My sweet Joshua,
We were so excited to discover we were pregnant with you. I had always wanted three kids and you were my dream come true. A few months later, however, I started having a lot of anxiety. I couldn’t pinpoint what was causing this anxiety. One morning I listened to the song, “In Christ Alone” probably fifteen times on repeat and I wrote this in my blog, a blog I had only started writing two months before you were conceived. I wrote,
“I trust that God is good no matter what circumstances are happening in our world, no matter how hard it is to understand why God allows certain things to happen…
I feel God telling me that no matter what the future holds, I will make it through. Not by my own strength, not by a long shot. No, I can walk boldly into the future with confidence because I stand in the power of Christ. I have a long way to go but I take comfort in knowing my God can and will get me through whatever is ahead.”
One month after writing that, we went in for your twenty week ultrasound. We found out that you were a little boy! A few days later I received a call to come in for a follow up ultrasound. It was then that we discovered you were missing an arm and a kidney and had possible heart problems. We were devastated but your daddy always said that we would make you successful, whatever that meant for you. I remember your dad texting me from work one day saying he was researching sports you could compete in for the paralympics. We had such big dreams for you. Over the next few months you continued to grow big inside me and I went to what seemed like endless appointments only to receive more uncertainties about your health. We started researching warrior names because we realized you would have to fight for your life.
I had too much amniotic fluid, so at 36 weeks pregnant, I had that fluid drained out. At 38 weeks pregnant, it had built back up again, and you decided it was time to make your dramatic entrance. The nurses and doctors always said you had a flair for the dramatics, and your birth story was no different! You were almost delivered in the car on the way to the hospital, in rush hour traffic.
The day you were born, you showed me what I was capable of. You showed me that I could go through the worst pain of my life, yet receive the greatest blessing. That blessing was you. I felt what could only be described as supernatural peace that day and night. I had all of the hope in the world for you.
That day, March 23rd, began our 79 day journey of traveling back and forth to the NICU and PICU to love you and to hold you. It seemed that every week the doctors discovered something new about you. We discovered you were missing an eye and that your only eye had a coloboma and was smaller than normal. Your thumb wasn’t functional and your two middle fingers couldn’t stretch out. You had a cleft palate and malrotated intestines. You had two holes in your heart. The most devastating news was that you had an extremely narrow trachea, but you made it through an extremely intense surgery. Joshua, you endured more in your two and half months of life than many of us have to endure in a lifetime. These beads represent every night in the hospital and every x-ray, IV drip, surgery, echocardiogram, eye exam, blood transfusion, every day on ventilator support and every MRI and CT scan.
In between all of the medical tests and stressful moments, we had some beautiful memories. After four weeks in the NICU your big sister and brother got to meet you for the first time. Bridget was beaming. She was so proud of you and in love with you. She wanted to help you drink from a bottle. She loved singing to you and holding your hand. John would say your name all the time. I’ll never forget the days I would walk into your room and say hi to you and a smile would flash across your face. Or the night that you laid on my chest and when I tried to hand you off to grandma you cried, and then settled back into my arms. The stress of everything would build up inside me, but when I would go into your room and hold you, it all melted away. Everything in the world felt right when you were in my arms.
On Friday, June 9th we got to take you home, after 11 weeks in the hospital. That first night you hardly slept and were really fussy but I didn’t care because for the first time I got to comfort you and hold you throughout the night. Saturday, we gave you your first bath with your brother and sister. Bridget brushed your hair, which I actually think you found a little irritating. We washed all of the bandages and sticky residue from your beautiful body. I put lotion on you and admired you, relishing seeing how you looked without bandages or being hooked up to any machines. I put you to bed that night not knowing you would wake up in Jesus’ arms.
You fought so hard Joshua. I hope you felt my love for you and forgive me for not being able to be with you every time you were in pain or hurting. You’ve taught me what it means to have perseverance and to never give up hope. Thank you for fighting, so that I got the chance to gaze upon your handsome face, to feel the weight of you in my arms and to love you fiercely. Without saying a word, you’ve touched people and you’ve changed me forever. We would’ve done anything for you. You made our family complete Josh, it just felt whole with you. I know you are no longer in pain and suffering, I only wish more people could have met you. To meet you, is to meet a warrior. You fought hard little Joshua, now it’s time to rest in your savior’s arms. I’ll love you forever, forever my baby you’ll be.