I am beyond thrilled to share that Gavin has had two GREAT appointments lately! His surgeon was very happy with how Gavin's stoma looks and doesn't need to see him back for six months. And his pediatrician is thrilled that he is putting on weight and developmentally on track despite all of his setbacks. This boy is a fighter and he certainly inspires me every day.
Gavin has finally started cooing some. He has the voice of an angel. He is becoming much more active and watching him grow is so empowering. There are still difficult days. Ones where negativity becomes all consuming. But we survive those days and wake up to start a new day with a new energy. There's no way to remain positive at all times. It feels like we are running a race. A race where spectators are lined all along the course, and as we get tired or hit our breaking point, voices from the crowd urge us to keep going...to push through. And that motivation that each of you has given us has helped us through those tough times when another step seemed impossible.
Someone asked me the other day if God has revealed his purpose in giving me Gavin. I still don't have an answer for that, but here's what I have learned. I have struggled in my relationship with God for years. Not sure if I really believed in him myself, or if I believed because I was raised to believe. People have often said that you have to have faith. Well, it's hard to maintain faith in people and in God when you live in a such a jaded world. I am a person that needs to see it to believe it. But once you see a miracle....experience a miracle....LIVE a miracle.....you have seen it and you can't help but believe it.
There are times in life when coincidences occur. And then there are times that you reflect on your journey and realize that your life was not a series of circumstances, but a beautiful, messy plan that brings you to exactly where you are meant to be.
Is it a coincidence that out of the four colleges I had to choose from, that I chose to go to Charlotte? While at Charlotte, that I was introduced to Krav Maga and found an instructor who, to this day, has been one of the most inspirational people that I have ever met? He gave me the quote, "If you fall down seven times, get up eight." He taught me that the fight's not over until you're dead. That the spirit of a warrior is equally, if not more important, than the skill. Is it a coincidence, that nearly ten years ago, these lessons were being instilled in me? Or that I decided to join the Marine Corps on a whim? That some of the women I met in the Marines, continue to inspire me and give me examples of strength every day. That being in the Marine Corps allowed me to cross paths with Chris who is my exact balance in life. A man who has a heart to love unconditionally, a giving spirit and patience that rarely runs out. Chris has been through more pain and struggle in the past ten years than one person should. But you would never know it. He is humble man, persistently optimistic and the best father a woman could want for her children. (After my father, of course :) )
My father decided to change his career course several years ago. While a struggle for him at the time, it put him in a position to have the flexibility with his current job to be here when we needed him. Is it a coincidence that my dad is in a medical career field, which made me feel more comfortable leaving the hospital with Gavin knowing I had my dad's medical experience to fall back on for the first few days out of the hospital? My mom was affected by lay-offs. And she chose a direction in her work to have flexibility to be with me when needed as well. She has been able to watch Lorelai while we spent months at the hospital with Gavin. And, (by coincidence?) I grew up in the same town as my grandparents. At times when my mom could not watch Lorelai, my grandparents were easily able to step in and help out. I had to travel for work two weeks ago, and with Chris gone I had no one to watch Lorelai and Gavin. Is it a coincidence that my parents are in a position to drop everything and spend a week watching the kids at my house? Or that my mom is always around to spend the night at the hospital when fatigue has broken me down?
Is it a coincidence that two years ago, Chris had a cousin who spent months in the NICU with her son? That she was able to be a source of support and help provide encouragement on the harder days? That Chris and I have settled in an area where we are close to both of our families? And that his family has been able to meet me in the emergency room with Gavin when I was on my own, or that his aunt has been able to care for Gavin in our home four days a week while he cannot be around others? Is it a coincidence that my grandmother somehow always has a card of encouragement in my mailbox the exact day that I need it? Or that a phrase from my other grandmother sticks in my head on the bad days? When my aunt was in the hospital recovering from brain surgery, I held her hand and told her it was ok. My grandma said, "No it's not, but that's ok too." That comment holds so much power for me these days.
Is it a coincidence that my sister-in-law only lived about an hour from Duke, and found herself in a position to be able to drop everything and be with me through Gavin's delivery? Or that she made it there only 20 minutes before he was born? And that she happens to be a Godly woman who gives me encouragement when I need it? Or that my brother sometimes works at Duke? So he was able to stop by and see us and Gavin in the ICU while he was at work. Is it a coincidence that a photographer, now friend, that I found when we first moved here, happened to know someone with a child with Down Syndrome? And that person happened to be a source of advice and strength that truly understood what we were facing? That she recommended we go to Duke? Where every parent in the cardiac ICU had strong, unshakeable faith in God. That Chris's deployment strongly affected our decision to deliver at Duke so that I could be close to my family? That I work for a company that has been beyond measure in the support they have given me as we have endured Gavin's battles so that I have not had to worry about job security on top of everything else?
Or how about the fact, that while I was on travel for work, I met someone who has a sister with down syndrome? I started telling him about Gavin, and he said "Wow. You're sitting here helping us like nothing is going on...like you haven't been through all of that. You must be a warrior."....someone who has never heard Gavin's story and has no idea what the word warrior means to us. And is it a coincidence, that the only name Chris and I could agree on was Gavin? We didn't even know that it meant "white hawk of battle" until weeks after we picked it. Or that his middle name, which is my father and grandfather's name, means "ruler of an army." We didn't pay any attention to what his name meant when we picked it, but is it a coincidence that we gave him a warrior's name?
And the answer that I have found to all of those questions, is a resounding no. None of it has been a coincidence. Every step, turn, stumble, success, and failure on my LIFE journey has prepared me for exactly where I am today. Surrounded by friends and family who have been teachers, coaches, mentors and cheerleaders. Gavin is our GOD GIVEN miracle. We were encouraged to terminate the pregnancy. We were told it would be a medical miracle to ever bring him home from the hospital. We were prepared for him not to survive his open heart procedure. We watched as the blue code cart was rushed to his bedside as he crashed in the ICU. We had a huge sigh of relief as he came home from the hospital knowing that his fighting was done. Only to find out that part of his colon was dead and required surgical intervention.
But now have breathed a second sigh of relief. Gavin IS home. He IS gaining weight. He IS developing normally. He IS as healthy as he can be right now. He IS fighting back. And he IS winning. Because God gave Chris and I battles to mold us into strong people, before we ever knew of each other. God prepared us with strength for this journey and he molded Gavin into a fighter of epic proportions. Gavin has survived battles that no one thought possible. And he has survived them as a physically stronger person than he was before he entered them. He is such an inspiration!
And every single one of you who have helped us on this journey, who have prayed time and time again for Gavin to have strength to make it through, who have sent messages or provided dinner, or who have sat with us through surgeries, visited us in the hospital, pushed us through fear.....each and every one of you are a guardian angel sent by God to help us through our journey. We are certainly blessed by all of you.
So through these past few months, I have learned without a doubt, that God is real. I have seen his miracles. And his guardian angels...