Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Brandt!

Happy 2nd Birthday Baby Brandt!
Busy as can Be--2 Years Old!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday!!!

So I love these flowers that bloomed this month, because one year ago today these flowers were blooming at home while we sat in the hospital at MUSC waiting, and waiting, and wondering, and waiting with great anticipation for little Brandt's arrival. This year, not only did the flowers bloom early, but we have survived an entire year of the treatment of a severe congenital heart defect and all that involves, as a family. And survived isn't the right word I know...the difficulties of this past year have produced a "blooming" in our hearts--gratitude, appreciation for important things in life, increased confidence in God's character, to name a few. We just started an amazing series at church on the book of James, and the first couple verses discuss viewing difficulties in life as "joy." And that doesn't mean fun...but God does promise that the end results give an endurance we wouldn't otherwise have. And so, our flowers symbolize both the lessons and joy of this difficult year to me.

As does our handsome birthday boy's smile--he is so full of life, and fun, and mischief! May has been a great month for him. He gave us a little scare with the first cold/virus of his life. After getting safely through flu season, he came down with fever, runny nose and nasty sounding cough. But he checked out fine with no secondary infections, and in the meantime has moved from crawling to almost walking with no time wasted! He loves making any kind of mess, and has even started babbling some consonant sounds at us. We were thrilled to see all this progress at once from a developmental standpoint. Everything is "baba" and "dada" right now, and he wants to share these "deep baby thoughts" with anyone and everyone who might be around. Anyone who even walks by when we're out in public is fair game for his piercing stare and the ensuing flirty smile and baby babble. But let me tell you, his brothers are his favorites. Now that he can follow them around the house, he feels they are dutybound to include him in all activities, and wails if they dare to close a door on him to keep him out of trouble! He's a little daredevil with endless energy. Several people have remarked to me that we will really be in for it after his third surgery. Well, bring it on--this kind of mischief we couldn't be happier to see. We also welcome another nephew/cousin to the family this month, Mark Judson Grover, born 5.10.2011, and look forward to the "babies" being able get into mischief together.

So happy happy birthday our sweet heart baby--we treasure every minute!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

April 2011 - Matters of Life and Death

Brandt's 11th month has been a full one--in many different ways. I've started several times to post an update, but haven't--also for many different reasons. Let me begin by saying, when I created Brandt's Beacon, I wanted to keep friends and family updated on Brandt's health situation. I wanted to keep some kind of record of his story. And mostly, I wanted that story to offer HOPE. And this mischievous, sweet, loveable boy has, by the grace of God, done just that. He doesn't quit! We thought he'd feel better after his bi-directional Glenn, but he's a WILD man. One week before he turned 11 months on April 25, he got the hang of crawling. It was a hilarious half drag half squiggle at first. He figured out how to stand on his head and do a comical plank--then get stuck in that position. But once he realized he could get his legs to follow, he was GAME ON. The word "no" is now an integral part of his caretakers' vocabulary. Not that he likes to acknowledge the word, but he's learning. As my father-in-law says, "Half a heart, double trouble!" And we love it. I think we'll need body armour after his third surgery--or at least some shots of Red Bull to keep up with him.

So logically, I think, our boy is doing well beyond all imagination, life should be back to normal, right? Wrong. This month has been, I think, the culmination of many swirling emotions. Due to physical challenges for me I am completely dependent on family for Brandt's care...and amazing family it is...we are so blessed!! But I hate being a burden...and wow I sound like a whiner. Putting all this into perspective, and I hesitate to write about it, because there are no words--two of the babies I asked you to pray for unexpectedly passed away this month. Little Patterson and Baby Olivia had both faced massive struggles in their fight for recovery, but we were so thrilled when Patterson got to go home, and Olivia's parents were also anticipating that in the near future. We shared hours together in the PCICU waiting room with these dear families when Brandt was at MUSC in December. They spent MONTHS there, fighting alongside their sweet babies for any news of improvement and recovery. So we were shocked and devastated when I read that their fight was over.

Our boys also lost a schoolmate to cancer this month. I grew up with his parents, and we had spoken with them occasionally as Jona fought his battle over the past couple years. Throughout the ups and downs, he inspired so many with his persistently optimistic outlook. He insisted on being at school as many a 16-yr-old would not want to be even when healthy! He continually expressed his love for God and faith in His Savior's goodness. He was ready to meet His Savior and his family rejoices that he's in Heaven, pain free, as do Patterson and Olivia's parents.

And so, how do you address these events with 10 and 11 yr old boys? They see the grief that comes from aching for these families' losses. We talked about Jona's praise and thankfulness, even as he was dying. We talked about how as Patterson's mom mentioned, he and Olivia can be playmates in Heaven. That we don't know everything about Heaven but that we know it's more wonderful than we can ever imagine. And these families have all focused on that, and continuing to offer hope to others going through the same battles. I think it finally hit me, through the recent Easter season, that "because HE lives, we can face tomorrow." Because Christ defeated sin and death, and lives, is the only reason we don't have to live in the fear and power of death. Grief is a part of life, but true hope comes from the power of Christ, Victor over death. And we pray for His grace and peace for each of these families, and ask you to as well, because we CAN'T offer hope and comfort through human perspective. I can't tell my boys--or myself--that Brandt will make it through his next surgery, or today, or tomorrow for that matter. Or that any of us will. But I can offer the confidence that "NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, not death, or life...not things today or things tomorrow...NOTHING." And that's a beacon of hope.