And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before...And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.
Job 42:10, 12a
As the Bible relates Job's story, we learn that everything is stripped from Job. His children die, he loses his belongings, he didn't have the support of his friends. Even his wife encouraged him to curse God and die. Yet though he does not understand, and even questions God, Job does remain faithful and teachable. When all is said and done, God blesses Job with a double portion of what he lost.
You may wonder why today I am sharing this. What could Job have to do with CHDs? Well...he's just kind of a backdrop for what I want to share. Seven and a half years ago, we lost a son at birth. It was sudden and unexpected. I pleaded desperately with God to allow me to keep and raise my son. I was not strong enough to walk the path of a grieving parent. But, God said, "No." Tucker would not be restored to us. We would commit his spirit to the Lord and his body to the ground; and Mike and I would learn to walk in faithful trust even when we could not understand.
Fast forward five years and we learned that the baby I was carrying had a severe heart defect. We were told he likely would not live. And emotionally, I was thrown back to the morning that Tucker was born. I was terrified to walk through that kind of grief again. I knew that God would carry me if that was His will for us, but I just did not want to go there. As I prayed, God blessed me with such peace. Everything would be okay. I don't mean to say that I had a sense that Jethro would live, necessarily, but just that whatever was ahead of us, we *would* be okay.
I have told Jethro's birth story here more than once, so I won't repeat it now, but know that he had a very rough time of it in the beginning. He was pretty far behind developmentally because of his initial setbacks and subsequent hospitalizations. At 6 months, he could not even hold his head up. He was probably around 8 or 9 months before he rolled over, 10 months before he could sit without support, past his first birthday before he crawled and 19 months when he walked.
As we have watched Jethro grow and develop, especially over this last year, we have taken such joy in every accomplishment, whether it's moving up to an 8oz bottle from 4oz, crawling, teasing play, or running and keeping up with the other little boys. We always find joy in the milestones our children reach. Each one for each child is special. However for Jethro, each skill is a hard won victory. Nothing has come easily for this sweet boy. And yet even as little as he is, he gives it his all. He doesn't do anything in half-measures. Once he decides he's going to do something ~ watch out! Because he's going to do it fully. The day he decided he was going to try the stairs, he didn't go up just one or two ~ he went up 2 flights of stairs!
As we were marveling at some common thing he was doing one afternoon, and cheering him on, I looked over at Daddy and said, "I wonder if we had been allowed to raise Tucker if we would have been blessed with Jethro. He's just a double portion."
I don't know how to adequately describe what it is like to watch him do such ordinary toddler things and to see them as extraordinary and even miraculous. With each milestone to be reminded that it almost wasn't. Each day with Jethro brings such unspeakable joy, I feel like my heart could burst from it. What a contrast to the shattering grief it endured when Tucker died.
There is just something special about Jethro. I believe that all of our children have a special bond with him, and even strangers, who know nothing of him or what he has been through are drawn to him.
I would never have asked to be a heart mom. It is certainly a difficult path to walk, so much to learn, separation from family, watching your child suffer and have to endure painful treatment so that they can live ~ and not being able to 'fix' it. Entering into a new world of hurt and grief. And yet, I am so very thankful for the blessing of being Jethro's Mama. I am humbled that God chose Mike and I to love and cherish and raise this remarkable little boy. I am so very thankful for this double portion.
***This year, in my awareness posts, I hope that I have helped to not only raise your awareness of Congenital Heart Defects, but also to know that while we walk an uncertain road with our heart warriors, there is normalcy, although it looks different than it did before. I want to encourage you that there is hope, there is joy...even with, or maybe even because of a broken heart.***