D&C 35:17 ". . . and in weakness have I blessed him."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas and the Temple

                 It didn’t seem like there was time for Christmas that year. I was in the middle of moving, with one house to organize and unpack and another to clean and fix up. Weighed down by many responsibilities I felt a little resentful of the holiday season. I wasn’t ready to feel any Christmas cheer.
            A week earlier I’d tried to keep my monthly commitment to attend the temple. After getting up at 5 a.m. on a frozen Saturday morning, I made my way to the Jordan River Temple, only to discover it was closed! I turned my car around and headed for the Salt Lake Temple. But icy roads and a freeway detour brought me home again. 
            Weighed down with frustration and a sense of failure, I promised myself, “Next week.”
            But as Saturday approached, the last one before Christmas, I wondered if I’d make it. There was still so much to do—clean, decorate, bake and wrap. Maybe the temple would just have to wait.
            Fortunately commitment triumphed as I took my seat in the chapel of the Salt Lake Temple. Quietly I waited for an endowment session to begin. In the background I heard the tune of a familiar Christmas carol. 
            Christmas carols in the temple?
            At first this music seemed a little out of place. But as I allowed the words to fill my mind, the Spirit spoke to my heart and opened my mind.
            Sitting in a room filled with waiting people, I imagined what it must have been like to wait for the Savior’s birth. A thrill of joy surged through me. How exciting it must have been for the shepherds in the fields and the choirs of angels to know of His birth. 
            I felt a little of the joy they undoubtedly felt. Then I realized how exciting it is for me today, right now, to know of His birth—a cause for celebration! And that’s what Christmas really is—the excitement, the joy and the thrill of having Christ come to earth.
            At the end of the endowment session I headed out of the celestial room, and then halted. Towering above me in the air on the right was a magnificent painting of the Risen Lord. 
           As I stood there in awe of this beautiful artwork, it felt as if I’d been greeted by my Savior. The Spirit reached down into the depths of my soul and filled me with peace and joy—this was His house and He was there. 
           I thought back on the joy I’d felt earlier while sitting in the chapel, the excited anticipation of those who waited for Christ’s birth. Then I realized the anticipation of waiting for Christ to come had been fulfilled for me that day. Through temple worship, He had come into my heart. 
            As I headed home into the congested traffic, I felt untouched by the frenzy of last-minute shoppers around me. Overcome with love for the Savior, I’d been filled with the true spirit of Christmas. Not to be found in the busy shopping malls or under a perfectly decorated tree, but within the quiet walls of the temple. 
            There I discovered: we celebrate the joy of Christ coming to earth by allowing Him to come into our hearts. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels

Carol of the Tales and 

Other Nightly Noels: 

An Advent Anthology, 

Volume 2

Christmas carols capture the spirit of Christmas, and Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels brings beloved carols to life like never before. Throw your cares away with the tales from sweet silver bells. Find out how Santa Claus dabbles in time travel, and feel the redemption of a dying wife's parting Christmas gift. Experience all this and more in these heartfelt, entertaining tales donated by a team of authors from across the country, working together for a good cause. The proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated toward Autism research and advocacy.

Anthology authors include: Shirley Bahlmann, C. David Belt, Rebecca Carlson, Loretta Carter, Madonna D. Christensen, Danyelle Ferguson, C. Michelle Jefferies, Theric Jepson, Ryan Larsen, Angie Lofthouse, Betsy Love, J. Lloyd Morgan, Janet Olsen, Teresa G. Osgood, Brian Ricks, Jennifer Ricks, Peg Russell, and Michael Young.

Carol of the Tales is the 2nd book in the Advent Anthology series. Both anthologies are available in paperback and Amazon Kindle formats from Amazon.com. 

Purchase “Sing We Now of Christmas”: http://amzn.com/1479266248
Purchase: “Carol of the Tales”:  http://amzn.com/1484145526

To kick off the release of the second anthology, a Christmas concert will be held at American Fork Junior High on December 7th, 2013. The concert will feature the Saltaires Barbershop Chorus. All proceeds from this concert will be donated to charity as well. Purchase: Tickets for the Concert: https://tickettool.net/en/index/eventpopup/b54dab4bd0a13fa6975068f4784dfaa5

Blog Tour Giveaway!

Use the rafflecopter below to enter to win wonderful prizes, such as tickets to the concert and copies of the anthology. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Blogs on the Tour:


Friday, November 15, 2013

Living in Hope

"I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally 'free at last.' Until that hour when Christ's consummate gift is evident to us all, may we live by faith, hold fast to hope, and show 'compassion one of another.'"

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Kindness of Others

    It was Sunday afternoon. We were in our usual spot. While the rest of the congregation enjoyed sacrament service from the chapel, we occupied the foyer. Emma ran around gleefully, enjoying the independence that comes with being two. David was strapped into his blue Graco stroller. The one we used for him when he was a toddler, now a few sizes too small. His lanky five-year-old legs sprawled past the foot rest and touched the floor. Although a tight fit, he was contained. Our only assurance he wouldn’t make a mad dash from the building.
            He was chewing a small, white towel. The one we used to manage his chewing compulsion and keep his Sunday shirt from developing holes.
            Jeff, an especially kind man in our ward, passed by. After greeting Rob and I, he hunched down in front of the stroller and attempted to connect with David. Immune to his attempts, David stared away.
    Jeff then picked up the dry end of the towel hanging from David’s mouth, and put it in his own mouth. David’s eyes widened with delight. Jeff now had his full attention.
    Together they played a game of tug-of-war, each clenching a corner of the towel between their teeth.
            Rob and I smiled at each other and then we laughed as the game ended. David took the well-soaked, soggy corner from his own mouth and held it up to Jeff’s—rewarding him with his favorite oral companion.
    Not only had Jeff taken the time to connect with David, but he’d won his heart. 
    I loved Jeff for loving David.
    When people are kind to David I feel Heavenly Father’s love for me. It’s easy for others to look away and pretend they don’t notice him. Some refrain from interacting with him out of feeling awkward or uncomfortable. They politely keep their distance out of not wanting to interfere or give offense.
    Then there are those who amaze me. They go out of their way to interact with my son, even when he doesn’t respond or tries to avoid them.
    I feel God’s love through their kind actions.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stellar Spirits

"Stellar spirits are often housed in imperfect bodies. The gift of such a body can actually strengthen a family as parents and siblings willingly build their lives around the child born with special needs."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The First Time I Held You

           David was two weeks old when I held him for the first time. For two long weeks I anxiously waited for that sacred moment. To wrap my arms around his tiny body and claim him. Mine.
          Still connected to multiple wires and IV's, he was placed in my arms and we shared our first embrace. 
          At first it felt awkward as the nurse re-positioned him multiple times. His neck needed to be properly supported so his airway would remain open and the web of wires connected to him needed to remain intact. Nervously I watched the monitors to ensure there weren't any drastic changes in his heart rate or oxygen level.
          All around me, from different angles, Rob furiously clicked the camera.
          Caressing my precious bundle confirmed I was a mother. With his heart beating close to mine, I held him for as long as I was allowed. He belonged to me and I wanted him to feel this bond. For a few, short moments he opened his eyes and I was there to look back at him.
          His little person warmed the left side of my chest. My body held onto this sensation even after I set him down. When I arrived home I continued to feel a warm spot in my chest from where his head had been resting--a physical reminder of that precious time we spent together.
           David means beloved. That was the right name for my baby. I couldn't imagine loving him more than I did at that moment.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Child Shall Lead Them

"One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents."


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ignorance Versus Understanding

         On the last day of vacation we decided to go back to the San Diego Zoo. David could ride the bus and cable car and the girls could play on the playground (they just weren't that into seeing animals).
         As Dave and I exited from the cable car, the Simex theatre caught my attention. It was playing segments from the Ice Age movie and promised to provide a full 4-D experience, complete with snow blowing in your face, seats that bump and the smell of exotic fruit. David loves sensory stimulation and I wanted to give him this thrilling experience. So I agreed to pay $10.00 for a 15 minute show.
          David waited patiently in line and eagerly took his seat in the theatre, right in the center of the last row. We were ready for the adventure to begin. And then I heard it, that sucking sound David makes when he is excited. I froze in my seat. This was going to be a really long 15 minutes.
          If only they'd get the movie started.
          Please let it be a really loud show.
          The doors slammed shut and everyone was seated. We were trapped in the dark with nothing to listen to but the sound of David furiously sucking the saliva through his teeth.
          Why weren't they starting the movie yet?
          I looked around. Remarkably no one was turning around or staring or giving us odd looks. Not even the man seated directly next to David. I immediately felt grateful for their silent tolerance.
         But then a young lady two seats away leaned over and tugged on my arm. "Make him stop! Make him stop!" she ordered.
         I knew I couldn't make David stop, but I tried to anyway. He responded with a loud protest. So I left him alone. The sucking sound was better than a tantrum.
         I decided to apologize to the young woman afterwards. But it no use, she was angry and didn't understand.
         I walked away. Slowly.Held back by the wall of shame that enveloped me.
         I never should have gone into that movie theatre. I usually try to be sensitive to the people around me, but this time I blew it. I hadn't even considered how David's sucking sounds might be a problem.
         I pulled my hat down a little lower and put my sunglasses on to hide the tears welling up in my eyes.
         I entered that theatre feeling somewhat OK about my place in the world as David's mother. I came out feeling very different.
         Various people walked past me. I felt so separate from them now.
         They were normal.
         They belonged there.
         Dave and I didn't.
         When I met up with Rob at the playground I told him about my experience. I brought it up again on our long ride home. I couldn't let it go. The more I talked about it, the more I hurt.
         Too bad it had to happen on the last day. It put a damper on the whole trip. Maybe if I thought bad thoughts about that lady, I'd feel better.
         After discussing it for some time Rob helped me recognize the many positive experiences we'd had on our vacation. We'd been the recipients of many unexpected acts of kindness as people went out of their way to accommodate my family.
         Like the honest people who turned in Rob's wallet when he lost it at Seaworld. Or the family who let us go in front of them in line to see the Giant Panda's. Or the staff at The Coronado Club Room and Boathouse. In an effort to enjoy the most pristine beach we found ourselves camped out in front of this private, members-only facility.
        The clubhouse building had a ceiling fan and David is obsessed with ceiling fans. Forget the sand and the water, the only place he wanted to be was near that fan. I dragged him away kicking and screaming and tried to interest him in the beach. But that didn't work, so I started packing up our things thinking we might have to leave. When I looked up I saw one of the staff members from the boathouse approaching me.
         "It's OK if your son wants to come inside our office and play with the ceiling fan. I don't want you to have to leave," she said.
          I hesitated, but she insisted, "It's OK, we're fine with it."
          She sat and talked to me as David ran in and out of the office, turning the fan on and off. She asked a lot of questions about autism and at one point reassured me, "You came to the right beach."
          I will never forget her kindness.
          In the course of my conversation with Rob I noticed there'd been more positive experiences on our vacation than negative one's. There'd only been one negative incident. So why was I still hurting?
          I realized I had a choice to make.
          I could choose to focus on that one hurtful experience and let it fester or I could choose to celebrate the many positive acts of kindness we'd received.
          I could choose bitterness and anger or I could choose gratitude and joy.
          The choice was mine.
          If I want others to be tolerant of my son's awkward and inappropriate behaviors then I need to be tolerant of those whose limited experiences keep them from understanding.   
          Ten years ago I was that young lady in the theatre who didn't understand.
          As newly weds Rob and I flew to South Africa so I could introduce him to my family and my country. On the flight from America to Europe two young children screamed a lot for a long time when the rest of the plane was trying to sleep.
          I remember turning around and looking at the parents of those young children. They both stared forward with a glazed look in their eyes. What incensed me most is that those parents just sat there looking frazzled, not doing a thing to make those children stop!
         While I restrained myself from expressing my contempt, I felt it. My limited understanding of the world told me that it is a parent's responsibility to control a child's behavior. And if you aren't able to do this, you aren't a good parent.
         How the times have changed.
         I now have children of my own.
         I now understand there are times when you just can't make a child stop. And that doesn't make you a bad parent.
         That young woman in the theatre didn't have any children, let alone an autistic one. How could she possibly understand the challenge I was facing?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Angels Watched Over Him

"Owing to their innocence and purity, little children enjoy unique privileges with regard to angels. In fact, little children are so significant to God the Father, Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God on earth that it is possible that they sometimes enjoy the presence of angels."
(Parry, D. W. [2013]. Angels: Agents of Light, Love and Power. Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City.)

     I dreaded night time in the hospital. Those nights were so long and lonely. I'd wake up unexpectedly to find myself alone in some strange, uncomfortable bed, surrounded by darkness.
        From the adjacent rooms of the maternity ward I heard the cries of newborn babies. I imagined those babies snuggled in their mothers' arms. And then the tears would start to well up inside of me. My whole body shook as they rushed down my cheeks in a flood of anguish and grief--my precious newborn was on life support in another part of the hospital.
        I couldn't stand to be away from him. I wanted so badly to be able to be able to comfort him. To hold his little hand and stroke his head and watch him sleep and as I silently prayed for him.
        I was his mother. He needed me. And I needed him. 
        I needed to be at his side to help him heal and grow stronger and he needed to feel my love and know I was there for him.
        But my body was too weak. Still recovering from severe complications, I was unable to get out of the hospital bed by myself. So I lay there. Stuck. Helpless. Trapped.
        My baby needed me and I couldn't be with him.
        Was he also alone in the dark?
        The next day I found the comfort I was seeking in a scripture. Marcelle, my mother-in-law, brought over a copy of the Church News for me to read while recuperating. In a quiet moment I picked it up and there at the top of the front page in bold print I read: 
       3 Nephi 17:24
       "And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes toward heaven and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled with fire; and the angels did minister unto them." 
       These words penetrated my being with a powerful force. It seemed as if that scripture had been written specifically for me at that time. The Spirit spoke this truth to my mind and to my heart--my baby wasn't alone, angels watched over his small, weak body. 


Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Family That Pulls Together

 It was the 4th of July and we dared to be in a parade with David.
Actually we did it for the girls.
          The thought of being the center of so much attention made them giddy. So I spruced up the rusty old wagon we picked up at a yard sale and coordinated our patriotic outfits.
          The hardest part was waiting around for things to get started. David doesn't do waiting--it's strictly against the autistic code. Instead he headed for the church building nearby and tried to open the locked doors. I think he was hoping to find an elevator inside. The girls didn't do so well either, they kept knocking each other with their flags.
          Finally things started to move and we caught up with Rob and Dave half-way down the block. I managed to coax David into the wagon without too much of a fight and he ended up being the only one who rode in it. Skye, my strong-willed 2-year-old, insisted on helping her dad pull it along.
          We got a lot of cheers, I guess spectators couldn't resist the sight of a 2-year-old wearing bright red Elmo Croc's pulling her 8-year-old brother along, or maybe they realized he was disabled. Either way we won the crowd. Emma walked alongside Rob waving a flag and I followed in the rear, ready to catch Dave if he decided to jump out.
          At the end of the day as I sat in David's room waiting for him to fall asleep, I reflected back on the day's activities. The image of Skye pulling the wagon in the parade lingered in my head and with it came the realization of its symbolism: 2-year-old Skye helping to pull her 8-year-old disabled brother along depicts how our whole family shares the load of caring for David. The bulk of this burden may fall on Rob and I, but Emma and Skye feel its weight too. 
          They share in our feelings of grief and heartache and are impacted by the endless adjustments and sacrifices that need to be made. I worry the girls don't get enough of my time and attention and feel guilty when they miss out on activities because of Dave. But I feel just as guilty when we're off doing something fun together without David. When he's not with us, our family feels incomplete and I miss him. It's a juggling act, with no sense of balance.
           Five-year-old Emma has taken on the role of being a big sister to Dave. She's quick to chase after him when he runs away, helps carry his backpack to school and asks if she can help feed him. Even Skye has stepped into a care taker role. She loves to bring Dave his shoes in the morning and hurries to find a diaper when I change him.
          I worry about what "issues" Emma and Skye will have as a result of having a disabled brother, but at the same time I know our family situation provides an opportunity for them to develop special gifts. Like empathy, compassion, acceptance, tolerance, and above all love!     
         When Emma came home from kindergarten and asked, "Guess who my boyfriend is?" I cringed. I wasn't ready for her to take this developmental step. But then she quickly responded, "David, I'm going to marry him."
          Her sweet innocence warmed my heart. I wanted to hug her so hard for loving and accepting her brother.
          I've tried to explain David's differences to Emma. She has a tender heart and gets teary-eyed when I talk about how sick he was as a baby. Until recently she still believed David was going to grow up and be "normal."
          "Let's buy him a really big prize when he learns to talk," she declared. It was with a heavy heart that I decided it was time to explain he's never going to learn to talk. Through her tears she questioned me and desperately tried to come up with reasons why I was wrong. She wasn't about to give up on this dream without a fight.
          On another occasion she came running to find me. Jumping up and down she announced with glee, "David's playing with me, he likes me now! He likes me now!"
         Does this mean she thought he didn't like her before?
          That would be so sad. I fumbled around my brain to find a way to explain David's social avoidance to Emma. I wanted to make up for all the time she'd thought he didn't like her.
          I added this concern to my growing list of worries.
          Its a long list.
          But even with all of my angst, I continue to cling to the belief that this experience is making my family better, stronger and more loving.
         David may be the first-born, but he has two "older" sisters looking out for him, helping to pull our family along.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Question

"A Question
A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth?"

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Part 1)

August 17, 2004
LDS Hospital
Approximately 3 hours after checking in
The lights in my room had been dimmed creating a soft, warm glow. I lay there soaking up the wonder of all that lay ahead. The familiar rhythm of Rob’s snoring kept me company. It was 2 a.m. and I occupied a unit on the Labor and Delivery Ward in LDS Hospital. The room was larger than I’d expected and felt comfortable. It had hardwood floors, a couch, TV, rocking chair, fold-out bed and private bathroom.                                     
             With Rob asleep, I fixed my eyes on the monitor positioned at my right. Its bright screen was alive with information. It depicted two moving graphs, one measured my baby’s heartbeat, the other my contractions. I was captivated by this data. Each time my abdomen tightened, I waited with an eager sense of anticipation for a small peak to crawl its way onto the lower half of the screen.               
              We’d already been there three hours and according to the nurse’s prediction, we had several more to go. I was grateful to have Rob at my side. Earlier he’d read to me from The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency. Although I enjoyed listening to him read, I suggested he get some sleep as I’d need his support in the morning. I also tried to rest, as much as possible, amidst the energy of my swirling emotions—I was about to have my first baby!
My arms ached with excited anticipation—at last, I was going to hold him! I couldn’t wait to see his face. Who would he look like? Would he have blue eyes and blonde hair like me or brown hair and eyes like Rob? How big was he going to be? How much would he weigh?
Amidst the thrill of knowing I would soon get to embrace the baby I planned to call David Robert, I worried about the hardships of childbirth. Just how difficult was it going to be? When should I request an epidural? Would there be any complications? What if there were?
I reminded myself of the many prayers I’d said and the calm assurance I’d received from the Spirit. I decided to have faith. Things were progressing smoothly and there wasn’t any reason for concern. The contractions didn’t even feel painful yet. I needed to relax and wait and enjoy the relief of knowing the pregnancy would soon be over. 
As my contractions gradually got stronger, I noticed the peaks on the monitor’s screen get bigger. Somewhere in the midst of watching those peaks rise and fall, my nurse entered the room. “I’m not sure if I should be concerned. Your baby’s heart rate dropped with the past two contractions, but then quickly returned,” she informed me. 
“Is that a problem?” I asked.
"Let’s try moving you onto your left side and giving you oxygen. Sometimes that helps.”
            The nurse helped me roll over. Then she placed an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. “Let’s see if this makes a difference,” she said. After typing some information into the computer, she left.
I was left alone with my thoughts again. How should I interpret this information? Should I be concerned? What did a drop in heart rate mean? How was oxygen going to help?
Maybe I should’ve asked these questions when the nurse was still in the room, but she handled the situation in such a calm, efficient manner. Because she didn’t appear to be concerned, I decided not to worry.
Now that I was lying on my left side I could no longer see the monitor’s screen, so I closed my eyes. “Relax and wait,” I told myself. 
Suddenly an acute bolt of pain wrapped itself around my abdomen and reverberated through my pelvis. A large, warm gush of fluid rushed out of me. What was that? Something didn’t feel right.
I reached my hand down and brought it back up. It was covered with a vivid, deep red—blood—an alarmingly large amount!

I fumbled around the bed linen, my heart pounding as I searched for the buzzer. As soon as I grasped its cold, hard contours I pushed my thumb firmly against the red button.    “Can you call my nurse, I’m bleeding!” I exclaimed.

“It’s normal to bleed a little during labor,” replied the voice at the other end.
I was surprised. How could they be so casual? I’d begun to hemorrhage and needed help. “It’s not a little, it’s a lot!” I urgently asserted.
“OK, we’ll send someone over.”
It didn’t take long for the nurse to arrive. After one quick glance at the soiled sheet beneath me, she left in search of a resident doctor.
           “Rob you need to wake up,” I called out to the darkened corner of the room, “I’m going to have an emergency C-section.” Instinctively I knew this, even before the doctor’s verdict.
            The resident arrived within minutes. After a brief introduction he asked, “Do you know if you have a low-lying placenta?”
“I did. After the third ultrasound I was told it had resolved.”
“I’m going to need to check your ultrasound records.”
Why waste time looking at records? I was bleeding heavily—something needed to be done! I wanted my doctor, not this young resident who was unfamiliar with my case.
Right then a high pitched beep pierced the air. It sounded the alarm—my baby’s heart rate had plummeted.
            Within an instant the resident’s demeanor changed as he took charge of the emergency. Glancing in my direction he announced, “We’re going to get this baby out of you!” Then he turned to the nurse, “Get Dr. S. on the phone and notify him.” This command was followed by a rapid string of medical orders.
With a hurried pace he stripped the band attached to the monitor from my belly and removed the oxygen mask. Then he rushed my bed out of the room and down the hallway. As I left, I heard Rob speaking to his parents on the phone, informing them of the situation.
            It was a short distance to the operating room. I was surprised to see people already there when I arrived. A slender operating table occupied the center of the room. My bed was pushed up against it. The nurse grabbed my ankles and lifted my legs, while the doctor took hold of my shoulders. In one swift movement they lifted my body from the bed and onto the operating table.
Directly above me, my eyes met with the glare of a bright light. Its intensity made the edges of the room look dark. To the left of the operating table a counter boasted an impressive display of shiny instruments carefully laid out on a blue cloth. Several figures in blue scrubs moved quickly about. I searched for Dr. S., but none of my attendants wore his familiar face.
I felt another warm wave of blood gush out of me. And another. My heart raced so fast I struggled to breathe. Quick, short, choppy breaths were all I could manage. My arms and legs shook uncontrollably. A sick, nauseous feeling churned inside my stomach. I felt dizzy. “You need to relax and breathe deeply,” the nurse ordered. 
“Is, is my baby going to be OK?” I stammered. My voice sounded feeble amidst the urgent activity around me.
A new pair of eyes greeted mine as a figure in blue leaned over me. It was the anesthetist. White hair protruded from the sides of his surgical cap and his face bore the lines of a seasoned practitioner. “We’re prepping you for general anesthesia,” he explained. With quick, well-trained movements he injected something into the IV in my hand. Next an oxygen mask glided over my face—it covered my mouth and nose.
With the mask came a smothering sensation. I couldn’t breathe. I needed to suck air in through my nose or mouth, but I couldn’t. A stifling pressure built up in my lungs. I was going to explode. I needed air! I ripped the mask away from my face. Immediately it was replaced and held down by a firm hand.
            A peculiar, sick sensation crept over my body. I was slipping away. I wanted to fight to stay present. But against my best determination, I soon found myself enveloped in quiet darkness. No longer aware of the medical proceedings. No longer afraid and panic-stricken. All around me was now calm and still. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Part 2)

          Sometime later I opened my eyes. My throat burned, it was raw and tender. A wall of impenetrable pain invaded my abdomen. I hurt too badly to move, or cough, or swallow. A heavy grogginess filled my head. I tried to make sense of my surroundings. I was in a different room with a grey curtain drawn around my bed.
           “You’re in Intensive Care,” a voice gently informed me. I turned my head to the left and looked upward. My eyes connected with Rob’s. It felt good to have him back at my side. His parents stood next to him, their faces etched with grave concern.
Where was the baby? How was he doing?
Reading my thoughts Rob explained, “The baby’s also in Intensive Care.” He hesitated then continued, “There are some problems.” This news pierced my core with a bolt of stabbing pain.
Speech was incredibly difficult, but I managed to ask, “Can you go give him a blessing?”
“What about you, don’t you want a blessing?” Rob responded.
“No, the baby first.”  
Rob and his dad left the room. A small measure of relief flushed over me. God’s healing power was about to be invoked.
I closed my eyes. The effects of general anesthesia lingered in my head, clouding it with a heavy fog. I struggled to think clearly and I desperately wanted to sleep. What problems did the baby have? Why was he in ICU?

In the days that followed I pieced together what had happened as I earnestly searched for answers. During labor the placenta unexpectedly tore away from the uterus, resulting in sudden, heavy bleeding. When this happened the baby was cut off from his oxygen supply. Deprived of oxygen, the systems of his body had started to shut down.
Further complications arose when my airway closed up during attempts to anesthetize me. For no known medical reason my throat sealed up in a laryngeal spasm and I stopped breathing. Efforts to stabilize my breathing delayed delivery of the baby.
Dr. S. reported it had taken him only seven minutes to reach the hospital. When he arrived, the surgeon was standing by, scalpel in hand, waiting to cut. Donning two gowns and two pairs of gloves, Dr. S. chose not to spend time scrubbing. According to his report, I was foaming at the mouth and convulsing violently. With my oxygen level dropping, he decided to cut, even though I hadn’t yet been anesthetized. He gave the orders for a large dose of morphine and made the incision, unsure if I would feel the pain.
David was delivered with an Apgar score of zero. He was deathly pale, with no heartbeat. He wasn’t breathing.
My baby passed directly from Dr. S’s hands to the doctor from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With intense medical intervention he was revived and placed on life support.
After delivering the baby, Dr. S. stood by and waited for my breathing to be stabilized before stitching me back up. My oxygen level continued to drop as the medical team struggled to intubate me. At one point Dr. S. was sure I’d passed away. In 25 years of medical practice he’d never lost a mother. He feared I might be the first. 

Day five of David’s life brought a grim prognosis. “His condition appears to be coma-like and I’m concerned about the decisions you might have to make regarding his future,” the neonatologist informed us.
An MRI revealed he’d suffered a stroke. Blood flow to the right middle cerebral artery had been cut off by a blood clot. A large portion of the right cortex of his brain had been injured. Seizure activity had also been detected.
His kidneys weren’t functioning and if they didn’t improve, he’d need a transplant. His liver was also compromised and transfusions were required to maintain the platelet levels in his blood. He wasn’t even able to breathe on his own. This was accomplished with the aid of a machine.
How could such a small body recover from so many problems?
There were too many miracles to ask for. Too many at one time.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Before this Earth

". . . my attention turned to other spirits making preparations to go to earth. One exceptionally brilliant and dynamic spirit was just entering his mother's womb. He had chosen to enter this world mentally handicapped. He was very excited about this opportunity and was aware of the growth he and his parents would achieve. The three of them had bonded with each other and planned for this arrangement long before. He chose to begin his mortal life at his body's conception, and I watched his spirit move into the womb and enter the newly formed life. He was anxious to feel the great love of his mortal parents."

Eadie, Betty, J. (1992). Embraced By The Light, USA:Gold Leaf Press, 94-95

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weak Body, Strong Spirit

Real strength doesn't come from our physical bodies, it comes from our spirits. Even though our bodies may be physically weak, they house strong spirits.

Before David's birth, I wanted to know who he was. One night as I lay on my bed quietly pondering, I received some distinct spiritual impressions. I sensed he was a strong, determined, warrior-like spirit, similar to Teancum of old. I was told even though he'd arrive in a small, fragile body, he was a strong, mature spirit. I marveled at this information and imagined him one day serving a mission as a great spiritual warrior.

And then the awful complications of his birth. . .

. . . a stroke and oxygen deprivation.

When I saw my baby for the first time he was attached to life-support machines in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit(NICU). (I'd just been released from Intensive Care myself, and was now allowed to visit my baby.) He lay peacefully nestled amidst a maze of tubes and wires. At the center of all this medical equipment was the most perfect angel I'd ever seen.

The lights in the NICU had been lowered. Within this soft twilight, David's body shone. He was filled with light and radiated a warm glow. His eyes were closed, and he had a fine brush of light brown hair. Immediately I noticed his little upturned chin. It was Rob's chin, complimented by a cute button nose. I marveled at how long his toes were. So unlike my short, stubby ones. And each slender finger, so perfectly formed.

At 7.1 pounds and 20 inches he looked too big to have fitted inside me.

Could he really be mine?

Now that I'd seen him the thought of letting him go was even more unbearable. In all my attempts to imagine his face, I could not have conjured up a masterpiece so magnificent as the person who lay before me. My heart swelled. Seized with joy I felt the power of maternal love flood my being. Pure and strong.

My arms ached to hold him and my bosom longed to soak up the warmth of his being. But he belonged to all those machines and medical attendants.

I remembered the impressions I'd received prior to his birth--that he was a strong, determined, warrior-like spirit. I'd imagined him fighting great spiritual battles. But now I realized he was engaged in a physical battle as he fought for his life. I reminded myself even though his body was weak and fragile, it housed a strong, mature spirit. I determined to put my faith in this strength and prayed his spirit would triumph and remain with us in mortality.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Thought for the month

“Some of those who have required much waiting upon in this life may be waited upon in the next world—but for the highest of reasons.”

(Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, Feb. 1979, 79‒73)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My David

David is a beautiful child, with deep blue eyes, sun-streaked hair and a smile that infuses delight. He loves to run and jump and climb. He lives life with an intensity that is contagious, abounding in exhilaration and enthusiasm. I can't help but revel in his joy.
But when I'm around his peers, a relentless pain starts gnawing in my gut. A harsh reminder he's not the same.
I marvel at other kids. They are so advanced and skilled. Speaking in complex sentences they engage in elaborate games of their own imaging. Toilet-training and self-feeding are no longer issues. They walk alongside the shopping cart at the store and stay on the playground at the park. Birthdays and Christmas are days of celebration--they love receiving gifts and know how to open them. Their heads turn when you call their name, and they look into your eyes when you speak to them . . . 


. . . they call it AUTISM.