I remember the day I found out I was going to be a mom for the first time. It was a day that had been a long time coming and I was elated. We grew from a family of two to a family of three, adding family members four and five within a few years. We went about our daily life, enjoying the excitement that three young boys bring to life. We began our homeschool journey, moved to a new town, and found out we were again going to be blessed with another baby. This time it was a girl. But it brought with it one of the most difficult times we had faced as a family thus far, and sent me as a mother into a desert, feeling as though I had been forgotten by God.
“There’s a significant problem with your baby’s heart” are the words that changed our family’s lives forever. Our baby girl would be born with a defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which means that the left side of her heart was severely underdeveloped and would leave her with only a functioning right side. This meant we had a decision to make. We could do nothing and let her go, she wouldn’t last very long. We could have her put on a transplant list which would mean moving to another province to wait and infant heart which would be a lengthy wait that she was not guaranteed to survive. We could have her undergo a series of three open heart surgeries that would enable her heart to function with just the right side, although palliative. At this point, however, we were told that the likelihood of her making it to birth was extremely low because her heart was already in bad shape.
We felt deep in our spirit that God was blessing us with this baby and believed that His will would be done in her life. It was up to us to trust Him with her. We dedicated our sons back to God in a service, but now we were actually giving our daughter back to God before she was even born. Jeremiah 29:11 was on my heart for her from the first day. He knows the plans He has for her. Plans for good and not harm. Whatever came our way, however long He chose to allow us to have her, we knew He would be with us and that He would use her life and our experience to encourage others.
Our precious daughter did make it to birth. She had her first open heart surgery at three days old and faced multiple challenges. We almost lost her a few times and I was a fixture at her bedside for 14 long days as she lay in the PICU fighting for her life. Seven of those days I could watch her tiny heart beat beneath a thin, clear patch because she was too tiny to close her chest. It was the worst possible thing I have ever endured. I watched her, held her tiny hand, and sang You Are My Sunshine and Jesus Loves Me in her ear almost constantly. I couldn’t bring myself to leave for more than an hour at a time. For me, I didn’t know if she had any idea that I was there but I needed to be near her just in case.
We went through two more surgeries, that last being in August 2013, and I am happy to say she is a well-adjusted four year old despite living with oxygen saturations of between 75 and 85%. We see a miracle in our children everyday but when we look at her we are reminded of just how strong our God really is. She has overcome so much in her short life and I know that God is the one who brought her through. He used doctors in some instances and chose not to in others. This experience has stretched me as a mother, it’s allowed me to not only experience the highs but also the lows. It’s showed me a lot about God’s love and faithfulness to us.
Even when we feel alone, like God has forsaken us, He hasn’t. His word says He never will. No matter what valley we go through, what enemy we face, God walks with us. He is our protector and our shield. He showed me this clearly not too long ago. I was feeling alone again, like He wasn’t with me. In that moment I saw myself sitting by my baby’s hospital bed, holding her tiny hand and singing songs in her ear to try and bring her comfort. I realized that God is always there, whether we can feel Him or not, holding our hand and singing songs of comfort and peace in our ear. We grow more in the desert than we ever could on the mountain peak and we see His faithfulness and feel His peace more too.
We still pray for complete healing because we know we serve the God of the impossible!