I guess it started when Bethany and I were heading out to our Pediatric Cardiologist appointment. Bethany's sister, Erin, came over to watch Anna Brooke (which she has done several times) and Anna Brooke pitched a fit (she has a hard time whenever Bethany leaves her and makes herself throw-up). And, of course, she ate the whole bowl of Cheerios's. So after cleaning up her mess and leaving a screaming child in the hands of her poor pregnant aunt, we head to UAB with only 30 minutes to get there and find a parking spot. We make it to the parking garage in about 25 minutes and drive through all 5 levels, finally finding a spot in a corner as far away from where we need to be as possible. We make our way to the doctors office and arrive only five minutes late. Not too bad all things considering.
After waiting only 45 minutes (note to self: no need to ever worry about being late here) we are called back to our room. The appointment was similar to the last: Dr. Colvin looked at Emma Kate's heart for a while and explained what he was looking for and what he saw. He said the pulmonary artery looked good and that blood flow was going to and from all the places necessary for surgery. One issue that he was struggling with getting a good view of her aorta. He said he believed it was just under 1mm (very small but not abnormal with HLHS) and that he would look again at our next visit.
We asked him a few questions and were kind of shell-shocked with his answer to our last question. We asked when we could meet the surgeon for Emma Kate. He asked our due date (Aug. 24th) and said that they are having a change of command (not sure when or who) and that Emma Kate might have her first surgery at the Children's Hospital in Boston. I think we were both a little stunned as we didn't ask any questions after. We left our appointment and just started talking about everything. And we are left with tons of questions...
How long after she is born will she be flown to Boston? He said that she would still be delivered at UAB, so how long until her surgery? Will we fly with her? Hotels? Insurance? Work? What do we do? Obviously we will be with her... but what about Anna Brooke? It is going to be hard enough on her even if the surgery is in Birmingham. I love my Anna Brooke and we want to make this as easy on her as possible. And a lot more questions that I can't think of right now.
And then all i could think about was Boston. Bethany and I have wanted to take a trip to Boston for a few years. I love the Red Sox (I liked them before the bandwagoners-mainly because of the "B" on the hat). I want to get a shirt from Harvard , see the old north church, walk through Boston Common and get a picture of us on Yawkee Way. And all I kept picturing was taking my wife and two girls to a baseball game and eating hot dogs. I want to go to Boston but not like this.
That is when I broke down. I think this is becoming more real to me. In the back of my mind, I keep hoping that this is all a mistake and her heart is healthy. But this is reality. My daughter has HLHS. She will have open heart surgery a few days after she is born. Whether her surgery is in Birmingham or Boston (where the majority of all HLHS surgery cases I read seem to take place) or anywhere else in the world I don't care. I want her to be in the best hands possible. Because one day my wife, two girls and I will go to a game in Boston. And we will visit Nana and Papa in Germany. And we will go spend a week at the beach with Kiki and Lito. And all of this crying and worrying and wondering will be better spent laughing and playing and growing. Even though I hate this, I am ok being weak right now. Because I know that I will be strong for her when she is born.
One of the greatest impacts made in my life has been by my mother. She gave me life. Not only in a literal sense but she helped create my thoughts, my personality, my interests. Our personalities are so similar it is scary. She is why I am an optimist. In every situation, she knows that there is a purpose and a positive outcome. To see all that she has overcome in my 27 years inspires me to have no fear. She wanted to comfort us through her cancer... who does that? I am thankful for her smile, her laugh and most of all her conversation. No one else can I call and talk to for an hour and a half about nothing and feel like I have gained something from it. She has sacrificed so much in her life so that I could have more. I strive to make it worth it for her. I said there aren't enough words and there never will be. I love you mom. You will always be my hero.
As I have been inspired by my mother, I have also been blessed to grow up so close to my grandmother. Throughout the course of my life, she has been a mother, grandmother, friend and supporter of mine. If I ever need words of encouragement or uplifting, she is there. I'm not sure she knows it but hers are the words I look for when I am feeling down. I have always felt loved by her from her actions. She always seems proud of me even when I feel I am nothing. That means more than she could know. I love you Grandma. And I love your macaroni :)
As I was thinking about the "mothers" in my life I can't help but laugh when I think about the next one. My sister is 16 months older than I am and now has a 2 1/2 year old son. But she has been working on becoming a mother for 27 years! From telling me "NO NO!" (my first word) to waking me up for school (in high school), she has always been there to make sure I am ok and taken care of. The parts of motherhood that she has already mastered are being loving and caring. She is so good at caring for her family (all of us) and making sure everything is the way it should be. She is the only other person in the world who came from where I came and I am blessed that I can call her my sister. I love you Kristy. You are what the French call "merveilleux".
The next mother became my mother a little more than 3 years ago. When I married Bethany I could have never imagined how much I would rely on my mother-in-law Dixie. From her words of guidance and wisdom to her care and concern for my well being, she has given me the assurance that she will always be there for me and my family. She lives a life in a manner that Bethany longs to live and for that I am blessed. She has accepted me in her life as a son and I will always look to her as a mother. I love you Dixie. Thank you for the gift I always prayed for!
When I met Bethany, I called my mom in the middle of the night to tell her. I can still picture her in that black shirt and jean shorts. I was so taken by everything about her. We talked on the steps of the Marvin Pittman building (administration offices at GSU) for 3-4 hours and deep down I knew that I wanted to grow old with her. As we dated over the next five years, I could no longer picture my children without seeing her as their mother. After only a year of being married, God blessed us with our first child and Bethany began doing was she was created to do. To be blessed with Bethany as the mother of my children is more than I deserve. She asks me all the time why I love her. I cannot imagine not loving her. She is the only person that can make me smile the way she does. She is the person that makes me want to know who I am. She is the reason I stay up at night wondering what better I can do to provide for her and my girls. She makes me want to become a better man. She is my rock and she loves me for who I am. I love you Beth. Du machts mich glucklich.
These women are why I am who I am. And they are the reason that I want to become more.
"You've got so much up ahead
You'll make new friends
You should see your kids and wife
And I'd end up saying have no fear
These are nowhere near the best years of your life".
I would tell him that it all works out wonderfully. There would only be a few requests...
Spend more time with Mom and Kristy... you will still be close, but won't see them nearly enough.
Go get to know Dad... you will miss him more than you can imagine.
Go visit Cheyenne... you don't know her at all now.
Take Grandma and Grandpa out for dinner... you still learn so much from them.
Let Granny know that she always made you smile.
Work Out!... You are still lazy, but trying to overcome it.
Don't sweat not going to UGA... Your best friends and wife are at Georgia Southern waiting.
DON'T GET THE MBNA CARD!... It was way too stressful paying it off.
Tell Chad (while spending another late night over pancakes) the who's and the when's of our future are incredible... You should see your kids and wife!
Donate blood... It will mean more to you later.
In the end I would say enjoy it all. You are blessed more than you deserve.
Perhaps the lesson in all of this is to see the things that we didn't do well and attempt to do a better job now. To make sure that in 10 years we can look back and see less regret or things unfinished. I wonder what 37 yr old Brooks will have in store for me... I am excited to find out.
Tomorrow morning, after our Little Einstein/Backyardigans/Dora time, I am sure we will head to the park and let Anna Brooke exert as much energy as possible. She loves to swing and slide, as I am sure all 2 year old's do, and it wears her out for nap time! I know that sounds awful, but sometimes her naps are a blessing! Tomorrow evening, we are heading to the church for "secret church" (I will blog on that later) and Aunt Erin and Uncle Josh are watching AB. They have been so awesome in watching her so often! We are excited for our nephew Jackson to come so we can return the favor!
On Sunday, after church, I think we are going to drive around and look at houses. This has become a hobby of ours as we hope to find the "perfect house" soon. Not that we haven't enjoyed our apartment for the last two years, but living on the third floor is going to be tough on Bethany with a 2yr old and a newborn. It would just be great to have a yard... and a garage... and no three flights of stairs. So hopefully we will find a house that is just right that we can somehow get into before Emma Kate arrives.
We don't have any appointments for a while (May 28th is our next one) but I will be sure to update when we learn anything new!
The first is the first site I found with a child with HLHS. You can go to either www.babysamson.com or http://www.wonderbliss.com/ . They named their son Samson because they wanted him to have strength. I think that is awesome. He is scheduled for his third surgery, Fontan, on May 21.
The second site is http://www.olivia-ann.com/wordpress/. This little girl has completed the three surgeries. The mother's stories of her pregnancy diagnosis and her eventual letters to the doctor (he told her she should terminate the pregnancy) are amazing.
The third site is http://babyabbysheart.blogspot.com/. Abby has had the first two surgeries and has an older sister named Anna (so this obviously touched my heart).
I have been completely blown away by the detail of these ultrasounds! It is so incredible to see Emma Kate inside and out. It makes me wonder.. how do people not believe in a Creator?? Emma Kate is so tiny, yet so complex. It often takes things like these to make me realize how incredible God is. And He is even more than I can fathom. Shirts today claim Jesus to be our "homeboy" but He is so much more. He is our friend, He does want an intimate relationship with us and He does want us to recognize him in a personal way but more than that He wants us to recognize that He is Holy.
Nichole Nordeman, who is an amazing songwriter, wrote:
"You came and chose to wear the skin of all of us.
And it's easy to forget You left a throne.
And the line gets blurry all the time.
Between daily and Divine.
And it's hard to know the difference.
Oh, let me not forget to tremble.
Oh, let me not forget to tremble.
Face down on the ground do I dare,
To take the liberty to stare at You.
Oh, let me NOT...
Oh, let me NOT forget to tremble."
It is my prayer today that I would not forget to tremble in His presence. That through these trials and even during times of joy that I would not forget that God is the creator of all things. He spoke and we came into being. HE IS HOLY!