Thursday, December 1, 2011

Before Time Began

I had a bad day today.

And I've been avoiding the blog, because I dont want to be a downer, or for y'all to feel like I'm just trying to get your sympathy or something.. But writing is so therapeutic for me, that you'll have to forgive me for muddling through while I put my emotions and thoughts down . . .

The last few weeks, I have been praying for and emailing with the parents of a heart baby (Thomas) with HLHS having surgery at CHOA. We had been planning on bringing his family cookies and an encouraging note (like a sweet friend did for us while Caden was in the hospital), but he went home to be with Jesus before we could bring them.

Yesterday, we decided to bring the cookies to the nurses at CHOA anyways. We thought it would give us a chance to talk to them a little more about our baskets, and ideas for what to include. Being back in the CICU, and thinking about Thomas, and about Caden . . . it was hard. I felt like I was reliving those scary days and nights. And I was hurting for Thomas's parents. And I was suddenly struck with intense fear of going through it all again in a few years, with a son that we know even more intimately than we did the first time. A son who recognizes my voice, grins for his sister, and refuses to giggle for his daddy. 

Then last night, we shared Caden's story with the beautiful Phi Mu girls at Georgia Tech, who want to help with our baskets for the families at Choa. I read Caden's birth story (because I'm much better at writing than public speaking), and I barely made it through without sobbing (I actually just saved the tears until we got back to our car).

All that to say, yesterday was an emotional day. It's amazing the power of memories, and how I was transported back so fully. I ended up feeling guilty because I feel like I'm a little "stuck" on everything that happened with Caden. Even writing this, I realize how crazy that sounds - but I just feel like I should be grateful to have Caden home, full of only joy and happiness that he's doing well, and just move on already.

After an emotional day yesterday, Caden LITERALLY did not sleep last night. Typically, he wakes up every two or three hours to eat, but sleeps great in between. Not last night.

Needless to say, I woke this morning feeling a little ragged. And then Jayci was in rare form, beginning the day with some major tantrums, including a large quantitiy of very loud screaming. And Caden wouldn't stop crying. And all I wanted to do was run away and hide and cry and scream somewhere myself.

Which, of course, only made me feel more guilty and like a bad mom. Like I'm just not cut out for raising two little ones. I have no idea how to respond with grace and patience to Jayci, or how to get Caden to develop good sleep habits. Or how to teach Jayci to value herself, or how to know if Caden is ready to go more than 2 hours between feedings during the night . . . I spent the day beating myself up and questioning myself as a mom. Which equals a not-so-fantastic day.

I prayed a lot today too, asking the Lord to encourage my heart. To give me patience. To forgive me for not using kind and wise words with Jayci.

In the midst of my messy-emotional-whatever-it-was, we unpacked some of our Christmas boxes.

And I saw this.
I caught my breath when I saw him, laying there on the top of a box, which we hadn't touched since we moved out of our last house. Which was before I was even pregnant with Caden. 

I remember when Adam's grandmother gave us this little guy, I felt a little confused as to why she had picked this particular Willow Tree, because the other ones she had given us always pertained directly to something in our lives (wedding, pregnancy, birth of Jayci . . .

But now I know. I know that God knew Caden before time even began, before we had any idea we were going to have a son, let alone a son with a special heart. And today, I needed the reminder that God has always had good plans for us. That God ordained Caden as our son (and Jayci as our daughter), and that Caden's heart was not a mistake or a surprise. Tears cloud my eyes even as I type, because seeing that little guy holding that golden heart to his chest, I am blown away by the goodness of a God who cares enough about us to remind us that He KNEW. And that He knows. Our hearts. Our hurts. Our future. 
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11


  1. That is seriously amazing. As well as your words. I always feel like I don't know how to do this "mom" thing, but I pray that God would guide me and teach me a long the way.

  2. I love this. And I love your honesty. It's ok to have bad days. The past few haven't been stellar for me, either, and a lot of that is hurting for Thomas's family. And going back to the CICU will always be hard -- b/c it does take you back to the days when YOUR son's life was on the line, when you didn't know if he'd get to come home with you, when every beep of a machine sent your heart plummeting and your blood pressure through the roof. And remembering can be so good. It reminds us that life is in God's hands, and we can't take it for granted. That Caden is fearfully and wonderfully made, and ultimately he is God's (which I am sure you remember daily). And it reminds us of how powerfully He showed up when our life was so utterly uncertain. Whenever I go back, I always think about how I can't believe we survived it -- I can't believe there were moments of joy and laughter in the midst of such heartbreak and fear. I can't believe the peace we so often felt despite our very, very sick son. And it reminds me just how faithful God is -- how He gives us what we need WHEN we need it, and not ahead of time and not in retrospect. Someday when you're back there with Caden for another surgery, God will show up like that again and grant you every bit of strength and peace you need. You'll get more of those "holiest" days, and there's something pretty amazing about that (and totally terrifying, which I can definitely appreciate). But the bad days are ok to have, and they're so natural when you've revisited that place of pain and fear. Between telling your story and going to the CICU and Thomas's death and no sleep, I'm impressed you are still writing coherent sentences. Give yourself grace. A lot of it. And remember it's ok to be weak -- because God is not.

    I can't tell you how much I love that Willow Tree. I welled up as soon as I saw it. Absolutely amazing.

    I'm praying for you. And I am just plain thankful for you. You are one remarkable girl.

    Love and prayers, Kathryn

  3. I love it when God gives us a reminder in such a tangible way, right when we need it. I know He loves you all very much and is confident in your love for Him. Enough so that, like Job, He has allowed satan to test you, over and over. Keep holding on to Him, Becca, and He won't let you fall. Praying over here and believing that HIS plan for Caden is far bigger and better than we can imagine. And praying for sweet Thomas' family as they face the unbearable; I pray that God is active in their lives to help them pick up the broken pieces. Love you, friend..

  4. wow! so glad you found the grace in the willowtree. and so glad you shared it with us! I am so amazed at how you continue to let God use you (and Caden ... and the kids ... and your family and life ...) It's beautiful Becca ... even on the bad days!

  5. Thank you so much for writing this blog. I need it. As a mother of a heart baby, I stuggle with many of the things you write about. You face your challenges and blessings with such faith! It is very inspiring. Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear this morning, that we all have a predetermined plan and that we can handle what God puts in our path and that we are extremely blessed. Thank you!

  6. Love. Love. Love. Becca, thank you for all that you do, write and inspire.

  7. Couldn't have said it better myself...the guilt, the patience or lack there of, the grace it takes to be a mother and the lack of the grace I show most of the time, beautifully wrote and expressed, thank you for speaking up when most of the time many of us are too ashamed to admit these very same feelings. lovely post, i am right there with ya sista!

  8. Your words are so REAL, thank you for sharing, thank you for being the absolute best MOM to Jayci and Caden... Someone once told me "enjoy the joys of your children"...I didn't really appreciate it at the time because mine were little and they were fusing in church that day. What I would give to go back to that time and enjoy it a little more.

    Much love and "prayers" to your sweet family.

    Check your mail, package went out yesterday!!


  9. Man, how I wish we lived down the street from each other! I can totally see us sitting in each others' houses - without needing to use words to understand the bad days, and joyfully celebrating the good. Eyes clouded with tears, and all.

    I read this after having sat in my kitchen floor with Ethan, struggling to get a toddler glove over his four-fingered left hand. "It shouldn't be like this" is all I kept thinking. And, while I'm pretty sure God agrees - none of this mess was in His original plan - how comforting to be reminded that He plans to bring beauty and goodness out of things that seem so broken.

    So, thanks for being a downer and, in turn, reminding me of God's steadfast goodness!

  10. I will think I have moved on, and maybe I have in so many ways, but remembering Iris with her chest open will instantly transport me back. Quicker than I knew was possible given the time that has passed.

    And sometimes I don't know what to do those hard feelings. Sometimes I feel scared at what seems to loom, if anything. Sometimes I feel grateful for what we all survived.

    I almost always feel amazed. Amazed at what God can do and amazed at what he gave us in Iris and our resilience.

    You are an amazing mother. And your struggles day-to-day with your sweet children do not diminish your abilities to parent nor do they take away from the thankfulness I know God feels from you.

    Your family is awesome.

  11. I loved everything about this post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and providing the reminder, through your own experience yesterday, that God DOES know.

  12. Thank you for your honesty. Today after a public tantrum that got us knowing smiles from customers at Homw Depot, I had no patience for my 3 year olds bed time dramatic antics. So I list my cool and got angry. Now I've spent the last hour convinced I'm a terrible mom who has no hope of surviving the teenage years of my drama princess' life.

    But reading your post encourages me because it's good to know that I am not alone in struggling with motherhood.

  13. wow. And thank you for your words. I needed this today. Sometimes we all need the reminder that He is there. Always.

  14. I went to Thomas' funeral today and it truly was a tribute to his parents' faith. I know God will and already has been brought glory thru this but it is so hard to see them grieve. Thank u so much for taking goodies in his honor. It would mean so much to them. I have two sons, 4 and 2 and am struggling with so much of the same feelings about mothering but just keep remembering that God chose me to b their mother and He knows best. It gives me the strength I need to make it thru the day! Thanks for the honesty!


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