(Pre-op with Daddy last week)

March 23, 2015 - Day 1
Today is Bea's second surgery (Glenn procedure), the first of two major open heart surgeries we know of. Her second will take place in the next year or two. Though her diagnoses are obvious (Dextrocardia, Single Ventricle, Pulmonary Stenosis, Heterotaxy Syndrome), her complexities, including her age, make her needed procedures more difficult than normal. But nothing is too difficult for our great God who loves Bea more than we ever could, who created her fearfully and wonderfully, who holds her life in the palm of his mighty hand!

"I am God. Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?"
Isaiah 43:13
Today we entrust our daughter to our Lord and as a way of making it through the seconds of the minutes of the hours of this day/week,
I'm planning to document updates along the way. Prayers are lifted high for this little girl we all love so very much!

Prayer. That's where I'll be.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7
She's off to "go see doctor, owie heart, go night night doctor" (her way of understanding it all).
We hug and kiss our girl, "goodbye"...actually I prefer, "see you in a little bit".
Praying for precious Bea.

Waiting, registering, getting ready to begin. Bea is in good spirits and we are at peace.

Ready for meds. Surgery begins at 7:30AM.

Praying for the baby next door who "got owie pinch" and is crying.
Bea, we love your beautiful, nurturing, compassionate heart!

Bea is yours, Lord. We entrust her to your perfect will.
Surgery begins now and we've been told to expect news in 3-4 hours.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"
Isaiah 26:3
Update from surgery, "The procedure is underway. Everything is going fine so far."
Thank you, Lord!!
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Wow! The surgeon just came in to say he is done!! She came through!! No complications at this point....Praise the Lord!!!
We praise Him for bringing our Bea into the next stage of this procedure! There is pure joy at the moment and also hesitation as we know she has a fight ahead to recover. Many prayers of gratitude and also beckoning the Lord for a healthy and uneventful recovery.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for holding us through this morning, for guiding the hands of the surgeons,
for calming our hearts with your peace, and for orchestrating the events of this day according to your perfect will.

"Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!"
Psalm 150:1-2

After 2 hours without update, we finally heard that Bea is being transported to ICU.
She is unconscious and will be for a while due to the severity of her condition at this time.
Praying and waiting to see our girl.
[UPDATE: We found out later that during this time, following surgery, Bea went into full arrest and they had to open her back up to perform internal heart massage CPR to save her life. While we rejoiced and waited, we had NO idea how the Lord fought for her! Thank you, Jesus for being with our Bea when we didn't even know she was in such desperate need...but you were with her.]

"But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me."
2 Timothy 4:17

Another 2 hours have passed with no news. Still waiting to see Bea...still praying...

Finally an update and a room. They will keep Bea unconscious until tomorrow.
Until then, we praise God for bringing her through surgery, for being with her now,
for loving us, and for being the calm anchor amidst a raging storm.

"Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'"
Matthew 8:26-27 

. . . . . .
March 24, 2015 - Day 2
(The view from behind Bea's bed)
We wait this morning to hear how Bea did through the night. They will remove the tube in her throat today and allow her to come out of anesthesia. The last time she awoke from a basic MRI, her oxygen levels plummeted, so we are praying she can wake with no complications today. More waiting...more praying...

She made it through the night and is doing well! This is welcome news after a long night of prayer. It sounds like things are complicated, but in the way we should expect under the circumstances. Night one we prepare for her to wake up.

Preparing to take her off anesthesia now. She will need to function awake with the breathing tube before they can remove it, so we pray she isn't too overwhelmed or frightened. The fluid in her lungs will cause discomfort for her. She'll need to cough painfully to clear it out. Dear Jesus, please protect Bea. Please be with her through this procedure. Please comfort her and the rest of us as we pray and wait.
The breathing tube is out and she is currently stable! Thank you, Lord!
 (Daddy singing Jesus Loves Me to his girl) 

They start to wean Bea off the morphine and the result is extreme pain! Bea was writhing, crying, and yelling out for help. As Brodie and I prayed over our daughter, tears flowing from all three of us, Bea yelled out, "Jesus! Jesus!" in agony. It was awful to see her in such pain. I will never forget it. Yet, to think of the beauty in her calling out to the One who can help her and who saved her yesterday amazed us. Bea knows that Jesus loves her. Many prayers lifted at this time for our Bea and for her pain.
In and out of sleep, Bea remained in extreme pain all afternoon whenever she was awake.
We praised God for the moments when she slept as we exhaled and prayed for our sweetie.
(One of the first things Bea asked for was her "special blankie" Mommy made
for her during paper pregnancy. I'm so glad it can be a comfort to her. :))
Bea took her first sips of apple juice! Her pain seems a bit more manageable, though she is quite
upset about her owies. We clearly have a long road ahead for her recovery. One hour at a time...
. . . . . .
March 25, 2015 - Day 3

After a long night of prayer, we wait to hear how Bea is doing this morning. Many, many prayers being lifted for our girl. Still adjusting to the thought that she nearly died post-surgery when we were totally unaware. Additionally, we are repeatedly told that she is a miracle for having lived as long as she has with the heart she has. God clearly has a beautiful plan for Bea's life and this is all part of it. Gotta keep perspective that this trial is all part of the good...because it's really HARD! To see our sweet, competent girl so incapacitated and in pain hurts to the extreme, but it is accomplishing a purpose. Must. Keep. Focus. I keep telling myself...Eyes on Jesus. Don't look down.

- Jesus Walks on Water -
"Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him
walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It’s a ghost,' they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.'
'Lord, if it’s you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water.' 'Come,' he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
'You of little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying,
'Truly you are the Son of God.'"
Matthew 14:22-33

Just heard from Brodie. Bea was still having pain through the night, but she was able to take sips of soup.
As she starts to eat and continues to rest, we pray for healing. She wants to go home and we want her to come home!
Trusting in God's perfect plans and timing.

Great news...Bea is eating oatmeal and they are going to have her sit up today,
maybe even try to walk. Catheter is out and we are one step closer to normal things!

"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Psalm 50:15

Bea is moving to a new room in encouraging sign!!
They hope to have her sit up and maybe even stand up today...come on normal!

(Moving Bea...and her heart balloon :))

I spent the day alone with my Bea while Brodie had some much needed Daddy time
with the rest of the kids. My heart hurts as I unwind and make sense of the day.

My time with her was bitter sweet, full of connectedness and snuggles, eye contact and reassurance from Mama, but also full of pain...physical pain, emotional pain. Bea has a broken heart, physically and emotionally right now. She longs to go home. She misses her people and things that have come to mean comfort and security and love to her. It was agonizing to take it all in by myself because I love my daughter SO SO much! She is precious to me, my beloved. I miss her tonight. We're not the same without her here. We're not the same without Daddy either. But this is our sacrifice for the Lord in this season. This is the choice that we make.

It was a strange day of you-had-to-be-there experiences, the kind that leave stripes on a a good way.

There were multiple times I found myself sitting on the hospital room floor, nurses and blood-filled tubes surrounding me and my daughter, smells of vomit and hand sanitizer strong where I found myself thinking intentionally, As you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40) It was a surreal day today. I'm still absorbing the unfamiliar listlessness in Bea's eyes.

Up to this point, Bea has been in and out of consciousness. The times she was awake yesterday were dreadful to watch. She'd scream out in pain followed by morphine induced slumber. She'd call out for loved ones and Jesus, desperate. Today she was awake and aware. She didn't smile. She was clearly depressed, though I did get a small grin from my girl when I arrived in the room. I also talked her into cracking a small smile for a Mommy/Bea pic as we nestled in bed together. We listened to instrumental hymns and I tried to get her to take sips of water or juice. But, she just threw up each time. The nausea made me ill...because I love Bea and I don't want that for her.

"Remember, this is for her GOOD," Brodie reminds me. And I can see how God works on my heart the same. He allows us to live in these places for times and seasons for our good and I believe He will work it all for His glory. I do. Otherwise I wouldn't be here doing these crazy things. Otherwise I would choose an easier road. No, this is definitely all for good.

Oh, today was hard. It was really, really hard to see the realities sink in for Bea with her consciousness full aware. And though I want to wipe it all away for her, I accept this cross and bear it with her because I know that there's purpose in it all. Tomorrow is a new day.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28

[UPDATE: Bea smiled. :)]

. . . . . .

March 26, 2015 - Day 4

Last night after what felt like a helpless day, Brodie sent the most amazing photo of Bea! She sat up in bed, all on her own (an incredible sight based on the previous 3 days), and she SMILED!!! I can't help but cry to think of it! She smiled. Our happy Bea smiled again and she's still in there and she will return to us whole (maybe even more wholehearted as a result of her brokenness) and God is so good! Gratitude for the moment overflows as I ponder and thank the Lord for the breakthrough. Even if it was only fleeting and today we take steps backward, to know my daughter sat up and smiled will carry me all morning until I hear how she is doing today.
Lord, may this be the beginning of a beautiful turn around for Bea. Today begins with new hope.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

Lamentations 3:22-23

As I take some time to reflect on yesterday, one of the hardest memories was Bea's calling out for Aida.
She has called for each of us at different times, grappling for home, for loved ones. She is homesick.

As Brodie and I prepared for our swap out at the end of the day, it took 40 minutes for me to find a window to leave because Bea was so distraught. She wailed for Aida who waited downstairs in the van with the others, unable to come up because of the parents only rule. I promised the nurses that my 14 year old daughter was extremely mature, knowing that if Bea could just see her it would alleviate even some of her pain, but my efforts were in vain. Rules are rules and I respect that in ICU. So, we called Aida on Daddy's phone and she sweetly reassured her little sister, speaking love into her ears. It was difficult for Aida, my strong girl, but she did beautifully.
Mom and Dad aren't the only ones enduring trauma here. Adoring siblings have broken hearts for their sister too.

(Bea and Aida the day before surgery)

I consider all that we've signed them up for...our children who go through these things with us. At the same time that my mommy heart wants to spare them, my heart for God's ability to use their growing pains for His glory and His story welcomes the strain. Tears from young people's eyes that shine light you just don't gain through ordinary will prayerfully reap extraordinary hearts of compassion and willingness to go wherever the Lord should call them, to love those in need, to spend themselves for others without fear. I pray the familiarity with discomfort and sacrifice breeds servants for Christ in our children who live this out with us. Lord, please use it all!

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies
as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
Romans 12:1

I pray this for our children.

First update of the morning...No morphine all night! This is great news. We're praying for progress
today beginning with trying to eat some breakfast. I'm hopeful and expectant as I wait to hear more.

"Big smiles with Cheerios"...probably the best text update yet!

I'm off to the hospital to spend the day with Brodie and Bea.
Hoping today is a real turning point!

. . . . .

March 27, 2015 -  Day 5

Yesterday was an incredible day! Bea has truly made a miraculous turnaround!
I walked into the hospital room to find my little sweetie looking like this:

IT'S MY BEA! She's back! Elation! Praise the Lord!!

All of the swelling had gone down in her face and body and they had just
removed the IV from her neck. She looked amazing!

There was rejoicing and Bea was especially excited to be with both Mommy and Daddy together.

No question...we felt the same.

I've marveled each day as I've watched Brodie tend to his little girl. He has literally blown me away with his nurturance and care, not to mention his incredible attitude about every detail of the process and hospital stay. I am always inspired by my husband, but to watch him in action day after day, night after night, tending to Bea, making her laugh, wiping her tears, holding back his has been an experience I'll never forget. Brodie's heart looks like Jesus. Bea is so blessed to have a daddy like him.

As I sat in traffic on the way home from the hospital,
thinking Bea was sound asleep, out of the blue I received this photo:

WHAT?! I sat there and sobbed at the sight! She's walking and dressed and smiling and...she's Bea.
It was a beautiful moment of progress and celebration. I'm so, so proud of my girl! What a trooper!

So, this morning as I sit here in the dark and process for the first time all that happened yesterday, I'm filled with gratitude and hope. Though through many prayers and crying out to God, He allowed us to remain in a storm for 3 days, He produced a miraculous 180 degree turnaround suddenly. Even now as I type it, with Easter just around the corner, the eyes of my heart stop and turn to Christ.

"For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish,
so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Matthew 12:40

I'm always amazed at how the Lord so intentionally gives us experiences to help us know Him more,
even to walk with Him in His sufferings and grow deeper into Him through them. It's a prickly gift.

"I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings."
Philippians 3:10

Though a fragment of what He did for me, the first 3 days of this process, filled with pain and mourning, bring identification to the forefront of my mind today as I reflect on the sufferings and sacrifices of Christ. And, the rejoicing in the victorious outcome which follows has truly been all the sweeter for having walked through the valley of the shadow of death first.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."
Psalm 23:4

He was with us in the darkness, but He has brought us into light and thanksgiving overflows for our time spent in both.
A new day dawns today as the sun rises with these ponderings and I wait for more great news from Bea and Brodie now...

Just heard from Brodie...sounds like it was a long night,
but nothing negative, just lots of monitoring and intervention.

Today I get to spend the day at the hospital with Bea while Daddy and the kids hang at home. The timing worked out well since our water heater decided to blow and we have floods and plumbers to deal with. Sometimes when it rains, it pours...

. . . . . .

March 28, 2015 - Day 6

It was wonderful to spend the whole day just Bea and Mommy yesterday. I did her hair and wiped the glue from her little cheeks after her oxygen tubes were removed. She was delighted to get all clean. (Bea likes clean.) We painted, snuggled, played playdough, chatted with the doctors and nurses, and walked the halls of the CVICU. Bea especially enjoys seeing all the little babies in each room. The tough reality, however, is that those sweet babies are there because they've had heart surgery too...and the other reality that sinks in as I observe is that these babies were diagnosed as infants, perhaps even in utero, and have had their lifesaving surgical intervention early.

Over and over, we're told that Bea is a miracle for having lived as long as she has with her conditions. Typically, her type of corrections would have been done before 6 months of age. I look at my 4 1/2 year old daughter and I see God's grace, His hand upon her, and His plans to use her story for good. It wasn't a mistake that Bea's surgeries didn't take place in infancy. This is God's perfect plan.
He has sustained her until now and He will never fail her. God loves Bea! This is His plan A for her, for us. We get that.

This morning as I reflect, I'm extremely grateful for Bea, for the incredible staff that surrounds her at the children's hospital, and for the many lessons learned so far on this leg of our journey. It was neat yesterday to get to share some of our story with the staff who were curious about our adoptions and family. Prayerfully, it was an opportunity to glorify God and testify of His faithfulness and what He has done. Prayerfully, those conversations were part of His ordained plan for this experience. He knows...

"Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!"
Psalm 105:1-2

Today, I get to spend the day with my girl again while Daddy comes home to play and fix more broken things. The plan for Bea is to have her drainage tubes removed from her chest. This may hurt during the procedure, but it will be relieving after, and she won't have to lug the large carriers around anymore for her strolls. One more step toward normal...which means one more step toward HOME.

. . . . . .

March 28, 2015 - Day 7


My eyes are still swollen this morning from the many tears I cried last night.

I splash cold water on my face and sit down with the Lord.

I open the Word, read, and pray, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have
put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for you you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:8)

I scour Lamentations looking for continued comfort as I experienced last night thanks to prayer and I'm met with:

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you; you said, 'Do not fear!'"
Lamentations 3:55-57

Yesterday was HARD. Once again, I watched my daughter wail in agony, her eyes literally bulging out pain as she screamed into mine. Doctors and  nurses hovered and prodded to remove the drainage tubes from her chest. "It will hurt as they come out, but will be relieving instantly after," they reassured me. But, oh the hour-like minutes of pain and fear that enveloped my little Bea, they stung my mommy heart as blood squirted from her abdomen inches from my face while I cupped her cheeks in my hands. It was awful, scarring.

When Brodie and the kids met me in the parking lot for our usual swap out at the end of the day, I found myself wanting to run when I first spotted the van from the lobby. I literally wilted into my husband's strong arms and just wept. I've missed him SO much! Normal is distant right now. As we stood by the van, heat billowing from underneath, engine running since we didn't have much time, he calmed my heart with words from the Word. He reminded me why we're enduring these things, why we bleed with Bea for now.

These are choices we've made for life and for Christ. This is our offering, our sacrifice of love as we give ourselves for Him, for Bea.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

Bea is more than just our little friend. This stranger-turned-daughter is precious to us and we willingly lay our lives down for her.

Brodie's thoughtful redirection comforted me in a way that made it hard to let go. He pep-talked the kids and I clung to his hand.
We two are so much better than just me, one...but I'm not alone. I remind myself and seek the prayers of others,
look to the Lord to be what He promises He is, ask Him for what He says He gives.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
John 14:27

Today is a new day. Though sorrow engulfed me last night, joy comes in the morning.
I'm finally able to process yesterday and look through the photos, too hard to revisit last night.

I spent much of the day comforting and distracting Bea, entertaining her, playing, snuggling.
It's been ironically beneficial for solidified bonding, this painful gift of time.

After her tubes were out and the morphine metabolized, we got the go ahead for her first big walk, TUBE FREE!!!
It was a wonderful moment of freedom as Bea charged around the CVICU, waving to all of her doctor/nurse friends.
Everyone cheered her on. They are awesome and encouraging! It was a sweet moment of victory and moving forward.
So many memories etched permanently in my mind, some forever grievous, but this one a joyful highlight!

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5

We're off to the hospital this morning. Brodie and the kids are going to the park for a picnic and vitamin D.
After a couple days of water heater chaos etc., it will be good for them to just play.

I'll be with Bea for what we pray is the last day!
We're told that tomorrow she'll be discharged and we're praying it ends up so.

I just got home from my last day in the hospital. It's been an experience for sure. Today as I chatted with nurses who've become like friends, in a strange way I realize I'll miss some of what has taken place. It's always a privilege to share about adoption and the blessings of having a large family. We've met so many special caregivers and they have walked with us through traumatic events. It was weird to say goodbye. But, Bea will be back in about a year or so for her next correction, and I'm sure at least some of them will still be there. They've all rooted for her and watched her recover. They've played a critical role in this process.

This evening Bea got to go for an outing with Daddy to see Turtle Time where the sea turtle, Crush, from Finding Nemo interacts with the kids in the hospital. How amazing that she is well enough, stable, and tube free to experience such fun! Brodie reports that she was thrilled to get in the elevator, but apparently concerned about her socks. (I can't blame her for that...It's very Bea.)

Tonight Daddy spends his last night in the hospital with Bea and we all want to go to bed early here at home so tomorrow will come more quickly. We'll have multiple medicines and rules to remember for the next 6 weeks of continued recovery. We still have some mountains to climb, but we've made it through the deepest valleys...this time around. Bea has done amazingly well considering all she's been through. She definitely has captured the hearts of her caregivers, all of us family members included. She's a very special girl.

 Tomorrow is a big day!
. . . . . .

March 28, 2015 - Day 8

Today's the day! Bea's coming home! We can all hardly wait to be together again.
There are signs and cards to make and Bea is excited for simple things like Mommy making dinner.

We'll still be in recovery mode for quite some time, adjusting to a new normal for Bea. She had never been on medications before, and now she has many with time restrictions included. It's a big job and one that's intimidated me in the past, but now that it's here and our reality, my love for Bea fuels my commitment to her needs. Beck is already on two of her same meds, so that helps a bit and we accept the responsibility as part of our vital role in Bea's life. Like anything, we acclimate to our circumstances, sometimes surprisingly so.

This morning as I reflect upon the past week, God's nearness is tangible. He carried us through some of the lowest moments we've ever experienced and we praised Him for some of the highest highs of our lives! He's protected us. He's been faithful.

"But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."
2 Thessalonians 3:3

We await timing for discharge today with loose expectations.
JOY overflows as we prepare to welcome both Bea and Daddy home!!

There it is...The text we've all been waiting for!!

What a good daddy...He even did her pony tails! :)

(These guys have been through a lot special!)

(Wagon pic...a beautiful sight!!)

Meds in hand and headed to the car.

Sunshine on Bea's face...Homecoming is now just minutes away!!

"Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!"
Psalm 150:1-2