Category: Ryder’s Heart

Rory’s heart.

It’s an unusually warm fall which, at times, I am tired of the heat but nights like tonight I’m thankful for it. We ate dinner outside Saturday on the back deck, still in our pajamas from the day of alternating between cleaning and laziness. Andy grilled fish and I made quinoa and corn and black beans- basically the leftover/end of the grocery cycle crap I found in the pantry. Despite that, the food was delicious and our bellies are full.img_8504

Rory is climbing her tree that she calls her buddy. It’s a sycamore tree and has changed into beautiful orange and yellows.
She climbs high, too high for most parents to allow, but I know my Rory. She lives for this thrill and is an expert climber and strong as an ox. I remember the trees I claimed as my trees in my childhood and it makes me so delighted she has that same love of climbing and exploring outside as I did.
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I could sit here forever watching her in this late evening sun. Her beautiful face peeking out proud amongst the branches with a gleeful, “look mom! Look how high I am now!” My heart swells with pride at the thought of it.
The past few months have been a blur of school and Rory has had to overcome and adjust to so much this year. She has made great progress, but even still she is struggling to make it through the day every.single.day. Last week we had an appointment to start her on medication for ADHD- and please do not even think of debating me about this. Medicines aren’t what they used to be and this isn’t a decision we came to lightly. We know the best for our child.
As a precaution from Ryder’s congenital heart defect, they ordered an EKG before starting medication for Rory. I never heard back from them and because of the way the EKG tech said, “you have a perfect heart” to Rory with a wink to me, I assumed everything was fine.
At the appointment to discuss medication, the doctor looked at her EKG report just to be sure as we were about to leave. She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “wait, so… the EKG came back abnormal, did you not know this?”
My own heart stopped beating, I am not even kidding. I let out the smallest gasp out of shock.
Somehow between the EKG and our follow up we weren’t contacted- fell between the cracks which so often happens in healthcare.
The doctor explained that it indicated a right bundle branch block on the EKG.
I started to cry softly, but that was enough to scare Rory. I felt, feel, so terribly guilty for letting her see that fear. That same night she would have nightmares and tell me she had a dream someone sawed her chest open. That is the problem with having a sister who has had open heart surgery- you just know too much.
We called and told a very small amount of family and I texted my closest friends. Everyone told me they would pray for her heart and that even if something was wrong they were praying God would heal her completely before our appointment.
That night after everyone was asleep, I went into our living room and laid on my face and cried out to God to please not let this be true. And if it were a heart defect, to please let it be something we can manage with medicine and is “no big deal”. I prayed for Rory’s heart just as hard and earnestly as I prayed for Ryder’s for all those months and years.
Meanwhile, God was working on Rory’s heart in ways more beautiful than I could have ever expected.
Several times over the last few months, Rory has come to us asking very hard questions about Jesus and sin. I’ve had open and honest conversations with her and was so thankful that she felt comfortable coming to me.
Last night she came downstairs and told Andy and I that she had gone into her closet and prayed for Jesus to come into her heart. On her own, without any prompting, she made that decision. We talked about what it meant to be sure she knew and we all prayed together. When we got to AWANA she told everyone that would listen that she accepted Jesus into her heart.
After church, we sat down again and talked and prayed. She was BEAMING. From ear to ear, so very proud and happier than I’ve ever seen her. She couldn’t wait to call her grandparents. Ryder cheered her one and was so excited for her sister. img_8554 img_8558
As you can imagine, I cried and cried all night long.
You see, I had been begging for a miracle and I had our families and friends praying for her heart- who could have known the ultimate heart healing would happen instead.
Yesterday, October 30, 2016, was the very best day of my life. I know the day I accepted Jesus is also the best day, but there is something so much more beautiful when your child comes to that decision in her life. Knowing her eternity will be spent in heaven is the best gift of peace I’ve ever been given.
No matter what comes of her cardiologist appointment tomorrow, I know her heart is healed. God has already performed a miracle for her and has saved her precious heart.img_8565
God is so good to us. ALL the time.
I’m still praying for an outcome that determines the abnormal EKG was a fluke and there is absolutely nothing wrong with her heart (and would appreciate your prayers too), but even if it were the worse case scenario- my God is good and merciful and has given Rory’s heart the best miracle of all.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:2-5
“… for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” – Romans 3:23
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Ryder’s 4th Heart-iversary

The funny thing about traumatic events in your life is that sometimes the years go by and you feel numb to it, and then some years you can’t escape going down the rabbit hole and having some serious meltdowns.

This year, meltdowns.

You see, this is the first year I’ve had the facebook “on this day” memories thing and time hop. So every day I’m flooded with the memories of what went down with Ryder and how critical the situation was and how desperate I was for a miracle to avoid the surgery.

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More than that, I am just once again completely overwhelmed with gratitude for my friends. I was planning to screen shot all of the messages I got asking for prayers for Ryder to post here but there was so many I couldn’t possibly do that. I had people from all over the country praying for my precious Ryder.

My friends and family rescued me from drowning during that time in my life. I felt sure I would never, ever see the other end of this constant health battle with Ryder. My sister called and told me to take Ryder to the cardiologist early- she literally saved her life and mine doing that.

When I started to doubt and sink, a friend would send me a verse or pray over me. So many times they watched Rory for me. They fed us, cleaned our house, and poured life into us when we felt we couldn’t fight anymore. They breathed life into me and stepped in to make sure my family was taken care of when I couldn’t do more than just try to get Ryder to eat a few ounces in a day.

Andy stepped in like a rock and took care of things I didn’t even know he knew how to do! I never worried about Rory’s well being because between Andy and my friends I knew she was having the time of her life and was well taken care of. He kept going to work for long hours and then would drive to Dallas to stay the night. He never complained and I know he was just as terrified and helpless as I was.

My mom came and stayed for longer than she needed to and left an important job behind to care for Rory and help Andy and I. She cleaned my house and fed everyone and made sure I didn’t have to think twice about anything but Ryder. I will never, ever be able to thank her enough for this.

Andy’s parents and my mom and dad all came for the surgery and waited for us. We laughed and cried and all of them being there gave us such an overwhelming peace for all those hours of surgery.

Basically, today I am just thankful. So unbelievably thankful.

The thing I’ve come to realize is that all of those friends and family members and random strangers who prayed so hard for a miracle in Ryder became Jesus to us in the flesh. He used each of you to breathe for us when we couldn’t anymore. He used you to hold our heads above the water.

So, thank you my beautiful friends. 

Thank you for stepping in for me when I didn’t even know I needed help. Thank you for being patient through all my tears. Thank you for listening to my darkest fears. Thank you for holding my hand and praying for my child’s life. Thank you for showing others what it is like to have Christians come together for good and pray with one another- what a witness you were to so many!

Thank you for loving me through the hardest time of my life. I will never, ever get over that. You saved me in so many ways when I could not possibly see any light in the darkness.

If I could hug each of you and step in and be the friend you were to me I would in a heartbeat. I can only hope I am half the friend, sister, daughter, mother that you all were to me.

You guys changed my life and impacted me more than you will ever know.

And look at the miracle girl you all prayed so hard for. She’s beautiful, kind, and hilarious. She is still always, always smiling. She is a product of the power of prayer and I hope none of you will never forget your part in her life. I sure know I won’t.

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We love you so much and are so thankful for all of you. We wouldn’t be where we are without you.

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“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isaiah 26:3 IMG_5963

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Look at us, we are all the same.

It has been three years.

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I have all the feelings in the world and all the words in the world in my head and in my heart, but I just feel like it is the same ol’ same ol’ thing and why does anyone need to hear it again?

Three years ago, our baby girl Ryder, had Open Heart Surgery to fix several defects. Things were more dire than I realized and also than I ever told anyone.

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It was the hardest and yet most beautiful time of my life. I’ve never felt more desperate and terrified, and at the same time I have never felt more loved and at peace.

What do I say more than that? It was beautifully terrifying.

The outcome was miraculous. Ryder soared through the surgery and recovery. It was such a struggle before surgery. Everything was one huge hurdle we just couldn’t jump over before. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t stay awake. We barely survived, all of us. It was as if she was just waiting to have that surgery we tried to avoid. It was everything she needed. 

We are still having struggles and I’m sure we will have plenty ahead, but she is here with us. So any trial is worth every single minute of heartache we have experienced or will experience with her because we have her.

We get to enjoy her oh-so-dramatic self. We get to see her grow and learn. We get to see her love on her sister (and fight with her sister). We get to know her. We get to love her. We have the pleasure of experiencing the magnitude of her personality and how she is a fighter through and through.

There is no sacrifice too great or storm too fierce to offset our love and joy for Ryder. 

And that goes for Rory too.

Because at the heart of the matter, parenting is so gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking and hard for every single parent. It doesn’t matter if you have a child who has open heart surgery or one who never even gets a cold.

We are all the same, no matter the trials and triumphs. My child who was desperately ill is no harder than the child who strays as a teenager but is never sick. It is heartbreaking either way.

We love them the same, either way.

Because we are all parents. We all want the very best for our children. We all want no harm to ever come to them. We are all heartbroken because no matter how hard we try, they will get hurt and they will hurt us.

And yet we will keep loving, keeping fight, and keep trucking on because it is what we have to do. Each trial makes us stronger, each victory makes us more thankful- combined they make us better parents.

I hear a lot of “I don’t know how you did it” and my response is always “because I had to”. Doesn’t that apply to all parents in all situations?

The single mom- I have no idea how she does it. But she does because she has to.

The mom to a sick child- I still don’t know how she does it. But she does it because she has to.

The mom to the strong-willed child- LORD KNOWS I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE (we) DOES IT. But we do because we have to.

Look at us, we are all the same. All trying to raise our children to make good choices and to love others.

Keep trucking on, y’all. Do it because you have to. Do it because you love your children more than life.

Do it because the joy in being a parent outweighs the heartache by a million.

 

two years.

I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe how I feel this year on Ryder’s 2nd “heartiversary”. I’ve been weepy all week because I see so many around me going through unbearable things. It has been a reminder of when Ryder was so sick and how unbearable it seemed to me.

Honestly, I am just so overwhelmed with thankfulness. I have been either on the verge of tears or all out crying all week remembering how sick Ryder was. I look at pictures before surgery and I can hardly stand it. She was pitiful. Our outcome with Ryder was so close to being drastically different. We were so close to losing her. So, so close. And the thought of that is too much to bear. I can’t possibly imagine my life without our Ryder.

(Below is a picture of Ryder the day we rushed to Dallas because she was barely eating, barely waking up, and completely blue.)

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I remember when Ryder smiled for the first time. She was literally two weeks old. She looked right into my eyes and smiled the hugest smile you’ve ever seen.

And she hasn’t stopped since.

I’m going to tell you something about that smile – there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that her smile was a gift from God. She smiled through EVERYTHING. That girl is the smiliest thing you’ve ever seen in your life.

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Ryder’s precious smile was such a special gift to me. Even on our hardest days, her smile got me through. I knew, and still know, that God put that smile on that sweet baby’s face as a promise and reminder that God is in control. I can’t tell you how many times that smile stopped me in my negative tracks and made me praise Jesus.

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So, this year, I want to NOT dwell on the negative of that wretched time in our lives and just focus on the positive.

Ryder is thriving. She is eating and feeling great. Sure, we have some hurdles to jump, but she is doing so well. I never thought we’d get to where we are now.

I’m just so thankful God saved her. I’m so thankful He gave her such a beautiful smile.

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Most of all, I’m so thankful He gave Ryder a broken heart. My heart is completely overwhelmed with gratitude for that trial in our lives. Where would I be without it? WHO would I be without it? Certainly not who I am today.

Ryder’s heart changed my life. And it is such a symbol of how God healed my heart too. He saved me. He healed my brokenness. I am forever changed and eternally grateful for it.

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My biggest prayer for Ryder is that she gives her heart to Jesus. Oh, how I cannot wait for that day to see my babies saved.

And I pray that Ryder will look down at her beautiful scar and see proof of God’s miracles. I want it to remind her that God loves her and saved her.

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Two years later. God is still SO good, ALL the time. I’m still blown away by the miracles he performed for us. I hope and pray I will always feel that way- that the passion and light behind that never goes away.

“I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” Psalms 13:5

“He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” Deuteronomy 10:21

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Happy 2nd Birthday, Ryder!

Ryder is TWO YEARS OLD today!

It completely blows my mind that she is two. Like, COMPLETELY blows my mind. I can’t believe we have made it out of the baby stage and into the terrible twos!

It seems like yesterday that I was holding her for the very first time.

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And now today after many ups and downs through these two years, she’s a little spit-fire. Rough but prissy. Strong willed and sweet as pie. Hilarious and oh-so-serious. She is the perfect combination of everything I could ever want in a little girl. She’s just like her big sister Rory in so many ways, and nothing like her in just as many.

Ryder at 2 years old:

– you LOVE to eat. Oh yes, this is a big surprise to all of us! Hard to believe you wouldn’t eat at all your first year of life! Your favorite foods are sausage, waffles, peaches, chips, pop tarts, spaghetti… basically you are a meat and potatoes/pasta and bread person. You will try anything but have a hard time liking most veggies and some fruits.

– you yell for Rory every morning when you wake up. It’s hilarious. You yell her name until someone comes in there and you aren’t happy if someone else besides her comes in to get you. It is so sweet to see how close you two girls are. I pray you are always best friends.

– you wear size 18 months clothes, size 4 shoe

– you are 22 lbs! We are so excited about this!

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We had a birthday party for Ryder on Friday night and we all had a blast, but especially Ryder. She was so cute and it was such a care-free, low key party. It was perfect!

The theme was “You Are My Sunshine” because Ryder is exactly that- a little sunshine in our world. I barely had any decorations because it was a pool party, but I did love the little things I put together. Simple and cute, just like my birthday girl!

My amazing friend, Erin, created the invites for me and they were perfect! They inspired the rest of the party decor.

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My favorite decorations are always pictures of kids throughout the years.

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I loved celebrating your life with our friends and family! You were so well behaved and so cute telling everyone thank you.

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Dear Ryder,

It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by since you rocked our world with your lively spirit and your tenacity to fight through all your health issues. You still have that lively spirit and fight in you- I see it every single day. 

Being your mom has been the hardest and absolute best experience of my life. Between your early heart struggles and now your allergies, there has been a constant battle with you.

But the thing I admire most about you, and the thing I’ve learned the most from you, is to be tough and keep on fighting with a smile on our faces. Even through all your pain and struggles you have always, always been extremely happy and easy-going. Honestly, it is hard to even believe you HAVE had so many struggles because you are the happiest kid on the planet. I am so thankful that you have taught me to keep smiling and keep fighting- I needed that reminder a lot over the past two years.

Your laughter is so contagious and you are quite the little comedian. You can be painfully serious and then burst into giggle fits within seconds. I think you are going to end up having a dry sense of humor one day. You keep all that know you laughing, because you really are quite hilarious.

Tonight you let me rock you for a minute before bed and tears trickled down my cheeks as I thought about all the times I’ve rocked you the past two years. I loved rocking you as an infant and holding you close because it felt safer, like I was protecting you and your heart from any harm. I absolutely cherished the snuggles and rocking and love I got with you when you were in the hospital getting stronger for surgery. That was such a precious time for me. I loved rocking you to sooth you all those nights that your tummy was hurting. It was incredibly hard to be up all night but I still loved being the one who soothed you. And now I still love rocking you when you will let me because I can already see the time is drawing near when you won’t want me to rock you anymore. It breaks my heart but I also love that you are so fiercely independent. 

Ryder, you are just so precious to me. I cherish you more than you could ever know. Being your momma (and Rory’s) has been my biggest blessing in life. I can’t wait to see how you grow this year and all the years after. I love you so very much my giggly girl. You really are my sunshine.

Love, Momma

stopping the silence

Well, it is Congenital Heart Defects Awareness week- has been since the 7th. I’ve been going back and forth about this post… starting it, then deleting, then starting again since the 7th.

You see, I have loved being able to share resources with my friends on my social network pages, but I’ve kept it surface level. Just sharing articles and facts others have shared before me.  But I have NOT wanted to write about it here for various reasons.

One, I am trying to make this blog less depressing (ha) than it was last year. (Just don’t mind my last post!)

Two, I feel like maybe people are tired of hearing about it. Sometimes I’m totally tired of talking about it.

Three, I just don’t want to go there. I don’t want to go back to that dark place. I don’t want to think about how I almost lost my precious baby. I don’t want to feel the anger towards the doctors who refused to help us, the doctors whose arrogance almost cost her life. I don’t want to feel the disappointment of when the first procedure was a fail. I don’t want to feel the fear and sheer panic of giving my baby over to surgeons to put her on a bypass, stop her heart, cut her chest open, open her chest cavity and work on her non-beating heart. I can’t… just can’t… stand to think of seeing her for the first time and her being strapped to a tiny table with wires coming out of everywhere screaming in unbearable pain in this eerily hoarse voice because of the breathing tube. Even more so, I just can’t feel that ache to hold her and comfort her but the sound of my voice and my touch causing her even more pain.

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But, you know what else I can’t stand?

I can’t stand the SILENCE surrounding Congenital Heart Defects. I can’t stand the fact that it is THE MOST COMMON BIRTH DEFECT and yet NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT! Not once did I read in all of my pregnancy books about it. They never advised me in the wealth of sometimes silly knowledge that I should get the ultrasound tech to do a detailed heart scan   at the 20 week ultrasound. It never once mentioned heart defects. Not once.

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I hear over and over again from other heart moms that they were shocked into the CHD world, like me, because of their own babies’ defects.

How can that be if it is the most common birth defect?????? Can anyone tell me this????

So, I won’t be silent. I will go there and feel all the pain, fear, anger, and darkness.

Because I also got to feel the ultimate joy when my baby was deemed “fixed”. I got to feel love from my friends and family and total strangers who reached out to me and prayed over Ryder. I got to fall back onto my faith in Jesus Christ that no matter what happened- whether she lived or died that day- that He was the Healer in more ways than one and would comfort me and give me peace no matter the outcome. And I truly believe/believed that. I knew He carried me through those moments and He still carries me through any darkness that creeps back in.

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And I want YOU, whoever you are, to be able to feel that joy too. If talking about it and telling whoever will listen about it and beating it to death saves ONE life, wouldn’t it be more than worth it?!

I love when I hear that my friends made sure their kids got pulse-ox tests before leaving the hospital. It gives me such a surge of joy. I can’t even explain how much it thrills me.

I LOVE when I am contacted by friends to reach out to other heart moms. I hate that those people are going through it, but I love being able to just send a message (whether they ever respond back or not I could care less) encouraging them and sending them Bible verses that carried me through my time in that darkness. People did that for me, and now I will return the favor the rest of my life.

So, thank you for praying for me back then, and thank you for still listening to me reflect back on that scary time in our lives.

You’ll hear about it again, too, because I just can’t be silent on something that is so important to me and my family’s lives. We want to save babies like Ryder because the only people you can count on are the ones to pray over you and tell you about things that even doctors fail to educate you on. I want that to stop here. Or at least be a start to ending.

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I want people to have silly, giggly, cheesy toddlers filling their homes with joy and love and laughter like I am so blessed to have in my own home.

THIS article is the best I’ve seen in the world of CHD awareness. Please take a second to read!

 

smarty pants

Well. I’d like to formally apologize for my post yesterday. It was a little too feisty, I think.

It is the non-sleeping thing. It is getting to me.

This morning Rory woke up at 4. And she decided she wanted the entire house to be up with her. Ryder can’t hang with that mess, so she passed out sitting straight up at Walmart this morning. Everyone was giggling because it was so cute.

On the way to school this morning Rory started asking for her most favorite song on earth.

Rory: Mommy! Mommy! I wanna sing “never eber eber getting back ‘gether”! (Taylor Swift song… I know, I know. She is obsessed with that song. And it is hilarious.)

Me: I don’t know where that CD is, I will have to find it.

Rory: (In a voice like “duh”) It’s before the E F G, Mom!

Now. I sat there for a second like…

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And then I realized she meant in the alphabet.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Sorry, but I’m still giggling about this.

It’s horrifying to think that at 2 years old she is already smarter than me.

My brain cells have been seriously at a minimum since having children and I can just say that Rory absorbed them all while I was carrying her. That makes me feel better.

Today was another day at home with Ryder. She won’t be going back to school until January because of how the flu outbreak is going and the way vacation and Christmas fall.

Let me tell y’all something.

I forgot how easy it is with just one child. And Ryder is the easiest. She plays SO WELL by herself. She actually prefers it. I’ve been cracking up at her playing with her babies while Rory isn’t here. I guess she is trying to make up for not having Rory so she’s been playing with them more while she is gone.

Also, she LOVES to dress up. She’s finally able to wear the princess dress up shoes and she thinks she is something else, y’all.

It is so rare that I have Ryder by herself and I have enjoyed every second with this girl.

Yesterday I started packing for the big vacation and the girls saw their swim suits, so naturally they had to wear them.

Ryder’s scar was peaking out from the bathing suit and Rory (who has seen this scar every day for a year) said, “Mommy, why Ryder got a boo boo?” and she kept rubbing it.

I told her that she had to get her little heart fixed because she had a big hole in it.

 Rory the thinker said, “well…. her need a bandaid?”. I told her that she did (kinda) get a bandaid on it and that it was all better.

Rory thinks another second and says, “Ryder, I so glad you heart all better!” and kissed the scar.

Insert a lot of happy Momma tears. It was such a precious moment. It is easy to forget these days. Obviously, I will never forget. It is easier now to not dwell on it, which is a good thing. But sometimes I definitely need reminders to show how good our God is and all He has done for us. Because we have come SO FAR. I know I say that all the time, but man it was such a dark, hard place. Life can get hard and mundane now with Andy’s crazy work schedule and the no sleep and etc etc etc. But my children are healthy, only by the Grace of God and these little reminders help me to see the bigger picture. These moments help me step back and realize that, yes, I am oh so exhausted but also oh so blessed. Blessed even seems like an understatement, but no words would ever be able to describe my gratitude towards all that God has given me and all the Grace He has shed on my life. It is never ending and I will be thanking Him the rest of my life for healing her heart AND mine. And I will pray without ceasing that my girls’ hearts will be truly healed one day so they can be eternally thankful for His Grace as well.

Day 22: Letting Go and Feeling It

There are times in your life when you just put your head down, stifle your feelings, and keep going even if it kills you. And then there are times when something rises to the surface suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere- experiences, feelings, memories- and all you can do is just feel it. 

This afternoon the girls and I played outside (this weather is glorious) as we have been doing every day. I just sat there and watched as they explored the yard- picking up leaves, throwing leaves, jumping in the leaves. I watched with pride and joy as Rory was showing Ryder how to throw the leaves in the air so they would land on their head and giggled out of pure joy when Ryder did it just as she was taught. Both girls, wide eyed and lost in the moment of fun, were in complete outside heaven. That is when I started to feel it rising up in me. I wasn’t sure at the time what I was feeling, but I felt a little weepy in a good way.

We came inside and put about 30 puzzles together (ha), and as I’m laying on my belly on the ground with Ryder crawling all over me and Rory with a determined look in her eye, I felt it again. I stopped and thought, “what in the world?”, as I teared up for no apparent reason.

After dinner and bath and all of the bedtime fun, I sat there with both girls on my lap singing to them and I just lost it completely. Tears ran down my face and I couldn’t finish the last part of “You Are My Sunshine”. Suddenly, I realized what it was.

Thankfulness. Praise. Gratitude. Awe. Indescribable love.

As Rory and Ryder stare at me and glance at each other like, “oh Lord, she’s lost it”, I just start giving them kisses. I kiss Rory’s sweet face all over and she giggles wildly. Then I start kissing Ryder, all the while tears are still pouring down my cheeks. The girls are laughing in delight, and I’m crying in delight.

As Ryder leans back with her deep laugh, I see a tiny peak of the scar on her chest and I can’t help but kiss there too. Tears continue to flow, but it comes from a different place than it used to. It comes from a place of happiness. A place of triumph and of wonder. It comes from a place of ultimate praise because I know I could never be here with these feelings and emotions if it weren’t for what God has done for us. He has healed Ryder and He has healed me from any anger or bitterness I could have had because of our experience. I’m not going to lie, there were times I wondered angrily “why me” when I thought about how my friend Erin’s baby had a hole that closed up and even harder was my sister Tasha’s baby who was born just two months before had a hole that closed up on its own as well. Of course I would have never wanted it to be them, I just wondered why Ryder’s had to be the one that wouldn’t close up, the valve that wouldn’t open.

But now I truly never wonder “why me”. I’m so thankful for our experience. I’m so thankful God allows days like today to remind me of all we have been through and all that we have overcome. And for me to just let go and feel it. 

This is my 17th post in the series of Letting Go. You can start at the beginning here.

There are over 1100 people participating in the Nester’s 31 Days challenge- go check out more here.

yes, I’m still here.

Hi. Hello. How are ya?

Yes, I am still here.

I’ve had some complaints from family and relayed through people that I haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought I’d drop in.

Basically, life has consisted of going here and there and everywhere trying to stay busy and not lose my mind these past four weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my parents and if I had to live with anyone in the world it would be them. But it has been HARD, y’all. I knew it would be, but I didn’t realize just how hard, you know?

Part of the problem is that my girls, especially Rory, think that if they are at Mimi and Papa’s house that means that Mimi and Papa SHOULD BE HERE at all times. And both my parents work, so that has created quite the issue. Rory cries pretty much from the time they start getting ready until they get home. So its been stressful to say the least.

But it has also been fun. We have had really enjoyed getting to spend the nights with my parents and we have spent so many days with my sister and her kids. So that part has been really fun. Honestly, it is just hard to even think about the good things during the day when kids are screaming and Rory is begging me to go to school, church, home, etc. And it breaks my heart when she asks to see her friends. BREAKS IT.

So, I’m losing my mind a little, but sweet mercy, we are moving into our house this weekend! Woohoo!!!!! I’m so excited! And I got both girls into schools so things will start to get back to normal very soon.

I can see the light and you better believe I’m going right towards it!

But, I will tell y’all that even though I’ve been in a fog and feel like time is standing still, it quite obviously isn’t because Ryder has blossomed into a busy, independent, strong-willed, basically toddler.

She is pulling up and cruising all over the place. She’s talking so much more- saying new words like bird, stop, don’t, jump, ni-ni (night night), go, etc.

 It has been amazing to see her blossom. Because, I will be really honest with you, I still struggle with feeling defeated when it comes to Ryder sometimes. I feel like she’s behind or I worry she is going to struggle. I know she’s “fixed”, but the truth is, she will never be 100% fixed. We will always have to go to the cardiologist at least once a year to make sure the patch hasn’t “sprung a leak” as they say, or that her Pulminory Valve hasn’t closed again. I still grieve over the fact that she had to have such a rough start anyways. I grieve for myself that I had to have that heart ache. There’s no way I’d ever be able to explain it accurately in words as to how much that time from her birth to her surgery to all the struggles after it literally broke my heart. I feel like I’ve aged so much and I feel like no one really understands except from my friends who have been through it as well.

It is hard to know that people are probably thinking “get over it already” and knowing in my heart and mind that I won’t ever get over it. Every year at this time I will go through this gut wrenching feeling about how hard it was… and even describing it as “hard” seems like the biggest understatement in the entire world.

And then I ache with everything in me for parents who have had it much worse than me like my friend, Rachel, who lost her heart baby, Weston. Like a friend I knew in middle school/high school who just lost their precious baby, Carlie. I used to imagine that that might happen to me, but I can’t possibly even close to imagine what they are going through and will go through for the rest of their lives.

So, yes, I’m in a bit of a “fog” right now. I’m having a hard time. I’m struggling.

But I know that it is okay to struggle. I know that I’m not exempt from hurt. And I know Jesus allows for us to grieve and to get stronger because of it.

Please be praying for us in our transition as it has been hard. And please, please pray for the Calvert’s who just lost their baby.

Thank y’all for being such a wonderful support through everything. I’m sorry I have neglected the blog, it is just a hard time right now. But I will be back and have lots of stinker updates for you very soon!

Happy 1st Birthday, Ryder!

I am ONE YEAR OLD today!

As you can see, I have started pulling up! Mommy and Daddy had to lower my bed!

I have had the best couple of weeks with Mommy AND Daddy at home! I’m really starting to love on Daddy more and not be such a Momma’s girl.

I started really crawling the past week or so. I still scoot a lot, but if I really want to go fast (like when I try to get away from mom and dad!), I will get on all fours and go!

I’m a mischievous little stinker like my big sister, Rory. My favorite word is “no” and I think it is so funny when someone tells me “no”. I think mom and dad are scared!

Here are my stats for one year:

– 18 lbs and 31 inches long! I grew FOUR inches since 9 months! I’m going to be tall!

– Eating like a champ. FINALLY! I love almost all table foods and am such a good eater! Although, mommy gave me refried beans tonight and I screamed and pitched a big fit about it. They were nasty!

– Wearing 6-9 mo clothes. I’m really starting to catch up!

– Size 2 shoe and size 3 diapers.

– Saying “no”, “dada”, “momma”, “dog”, “ball”, “whoa”, “Jers”… and shaking my head “no” whenever someone asks me a question. I think this is hilarious!

– Sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT 7pm to at least 6:15am. (Hallelujah and amen! Now if we could get Rory to sleep… ha!)

Here I am from birth to 12 months- can you believe how much I’ve grown?!

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

Thank you for being there for all of us this year and praying for me! I’m one tough little girl and am feeling so wonderful all the time now!

———-

Dear Ryder,

I honestly can’t believe its been a year since you were born. Time has gone by so slow and too fast all at the same time. When you were little I thought we’d never get to this day, and now I can’t believe we are here, celebrating your first year.

I talk a lot about how hard this year has been, but I want you to know that it has been the most precious year of my life as well. You have taught me so much in such a short amount of time. I have a new sense of faith and hope that I would have never experienced had we not had you. I have experienced a peace beyond understanding, a peace I had no idea existed. When I handed you off to the surgeon, my body was flooded with that peace and comfort because I knew you were God’s child and He was with you and with me in our darkest hour.

Because of you I have experienced friendship like never before as well. People flooded me with kindness and love. Friends prayed for us without ceasing. They were there for me, encouraging me and asking others to pray for you. I realized what true friendship was and also found out what a Christian family really is.

I learned about patience and calmness this year after your birth. There was no other way with you besides to have patience and remain calm in the chaos around me those months before surgery and right after.

I learned how to be a better mom, wife, friend, sister, etc. I learned about letting go of things that hurt me in the past and moving on with relationships to make them better and closer.

And probably the most important lesson I have learned is to let go. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, but as soon as I finally, truly gave you to the Lord everything seemed to come into place. Though it was still so hard to see you so sick, I knew that God was going to take care of our family no matter what. Of course I pleaded with Jesus as you walked through those surgery unit doors to not take you away forever… oh, how I pleaded. But I knew that even if He did that I would be blessed for giving you to Him completely.

I am so thankful that God worked miracles in your life and healed you completely. I am so thankful for the smile He gave you at such an early age (no exaggeration, by one month you were “social” smiling… we have so many witnesses to this miracle) that helped me remain positive and hopeful. I can’t express how thankful I am that even with tubes running out of you from everywhere, you still always had a smile on your face. It surely kept a smile on mine.

Now, at one, you are the most precious, happy “baby” that has ever lived! Your personality has just blossomed and you are so hilarious. You have a major flare for the dramatics and are always keeping us in stitches. You are very strong-willed and independent. I never thought you’d be as strong-willed as Rory, but I think you have her beat now! You and Rory are so much a like, its scary at times! Rory is your best friend, and you are hers, and you two have the best time together. Y’all wrestle, giggle, hug, fight, and love on each other all day long. You both keep me on my toes and I love every second even though it’s so exhausting.

You have taught me and many others so much this year about God’s power and amazing, grace-filled love for us. I wouldn’t change a single thing because I know it has made us a closer family and me a better person.

I promise to never forget to treasure you and to never forget what we went through and overcame by the grace of God. Thank you for giving me the most amazing year of my life.

I love you more than words could ever say,

Mommy