Category Archives: Families are forever

April and some Easter reflections

Happy April! Don’t you just love April? It is teeming with new life. The trees are in blossom. The tulips opened this weekend. There are little green shoots poking up out of the soil in all of the gardens around my yard. There are birds nesting in the eaves of my house. (No, that’s not necessarily a good thing.)

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April and spring also bring us Easter. A celebration of Christ’s victory over death. And spring surrounds us with reminders of the Lord’s power to bring forth life. To turn what appears dead and gone into glorious beauty. It as if all of nature is shouting the promise of renewed life.

April is also national Donate Life month. This year, with our family’s transplant journey fresh in my mind, I can’t help but see lessons about Easter and Christ’s atonement in it. I thought perhaps I would share some of those thoughts with you.

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Restoration

In the Book of Mormon, a prophet named Alma describes the resurrection in these terms.

The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.  – Book of Mormon, Alma 40:23

I used to say that I looked forward to the resurrection because Patrick and I were going to have a week-long feast. With a perfect body, I want him to be able to taste every wonderful thing that he has missed experiencing in this life.  I never imagined that to be even remotely possible in this life.

And yet, since transplant, Patrick is getting to do just that. He is finally able to begin to experience some of those things. It is incomplete. Allergies and diet restrictions and motor deficits from his brain injury still limit him. And we will still need to have our feast.

Transplant is not a perfect restoration. In fact, an x-ray or ultrasound of Patrick’s belly would reveal an anatomy that looks more like a jury-rigged mess. But it is the closest approximation that I know of in this life.  Transplant takes what is broken or missing and puts things back to their “proper” frame.

And seeing what a transformation this human attempt at restoration can bring, I look forward with joyful anticipation to a day when not even a hair is missing, let alone major organs. When everything is made right. When little eyes can focus to read without effort. When words don’t get stuck in formation. When little legs can run without weakness. When everything is made whole and perfect again.

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Resurrection

There is one part of transplant that I have a hard time understanding. When Patrick was 9 months old, his heart stopped. In essence, he died in my arms. For 2 weeks afterwards, we came back to our house every night not knowing if he would survive. I was destroyed. I had not understood until that time the literal physical ache of grief that accompanies the loss of a child.

Yet somehow, in the midst of that grief, another family found in the midst of that grief the compassion to give the gift of life to mine. Before transplant, Patrick was terminal. We didn’t talk about how very real that possibility was because we didn’t want it to get in the way of his living the life he had. But we knew. We had made plans and were preparing to one day have to let him go.

With transplant came something different. A hope of a full and long life. A gift that rose out of the grief of loss and death. And, in a very real way, Patrick’s donor also lives on in him.

Again, from the prophet Alma:

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. – Book of Mormon, Alma 7:12

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Our Savior voluntarily laid down his life. He suffered pain and sorrow so great he bled from every pore. He hung and he suffered and he died. For us. His mother and his friends wept as they watched him die. They laid him in a tomb and they went home mourning. They wondered how and if they would be able to go on. And all of it. For us.

And on the third day, the returned to find the tomb empty. Because Jesus had risen. For us. He overcame death. And because he rose, we will rise. And death is not forever. Loss and sorrow and separation need not last forever. Because of Him.

I see in transplant a whisper of this promise. It is possible to conquer death. And I know that Christ has conquered death and that my son, if he dies, will live again. And so will his donor.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? – 1 Corinthians 15:55

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Weakness

If you are a medical nerd like me with an interest in transplant, I highly recommend that you sometime read the autobiography of Thomas Starzl, the inventor of transplant. It is called The Puzzle People and it is fascinating to read the journey, the determination, the trial and constant failure that led to this amazing medical breakthrough. It was an amazing confirmation to me that God inspires science and discovery and he leads human beings to be able to master the eternal laws that govern the world we live in.

I’ve learned that in science there are also important eternal lessons. And in transplant, there is an important lesson taught about weakness.

You see, in his early experiments, Dr. Starzl found that he had mastered the surgical technique of transplantation. And yet he struggled as recipients rejected the life-saving organs because they were foreign and seen by the immune system as a threat.

Transplantation did not move from the realm of science fiction into medical science until Dr. Starzl discovered how to use immunosuppression to weaken the body’s defenses enough to accept the transplanted organ. Transplant of larger, more complex organs wasn’t possible until the discovery of a drug called FK506, better known as Prograf, that could weaken the body’s natural immune response enough to protect the transplanted graft. The reason that intestinal transplant is so new and so rare is that the intestine is so large and so intertwined with the body’s immune system that it took such a high degree of immunosuppressive therapy.

In layman’s terms, in order for the body to accept a change as large as transplant, it first had to be made weak. Weak enough to be susceptible to infection and illness.

For the week following transplant, Patrick stayed in the ICU so that he could be given a drug that completely wiped out his immune system. It removed it so completely that they then prescribed him a year of antibiotics, antivirals, and isolation in order to try to protect him. All of his defenses were removed. Because that is the only way to prevent his body from immediately rejecting the gift he had been given.

The apostle Paul wrote about an unnamed affliction that plagued him for years. He frequently prayed and asked for this “thorn in his side” to be removed. And yet, it never was. After much time and certainly much struggle, he recorded the Lord’s response to his pleas.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Sometimes, the Lord gives us strength through weakness. Sometimes he leaves us with a thorn in our side, with prayers that seem unanswered, with trials that seem neverending. He does it because sometimes the only way for us to be prepared to receive His gifts.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6

Christ atoned for the sins of the world, taking upon him every sin and sorrow and transgression. But what good is that gift if we, thinking our own defenses are strong enough, reject His grace. Sometimes, it takes weakness first for God to work the change in us that will make us strong. Not all healing is painless.

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I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. For His resurrection. For His atonement. For His grace and for His love. I know He lives.

I see reminders of His gifts and His promise of life all around me. In the tulips and the tree blossoms. In tender shoots in garden beds. In the sparrows. And especially in my son.

We are doing well. Patrick’s responded well to the antibiotics he was started on last week. His liver numbers are normal again. We are still giving IV antibiotics. Therefore we are sleepy. But we are happy. And we are healthy. We had a great Easter full of bunnies and feasting and magnificent sermons. This life is not always easy, but it is good. We are blessed.

Transplant Day 43 and Celebrating 11 years

(Sorry.. Internet connection isn’t doing syncing pictures right now. Will edit and add later if I can.)

Today is our wedding anniversary. The week has been so crazy that I wasn’t sure how today was going to turn out. We got the day off of labs so we slept all the way till 8 a.m. But then when we woke up, getting ready quickly was important. Still have to get meds from the fridge downstairs by 9 a.m.

But the morning routine is getting better. Brian sent a package yesterday and so I opened that while Patrick was in the bath. It had a few thoughtful little gifts in it. It made me really, really miss my best friend. But one of the gifts was a necklace that I have been able to wear all day to remind me of him. I have been so glad that we went big with a Disney trip last year as we’ve had to spend this day apart.

Thankfully, it’s been an overall happy day. A group home nearby comes every day to clean the playroom toys. Today, they were later than usual, which meant that we got to spend the morning downstairs playing. The rest of the house was really quiet so it was a great time to get to be out of the room. That’s how you got multiple blog posts today.

I ordered Brian a pizza and pizza cookie. I really wanted to find a way to send him warm cookies for our anniversary.. And to tell him that I’ve been working on other plans. The pizza place was kind of enough to put a note in the pizza for me, even. Then Patrick and I went upstairs.We stopped by the office because they kept coming and telling me I’d received flowers. (Don’t I have a sweet husband? It’s fun to get flowers in a place where people get excited about them coming.)

Then I made lunch and I fully intended to put Patrick down for a nap. But then my phone rang and it was his homeschool teacher cancelling class today because he had a fever and was going home sick. Then, people started to come inside and tell us what a beautiful day it was outside. Patrick had been begging me to take him for a walk in one of the house’s wagons. So, I gave in.

We had a great time. (And I met my FitBit step goal for the first time in almost a month.) And, yeah, it was so nice that I still didn’t feel right making Patrick go sleep the day away. Instead, I offered to take him to the park. One of the moms here pulled out a local guidebook that they’ve put together and gave me the address of a nearby park. It was only a few blocks away and it was perfect for Patrick’s mood. Quiet. Small enough to not be too hard for his recovering body. He was so happy he was literally jumping up for joy.

Then he got really, REALLY tired. He asked to go back to sleep, but then remembered that he had a $1 bill in his pocket that had come in the mail yesterday and he was dying to spend it. I wanted to do some shopping anyway, so we packed up in the car and we drove to one of my favorite on-a-budget stores: Aldi.

But we didn’t find a way for Patrick to spend his money there. I had, however, noticed a Family Dollar on our drive out and knew that they bring in crazy cheap toys for Christmas. So we stopped there instead. He picked out a remote control car. (Ok ,ok. Not $1. He actually had another $10 that he’d forgotten about so I gave it to him to spend when he spotted this car.) I found a shelf of kid’s knit gloves. I’ve been looking for those EVERYWHERE! Patrick can’t help himself touching things everywhere we go. Kid’s vinyl gloves are not really accessible and also not really comfortable. But little knit gloves? We can stick those in the car and put them on when we get somewhere he might need them. And then, we can bring them home and stick them in the wash. I bought 14 pairs of knit gloves. Some are pink. Patrick insisted. And that’s ok.

When we got back, he really WAS tired. I meant to come back and just cuddle up in the room and watch TV and maybe he’d fall asleep for a bit and that would be ok. But his new car required a screwdriver to get open. And then we discovered that there was a big stack of mail for Patrick today.

Oh my gosh do we feel spoiled today! Savannah, Maria, Emily, and Clarene.. Thank you! Those packages just on time to make today feel a little more special.

And speaking of special, tonight’s dinner group brought along Santa Claus. Patrick was so excited to see him again that he ended up first in line. But then he froze and couldn’t remember what he was supposed to tell him he wanted. He also pulled one of his new favorite tricks on him and pretended he didn’t know his own name. It was a great Santa moment.

Santa brought a bag of beanie bears and Patrick picked one out with polka dots, then named her Chrissy after his favorite friend from school. (Have I mentioned that I taught Patrick about naming stuffed animals this week? He’s received 2 others this week. A stuffed dog he named Cookie. And a purple teddy bear that he’s bounced back and forth between calling Pink and Cute Bear.)

Anyway.. once Santa left, Patrick was for sure ready for bed. We came up to the room and he went and picked out his pajamas. I told him he could start changing while I got meds.. But with the hospital here preferring that we loop his line up instead of down, he accidentally tugged it and pulled his dressing off. I did my first dressing change here. It went ok. Patrick actually did a decent job helping out.. being my non-sterile hands.. a job usually reserved for another grown up. And we managed to get by with the very different dressing change kit provided by a new homecare company.

Then, we make a very quick Christmas ornament, read our nightly scriptures, practiced how to pronounce “Bethlehem”, said our prayers and laid down to sleep. Patrick was out in minutes and is fast asleep now.

So I’m wrapping up this blog post and hurrying off to the kitchen to get some more formula for the night and post what I’ve written. Then, if I’m lucky, I hope to get my husband on the phone for a bit on our anniversary.

11 years is worth some celebration! Especially 11 years married to my best friend. We’ve known each other over half our lives. Howie (or as you know him, Brian) has always been my anchor. He calms me down. He teaches me patience. He has carried me through all of my hardest times. It doesn’t matter if we are right next to each other or oceans apart, we have always been best together. But I sure am excited that there’s only one more week of this particular apart time because I miss him a lot. Especially today.

Adoption memories

We had Patrick’s g-tube study done. (Great results! Nothing wrong. Just a slightly upward angle that makes positioning the tube tricky.) As part of the history, they asked when the gastrostomy (g-tube hole) was created and I realized last night that I could have answered “exactly two years ago.”

Why do I remember that? Well, because exactly two years ago yesterday, the court officially named us as Patrick’s legal guardians. It was the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten.

A friend of mine has been doing something special this month on her blog. Because it’s national adoption awareness month, she’s been posting daily adoption related posts. She invited me to be a guest blogger and, by coincidence, will be running my post today… a very significant 2 year adoption anniversary for us.

So, I thought I’d share with you what I wrote for her. Here goes:

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Ours is not a typical adoption story, because Patrick is not a typical little boy. His life was meant to be something different, something miraculous, and so it required that it start in a very different and miraculous way.

But my part of the story starts the way a lot of others do. We wanted to have children. When that didn’t happen easily, we involved doctors. For years, we went through the ups and downs of charting and temperature taking, tests and medications. Finally, after several years and a minor surgery, our doctor sat us down for “the talk.” He explained that there were several causes of my infertility. The cards were, essentially, stacked against us. He still felt it very possible that we could have children, but only with major medical intervention. We had some big choices to make.

We talked about it and we prayed about it. And then, that Sunday, as we sat in church, we received a clear answer that it was time for us to stop medical treatments. Our child would come to us through adoption.

With a path finally before us, we moved forward quickly. I’ve never felt so driven to do anything before in my life. In under a month, we completed the application process, training classes, and were mostly done with our home study.

During our home visit, we had a conversation with our case worker that would play a major part in bringing Patrick into our family. She’d looked at our “preferences checklist” and noted that we seemed more open than most to adopting a child with special needs. We explained that we felt that adoption was a faith process. We believe that Heavenly Father puts families together. We knew we’d never turn away a child born to us with medical problems. So, if God was in charge of adoptions, too, then why would we limit His options? We knew Heavenly Father would help us find our child and that, if the child really belonged in our family, race and health wouldn’t stand in the way.

We decided to adopt in June. Our application was approved in September and we hunkered down for a nice long wait. We figured two years, at the least, was the average we’d heard. And still, by the end of October it felt like far too long. My heart ached for a child it knew was missing.

Then, on a very snowy morning the first week of November, my phone rang. It was my case worker. She started out by saying, “There was a little boy born on Halloween in Michigan.” My heart skipped a beat. I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and started scribbling notes. She told me he was Korean. And then, she went on to tell me that he’d had a birth defect. His intestines had developed on the outside of his abdomen. The doctors were saying he had a life expectancy of 1 to 2 years. They needed to find an adoptive home quickly because doctors wanted to discharge him from the hospital. All she could tell me about his family that his birth mother wanted him to be able to go to the temple to be sealed to a family.

She said she’d send an e-mail with more information and a picture. She encouraged me to talk to Brian and decide if we’d like to be among those families considered to adopt this little boy, and then to call her and let her know.

As soon as I gathered myself, I called Brian. But he wasn’t at his desk. Meanwhile, two e-mails arrived. One was a short paragraph from the baby’s caseworker in Michigan explaining his medical needs and the unconventional and hurried search for parents. In the other were two photographs of a sweet little Korean boy with great big eyes and an IV in his head.

Since Brian wasn’t at his desk, I called the insurance company to find out if this we even had coverage to pay for this kind of medical problem.

That’s how Brian first found out about the offer. While I was on hold with the insurance company, he called back on my cell phone, so he heard me finish the conversation about “preexisting conditions” and “adoption”.

I gave Brian the information and, after a quick moment of thought, he said he’d come right home.

We had a prayer together, then went to the temple – the perfect setting to make decisions about life and death and eternity.

I knew that families are eternal. I knew that mortality is not the end of life. And yet, I was filled with grief. It was as if I’d just been told I was carrying a child with a terminal illness, but he wasn’t even mine yet. And I was scared. I didn’t know if I was ready to leave the life I knew then.. abandon it all, and become mom to a child who would need so much help, and who had such an uncertain future.

Still, when Brian turned to me and said, “I think we should pursue this,” my heart leapt with joy.

So, we called our caseworker and gave her a list of questions we had. And then we went to visit our parents. We felt we should tell them about the offer, because we knew that whatever happened, we were never going to be the same. And we both wanted father’s blessings. We showed them the little boy with the angel eyes and explained that we didn’t know if he was ours.. But from that moment, all of our families were praying for a little boy whom the e-mail called “Patrick.”

That was Wednesday. Thursday, I sent a copy of our profile. Friday afternoon, as I on my lunch break with Brian, our case worker called my cell phone. The birth family had seen our profile and had chosen us to adopt their baby.

Now, we had a choice to make. Because we’d been selected, we could finally start filling in the gaps in the medical information we were getting. And boy, where there gaps! We called the baby’s caseworker, who referred us to the hospital social worker. Finally, we decided we needed to talk to doctors, and we needed to do it face to face.

I called my mom and told her to take my credit card and buy airplane tickets. Then, I went back to work, explained what had happened, and asked for a leave of absence. After that, we went to the adoption agency where we signed pre-placement paperwork required for us see the baby in the hospital.

Friday night, we tried to get ready. We booked a long-term stay hotel room. We faxed legal documents to Michigan. We make a shopping list of nursery items. And we tried to pack.

I packed my bags that night not knowing what exactly I was packing for. We still didn’t know enough to say if we could take care of this baby. We didn’t know if or when he’d be discharged. We didn’t know how long it would take before we’d be given permission to leave the state again.

And yet, Saturday morning as I sat on a plane to Detroit, 10 rows ahead of my husband, I felt a quiet, happy calm. If nothing else, I knew it would be ok.

We met Patrick, his family, and his doctor Saturday night. It wasn’t what we expected. Due to unforeseen problems, things were tense at the hospital when we arrived. We felt like we knew nothing at all about his condition when we heard the doctor’s account. His case was much more severe than we’d understood, but the immediate prognosis was better.

At last, they led us to his room. My first impression was of how small he was. He was SO tiny! Just a little ball with wires and tubes attached. Without them, you’d have never guessed there was anything wrong.

They let me hold him while we talked. He felt so small and fragile.

I thought that the moment I met my baby, or the moment I held him, that I’d know he was mine. But that isn’t what happened for me. There were too many questions, still and I’d have to wait for that confirmation.

Sunday, we arranged to spend the day with Patrick. The nurses were so kind to let us change his diapers and help with other aspects of his care. I sat for hours singing him lullabies and watching monitors and letting him sleep.

When we arrived, the nurses warned us that he had a reputation as a very irritable little boy. There was even a sign on his door warning not to wake him. He was famous for screaming hysterically if his sleep was interrupted. But that’s not the baby I met. He was just a sweet, tiny little boy who wanted to be held.

I remember singing to him: “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear.” And my voice choked on the words because I knew that right at that moment, Patrick didn’t have that. I couldn’t imagine how any little boy could go through all he’d need to go through alone.

That night, as we looked at pictures from the day, I came across one that showed just his face with a white background. I knew, when I saw that picture, that I loved him.. and I wanted to keep him.

Monday morning, we held a “family conference.” It was a business day so we finally had been able to confirm that there were doctors to take care of him at our hospital at home. Our insurance confirmed that he’d be covered. Brian needed to hop on a plane to go back to work. (He was running a conference that week.) So, knowing we had the resources to provide for his physical needs, we asked Patrick if he’d like to be a part of our family. I swear, he looked up at Brian and smiled.

The case worker rushed to the hospital and by 1, we’d signed paperwork, and I was on my way to the airport with my husband. I was staying behind to start a whole new life.

The next few weeks in Michigan are among the sweetest of my life. With nothing else to do but hold my new baby and learn to care for him, I virtually lived in the NICU. My mom came for a week and shared with me in Patrick’s first feeding, first bath, and first time wearing real clothes. This time was also some of the hardest I’d experienced as I received a trial by fire as a mom of a child with major health problems. Patrick had his second surgery the day Brian flew back to be with us.

Two weeks after we signed papers, on my birthday, the birth parents appeared in court, and we were named as Patrick’s legal guardians. A week later, we had permission to bring him home. At 4 a.m. Thanksgiving day, Patrick and I arrived at Primary Children’s Hospital by air ambulance. He’d spend the next few weeks there as the doctors here got to know him and made arrangements for us to take care of him at home.

Because of his medical needs, the courts granted an early finalization of his adoption and we were able to take Patrick to the temple to be sealed as a forever family in February when he was just 4 months old.

Patrick just turned 2. He is an active, happy toddler who loves cars and music and Elmo. He is a living miracle! Patrick’s birth defect came with a rare complication. As a result, at birth he was missing over 95% of his small intestine. Without intestine, he doesn’t get nutrition by eating. In fact, eating large amounts puts him at risk for dehydration and bowel obstruction. Instead, he is entirely dependent on a form of IV nutrition called TPN. He has a permanent IV tunneled through his chest, into a vein in his chest or neck that runs to his heart.

The TPN leads to complications like infection and liver disease. In his short 2 years of life he has already struggled with both. Patrick’s doctors warned us before we adopted him that we’d become such regulars in the E.R. that we’d be on a first name basis with the staff. We soon found that to be true not just for the E.R. staff, but also the IV team, the infectious disease team, the PICU team, most of the residents, several of the medical students, and the entire gastroenterology department.

At 9 months old, as a result of infection, Patrick’s heart stopped. The fact that he is alive now is nothing short of a miracle. No doctor who hears his story and then meets him can help but confess that he has beaten the odds in countless ways.

Patrick will eventually need an intestinal transplant. He is already running out of places to put new IV’s and each new infection makes him a little more fragile.

Since they don’t do intestinal transplants where we live, we have chosen to have Patrick listed at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Patrick has been on the waiting list since April of 2009. He is status 1A and will have his transplant is soon as a donor match is found.

People try to tell us sometimes what a tremendous thing we did in adopting Patrick. We don’t really feel it’s something we can take credit for. As we told our caseworker when this all started, Heavenly Father puts families together. He knew Patrick needed us. And what’s more, He knew we needed Patrick.

Raising Patrick has taught us more about life than any other experience. We have learned to rely entirely on the Lord. We have learned to live each moment to it’s fullest. We have learned to lean on one another when things are hard and we to trust in hands of friends and strangers when we felt too weak to stand on our own. And we have learned to love like we didn’t know it was possible to love.

Easter

It’s Easter morning and here in Utah a light dusting of snow fell overnight. Nevertheless, as happens with each spring snow, the tulips in my garden are still peeking out cheerfully, opening and turning to the sun as it rises. To me, there could be no better symbol of the message of Easter. As spring’s new life breaks forth giving color and warmth after a long, cold winter, so too does the promise of Life everlasting bring light and warmth to the cold, winters of this life.

Over 2000 years ago, a garden tomb was found empty. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, and in so doing had opened the door to Eternal Life for all of us. It is that knowledge that has carried our family through some of the darkest winter moments.

This past year and a half hasn’t been easy, and we know the road ahead will be harder, still. Many times, I have shed tears as I’ve watched Patrick suffer pain and illness beyond my ability to comprehend. And yet, I know that there is One who can comfort him when I cannot. I know that Christ went forth “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. . . . And he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, . . . that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people” (Alma 7:11-12)

Patrick’s body is imperfect now. Yet, because of the resurrection of Christ, “The soul shall be restored to the body and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23)

And, in the moments when we are reminded that this life is fleeting and that Patrick’s life may be a short one, I find comfort in the knowledge that. “… little children also have eternal life.” (Mosiah 15:25)

Modern prophets have proclaimed: “The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)  On a winter day in 2009, our family knelt at an altar and were sealed together for time and eternity. The atonement made possible not only eternal life, but eternal love and eternal families.

We may not know what the future holds, “But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” (Mosiah 16:8) There is hope in whatever lies ahead.

This morning, I know of a little boy who is receiving a long-awaited heart transplant. Like tulips reaching for the sun on a snowy Easter morning, this boy’s family is seeing a miraculous glimmer of hope at the end of a long winter.

We hope Patrick’s turn will come soon, too. But whatever the outcome, this Easter I am grateful for the hope that brings springtime to my snowy days.. and for the knowledge of the atonement and resurrection of my Savior.

3 months old

Patrick is 3 months old now and is starting to look and act much more like a little boy than just a baby. Oh sure he still wakes us up at night. And I can still tuck him under my arm and carry him around like he weighs nothing (of course, he’s still very small). But he’s growing (8 lbs 13 oz) reaching that fun stage my family calls “interactive baby”.

First of all, he’s started to give out smiles all the more willingly. I can bet on the fact that I’ll get a big grin whenever he wakes up and realizes I’m holding him. This past week, he’s also started to react more when I play with him. He’ll laugh and talk when I sing him songs or talk to him, and I can get him outright chuckling if I pretend to eat his cheek or tummy. He also is starting to take an interest in peek-a-boo. Of course, this is all the more incentive for me to sit and do nothing for hours besides just trying to get smiles from Patrick.

He’s taken a new interest in his toys. He loves to sit in the bumbo seat that Howie’s co-workers gave him. He’s actually learning to hold things so his gym, rattle, rings, etc. are suddenly much more interesting.

Course, he’s also learned to hold onto his central line… which is a bit more of a problem. Don’t need him grabbing that and giving it a yank. Thankfully, my mother in law modified a bunch of onesies to a design I came up with that send the line out the side instead of being right in Patrick’s reach and those are helping.He’s sleeping through more of the night and spending more of his days awake. Part of this may be that he’s finally feeling better. (His anemia is resolving himself and we are starting to get a hold on keeping him hydrated again). But I think part is just that he’s growing up.

Daddy went on his first business trip since Patrick came home this week. Thanks to all the friends and family who were there to watch over us, we made it through just fine. And now that Howie’s home, Patrick is just eating up the daddy time.

Perhaps the best news is that it was all pretty good news when we went to see Patrick’s gastroenterologist this week. If you don’t know, the past couple of weeks have been a bit scary as we almost had to take Patrick to the ER a couple of times. First, we suspected he might be developing a fever. Second, out of nowhere his stool output went through the roof and he walked a line with dehydration that we had to watch VERY closely. (Patrick doesn’t have the portion of intestine that reabsorbs fluids, so diarrhea will dehydrate him much faster than other children).

As so often has happened for us, though, the Lord was watching over Patrick. The right doctors were on call at the right times and they were able to teach us how to take care of things at home rather than taking Patrick into the ER. We had blood cultures drawn by his home nurse. He was put on an oral antibiotic to help fight any bacterial overgrowth that might be there. (With so little intestine, Patrick’s body can’t get rid of the “beneficial bacteria” that live there the way the rest of us can and he can get infections in his intestines that could cause diarrhea or worse.) He had his 2 month (yes, I know it was late) checkup with his pediatrician on just the right day so they could do labs to check for other stomach bugs.

And, in the end, the great news is that there is no sign of anything malicious that’s causing the change in output. We monitored him closely and gave IV replacement fluids at home so he wouldn’t get dehydrated. He got pedialyte instead of formula, and then watered down formula for about a week and a half. This week we were finally able to start giving him full strength formula in very small amounts (about a third of what he was getting, before… he’s up to a teaspoon now). And so far, so good. In fact, we’re on the other side of things right now where he’s not losing enough fluids… a sign that we need to increase his feeds. (We want him to need some replacement fluids because that’s where he gets his electrolytes).

So – if our emergency watch level were on the same scale as homeland security, we’ve backed down from red (severe) to blue (guarded). I’m getting to spend more time being mommy and less time being nurse.

I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father answers prayers. And I’m grateful for priesthood power in our home. Brian is an elder in our church and was able to give Patrick a blessing of healing this week. And really, the fact that Patrick is still home with us, and feeling happy and healthy, is nothing short of miraculous.
Speaking of miraculous, (as this blog post reaches an eternity in length), just a reminder that Patrick will be sealed to us in the Jordan River LDS Temple on February 13th and we’ll be having an open house to welcome him into the family that same day. Any of you who are in the area and would like to celebrate with us are invited. For those who are out of town, we’ll try to be quick in posting pictures, thoughts, and memories so you can share in the day with us.

Gotcha Day

In the adoption community, the day an adoption is finalized is known as your “gotcha day.” Well, miraculous as it is, Patrick’s adoption was finalized on January 7th.

It took a couple of days for the news to get to us, and a week before the papers arrived and it really seemed real. But, late as the news is in arriving on this blog, it is true.

LDS Family Services’ lawyers were amazing and petitioned the court for early finalization so that there would be no legal hurdles to our taking Patrick out of state to be evaluated for transplant. And, well, the court agreed.

In following his holiday tradition, we submitted our part of the petition on Christmas Eve. But Patrick managed to finally have his own day in his gotcha day. January 7th is the day after we celebrate the Italian tradition of Befana in our house and wrap up our Christmas season.

We’ve made arrangements to go to the LDS temple with him on February 13th so that we can be sealed for time and eternity as a family. This is a special ceremony in our faith. We believe that marriage and families are intended by God to be eternal, not till death do us part. Marriages performed in LDS temples are performed for time and for eternity and children born into an “eternal” marriage are likewise a part of that family for eternity. A sealing ceremony provides that same promise for adopted children. Patrick will be tied to our family as though he had been born to us. This is something that his birth family wanted for him and a day that we have been looking forward to for a long time.