Answered prayer

In the last trimester of my pregnancy my sister and close friends planned a wonderful afternoon where I gathered with friends and family to celebrate Hannah’s impending arrival.

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Feeling very pregnant and very excited!

So much uncertainty lay ahead. When would the baby arrive? Would I be able to give birth naturally, or would a caesarian be needed if the baby became distressed? What would the first hours of our child’s life be like? Would I get to hold her? Would the prenatal diagnosis be correct? Did she have any other health issues the doctors had missed? When would her first surgery go ahead? How would Gus and I cope with the stress, would it bring us closer or push us apart? When would we get to bring our little one home, and what would that be like?

To commit all of those things to God, on that afternoon, my mother in law prayed. Here are her words …

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord of life,

We praise you and rejoice with Sarah as we gather to celebrate the new life she carries within her.

This little baby is already a cherished member of the H and C families so we ask you, Lord, to keep both mother and child safe in these last weeks before his/her birth.

Father, we know that, barring a miracle, this babe will face many challenges from the day he or she is born into this world, and so we ask your protection over Sarah and her baby, that Sarah will have a safe and easy birth, and the babe an uneventful delivery.

We also pray that you will set in place the specialist teams of nurses and doctors that you want to care for them, and that you will oversee the infant’s surgeries and recoveries.

We pray for baby C that he or she will grow to be a strong baby and toddler, unafraid of the battles ahead, hedged in and undergirded by your precious, life sustaining mercies and love.

We thank you for the love that Angus and Sarah have for you, and for each other, and we ask that you will guide them, and grant them every help, to raise this precious child to know you and to love you.

We pray that Angus will be granted everything he needs to support Sarah in these days before birth, and through the birth, and that you will tie cords of love that cannot be broken around father, mother, infant and yourself, joining all together now and forever.

We pray for strength through restless nights;

We pray for patience though difficult days;

We pray for an ever deepening faith in the face of anxieties;

We pray for peace and hope through you in each new day and

We pray for joy in you and in each other.

We also pray, Lord God, For grandparents Lionel and Jen, Robert and Lorraine and step grandparent, Pamela; For sister, Kate;

For Angus and Sarah’s church and wider Christian fellowship and their large family of friends. That you equip us to be ready and willing to serve Angus and Sarah and baby C in whatever capacity they need;

That you make us to be wise in our endeavours for them, considerate, self sacrificing, compassionate and loving, that we work together to make a gentle pathway for this young family.

Above all, we offer our sincere thanks and praise to you who blesses us beyond measure.

May Angus and Sarah receive this child as your precious gift, and raise this child to your glory, and all the while may you keep Angus, Sarah and baby C safe in your loving care, now as they await their babe’s arrival, and also throughout their lives into eternity.

We pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ your only son, who is our Lord and Saviour.  Amen

Our loving heavenly Father has answered our prayers so quickly and kindly.

We have a beautiful, thriving little girl who hardly stops smiling. Her arrival was safe and fairly smooth for both her and myself. She was delivered in the secure walls of the hospital, straight into the hands of capable and caring specialists. Her original diagnosis was confirmed, and her first surgery went ahead quickly. We were able to bring her home a week later after a smooth recovery. She has grown and developed into a content and delightful infant, bringing so much joy to our lives. Her second surgery, despite being delayed a number of times, went ahead successfully and she recovered with only a few small bumps in the road. She has been ably cared for by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals throughout her life. And we have again seen her return to her smiley, wriggly, extroverted self – now sitting well, chuckling, mostly enjoying solids, almost rolling over and she’s got two sharp little teeth!

Home from hospital, Hannah's begun enjoying solids. Her current favourites are pear, banana, and Lebanese pickled turnip (!)
Home from hospital and into solids. Her current favourites are pear, banana, and Lebanese pickled turnip (!)

Throughout everything we have been loved and supported emotionally, practically, prayerfully by countless family and friends.

There’s no doubt that the last 18 months have been the most stressful of our marriage. Becoming parents has certainly been a rollercoaster ride. But, only through God’s strength, Gus and I have grown in our love and trust for each other and our marriage is stronger as a result.

It is hard to put into words how thankful I am for these answered prayers. I am deeply in awe of God’s graciousness and kindness to us. And for his blessing of Hannah, every day she takes my breath away.

That’s not to say every prayer has been answered how we expected, or how we had hoped at the time. And who knows what God has planned for our and Hannah’s future. They might not always be our plans or hopes. But, these months have shown me time and time again that God’s timing, his purpose, his will and his design are perfect.

My heart knows that well.

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Story time with my mother in law, Hannah’s grandma Lorraine

Please give thanks for…

  • Answered prayers and those who have prayed for us
  • Hannah’s continued good recovery from surgery

Please pray for…

  • Hannah to grow to know and trust Jesus as her Lord and Saviour
  • Wisdom for Gus and I as we seek to love and look after her

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Hannah’s Heart Beads

One way Hannah is able to document her journey with Congenital Heart Disease is through collecting heart beads.

IMG_0191Each bead is colourful and distinctive and represents a different procedure or event in Hannah’s treatment. They’re generously donated by the Northern Beaches Social Riders and HeartKids. Some kids end up with lengths of beads that can wrap around their hospital bed numerous times! And one mum said she’s divided her daughters beads up into different years because they are just too heavy and long otherwise.

As Hannah was discharged quite quickly the first time around we forgot to pick up her heart beads, so this time around we had quite a backlog to organise!

The perfectionist in me wants to make sure Hannah’s beads are 100% accurate. But I know that’s unrealistic given the number of procedures she had while in hospital. For example, on a single day in ICU she might have 4 or 5 blood tests! So getting the vibe of her journey even if it’s not completely accurate has been my aim.

Here are Hannah’s up to date heart beads:

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And one short length (which is actually upside down in order):

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  • Pink spotty = chest x rays
  • Smiley face = a good day
  • Red balls = blood tests
  • Blue square = pacing wire removal
  • Fish = a procedure, in this case her arterial line being removed
  • Owl = extubation
  • Green heart = a complication, in this case some extra bleeding after her surgery
  • Purple cube = time in PICU

I hope that when Hannah’s older her heart beads will be a fun and helpful tool for her to process living with a heart condition. To help her better understand her brave start to life and to give her confidence in herself and the scars on her body. She can then choose whether she keeps them on display or shares them with others (maybe as show and tell?) or stores them privately.

Please give thanks for…

  • The heart beads program and the aim to help children actively process their experiences with congenital heart disease
  • Hannah’s journey so far and her continued good recovery

Please pray for…

  • Wisdom for Gus and I talking with Hannah in future about her heart condition
  • Hannah to find her security and identity in Christ, and not in her physical body

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:13-14 

Home again home again 

The hospital discharge train started gathering pace once Hannah could feed well again and was off the continuous monitors. What a joy it is to have our little girl home!

 

Hannah having an echocardiogram to prepare for discharge
 Hannah is still snuffly and coughing as a result of her virus, but her heart and chest wound are doing well. There’s not much the doctors can do for the virus except let it run its course, and we can see it gradually lessening each day. It does seem to make her very clingy and not so keen on sleeping in her cot, but we’re happy to oblige the extra cuddles! 

  
 

Let’s go home daddy!
 For now, we’re getting used to Hannah’s post operative instructions. To protect her chest and encourage her wound to heal the physio suggested we imagine we’re carrying a watermelon whenever we pick her up. Hannah’s a whole lot more wriggly than a watermelon, but I’ve still found it a helpful comparison! There’ll be no tummy time here either for about six weeks. 

Hannah’s also on a couple of new medications to help her body adjust to her new heart circulation, keeping blood pressure stable, reducing fluid retention and making sure her blood doesn’t clot. At the moment giving them to her is a bit of a battle, but we hope in time she will get used to it. One in particular is neon yellow, I think everything will be stained for the foreseeable future! 

It is such a relief to have 2/3 of her surgery plan complete. God willing, we won’t be heading back to hospital again until she is 3 or 4. That will be for Hannah to undergo the Fontan procedure. I imagine that time in hospital will again be both easier and harder then this time. 

Though the last six months have been stressful, exhausting and very emotional, our Lord Jesus Christ has remained our constant source of peace and hope throughout. It is hard to put into words how thankful we are to God for swift, kind answers to prayer. We continue to trust him for whatever lies ahead. 

Please give thanks for… 

  • Our beautiful girl and that we are once again home with her 
  • The medical team at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead 
  • So many prayers answered 

Please pray for… 

  • Hannah’s continued recovery, for her chest to heal quickly and without too much discomfort 
  • Wisdom for us caring for Hannah at home particularly in the first few weeks of reduced activity 
  • Our trust to continue to be in Jesus and not ourselves 

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. – Psalm 146:1-2