiting for him in heaven. My mom encourages him, “Mama is waiting for you, Daddy! She can’t wait to see you!” He seems at peace most of the time. I have to mention Lucy…”And you will get to see Lucy soon, Daddy-D! Tell her…” What do I say? What kind of words can I send with him that can adequately convey my love to her, my ache for her, my inability to live without her here? There are no words in the English language powerful enough to express how I feel about her. “Tell her that Mommy loves her and misses her so much. Tell her about her sister and her brothers. Tell her how fun it was playing with her baby sister. I’m jealous that you get to go meet her.” The words are limp. Not enough. He can’t really move but his eyes fill with tears and the tears spill out the sides, running down his face. He tries to speak but we can’t understand what he wants to say.


As I watch my Daddy-D get closer and closer to his last breath I think of the verse-

1 Corinthians 15:55  Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

I know that Jesus conquered death, but these words don’t feel true because death seems so much bigger at the moment. Looming, mysterious, inescapable. None of us are getting out alive. I feel weighted down as he struggles to breathe. THIS is the best case scenario? One day, we will all be dead.

I ask God for His perspective, for His light to brighten our darkness. And He gives me thoughts that comfort: Death is inescapable, but for those who love God and believe in Him, it is only a tiny slice of time; a moment. It doesn’t define us, it isn’t the end, it is just a transition we all have to go through. For those of us who are left behind, death is a separation from the people we love, and that is why I hate it. For those who are dying or have already gone ahead, death is a link to the people we love, and that is why I appreciate it. Yes, death is real and it affects us all, but there is also SO MUCH LIFE. Daddy-D experienced so much life. He lived for 93 years! When my mom was a tiny girl he promised her that he would tell her he loved her every single day, and he did. He kissed her and doted on her and told her she was beautiful and she believed him. He loved his wife and his kids and his grandchildren well. He loved God and was faithful to Him. Daddy-D was a leader, a WWII veteran, a successful engineer and he LOVED giving advice. When we were younger he would say, “Look at my old, wrinkly face. Would you swap faces with me? No? What if I gave you ten dollars, would you trade faces with me then? No? What if I gave you a million dollars, would you trade faces with me then? No? Then you are a millionaire right now, at this very moment.” And I felt like a millionaire. He often reminded us, “Deciding to follow God is the most important decision of your life. Deciding who to marry is the second most important decision you will ever make.” I could write so much about his life, but the point is that he LIVED. And after his last breath, when his life here on earth comes to an end, there is more life. Everlasting life stretches out ahead of him. Thank you, Jesus for this gift. What if we could see death for what it really was? Just a thing we all have to get through, like puberty, or winter (or summer if you live here in Alabama.) It does not loom, it does not define us. THERE IS SO MUCH LIVING TO BE DONE, before death and after. Having this assurance brings the most amazing peace, even here in the valley of the shadow of death.

If Daddy-D could tell you one thing right now as his time on earth dwindles, I know he would ask, “Have you made the most important decision of your life?” Because that decision is what defines your eternity, and when you accept the free gift of life that Jesus offers, you rob death of it’s power.

Romans 10:9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

I love you Daddy-D. Give Lucy so many kisses for me.

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To the Doctor Who Saved My Daughter’s Life

Dr. Moise,

Our miracle baby Nora will be a year old in a couple of days. We know that without you, this past year would have been very different and Nora would not be here with us today. One whole year of kisses. One whole year of full arms and mended hearts, of doting big brothers and tiny dresses and a warm little body on my chest. One whole year of little details emerging, revealing who our daughter is…

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Those big brown eyes with long, dark eyelashes; her content and happy spirit; her sensitive heart; her desperate love for animals. She’s everything to us. She is her Grandma’s first living granddaughter, our first living daughter, my rainbow baby, the pride and joy of her brothers, someone’s future wife, someone’s Mommy. Thank you for seeing that, for seeing her value before she was even viable. You treated her like the most special baby in the world, even though I knew that she was just one of the many babies you helped on a daily basis. Thank you for recognizing how important this little life was to us, and for treating her with respect before she even took her first breath.

It is rare to find a doctor who is so generous with his time. I still remember emailing you, grasping for answers and a glimmer of hope after Lucy died. You didn’t know me. I wasn’t your patient or a family friend or anything, but ten minutes after I sent that email I couldn’t believe it when my cell phone rang showing an incoming call from Houston. You talked to me for 45 minutes, sharing your opinion about what happened to Lucy and discussing our possibilities for another child. I remember how much that meant to me at the time; a gesture of kindness from a stranger who thought Lucy’s life was important enough to spend his time discussing. Every single time someone contacts me with questions about anti-kell antibodies or advice about what their treatment should look like I give my time gladly knowing how much it will mean to them.

Thank you for thinking outside of the box and pushing for better treatment options long before Nora was even conceived. Thank you for not accepting, “This is the way it’s always been done” or, “There’s nothing we can do.” Those ideas of yours saved her life and the new treatment you are working on now will hopefully save many more lives, maybe even my grandchildren. And when you save a baby’s life, you don’t just save a baby’s life. You save the parents from living the rest of their days without their child. You save the grandparents, the cousins, the siblings and the aunts and uncles from a devastating heartache.

We will always think of you on Nora’s birthday and tell her about you when she gets older. Liam and Asher know who you are. In our family, Dr. Moise is a household name. We want our kids to know how one life can be used by God to change the lives of other people for good. We will always be grateful for the priceless gift you have given us, our Nora Juliet.

With love,

Josh, Bethany, Liam, Asher and Nora Weathersby

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