Category: Ryder’s Heart

Ryder’s 1st Birthday Party

Last Monday I decided to have Ryder’s 1st birthday party on Saturday. It was insanely last minute and I worked my butt off all week to get ready.

Here’s a picture of the invite:

I absolutely love this picture of Ryder- the epitome of joy!

It was supposed to be a splash party and I had set out a water fight table (balloons, guns, etc), a bubble table, a slip n slide, a pool and the water table for everyone to play in.

And then about 30 minutes before the party started it decided to POUR. I was so disappointed! So the party was inside and pretty chaotic but we still had fun. I am mad at myself for not taking more pictures, but I just wanted to enjoy the day with my friends and not stress about the perfect picture.

On our mantle I hung all of Ryder’s monthly pictures. It was SO cute. I’m so glad I took pictures each month of both girls. I will always treasure those!

Ryder was SO funny eating her cake. She just stared at it a minute, put her finger in it, stared at her finger, licked it, and started the process over again. It took her FOREVER to eat any of it and she wasn’t a fan of it being all over her!

This is her “whoa” / excited face.

Rory had a blast too! She loved every second of our house being full with friends and chaos!

I asked on the invite for people to bring travel size items for the families in the CICU at Medical City where Ryder had her surgery instead of presents. Of course, some people didn’t abide by that and got her some stuff anyways! She loves all her toys and books!

But I was overwhelmed by how much we got for the heart families. I can’t wait to get all the bags together and deliver them! I’m going to write out scripture that helped me during our time in the hospital with Ryder and write a note telling them that people care about them and are praying for them. God has blessed me with such great friends who were more than willing to go above what I imagined to help these families out!

This is only part of the donations!

I had such a great time celebrating Ryder’s birthday with our friends here. And we have so much to celebrate!

This week is VBS at church and I’m teaching the 3 and 4  year olds… I am BEAT. Seriously, I’m so tired! Hopefully I can make it until Thursday! 🙂

heart walk, fish fry, and paybacks

Its been a crazy weekend!

Where do I even begin??

All last week we were busy with playdates, doctor appointments, and mother’s day out days.

Then on Thursday night my friends asked if I wanted to do the heart walk in town on Saturday. I had no idea it was that day, but was excited to get to do it!

Then my friends decided to make shirts for us…

and y’all. I may or may not have ugly cried when they decided on the design…

Here we are ready for the walk- Misty and Peyton, Kayla and Emma, and me with Ryder and Rory- I am so thankful for these friends. They’ve been amazing to me this year!

Rory was super excited too!

Both girls had a nasty cold so I’m going to get cute pictures of them in their shirts once their noses aren’t nasty 24/7.

After the heart walk we went to our Sunday School department’s fish fry! It was such a fun time. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to be apart of this group of people. They, too, have been such amazing friends to me this year and since we’ve been going there. We had a wonderful time getting to socialize and laugh together.

Speaking of laughing…

Let me tell you about my pastor. Here he is with his sweet, lovely wife Deanne-

Now, remember, I said SHE was sweet.

A few weeks ago, this pastor of mine came up to me after church and half-whispers, “Hey, is that your breath or did you just fart?”

Then he starts giggling and I’m trying not to puke from being ABSOLUTELY mortified. He says there’s some YouTube video out there about this (google it if you’re curious) and thats where he got it from.

He thought he was so hilarious.

But apparently he didn’t know me as well as he thought he did.

Because everyone knows I’m going to get you back if you prank me.

So I got him back.

And I have laughed until it hurt about it.

You can ask Cassidy and Lori about it- they witnessed my giggling fits.

I walked around ALL DAY LONG with a giant goober grin on my face that day.

So there’s two things to learn from this:

1) Don’t mess with me unless you can take a payback.

2) I’m now in constant fear when I’m at church because our church is televised and I know that heifer pastor of mine is going to be cruel and call me out during one of the televised services.

But that’s ok. I’m one of those people who can dish it AND take it.

Happy Monday!

spaghetti and baths

This week I gave Ryder spaghetti for the first time.

To say she loved it would be an understatement of epic proportions.

She couldn’t get it in her mouth fast enough! She ended up eating every single bite and I gave her a lot thinking some of it would be thrown away. It was hilarious to watch her scarfing it down! She’s gotten so good about eating when it comes to real food. Bottles are still a struggle, but what’s new?!

After the spaghetti mess I threw both girls in the tub and gave them a big bubble bath. I tried and tried… and failed and failed to get their picture together. Again, what’s new?

But both girls absolutely loves baths and especially bubble baths so it was a lot of fun!

And as if Rory didn’t look enough like Andy as it is… check her out with a goatee!

I swear they are twins.

Ryder loves the bath too. She’s such a stinker though. She will face dive into the water and thinks its hilarious. She also LOVES to splash Rory and I right in the face.

Don’t let that innocent face fool ya!

She really is a little stinker, just like her big sister! 🙂

How impressive is her scar… or actually, lack of scar?! Isn’t it amazing how faded it is already? Part of me is sad because that’s our battle wound and such a sweet reminder that we WON the battle. But my heart is scarred with it too, so it’ll never leave even after hers fades completely.

Unfortunately, and you can kind of tell from those pictures, Ryder isn’t feeling so hot today. I’m betting my money that she has an ear infection.

And an even bigger bummer is that the ONLY doctor that can see us is the doctor we switched from. So I’m all kinds of nervous about the appointment and trying to figure out what in the world I’m supposed to say when confronted about the whole thing.

I hate confrontation. I was hoping I’d never see the man again for as long as I live! ha! And there’s no chance of him not remembering me because we were up there every single day it seemed like for MONTHS. Plus, hello, how many girl Ryders are there who’ve had heart surgery?! Dear goodness. I’m hoping to just be able to explain in a nice way that he just wasn’t aggressive enough for us and be able to have a nice visit. I LOOOOOVE his nurses so much and have missed them. Seriously, I was up there practically every day so I felt like they were family and that was the hardest part of my decision to move doctors.

We have such a huge weekend planned so I have no choice but to see him so I gotta suck it up and be a grown up I guess. ha!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

(PS: Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! The more you do/comment, the more chances you have to win!)

Easter 2012

We had a crazy busy but fun Easter weekend!

Rory’s first official Easter Egg Hunt was on Friday. She had a blast! She was so fast finding eggs and I caught her stiff arming some people to get to them before anyone else could! Ha!

I absolutely love this picture- I managed to capture her “oh my goodness there is CANDY in the eggs!” face. Ryder is making her “get me the heck out of this stroller” face.

Ryder had fun, too, just being her usual happy, cute self.

The only pictures I managed to get of our family over Easter weekend…

Ryder is captured perfectly in both- making crazy faces. The kid is a comedian already, y’all.

Saturday we did stuff around the house and ran errands. I had a Thirty-One party Saturday night and it was so much fun!

Sunday we woke to see what the Easter Bunny brought the kids! Ryder got woken up before 7am and wasn’t too thrilled about the whole thing at first.

Then Rory completely melted down pretty much the entire morning so I didn’t get any good pictures. Oh well!

At the last minute before we headed to church I decided to throw the girls in the rocker and see if I could get a picture. It rained all day so I knew I wouldn’t be getting any outside pictures so that was my last ditch attempt.

My Easter girls, they are so precious and fun!

Let me tell you something. There is NOTHING like being the mother of all girls. They are sweet and sassy, bright and dramatic, energetic and loveable. I always pictured myself as a “all boy” mom because I was a tom boy of sorts growing up. But as you can tell by Rory’s legs, they are just as rough and tumble as little boys but have cuter clothes! 😉 Now I can’t picture myself having anything other than girls. I love all the clothes and bows and shoes and purses. I love how they can still get dirty and have fun but also love to dress up. I love that they aren’t wimpy but still need me to snuggle them and kiss their bruises. And I LOVE the look in their eye when Daddy tells them they are beautiful. Nothing lights Rory up more than that and I remember feeling the same when my dad would tell me that.

The rest of Easter was spent with friends who are more like family and resting. We had a WONDERFUL day!

I think Easter is my favorite holiday. Christmas is wonderful but it wouldn’t mean anything at all without Easter. How miraculous Jesus’ death and resurrection is! All day I was reminded over and over how miraculous our year has been. I looked at my girls with wonder at His power. I looked at Ryder’s scar poking out from her beautiful dress and get chills at how Jesus has worked in my life this year during such heartache and dark days.

And its all because He has RISEN and is a LIVING God that I can face every storm with hope and can praise Him through the darkest hours.

 “Because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God.” 1 Peter 1:21

Hope y’all had a wonderful Easter!

six months later

Its late at night, I hear Andy snoring in the background along with the two monitors buzzing in their threatening tone that any second a baby will cry. I’m alone in my thoughts, with only the computer screen as a light into the room. I have tears streaming down my face as I’m reading previous posts about this time six months ago. I’ve been avoiding looking back because I want to be moving forward in my life instead of stuck beside that hospital bed where my sweet baby laid for so many days. But for whatever reason, tonight seemed to be the night I couldn’t avoid it any longer.

First, I clicked on facebook and started reading all of my statuses and, more importantly, the comments left under them. My tears stream harder as I realize I didn’t even know how many people were praying and sending me encouragement. I remember my phone buzzing so much from facebook notifications that I had to turn them off while I was in the hospital because it just got to be too much. I feel a pang of guilt that I didn’t personally answer every facebook message, email, text or call. I wish I could’ve been better about that, but I could only exert the energy to read them. I did read every single one of them though, through blurred vision from my tears, but I did read them and am so thankful for everyone who lifted us up when we needed it the most.

Then, I start clicking the links to my posts and reading them and the comments that were left. I am transported back to that hospital room and the feeling of being so alone and yet so loved all at the same time. I have never experienced such heartache and joy all at once.

I remember the events, which were a blur at the time, like they happened yesterday. Though six months isn’t very long in the scheme of life, it seems like a mixture of yesterday and a lifetime ago.

As I close my eyes, I can think back to the first time my radar went off that something seemed wrong in some sense. I remember how slow those two months before her surgery seemed to go. I remember her first procedure and the first time I had to hand her off to the nurse to be put under. I remember Dr. Lashus coming into the waiting room where Andy, my dad, and I were sitting and explaining to us that the procedure was a fail. I can vividly see the look in his eyes as he was trying to sound upbeat that told the truth, there wasn’t much hope for us avoiding open heart surgery at some point. I remember knowing with everything in me that something was so wrong a few weeks later and getting in early to see Dr. Pearse. I remember those long days and nights in the hospital before surgery that were so precious to me because I was able to just concentrate on helping Ryder get better and able to love on her without interruptions.

And oh, how I remember the morning of the surgery. I remember Andy and I holding Ryder together and praying over her. I remember having to hand her off to the anesthesiologist, Dr. Harris, and how sweet he was to me and to our baby girl. I can see the image of him crossing through those huge surgery doors that say boldly “DO NOT ENTER” and just pleading with God that the next time I saw her she’d be alive and well. I remember all those hours waiting during surgery and just trying to distract myself from the fact that my two month old daughter was laying there with her chest open not breathing on her own.

I remember them wheeling her bed past us and letting us look at her for a mere moment before transporting her into the CICU. I remember how frail she was and how I couldn’t even see her face because of all the tubes and wires.

And then when we finally got called into the CICU to be with her, I remember not being able to breathe because of how bad she looked. She was screaming in agony and they just could not manage her pain. I remember being sick to my stomach because the sound of my voice and my touch hurt her even more. Let me tell you, there isn’t much worse to a mother than the fact that not only can you not do anything for your daughter, but you can’t even talk around her or touch her. Those days were so long in the CICU and I became so emotionally numb during them. I hated hearing and seeing babies crash around me, and hated even more seeing their precious parents weeping and pleading for a miracle.

-Surgery pictures-

The only picture I got the first day after surgery because she finally was calm for a moment. I just couldn’t bare to take her picture while she was in so much pain.

First time seeing her the next day, and to us, she looked so much better.

Our sweet nurse who loved on Ryder most of our stay in CICU.

First feeding after surgery.

Holding her for the first time, which was such a challenge because of the chest tube, but our nurse figured out a way to do it.

Andy feeding her for the first time.

Finally, after two days, figured out the exact cocktail of pain meds to help her relax and settle down.

Ryder’s heart surgeon and God’s miracle hands, Dr. Mendeloff.

The difference between a few months ago and now is that now I can fast forward to the end without pausing forever to look at and analyze every detail of what went wrong and if it was somehow my fault. I always hesitate over the images of Ryder after surgery, because it is something that will be forever etched into my mind and soul, but I can finally move forward past that.

For so many months after surgery Ryder still wasn’t well and I think that, in large part, contributed to my being “stuck”, but now Ryder is thriving and gaining weight and eating so well and there is so much peace that comes with that. There were times that I honestly didn’t know if that day would ever come.

We now have a story to tell. A story of mercy and grace that is unimaginable in power. We can tell others how the community of Christ is a tight circle and people will lift you up in times of trouble. They will flee to your side and help you through every step. And they will pray for you, oh how they will pray for you, to have peace and comfort through your storm.

I know this because so many did it for me and my family. I can tell you with the utmost certainty that I would have never made it through the hardest days of my life without each of you who prayed for my family and sent me encouragement in the form of Scripture. Because when you are going through your worst nightmare, Satan is very near to you, putting negative thoughts and images in your head every single second. But my friends were there showing Jesus to me and reminding me to stay positive.

So today, six months after Ryder’s surgery, I will celebrate our struggle. I will praise Jesus’ name all day long for carrying us through and building our testimony to better His kingdom. Because that’s really what its all about and all that it comes down to- growing the Kingdom of Christ.

Thank you for being such a huge part of our story.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-19


The Faces of CHD – Pinterest Awareness Challenge

When Ryder was born, I was so very unaware of Congenital Heart Defects and how common they were. Ryder was misdiagnosed with colic because she was fussy and wouldn’t eat. Come to find out, she wasn’t colicky at all- her heart was failing.

When the doctor first heard her murmur, even then it wasn’t treated like any big deal. He said most babies have murmurs. We went and had an EKG and chest xray done and I had to call about 20 times to find out what they saw. And I was told, “It can wait, its nothing major.”

On August 11, 2011, I finally had our cardiologist appointment. During that appointment we scheduled her first procedure for the next week. At that point I knew that even pediatricians are so very uneducated about congenital heart defects.

After a failed heart cath to open her Pulmonary Stenosis because it was actually helping her cause by restricting the blood flow caused by a large VSD (hole in the wall that separates the right and left ventricles of the heart), we were sent home on meds to try and help the hole close on its own. We tried to be hopeful, though we knew the chances weren’t good.

At Ryder’s 2 month well baby check up, Ryder hadn’t gained any weight, was a blue-ish hue, and was struggling to eat and breath with all her might. She got her shots, the doctor said it wasn’t a big deal to wait to see the cardiologist the next week and we were on our way.

I knew with everything in me that something was very wrong. I called the pediatrician several times over two days and was told to just wait. Maybe she had a virus, maybe she’s just having a bad reaction to shots, maybe….

I finally called the cardiologist myself and she rushed me in the next morning. Immediately she knew that Ryder’s heart was failing and we needed to do open heart surgery to repair multiple holes (ASDs), the VSD, and the Pulmonary Stenosis.

Ryder is 6 1/2 months old, and doing wonderfully. We had some major setbacks in feeding and finally found that she has a protein allergy on top of her acid reflux. The past two weeks have been amazing. She is her happy self ALL the time now, instead of only some of the time because of pain. We are so thankful to our mighty God for placing Dr. Pearse (cardiologist) and Dr. Mendeloff (surgeon) in our lives to help save Ryder. I’m so thankful for each nurse (even that ONE who was a jerk to me once and the other ONE who decided to tell me “you’ll be fine, I lost a kid once” and sent me into a panic attack). And I’m so thankful to my wonderful family and friends who helped me through that time and prayed so hard for us.

Did you know that CHD’s are the number one birth defect? Did you know that 1 in 100 babies are born with CHD’s?

I didn’t either.

How is it that the number one birth defect is so unknown? How is it that I hear things about autism, ADHD, etc, but NOTHING about Congenital Heart Defects when THEY are the #1 defect?! (Don’t get me wrong, I think awareness is very important for all syndromes, diseases, etc.)

Well let’s end that!

A blogger named Ruth has decided that she is going to change this by joining up with other moms for a Pinterest Awareness Challenge for CHD Awareness. One of the things that helped me so much (I mean SO MUCH) during the darkest days not knowing what to expect or what the outcome would be with Ryder was other heart moms who reached out to me. Becca, Hannah, Beth, Rachel, the list goes on. That’s why I am so excited to join in with these other moms and parents to help raise awareness and also meet new friends who have been through this as I have so we can encourage each other and lift each other up in prayer.

Knowledge is power. And parents should hold the power for their children, just in case medical professionals fail us. They are human too, and it does happen. Let’s get educated! Please join us on Pinterest to raise awareness for our sweet heart babies.

A Trip to Holland

our Christmas card

It’s Christmas week but it doesn’t feel like Christmas week.

For starters, it’s so warm that I wore flip flops to Kroger today.

But really, the reason it doesn’t feel like Christmastime is because it’s the first time in my life that I’m not going to be home in Tennessee for Christmas.

In fact, it’s the first Christmas in my entire life that I won’t be waking up at my parents’ house on Christmas morning.

Dang. This might be harder than I thought. Today I really started missing my parents. Like really really missing them.

All that being said, I’m so excited that we get to stay home this year.

For the first time in our marriage (7 1/2 years!), we are going to start our own traditions with our little family at our little home in Texas. And I simply can’t wait for that.

I am still in the process of sending out Christmas cards (sorry they are late!) and of course can’t send one to everyone because postage is so expensive. The best way to share with everyone is to post it here and you can save it to your computer from here!

Merry Christmas from the Harris’!

I also had planned on writing a Christmas letter this year, but fell short on that too for many reasons. First of all, I simply ran out of time. But mostly its because reliving this past year has been more painful and much harder than I thought it’d be.

So here is a Christmas letter of sorts for all of you.


I hope that as you are reading this your hearts are full of love and happiness this Christmas. And if you are reading this and you are struggling and going through a trial bigger than you know how to handle, know that God sent His Son for YOU. He sent His Son to comfort you, to protect you, to love on you this Christmas and every Christmas. Cling to His promises of comfort and joy in the midst of your darkest days.

This year has been the year of struggles and storms for us. The year started with nonstop ear infections with Rory and her eventual procedure to have tubes. God was preparing us for something even bigger and more crippling to come. (And believe me, that time in our life was HARD.)

In February, we had our 20 week ultrasound to find out if we were having a boy or girl. During the ultrasound, they noticed something different about Ryder’s anatomy. We were sent to Dallas thinking that Ryder didn’t have some of her parts (bladder, urinary tract, etc) but when we got there we realized that she just had a fluid filled cyst. We are still praising God for this! By May, the cyst was gone and we were released from the specialist. Again, we were being prepared for something bigger to come.

Then around April/May we were, again, crippled by the news of Andy’s mom’s cancer. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and we were all devastated. When you hear pancreatic cancer, fear creeps in like nothing you’ve ever seen because the statistics are never good from what you know. In June, Marlyce had the whipple procedure done and it was a very hard surgery and she had a very hard time recovering. But we are praising Jesus’ sweet name because she had the rarest form of pancreatic cancer you can have and is now doing wonderfully, especially considering all her body has endured this year.

On June 26th I went to the hospital having contractions every two minutes apart. Because I wasn’t “changing fast enough” they gave me a really strong sedative/pain pill and sent me home. The next day I spiked a 105 fever (just like I did with Rory) and had to spend four days in the hospital trying to get my fever down. It was so scary, just like with Rory, and the unknown infection went away without us knowing what was exactly wrong.

On July 1st, I was induced. During labor, Ryder’s heart stopped at the height of every contraction. It was scary and no one knew why. But after an extremely easy and fairly quick labor, Ryder Amelia was born at 2:15 pm. She was the most perfect baby, just like Rory was, and so beautiful and sweet.

While we were at the hospital after her birth, Andy and I talked a lot about how she didn’t eat. The nurses complained that she was a “snacker” and told us to be on a strict schedule with her. We just thought she wasn’t ready to eat yet or something, we weren’t sure what was going on.

At Ryder’s two week appointment, Dr. Scott heard her murmur. I still question whether or not this was the first time anyone had heard it… but thats a whole ‘nother story for another day. We went to the hospital and had a chest xray and EKG done. Four days later, I was told there was a small defect but we could wait to go to the cardiologist because it wasn’t any big problem.

During that time, Ryder was diagnosed with colic because she screamed all the time and we couldn’t get her on a schedule and couldn’t make her eat. It was tough. It was exhausting.

On August 11th, I took Ryder to her first cardiologist appointment. I immediately knew something was way wrong and was scared out of my mind. There I was, all alone (Andy was out of town on business and I didn’t think I’d need him since I was told it was no big deal), hearing huge medical terms and getting the run down on the many defects of Ryder’s heart. I was so crippled with the fear, I literally didn’t know if I’d be able to walk to the car with Ryder. We immediately scheduled Ryder’s first procedure in hopes to fix her heart without any huge medical intervention.

Ryder’s first procedure, an attempted balloon cath, was on August 18th. When they went in to do the cath to open her obstructed pulmonary valve, they realized they wouldn’t be able to do it because the holes in her heart were too big. If they were to open the valve, the blood would rush into her lungs and, essentially, drown her. We were sent home on three medications, hoping that they would help Ryder to be able to eat and help her heart to be able to close on its own.

On September 2nd, Ryder had her two month well-baby checkup. But Ryder was not well at all. She had only gained 10 ounces since two weeks old and was struggling with everything in her to eat and breathe. She got her vaccines and because of her crying from them, she went into cardiac distress. In three days Ryder only ate a total of 10 oz of formula. To say this was the darkest moment of my life would be an understatement. She was unresponsive and would barely wake up for more than 15 minutes at a time.

I haven’t shared this before, but it will be my most cherished memory of my sister for the rest of my life. On Thursday morning, Telena called me crying about Ryder. She said she just had to call me because she couldn’t stop thinking about Ryder. She encouraged me to be aggressive for Ryder until someone listened. I will never forget the power she gave me that day.

I called the cardiologist that Thursday morning and got Ryder in the next morning. I packed my bags with a weeks worth of clothes because I knew I wouldn’t be coming home until Ryder’s heart was fixed. We were with the cardiologist no more than a minute and had already decided on open heart surgery as our only option. Ryder was admitted into the hospital to get a feeding tube so that she could be strong for her surgery the following week.

On September 15th, Ryder had open heart surgery to fix four holes and an obstructed valve. The surgery went so smoothly and we will forever be thankful that God gave us Dr. Mendeloff to perform her surgery. Those few days in the CICU were so unimaginably hard and yet, wonderful. We became stronger as a family and it changed our lives forever.

The past three months since her surgery have had high highs and low lows. Each day was either a struggle or a triumph kind of day.

The past two weeks have been triumph weeks though. Ryder is FINALLY eating like a “normal” baby and she has started sleeping through the night.

Through all these trials, there have been such joyous moments as well.

Rory has been our constant comic relief through every single hard day. I don’t know what we would have done without her wonderful spirit and fun personality through all of this.

We have met some of the most wonderful people in the world  and have seen God work through total strangers for us.

Our friends in Paris have rocked our world with their support and love for us. Our church family was such an amazing blessing to us during this time of heartache. They took care of Rory, gave us financial gifts, and care packages. They brought meals, meals, and more meals. We can’t thank them enough.

Our friends from all over sent care packages and cards. They called, texted, emailed, and spread the word to pray for Ryder. Facebook BLEW UP with updates from my friends from every part of the country sharing Ryder’s story and urging their 500+++ facebook friends to pray for our precious daughter.

My parents came for weeks this year and took off many, many days of work to watch Rory. Andy’s parents were ready to come at any time, and did come to help as well. There is no way I will ever be able to repay them for this. When I needed my Mom and Dad most, they were there holding me up and taking care of my other precious daughter so that I wouldn’t have to worry about her well being for even a second.

And I know I have said this before, but you can’t possibly know how much you have impacted our lives with your prayers. YOU changed me forever. I wish I could say thank you in a way that seems worthy because just words simply don’t seem like enough. But, I will say them now, and many times to come- THANK YOU for everything.

If you are reading this and you are facing a trial and are hurting, please PLEASE if I can help in any way at all, let me know. I would love to pray for you, pray WITH you and ask others to pray. Email me at (tiffany{at}theharrislife{dot}com), comment on the link on facebook, or comment on this post. Please leave a link to your blog or care page or whatever. I would LOVE to be able to pray with you and for you.

Again, thank you for everything you have done for my family this year.

I hope you all have the merriest Christmas of all.

Love you all very much,














one year (!)

Ryder had a cardiologist appointment today. Every time I go I am just so nervous. Nothing has been easy with this child in her entire life (meaning pregnancy too). I’m always, always waiting for the other shoe to drop with her. Its terrible, I know. I should be the portrait of positive thinking because of all we’ve been through and overcome through Jesus, but I’m just a human. I’m just a sinner.

When we got there today, we went straight for the echo-cardiogram. Usually this takes at least 30 minutes (the first one was an hour or more), but today it took about 15 minutes. I knew then that we were going to have our first positive doctor’s visit, like, ever.

Dr. Pearse came in and said she looked wonderful. We talked about her feeding issues and how I switched her to soy and (please Lord let it be true!) how it seems to have fixed all of our problems. She said I did the right thing and that if anything came up and she started not eating again to call and she’d send me to a GI specialist.

Then, I heard the words we’ve been longing to hear but honestly never expected to come so soon- “Ok, she’s released. We only have to see her once a year.”

Tears rolled down my face as I stared at Dr. Pearse thinking that I was dreaming. That precious woman, one of the most special people in the world to me, who was aggressive for Ryder and saved our baby’s life was telling me everything was wonderful with Ryder’s heart. The same doctor who came to see us every day while in the hospital and cried with me the night before surgery. The same doctor who has wiped away tears so many times throughout this rollercoaster season of our lives. The same doctor I have seen 19 times in four months. That doctor was telling us “goodbye” until next year.

“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

Thank you, again, for all of you who have prayed for our precious Ryder. You have impacted our lives more than you will ever know. Now YOU can go tell of the miracle you have seen with your own eyes!

PS- Since switching to soy formula on last Friday, Ryder has gained TWELVE OUNCES! She has finally reached TWELVE POUNDS!!!!

six weeks later

Today is the six week post surgery date. We have made it through the most critical time without anything major happening.

All I can do is praise Jesus’ sweet name.

As I look back on the last almost four months of Ryder’s life, I am amazed by so many things. I am in awe of how God orchestrated every single detail and came through for us over and over again. I am overwhelmed by the love and support from our family, friends, and total strangers. I am amazed at the prayer warriors who stepped up for us and prayed over us and for us when all we could do was beg God to heal Ryder.

Again, thank you.

When Ryder was in the hospital, we received these beads. Beads of Courage are what they are called. Each bead represents something that Ryder when through during her hospital stay as a congenital heart patient- tough things we want to forget and celebrations alike.

I wanted to do something special in our recent photoshoot that showed off Ryder’s scar. That scar represents so much and I want to always remember what it looked like. Eventually, we will have to search hard to see it and I am so glad for Ryder that it won’t be something she is insecure about, but that scar  for us is a sign of a battle that was fought and a battle that we won. It represents the miracle of Ryder’s life.

Today Ryder weighs 11.3 pounds. She is eating 4 oz bottles every 2-3 hours. She is a miracle. Ryder is a walking testimony and I can’t wait to share with her and Rory and whoever will listen how amazing God has been and will continue to be for the rest of my life.

We can also celebrate the end of scooping her to pick her up. It seems like no big deal, but let me tell you, its so hard to remember to not pick her up under her armpits.

Now she can fly again…. this was one of her favorite things I used to do before surgery and when I did it again (only for a second for the picture) she giggled so hard.

When we were waiting to get her vaccinations, a flood of emotions washed over me and there was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent the tears from flowing.

Seven weeks ago was her last well baby checkup and she was not well at all. In fact, her vaccinations and crying from them took so much out of her that she couldn’t gain enough energy to even drink more than half an ounce a time. It was the darkest time of my life- by far the hardest thing I have ever gone through, just watching my precious baby struggle to just eat and breathe. That week we had to make an emergency trip to Dallas and I had my bags packed already because I knew we wouldn’t be coming home until Ryder’s heart was fixed.

Today as we waited for the vaccinations, she cooed and smiled at me while tears poured down my face. Tears of happiness that our journey has been so hard but so sweet. Tears of joy that our baby is finally thriving.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving Ryder and making her a forever testimony to Your great Love and Mercy.

“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

Ryder’s giggle party

I can honestly say that this has been the best week we have ever had with both girls. It has been just normal. The week has been exactly what I expected it to be when pregnant and anticipating a second child.

Ryder is almost four months old and this week is the first time I’ve gotten to experience that. Oh how thankful I am!

All of a sudden Ryder has turned a corner. She is EATING. And I mean seriously eating. I can’t get enough food in her! On Tuesday she started this marathon eating and it hasn’t stopped.

TODAY SHE TOOK 4 OUNCES IN 20 MINUTES!!! This is the first four ounce bottle of her life. She also had two three ounce bottles both 15 minutes or less.

Ryder is also playing by herself more and having longer periods of being awake finally (which means better naps instead of catnapping all day long!).

The best news of all is that she has gained SIX OUNCES since Monday! The doctor says that the feeding tube is off the table for now and deleted off the chart! Hallelujah!

Ryder and I were so thrilled by this news that we came home and had a giggle party.

In fact, she giggled so hard she fell over! This picture cracks me up because it looks like the pictures of those huge headed puppies I used to see all the time. Do you know what I’m talking about?

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” – Psalm 5: 10-12